The Ockham Society (Friday - Week 8, MT21)

Ockham Society

Plato is rightly taken to be a vehement critic of democracy and this critique is most often understood in terms of a dislike of freedom (ἐλευθερία) tout court. According to this story, the concept of freedom simply has no positive connotations for Plato––at least in the Republic. It is the argument of this essay that the textual evidence does not bear this out. Rather, Plato clearly recognizes a positive function for ἐλευθερία in the ideal city and a proper reconstruction of the criticism of democratic ἐλευθερία in Rep.VIII.555b2–561e6 and 562b–564a shows that Plato is critical only of the democratic interpretation of the concept. This, then, is the main thesis this essay seeks to defend: Plato’s criticism of democratic freedom is a criticism of a view of freedom that is really anarchic and dysfunctional insofar as it allows for the imitation of craft-roles that leads to an inferior and unjust city and, ultimately, to a descent into tyranny. I will attempt then, to sketch Plato’s “kingly” concept of freedom understood in terms of self-control (σωφροσύνη). 


Ockham Society Convenors: Lara Scheibli and Kimon Sourlas - Kotzamanis | Ockham Society Website