Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
In Book 4 of Plato’s Republic, Socrates reaches an understanding of justice. He concludes that justice is: “Having and doing of one’s own and what belongs to one” (112, 434 a). Socrates explains that the Polis functions best when each class completes their roles that they are best suited for, the basis of Specialization. For instance, a farmer must farm, a warrior must fight, and a ruler must rule. But, a farmer must never fight nor rule. Plato writes that when this imbalance takes place, the harmony is broken, and justice decreases in the Polis.
“The very same form and dispositions as are in the city are in each of us” (114, 435 e). Socrates explains that the city and individual are analogous. Realizing this analogy, Socrates uses the concept of harmony for finding justice. Paralleling the three classes of society, Socrates breaks the soul into three parts, the tripartite soul. The appetitive part yearns for food, drink, sex, and especially money; the spirited part of the soul strives for honor, while the rational part of the soul searches for truth and knowledge. The rational part must rule, along with the honor-loving part, over the obedient appetitive part.
As just individuals, the souls of the guardians allow the rational, truth-loving part of the soul to rule over all other desires. The Guardians are very intelligent and well-educated: “Those led by calculation accompanied by intelligence and right opinion, you will come upon in few, and those the ones born with the best natures and best educated” (109, 431 c). Guardians do not have any material possessions: “They get no wages beyond the food, as do the rest” (97, 420 a). Unlike the group desiring great wealth, they can’t make trips or buy massive houses. Socrates references a potter to display his point. He argues that the rich potter will not work as hard as the less advantaged one, while the poor potter does not have the funds to buy his supplies. He concludes: “From both poverty and wealth the products of the arts are worse and the men themselves are worse” (99, 421 e). Socrates argues that individuals do not work to the same caliber when they have a greater amount of money.
In order to find if our leaders behave like the guardians, we must use one of our leaders for comparison. As Vermont’s former governor, and quite possibly America’s next president, Governor Howard Dean is an important leader. And as a Yale graduate, he is very well educated. Howard Dean cares passionately about the state of our union. He claims that he is running for president to “take our country back.” Like many other politicians, Dr. Dean has a great amount of financial backing.
I believe that our leaders act partially like guardians, but also differ. Both the guardians and Dean were very well educated. Both the guardians, as well as Dr. Dean have the state’s best interest at heart. While Dean does have incredibly more material possessions than the guardians had, I do not believe that this affects the way that he personally rules. For if he has no desire to increase the amount of money that he possesses, this should not be a factor while considering the quality of his leadership. Like the guardians, I believe the governor’s soul is in harmony. Through his education and due to his actions, it is apparent Howard Dean’s rational part of his soul, allied with his honor-loving part, rule over the money-loving, desiring portion.



Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
Andy Howe
Reflection Paper: “Do our leaders behave like guardians today?”
9/14/03
According to Plato, in order for a city to achieve justice it is imperative that the perfect guardians or leaders administer it. Plato focuses on the specifics of these guardians’ upbringings as something that is excessively important and pertinent to their duties and lives as adults. A system is created to first identify possible guardians, and then after observation and various tests; the guardians are split into two categories.
The first category is that of the auxiliaries, who serve as protectors of the city through both the military and through guarding morals, beliefs, laws, controlling propaganda and filtering information that reaches the public, and the virtues of the city maintaining these aspects of the city. All who are auxiliaries and those of the second category, the ultimate rulers of the city, are forbidden to accumulate wealth, or to engage or satisfy the desire to induce and have pleasures such as drunkenness, possession of women, marriage, and any wrong doings. Every guardian has to pass tests showing that they are free of greed and persuasions; everything that they do is for the best of the city. Specifically for the rulers, who pass tests to show their capacity to be untainted rulers of the city, must show wisdom and superiority through age, whereas the auxiliaries differ slightly by showing mainly courage through all of their actions.
Guardians have very specific responsibilities and requirements; both are trained since birth to think only for the good of the city, to practice just acts, speak highly of the gods, never speak of evils and wrong-doings, and to live their lives with a balance of specific values, morals, and goals. The auxiliaries and rulers differ with respect to specific values, the auxiliaries’ value courage and heroism of the city, and the rulers’ practice wisdom.
The comparison of Plato’s guardians to leaders of the present day shows very few similarities. Having set aside the differences between ideas and values of Plato’s polis and those of the current day cities, our leaders are no matches for those of the polis. Our leaders practice unjust acts, have luxuries, accumulate wealth, and they have not been raised for the soul purpose of being a leader, and countless more differences. Leaders of the current time are more apt to have ulterior motives through campaigns and time in office. Political leaders try to appear just but in reality they have different concerns than the general public. Then, when an elected official is in term, he or she meddles with other peoples’ businesses, changes promises that were once made to the population, and lies. A perfect example of a recent leader performing the unjust act of lying to the population,
“I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her.” (Interviewed by Jim Lehrer of ‘NewsHour With Jim Lehrer’)
Such lies would not have been committed in the days of Plato’s polis. For the guardians of the polis are not allowed to possess women or have marriage. On the contrary, leaders of the present day are born and raised to contribute in the same ways as any other citizen. They are people of the norm, maybe people of the extreme upper classes but still they are not of the caliber of the guardians of the polis in the sense of purity and soul cleansing.
In conclusion, the leaders of our time do not behave is the same manor as the guardians of the polis would because, our guardians have been brought up differently and our society’s values are very diverse whereas these of the polis were not. The requirements for leaders in reality are nearing non-existent for they do not outline any kind of philosophy or point of view of which they must hold, unlike the polis where people are brought up to honor and take orders from the rulers. Today’s leaders in reality may sometimes lack education, but these imperfects are not as accentuated as one might think, because in the United States of America, the government is organized with checks and balances built in. Thus, through this system not only one person is in control of the state, but instead, many are. This system was created out of the value of diversity in the mind, which is different from the beliefs of the polis.

Monday, September 15, 2003
 
Do our leaders behave like guardians today?
-Rachel Smith

You must first define what a leader and guardian is, before you can judge a person on whether or not they are doing there job. Plato thinks to be a guardian is to be wise and have self control. He makes a point about wealth and poverty with Guardians. He quotes “Take the other craftsmen again and consider whether these things corrupt them so as to make them bad.” (p99 d) For another example he quotes “Will a potter who’s gotten rich still be willing to attend to his art?” (P99 d) If a guardian has no self control over wealth, will he be willing to fix things and still care? However he also believes a Guardian can easily make the judgment of what is right and wrong in society, because of their education. Plato thinks society consists of three main classes. The producers, auxiliaries, and the guardians, In each of these groups, there is a job and the people in the group must do that job, and only that job. Adeimantus points out that being a guardian, sounds unpleasant. That the ruler would have no private wealth, therefor he could not proceed with the things that people think will make them happy. However, Socrates reminds him that their goal isn’t to be happy, or to only make one class happy, but to make the city (society) the happiest it can be without failure and argument. Plato quotes “ We supposed we would find justice most in such a city, and injustice, in its turn, in the worst-governed one, and taking a careful look at them, we would judge what we’ve been seeking for so long.”
Today, our leader of our country is George W. Bush. How do we know if he’s do his job, and behaving like a guardian? Plato says they must have a good education. On April 8, 2002, Bush made a statement about whether or not to call a summit and he quoted “This doesn’t have nothing to do with reputation.” Grammar much? He also quoted “Unfairly but truthfully, our party has been tagged as being against things- anti-immigrant, for example.” (www.bettymeetsboris.com/comedy/bush3) Does this make any sense? However, that is just our president. There are many people in the world that act and behave like a leader, but don’t get any credit for it. Take for example all of the women and men who take time out of their days to organize food drives, raise money for the poor, tried to help stop the war, walked in a gay pride parade, organized a group to help battered woman, and spend time with disabled people. Those are also the people who make differences in peoples lifes. They are wise, educated, and obviously have self control, because they volunteer their time to help. Why don’t we hear more about those important people on the news? Instead, we hear about rock stars being our leaders, and our influences. People look at Britney Spears as being a leader in pop music, when the truth behind everything is audio recording that can change her voice, a tight skirt, cause she’s got the ass, and the beauty which takes her 4 hours to pull off. In our society, the press and media get so geared up about when some celebrity swears, makes a strong point, or does some unjust thing when the media shouldn’t be spying on their life anyway.
I believe we do have leaders out there that behave like guardians, I just think we are not focusing on the right ones.
 
