Philosophical View of Virtue in Politics Analytical Essay by scribbler

Philosophical View of Virtue in Politics
An analysis of the concept of virtue in politics in the works of Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine and Machiavelli.
# 152380 | 2,326 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2013 | US

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This paper explores the idea of virtue and its relation to politics in several important ancient authors, including Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine and Machiavelli. The paper goes on to demonstrate how the notion of virtue in all these philosophical authors is intimately connected with politics. The paper explains that in the Greek view, moral virtue is the groundwork for political selection and leadership, and this moral view of political virtue is carried through Augustine, although he alters it in line with his Christian view. The paper discusses how Plutarch emphasizes glory and military example in his praise of leaders, not rejecting the earlier positions but taking them in a different direction toward external reputation and the generous distribution of honors and goods. The paper shows how it is only with Machiavelli that a clearly new concept of virtue is employed to assert that the political leader must act with willingness against morality to secure the preservation of power.

From the Paper:

"Plato's Republic gives the philosopher's foundational view of virtue. The dialogue is couched in terms of justice and the ideal form of the state. For Plato, virtue is clearly part of politics, and in the political sense seems close to being defined as justice. As such, political virtue is a type of social morality that the individual leaders exercise in running the government. Yet Plato's notion of virtue is also the character possessed by the person that makes them good at doing something. Virtue consists of the "way we ought to live" (Plato 352d). Therefore, it encompasses specific types of attitudes or skills, such as wisdom, courage, and self-mastery that are individually possessed. When Plato applies this concept to the state, he thinks in terms of the traits that a leader should possess to be a good or virtuous leader.
"The main criterion for a virtuous ruler is that he must "eagerly pursue what is advantageous to the city and be wholly unwilling to do the opposite" (Plato 412d). Therefore, the virtuous leader has the city's interests at heart in his every decision and action. The city will turn out under his leadership as possessing the virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice (Plato 352d)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Aristotle. The Politics. Trans. Carnes Lord. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
  • Augustine of Hippo. The City of God. Trans. Marcus Dods. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009.
  • Clough, Arthur Hugh, ed. Plutarch's Lives. Vol. 2. Trans. Dryden. New York: Modern Library, 2001.
  • Lindeman, Eduard C., ed. Plutarch's Lives. Trans. John and William Langhorne. New York: Mentor, 1950.
  • Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Discourses. Trans. Leslie J. Walker. New York: Penguin Books, 1970.

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Philosophical View of Virtue in Politics (2013, February 04) Retrieved December 09, 2023, from

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