18 Dec 2010

Sample Essay: Plato

Plato is one of the great creators of philosophy, writing, the arts, and mathematics. His entire life has been to contributing change in the way we think and communicate. Even though his time has passed the theories he created lives on in legacy. Plato wrote over thirty dialogues expressing the way of life with the teachings of his successor Socrates. With the historical records that have been collected, I will summarize his life and analysis of what I believe to be his key contributions to the way we view the world around us today.

Historical records suggest that the real name of Plato is Aristocles, named after his grandfather. But his wrestling coach gave him the name “Platon” which is famous even till today. According to the historical data, dating from the Alexandrian period, Plato was given the name “Platon”, which means “breadth” due to his vigorous physical appearance. Plato had been instructed in gymnastics, music and grammar by the most distinguished teachers of that time (Platthy). Even before Plato met Socrates he had attended several courses in philosophy. In his philosophy courses he first became acquainted with Cratylus, who was a disciple of Heraclitus a prominent pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and the Heraclitean doctrines (Kraut).

Plato’s definite birth time and place cannot be determined by the available historical data. But it can be said with certainty that he belonged to an influential and aristocratic family. Based on the historical data, many modern scholars suggest that Plato was either born in Aegina or Athens between the years 429 BC to 423 BC. Plato’s father name was Ariston and his mother’s name was Perictione. A few historical records suggest that Ariston traced his ancestors from Codrus, the king of Athens, and Melanthus, the king of Messenia. On the other hand Plato’s maternal family was famous for their relationship with Solon, the Athenian lawmaker and poet. Ariston and Perictione had two sons; Adeimantus and Glaucon, and a daughter; Potone, other than himself. Potone was the mother of Speusippus who became the successor of Plato as the head of the philosophical Academy (Dillon).

Historical records suggest that the biological father of Plato, Ariston, died in Plato’s childhood but the precise dating of his date cannot be determined. After Ariston’s death Perictione remarried Pyrilampes who was her mother’s brother. Pyrilampes was in himself a very influential man; on numerous occasions he served as an ambassador to the Persian court and he was a personal friend of Pericles; the leader of the Athenian democratic fraction. Although in the Platonic dialogues Plato is silence about himself but he introduced many of his relatives in his dialogues (Clay). As a matter of fact these dialogues are one of the sources from where the family tree of Plato is constructed. The family tree of Plato suggests a considerable amount of family pride. In the opening scenes of the dialogue Charmides, Plato glorifies his family and their deep rooted connections with the most influential personalities of their time (Hare). These dialogues are a memorial to the happier days of his family and Socrates.

Plato traveled in Cyrene, Egypt, Italy and Sicily and returned to Athens when he was forty years old. When he returned to the city of Athens he founded of the earliest known organized schools in Western Civilization. The school was known as Academy and it was a large enclosure of ground which was at one point in time the property of a citizen named Academus. The Academy remained operational until 529 AD when it was closed down by Justinian I of Byzantium. Justinian closed the Academy in an attempt to protect himself because he viewed the Academy as a threat; that it would be used for the propagation of Christian religions. Many intellectuals and numerous great minds of the era were schooled in the Academy. The most prominent of all the students was Aristotle.

Historical records suggest that Plato initially visited Syracuse while it was under the rule of Dionysus. During Plato’s first trip he accepted Dion of Syracuse the brother-in-law of Dionysus, as one of his disciples. But certain events changed all this, Dion turned against Plato; he was sold into slavery and almost died in Cyrene. After sometime an admirer of Plato bought for him his freedom and sent him back to Athens.

Years later Dion himself requested Plato to tutor Dionysus II to become a philosopher king. Plato accepted the offer and started teaching Dionysus II. Dionysus II started to accept Plato’s teaching but he started to detest his uncle, Dionysus. At some point in time he expelled Dion and retained Plato against his will. Eventually Plato managed to leave the Syracuse. In later years Dion returned to Syracuse and deposed Dionysus and usurped his position, shortly after a fellow disciple of Plato usurped the ruling position of Syracuse. Thus Plato was entangled in the political circus of Syracuse throughout the later years of his life (Brumbaugh).

A few central themes can be found in Plato’s work. These central themes serve as the central ideologies which Plato constantly revisits. Almost every work of Plato is, in one way or another, dependent upon his distinction. A majority of which investigate into the ethical and practical consequences of considering of reality in a bifurcated way. Plato’s work compels its readers to transform the values by understanding the reality of Forms and incompetence of the real world. Plato considers, the soul and the object, two completely different things, Plato’s views suggest that the soul does not even depend on the existence of the object itself and its functioning. As a matter of fact a soul can grasp the nature of the Forms when it is unhindered by any of its attachments (Lodge). Furthermore, in a few of his works, he suggests that soul is always able to recollect what it grasped of the Forms once it is disembodies and the lives of the body are either rewards or punishments for the choices which the soul made in the previous existence.

