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The role and significance of education with regard to political and social institutions is a subject that has interested political philosophers for millennia In particular the views of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato as evidenced in The Republic and of the pre-Romantic philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau in his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences present a striking juxtaposition of the two extremes of the ongoing philosophical and political debate over the function and value of education In this paper I will argue that Rousseaus repudiation of education while imperfect and offering no remedy to the ills it disparages is superior inasmuch as it comes closer to the truth of things than does Platos idealized conceptions To do so I will first examine Platos interpretation of the role of education and its function in shaping the structure of society and government and in producing good citizens I will then introduce Rousseaus view of education and the negative effects of the civilized culture which it produces and using this view will attempt to illustrate the naivet and over-idealization of Platos notions Finally I will attempt to demonstrate that it is Rousseaus view rather than Platos that is ultimately more significant in assessing the actual vs idealized merits or lack thereof in Rousseaus case by which education should be judged with regard to the nurturance of good citizens For Plato the question of the role of education arises near the end of Book II 377e after a discussion of both the necessary and consequent attributes of Socrates kallipolis or Ideal City Such a city Socrates argues will before long have need of both a specialization of labor in order for the greatest level of diversity and luxury of goods to be achieved and of the establishment of a class of Guardians to protect the city from its envious neighbors and maintain order within its walls ie to police and govern the city This in turn
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