Plato of Athens (c 429–347 BC) is the earliest European thinker whose thoughts on politics survive to any great extent. His work, contained in The Republic, the Statesman, the Laws and the unfinished Critias, amongst other works, has made major contributions to the agenda of Western Political thought and its content.
[In The Republic, Plato’s preoccupation was the concept of the just individual and the just state.] His view that intellect and political authority should be correlated has been a major theme of political thought down the centuries, influencing both authoritarian and egalitarian attitudes to government and democracy. In his later work Plato’s concern shifted from the question of justice to questions of the competence of rulers, which in The Statesman he treated as of the first importance, and eventually to the role of law and a mixed constitution, along with religion, in guaranteeing political order.
The papers in this authoritative selection explore various aspects of Plato’s thought including social structure, education, freedom, property, the status of women, human motivation and racism in addition to his views on law, reason and justice. The vast array of topics covered shows how Plato’s work adumbrates many of the concerns of political thought up to the present day and indeed is still relevant in our modern age.