Summary and Fundamental Ideas of the Writings
According to the Plato’s Republic, Socrates believed that people needed one another in order to survive. Generally, every person has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, he argued that some people will do well in some art while others perform well in a different art. In this case, Socrates created some sort of City in Speech in order to elaborate on the aspect of justice and injustice in a wider perspective (Plato, 1966). According to Socrates, he believed that there is no difference between justice and injustice simply because there is no conflict in the city.
Socrates, in the republic, postulates and supports the idea of actually being and thus does not support the point of seeming. According to the parable of the cave, Socrates believed that citizens should be let out of the cave where they just see images rather than the real formative experiences. Additionally, he says that people should be allowed outside the cave in order to see the light. On the other hand, Socrates saw the need for rulers have power in order to rule since nobody can exceptionally fit to be a ruler rather than the ones who do (Kraut, 1989).
Apparently, Socrates believed in justice, master of oneself and virtue. Therefore, Socrates believed that people can act rationally and make judgments to themselves and to the entire world correctly. In this case, Socrates acknowledges the idea that rulers should observe the aspects of wisdom, justice and virtue in order to control the city effectively. Socrates shows an outstanding performance as a true philosopher by having considering aspects of epistemology, logic, ethics and metaphysics which are good principles in real life situation.
According to Plato’s apology, Socrates tries to defend himself before the courts against charges laid on him. Socrates is involved in myriad activities of persuading the young and not believing in the gods that the society believed in. In this perspective, Socrates is accused of different charges by three men: Anytus, Meletus and Lycon. According to Socrates, Lycon presented the rhetoricians and thus stood against Socrates in the court. On the other hand, Meletus, only accuser who spoke during the defense hearing, stood for the poets. Finally, Anytus who apparently joined the accusation team against Socrates because he represented the politicians and craftsmen (Heidegger, 1976).
Plato’s apology can be sub-divided into three parts: Socrates own defense and his experience with the Delphi oracle the second part involves the verdict itself while the third part is about the sentencing. According to Socrates defense, he postulated that the main accusation he was convicted was because he was an evil doer and a very curious person. A Socrates story about the oracle at Delphi and the ultimate answer that no man was wiser was a significant cause of the Socrates prosecution against court of law. Socrates is said to have gone against the gods, which the Greek society believed in, and also instilling ideas to the young who had begun to think and act according to Socrates teachings (Kraut, 1989).
According to Plato’s apology, Socrates went to question a politician who had the reputation of being wise in the Greek society. However, the conversation between him did not go as planned since he just created enmity between the politicians. Additionally, Socrates had similar encounters with various key political figures in the society where he questioned their wisdom and ultimately ending up creating enmity with the respective individuals.
Historical context and comparison between other ideas
Socrates is said to be curious about what is beneath the earth and above the heavens. After his encounter with the politicians Socrates goes further to the poets and questions them about their wisdom. In all of these cases, Socrates creates enmity in the society with the respective people who encounter his questioning.
In the Republic, chapter seven, Socrates brings out the allegory of the cave. Basically, the parable of the cave is meant to bring out the effect of education on human souls. In this case, people inside the cave in the darkness are unaware of the reality in the outside world. According to Socrates, he believes that people should be let out of the cave and to face the reality of the outside world. In practice, Socrates postulates that rulers are not supposed to keep citizens in the dark side of the world and face the images instead; they should let citizens see the real side of their personality (Plato, 1966).
Additionally, Socrates states that the goal of education is to transform an individual and drag everyone far away from the cave. On the contrary, education is not objected at having education into the soul rather into turning the soul into the right objectives. Therefore, it is clear and certain that enforcement of certain rules of the society would help the society in mastery of oneself and in better education. Additionally, people are thus expected to do what is best for others without infringing their rights to life, pursuit of happiness and liberty.
