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‘Cleaning the City’: Plato and Popper on Political Change

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image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

This paper examines an issue that seems particularly overlooked in the debate on Plato and Popper, namely that of political change. The aim of the paper is to challenge the largely unchallenged assumption that modern liberal democracy can play the role of the general standard, upon which basis we can judge the thinkers of the past. Indeed, in the Open Society liberal democracy sets the boundaries of what is considered as a ‘rational’ political change, thus revealing that Popper holds a form of teleological conception of historical development. The paper argues for a different interpretation of Plato’s approach to the question of political change, against Popper’s claim that the final aim of the utopian city of the Republic is the elimination of change. The conclusion is that Plato’s utopian construction provides us with better tools than Popper’s framework for thinking of change in politics.


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