Plato has contributed greatly to the theory of art; particularly in architecture, dance, drama, poetry and music. He also discussed a wide range of philosophical topics encompassing politics, ethics, metaphysics where the topics of focus were man, mind, Realism and immortality. Furthermore he also discussed the philosophies of mathematics and philosophies of religion. According to Plato’s Theory of Forms, he rejected the deceptive and ever changing world which we know of through the use of our sensory proposing. Instead his world of ideas was true. In addition to all of these works Plato talks about geometrical diagrams that they are flawed replication of perfect mathematical objects. Moreover Plato also contributed to the fields of legal philosophy, logic and rhetoric.

Even though Plato did not make any mathematical discoveries himself, he held a strong conviction that mathematics enables us the mind to indulge in the finest training. Plato’s contribution to the philosophies of education can be seen by observing how he ran the Academy. Plato is always determined to work on the idea of “proof”, thus he insisted upon clear and precise definitions and hypotheses. This Platonic approach laid down the fundamentals of Euclid’s systematic approach to mathematics. The historical records suggest that these mathematical guidelines provided by Plato served as a beacon of light for many others. And since almost all of the important mathematical work was completed by either the friends or pupils of Plato this suggests the effectiveness of Plato’s contribution to mathematics.

Plato was able to create a structure or subject matter for philosophy by formulating and arguing over a wide range of metaphysical and ethical questions. To explain the symmetry amongst many objects, he developed metaphysics of Forms. Platonic view regarding the ethical questions is rooted in this metaphysics of Forms via the study of the Form of “good”. Therefore Plato is responsible for finding a linkage between metaphysics and ethics. In his greatest work, the Republic, Plato developed a perceptive analogy between an individual and the state. In his dialogues Plato argues upon the nature of virtues and he also ponders upon several epistemological questions.

Plato is, by any standards of measurement, one of the most recognized writers in the Western literature. He is also undoubtedly the most influential and penetrating authors in the field of philosophy. He was an Athenian citizen of high social status. His prime focus was on the political events and the intellectual engagements of his time but he has raised very profound questions from these events. Furthermore he has also provided richly suggestive answers to such problems, these questions and answer of Plato are so provocative that almost every educated reader in every time period can’t help but to be influenced by Plato and more importantly his philosophies. In almost every age there were many philosophers who called themselves Platonists; this point alone attests to the greatness of Plato’s work.

Although he was not the first scholar who formulated innovative theories but he definitely was the first philosopher whose work and philosophies are based on rigorous and systematic examinations of his surroundings. His philosophies encompasses numerous and diversified field of interest; some of these fields include ethics, politics, metaphysics and epistemological issues, yet his work has proved to be valuable addition to such fields of study. Plato, with his extraordinary work, had created such a place in history which only a few handful other philosophers can contend to.

Work Cited Page

Brumbaugh, Robert Sherrick. Plato for the modern age. University Press of America, 1991.

Clay, Diskin. Platonic questions: dialogues with the silent philosopher. Penn State Press, 2000.

Dillon, John. The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347-274 BC). Oxford University Press, 2005.

Hare, Richard Mervyn. Plato. Oxford University Press, 1982.

Kraut, Richard. The Cambridge companion to Plato. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Lodge, Rupert Clendon. The Philosophy of Plato. Routledge, 2000.

Platthy, Jenő. Plato: a critical biography . Federation of International Poetry Associations of UNESCO, 1990.

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02 Mar 2010

Sample Essay: Plato's Republic – The Soul

Plato believed, and attempted to prove, that the justice of the city and the justice of an individual had a direct link to one another.  Plato relied on logic and the use of metaphors as well as the three main parts of the soul that include reason, desire and spirit.  He further believed that four virtues, wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice, also defined the soul of a person.  Plato considered all of his beliefs to be of the utmost importance as he sought to define a perfect republic.

According to Plato, souls that were filled with reason found an interest in knowledge.  He believed that these souls belonged to a class of people known as philosophers and that the virtuous aspect of their soul was wisdom.  Plato assumed that the brain was strongly connected to reason and therefore, people who practiced reason had a strong mind.  Although the evidence was lacking, Plato had made a very good guess when he made this assumption.

In terms of desire, Plato believed that this soul belonged to the commoners and that their virtue was temperance.  He sought to prove that their main interest was pleasure and that this interest rooted from the abdominal parts of the body.  In this situation, he believed that bad forces ruled these people and therefore they had no control over themselves and their behaviors.  These people were enslaved by their overwhelming desires.  This was desire to please themselves and the anatomical parts of their bodies that ruled them.

A person that had a soul full of spirit was believed to be in a class of warriors.  Plato said that their interest was honor and that their virtue was courage.  The spirited soul was closely linked to the heart of a person.  This spirit was the very essence of a person’s soul, the driving force of energy that kept bad influences at bay and allowed them live good, virtuous lives.  These warriors upheld the law, unlike those that were filled with desire.

During his research, Plato tried to link justice to each one of his classifications of the soul.  He found that he could not do this and therefore he placed justice, as a virtue, in all three categories.  He believed that everyone started with a white background and that overtime, certain social classifications and influences “dyed” these backgrounds and defined the souls of each individual.

