In Plato’s Republic, he tries to develop a utopia for mankind. He utilizes conversation amongst people within in his book as a vehicle for larger and more serious topics to be discussed. One of the most important propositions made in these discussions is when Socrates and Glaucon are deliberating on the issue of censorship and its necessity in the beginning of “Book III.” Plato leads me to believe that censorship is a necessary evil that must exist to protect the city as a whole. The question arises when addressing this subject matter; does society need censorship to rise to its full potential? Plato seems to think yes, but for me the jury is still out.
“Book III” of the Republic begins by talking about how to create warriors and what the necessary precautions needed to convince people that death is not a bad thing are. Plato wants to invent citizens that are “unafraid of death, preferring it to defeat in battle or slavery (386b4).” Plato believes that the only way to do this is through the censorship of materials that people are exposed to. Plato wants to create a society where everyone worthy of enough desires to be a warrior and where citizens are volunteering to fight for their city-state. The only way he believes it is possible to eliminate people’s fear about death is by eliminating the stories they have been raised on. Plato further reflects on this idea of censorship by saying:
Then we must supervise such stories and those who tell them, and ask them not to disparage the life in Hades in this unconditional way, but rather to praise it, since what they now say is neither true nor beneficial warriors (386b7-386c1).
Many modern day people have taken what Plato sai...
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...ind for centuries. The real question though should be if censorship is used what kind of effect does it have on the people subjected to it. Part of ancient Greek culture is the stories that were told about the underworld and their theater portrayals of death. I’m not saying that more stories can’t be told to glorify the life and death of a warrior, but the elimination of all those that don’t praise it ridiculous. Citizens deserve a chance to come to their own conclusions about whether they want to join the military or not. Another consideration is that even though Plato believes that people are self-interested, which they are for the most part, that doesn’t mean that when push comes to shove and their civilization is being attack they won’t stand and defend it. Plato was wrong in my opinion on the topic of censorship. It sounds more like brainwashing to me.
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