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Plato and Machiavelli on Vision of Politics

The ascent to see things in the upper world you may take as standing for the upward journey of the soul into the region of the intelligible. . . (Allen 226).

Socrates speaks of many of the elements to be found in the Republic in terms that show they are ideals to be sought rather than something that can actually be attained. Much of the discussion centers on the question of justice and the achieving of justice. When individuals offer Socrates examples of justice as the answer to the question of what justice is, as Cephalus does in Book I by suggesting that justice was a matter of paying debts, Socrates refuses to accept an example as an answer. An example is only another Form. There must be a quality that can be reduced no further and that can be called "justice." This is true of all qualities. Justice is something that is elusive, and Socrates again and again refutes suggestions as to how to define the matter. Similarly, in the Republic there are goals pursued by institutions and individuals, but there is no guarantee that they will be successful at attaining the ideal they seek. The Republic itself can be read as a the search for an ideal, in this case Plato's ideal of a society without strife, and there is no guarantee that he will attain this ideal.

To understand this idea of the ideal versus what can be attained, the philosopher must return to the cave. There is danger in this enterprise, however, for the philosopher who has ascended to the surface to see more than the average would return to tell others of what he had seen and would find that he was not believed: "If they could lay hands on the man who was trying to set them free and lead them up, they would kill him" (Allen 226). Yet, the philosopher must make this journey and take this chance. Hew must return to the cave to try to set the others free by telling them what he had seen. Socrates here explains the role of the philosopher in terms of his being ab...

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Plato and Machiavelli on Vision of Politics. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:52, September 19, 2017, from
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