Within the Republic, moreover, the soul’s tripartite division plays the pivotal role of establishing an analogy between the individual soul and the political state.  According to this model, the soul’s rational element is the psychological corollary of the guardian class in the city; the spirited part is analogous to the militaristic auxiliaries, and the diverse appetites correspond to the various productive craftsmen and traders (Purshouse 60-61).

Within ancient Greek culture, arête means virtue.  It is when a person strives to be as good as they can be in life, reaching their maximum potential as a good and virtuous human being.  Plato believed this to be true for both men and women.  Plato was nearly obsessed with arête and he constantly worked to answer the questions of virtue and justice.  The Platonic philosophy holds a belief in the fact that virtue and knowledge are one in the same and therefore, knowledge and arête are the same as well.  Plato tried to define exactly what arête really was and whether or not it could be taught or if it was something that was learned.

Plato, being a student of the famous Socrates, reinstates the question that Socrates tried to put forth by asking what justice really is.  People who were not raised in intellectual situations were prone to be blacksmiths or farmers, the peasants.  People who were courageous were the guardians of the city, acting as an army or police force.  Intelligent people were considered a rarity and were granted control over city.  It was their job to guide the people, in particular the commoners.  The courageous people were put in charge of guarding this wise group of teachers, their laws, and their beliefs.  Plato also summarizes justice as being defined by those who are strong and intelligent.  He further summarizes that these intelligent and strong souls are the ones who decide what is in the best interest for everyone else.  Socrates, however, refutes this claim since he believes that even those who are strong fail to see what is best.

Plato believed that the state could only find perfect justice if they allow themselves to be ruled by those who are intelligent and not just willingly, they had to enjoy being governed by the intellects.  It was extremely important for Plato to define these three types of souls in order to find a way to perfect the justice of the state.  He thought that if he learned why each individual fell into a particular category of souls that it would be easier to govern them.  He set forth a certain list of activities and teachings that would be given to a certain group of individuals based on their category of souls in order to teach them to ignore their feelings of temperance.

Plato’s theories seemed somewhat radical, even during his own lifetime.  He believed that justice and happiness went hand in hand.  When a person acted in a just fashion, they were a happy individual and vice versa.  Therefore, people that behaved immorally were not happy and if they wanted to be happy, they would strive to be just.  People who wished to fulfill their desires must learn to use reason in order to act upon that just behavior.  They also needed to learn how to control their emotions.  If they used reason to control their emotions and desires, they could reach their full potential as a just and happy human being.  “On the other hand, those simple and moderate desires, which go hand in hand with intelligence and right opinion, under the guidance of reasoning, will be found in a small number of men, that is, in those of the best natures and the best education” (Plato, and Tschemplik 148).

When Plato speaks of justice and happiness, he poses a question that, at times, seems unclear.  It is a choice to live either justly or unjustly.  Each individual makes the decision between right and wrong by their own accord.  Since Plato suggests that people can only find happiness if they are just, this suggestion is a form of guidance, more or less taking away an individual decision and determining what he believes to be just behavior.  However, one argument that we continue to see is that not all things that are just are good.  Therefore, how can we reasonably say that being just leads to happiness?  “The question whether justice is good for us and makes us happy, has more breadth and depth than might at first appear” (Santas 5).

Republic leaves the reader with no choice other than to make a decision as far as what is just and unjust.  The reader has three classifications to choose from which each rival each other in their own way.  Each choice is laid out in a solid and yet philosophical manner as well.  Plato further goes on to say a person cannot choose an answer that is just unless they are first willing to understand exactly what justice is.  We are also forced to choose between the differences in societies and make choices between them as well.

There were several concerns with Plato’s justice system.  In The Republic Plato uses his characters Glaucon and Adeimantus to show readers the voice of objection and concern associated with his ideas about those with spirited souls, otherwise known as the guardians.  He fails to breakdown differences between men and women beyond height and gender itself.  Instead, he proposes that as guardians, men and women with spirited souls should be taught in the same fashion to perform the same roles within society.  He also tears down the importance of family as a role within society by saying that instead of parents teaching their own children, it should be up to society to teach the children.

All three categories of souls, the wise, the courageous and the desirous could become good as a whole if they performed their roles by working together harmoniously and willingly.  If they could manage to act as one, work together to reach for this inner good, they would also reach a perfect justice system.  True justice would arise as a whole once these three souls meshed and willingly performed their function as they were supposed to with one another.  The person who experienced injustices simply lived with both the healthy and unhealthy personality and the unhealthy, unhappy side of that person was the most dominant, refusing to live in harmony.

The traits of the wise and strong were those that were desirable.  People that displayed opposite behaviors needed to be trained so that they could eventually develop these quality traits.  It was a person’s behavior, not their frame of mind, which held the utmost importance in terms of values.  This means that a person could perform a courageous or intellectual act without necessarily being courageous or intellectual.  Since the action of a person receives recognition, it is possible to teach them to perform these actions.  “One can do ‘the courageous thing’ without being courageous.  This links with the other feature of ‘externally’ assessed virtue: a person may perform ‘the courageous act’ out of social conformity, or out of fear of dishonor, and so on – motives which may not differ from those of the genuinely courageous person but be antithetical to them” (Lycos 3).

