Essay about The Core Themes Of Plato 's Republic

Essay about The Core Themes Of Plato 's Republic

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One of the core themes in Plato’s Republic is the notion that the attainment of a just and good society can only fulfilled when its citizens strive to gain knowledge and improve upon their capabilities. Only through enlightenment may one learn the truths of our world, and it is through this illumination that one can begin to work toward the betterment of humanity. Nevertheless, not everybody can reach this level of understanding, thus making it the duty of these enlightened individuals, the ‘philosopher-kings,’ to guide the rest of society down a prosperous path. This emphasis on the importance of self-mastery can be seen also in St. Augustine’s autobiographical work Confessions. St. Augustine stressed the necessity for individuals to attempt to live a moral and educated life, believing seeing the truth to be an important goal for each person. However, St. Augustine’s methods for one to reach these truths differed greatly from Plato’s through his incorporation of God and the principles of Christianity. While Plato viewed mastery of the individual and society to be solely a human endeavor, St Augustine strongly considered the Lord to be the ultimate and essential provider of guidance toward these goals.
In Republic, Plato creates a clear distinction between true knowledge, characteristics of an unchanging and perfect world, and opinions, manmade approximations of our world which could change depending on one’s perception. When Plato discusses the act of an individual studying the truth of the world, he means the former type over the latter. This true knowledge has and will always exist throughout time, and it is imperative to discover this information on the ‘perfect world’ in order to develop a good society. Plato valued learni...


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...rld, but to Plato this guidance came from the philosopher-kings, fellow members of society. Incidentally, St. Augustine criticized Plato for his failure to accredit God as the creator of the wisdom and true knowledge we discover as humans, posing the question “for what does a man have that he has not received as a gift?” these gifts naturally being the creations of God. He goes on further to state that “books of the Platonists tell nothing of this” (Book VII, Chapter XXI), which results in him rejecting many of the considerations posed in Plato’s works.
Plato and St. Augustine both heavily value the importance of learning about true knowledge and garnering wisdom, which are key proponents in the development of a good and just society. For St. Augustine though, God is a necessary part of this journey toward the truth, while for Plato, mankind must rely upon itself.

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