John Donahue
9/12/03
Plato
Paper
Got Guardians?
Do our guardians act according to Plato? Of course not, they are very far from it. The leaders are not supposed to collect wealth, yet every single politician in the United States is paid well more than they should be. Being a politician should be more a prestigious job than a source of income.
"The desires of the worthless many are controlled by the desires and knowledge of the decent”(431d) No matter how stupid people think the President Bush, he still has some intelligence, and the people around him are also intelligent. The same goes with any other President in our history. We do have intelligent leaders, maybe not the most moral leaders, but intelligent nonetheless. What bothers me is the ignorance that people can have to the protest or be for a certain action without knowing why they take that personal view. With the war in Iraq, there were more people that were against the war, and had no clue why they were against it. On the same end, they were people who were for the war, and whose only access to understand what a real war is like is a pointless war computer game. People should educate themselves before speaking for or against someone or something, so they can produce an argument and not seem so moronic.
There is not one honest politician that I know of today. It’s all about money, power, and getting the vote. Since a good chunk of the American public has the intelligence of a toad, they’ll buy into whatever the person running will say. Governor Gray Davis is now trying to pass a law so the illegal immigrants can purchase a drivers license. It’s kind of a coincidence that they can purchase their drivers license on the day of the recall election. I’m not saying that all politicians serve no good purpose; just that mostly everything they do has some sort of benefit.
To be a leader, according to Plato, everyone has to agree with your beliefs. That is certainly not the case with our leaders. There are so many different political beliefs today that it is truly sickening. Wouldn’t it make more sense to organize countries in the order of political views? The Conservative States of American, or Liberal Canada. People would stand up and say, “ Hey, so many wars would erupt over this idea,” but would there really be that many wars? With amount of people in each country, would it be worth the military effort to start a war? The entire country would be against you, and the amount of uprising that would happen.
Our leaders are not true guardians. Not to me, not to you, not to your family, not to anyone. The corruption that lies with each of our leaders is too immense to stop. They are supposed to be setting our moral standard and being role models. What great role models they are. Here’s an idea, lets lie, cheat, and slander just to get into a seat of power.

 
John Donahue
9/12/03
Plato
Paper
Got Guardians?
Do our guardians act according to Plato? Of course not, they are very far from it. The leaders are not supposed to collect wealth, yet every single politician in the United States is paid well more than they should be. Being a politician should be more a prestigious job than a source of income.

"The desires of the worthless many are controlled by the desires and knowledge of the decent”(431d) No matter how stupid people think the President Bush, he still has some intelligence, and the people around him are also intelligent. The same goes with any other President in our history. We do have intelligent leaders, maybe not the most moral leaders, but intelligent nonetheless. What bothers me is the ignorance that people can have to the protest or be for a certain action without knowing why they take that personal view. With the war in Iraq, there were more people that were against the war, and had no clue why they were against it. On the same end, they were people who were for the war, and whose only access to understand what a real war is like is a pointless war computer game. People should educate themselves before speaking for or against someone or something, so they can produce an argument and not seem so moronic.

There is not one honest politician that I know of today. It’s all about money, power, and getting the vote. Since a good chunk of the American public has the intelligence of a toad, they’ll buy into whatever the person running will say. Governor Gray Davis is now trying to pass a law so the illegal immigrants can purchase a drivers license. It’s kind of a coincidence that they can purchase their drivers license on the day of the recall election. I’m not saying that all politicians serve no good purpose; just that mostly everything they do has some sort of benefit.

To be a leader, according to Plato, everyone has to agree with your beliefs. That is certainly not the case with our leaders. There are so many different political beliefs today that it is truly sickening. Wouldn’t it make more sense to organize countries in the order of political views? The Conservative States of American, or Liberal Canada. People would stand up and say, “ Hey, so many wars would erupt over this idea,” but would there really be that many wars? With amount of people in each country, would it be worth the military effort to start a war? The entire country would be against you, and the amount of uprising that would happen.

