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After Voltaire, religion would never be the same again in France. In the Ottoman Empire , these ideological reforms did not take place and these views did not integrate into common thought until much later. As well, there was no spread of this doctrine within the New World and the advanced civilizations of the Aztec , Maya , Inca , Mohican , Delaware, Huron and especially the Iroquois. The Iroquois philosophy in particular gave much to Christian thought of the time and in many cases actually inspired some of the institutions adopted in the United States: for example, Benjamin Franklin was a great admirer of some of the methods of the Iroquois Confederacy , and much of early American literature emphasized the political philosophy of the natives.
John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of political theory with his work Two Treatises of Government. In it Locke proposes a state of nature theory that directly complements his conception of how political development occurs and how it can be founded through contractual obligation. Locke stood to refute Sir Robert Filmer 's paternally founded political theory in favor of a natural system based on nature in a particular given system.
The theory of the divine right of kings became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of ridicule with which John Locke treated it. Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes but like Aquinas, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal.
Unlike Aquinas's preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from original sin , Locke believes man's mind comes into this world as tabula rasa. For Locke, knowledge is neither innate, revealed nor based on authority but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation. According to Locke, an absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and seeking peace and survival for man.
The Marxist critique of capitalism—developed with Friedrich Engels —was, alongside liberalism and fascism, one of the defining ideological movements of the twentieth century. The industrial revolution produced a parallel revolution in political thought. Urbanization and capitalism greatly reshaped society. During this same period, the socialist movement began to form.
In the midth century, Marxism was developed, and socialism in general gained increasing popular support, mostly from the urban working class.
Without breaking entirely from the past, Marx established principles that would be used by future revolutionaries of the 20th century namely Vladimir Lenin , Mao Zedong , Ho Chi Minh , and Fidel Castro. Though Hegel 's philosophy of history is similar to Immanuel Kant 's, and Karl Marx 's theory of revolution towards the common good is partly based on Kant's view of history—Marx declared that he was turning Hegel's dialectic, which was "standing on its head", "the right side up again". In addition, the various branches of anarchism , with thinkers such as Mikhail Bakunin , Pierre-Joseph Proudhon or Peter Kropotkin , and syndicalism also gained some prominence.
In the Anglo-American world, anti-imperialism and pluralism began gaining currency at the turn of the 20th century. World War I was a watershed event in human history, changing views of governments and politics. The Russian Revolution of and similar, albeit less successful, revolutions in many other European countries brought communism —and in particular the political theory of Leninism , but also on a smaller level Luxemburgism gradually —on the world stage. At the same time, social democratic parties won elections and formed governments for the first time, often as a result of the introduction of universal suffrage.
From the end of World War II until , when John Rawls published A Theory of Justice , political philosophy declined in the Anglo-American academic world, as analytic philosophers expressed skepticism about the possibility that normative judgments had cognitive content, and political science turned toward statistical methods and behavioralism. In continental Europe, on the other hand, the postwar decades saw a huge blossoming of political philosophy, with Marxism dominating the field. Communism remained an important focus especially during the s and s.
Colonialism and racism were important issues that arose. In general, there was a marked trend towards a pragmatic approach to political issues, rather than a philosophical one. Much academic debate regarded one or both of two pragmatic topics: how or whether to apply utilitarianism to problems of political policy, or how or whether to apply economic models such as rational choice theory to political issues.
The rise of feminism , LGBT social movements and the end of colonial rule and of the political exclusion of such minorities as African Americans and sexual minorities in the developed world has led to feminist, postcolonial , and multicultural thought becoming significant. This led to a challenge to the social contract by philosophers Charles W. Mills in his book The Racial Contract and Carole Pateman in her book The Sexual Contract that the social contract excluded persons of colour and women respectively.
In Anglo-American academic political philosophy, the publication of John Rawls 's A Theory of Justice in is considered a milestone. Rawls used a thought experiment , the original position , in which representative parties choose principles of justice for the basic structure of society from behind a veil of ignorance.
Rawls also offered a criticism of utilitarian approaches to questions of political justice. Robert Nozick 's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , which won a National Book Award , responded to Rawls from a libertarian perspective and gained academic respectability for libertarian viewpoints.
Contemporaneously with the rise of analytic ethics in Anglo-American thought, in Europe several new lines of philosophy directed at critique of existing societies arose between the s and s. Most of these took elements of Marxist economic analysis, but combined them with a more cultural or ideological emphasis. Along somewhat different lines, a number of other continental thinkers—still largely influenced by Marxism—put new emphases on structuralism and on a "return to Hegel ".
