Reflections on Plato and Global Capitalism

Keywords: Plato, Global capitalism, Political materialism, The market, Humanism, Justice


Global capitalism poses an ethical challenge similar in nature to the challenge of political materialism that Plato addressed in his assessment of the impact of the Sophist tradition of thought on the youth of Athens, in their search for the Good life. For Plato, a Good life is incompatible with a materialist conception of human happiness (in ethics) and justice (in politics); it presupposes an understanding of the significance of physical as well as spiritual dimensions of human life, in a social-political context. This article argues that Plato’s theory of economics offers an important point of departure for a critical engagement with the anti-humanist politics of global capitalism.


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Author Biography

Michael Cloete, University of South Africa

Emeritus Professor

Department of Philosophy, Practical & Systematic Theology

University of South Africa (Unisa)