Last Updated 10 Jan 2022

Kallipolis: the City of the Ideal

Category City, Justice, Metaphysics
Words 1250 (5 pages)
Views 416

Around the time of 380 BCE, a philosopher by the name of Plato wrote one of his most famous works: The Republic. Within the text of this dialogue, Socrates and his fellow conversationalists discuss a morally and socially sensitive issue: what, per se, is justice? Throughout the work, there were several definitions ranging from “the power of the strong” to “rewarding good and punishing evil. ” To help bring clarity to their discussions, Socrates proposes that in order to discover justice as a concept, they must apply it holistically as opposed to an individualistic, circumstantial criteria.

In order to accomplish this, the group imagines what the ideal city would be like. In this ideal place, there would be three classes of people (producers, auxiliaries, and guardians) which would told they have have a corresponding metal which makes up their soul. Bronze for the producers, silver for the auxiliaries, and gold for the guardians. Each class would be determined by individual merit in accordance with what tasks they best perform. For example, if a man is best at digging ditches he will dig ditches for the rest of his life.

Additionally, the members of one class can only produce children with members of the same class. The citizens of this city (a total of around 30,000 individuals) would all share wealth, food, and shelter communally. Several core virtues such as wisdom (through the guardians), courage (through the auxiliaries), and moderation (through all classes dwelling together peacefully) will be emphasized to help preserve justice. Socrates emphasizes that the goal is to make a city as good as possible so that the populace is as content as possible.

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The end-goal is not just to make one person as happy as possible. As a pupil of Socrates, Plato's construction of this ideal city, named Kallipolis, was much more than hypothesizing about mortar and stone. For Plato, Kallipolis was meant to reflect two drastically different things on two totally different levels. On the baser level, Kallipolis' inclusion of human virtues just as justice and moderation mirrors the individual. On the other side, Kallipolis also represents the entirety of the cosmos with its realm of infinite possibly and wondrous ideals.

To Socrates and Plato, this city was a sociopolitical organization which allowed citizens to achieve their potential, serve the state, and live according to the absolute truths which govern our existence. Unfortunately, the ideal Kallipolis is just that: an ideal. It may be all well and good to construct an ideal city in the mind, but unfortunately this utopian system lacks a firm foundation in reality. Kallipolis is a utopia: an imagined society put forward by its author as better than any existing society, past or present.

Specifically according to Plato, Kallipolis is not just a better city, but rather is the best city. This makes creating Kallipolis impossible because there was nothing to from the real-world to model itself after. This is what makes construction of a place like Kallipolis to hard to even pragmatically imagine. It is not that obscure for one to even assume that in actuality, Plato never meant for Kallipolis to be a reality, but rather to have it serve as a goal for other poleis or nation-states to model themselves after.

Plato planned for the society described in his Republic to not just be a utopia, but to rather be the best utopia, making this ideal even more difficult to properly realize. If one were to look into his work, one would certainly see that Plato never advocates revolution or legislation to bring his Republic into existence. On the contrary, Plato knew that Kallipolis was an impossibility and that the Republic would only live on in the minds of those who read his works.

His message was that if all individuals (be they king, peasant, or representative) were just, the ideal city would exist. Thus, people must strive on their own to better themselves if they ever wish to bring about a better society overall. This is the beauty of Plato's theorem: it is impossible for this utopia to fail because this city is only actually meant to exist as the hypothetical dream of an aging philosopher. Because of this, Kallipolis was able to evade some of the stubborn realities existent on Earth.

The purpose for this city is not necessarily to exist, but rather to be the ideal which the contemporary cities (such as Athens or Sparta) and the ruling bodies (the people or the aristocracy, respectively) may be judged. Instead of looking at other countries, cities, and nations which dwelled in the real world to compare one's city to, Plato thought it would be best if a city was compared to the ideal, Kallipolis. Even in modern times, Kallipolis is a suitable standard concerning how a society made of of many different factions can live harmoniously.

Personally, it is my viewpoint that this city is just for a community, but unjust for the individual. For this, I would not want to live in a governing system such as this. It is reasonable to assume that Plato's city might not be so “ideal” in the 21st century world of digitalized information and civil liberties. Through a primitive eugenics program, avid informational censorship, and telling a “noble lie,” Kallipolis' people do not so much choose what they wish to accomplish as much as they are conditioned to perform what tasks must be done.

The individual rights of the people are cast aside for the sake of the “greater good” in a very utilitarian system which contains a harsh pragmatism in its application. One needs to look no further than Nazi Germany, Socialist Russia, Fascist Italy, or Communist China to see the problems with this worldview and the mindset it supported. The end game for Plato's Republic is not so much to have citizens who ponder life's deeper meanings, but to rather have mindless drones performing the tasks they were instructed to do.

Yet even with these numerous infractions against the core of humanity, the ruling body of Kallipolis is incredibly legitimate. The guardians (who are more than qualified for their positions) rule both effectively and efficiently for the sake of the nation-state. Overall, they provide the proper protection for their people and preserve their well being. The guardians attempt to honor the welfare and well-being of all citizens by promoting justice, striving for class harmony, and defending their people within the walls of their ideal polis.

However, the flaw lies not in the people themselves, but rather in the system they were placed into. After all, such a sense of loyalty to homeland is desirable, but the system's cost to individuality and free will is simply too much. All Men have certain rights ordained to them at birth by nature (or whichsoever deity a people worships) which include a right to life, a right to liberty, and a right to property. Socrates' and Plato's Kallipolis strips away its citizens' rights to such things, such as when it dictates an individual's lot from the beginning.

First, a person's life will be channelled into one of three categories. Second, (and based on the category) that person will instructed only on what they will be doing the rest of their lives. Finally, he or she will share all personal possessions with others, losing a sense of identity one moment at a time. Kallipolis, with all of its peaceful and harmonious benefits, eliminates certain rights which were made self-evident long before Socrates or Plato ever lived. The elimination of those rights is unacceptable and ought not be tolerated.

Kallipolis: the City of the Ideal essay

Related Questions

on Kallipolis: the City of the Ideal

Is the Kallipolis an ideal society?

There are those who would say that this kallipolis may be equated to a utopia, an ideal society; however, I intend to illustrate a much divergent point of view. The justice of this city, made analogous to the justice of the individual, is specifically what precludes the kallipolis from being an ideal society.

What is Plato's perfect Kallipolis?

Plato’s Perfect Kallipolis:. Analysis and Feasibility

What is Socrates' Kallipolis?

by Kevin Main

What is Kallipolis virtue?

Medium In Socrates vision of the ideal city, also called a Kallipolis in Latin, he describes three dist i nct classes: trader, legislator, and warrior. He believes that any interchange between these classes will do the greatest harm to the Kallipolis.

In Socrates vision of the ideal city, also called a Kallipolis in Latin, he describes three dist i nct classes: trader, legislator, and warrior. He believes that any interchange between these classes will do the greatest harm to the Kallipolis. No person can attempt to be all-in-one as they would meddle with the equilibrium maintained in the city.

Charmides and Criteas will go on to debate this virtue in the Kallipolis. There appears to be a belief that the guardians of this Kallipolis will possess a high level of knowledge along with healthy souls. This harmony is key to describing this virtue, as a lack of knowledge leads to a decline in health.

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