Within the post- structuralist line though mostly not taking that label are thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze , Michel Foucault , Claude Lefort , and Jean Baudrillard. The Situationists were more influenced by Hegel; Guy Debord , in particular, moved a Marxist analysis of commodity fetishism to the realm of consumption, and looked at the relation between consumerism and dominant ideology formation. Another debate developed around the distinct criticisms of liberal political theory made by Michael Walzer , Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor.
The liberal - communitarian debate is often considered valuable for generating a new set of philosophical problems, rather than a profound and illuminating clash of perspective. Bell argue that, contra liberalism, communities are prior to individuals and therefore should be the center of political focus. Communitarians tend to support greater local control as well as economic and social policies which encourage the growth of social capital.
A pair of overlapping political perspectives arising toward the end of the 20th century are republicanism or neo- or civic-republicanism and the capability approach. The resurgent republican movement aims to provide an alternate definition of liberty from Isaiah Berlin 's positive and negative forms of liberty, namely "liberty as non-domination.
To a republican the mere status as a slave, regardless of how that slave is treated, is objectionable. Prominent republicans include historian Quentin Skinner , jurist Cass Sunstein , and political philosopher Philip Pettit. The capability approach, pioneered by economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen and further developed by legal scholar Martha Nussbaum , understands freedom under allied lines: the real-world ability to act.
Both the capability approach and republicanism treat choice as something which must be resourced. In other words, it is not enough to be legally able to do something, but to have the real option of doing it.
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Current emphasis on "commoditization of the everyday" has been decried by many contemporary theorists, some of them arguing the full brunt of it would be felt in ten years' time. A prominent subject in recent political philosophy is the theory of deliberative democracy. A larger list of political philosophers is intended to be closer to exhaustive. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the academic journal, see Political Theory journal.
For the work by Baruch Spinoza, see Tractatus Politicus. Primary topics. Index of politics articles Politics by country Politics by subdivision Political economy Political history Political history of the world Political philosophy. Political systems. Academic disciplines. Political science political scientists. International relations theory.
Public administration. Bureaucracy street-level Adhocracy. Public policy doctrine Domestic and foreign policy Civil society Public interest. Organs of government. Separation of powers Legislature Executive Judiciary Election commission. Related topics. Sovereignty Theories of political behavior Political psychology Biology and political orientation Political organisations Foreign electoral intervention. Plato Kant Nietzsche. Buddha Confucius Averroes. Further information: History of political thought.
See also: Ancient Chinese political systems. Augustine of Hippo. Thomas Aquinas. Main article: Treatise on Law. Al Farabi. Ibn Sina. Ibn Rushd. Ibn Khaldun. Anarchist schools of thought Consensus decision-making Consequentialist justifications of the state Critical theory Engaged theory Justification for the state Majoritarianism Panarchy Political journalism Political philosophy of Immanuel Kant Political spectrum Political Theory Post-structuralism Progressivism Rechtsstaat Rule according to higher law Semiotics of culture Theodemocracy.
An introduction to Political Philosophy. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, p. Macmillan International Higher Education. Lexington Books. The Arthashastra. Penguin UK. Mackenzie Greenwood Press. Deep and Deep Publications. Calcutta, Printed by order of the government, London reprinted, for J. Sewell and J.
A companion to world philosophies. Wiley Blackwell. The political philosophy of Confucianism. The importance of a scientific study of Confucian political philosophy could hardly be overstated. Ideas of the great philosophers. Western philosophical tradition can be traced back as early as Plato — BC. Aristotle: political philosophy. Oxford University Press. To understand and assess Aristotle's contributions to political thought Cicero: a study in the origins of republican philosophy. His most lasting political contribution is in his work on political philosophy.
At the Limits of Political Philosophy. CUA Press. In political philosophy, St. Augustine was a follower of Plato No god but God. Random House Inc. By the ninth and tenth centuries Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved Plough, Sword, and Book. University of Chicago Press. Ibn Khaldun's definition of government probably remains the best Natural Law and Calvinist Political Theory. Trafford Publishing. A history of philosophy. Continuum International Publishing Group. There was, however, at least one department of thought The theory and practice of revolt in medieval England.
