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Platonian Law - Book Report/Review Example

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This particular dialogue, for greater part in history, had been neglected as opposed to Plato's monumental Republic. He uses the imaginary city of Magnesia to create an ideal city-state and establish an ideal political and judicial structure in the city. 1
This he establishes by a dialogue between an Athenian stranger, who acts as a representative for Plato, Megillos, a Spartan and a Cretan politician and lawgiver, Kleinias. The dialogue, since it takes place outside of Athens, does not figure Socrates. The book begins showing the Athenian stranger who is believed to be speaking for Plato himself; meet the other two characters in their journey to the cave of Zeus, a pilgrimage spot. During their journey to the cave of Zeus, Kleinias mentions that as a lawgiver and politician of Crete he has been entrusted with the job of establishing the judicial system in the city of Magnetes or Magnesia, in conjunction with nine other distinguished politicians from his city Knossos, and seeks the assistance of the stranger in the process of establishing the laws.2
The journey in itself is symbolic and resembles the journey of Minos to the cave, every nine years, to receive instructions from Zeus. It was believed by Cretans that Minos had set down their ancient laws and that he did so after receiving the instructions from Zeus himself, and went back every nine years to receive fresh instructions. It also happened to be the longest day in the calendar. 3Therefore, it provides enough scope to Plato to squeeze in twelve chapters in the dialogue. The dialogue therefore helps to establish an ideal society and ideal set of laws for this imaginary city based on the dialogue between these three characters. The dialogue though similar in parts with the Republic also varies differently in various aspects which would be dealt with later in the essay and is considered by many to be a more comprehensive and serious study of political philosophy.4
The treatise deals with issues such as
Divine law, divine law giving and divine revelation
The significance and role of intelligence in law-giving5
Natural law and natural right, theories which had a propound impact on future generations of philosophers such as Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau and the founding fathers of America and were incorporated both in the American Declaration of Independence and The Declaration Of human Rights 1789.6
The correlation between religion, politics, and philosophy
In short, the treatise was the founding stone of natural jurisprudence, which had many followers in subsequent generations.
Plato mentions in the book that the system of jurisprudence in ancient Greek city-states such as it existed in both Crete and Sparta were insufficient in the purpose for which the system was actually created. In the first two books, Plato tries to ascertain what the sole purpose or goal of such an institution of legislation might be. It is here that he argues that the prevalent judiciary and laws governing them went errant and points to a lack or non-existence of a verifiable end. This end, he argues, must be based on virtue or the accomplishment of virtues such as justice, courage, wisdom and moderation among the larger section of the society and promote these ...Show more


The Laws is the longest and final dialogue of Plato. It would be necessary to study the circumstances under which Plato is said to have written the dialogue. The motivation to establish the laws that the state should adopt to mete out justice, the authority of the state might have been expounded before in The Seventh Letter…
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Platonian Law
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