Plato believed in eugenics?

by phil on Saturday May 16, 2009 1:47 PM

After finding out that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, I guess nothing of this sort disturbs me anymore.

According to wikipedia's entry on Eugenics:

The philosophy was most famously expounded by Plato, who believed human reproduction should be monitored and controlled by the state. However, Plato understood this form of government control would not be readily accepted, and proposed the truth be concealed from the public via a fixed lottery. Mates, in Plato's Republic, would be chosen by a "marriage number" in which the quality of the individual would be quantitatively analyzed, and persons of high numbers would be allowed to procreate with other persons of high numbers. In theory, this would lead to predictable results and the improvement of the human race. However, Plato acknowledged the failure of the "marriage number" since "gold soul" persons could still produce "bronze soul" children.
I did some cursory follow-up Googling, and it seems this idea has some corroboration:
The Guardians will even have their families in common. Children will be raised in common and will not know who their real parents are. These children will also not be randomly conceived. They will be bred deliberately to produce the best offspring, as though the Guardians were a pack of hunting dogs. Even Plato realizes that such cold blooded match making might be too much for the Guardians, so he proposes that the process be kept secret from most of them. Every year, after the breeding committee, or whatever, secretly makes its choices, there is to be a kind of fertility festival. Everyone chooses names by lot, and the name they draw, or no name, is the choice of the gods for them. This is the kind of thing that Plato calls a "noble lie"; for the lottery is to be rigged by the breeding committee. Everyone will actually draw the name designated for them; and those who draw a blank were simply thought undesirable for offspring.

Comments

Mike said on March 4, 2010 1:52 PM:

I have read plato's republic, my thoughts are that maybe Plato didn't really believe in Eugenics. Maybe he was just using this illustration as a way to show readers that if a leader was ever to engage in such practices it would inevitably lead to complete failure. Google "TTC plato's republic" it's a lecture from the Teaching company about this book,very good

No Name said on August 4, 2010 2:02 PM:

I might be able to clarify some things about this issue. Many conspiracy theorists jump to conclusions about Plato and some of his ideas that I feel is misguided. First, let me explain the difference between an idea and how an idea is used. The idea behind eugenics, or any selective breeding program, is to improve the human condition. If there's a way to reduce bad human qualities and increase good human qualities, then why should that--in itself--be a bad thing? If A is good and B is good, then AB is good. It's simple logic. Okay, now that we understand that an idea can be a good thing, what about HOW an idea is used? What about WHO is using that idea? You see, this is where you have to draw the line because this is where Plato would explain things. Plato believed in integrity and believed that only a philosopher-king, a person with integrity, could rule a society best. The idea of DNA manipulation to improve the human condition is a good idea, but Plato would probably have a hard time believing that our current governmental systems contain the integrity to wield that idea responsibly and in the best interests of the people. Conclusively, then, Plato is for eugenics so long as eugenics is used ethically and responsibly, something only a philosopher-king can do (and Bill Gates, Obama, Al Gore, etc, are NOT philosopher-kings). This is the distinction conspiracy advocates fail to understand, which is sad because Plato was a great philosopher.

mjb1905 said on November 2, 2010 6:33 PM:

Plato was a cabbalist.In his book the REPULIC he urges judges not to worry about useless eaters the doctors destroyed.Talk about an antichrist.A few years ago I went to the library and look up Plato in enciapedia ,both a catholic and christian.And none said any thing about him being a cabbalist.What they said about him was more or less normal.

Mnyorej said on November 13, 2011 7:22 AM:

The word eugenics has been corroborated to the extent that any use of it in our contemporary word will be like reminding people of the Nazi killing. Eugenic, etymologically, means: eu-good. and genes-genes. it simply means good birth. I personally don't see anything bad by having good races. Plato was indeed a eugenicist, and he was the positive-eugenicist. His main idea was to find the best race, the best people for the society. This is what most of the people would go for. Many of us, this is a fact, are eugenicists in one way or another. take the simple example of marrying. people go for "goo" wives, and/or husbands. no one would like to have a poor breed. Plato was a human-being who wanted the good for his society. I finally say that there is nothing wrong with Plato as a eugenicist. however, we should not that from the etymology of the word, eugenics as a whole, Plato was not. This will be like asking whether Aristotle was a Thomist. eugenics, as a terminology was coined by Galton.

Ar said on February 21, 2012 2:47 PM:

I think like no name!

But I want to add; ┬┐What about the Mennonites?

Today they have blood problems, because purity!

An today they accept people from outside his community!

Everyday we can learn something!


Greetings!


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