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Defining The Concept Of Justice Philosophy Essay
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Nov 28th, 2019

Defining The Concept Of Justice Philosophy Essay

“[Justice] isn’t concerned with someone’s doing their own externally, but with what is inside him, with what is truly himself and his own.” (R: 443c) “If a guardian seeks happiness in such a way that he’s no longer a guardian…” (466b) “Our dreams make it clear that there is a dangerous, wild, and lawless form of desire in everyone, even in those who seem to be entirely moderated or measured.” (R: 572b) “Fine things are those that subordinate the beastlike parts of our nature to the human, or better, perhaps, to the divine…” (589c-d) “… haven’t we found that justice itself is the best thing for our soul itself…” (R: 612b) Will ruling the state corrupt the soul of the philosopher king?

Theoretical or Practical?

Plato’s major aim in Republic is to show that justice is in everyone’s best interest, because it is required for true happiness.

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He thinks that the best way to discover what justice is to create a perfect soul.

For that reason he creates a theoretical perfect city, which would have a good soul and all four virtues. He claims that a city needs to be governed by the rulers who have the knowledge of how the city should be run. The philosopher kings must be virtuous and their soul should be ruled by its rational part. Philosopher king should have the authority to do what must be done, even if it is against the will of the people because he knows what is best for the city as a whole. But how can people be so sure that philosopher kings who possess knowledge will not use it at the expense of their own interest and who decides whether they are just or not? Basic issue that my term paper needs to examine is that, will ruling the state ruin the parts of the soul of the ruler and will change his understanding of virtue? I will critically discuss Socrates response to these questions.

Justice in the individual, as the city, based on the correct relationship among parts, that each part taking appropriate roles. In the individual, the parts are not classes of the society. They are aspects of the human soul. In order to make justice parallel between individual and the city, Socrates shows that there are three parts of the human soul in the individual. He identifies a rational part of the soul that seeks after truth, a spirited part of the soul that seeks after honor and appetitive part of the soul that seeks after everything else, such food, drink, sex and money.(Plato, Republic 440a-441e). According to Plato, in a just person, the rational part of the soul should rule the other parts and with the help of spirited part, they keep appetitive part in line. Plato describes philosopher kings as “those who love the sight of the truth” (Plato, Republic 475c), then he supports his idea with the ship and the captain analogy. (Plato, Republic 488b-e) .We see there, according to him, sailing is not a thing that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. And in the cave analogy (Plato, Republic 514) Plato attempts to show the philosopher’s place in society as king. He asserts that educational system should have steps and everyone should take these steps by their nature allows. Only true philosophers, who are ruled only by their rational parts, are able to take the final step. Plato claims that the philosopher is the only person that able to realise the form of the good. Since the philosopher is the only one able to realise what is truly good, and only he can reach the last step , only he is fit to rule society. He defines what is truly good in book II with the help of Glaucon’s introduction of three types of good. Glaucan points out first type of good as where the good is welcomed in itself, like the emotion of joy. Second where the good is welcomed both because of itself and the effects it brings, like seeing and being healthy and third as where the good yields a beneficial result but isn’t appreciated for their its sake , such as taking some kinds of medicine.(Plato, Republic 357). According Socrates, best good is the first one that Glaucan defined. So philosopher-kings, who rule not for their personal enjoyment but for the good of the city, are true rulers. Hence ruling the state will not corrupt the soul of the philosopher king.

A society which determines occupation of the citizens without considering their free choice will not be a just society. People should be free to choose what they do with their lives. Dividing individuals to classes is a kind of sacrificing. Hence, there is no possibility for them to be happy and healthy individuals. I will argue that, individual which has complex nature, does not act with the whole three part of their soul nor with the only part of their soul. Socrates defines justice as each of the citizens should do what they are naturally suited for. Who can truly decide the natural occupation of every single individual and the classes that they placed in? We can clearly see that there is no social mobility in the Republic. There are men of gold, silver, bronze and iron. They assume your place in society based on the kind of metal you are, and this judgment is made by the guardians whose judgment is unappealable. So justice is the advantage of the stronger (ruler class) as it in Thrasymachus definition (Plato, Republic 339). Philosopher king is the law giver. And, being a king and having the authority of a king, he is able to enforce his rulings on the people without anyone being able to stop him. Therefore he has the power and by the human nature, he will use his power eventually. It is the human nature to want to strive, to be greedy, to want more and more and not to be pleased with one’s own lot and goods.

It seems unreasonable to insist that we remain on a stable path throughout our lives and surely we should be given a variety of occupations from which to choose. Plato claims that they select the guardians because they had the proper nature and upbringing. (430b). He then declares they inculcate ideas to this class of people to change their belief about what they should fear and not. This is not education but indoctrination. In such a case we cannot talk about free will or the justice. Plato considers education to be of supreme importance and is to be fully under the control of the Guardians of the state. This makes it to be what the guardians want it to be and no one dare question that. We could hardly call it education if it corrupted them. No educated person wants absolute power over others. Educated people know their own faults and failings and would abstain from this despotism.

