The Republic

Cities and Unity

"Is there any greater evil we can mention for a city than that which tears it apart and makes it many instead of one? Or any greater good than that which binds it together and makes it one?...And when all the citizens rejoice and are pained by the same successes and failures, doesn't this sharing of pleasures and pains bind the city together?" (Republic 5.462b)

Plato thus declares the need to establish unity, so crucial to sustaining virtue in his "Just City". Interestingly, this modern and seemingly indisputably beneficial concept of unity is harshly criticized by Plato's greatest pupil, Aristotle. According to Plato, the guardians of the Just City must seek complete unity in order to prevent corruption and rule well. To achieve this goal, the wives and children of the guardians must be treated no differently. Children must grow up not knowing their parents, nor parents their children. Instead of having a simple family, all children will call men of a certain age "father", women of a certain age "mother", and children of the same age "brother" or "sister", thus enhancing the joys a single nuclear family by providing a multitude of relatives. This way, Plato...

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