Ashgate Publishing Ltd. The two starting points of most medieval discussions Malaspina University College. Barens, Ingo ed. The theme of political decadence since the golden age or in relation to ancient Athens, or again since the Dorian Confederation, runs through books VIII and IX of Republic, and is found in Politicus da , Timaeus 20dd , and finally Laws ea, c But Plato goes further and suggests abandoning the Lydian and Ionian melodic forms as too effeminate and "lax" in favour of the Dorian and Phrygian forms that imitate "the utterances and the accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare or in any enforced business [ The reference to Sparta, where the.
The Platonic City: History and Utopia 2 1 9. Dorian order prevails is essential here: Sparta, not Athens, is the City that knew best how to stop the movement of decadence and was closest to incarnating Plato's political convictions. The second best is oligarchy, and democracy comes last because it risks degenerating into tyranny Republic, a. Here the political context of Athens and Plato's personal experience are relevant. Against democracy. Plato belonged to the Athenian nobility and his family claimed descent on the paternal side from the last king of Attica, Codrus.
His own political destiny cannot be dissociated from the second Peloponnesian war B. His maternal uncle, Critias, was the leader of the Thirty Tyrants who seized power and carried out the second of the two oligarchic revolutions , the first having taken place in These two brief attempts to abolish democracy deserve to be mentioned, for they clearly demonstrate the entangling of internal conflicts and foreign policy objectives. The opponents of the democratic party held him responsible and took advantage of the situation through a constitutional reform to limit the influence of the people and the pernicious role of orators like Alcibiades who had dragged Athens into the Sicilian adventure.
Under the new constitution, only three thousand people could participate in political life: democracy was abolished. The oligarchic revolution, however, did not last: the army and the navy left behind at Samos threatened to come back to Athens and overturn the government, and democracy was restored during the summer of The second act took place in After Sparta's victory at Aigos Potamos marked the end of the Peloponnesian war, the walls of Athens came tumbling down, and Spartan troops camped in Athens.
In April , the assembly voted to entrust the writing of a new constitution to thirty citizens. These were the Thirty Tyrants, whose leader was Critias, Plato's maternal uncle, with Plato's second uncle, Charmides, as lieutenant. Terror soon prevailed: numerous democrats and metics were assassinated or exiled, and their goods were confiscated. Once again, a movement. An amnesty was proclaimed in The Academy founded by Plato in B. Plato's political mishaps continued when in he went to Sicily at the invitation of the tyrant Dionysius.
Things went badly, and Plato had to flee and return to Athens. He went back to Sicily in , this time as counsellor to the young Dionysius, son of the aforementioned, but he was suspected of plotting and once again had to go back to Athens. He retired for good from Athenian political life and devoted himself to philosophy. Republic dates from B. How can they be read without bearing in mind that Plato was a witness of these events, and even a protagonist in them? Plato's suspicion and hostility towards Athenian democracy developed at several levels.
It was directed first at the exercise of power by the democrats:. At any rate, Plato says nothing about the terror exercised by the Thirty Tyrants. With respect to slavery, he deplores that the excess of liberty in a democratic regime where the leaders are demagogues leads to a situation where "the purchased slaves, male and female, are no less free than the owners who paid for them" Republic, bb. As several scholars have noted, the Republic makes two additional suggestions concerning the life of the guardians that were bound to strike Athenians as scandalous: the participation of women in military activities, this being the most important task in the ideal City, and the community of women and children.
The first implies "the recognition of a status that. Even more fundamentally, Politicus is radically opposed to the principle of Athenian democracy according to which law dominates because it is the expression of the sovereignty of the assembly. In this dialogue, Plato maintains that in the absence of royal government, law is a poor alternative for it is opposed to what is good for society.
To clinch this point, he uses the dual image of the physician and the captain of a ship. If their work was codified by law, and if this served as a pretext to prohibit all research or if non-specialists decided to treat people or to navigate ships, the results would be disastrous. Let us imagine, continues Plato, that we resolve to "gather together an assembly of all the people, or of the wealthy among them [an allusion to the franchise]; it shall be lawful for men of no calling or men of any other calling to advise this assembly".
For Plato's contemporaries, this passage from Politicus obviously refers to the practices of Athenian democracy: the excesses and abuses of direct democracy, the demagogic decision-making concerning the conduct of war or still worse the defence of Athens, the trial and conviction of Miltiades and even of a prestigious leader such as Pericles.
History, however, does not fully account for the scope of the Platonic construction of the City. The development of a Utopian model such as the City of the Republic supposes an effort to use abstract concepts that cannot be justified by a simple ideological contest. For Plato to have engaged in it, a major event was required: the trial and death of Socrates. Space and order. The death of Socrates: the City and the individual. Two readings of Socrates' trial are possible, one historical, the other philosophical.
