Greek Ideals: A Study of Social Life

By C. Delisle Burns | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
PLATO ON THE IDEAL SOCIETY

AS a preliminary we assume that Plato does not speak of the state or of politics in our sense of the words. This will be obvious to scholars; but its importance is not very commonly recognized. The polis, as we have seen, was in fact a union in the main religious, having within it all those different activities which we find in church, state, university, club and theatre,--all as functions of one organization. Plato in speaking of the ideal does not suggest a new form of society but a reform of the polis. The lines within which his idealization was to work were, therefore, strictly defined by circumstance and tradition. He never dreams of a nation-state or of the conflict of church and state or of an international finance or of scientific international unions. We should have to be very careful, therefore, if we were to apply any of Plato's idealization of the polis to the very different social circumstances in which we now live. And it would be absurd to make Plato into an advocate of stateabsolutism or state-education in our sense of the word state. For him, as for later philosophers who have less excuse than he had, there is no question of the conflict of institutions; for the only other

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Greek Ideals: A Study of Social Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Greek Ideals i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents xi
  • Greek Ideals 1
  • Chapter II - The Anthesteria 13
  • Chapter III The Panathenaia 22
  • Chapter IV The Dionysia 39
  • Chapter V The Eleusinia 51
  • Chapter VI Politics 72
  • Chapter VII 98
  • Chapter VIII The Fifth Century 115
  • Chapter IX The Old School 132
  • Chapter X Socrates 162
  • Chapter XI The Philosophers 192
  • Chapter XII Plato on Right Action 200
  • Chapter XIII Plato on the Ideal Man 213
  • Chapter XIV Plato on Education 230
  • Chapter XV Plato on the Ideal Society 241
  • Chapter XVII The Afterglow 293
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