In his philosophical text, The Republic, Plato argues that justice can only be realized by the moderation of the soul, which he claims reflects as the moderation of the city. He engages in a debate, via the persona of Socrates, with Ademantus and Gaucon on the benefit, or lack thereof, for the man who leads a just life. I shall argue that this analogy reflecting the governing of forces in the soul and in city serves as a sufficient device in proving that justice is beneficial to those who believe in, and practice it. I shall further argue that Plato establishes that the metaphorical bridge between the city and soul analogy and reality is the leader, and that in the city governed by justice the philosopher is king.
The concept of living “the good life” means something different for everyone. There is a general understanding that living “the good life” is associated with unyielding happiness and lasting satisfaction. The exact meaning of this desired life was pondered by thinkers and philosophers for hundreds of years. They constructed principals of behavior, thought, and obligation that would categorize a person as “good”. Although some of these ancient philosophies about “the good life” had overlapping ideas, their concepts varied widely. This contrast of ideas can be examined through two major characters in two famous works: Aeneas in “The Aeneid” and Socrates in “The Apology”. Aeneas exemplifies the philosophy that the direct route to “the good life" is through faith, trust in the Gods, and family, while Socrates in “The Apology” emphasizes free will, and vast knowledge of life.
For Plato, “Justice, I think, is exactly what we said must be established throughout the city when we were founding it…everyone must practice one of the occupations in the city for which he is naturally best suited” (Cahn 147). This only happens when the city is not in a state of internal conflict with itself allowing the highest principle, good, to be seen; making it the most unified, therefore being just.
Plato aims to give an account of the ethical life. Themes for example knowledge, the well-ordered life, and wisdom are connected into the discussion of ethical life, however, the principle of justice and the organization of the good life is the central topic of Plato's theories. Today we associate justice with the successful implementation and execution of political law. To the Ancient Greek's justice was used to describe the proper and correct method of living. Justice is harmony and was believed it could be achieved through learning. Plato first established that justice is good, and part of the good life in Book I. Plato listens to other philosophers theories and argues that justice is an excellence of character. The role that justice plays is to improve human nature. In addition to other things, justice is a form of goodness that cannot contribute in any activity that attempts to harm one's character.
In sections (352d-354b) of the book, “The Republic of Plato” by Allan Bloom, Socrates begins by arguing with Thrasymachus that the just life is the happiest and best (352e). He provides rhetorical appeal of logos and compelling arguments that all living things have a function. Socrates establishes a well-rounded statement to counter argue against Thrasymachus by including multiple statements on how the just life has virtue, while as unjust brings the opposite of happiness. He pieces together to puzzle that blocks Thrasymachus from understanding the correct rationality for the attributes that we possess.
“Justice is the art that gives each man what is good for his soul”. This statement is implies that justice is goodness and doing what’s right. This also implies that being a good person and doing good actions will in turn benefit the people by improving their Lives. Justice is good because it sets a standard of goodness that people in society would have to uphold and follow. Therefore this would lead to an environment of positivity and goodness for individuals. The Mariam-Webster dictionary gives the world one definition that states “Justice is the maintenance and administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of confliction claims”. However According to book one of The Republic by Plato, Justice is conveyed as a very complex topic that cannot be defined by a single definition. The topic of justice is discussed and broken down by Socrates, who asks the question “what is justice?” , he seeks out a definition from the company around him and through different given definitions of Justice, Socrates proves that there is no one definition for justice because there are many contradictions and exceptions that have to be considered in certain situations. In this essay I will discuss how justice relates to goodness and how it can be “the art that gives each man what is good for his soul” by using the Socrates’ discussion on the various definitions of justice from book one in The Republic by Plato.
It follows that Plato's ideal of justice be exemplified in the philosopher-king, since it is only the philosopher that would have the requisite justice in his soul that would make him a just ruler of a just society.
