Plato – Part 4

The Myth of the Cave is found in Plato’s dialogue called The Republic, in which he argues for his Ideal State.

Plato’s Ideal State is an imaginary ideal, or what could be called a Utopian state. It can be said that Plato believed the Ideal State should be governed by philosophy. He bases his explanation of the Ideal State on the construction of the human body.

The Human Body and the Ideal State

According to Plato, the human body is composed of three parts:

  • head
  • chest
  • abdomen

Each of these three parts of the human body has corresponding values with the ‘soul’, ‘virtue’ and ‘the state’.

The creation of a good state depends on its being governed with reason and wisdom. The relationship between the three parts of a human and the Ideal State can thought of as follows:

head reason wisdom rulers
chest will courage auxiliaries
abdomen appetite temperance labourers

Here the head governs the body and the rulers govern the workers. Nowadays Plato’s state may be described as totalitarian with little regard to freedom and the rights of individuals.

But it is worth noting that he believed women could govern just as effectively as men for the simple reason that the rulers govern by virtue of their own reason.

Women, he asserted have exactly the same powers of reasoning as men, provided they get the same training and are exempt from child rearing and housekeeping.

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”


In Plato’s Ideal State, rulers and warriors are not allowed family life or private property. The rearing of children is considered too important to be left to the parent and so Plato advocated nursery schools and full-time education to be provided by the state.

In trying to promote the values of The Republic, Plato came across opposition and so he wrote The Laws. This amended the Ideal State into a constitutional state that focused on legal and governmental policies.

Plato’s philosophy has been widely studied, discussed and criticized by people in the 2,000+ years since it was written.

One such person who was critical of Plato was Aristotle, a pupil in his academy, who would become the third and final great philosopher from Athens.

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