Karl Popper’s Criticism of Totalitarianism in Plato’s The Republic



Plato considers the original or most primitive form of society is closest to the form or concept of a state. It is the best state and it is ruled by the most intelligent and sacred people. But Moral degradation causes political corruption and produces a series of vicious chain reactions. Plato’s The Republic is the embodiment of his totalitarian thought. This reflects Plato’s disappointment with the Athenian democracy. Because of his disappointment, he turned his attention to oligarchy and totalitarianism, trying to find a starting point for solidification and finding the unchangeable form of idea. In the context of modern society, Popper criticizes Plato’s view of justice based on his ideology from the perspective of humanism, and he constructs his special view against historical determinism by criticizing Plato’s claim. Generally speaking, Plato’s political philosophy tends to be totalitarian, but his essentialist method is valuable in the field of sociological research, which can help us identify those things that are essentially the same in the changing historical course.


Plato; The Republic; Karl Popper; Totalitarianism

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Popper, K. (1945). The open society and its enemies (Vol. 2). London: Routledge,1945.

Popper, K. (1957). The poverty of historicism. London: Routeledge.

Plato (2002). The republic (B. H. Guo, et al, Trans.). The Commercial Press.

Popper, K. (1966). Of clouds and clocks: An approach to the problem of rationality and the freedom of man. Washington, DC: Washington University Press.

Popper, K. (2012). After the open society: Selected social and political writings (J. Shearmur & P. N. Turner, Eds.), London and New York: Routledge.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/12176


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