Response to “The Republic”
In the Republic, Plato advocates a eugenics program which includes holding all women and children in common, disposing of the offspring of less talented people and of the handicapped, and not telling children the identities of their parents and vice versa. This program is morally wrong because the leaders of this Republic manipulate human relationships for their own gain and view less talented people as unworthy of life.
The relationships between man and woman and between parents and children are the most intense that a person can experience. Connecting sex to merit and discouraging deep personal relationships between guardians prevents them from fully enjoying life and may have long-term repercussions. In our own society, children conceived by sperm bank often track down their biological fathers, and black slaves abhorred their white masters’ attempts to “breed” stronger slaves. I am curious about how a woman in the Republic would react when the society took her baby away from her.
Plato’s recommendation that the good city euthanize its weaker members is also troubling. We are all human beings created by God, and we all have intrinsic value. I have an autistic brother who is ten years old and doesn’t speak, but my family loves him very much and would never part with him. Handicapped people are not less valuable than us; they are merely unfortunate.
Plato is trying to shape an ideal society and thus considers ideal people for his experiment, but I think personal relationships, identification with family, and love for the less fortunate are immutable parts of human nature which he cannot ignore.