Plato’s Future


New thinking is associated with the Golden Age. Before New Age there is always Dark Age, when nothing significant is created, because people are just focused on surviving so they don’t have time or interest in art, science or philosophy. But in order to start creating something completely new, you must have new vision first.

Buddha said “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

Do you believe you can create a better tomorrow? Are you a realist or idealist, pessimist or optimist?

In “Republic” Plato talks about succession of governments. He explains that governments go through a cycle: aristocracy is followed by meritocracy, which is replaced by oligarchy, which is succeeded by democracy, then tyranny, and aristocracy again (which could also be called oligarchy) and it goes back to democracy, etc.

These are natural cycles, which should be understood. “Nature is wise, I love wisdom”, said Pythagoras. So “Occupy Wall Street” movement should not come as a surprise, as it was naturally coming. I recently reread “The Master and Margarita” by Bulgakov and I got two main ideas out of it:

1. It is our government’s responsibility to cultivate and bring forward its citizen’s best side that is goodness. There are no bad people or good people, they are always the same and they always have both sides in them (good and evil), but the government has the power to stimulate either one.

2. In every person’s life there is a moment when it is his/her chance to do the right thing even though it is not easy, like it was for Margarita and for Pontius Pilatus. If they don’t do what they feel is right, they will not find peace with themselves. When the government fails to do its job, there is more pressure on the individuals to correct what is wrong.

In Plato’s view Government/Republic is responsible for three things: defense, justice and education. The rest is up to every individual to find. There are four types of souls in the society, who contribute to one mutual goal, but they are in different stages.

Gold men– those, who are concerned with all human beings, have consciousness for all humanity, they express sympathy and help others, incorruptible.

Silver men – those who care about others, but maybe corrupted not with money but other things (name your price), have points of corruptibility.

Bronze men – those, who are interested in wellbeing of their own family and people they share something with (country, race, religion, etc.), corruptible.

Iron men – those, who are concerned with their own wellbeing and that of their family only, very corruptible.

These four archetypes are a concept, and even though Plato believed that each soul is of one metal, I believe that one person can go through several metals in one life time in no particular order, but there are also those who stick to one metal all their life.

Plato also said that depending on the metal Republic should tailor education for a soul and give roles/jobs in the society. Iron and bronze men should not be given jobs where they can take advantage of what they are entrusted with, because they can be easily bribed. Gold and silver men both can see the idea and work in the interest of humanity, not only their own. What comes to mind is a book “Rich man, poor man” by Irwin Shaw and its main character Rudy Jordache who was fighting corruption in the government and the Supreme Court.

Rich Man Poor Man

Besides its own metal every soul has its own talents and passions, and they should be taken into account. Education should not be identical for all, check this video Changing Education Paradigms. What does a soul want? If you don’t like certain subjects, you shouldn’t be forced to pursue them for many years. Education should be not too hard, not too soft. No learning goes without challenges, but challenges shouldn’t be too big, so that a soul gets discouraged, like in Hatter’s Castle by A. J. Cronin.

Role of Education is to awaken a soul, to teach it how to think first and then to choose a profession. Every person can find and learn something to do. And if we work together, it will be easier. Community participates in educating a soul. Then a soul will find a vocation it can be good at.

What is the power of human spirit?

Every individual should know its metal and learn to grow…We can teach ourselves to be better men and women and we can choose the government that helps us do it… but then we need to have gold men in it, not iron, bronze or silver. Before we do it, we need to envision it.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead.

Thank you, Stephanie, for leading this session at Acropolis Boston!

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