Praesidium

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Republics

Plato's Republic:

Very squashed version:
Socrates: What is Justice?
Polemarchus: It's giving everyone the good or evil they deserve, helping friends and harming enemies.
Thrasymachus: It's following the law, doing what the people in power say.
Socrates: Rulers aren't always right, and they're never happy. Let's try to design a perfectly just society. It'll have people sticking to the skill they're best at, supplying each other's needs. It'll have three classes, golden ruler-guardians, silver auxiliaries and iron and bronze artisans. We'll have no families, but bring up the best people, women as well as men, to be rulers. They'll avoid poetry, do physical training and study philosophy. We'll have justice because everyone sticks to their own job. We'll have the three classes in harmony, just like the mind has three parts: desire, reason and spirit.
Glaucon: So what's philosophy, then?
Socrates: It's pursuing wisdom. Trying to find the immutable, the perfect, the true form of reality. It's not like foolish sailors squabbling over who's to take the helm. It's not like taming a wild beast. Imagine a cave where prisoners have been held since birth, they'd believe that the shadows they see are reality. The true philosopher is like someone who escapes from that cave and sees real things, when he gets back, no-one believes him. We'll get this by careful education up to the age of fifty.
Glaucon: What about the perfect State?
Socrates: It isn't a timarchy built on ambition, nor money-based oligarchy, nor squabbling democracy or gangster-ish tyranny. Our perfect society of philosopher-kings may never exist on earth, but we can hope.

And a longer, but still squashed (15,000 words, rather than c130,000), version here.

And a Quentin Tarantino-inspired Republic Dogs here.

Thanks to links in the comments on CT, here.

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