Philosophers Concerned with Political and Social Matters Essay

Philosophers Concerned with Political and Social Matters Essay

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Philosophers have forever been concerned with political and social matters. Not only have
they asked how politics work but mainly, how they should work. These philosophers have
been concerned with the nature and justification of political obligation and authority
and the goals of political action. Although their doctrines have differentiated, and
numerous have been utopian in concept, they have all shared the same ideas and
convictions that it is the political philosopher's duty to distinguish between what is
and what ought to be, between existing political institutions and potentially more humane
institutions. Throughout the centuries, philosophers have debated over the moral issues
involved in the search for the 'ideal' society. Three influential philosophers in this
field have been Plato, John Locke and Karl Marx. Their philosophies and utopian states
have continually influence political actions and thoughts throughout the ages.
One of the most powerful thinkers in history was Plato. As Socrates' young pupil, he was
the founder of 'the Academy' and many philosophical theories and dialogues. His most
important work was in political and social philosophy; namely in his most famous book
simply called Republic. In this book, Plato was concerned with the question of justice
and therefore with the questions what is a just state? and who is a just individual?
According to Plato, the ideal state was composed of three classes: the workers and the
artisans, the soldiers and the rulers. The rulers consisted of men who had reached their
maximum educational potential and were complete and enlightened in virtues of reality,
truth and goodness. The spectacle of his day brought Plato to the conclusion that only
philosophers were fit to rule since they possessed all the necessary knowledge and
wisdom. Plato named these rulers philosopher-kings. In the Republic, Plato's ideal
educational system was structured primarily to produce philosopher-kings. In its simplest
form, Plato believed that the just state is one in which each class performs its own
function well without infringing on the activities of the other classes. He believed that
if the philosopher-kings helped train the military who, in return, would control natural
unruly peasants, the Republic would be a sort of utopian state; the ideal society of
which the world was in search. Although Plato's 'ideal' society i...

... middle of paper ...

... non had ever seen before. Marx saw society as having become
alienated in a capitalist society. He believed that his utopian world would allow the
alienation to disappear and the state would be a fair and equitable place to live.
Subsequently, Marxism had great consequences on many societies, namely because of the
lost of liberty and freedom to succeed. In the end, Marx's goal to eliminate alienation
just replaced one type of alienation for another. Although his theory was great in
concept, allowing for equality among mankind, it did not function well in practice
because of human nature.
The 'ideal' society is, in reality, a myth created in the mind of man. There never was
nor will there ever be a utopian world in which we could all live harmoniously. Although
many influential philosophers have shaped politics around the world, neither one of their
theories has been perfect. Human nature plays a great role in creating our society and
because we are not perfect, neither will our societies be. We must stop attempting to
create utopian states and instead focus on changing the numerous flaws in our already
existing politics. With our own hands we can shape our society and our minds.

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