Plato argues that the philosopher king is the ideal ruler for the city because he has a rightly ordered soul within him and he knows what should and should not to be done and encourages others to do same. Philosopher kings rule the city not for love of power but because they love their state. Hence, according to Plato, ruling the state will not corrupt the soul of the king . The Republic presents theories of knowledge, ethics, and government system in the ideal city. Form of the government would in theory produce the good life for its inhabitants , however Plato’s city only works in theory not in practicality. Therefore his republic, if put into practice, would never work and produce the results that Plato claims because people are greedy and ambitious, they always want more and more for themselves by nature. So having the absolute power of the city will eventually corrupt the soul of the guardians.

Question Analysis

“[Justice] isn’t concerned with someone’s doing their own externally, but with what is inside him, with what is truly himself and his own.” (R: 443c) “If a guardian seeks happiness in such a way that he’s no longer a guardian…” (466b) “Our dreams make it clear that there is a dangerous, wild, and lawless form of desire in everyone, even in those who seem to be entirely moderated or measured.” (R: 572b) “Fine things are those that subordinate the beastlike parts of our nature to the human, or better, perhaps, to the divine…” (589c-d) “… haven’t we found that justice itself is the best thing for our soul itself…” (R: 612b) Will ruling the state corrupt the soul of the philosopher king?

Glossary

True philosophers (complete guardians of the city): The city that Plato defines is really wise and it has good judgment. Hence city should be ruled by rulers who have a kind of knowledge that called wisdom.(Plato,Republic,428e).True philosopher have to be guided by the truth and should have a nature of the real love of learning.(Plato,Republic,490a).

Philosophic nature: Plato claims that philosophic nature compass ease in learning, a good memory, courage, and high mindedness. (Plato, Republic, 490d).

Justice: Justice is the result of the three virtues -moderation, courage, and wisdom- that Plato mentions. He defines justice as having and doing of one’s own work and not meddling with what it is not one’ own. (Plato, Republic, 433c).

Moderation: It is one of the virtues that Plato defines. According to him, moderation is the control of certain kinds of pleasures and desires. Moderation seems like a kind of harmony. It is located in ruler and the ruled both. They have the common belief about who should rule the country. (Plato, Republic,430e)

Sophist: The sophists believed that an action could be good or bad depending on the circumstances. Hence they are fake philosophers and they corrupt the philosophic nature. (Plato, Republic, 492-493).

Injustice: If the parts of the soul rule or ruled contrary to the nature then injustice comes into existence. Plato believes that the actions that destroy how the nature of the soul works are unjust. (Plato, Republic, 444b-e).

Underlying problem

In Plato’s Republic we see that he created a best city possible and the nature of this city include four virtues. These virtues are wisdom, moderation, courage and justice. Rulers of the city, the philosopher kings, must be virtuous. Their soul should be ruled by its rational part. In republic Plato defines the types of good. According to Philosopher kings, best good should be the types of good which we welcome, not because we desire what comes from it, but because we welcome it for its own sake. Rulers should moderate parts of their soul.

How can society be so sure that the ruler is a wise person?

Who can truly decide the natural occupation of every single individual and the classes that they placed in?

Who decides whether a he is just or not?

Basic issue that my term paper needs to examine is that, will ruling the state ruin the parts of the soul and will change philosopher king’s understanding of virtue? So the question is asking whether the ruler class attempt to use their power for their own interest or not.

Philosopher’s response

Plato argues that every individual in the society must practice one of the occupation in the city for which he is naturally best suited. It is appropriate for the rational part to rule the city. According to Plato not everyone is able to use their rational part. The allegory of the cave illustrates the steps of education. That is why Plato’s ideal city has classes. A few people (philosopher kings), who take the final step, can have the ability of ruling the city. Philosopher King is purified from all his desires. He guided by the truth in every way and he has the nature of the real love of learning. (Plato, Republic, 490b).In Plato’s ideal city, rulers do not receive any property or money. They only want to rule their city because they love it. Hence ruling the state will not corrupt the soul of the philosopher king in Plato’s ideal city.

My Argument

I will argue that ruling the state will corrupt the soul of the philosopher king. Even in the ruler class there are some desires which cannot be controlled at all times. Ruler is the law-maker so he has the power in the society. How and who decides that philosopher kings are wise people? Ideal city that Socrates established cannot put into practice because it is against the human nature. He argued that building a just city is not to make any one group happy at the expense of any other group, but to make the city as a whole as happy as it can be. People in society has mixed nature, does not act with the whole three parts of their soul nor with the only part of their soul in each case. However nesting individuals to classes is a kind of way to sacrifice them. Individual and the society should be there for each other’s benefits. Therefore individual should not be sacrificed by the society itself. A society which determines occupation of the citizens without considering their free will, will not be a just society. Placing citizens into classes and assuming these classes of people to have one of the virtue defined by Plato is utopian.

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