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It is remarkable that one of the few victims of the return of democracy in had to be this seventy year-old man. He did not even belong to the oligarchy and had opposed the execution by the Tyrants of. Leon of Salamis, a strategos of the democratic party. Finally, unlike many others, he had refused to flee after the sentence that condemned him to death, thereby indicating that he respected the laws of the City and was no enemy of democracy.
Thus, although his judges had no desire to make a martyr of him, his refusal to flee led inevitably to his death. As a matter of fact, the charges against him appear vague: corruption of youth, impiety, introduction of new religious practices in the City. But this precise detail conceals factors that are more likely to have made a scapegoat of Socrates. He counted among his followers "the sons of the richest families" these are his own words in Apology, 23c , Alcibiades, and above all Critias and Charmides, the leaders of the Thirty Tyrants.
Socrates had thus "trained" men who had counted among the most determined opponents of democracy. Because the amnesty of prohibited their prosecution, the counts of indictment against Socrates took this vague form. He might protest that he had opposed tyranny, and that Chaerephon, an ardent democrat, was also his student Apology, 20d , but the dice were loaded. This historical interpretation accounts for the logic that led inevitably to Socrates' death. But the death had a second meaning for Plato: Socrates had died because he had searched for the truth and spoken truthfully.
Plato was confronted with a problem that was at the same time moral and political, and his commentators agree that the two dimensions cannot be dissociated in his worki The trial had shown that City politics played out at the individual level, and Socrates had been condemned by unjust men who also detained power According to Plato the restoration of justice in the City implies a change of men. In Republic, the parallelism is very explicit: the City will be "wise, brave, moderate and just" if the citizens are too, because "the same kinds equal in number are to be found in the state and in the soul of each one of us [ As and whereby the state was wise, so and thereby is the individual wise [ Then, is it not necessary that the individual be wise in the same way and in the same manner as the City [ We will say, I think, that justice has the same character in an individual as in the City" Republic, c.
In other terms, the just City is the paradigm of the just. The harmonisation of the whole the City with the part the individual is a pre-condition in the search for a satisfactory, that is to say a just political system. As a consequence, Plato strives to imagine ideal leaders, commensurate with the City. He describes at length the guardians of the City and the virtues they must possess.
The principal one must be wisdom, or the triumph of reason over passions, and wisdom will be acquired particularly by the knowledge of mathematics. But they must also exercise their bodies. Why philosophy, mathematics and gymnastics? Beyond the training of the individual, the acquisition of wisdom prepares one for the exercise of political responsibilities in the City. As for mathematics, it is close to truth and therefore to wisdom, which is specific to philosophical knowledge. In fifth-century Greece, a careful balance was maintained between gymnastics and music, and from the second half of the century Sophists played a major role in the teaching of philosophy and of rhetoric.
Plato dissociates himself from this educational model. Although he insists on music and exercise of the body, he proposes that mathematics be studied at length but that philosophy be taught only after the age of thirty. As for the methods of acquiring knowledge, the training of memory is singled out. On this point, as is often the case with Plato, the religious tradition underlies and justifies the philosophical construction. According to poetic tradition, one of the three most ancient muses is Melete, Exercise.
The training of memory is a drill that is akin to that of the body and to military practice. According to Vernant,. Guardians and warriors will have certain privileges but will also submit to restrictions in the area of fertility. In particular, sexual relations will be encouraged among young people who distinguished themselves in the war, so that they have more children. It is possible to mention eugenics with respect to Republic, but these measures are applicable only to an elite.
For Plato, the functioning of the City and the quality of the leaders count really for more than the qualitative control of the population. And if the quality of men is improved by education, then this must be adapted to the needs of the City, whatever the interests of the individual, especially by placing talented children from the lower classes in superior families Republic, cc.
And finally, if a better education implies a qualitative selection of individuals, why not carry it through? Understandably, in the real and less perfect City described in Laws these radical measures. But then, how can the satisfactory functioning of the concrete City be guaranteed?
Peace in the City: the distribution of space. Politicus marks a transition between Republic and Laws. Plato, as we have seen, introduces the possibility of a conflict between temperance and courage, two of the four virtues that characterise the guardians living in the ideal City Politicus proposes two means for resolving this potential conflict.
