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Philosophy and Life

The severe regulation of life that Plato proposed for his ideally just state in the Republic was an outgrowth of his tight focus on the question of a rational person's true interest. Furthermore, he insisted that politics and ethics are fields in which objective truths can be found by the use of reason. Despite his harsh criticism of existing governments such as Athenian democracy1 and his scorn for the importance of rhetoric2 in its functioning, Plato also recognized the practical difficulties in implementing radical changes in the way people actually lived. Indeed, his late dialogue The Laws 3 shows him wrestling with the question of improving the real world in a less radical, though still authoritarian, way than in the Republic. Plato hoped that, instead of ordinary politicians, whether democrats or oligarchs, the people who know truth and can promote the common good would rule because their rule would be in everyone's real interest. For this reason above all, he passionately believed that the study of philosophy mattered to human life.

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