Plato's Politics

Christopher Bobonich

in The Oxford Handbook of Plato

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182903
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Plato's Politics

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  • Classical Philosophy
  • Social and Political Philosophy



The dialogues of Plato that are of the most obvious importance for his political philosophy include the Apology, the Crito, the Gorgias, the Laws, the Republic, and the Statesman. Further, there are many questions of political philosophy that Plato discusses in his dialogues. These topics include, among others: the ultimate ends of the city's laws and political institutions and who should rule, and the forms of constitution and their ranking. Plato draws upon Socrates' idea of Apology where the former stalwart compares himself to a gadfly, which is placed upon the great horse of Athens. What is especially worth noting here is that Socrates claims to benefit Athens by benefiting its citizens, and this benefit consists in getting them to examine themselves and their lives with regard to virtue. Since Plato, throughout his career, believed that virtue was by far the most important contributor to happiness, and that the ultimate end of all of a person's rational actions is that person's own greatest happiness, such encouragement to virtue seems a reasonable way to proceed for anyone seeking really to benefit his fellow citizens. The middle dialogues and the. late dialogues wind up Plato's idea of a perfect state. However, the major idea that Plato draws upon is citizen's happiness, which will result in an ideal state.

Keywords: politics; philosophy; political philosophy; gadfly; middle dialogues; late dialogues

Article.  12287 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Classical Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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