From Plato to Rousseau

More than two thousand years ago, Plato studied from Socrates and believed in beauty, good and justice. But the crumbling Greek society disillusioned his idea of democracy. He replaced this ideal with the 'state', a living nation that rewarded hardworking citizens whose collective goal was to enhance its stateliness
beautiful architecture beautiful people beautiful minds

Plato lost faith
In ideals and sought -
to restore order

The Republic was born out of the belief that the state was above all. Aristotle continued this quest, unrealistic dream for the perfect state for mankind. The beautiful minds began the search for logic and science, dimensions and proportions and transfered this logical thought process to politics. To him, only the state can ensure the good life. The alternative would be chaos - therefore the state must be preserved

Politics took shape
Under Aristotle's rigid

It took two thousand years to destroy the innocent view of the perfect world on earth when Machiavelli arrived with his book, The Prince, he who believed that political power was above all. By now, a unified nation must be achieved at all cost. And hail to the new Italian hero Cesare Borgia (who was not even Italian) - for which a little bit of brute force and deceit did not taint his pristine reputation - to which a citizen militia was all loyal

Cruelty, lies, bigotry
All ends justified
In the name of the state

Power politics was here to stay, borne of the overiding desire to unite the most fragmented of countries. Across the borders, centuries later, Voltaire urged man to move forward and leave the era of injustice. He warned, "Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."

Son esprit caustique
Et plume cynique
Rejeté les reliques du moyen âge

His caustic mind
And cynical pen recoiled
From the barbaric relics
of the Middle Ages

"Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains," reasoned Rousseau who with stirring words, turned men's thoughts from food and sex to bloody revolutions. For Rousseau believed in the individual, his rights to his person and reminded the free
we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.

To be continued...

(Tolstoy, Gandhi, Geldof)

Written on a lazy Sunday before I start painting my staircase. Hopefully, it can help clarify some thoughts over at The Writers' Island. However, please note about one hundred years before Plato, Confucious emphasized personal and governmental morality, the correct social relationships, justice and sincerity. And his thoughts are as relevant today as then.


  1. thanks for sharing these words of wisdom, it is good to read part of history...

  2. Great analysis of political philosophy. One philosopher vital to the process would be John Locke - it was he who devised the separation of powers between executive and legislature, and also gave us Inalienable Rights such freedom of association, speech and religion, and the right to rebel against unjust law.

  3. It always bears thinking on the words of wise men.

  4. Food for thought. Now I am hungry for more!

  5. nino, very interesting writeup on history. I read "the prince" years ago, so many of his methods still used in the business/personal world today.

    I love this quote: "Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains," how very true.

  6. Thank you all. This was an experiment for me, but I do not want to sound like I am lecturing either. I am certainly no expert so your warm words of encouragement really brighten up my day!

    Dear Anthony,

    I will certainly restudy who to include under the next segment/phase. Hobbes, Locke and Burke are some I am considering. And the role of the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But it is after all a poem - so it won't be too heavy. Actually I was writing this for my daughters - as an intro to how law and order and governments came to be.

  7. Dear Pamela,
    Yes, we continue to see the Machivellian doctrine in business and in governments. One would think that after 500 years or so, we have sorted this one out!


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