Socrates greatly contrasted the thoughts of Plato.  He sought to persuade society to determine the depth of a person’s virtue based on internal factors and not external acts.  Furthermore, he believed the state of mind was of the utmost importance instead of the actions of a person.  A person’s state of mind is what allowed them to act a certain way.  If they had a courageous state of mind, it would enable to them to act courageously.  It is because of this reason that Socrates attempted to teach people internally rather than externally.  Virtues would protect the people from the plagues of over excessive temptations and desires so that they can lead a good life.

However, although virtue is regarded as good, it does not necessarily mean that people will be able to avoid any misfortunate events in their life just because they hold strong or intellectual virtues.  Plato felt that trying to study the internal factors of a person could not actually prove whether a person was courageous, intellectual or tempted.  External factors can lead to misery, even for virtuous people.  Moreover, if a person is virtuous they can still perform an action to the best of their ability despite the extenuating circumstances.

If a person is virtuous and good, they do not necessarily please society.  However, if they perform an action that pleases society they are considered virtuous and good.  It is the response received after performing a certain action, which enables a person to call themselves good.  This way of thinking is considered moral subjectivism.  Plato argues against this moral subjectivism and yet he openly admits that an action is only considered virtuous and good based on the properties of that action and the responses acquired from that action.

If we were to judge a person’s morals based on their actions we would not listen to the words that came out of their mouths.  Morals are based on the laws that are set by the political system and community itself.  Thus, a person is moral if their actions follow what the law expects of them and not by what they think or speak.  Plato seeks to encourage people to act morally by teaching them moral behaviors in order to build a utopian and perfect justice system.

Since virtue is always defined by actions, it is for this reason that arête is also defined as “functional excellence”.  In order to understand this definition better an example needs to be used.  A baker’s job is to bake breads for customers.  People who are not bakers are capable of baking bread yet the baker is the best at performing this specific task.  If the previous statement is true then we can agree with the fact that a moral person is more capable of performing a moral action.

Although there are certain jobs that must be performed by each individual within a community, not everyone is going to perform the functions that they are supposed to do.  When we break down all that we have learned about Socrates and Plato’s thoughts on the human soul, we must ask ourselves our own set of philosophical and moral questions.  Can a person be taught to perform certain moral tasks?  To some extent, the answer is yes.  It is possible to teach a person moral behaviors.  However, a person must want to learn and therefore not everyone can be taught which makes a perfect justice system unattainable.

Another thing that we have learned is that a moral action is determined by how pleasing the response is.  If this is the case, then not everything that is done should be considered moral since our need to be pleased by an action should be considered a desire and Plato has already posed the problem that souls filled with desire are problematic and do not follow moral behaviors.  How is it fair to judge a person’s morality based on our own desires?

Adeimantus speaks of a society that needs no guardianship.  He talks about people that are well taught and self-disciplined.  These people are capable of watching themselves and their own behaviors without the need for a law enforcement agency to make them follow any moral behaviors.  This is his description of a perfect and justly educated society.  This would also be considered a Utopian society.  A society such as this would be impossible since people act on their own accord, based on their own freed will.  “Rather than imagine a well-disciplined society that corresponds to the well-disciplined individual, he imagines a society that would require no discipline at all, because each of its members is sufficiently self-disciplined to dispense with social constraint” (Ferrari 37).

Since Plato did not actually answer questions with any specific detail, it may seem hard to understand him.  The arguments that were posed seem somewhat vague and they tend to go back and forth from one conclusion to another.  In short, the one thing that we know is that although his ideas of what defines a soul were good, they were not necessarily correct.  Groups of people do not all share the same virtues.  Within a group of leaders, you may find one that is courageous, another to be wise, and another to be filled with desire and greed.  It is actually an injustice to assume that only intellectual people are rulers.  It is also unfair to claim that only courageous people can protect the law and that only commoners have desires.

Each person will behave how they choose and although outside factors may influence certain behaviors, it is who they are that will determine how they react to those outside influences.  Although it may be possible to guide certain people in order to help them make moral decisions, it is up to the person to make that decision and not those that teach, therefore, Plato’s perfect justice system was an impossible dream.


Ferrari, Giovanni R. F. City and Soul in Plato’s Republic. Chicago: The University of Chicago

Press, 2003. 37. Print.

Lycos, Kimon. Plato on Justice and Power: Reading Book I Of Plato’s Republic. Albany: State.

University of New York Press, 1987. 3. Print

Plato,  and Andrea Tshemplik. The Republic. Student ed. IV. Lanham, MD: Rowman &

Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005. 148. Print.

Purshouse, Luke. Plato’s Republic: a Reader’s Guide. New York, NY: Continuum Internation

Publishing Group, 2006. 60-61. Print.

Santas, Gerasimos. Understanding Plato’s Republic. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2010. 5.Print.

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11 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Plato and Aristotle

The two biggest names that come into mind when one speaks of politics are Plato and Aristotle. The two names stand tall, undefeated and unquestioned in the golden pages of political dialogues, reflecting the hearts and minds of people of their times and many more to follow. They devoted their entire lives understanding and interpreting individual citizens and their influences on political beliefs.  Their observations and descriptions of political motives and government forms, have established one of the main traditions in today’s political conceptions.

