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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

And hence the difficulty of the Platonic Republic


and unity, can only be actualized

when every thing individual and particular falls away, and hence the difficulty of the Platonic Republic. Private property and domestic life (in place of which comes a community of goods and of wives), the duty of education, the choice of rank and profession, the arts and sciences, all these must be subjected and placed under the exclusive and absolute control of the state. The individual may lay claim only to that happiness which belongs to him as a constituent element of the state. From this point Plato goes down into the minutest particulars, and gives the closest directions respecting gymnastics and music, which form the two means of culture of the higher ranks; respecting the study of mathematics, and philosophy, the choice of stringed instruments, and the proper measure of verse; respecting bodily exercise and the service of women in war; respecting marriage settlements, and the age at which any one should study dialectics, marry, and beget children. The state with him is only a great educational establishment, a family in the mass.--Lyric poetry he would allow only under the inspection of competent judges. Epic and dramatic poetry, even Homer and Hesiod, should be banished from the state, since they rouse and lead astray the passions, and give unworthy representations of the gods. Exhibitions of physical degeneracy or weakness should not be tolerated in the Platonic state; deformed and sickly infants should be abandoned, and food and attention should be denied to the sick.--In
all this we find the chief antithesis of the ancient to the modern state. Plato did not recognize the will and choice of the individual, and yet the individual has a right to demand this. The problem of the modern state has been to unite these two sides, to bring the universal end and the particular end of the individual into harmony, to reconcile the highest possible freedom of the conscious individual will, with the highest possible supremacy of the state.

The political institutions of the Platonic state are decidedly aristocratic. Grown up in opposition to the extravagances of the Athenian democracy, Plato prefers an absolute monarchy to every other constitution, though this should have as its absolute ruler only the perfect philosopher. It is a well-known expression of his, that the state can only attain its end when philosophers become its rulers, or when its present rulers have carried their studies so far and so accurately, that they can unite philosophy with a superintendence of public affairs (V. 473). His reason for claiming that the sovereign power should be vested only in one, is the fact that very few are endowed with political wisdom. This ideal of an absolute ruler who should be able to lead the state perfectly, Plato abandons in the _Laws_, in which work he shows his preference for a mixed constitution, embracing both a monarchical and an aristocratic element. From the aristocratic tendency of the Platonic ideal of a state, follows farther the sharp division of ranks, and the total exclusion of the third rank from a proper political life. In reality Plato makes but two classes in his state, the subjects and the


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