Our leaders are not true guardians. Not to me, not to you, not to your family, not to anyone. The corruption that lies with each of our leaders is too immense to stop. They are supposed to be setting our moral standard and being role models. What great role models they are. Here’s an idea, lets lie, cheat, and slander just to get into a seat of power.......

 
Sam wise:
you say that all people are corrupted by human nature. i do not think that this is so. for example look at the Secretary General of the United Nations. his name is Kofi Annan every day he is arguing with other nations about what to do about terrorisim in the world at large. he works harder than anyone who is involved in the UN. and does he get anything out of it? not really. he is working for the better good of the Polis, which is the world at large. aren't these traits of a guardian?
-Biddle
 
Will Meyer
9/14/03
SS5

Plato goes to great lengths at defining a Guardian of his time and what they do. Guardians must have no money, they must have no physical property, and they must be uncorrupted by power and greed. If these main rules are not followed by guardians then you will surely have corruption and greed in the city. “But you surely see that men who are not guardians of the laws and the city, but seem to be, utterly destroy an entire city, just as they alone are master of the occasion to govern it well and make it happy.� (421 a-b) Therefore, Guardians need to have these traits in order to keep the city at large from collapsing in on itself. Without these rules set down to control the guardians the idea of the Polis would be ruined. “If by becoming well educated they become sensible men, they’ll easily see to all this and everything else we are now leaving out� (423 e) So Guardians of a city state, or a Polis must be well educated and be able to tell the differences between right decisions and wrong decisions. And to be this way they must personally be unaffected by money or power.

The Guardians of the city in Plato ,who are uncorrupted, are a lot different from any leader, or guardian you find today. For example, Presidente George W. Bush is not a guardian. He has lots of personal money. However, we are kept in the dark about what he uses the money for. He has extra ordinary power and he’s used it to attack a third world country for questionable reasons. The idea to get rid of Saddam may not be a bad thing. However, I do not believe that our country should have been forced into war without being told why. The president told the American people a “Noble Lie.� He told us that the war was about weapons of mass destruction, but where are these weapons? I believe instead that the president lied to us in order to get rid of Saddam so he could get revenge for what Saddam did to his father when he was president. Also I believe that this war was more about oil then he told us it was. Overall, George W. Bush made a bad decision in keeping the American People in the dark. If he had just told us what the war was really about he could have saved himself from all the bad publicity, and the nation from tragedy in recent weeks. In a way you, could say that because the president, by not being honest or following rules and abusing power as Guardian, it is now possible that his “city� or Polis is collapsing underneath him.

There is one world leader that I believe is as close to a guardian as you can find. He is the Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. Every day he works together with all of the nations of the world to try to resolve issues with each other. He is not driven by money, greed, or personal power, or any particular point of view except world peace. Through its treaties the UN involves most of the countries in the world to debate how to unite against terrorism in order to protect and better the world’s populations. Kofi Annan is in this way behaving like a guardian, because he is using the rules and treaties of the united world leadership’s to better the greater population. Kofi Annan is in this way using the power that was given to him to better people and the environment of a city state. In this way Kofi Annan is the guardian of the world.


 
Sam
9/15/03
Reflection Paper
Global Studies 2

Our leaders today are much different than this idea of a guardian from Plato. Today’s leaders often turn the election process into a popularity contest by making there other competitors seem worse. And why do they do this. Is it because they know that they are truly the best candidate for the job? Obviously, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they are only out to benefit themselves. And this is not how a true guardian, in philosophy should act.

“But you surely see that men, who are not guardians of the laws and the city, but seem to be, utterly destroy an entire city, just as they alone are masters of the occasion to govern it well and to make it happy.” (The Republic of Plato, By Plato, 421a) This quote from Plato shows that if the guardian is only interested in personal gain, they can destroy the area that they are ruling.

In philosophy, a guardian is a person who doesn’t care about gaining material wealth or power. A true guardian should use his capabilities to best benefit the area that he is ruling. A true guardian couldn’t be chosen out of candidates, they could only be chosen without wanting to be chosen in the first place. Almost anyone who runs for a position of power today has in some way or another wanted gain something from it. How could someone not, if given power over others, not at least have the thought of abusing there power for personal gain? Its human nature to do that and if you look at almost any leader today and in the past, you will see this.