According to Socrates, citizens should be allowed to see the beauty of the outside world rather than be deprived to distinguish between reality and what is not real. Alternatively, if people do not have the wisdom to break free from their own out of the cave, it is certain that other people may intervene for their guidance. Therefore, as Socrates postulates, when an individual is actually good, they most likely act in accordance with the benefits and interests of the society (Heidegger, 1976). On the contrary to Socrates idea, Machiavelli comes up with his different argument about the parable of the cave. According to Machiavelli, he postulates that people should remain in the cave and never to see the light. His argument is purposely aimed to avoid the citizens from seen the reality of the outside world.
Machiavelli, in this case, tries to bring out the power of a ruler, where he suggests that a ruler should have the powers to command respect and can take evil means in achieving desired goals and objectives. Therefore, in contrary to Socrates, Machiavelli sees no difference between justice and injustice. However, Machiavelli agrees to some of the ideas in the republic like the possession of power by a leader to exercise his or her authority in the society. Additionally, Machiavelli supports an enlightened ruler who has absolute powers to exercise what is necessary for the kingdom through evil means.
According to Machiavelli, he takes an example of a ruler who grabs neighbor’s territory in order to satisfy the needs of his society. Therefore, it is evident that the ruler acts on the needs of people through himself. Machiavelli suggests that seeming is good while, on the other hand, actually being is not good. Therefore, he advocates for leaving all men in the cave where they see the images rather than the reality of the outside world. Moreover, a leader should seem to have things he is not such as humanism, trustworthy, faithful and merciful (Kraut, 1989). Basically, citizens are allowed to see the leader’s image, which is aimed to instill respect, fear and power. However, the aspects are not the true of the ruler but just a reflection of the leader’s characters.
According to the recent time analysis of the parable of the cave and Plato’s apology, there are various importance and significance about the two writings. In practice, the current society is very rational and has taken a major step in evaluating the recent political situations and influence in the society. Generally, today’s society has become more individualistic than it was to be in the earlier days. In this case, in the past individuals used to think and act collectively and most of their actions were based on the collectivist nature of the matter (Plato, 1966).
On the other hand, the society has learned from the past and has come out of the cave where they do not have to face the images of their leaders but to see the reality of the outside world. Therefore, it is worth mentioning that there is a great difference between the historical community and the current society. In particular, Machiavelli ideas are not prevalent in today’s society since he advised the prince to take some measures which were aimed at humiliating and cruel in gaining and maintaining power. According to today’s society, there is an emphasis on democracy in the society, with the majority having their say and the minority having their way.
Therefore, it is evident that Socrates had an elaborate and effective point concerning the society. In this case, Socrates proposed the issue of having fair justice and a moral belief in oneself. In addition, he postulated that people in the society should depend on each other into each in order to make living possible. The argument that Socrates provided for substantial proof for the idea with the aspect that nobody is sufficiently good in all the art. Therefore, there are some individuals who possess good art while others to not.
The two books relate to the current political situation, where leaders are acquiring power through various illegal and unethical forms. Additionally, grabbing of power is accompanied by ruthless practices, which lead to poor governance and a significant change in the management of the nation (Kraut, 1989). However, as a result of various strategies, which have been implemented to enable the citizens acquire education and thus have a substantial knowledge in determining the choices they have to make in electing current leaders. Therefore, education has played a vital role in the society and has made a significant impact to the way leaders treat and perceive citizens in the current situation of the world.
In conclusion, according to Socrates, people should live in the society as actually being rather than seeming to be. In this case, the parable of the cave should take the position of allowing individuals to get out of the cave and face the reality of the outside world. In so doing, the citizens will have a clear image of who their leaders really are and what they stand for in the society.
Heidegger, M. (1976). The Essence of Truth: On Plato's Parable of the Cave and the Theaetetus. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Kraut, R. (1989). Plato's Republic: Critical Essays. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Plato. (1966). Plato's Republic, Volume 3. New York: CUP Archive.