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Research paper topic: Platos Republic Justified - 1476 words
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Plato's Republic Justified PLATOS Republic In Plato's Republic, Socrates leads a discussion with his fellow philosophers attempting to isolate the concept of justice in the soul. In order to accomplish this task, they hypothesize that justice can occur both in the city as well as and the soul. Because the philosophers are more familiar with the workings of a city than the soul, they try to find justice by creating the ideal city, or Kallipolis. When they find justice in the ideal city, they are able to apply as well as justify the use of that same concept in the soul. From their discussion, they conclude that the components of the soul and the components of the city are related, and that the concept of justice occurs in both.
Empirical observation shows that a city is created because no single person is self-sufficient. All the needs of the citizens determine the components of their city, from the basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, to the more elaborate needs such as swords, plumbing, and books. In an ideal city, the philosophers believe each citizen will do the task that is best suited to him or her. Such a division of labor makes the city the most efficient, or ideal. Socrates then examines these various tasks and is able to separate them into three distinct groups: those which produce something for the city, those which protect the city from both internal and external subversion, and those which provide control and direct the other two groups. The people who carry out these tasks are called producers, guardians, and rulers, respectively. Socrates then deals heavily with education.
He decrees that the citizens, specifically the guardians, are to have both physical and mental training, for those who devote themselves exclusively to physical training turn out to be more savage than they should, while those who devote themselves to music and poetry turn out softer than is good for them (410c). Here, starting to lay the groundwork for relating the city to the soul, Socrates likens the savageness to a person's spirited characteristics and the softness to his or her philosophic characteristics. The two are in harmony to make the guardian both moderate and courageous. Turning to the rulers, Socrates hypothesizes that they must be the best of the guardians (412c) and hence the ones who are best at guarding the city (412c). The rulers need to be knowledgeable, not easily deceived, care for the city greatly, and pursue what is most advantageous to the city. The producers of the city are not discussed as in depth as the other two classes.
Socrates wants to wait until justice has been isolated before delving into the topic of the producers' manner of education. With their Kallipolis formed, they are now able to make certain assumptions that are needed in order to support the concept of justice in the soul. Foremost, they can assume that the city is completely good, solely from the fact that it is an ideal city. If it is completely good, it must have the four characteristics of being wise, courageous, moderate, and just, based on their agreed beliefs on an ideal city. Socrates et al now try to isolate the first three characteristics, believing that justice will remain.
They determine that the city's wisdom stems from knowledge and the ability to apply it; specifically, knowledge of guardianship. This knowledge is in abundance in the rulers, so wisdom most closely must relate to the rulers. Courage, or civic courage as they call it, is empirically determined by Socrates and the others to come from those who fight for the city. From the actions of the guardians, not the producers or rulers, is a city called courageous or cowardly. Therefore, courage most closely relates to the guardians. Compared to the wisdom and courage, moderation, Socrates states, is more like a kind of consonance and harmony (430e), and he uses the idea of self-control as an example.
This seems to show that one part of the city is in control of another part. In the city, the producers have a variety of needs and wants. Moderation occurs when these desires are controlled by the rulers. Having shown the first three of the city's four characteristics, they believe that justice must be whatever is remaining. According to Socrates, justice is doing one's own work and not meddling with what isn't one's own (433b).
It follows that injustice would be meddling with what is not one's own, such as a farmer trying to be a ruler. Socrates has spent considerable effort defining the workings and characteristics of the ideal city. This detail is needed when they attempt to map the same concepts to the soul, for while they are applying these concepts they will also be exploring the workings of the soul itself. Socrates bases his mapping of the concept of justice saying a just man won't differ at all from a just city in respect to the form of justice; rather he'll be like the city (435a). In order to show that the soul, like the city, indeed has distinct parts and is not a single entity, Socrates uses the theory of opposites; some single thing cannot be 'true' and 'not true' at respect to the same instance. To utilize this theory he discusses appetites, the want or desire for an abstract thing. In this particular case, Socrates uses the appetite of thirst.
When a person is thirsty, there are many cases where the person rationally decides not to drink, even though the appetite remains. Such cases illustrate two distinct and, in this instance, 'opposite' parts of the soul: rational and appetitive. Socrates is not content with merely two parts to the soul. To account for a person's actions due to anger or other emotions, actions that conflict with both the rational and appetitive parts, he surmises that there must be a third part to the soul as well, the spirited part. He discusses cases where a person's spirited actions act in harmony with both the rational and appetitive parts of the soul, seemingly proving its independence.
Socrates is now content with three parts to the soul. At this point in his argument, Socrates appears a little less than thorough. In his arguments, he seems to create the spirited part to satisfy conflicts he perceives, but then seems quite content to stop there. In his rush to create a soul with as many parts as the city, Socrates fails to investigate the possibility of a soul with more than three parts. While it is inconclusive whether or not a further division of the soul is needed, Socrates method does not necessarily prove that there are three and only three parts to the soul.
To relate the just city and the soul, Socrates attempts a hierarchical relationship. Socrates makes use of the fact that each citizen in the ideal city is doing his or her own work and is therefore just. Now, if the citizen is just, then it follows each part of the person's soul must also be doing its job and be just. This assertion, of course, rests on the assumption that justice applies to both the city and the soul and that the soul is divisible. If this assertion is valid then the comparison follows: the rational part of the soul is analogous to the city's rulers, providing wisdom and leadership, and the spirited part of the soul is analogous to the guardians, providing courage. Also, the person and the city can both be called moderate if all the parts are acting harmoniously. Thus, as with the city, justice is what remains. And, just like the city, justice is each part doing its own job and not meddling with what is not its own.
Just as a just city is in a natural state, to produce justice is to establish the parts of the soul in a natural relation of control and being controlled (444d). To find justice in the soul, Socrates and his fellow philosophers are faced with the daunting task of also determining the inner workings of the soul itself. However, by creating and examining an ideal city, they are able to isolate certain characteristics, including justice. Examining the ideal person, they are able to come up with a division of the soul. Although his method here is not as thorough as it should be, his resulting division seems plausible.
Their examination hinges on being able to apply the same concept of justice to both the city and the soul. Without this, their examination of the soul has no backing arguments and therefore, based solely on its own, no credence. With the supporting accounts however, their definition of justice is validated and they are thus able to achieve their goal of finding justice in the soul. Philosophy.
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