If you look at episode 8F01 of the Simpson’s, you can see this. Congressman Bob Arnold is scene by Lisa taking a bribe from a lobbyist to allow oil drilling in Teddy Roosevelt’s head on Mount Rushmore. This is obviously an exaggeration, but it tells a good message. In this case, a congressman allows one of our national treasures to be destroyed, so that he can make a little extra cash. This is what our leaders are like today, and it is self explanatory that they do not possess the qualities of a true guardian.

Sunday, September 14, 2003
 
Tim Aikey
Do our leaders behave like guardians today?
Due 9/16/03

I don’t think that our leaders behave like guardians today. A leader is defined as being “ a person or thing that is the most successful or advanced in a particular area”(Oxford English Dictionary). An area can be anywhere from your house to your nation. A guardian according to Plato is to have Courage, control over himself, and wisdom. According to Plato, “power and preservation, through everything, of the right and lawful opinion about what is terrible and what not, I call courage”(The Republic, p.108, 430b). Moreover a guardian is able to tell what is terrible and what is not. Plato also talks about controlling your desires, “the desires in the common many are mastered by the desires and the prudence in the more decent few”(The Republic, p.109, 431d). Plato is saying that only a few people, the guardians, that can control their desires, and that the majority of the people can’t. For instance making the choice to do your homework or play soccer. Basically making the “right” choice, choosing “good” over “bad.” Finally a guardian needs wisdom. They need wisdom or knowledge, but not just in one area, like English, but in all of them, including music, gymnastics, and art, along with many other subjects. According to Plato nobody in a society, except for guardians should know more then there craft, if they try to do any more than their craft, they will not be perfect at this new craft, and therefore weaken the city, and lead to the downfall of the city. Plato also said that the guardians should “‘guard in every way against the city’s being little or seemingly big; rather it should be sufficient and one’”(The Republic, p.101, 423c). Basically you want exactly as many people that your society can hold. A guardian doesn’t want a city so big, that it becomes weak, corrupted or out of control. Also a guardian doesn’t want a city so small that it lacks in areas that it needs to be a successful city. An example of this would be a city without any schools, this would lead to lack of education, and therefore, ignorance.

I don’t think that our government, our leaders, our guardians, are acting like true guardians and true leaders. I don’t think that our leaders are chosen, for their wisdom, courage, and temperance. I also don’t think that our leaders are the most advanced in our society. According to both the oxford English dictionary and Plato, our leaders really shouldn’t be leading. Since we have a so called democracy then it is chosen by the people. Since there are a lot of ignorant people not everyone agrees on what qualities a leader should have, so we don’t have the best possible leader. I think that the United States is a plutocracy. Generally the people don’t even make the final choice on who’s going to be the leader, rather someone else who’s supposed to be representing them. If your running for a position in the government, money is a big help. It helps you promote yourself, and it can be used although illegal, to payoff people to help you win the election. This plutocracy theory I think is accurate because as far as I know every president that I have heard of was well off before they became president. According to Britannica a plutocracy is a “government by the wealthy”(Britannica Ready Reference). So if we have a wealthy government we have plutocracy, in some shape or form. There shouldn’t be any poverty, or unusually rich people in a society, because this leads to greed, or depression, depending on the case. In the United States there is a lot of both, poverty and wealth, moreover the leaders are not doing their job. Also in the United States there are a lot of areas where there are too many people, creating a city that is out of control and corrupted. For example, New York City, and any other cities that goes over their limit of people that they should have in a city. George Bush doesn’t make good decisions, for example, his $350 billion tax cut package has caused many jobs losses. For example, in August 2003, “Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 93,000 in August” (Employment Situation Summary). August was actually like the sixth consecutive month that jobs have dramatically been lost. Obviously our leader, George W. Bush isn’t being a very good leader.

I could go on forever about how many things are wrong with our leaders, and example after example to prove my point. It is very obvious to me that our leaders aren’t being true leaders, either to Plato, the Oxford English Dictionary, or myself.


Sources:

1. The Republic of Plato
2. Oxford English Dictionary
3. Britannica Ready Reference,© 2002 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
4. Employment Situation Summary, United States Department of Labor, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32724-2003Sep5.html

so quick and so fast




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