Similarities Between Plato And John Stuart Mill

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Plato was born around 428-7 BC, for most of his life he lived in Athens and had a lot to say about Athenian democracy. John Stuart Mill was born in London in 1806, despite the very large gap in time, many of the same issues and concerns over political philosophy arise in both their work- although with very different views. Despite this, both Plato and Mill agree that the ‘tyranny of the majority’ is to be feared.

Plato was a philosopher in classical Greece, and the founder of the Academy in Athens. He was Aristotle’s outstanding student; however where he focused on the ideal form of state, Aristotle was more interested in the best possible form of state. Plato believed that the primary function of the state is to inculcate virtue in its citizens
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He believes that even if a person is correct, they will only understand their views if they are challenged by opposing opinions and are required to defend themselves. Mill's view is based on the social utility of individuality; if his belief isn’t correct, the strength of the theory is lost. Mill seeks to show that his theory brings about the most desirable outcome in terms of general well-being. If people do not learn from opposing opinions and nonconformity, then it makes it more difficult for Mill to make the case that liberty increases utility. Mill made a number of modifications to Bentham’s view of human nature. Bentham said that people were influenced by ‘two sovereign masters’, pleasure and pain. The successful human being rationally calculates pleasure and pain and navigates life accordingly. Quality of pleasure is not important to Bentham and people are only concerned with their own pleasure. Mill suggested that pleasure is gained indirectly, any theory of human nature is incomplete if it does not take account of feelings, people are capable of acting selflessly, quality of pleasure is important. Mill gives a strong defence of individual liberty and asserts that “over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign” (On Liberty, Mill 1859: 1). Mill makes it clear from this line of his book what his concerns are; to …show more content…
The concept of authority can be debated in two main ways. For one, it can be used to discuss an individuals or group’s right to rule. The other is when someone is spoken of as an authority figure. In Plato’s ideally just city, philosophers would be in a place of authority, or at the least would have to engross themselves ‘sincerely and adequately’ in philosophy. Philosophers having this knowledge of all form regarding the political life and the life of the welfare of the people, they are able to rule the city state because they have the knowledge of the will of the good which is not of this world and the wisdom of the earthly life (Reeve, 2004: 14). Plato’s theory could be interpreted as favouring charismatic authority- the Guardians are the rulers as they are best at it as they have a control of wisdom- this is a function of their personality. According to MaClalland (1996: 36), guardians are mainly concerned with the welfare of the people in the city state. Unlike politicians, Philosophers have the interests of the city state held close and don’t become rulers to acquire wealth and fame but to help the people

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