Education is the first; it enables the ruler, the royal weaver, to unite individuals in a common social fabric e. The system of law is the second means; in the absence of a perfect government, that is to say one capable of functioning without law as the philosopher-kings of Republic , it allows the resolution of concrete conflicts. The criticism of Athenian democracy is immediate.
In order that justice reign at both the individual and the collective level, Plato organises it on two planes in Laws. The latter should remain unchanged, in their image. From this follows the idea of a constant population number and the shift we noted in Laws when Plato progresses from the number of citizens to that of plots. Once a principle of legitimacy has been discovered, grounded in religion, the daily functioning of the City must not be endangered by injustice that would jeopardize the unity of the City and let it sink into decadence under the impact of internal dissensions.
A commentary in Book V of Laws is particularly revealing: "we are fortunate in avoiding fierce and dangerous strife concerning the distribution of land and money and the cancelling of debts This sheds light on the meticulous attention given to the distribution of plots. Dividing each plot in two parts and distributing them in such a way that no citizen will be nearer the centre of the City than any other will prevent serious conflict. Better still, the city itself will be divided into twelve sections in the same way as the rest of the territory, and each citizen will have two residences, one urban and central, the other rural and.
By the same token, the difference between urban and rural is abolished. Finally and above all, the equality advocated by Plato is not arithmetical but geometric. We find the Pythagorean influence once again: geometric equality gives to each according to his merit, it is more just than arithmetical equality Laws, b-e Plato realises, however, that it is politically impractical:. This last remark shows the extent to which the aristocratic philosopher is led to adapt his ideal of justice to the constraints imposed on him by popular passions.
It is a measure of the distance between the Utopia of Republic and the concrete project of construction of the City in Laws. Moreover, space as a political objective takes on another dimension. Critias narrates the victorious struggle of archaic Athens against Atlantis. Both have vanished, one in a cataclysm, the other in a flood. Socrates begins by recalling the social organisation of archaic Athens. It is that of the ideal City of Republic: no difference between men and women in the exercise of public functions, division in three classes, with one class of warriors who possess nothing of their own Critias, d.
Plato describes in great detail the city planning of the two entities, archaic Athens and Atlantis, the first staunchly land-based, the other resolutely maritime. The Athenian City, geographically very restricted, was located in the higher area occupied by the Acropolis. The warriors possessed nothing of their own, this time like the guardians of the ideal City HOd. Athens numbered a total of twenty thousand people, men and women, capable of waging war 1 12e.
Finally and most importantly, as we noted above, ancient and wise Athens, just like the City of Republic, knew how to keep constant the size of its population. Atlantis on the contrary was shaped as a rectangle 1 17c , and was a huge island, "larger than Lybia and Asia put together" Timaeus, 25a. It controlled a vast empire and its inhabitants were great builders, as shown by its palaces, temples, hippodromes, barracks, arsenals and water reservoirs.
They had also forced an opening to the sea by building a canal and creating a network of ports 1 15c-l 17e. One is reminded of the Long Walls built from B. Atlantis was very rich and produced a great variety of objects, practised animal husbandry, possessed rich forests, mineral resources, and a great variety of fruits and vegetables 1 14e- 1 1 5b. In describing this immense and wealthy kingdom, with its important irrigation works, Plato had certainly the Persian Empire in mind and was probably inspired by Herodotus' description of Babylon' Paradoxically, this precise description fits into a legendary narrative, that of the triumphant struggle of archaic Athens against the empire of Atlantis, despite the great imbalance of forces: Athens counted only twenty thousand soldiers, the population of Atlantis was "beyond measure", judging from its meticulously described military resources.
It could call on ten thousand chariots and twelve hundred ships. It numbered sixty thousand districts and each district leader had to provide sixteen men. Its army thus enlisted nine hundred and sixty thousand men. These numbers were obviously the product of fantasy. It is estimated for example, that thirty thousand Athenian soldiers took part in the battle of Salamis. Why this exaggeration in the narrative? Here again the stakes are political. The dialogue assumes its full meaning in the light of Plato's hostility to democracy.
In reality, Athens and Atlantis embody two opposing models. Prehistoric Athens refers to the City of the Republic but also to Sparta; Atlantis with its excessive size represents Athens at the time of Pericles. The dialogue that remained unfinished closes with the announcement of a punishment imposed by the gods on Atlantis, in order to "bring it back to reason". This sentence provides the key to Critias. In keeping with the Platonic idea that all movement is an evolution towards decadence, Atlantis will be punished for having ex-. It compounds the triple wrong of being an imperialist, bellicose shown by the size of its army , and lastly maritime power, having sought to open up to international trade through the construction of ports and a canal.
