Plato’s Republic: ‘Kallipolis Of The Soul’

What’s incredible about Plato’s The Republic, widely regarded as the foundation of the entire Western political canon, is that it is ready-made as a refutation of the major problem that would come later with Liberalism, Democracy and Marxism; a polity that is based on radical individualism and the inherently rational human.

Written around 380BC, The Republic takes the form of a public debate between Socrates, Thrasymachus and various other Athenians about the meaning of justice in society and the flaws of various governmental systems in producing just citizens.

“There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.”

The Republic then forms an analogy between the human soul and the city or state and engages in hypothesising the ideal society, which would require rule by an aristocracy of philosopher-kings. This ideal society is called Kallipolis (in Ancient Greek; “beautiful city”).

This is a deeply Traditionalist idea of a righteous order arising out of discipline and hierarchy ordering the individual soul in synthesis with the superstructure of the state to achieve a harmony;

“The pattern of Kallipolis can be thought of as a divine one which a man can found as a constitution within his own heart, whether or not it is founded externally as a city, something which depends on chance or necessity.” – Introduction to The Republic Second Edition by Melissa Lane

That is to say, the original conception of a just society according to Western philosophy does not arise out of the liberal enlightenment idea of a naturally inherent freedom, liberty or goodness of the individual from a state of nature, but in a harmonious nation produced by statecraft explicitly concerned with inculcating a righteous hierarchy in the souls of its citizens.


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