PLATO’S CLASS DISTINCTION: THE BACKDROP OF CONTEMPORARY EDUCATION
The integral nature of the human society makes the interaction of one another within the society necessary. Thus, there exist economic, social, religious and political institutions that foster this required integration. The popular John Donne’s phrase that ‘no man is an island’ advocates a complementarity of each other’s capacity for a wholesome society. Aristotle in his Politics asserted that nature intends man to live in a society. “He who is unable to live in society or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself must either be a beast or a god.” It is only in a society therefore that man can develop his potentialities as a human being. The state, which is described as an organized political community, becomes therefore a plat-form for the realization of this natural need for complementarity. For Plato, the nature of the state requires a division of labour so that the diverse needs of man within the state would be met.
The outcome of this division, if followed according to the natural disposition of each to his class, is justice in the state and happiness for the individuals within the state. The itinerary of Plato’s class distinction within the state as he proposed for the then Athenian state left a significant mark on education. Through out the history of the development of education, some imports of Plato’s political propositions seemed evident especially in contemporary education. In a bid to make this clearer, it is necessary in this introductory part to state the purpose, scope, method and division of this work.
PUROSE OF STUDY
Having stated the nature of the human society and the necessity of the state above, I intend to look at Plato’s view of the ideal state. His propositions on the nature of the ideal state introduce the role of education while answering the questions of ‘who’ occupies ‘which’ class in the three classes of his ideal state. The end of this would be to explain how his class distinction remains the backdrop of contemporary education.
SCOPE OF WORK
This work examines Plato’s proposition for an ideal (Athenian) state through his class distinctions in the state. A look at different views on this class distinction gives more explanation to the reality of different classes within a state/society. With an inference of the implications of Plato’s class distinction and a look on the nature of contemporary education, the influence of the former on the latter is easily brought to limelight.
Expository method is employed in explaining Plato’s propositions for an ideal state and the distinctions in class within the state. However, an analytic tone underlies the whole thesis purposely for realizing the philosophical evaluation of the influence of his (Plato’s) class distinction in contemporary education.
DIVISION OF WORK
Apart from this introductory part, this work comprises five chapters. The first chapter exposes the general background of Plato’s political philosophy, which also treats his idea of the make up of the ideal state. The second explores some views on class distinction, which is concluded with the tenability of egalitarianism. Chapter three traces the historical development of education from the ancient to the contemporary ages of education. Chapter four derives the practical implications of Plato’s class distinction from which the influence of the class distinction on contemporary education is gleaned. Chapter five makes a critical evaluation on Plato’s class distinction and the impact of contemporary education. Aristotle, Politics, Bk I, Chapter 2