College of Mount St. Joseph
The Philosophical Point of View
Professor Shanti Chu
June 13, 2014
This paper will concern the comparison of the two philosophical viewpoints we have studied, Plato and Sartre. In Plato’s Republic and Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism they are centuries apart in time, but both lived in very changing turbulent times. Plato lived in ancient Greece where he and other great minds were pondering the very meaning of man’s existence to live and value one another. The chosen philosophical kings city ruled by knowledge, would rule the building of a kallipolis, which Plato sees as just. Plato uses craft analogy in his explanation of his non-democratic way of choosing the philosophical kings. Plato also uses his idea of specialization and labeling to individuals, stating man has a “natural aptitude”. (Plato, 1955, p. 204). Obviously in reading Sartre his view is the opposite, he does not prescribe to any natural aptitude we are born with. Sartre is simplistic, “We create our essence though living”. (Sartre, 2007, p. 22). No ones life is predestined, because our existence precedes our essence. I rather like and agree with Sartre’s simple view on we can be whatever we choose. I take my direction in that both Plato and Sartre have based their philosophies on the search for truth. This truth is only found by living what both see as an authentic life. Humans formulate this for themselves; a person’s happiness must come from within. Happiness does not come from external things that have no value. Sartre does acknowledge how intersubjectivity plays into our personal journey to truth. His explanation of man confronting his own self is how we figure out our own morality, but with this we are aware that we are not isolated. Sartre sees us being constantly aware of the others, being universally connected by our human condition (Sartre, 2007, p. 42). Everyone shares three universal events: birth, work, and death. It is in the how we do these things that will individualize us. Sartre’s analogy of us having freedom to make choices to take actions is to that of creating a piece of art. I see that our morality is closely connected with developing an original, authentic piece of art that will be judged at the end of our life by its authenticity. Plato’s view differs from Sartre believing ultimately we only have ourselves. For Plato there is definitely a human nature in all, and with this a selected few are chosen to be highly educated and will rule everyone else. No one is able to think outside of the box, he sees that as detrimental to his law of justice. In the craft analogy example of the ship captain he does make a good argument for this, however I find his lack of respect for others opinion to be troubling. Of course, the captain of the ship is the leader and controls the ship. However, does he not acknowledge his crewmen for their individual talents? For without those crewman he would have no ship to captain. Free will was not part of Plato’s philosophy to obtain his just society, which is surely his Noble Lie! The Greeks of Plato’s Republic had many God’s to consider with their philosophical journey. His story of the cave dwellers definitely has a ring of Christianity with its metaphors used in the search for truth. Sartre’s existentialism does not serve or rationalize with issues of God or any supreme being. Organized religion does acknowledge and commit to many of Sartre’s viewpoints with freedom and the responsibility of our choices. Sartre believes that others judge us on our truths and errors, and that we are always transcending. (Sartre, 2007, p. 52). Those who believe in a superior being believe God is who will judge them. I do not see a problem with persons believing in God, but I can see where persons might relinquish their responsibility to clergy, which may lead to decisions based on bad faith. Sartre...
References: Plato (1955). The Republic (2nd ed.). Great Britain: Penguin Books.
Sartre, J. P. (2007). Existentialism is a Humanism. United States: Yale.
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