Plato's Republic Rhetorical Analysis

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Plato’s Republic In the Republic, Plato presents an ostensible utopian society, in which a rigid caste system is maintained through deceit. Plato uses this “utopian society” as an analogy for the soul and thorough it demonstrates how an individual can become just. Despite adopting many positions in the Republic antithetical to many of his beliefs in presented in Plato’s other dialogues, some continue to misinterpret the Republic as a serious political treatise. Plato’s preposterous construct of a “just” society has led some, such as German political philosopher Leo Strauss to view the Republic as an ironic work. Plato’s Republic should be read not as a political treatise, but instead as an extended city-soul analogy which provides an ancillary …show more content…
Instead, Strauss interpreted the dialogue as ironic and as a warning against the promise of a utopia. The Republic’s message according to Strauss was to teach about, “the impossibility of ideal political arrangements” (Klosko). “The surface of the Republic must be peeled away in order to reveal an inner message that is quite the opposite of what the Republic has been taken to convey for hundreds of years” (Klosko). Strauss argues on two fronts, on one he asserts that the dialogue was written satirically and on the other, Strauss holds that the true message of the Republic was to warn against the mergence of a totalitarian form of government. Strauss points out an important contradiction in Plato’s depiction of the philosopher kings, which he then uses as evidence for the satirical essence of the Republic. Strauss argues that philosophers would need to be coerced into ruling as ruling from the point of view of the philosopher would be onerous and a distraction from their otherwise pure purists. If compelled however, they would no longer be qualified to govern as the second they wielded power they would cease to be a philosopher and also become a politician and thus would become unfit to rule (Zuckert). Strauss argues in On Tyranny that the emergence of a utopia, such as the one designed by Plato in the Republic, could only come into existence if brought about and maintained by a group of superiors. These superior—in the case of the Republic, the philosophers—would be responsible for enforcing the order of society. So, according to Strauss any promised utopia, including the society in the Republic, is necessarily

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