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Political Philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Confucius - Essay Example

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Political Philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Confucius

The lives of the three philosophers are summarized by Plato when he said that "man must seek the truth; and once the truth is discovered in the purely speculative field, it must serve to find the solution of practical problems: rendering man morally better".
To the untrained mind, the three philosophers may seem to differ on their political philosophies. Socrates purports that the political expression of government was the common good of all citizens, not the triumph of the individual over society's rules. Socrates opposed the Sophists, the teachers of philosophy in ancient Greece, on many fine points; one of the most important of which is their concern for the quality of life, in living ethically and believing that happiness is the ultimate purpose of life. The Sophists advocated that happiness is best achieved when materials things such as material possessions and wealth are acquired. Socrates argued that happiness was the ethical knowledge of how people are supposed to live. Moreover, governments, rather than being merely powerful organizational entities, should embody the ethical principles that will promote moral well-being. As a result of Socrates' political convictions, he was charged with corrupting the youth- because his students were inspired by Socrates' idea to question authority, think for themselves and reject the establishment. According to Plato's account, Socrates was not subtle about his particular beliefs on government. He objected to any form of government that did not conform to his ideal of a perfect republic led by philosophers. However, this argument is often denied because of the fact that he refused to enter into politics or participate in government of any sort, stating that he could not look into other matters or tell people how to live when he himself did not yet understand. Nevertheless, history supports that Socrates thought that the rule of the Thirty Tyrants (Junta that overthrew democracy) was as objectionable as democracy.
Plato advocates that the best form of government as seen in the Republic, is a government that reconciles different people's interests and includes aristocratic, oligarchic, and democratic elements. He further argues that politics needs expert rulers, who must be carefully selected and prepared in the course of extensive training. Since making political decisions require good judgment, government need competent rulers and these virtues can be found in philosophers. For Plato, government should exist for the benefit of all citizens and all social classes. Likewise, government should be responsible in mediating between potentially conflicting interests which may arise in the state. He then suggests in the Republic that this mediating force can be exercised ideally by philosopher-rulers. They will serve as the guarantors of the political order that is encapsulated in the norm that regulates just relations of persons and classes within the city. However, the great paradox of The Republic is that philosophers are not interested in ruling and have only desire in the pursuit of more knowledge. As Plato states in The Republic, "the society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and ...Show more

Summary

French philosopher, Victor Cousin said that "true philosophy invents nothing; it merely establishes and describes what is". Socrates, Plato and Confucius stand true to the ideals of philosophy, employing rational investigation of questions about existence, knowledge and ethics…
Author : ckreiger
Political Philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Confucius essay example
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