Views of Plato on Marriage in Republic


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Marriage – the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union between a man and a woman). When two people make a public pledge or commitment to each other to share and live their lives together that is recognised socially, legally and sometimes religiously. According to many Christian denominations, a marriage is a union between a man and woman, instituted and ordained by God as the lifelong relationship between one man as husband, and one woman as wife.In ancient Greek culture, the purpose of marriage was to reproduce, establish a family, and to have heirs who would carry on the family name,lineage and memory. In Plato’s days there was no prejudice against men having sex with other men. Sex with the same gender was quite common and accepted in the Greek culture, but men did not marry other men. Because there would be no conception and birth so marriage was not necessary. Plato is one of the most influential philosophers in the world. He has contributed in many fields like ethics, metaphysics, cosmology, politics, etc. One of his most famous works is the Republic, which contains how a philosopher runs a wise society. From his works it’s assumed that Plato never married or have any offsprings.

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Plato viewed marriage in a unconventional way, it was a bit different from the original concept of marriage. According to his depictions of an ideal state, the state should monitor and have a control over human reproduction. As per the philosophy of eugenics, temporary marriages shall be arranged in a festival, where the matches shall be chosen by the selected Rulers. Plato understood that this would not be accepted by the common people so it was done in secret. In Plato’s republic a number system was introduced in which your mate would be chosen by selecting a ‘marriage number.’ According to this concept the people with similar qualities will be matched together so that they can procreate. Everyone chose the names from the lot and the mate they get is chosen by God himself and if you draw a blank you are considered unfit for offsprings. Plato also wanted the offsprings to be taken away from the biological parents and wanted them to be raised in common nurseries. Plato’s reason for restructuring marriage was to abolish the concept of private family and to give power to the state, to discourage personal interest and to encourage common good and to increase the strength in the state. The reason was also to improve human conditions, the logic behind it was if people with good qualities bred then the outcome would also be good. His main aim was to bring unity among people and to have atleast some citizens in the state who had the best interest of the state. His main idea behind this was to find the best race, and the best people for this society.

However, Plato realised his error that even though people with similar qualities mated, it’s not necessary that the offspring would have those ‘golden’ qualities of the parents. Aristotle also firmly criticized this theory of Plato. He said that this theory of Plato was unworkable. As Plato has not taken into consideration the fact that natural love a parent would have towards his or her child and the emotions associated. Plato had assumed that the love for family can be transferred to the fellow citizens. Plato himself never married and he never thought that love was necessary for a marriage. He viewed the institution of marriage only as a means to procreate and to establish a family.

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