It is better to be morally just than unjust because it makes one better, as a person. I believe that a morally just person, will get good things in return. The consequences of doing good are more favorable than those of not being good. Being good means being a good citizen. It is important that we do good things because we will gain approval from people that are important to us. Being congratulated is better than being scorned because it makes one feel satisfied. However, regardless of reward, it is better to be a good person, than a bad person “And this, then, is the genesis and being of justice: it is a mean between what is best—doing injustice without paying the penalty—and what is worst—suffering injustice without being able to avenge oneself" (359a). Even though bad things happen to good people, and bad people seem to get away with things, the just person is most likely happier. Good people are loved, and respected. Bad people, are typically lonely. One should do the action that results in the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number of people. This is because it is morally right to benefit as many people as possible. While it is better to be a just person, many people are not. Many people believe that there are excuses as to why they can behave unjustly.
to be equally educated in a well rounded fashion in order to promote a just
They are educated through their strict curriculum, and due to the virtues that they learn, they are able to rule in a just manner (Plato 515a). The purpose of life for Plato is to create a just state. Through a broad education, and a democratic government, justice can be pursued. Justice is defined as the harmony that results when everyone is actively engaged in fulfilling his role and does not meddle with that of others (Plato 434e). When each person follows their role in life, stability can be achieved in the state.
In response to Thrasymachus, Glaucon, and Adeimantus, Socrates seeks to show that it is always in an individual’s interest to be just, rather than unjust. Thus, one of the most critical problems regarding the Republic is whether Socrates defends justice successfully or not. Socrates offers three arguments in favor of the just life over the unjust life: first, the just man is wise and good, and the unjust man is ignorant and bad; second, injustice produces internal disharmony which prevents effective actions; and lastly, virtue is excellence at a thing’s function and the just person lives a happier life than the unjust person, since he performs the various functions of the human soul well. Socrates is displeased with the argument because a sufficient explanation of justice is essential before reaching a conclusion as to whether or not the just life is better than the unjust life. He is asked to support justice for itself, not for the status that follows. He propositions to look for justice in the city first and then to continue by analogy to discover justice in the individual. This approach will allow for a distinct judgment on the question of whether the just person is happier than the unjust person. Socrates commences by exploring the roots of political life and constructs a hypothetical just city that gratifies only fundamental human necessities. Socrates argues
A just man according to Socrates in the Book of the Republic is a man that does his role in life to the best of his abilities. However, an unjust man on the other hand such as a tyrannical man is one who “lives for luxuries, girlfriends, revelries, and feast” as described by Socrates. In Book IX Socrates states, “the Tyrannical man is a man ruled by his lawless desires” (The Republic Book IX 571a-580a). This statement by Socrates demonstrates how an unjust man live his life unjustly without boundaries with no care for rules and an extreme yearning for money and power. Nonetheless, since an unjust man lives a life dictated by lust, desire, money, and greed therefore can an unjust man truly be as happy as they want others to believe they are.
Wise man, no matter how many times you try, you will never be able to reach the essence of Justice. Your ignorance blinds your soul, and blinded, you content in the commodities of the world. Does this make you not wise, but a fool? Or is it better to say that Justice is unreachable and unsolvable, and for this reason, is beyond human understanding? Perhaps Glaucon is right to say that we are selfish individuals who expect to be benefited when we do good deeds or stay away from wrongdoings. Or maybe Socrates’s idealistic individual could actually be attained if one follows certain forms of disciplines that lead to virtue and Just character. The constant search for Justice has brought up more questions than answers. In the republic, Plato
If you asked a random person on the street “what is a good person?” or “what is the good life?” you would likely receive a different answer from everyone. These answers would be different because everyone has their own ideas and opinions of what the answers should be. For many, a good person is someone who lives a good life, is a Christian, or someone who helps other individuals. For some, a good person might be someone who puts others first and someone who is reliable. The same applies to the answers you would receive from “what is the good life?” Just like everyone had different opinions on what a good person is, they will also have different opinions on what the good life is. You might get answers ranging from spending time with one’s family to having a lot of money. These answers vary depending on the individuals values and world view. For some individuals this desire for money can cause them to act on it, driving them to steal in order to gain happiness. Bronk supports this idea by stating, “Our answers guide our actions, influence our decisions, and inspire our dreams” (2008, p.713). This paper will discuss how philosophers believe everyone should live and what kind of people we should be, what a good person is, what the good life is, and what the relationship between goodness and human reality is.