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Integrating citations to support an argument—excerpt 2

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Task: Critically discuss Plato's criticism of democracy.

Click the name here to see original wording of the sources cited in the excerpt below.

Plato (2003) original excerpt 1 | original excerpt 2

Background: In the essay the student argues that Plato's criticism of democracy is misguided and concludes that either the democracy that Plato was contemplating is rather different from our understanding of democracy or that the societies today that we perceive as democratic are more like Plato's concept of a perfect state than is immediately apparent. In this excerpt the student reveals what she thinks is Plato's concern with democracy'.

Plato believed that democracy encouraged certain inferior and undesirable character traits in society, namely shallow, egotistical and acquisitive citizens, who justified their selfishness, cowardice, insolence and wastefulness with lexical slipperiness. He complains that these shallow and superficial citizens demote the value of moderation to 'meanness', they misname waste as 'magnificence', they mistake insolence for 'breeding', anarchy they call 'freedom', and impudence they label as 'courage' (560-561). They exert themselves only to dash from one carnal gratification to the next, developing a taste for unnecessary pleasures and frivolities. This description brings to mind the graphic picture of John Bunyan's (1978, originally published 1678) Vanity Fair in which Bunyan describes in horrifying detail the extreme influence upon the decisions of the ruler/s that this dangerously whimsical and hedonistic population have; their sense of entitlement to indulge so bloated that in the story they force the execution of the traveller for not wishing to partake. Like Plato's, Bunyan's disgust was seated in a spiritual yearning for a higher plain of existence where one might find the ultimate source of what is "good" beyond the bondage of this earthly life.

Bunyan, J. (1978). The pilgrim's progress / as originally published by John Bunyan. Old Woking, England: Gresham Books.

Plato. (2003). The Republic: Translated with an introduction by Desmond Lee (2nd Edition.) London, England: Penguin Classics.