Plato’s idyllic city is established on the four qualities of astuteness or wisdom, valor, temperance and righteousness. Astuteness or wisdom formulates the city into a wiser one, valor makes it valiant. Temperance is the perception that all and sundry distinguishes his or her own role and righteousness denotes the “harmony that results when everyone is actively engaged in fulfilling his role and does not meddle with that of others” (Plato 85). “His understanding of the city is that it evolves because it fulfills certain functional needs” (Plato 39).

The requirements that are most apparent are provisions, which supports sustenance, protection, and last but not least clothes.  The metropolis can endow with every single one of these for the reason that each person that formulates the place has a definite responsibility. “The association with each other,” offers Plato, “was the very purpose for which we establish the city” (Plato 41). The metropolis would make an assemblage of the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. The majority of men is only apprehensive of consequences and is commonly unmerited, not many are righteous as much as necessary to guide the city.

Nevertheless justice and virtue only are not adequate. The guardians – those who rule – must be physically strong, lovers of wisdom and knowledge and impervious to outside experience (Plato 46-51). The guardians also lived by a separate set of rules.Plato’s analysis said that each person had a different, but a significant, responsibility in the city. The earliest of Plato’s books were related to the appreciative of righteousness and integrity. One of his famous books, Republic was committed to the strategies of ruling.

Aristotle, on the other hand, speaks of a perfect or ideal society and puts a high value on moderation (Hacker 81). Several groups support temperance since it is partly open-minded and partly traditional Plato’s utopia remains vague and it is conceded to limits that no individual could ever execute them (Hacker 81). Aristotle supposes that Plato is underrating the qualitative alteration in individual temperament and traits that would have to take place in order to attain his utopia (Hacker 81)

The influence of Aristotle on the history of Christianity, virtues and modern politics is a subject that has been discussed for many years. The importance of Aristotle on the formulation of political theories, outside of the Mediterranean region, is not in dispute. The understanding that he had of the political influence of religion resulted in his permanent placement in the annul of political history.

Through the years, many historians, and writers have written about Plato’s influence on all genres. With points of view that are separated by decades, as well as philosophies, the wide range of influence of Plato has been regarded throughout history. Plato desired to inform the reader of his nation how men would operate and what their stance would be in an ideal social order (Hacker 81). Aristotle endeavors to employ actual men in the actual world. (Hacker 81).

In 1992, E.J. Hundert wrote that the changes in the view of the “nature of power”, stem from the Confessions of St. Augustine. In Augustine’s Confessions, he attempted to answer questions about personal and political power. The will of an individual to pursue power, of a political nature, calls into question the moral imperative. Augustine’s question implicates that the pursuit of power could be on the verge of sin; however, that would depend on the source of the desire. It is Augustine’s question, therefore, whether one’s desire for power comes from God, or Satan.

This question influenced the progression of the Christianizing nations throughout the post-Reformation eras. As Hundert stated, it was “one of Augustine’s significant achievements […] to convey the inadequacies of the inherited account of evil”.[1] By this, he meant that the idea of inherent evil, IE, original sin, was an inadequate explanation for the trials of the human spirit. Morality instead would be the primary judge of one’s motivations. The idea that one’s primary motivations were inherently evil seemed ludicrous. Therefore, the desire to seek personal power was not an inherently evil action – only through the conscious choice to pursue evil is it a sin.

The rhetorical statements of Aristotle created room for a shift in political ideology. By suggesting that intent was the source of sin, rather than actions themselves, one would be able to absolve himself of sin by believing that he was following a righteous path.

On the reverse of this, as Augustine wrote, “apparently virtuous acts, like prayer, sacrifice, or the risk of one’s life could in fact stem from vicious, self-regarding motives”.[2] This understanding called into question the root motivations of all people. However, looking at the actions of another, one could not see these motivations, and therefore, could not place judgment on their righteousness or validity.

Plato spoke on this as well. There was no rational process by which one could judge the actions of another – other than one’s personal reason. Reason, therefore would become the most important of the human virtues. He felt that reason, in the mind of any man, could not be corrupted by the passions of evil or by the sinful motivations of others.

Because of these theories, Hundert wrote that Augustine became the “integral feature of Christian moral psychology, secular moral philosophy and the history of political theory in Europe and North America”.[3] This effect would secure the motivations of leaders for centuries.

Hundert suggests that like Augustine, Aristotle argued there was a difference between reason and passion. For a reasonable person, the pursuit of power would be a safe action. However, one who served their own passions would be apt to sin. By maintaining, Aristotle suggests, a well managed ideology and conception of moral value, the pursuit of power would be just as viable an option as piety.