Although Plato takes care to inform us that the inhabitants of Atlantis, although they were barbarians, bore Greek names a- b , it is clear that through Atlantis he is denouncing the maritime and imperialist power that Athens had been in the fifth century B. When he writes that Atlantis "had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent" Timaeus, 25b , one thinks of the League of Delos. And when he evokes international trade — "Though their empire brought them a great external revenue" Critias, d — , the comparison with the proud statement of Pericles is obvious:.
Critias is an important text for our discussion. Its polemical objective is part and parcel of the political struggle that opposed oligarchy and democracy. What ports, commercial activity and maritime expansion meant for the Athenian oligarchy must be kept in mind. We have seen that the sailors of Samos allowed the re-establishment of democracy in after the first oligarchic revolution, and that democrats sheltering in Piraeus were responsible for the failure of the second seizure of power by Critias and the Tyrants in Finally, in , Pseudo-Xenophanes' pamphlet entitled Constitution of Athens, probably written by Critias himself, develops two ideas: naval imperialism is inseparable from democracy and no compromise is possible between oligarchy and democracy.
Oligarchy was fiercely hostile to everything that even remotely involved the sea, and Plato was no exception. For Plato, understandably, everything that comes from the sea corrupts, is unhealthy, "motley" Laws, The City of Laws must be built inland, far from the shore. Sparta was close to the archaic Athens portrayed in Critias and Timaeus, and truly, everything opposed the Athenian and Spartan models.
Sparta had renounced control of the sea in favour of a resolutely continental policy. It had chosen an autarkical way of life, based on the exploitation of peasants by a class of warriors, in a society that was closed to external influences, and went as far as prohibiting citizens from possessing gold and precious metals.
The Athenian oligarchy, on the other hand, had founded its wealth and political strength on landed resources, trade being mostly a business for foreigners. Because it had the monopoly of socio- religious functions, it believed in a hierarchical divine order. Finally, despite its cronyism, it had to compromise with the sovereign people in the decision-making on the Agora. Hence the Athenian oligarchy's attempts at treason in favour of Sparta which dot the political history of Athens. Moderation and excess. Although political history can explain the choice of arguments, it does not account for Plato's use of the myth of Atlantis.
Hesiod describes "a gradual and continuous decay", with man belonging successively to the golden, silver, bronze and iron races. The myth is structured by the opposition between justice, dike, and violence and excess, hubris, which must not be allowed to fester. The golden age was felicitous, dike reigned, men possessed nothing and everything was given to them in plenty. At the end of the iron age, disorder, violence and death dominate, hubris will triumph.
The narrative clearly shows that the opposition between gold and silver evokes the struggle between Zeus who incarnates order, and the Titans who signify disorder and war. As for the iron age, this is where Prometheus' fate is engraved, who must struggle eternally to subsist, while Pandora symbolises the dual fertility of woman and the earth that pushes men to exhaustion. Let us come back to Plato and reconstitute our puzzle.
The Critias is important not only as a polemical text but also because of its mythological. Myth provides the key to the deep links that unite Critias, Laws, and Republic, and reveals the underlying consistency between the three components of the Utopia of the ideal City in Republic, the organisation of space, the stationarity of 5, households, and the division of citizens into three social classes. We have seen that the hubris and excesses of Atlantis invited the punishment of the gods. This is the core of Critias. The stationarity of the City, strongly emphasized in Laws through the number 5,, is a means of avoiding decadence.
In the unmoving City, dike can function fully. Better still, the number 5,, divisible by twelve like the twelve gods of the Pantheon, has a religious dimension that places the City under the protection of the gods. Because the distribution of City land into twelve tribes conforms to the divine order, another cause of hubris at the heart of the City is eliminated. In this way, social organisation is strongly grounded and hubris is avoided since the guardians and the warriors who exercise temporal and religious powers belong to the golden race.
As such, they are detached from all material contingencies. This last point has a strong justification. Because political divisions undermine the concrete City, Plato wishes to make the ideal City one and homogeneous. And because of the identification of men with the City, there must not be the least individual difference between warriors and guardians. This accounts for the process of eugenic selection in Republic that eliminates all differences between individuals through the system of collective descent , and also for the common model of education and the absence of economic activity that might be a source of discord and social differentiation.
