Pursuit of Power and Rhetoric Skills

Section A

1. Sophists are the ones pretending to be wise for money and power. They claim to possess wisdom and the ability to teach it as a skill to youths politically inclined. They serve for both their self-interest and of their students. However, their skills are rhetoric and based on persuasion. They do not have knowledge and truth. The seeks fame and reputation. Hence, they have the vulgar tastes of the mob as well as the vicious ambitions of a tyrant. An example is Thras, who know how to get and maintain political power so that he could feed on the ambitious youth of Athens (Plato’s Republic).

2. A Philosopher King is is perfect in all virtues. He has moderation, courage, prudence and wisdom. He has the right balance of opposing and complementary traits. He is both a hard warrior and a soft philosopher. He requires his kingdom to be moderate and well-endowed to produce, educate, promote and obey such kind of personality. His nature represents the possibility of determining the being and becoming, infinity and totality, and singularity and universality (Plato’s Republic).

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3. Oligarchy is the best regime in theory. However, it is the rule of the few where others are excluded from the leisure for education and virtue. There is no participation and support as the few serve their own interest, mainly wealth by exercising property franchise. Due to the concentration of power and wealth in a few, there is the risk of instability (Aristotle’s Politics).

4. Providence means the unfolding of the divine plan in time due to God’s will. God knows and sees all and is all powerful. He is the origin, and everything unfolds due to his divine plan. The perspective of humans cannot be compared with His plan as they limited and flawed. Human are like tiny thread within the infinite and divine plan (Aug. Intro and Bks. I - IV).

5. Pride. The fatal flaw in a person is pride. It is arrogance that leads the person to strive and compete. The elite will become self-serving and vicious. Plato, in his “ideal city in speech” states that by conscripting the brothers as co-founders in this ideal city, the brothers will become ethically bound or attach with the pride of ownership and genesis (Plato’s Republic Bks. 2 – 3). However, Augustine sees a man’s pride as one of the reasons that brought evil into this world. Pride is the greatest sin that led to the fall of Lucifer and Man. Pride along with greed dominated Rome. Pride causes disobedience (Aug. Intro and Bks. I - IV).

6. Christianity taught obedience before justice. The importance of teaching obedience is because disobedience along with pride brought evil into this world. Obedience sits along the other Christian virtues of humility, charity, and hope for the future. As an example, true justice was not found in Rome as it did not obey God. Disobedience leads to the just punishment of suffering. Evil entered Earth through Satan and Adam’s disobedience (Aug. Intro and Bks. I - IV).

Section B

1. Polity is considered the best regime in practice for the majority of citizens and for most regimes almost all the time. It balances oligarchy and democracy and inculcates checks and balances of opposing forces. Polity brings a middle ground between the opposing forces. It develops a broad base of support and inclusion. It is mostly inclusive of most actors in judging and deliberating. Office is through election. Polity does not require property qualification. Hence, it engages the best qualities derived from different parts of a city. It gives each their dues. The rule of law is prevalent (Aristotle’s Politics).

2. Nobility is a mix of spirited and philosophical natures. It is required in guardians, who are “Noble Dogs”. Guardians represents inequality of nature/class. They are warriors who possess power, superiority and force. Hence, they need to be properly controlled and directed through education. Education will help possess courage and intelligence; differentiate between friends and foes; and to commit to loyalty and obedience. Thus, it will ensure safety and security of the political community. This also means that education must begin at a young age when it is easier to mold and permanently inculcate the right belief system (Plato’s Republic).

3. According to Augustine, God created the world as an act of free choice. God created man with has free will. However, evil originated from the free will. Satan was created and Adam disobeyed God. The man’s pride is an expression of free will. It is, however, the greatest sin of all. It causes disobedience. It is found in Satan who loves himself more than God. Both Satan and Man are rational creatures of God. They misused their free will. Man had the choice to turn to a spiritual being. He chose materialistic desire and profanity. All men inherited Adam’s original sin and hence, cannot control desire, corruption. Humans are exposed to constant struggle against bodily and material temptation (Aug. Intro and Bks. I - IV).

4. The City of Man loves worldly things and itself. This city is based on domination where the strong will impose their will on the weak. Thus, civic justice is an illusion. It could the least impose peace. The justice in the city of man is purely instrumental. This city is imperfect and corrupt. Human institutions are flawed and limited. They can at the best maintain life, but life cannot be good in it. The City of Man is not a perfect and complete institution (Aug. Intro and Bks. I – IV).

Section C

Plato’s state is an ideal state, which is found in his description of the Ideal City in Speech. This reflects similarity with Augustine’s representation of the City of Man and City of God. Both the ideal cities seek a common good. Plato speaks about the flaws in human natures when he speaks of Guardians who represent inequality of nature and hence need proper education. Augustine speaks about City of Man that is flawed and humans must seek happiness in the City of God. Thus, both of them seek a just state through broader education and avoidance of domination.

Aristotle cannot be ignored in terms of adopting Plato’s view of an ideal city. Aristotle’s views appear to be elaborative of the mechanism to attain a just state. His ideal city focuses on a cooperative, good and complete life where one could exercise their choices and good intention and rationality and free speech on just and unjust actions.

In this light, it could be argued that Augustine mirrored Plato, whereas Aristotle does not. Aristotle does not just distinctively separate the City of God and City of Man. He provides for a transition, an opportunity to become City of God through adopting certain rules and behaviour as a society and as a person. Aristotle says that a city is not about unity, but of plurality. This is also what Plato’s view about men coming together to share the bare necessities. If a city is self-sufficient, there is moderation and hence, there is little need of justice. Aristotle sees a more proactive men in the city where justice means giving to each part its due when men share responsibilities in holding offices and honours. Thus, it is not just coming together of men, as Plato states, but comprises an arrangement of the distribution of offices and determination of authority and aims of the offices.

Reading comparatively, both cannot be stated to be a true heir to Plato. If one reads Augustine, he provided the flaws in a human society and its system of justice. He states that justice cannot be found in the City of Man as the institutions are imperfect

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and incomplete. The City of Man is a tragedy because of politics. It lacks civic virtues and obedience to divine law. Aristotle, however, elaborates on governance, on arrangement and institutions where humans are committed to their offices and responsibilities. He focuses more on rule of law established by men rather than divine law that Augustine states. Aristotle present public life as the “good life”, which is complete and self-sufficient. It is a community where people take deliberative decision and practical action towards a useful and just society. Citizens are bound by virtues under the rule of law and common good. In that light, Aristotle’s views are closer to those of Plato and hence, to a certain extent could be treated as a better heir to Plato.

To conclude, Plato and Augustine are more similar when it comes to differentiation between a good city and a bad city. Both distinctively point out the nature of an ideal city and a city that is flawed. They are objective in that aspect. However, their ideal cities cannot be a reality. Aristotle, however, matches with Plato when it comes to building a self-sufficient city. Aristotle is more elaborative in that aspect, when he speaks about arrangements regarding public office, roles and responsibility of each mean to make a self-sustaining city and to obey rule of law. In that front, Aristotle is more connected with Plato. Hence, neither of them could be considered a true heir to Plato. The three individuals complement each other regarding building a city that abides to civic virtues.


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