Together, Aristotle and Plato have an incredible power in the political scenario of today. Aristotle facilitated the formation of a few independent and sovereign thoughts. In the finale, Aristotle and Plato were great philosophers and intellectuals. Their judgment of the public and the social order were moderately dissimilar. With regards to virtues, they strived to explain and justify the obvious presence of an omnipotent and omnipresent power, much superior to mortal imagination; a power that the common man so casually calls God.  They aspired to save Christianity from the disruption of heresy and the calumnies of the pagans, and most importantly to renew and exalt the faithful hearing of the gospel of man’s utter needs and God’s abundant grace.  Even today, in the important theological revival of our own times, their influences are the most potent and productive impulses at work.  They were never against celebrating God’s abundant mercy and grace but also fully persuaded that the vast majority of mankind was condemned to a wholly just and appalling damnation. They never denied the reality of human freedom but never allowed the excuse of human irresponsibility before God, vigorously insisting both double predestination and irresistible grace.

Nevertheless they both had an identical objective, to fabricate an enhanced means of existence for the civilization they survived in and for the civilizations that were yet to come.Plato’s city operated akin to a life for, each one executing their customary to precision.

Works Cited

Hacker, Andrew. Political Theory: Philosophy, Ideology, Science. New
York: Macmillan, 1961.

Hundert, E.J. “Augustine and the Sources of the Divided Self”. Political Theory 20 No. 1 (1992): 88

Ibid Studia Patristica Vol. XXXVIII – St. Augustine and His Opponents. E. J. Yarnold, M. F. Wiles Peeters Publishers, 2001 ISBN 9042909641,

Hundert, E.J. “Augustine and the Sources of the Divided Self”. Political Theory. 20 No. 1 (1992): 88

04 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: How Do Social Roles Influence The Development Of Identity?

The society portrays the apparent disparity between men and women used as a medium of rationalization for forcing them into disparate social roles which limit and shape their attitudes and deeds. The effortless corporeal facts therefore always become associated with complex psychological qualities. It is not enough for a man to be male; he also has to emerge masculine. A woman, in addition to being female, must also be feminine. However, once the contrast between men and women has been increased and emphasized in this manner, it is usually taken as an additional demonstration of genetic differences which authenticate the need for different social roles.

The notion of life may arise from the learning of social roles through personal experience. Identity negotiation is a process in which a person negotiates with society at large regarding the meaning of his or her identity.In his allegory; Plato equates people untaught in the “Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads”. The wall of the cave reminds something.  Between the fire and the prisoners there is a stockade, along which puppets can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the genuine objects that pass behind them. What the detainees see and hear are shadows and echoes that obliterate their vision. Such a detainee would mistake appearance for realism. The real causes of the shadows would not be known by them. What they perceive on the wall is far from reality.

The concept of boundaries is useful here for demonstrating how identity works.Plato comprehends that mankind can think, and speak., without any awareness reality. The allegory of the cave is thought to clarify this. “And if they could talk to one another, don’t you think they’d suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them?” (515b2).This is the reply which indicates that an ignorant prisoner is deceived by the image on the wall. The prisoners may gain knowledge of what a book is by sheer understanding of the  shadows of books as none  had ever seen one.

Plato’s points out “the general terms of our language are not “names” of the physical objects that we can see. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind. When the prisoners are released, they can turn their heads and see the    real objects. Then they realize their error. What can be done that is analogous to turning our heads and seeing the causes of the shadows? We can come to grasp the Forms with our minds.” Plato’s endeavor in the nation is to portray what is obligatory for us to accomplish this philosophical perceptive. Otherwise it remains exact that our very aptitude depends on.

Linda Sexton depicts her life and the life of her own  mother, She was a  famous poet, Anne Sexton. She committed suicide when Linda was barely 21 .She disapproves her mother’s depression and the depressive way of writing.  “Before the week was over he had whipped Janie. Not because her behavior justified his jealousy, but it relieved that awful fear inside him. Being able to whip her reassured him in possession. No brutal beating at all. He just slapped her around a bit to show he was boss.”( Chapter 17, pg. 140)

Linda describes her life in magnificent and quite dominant writing style.   The obscurity she has had finding a life of her own after growing up with a mother who’s own needs besieged her. Quote 15: “They huddled closer and stared at the door. They just didn’t use another part of their bodies, and they didn’t look at anything but the door. The time was past for asking the white folks what to look for through that door. Six eyes were questioning God.” (Chapter 18, pg. 150)

“Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.” (Chapter 20, pg. 184.) Her book still endorses her mother, and proves her mother to be a better writer. So she still, even though long in the grave, puts her mother’s needs to the forefront.  She would question her mother as to how she felt then. “Janie held his head tightly to her breast and wept and thanked him wordlessly for giving her the chance for loving service. She had to hug him tight for soon he would be gone, and she had to tell him for the last time. Then the grief of outer darkness descended.”( Chapter 19, pg. 175)

If identity is a kind of virtual site in which the dynamic processes and markers used for identification are made apparent, boundaries provide the framework on which this virtual site is built. They concentrated on how the idea of community belonging is differently constructed by individual members and how individuals within the group conceive ethnic boundaries.The Bell Jar narrates the tale of a young woman’s growing into an adult.

As a replacement for undergoing a progressive education in the ways of the world, terminating in an access into adulthood, Esther worsens into lunacy. For her, experiences are projected to be life-changing in an affirmative sagacity. Esther’s first time in New York City, her first marriage proposal, her success in college-are distressing and disorienting to her. Instead of finding new meaning in living, She wants to die. Having recovered from her suicide attempt, she seeks simply to endure a life.

