Without education of the masses, democracy would cease to exist. When Plato was forming his ideal society, he stressed the importance of education for several reasons. Most importantly, educating citizens led to a peaceful, well-run republic. For Plato, education was not about information intake and data storage. Rather, education was drawing out the knowledge that was already in the student. He said that “the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already” He gives an allegory of prisoners in a cave, who have never seen light before.
They become free, come out of the cave and see the light. They understand that the shadows are just reflections of real things; they are not the real things themselves. They ascend up to a mountain and see the world for what it really is. Plato uses this story to illustrate what education does for the human soul. We are all born in a dark cave, chained to a wall and cannot see the light. We still around all day looking at shadows, which appear to be so real to us.
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Education breaks the chains of ignorance. We can ascend to the top of the mountain and look out onto the beautiful world. According to Plato, after the prisoners’ ascend all he way to the top of the mountain, “they must be made to descend again among the prisoners’ in the den and partake in labors and honors, whether worth having or not. ” Plato notes that once a person is educated and has received knowledge and truth, they should go back and teach those who do not know.
This still relevant today because we need to not be so focused on how high we climb up the ladder, but we need to be concerned with how we help others achieve their goals. This allegory is also used to describe justice. The prisoners’ in the cave do not know what real justice looks like. The people n the mountain tops must come down and give understanding to those who are lacking it. Plato goes on to describe the type of leader that would be perfect to run the ideal city.
The type of leader that Plato describes is someone who is “wisest about the affairs of the state, and by whom the state is best administered and who at the same time have other honors and a better life then that of politics. “The ideal leader in Plat’s time is not much different from the ideal leader in our time period. We still want someone who knows and understands the problems of the State or country, who will be a DOD leader, and will be able to put the welfare of his people before his own.
These characteristics are still what many people look for in a dependable leader. Plato describes that a good leader should not be caught up in their own wealth, they should care about their people. This is a very foundational idea that is still important in America today. We desire to have a leader who will be humble and care for us, instead of one that has a hidden agenda. According to Plato, economic self-interest and political power must be kept separate and not be allowed to work in combination to the disadvantage of he state.
In mapping out his utopian society, Plato stresses the importance of democracy. In a short piece called democracy considered, Plato talks about how oligarchies decay into democracies and democracies decay into tyranny. Tyranny is formed from pursing one’s pleasures and appetites. Plato claims that “a man who is deranged and not right in his mind will fancy that he is able to rule, not only over men, but also over gods “He describes here that a man can not be a leader if he is deranged and thinks that he is the center of he universe.