Politeia IX

Plato describes how man has two types of needs: healthy, benevolent, philosophical, well-disciplined needs based on moral justness and secondly bestial, unrestrained, hedonistic lusts which appear during sleep and are not based on morality. The individual human being has the same character as society as a whole, therefore we can recognize a tyrannic or a democratic character both in an entire society and in an individual. Plato says tyranny can only develop from democracy, because democracy has no formal ban on immoral behavior. Immoral behavior, such as the spendthrift party lifestyle, leads to financial and other ruin and this makes an individual susceptible to tyrannic actions like theft and violence on others. This is because such individual has no decent livelihood left. A tyrannic individual, however, like a tyrannic society, knows no real freedom within and suppresses any inclination towards philosophy or creativity, because a natural tyrant is slave of strong self destructive lusts that, also, make him naturally mistrusting of any other influence or input of others. Typical of a tyrannic society is that the head of state isn’t the only tyrant; local powerful persons are too and even many individuals are their own worst tyrant. There are three types of people: philosophical, ambitious and greedy people. This comes from the basic three human needs, namely the zest for learning, ambition and a third quality that has so many sides that we can’t name it, perhaps we should call it desire. Those who wish to learn, will do so to find truth. Ambitious people, however, will learn to acquire fame and influence over others. This means there are three kinds of happiness, too, happiness meaning a life where joy exceeds pain and leading to lifestyles we may qualify as either noble or vulgar, or good or bad. An important question here is: who has right, the philosophical, ambition or greedy person? In order to judge that, we need experience, intellect and reason. Every person acquires happiness from income and power. Only the philosophical person, however, truly knows to appreciate them, as he, she is the only one to appreciate truth. Only a philosopher knows the true merits of justified good reputation and wealth, because only a philosopher loves reason enough to hunt for truth. Happiness through wisdom is best. Second best is the happiness of the combatant person who cares for honor. Third comes the happiness of greedy people. Happiness is not peace, meaning absence of pain or bliss. Peace is a neutral state. A greedy or ambitious person isn’t likely to experience real happiness, because fulfillment of earthy and hedonistic needs gives only temporary bliss and is in their case usually troubled by envy and other negative emotion. Lasting happiness lies in truth and wisdom only and can only found by those willing to use reason. A tyraniccal person, always on the run from justice and reason, even exceeds the boundaries of ambitious or greedy happiness; his idea of happiness doesn’t get any further than fulfillment of lowly material hedonistic pleasures. Plato has tried to put degrees of happiness into numbers. A tyrant is three steps away from a democrat, a democrat three steps from an oligarch and an oligarch three steps away from a royal person. This brings a royal person 3^2 =  9 steps closer towards happiness than a tyrannical person, however, to really calculate the difference we must use another logarithm:

A royal person is 9^3 =  729 times happier than a tyrannical person!

The proof of correctness lies in Plato’s eyes in the fact that the year consists of 364 1/2 nights and 364 1/1 days: 729 periods and tyrannical lusts appear in the night when we dream. This shows how much a good and just person excells in happiness over an evil and unjust person; in qualities of the mind like kindness or beauty he will excell infinitely more! To understand how the struggle between goodness, justice, honesty and evil, beastly lusts works we must see how a monster with many beastly heads, a lion and a man meet and merge, then take the shape of a man. In good people the human part of the mind knows how to win over the lion and the monster, bad people suffer and starve under the ferocious fighting of the monster and the lion. A royal person can only be a philosopher; other people have to satisfy themselves with trade, manual labor, even with crime to satisfy their needs and more or less successfully fight their beasts inside.

Sources:
Works by Plato, The Internet Archive http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-Plato.html
Wikipedia.org
Philebus http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/philebus.html
Plato’s Politeia http://www.arsfloreat.nl

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Filed under Known scientific research & development during the rise of Islam

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  1. Pingback: Politeia IX « Hajarmulder's Blog | HappyTipsDaily

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