Notes on The Republic, by Plato, 555b-562a

The Birth of Democracy and the Democratic Man

I. Thesis: Democracy comes into being from the battle between oligarchic man and the poor because oligarchy pays little attention on virtue. The essence of democracy are freedom and equality. Democratic man pursues unnecessary desires.

II. Structure of the birth of democracy and the democratic man

  1. In what way democracy comes into being and what it is like?

The birth of democracy comes from oligarchy’s endless pursuit of money. However, it’s not possible to honor wealth in a city and at the same time adequately to maintain moderation among the citizens. Oligarchy compelled human beings to become poor, ignoring maintaining moderation. The society of oligarchy consists of the wealthy and the poor.

In oligarchy, the only thing that the rulers care is making money. They pay no more attention to virtue than the poor. The poor believe that it is due to the vice of the poor that the rulers are rich. The rich people are nothing in terms of the poor. Ultimately, the faction between the rich and the poor breaks out. Democracy comes into being when the poor win. The opposed party withdraws due to fear. And then they share the regime and the ruling offices with those who are left on an equal basis.

2. They ways to quench the evil (of transformation from oligarchy to democracy):

        a. Prevent a man from doing what he wants with his property;

        b. Compel the citizens to care for virtue (with prescribing that most voluntary contracts are to be made at the contractor’s own risk)

3. What is the character of democracy?

        a. People are free. The city is full of freedom and free speech. There’s license in it to do whatever one wants. All sorts of human beings come to be in democracy.

b. The regime is full of sympathy and lack of pettiness in despising what people say.

c. There’s a dispensing of certain equality to equals and unequals alike without rulers.

4. Define the necessary and the unnecessary

a. Necessary: those we aren’t able to turn aside justly and all those whose satisfaction benefits us. We are long for them by nature (desire of eating, including desire of bread and relish—money-making (useful for works)—pursued by oligarchic man.)

b. Unnecessary: those which a man could rid himself if he were to practice from youth on and whose presence and do no good and sometimes do the opposite of good (sex–spendthrifty—pursued by the poor, drone.)

5. How the democratic man comes out of the oligarchic one

The young man transformed when desires of a kindred bring aid to one party of desires within him. Oligarchic man teach their sons in the way what they did.

The innocent young man without musical education was misled by evil concepts after struggling in mind. They call insolence good education; anarchy, freedom; wastefulness, magnificence; shamelessness courage. The man changes from his rearing in necessary desires to the liberation and unleashing of unnecessary and useless pleasures. He thinks that all pleasures are alike and must be honored on an equal basis. There’s neither order nor necessity in his life, but calling this life sweet, free, and blessed under his understanding. The man is called democratic. His life contains the most patterns of regimes and characters.

  • Conclusion:

    The birth of democracy is from the collapse of oligarchy. The poor treat oligarchic men as nothing because the rich people’s innocence. Democracy is the result of the poor’s victory in war. Democracy pursues freedom and equality. The birth of democratic man is from oligarchic education. They are not able to know right from wrong. They pursue unnecessary desires.

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