In a social context, misunderstandings can arise due to a misinterpretation of the significance of specific markers. Equally, an individual can use markers of identity to exert influence on other people without necessarily fulfilling all the criteria that an external observer might typically associate with such an abstract identity.Esther observes a gap between what society says she should experience and what she does experience, and this gap intensifies her madness. Society expects women of Esther’s age and station to act cheerful, flexible, and confident, and Esther feels she must repress her natural gloom, cynicism, and dark humor.

Social movements have sought to strengthen politically oppressed groups both by improving members’ sense of confidence and by familiarizing the external society with the existing social group. She feels she cannot discuss or think about the dark spots in life that plague her: personal failure, suffering, and death. She knows the world of fashion she inhabits in New York should make her feel glamorous and happy, but she finds it filled with venom, drunkenness, and violence. Her relationships with men are supposed to be romantic and meaningful, but they are marked by misunderstanding, distrust, and brutality.

Identity has played a functional role in by emphasizing a group identity.  Esther almost continuously feels that her reactions are wrong, or that she is the only one to view the world as she does, and eventually she begins to feel a sense of unreality. This sense of unreality grows until it becomes unbearable, and attempted suicide and madness follow.

People can manipulate boundaries to their own individual advantage and refashion their selves in a variety of ways at different moments in time. Thus contrary to conventional views of identity as homogeneous within a given social or ethnic community, people are selective in their appropriations of different aspects of identity according to circumstances

The bell jar is an inverted glass jar, generally used to display an object of scientific inquisitiveness, contain a certain kind of gas, or maintain a vacuum. For Esther, the bell jar symbolizes madness. When gripped by insanity, she feels as if she is inside an airless jar that distorts her perspective on the world and prevents her from connecting with the people around her. At the end of the novel, the bell jar has lifted, but she can sense that it still hovers over her, waiting to drop at any moment.

Esther normally read newspaper headings and thumbs through magazines. The information that she got from these sources tells us what interests her most: the papers fascinate her with their stories of the execution of the Rosen bergs and a man’s suicide attempt. Periodicals also reinforce the values of mainstream 1950s America. Esther’s mother sends her a pamphlet defending chastity, and in the doctor’s waiting room Esther reads magazines about maternity in the youth.

One of Esther’s most unbearable fits occur in the sixteenth chapter.  Headlines are reprinted in the text of the novel. Joan gives Esther actual headlines from articles reporting Esther’s disappearance and attempted suicide. These headlines symbolize Esther’s exposure, her effect on others, and the gap between Esther’s interpretation of experiences and the world’s interpretation of them. First, they show Esther that the public knows about her behavior-she does not act in a vacuum, but in the interested eye of the world. She feels she cannot discuss or think about the dark spots in life that plague her: personal failure, suffering, and death.

She knows the world of fashion she inhabits in New York should make her feel glamorous and happy, but she finds it filled with poison, drunkenness, and violence. Her relationships with men are supposed to be romantic and meaningful, but they are marked by misunderstanding, distrust, and brutality. Esther almost continuously feels that her reactions are wrong, or that she is the only one to view the world as she does, and eventually she begins to feel a sense of unreality. This sense of unreality grows until it becomes unbearable, and attempted suicide and madness follow.

The headlines also display the power Esther’s conduct has on people who are almost strangers to her. Joan, for example, says the headlines inspired her to move to New York and challenges suicide. Finally, the headlines represent the dissension between Esther’s experience of herself and others’ experience of her. While Esther sees only pain and consumes pills in the darkness, the world sees a sensational story of a missing girl, a hunt in the woods, and the shocking discovery of Esther in her own house.

When Esther tries to kill herself, she finds that her body seems determined to live. Esther remarks that if it were up to her, she could kill herself in no time, but she must outwit the tricks and ruses of her body. The beating heart symbolizes this bodily desire for life. When she tries to drown herself, her heart beats, “I am I am I am.” It repeats the same phrase when Esther attends Joan’s funeral.

We observe a gap between what society says she should experience and what she does experience, and this gap intensifies her madness. Society expects women of Esther’s age and station to act cheerful, flexible, and confident, and Esther feels she must repress her natural gloom, cynicism, and dark humor.

“Look what can happen in this country, they’d say. A girl lives in some out-of-the-way town for nineteen years, so poor she can’t afford a magazine, and then she gets a scholarship to college and wins a prize here and a prize there and ends up steering New York like her own private car. Only I wasn’t steering anything, not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolleybus. I guess I should have been excited the way most of the other girls were, but I couldn’t get myself to react. I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo”.

The power of magazine images to distort and alienate is most obvious when Esther sees a picture of her in a fashion magazine in the mental hospital and feels the distance between her actual life and the image of glamour and happiness she sees in the magazine.

The shedding of blood marks major transitions in Esther’s life. When Marco attempts to rape her, she gives him a bloody nose, and he smears his blood on her like war paint. When she decides to kill herself, she slashes her calf to practice slashing her wrists The presence of blood suggests a ritual sacrifice. Esther will sacrifice her body for peace of mind, and sacrifice her virginity. The presence of blood also indicates the frightening violence of Esther’s experiences. For her, transformations involve pain and suffering, not joy. Torn apart by torture and remorse, Esther emerges as a different individual in the social surroundings.