Guardians and warriors can thus dedicate themselves fully to the exercise of political functions. Beyond the false demographic inconsistencies, the Platonic system has a cohesion structured by traditional religious thought. But this cohesion, as Popper rightly saw, is radically opposed to the inspired invention of modernity by classical Greece. We have dealt at length with the question of space because it demonstrates the constant interaction between the philosopher's thought process and the involvement of the politician in the conflicts of his time.
Those demographers who commented on Plato were more interested in a long-run perspective, and committed many anachronisms because time is a central dimension in their discipline, which more than any other brings into play dynamic analysis.
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Unfortunately, as we have seen, from the point of view of the City, time is not the most important dimension, and space is the true issue for Plato. Several philosophical studies focus on the fault lines between Laws and the other dialogues. They argue that time takes on another nature in Laws compared with the other dialogues and becomes genuinely. When one concentrates on space, however, the strong coherence of Plato's thought appears, even if he evokes mythical spaces, and Laws fits in better into the corpus of dialogues.
In the end, how does the Utopian City of the Republic differ from the concrete City of the Lawsl Plato did not renounce philosophical Utopia, as Clisthenes did because he wanted to guarantee the democratic functioning of the City. His aim was to place the City as much as possible "in the hands of the gods" The recourse to myth and the constant quest for religious legitimacy on partisan grounds follow from this logic. A totalitarian system? We have attempted to propose an interpretation of Platonic thinking on the demography of the City from an epistemological perspective.
The attention paid by Plato to the quantification of the ideal City as well as the concrete City can be understood only from the dual viewpoint of philosophy and history which must be articulated constantly. Are "precursors" like Plato relevant for today's demography? Can a Utopian model be used as such? In the negative, can it at least partially sustain a discussion of contemporary doctrines and policies in the area of population?
Throughout his article, Vilquin argues that Plato's recourse to eugenic measures and his concern for a stationary population are essentially totalitarian:. Vilquin finds an obvious parallel with the totalitarian systems of today. The same objection may well apply to Vilquin as to Stange- land. The latter criticised Plato with the conservative reflexes of the late nineteenth century What if society became proletarian?
The former translates, perhaps unconsciously, the anxiety of modern democracies confronted with the bloody implementation of certain modern Utopias such as the tragedy lived by Cambodia at the time when Vilquin wrote. But the stakes go beyond an epistemological debate. The fundamental issue is that. The Platonic City: History and Utopia 23 1. It behoves us then to ask whether the Platonic Utopia is really totalitarian. Karl Popper articulates the most scathing criticism.
He sees in Plato the enemy of the open society, because his thinking is totalitarian in nature. The concept of justice is adduced as proof. What Plato calls justice is not equity in the democratic sense but the interest of the City Republic, a, b, d. Immovability leads to hostility towards social change because classes are not only hierarchical, as Vilquin notes, they must also be rigorously separated.
Popper sees in this the nostalgia of an aristocrat for the caste system of archaic Athens. The Platonic preference for geometric equality which rewards each according to his merits and therefore is opposed to isonomy, the strict democratic equality goes in the same direction. It reinforces social inequalities, for example by assigning political offices on the basis of wealth Laws, a. This will lead to two kinds of power being concentrated in the hands of the same people. One can object to Popper's misuse of the word "totalitarian", since the above criticism denounces a conservative but not necessarily a totalitarian thought.
The accusation of totalitarianism rests on another characteristic of Plato's thought: in no case must the individual take precedence over the City. Plato claims to legislate for the City and not for the individual who is inferior to it Laws, b. Sovereignty being a matter of course, the issue of countervailing powers and of institutional control of the rulers is void.
The nature of a ruler is to be sovereign and Plato is content to define the profile of rulers arbitrarily. It will not do to solve the problem of creating political institutions by merely selecting political personnel. On this point, Plato deserves the same challenge. Much of Popper's critique concerning the leaders of the City refers to the problem of man's place in society, and it is particularly convincing.
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It involves the community of women and children, military education from childhood on, and the training of leaders. Popper starts with a literal reading of the integral communism of the ideal City, and refuses to adopt the philosophical perspective that identifies the individual with the underlying City. He concludes that Plato wants to eradicate all that is private and individual. As for the training in military discipline, not only must it be practised since childhood Republic, a; also a, e; Laws, c , but it compels the individual, man or woman, to obey the leader.
