In The Republic, Plato attempts to define the ideal state as it relates to the tripartite division of the soul. In this division, wisdom, the rational characteristic of the soul, is the most valuable and important. In the ideal state the ruling class would be the guardians, those who maintain rationality and will operate according to wisdom. Each individual "should be put to use for which nature intended them, one to one work, and then every man would do his business" (276d). This conception of the ideal state is exemplified in Jonathon Swift's Gulliver's Travels, within the society of the Houyhnhnms. Each member of the society maintains a role which he or she was born into, and according to Gulliver the Houyhnhnms are "wise and virtuous" (Swift, 260). These two qualities are most valuable to Plato within the ideal state, and are manifest in Houyhnhnm land.
The problems that occur within these "utopias" are the central problems of democracy. The question that arises is whether or not a state such as either of these is just. This problem is far too great to understand within the context of these societies, so in an attempt to understand the beneficial aspects it should be realized that if considered without "moral" judgements, these societies could function appropriately. Plato'...
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...nd do just that. The maintenance of a virtuous state requires a unanimous understanding of each member's place and position. Without this understanding the ideal state cannot exist; this is why sometimes the pleasures of the individual must be overruled in favour of the needs of the society.
Donoghue, Denis. Jonathan Swift: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1969.
Marra, James L., Zelnick, Stephen C., and Mattson, Mark T. IH 51 Source Book: Plato, The Republic, pp. 77-106. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 1998.
Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver's Travels. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
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