The criminal justice system in Texas lastly worked on precisely to get things  right. Andrea Yates, described at the time of the killing of her children as one of the most rigorously psychologically ill patients ever come across finally was recognized as such which took the time to consider what must have ensued inside Yates’ mind that morning in June 2001 to cause her to search for and ruin her loved ones.

Yates will be sent to a heavily-guarded mental health facility, where she will probably spend the rest of her life. From time to time she will checked. And, if past is the  preface, every time her medicine allows her to regain a little bit of sanity she will realize what she did to her beloved children and then descend again back into some sort of madness. So this story started as a tragedy and continues as a tragedy even with though the defense finally won the day.

The difference between this trial, and the 2002 trial which resulted in a quick conviction, is clear. In this trial the defense was better able to humanize Andrea Yates, to focus upon the fact that she was a loving mother until she did this unspeakable thing to her children, and also then to convince jurors that the act of killing your children the way she did, after taking such good care of them, meets the very definition of an insane act.

Yates also got this decision because jurors paid attention more during this trial on her mental health history of severe psychosis and post-partum depression, and upon the evidence of all the experts who said that Yates clearly did not plan the event or understand in those horrible moments that what she was doing was erroneous. And clearly, unlike the first trial, where jurors took fewer than four hours to convict, the jury didn’t acquire the prosecution’s theory that Yates knew right from wrong as she dialed the police herself.

This trial only involved the deaths of three of the five children that Yates killed we could technically see another murder trial that focuses upon those two other children. But that’s really a long shot situation now that a panel of adjudicators has come back and affirmed that Yates was officially insane.

It has no doubt been a wonder why allegedly natural responsibility should necessitate such rigorous social enforcement. Had they been truly natural, they would come naturally to both men and women. However, it is noteworthy that the activists of the natural inequality hate nothing more than letting nature takes its course. Yet, if their urging were true, there would be no need to refute women equal opportunities, since they would be unable to compete with men. If women were naturally inferior, men would have got zilch to trepidation..
The fact is that individual wishes and aptitude have a tendency to go beyond the narrow limits of our traditional gender roles. Undeniably, it takes a stable collective effort by all social authorities to keep this tendency under control. Such social control appears not only externally, in the form of parental guidance, peer-group pressure, and law enforcement, but also internally in the form of concepts and values which determine the self-image of every individual.

While psychologists most commonly use the term “identity” to describe somebody’s personal identity, or all that which can  make a different individuality, sociologists often use the term to describe social identity, or the collection of group memberships that define the individual. However, these uses are not proprietary, and each discipline may use either concept. Whatever the definition may depict, it is certain that our social roles help evolve into ourselves into individualities.


Plato: The Allegory of the Cave, , 3rd edition, Harcourt Brace College Publishing: ISBN 0-15-567425-0

Plath, Sylvia The Bell Jar; Publisher: Everyman’s Library, … ISBN: 9780375404634

Sexton,  Linda Gray; Searching For Mercy Street:Publisher:Everyman’s Library ISBN:9780375404634



19 Oct 2008

Essays on Youth Gangs

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

This, to most, may seem to be a quote out of yesterday’s New York Times or Saturday Evening Post, but it is credited to Plato, the Greek philosopher, about the wild youth gangs terrorizing the society in ancient Greece.

Various gangs and criminal organizations can be traced to wild youths such as these in virtually every society on Earth. The reasons youth gangs and major criminal organizations come into being, the mechanisms of their operations, and how many of them grow into multi-regional and even multi-national forces are a significant field of study, both for sociologist and criminologist academes.

Both groups agree that youth gangs and criminal organizations begin to coalesce in the basic need of youths to have a sense of purpose, community, and belonging, frequently giving in to peer pressure within the youth gangs to commit criminal activities from drug distribution, gun violence, and even rape, which is frequently used as a rite of initiation into the youth gangs.

The response to the growing threat of youth gangs has been sluggish as most communities seem reluctant or unwilling to believe their own children may be involved in such activities. This is particularly true in smaller, rural communities, who not only deal with the mental resistance that youth gangs have formed in their towns, but also lack the necessary resources to act once this mental resistance is overcome.

  • How has the culture and attitudes of youth gangs affected our public schools? How have families responded when one of their children is found to be a member of the youth gangs? What resources are available for either?
  • How have police departments responded to the crisis of youth gangs? Should crimes associated with youth gangs be “aggravated” by the courts, resulting in harsher treatment for the offenders? Should the RICO laws be applied to youth gangs?
  • What alternatives exist for the youth of today? How do we redirect them into these alternatives and away from youth gangs?

Youth gangs are a growing threat in many communities. Yours truly was, many years ago, the victim in a gang-related assault. The questions of how best to respond to the crisis of youth gangs are as diverse as our society itself is. Our writers, being professionals, are ready and able to produce essays on the topic of youth gangs from virtually any aspect and angle. All we need is your order.

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