Plato's Theory of Democratic Decline

28 POLIS 216

19 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2012

See all articles by Brenner Fissell

Brenner Fissell

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law; Hofstra University

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

While democracy is derided for a variety of reasons in Plato’s thought, his most damning critique of that regime type does not involve an observation about democracy qua democracy, but of the transition that it so easily engenders: the decline to tyranny. Regimes are composed of individuals and groups, though, and Plato is anxious to ascribe culpability for the degradation. Two actors are the primary focus of his analysis — the political leaders and the demos. At times he emphasizes the puissance of the demos, but in other passages he suggests it is the leaders who are most authoritative. This paper discusses these apparently contradictory passages, and works towards a reconciliation. It argues that neither is assigned sole culpability, as both work in complex synergy, and that the underlying cause of the decline — and the motivator behind both actors — is not simply freedom, but greed for material wealth.

Suggested Citation

Fissell, Brenner, Plato's Theory of Democratic Decline (2011). 28 POLIS 216. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2122603

Brenner Fissell (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

Hofstra University ( email )

Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
178
Abstract Views
969
rank
170,348
PlumX Metrics