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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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Plato: Private Property and Agriculture for the Commoners—Humans and the Natural World in The Republic

Plato: Private Property and Agriculture for the Commoners—Humans and the Natural World in The Republic

Chapter:
(p.29) 1 Plato: Private Property and Agriculture for the Commoners—Humans and the Natural World in The Republic
Source:
Engaging Nature
Author(s):

Sheryl D. Breen

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.003.0002

Sheryl D. Breen analyzes the class structure of Plato’s ideal city in The Republic, Kallipolis. Kallipolis, which is initially populated by children with no cultural or historical memory and has a communist ruling elite divorced from manual labor and property ownership is, Breen argues, characterized by placelessness and detachment from nature. Plato’s vision of a selfless governing elite detached from material cares and interests points to a larger separation between politics and physical nature in The Republic and in Plato’s thought more generally. In designing his ideal city, Plato draws on the “internal” nature of human reason as a model while the “external” world of the natural environment is a pre-political resource rather than a constitutive element of political life. Breen cites Thomas More’s Utopia as an example of a propertyless ideal society more closely connected with nature.

Keywords:   Plato, The Republic (Plato), Platonic forms, property, environmental political theory, nature and politics, Thomas More, Utopia (More), agriculture

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