Plato has shown that the guardians of the City, having been shaped to be superior to other individuals, don power as their natural attribute. What is even worse, education is. Popper's critique brings us back full circle to the relations between justice and politics in the City. It helps focus the discussion on a crucial problem, the conditions for exercising political power. When confronting the risk of totalitarianism, the guarantees proposed by Plato seem inadequate to a modern reader. It is true that the social group of guardians who have been selected and conditioned in a eugenic manner will exercise power only as an administrative task, not as an entitlement.
One of the foundations of totalitarianism, the conquest and maintenance of power, is not at stake here. But suppose the guardians were to develop a taste for power? Education in Reason, a sense of Justice, the search for Truth could hardly prevent the degeneration of the Utopian City into a closed totalitarian world. Moreover, the Platonic Utopia is totalitarian by the very nature of its implementation. Plato alone, in Republic, and as counsellor of the Cretans in Laws, defines a social and political system.
This passage is the very one that includes the allegory of the cave. The making of leaders is therefore a central concern in Plato's thought:. The City is not built on consensus among the citizens, but is imposed by an individual who assumes the right to re-think man and society as a philosopher who possesses truth and reason and wants to establish them in the City. From this point of view, the religious adhesion to sacred rites to which Plato is very attached appears as one of the decisive means of political control over the City.
In our opinion, totalitarianism is present, if at all, because of an essential difference between classical Greek thought and the Judaeo- Christian tradition that revolves around the ontological status of the individual. It establishes a correspondence between the structure of order or disorder of the world and that of the City and the soul.
The Platonic City is thus not necessarily totalitarian for Greece in the fifth century B. It is certainly not so in the system of Platonic thought. Furthermore, the model seems a monstrosity as it relates to demography, because state interventionism touches upon what we consider the most private sphere: procreation, family, sexuality, marriage. An economic Utopia would seem less inhuman. In the end, we must conclude that the interest of this "precursor" is quite limited.
The quantitative veneer the 5, plots harks back to a logical system that has very little to do with demography. On the plane of population doctrine and policy the message is inadmissible because of our fundamental disagreement about the concept of the individual. On the other hand, the epistemological interest is obvious, precisely because Plato is so far out of the mainstream.
His system of references is alien to us, and calling his reasoning "demographic" seems profoundly artificial. Decoding the writings of other precursors would probably induce the same scepticism. Demography as a branch of applied statistics is recent. Any attempt to go below the surface will end in misunderstanding.
On the contrary, if such precursors are analysed from the standpoint of ethics or political philosophy, the light they cast on modern demographic policies and doctrines can advance our appreciation by grounding us in more comprehensive value systems.
Cambiano Giuseppe, , "Devenir homme", in J. Canfora Luciano, , "Le citoyen", in J. Dawson Dyone,, Cities of the Gods.
Garlan Yvon, , "L'homme et la guerre", in J. Plato, , Laws, translated by R. Putnam, 2 vols. Plato, , The Collected Dialogues of Plato including the letters, ed. Redfield James, , " Homo domesticus", in J. Stangeland C. L' espace et le temps, Paris, Seuil, p. Translated from the French by Arundhati Virmani. Charbit, Hutchinson, , pp. Unregulated growth of population would introduce a disturbing variable in his well-ordered and harmonious city-state " , p.
Vilquin, Quotations: p. Modern estimates give between 60, and , slaves. Dawson, , pp. Laks, , pp. Vidal-Naquet, , pp. Vernant and P. On the influence of Pythagorean Utopia on Plato, cf. Castel-Bouchouchi, , particularly pp. The archon supreme judge in Athens Megacles appealed to the people to remove Cylon and his accomplices. They were put to death in the sacred enclosure, however, an event that brought curse and exile upon Megacles and his family the Alcmaeonidae.
This great family then reinforced its alliance with the people of Athens and the populations of the coastal villages. It also developed a policy of international alliances, particularly with Delphi. From onwards, Clisthenes' grandfather opposed the tyrant Pisistratus, head of the second of the three families that competed for power in fifth century Athens. After his death in , his two sons proclaimed themselves tyrants in turn. In , Clisthenes, the new leader of the Alcmaeonidae, was finally able to return from exile and seize power with the help of the king of Sparta.
Such were the bitterness and temporal depth of political struggles between aristocratic families. Hestia is the goddess of the domestic hearth, sacred in nature. This is where a welcome stranger is led, where sacrifices to the gods are performed. Hestia koine, the communal hearth, possesses a sacred character that is symmetrical to that of the domestic household. On Hestia, see the three studies by J.