Plato's The Republic and The Apology

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In Plato’s The Republic and The Apology, the topic of justice is examined from multiple angles in an attempt to discover what justice is, as well as why living a just life is desirable. Plato, writing through Socrates, identifies in The Republic what he thought justice was through the creation of an ideal city and an ideal soul. Both the ideal city and the ideal soul have three components which, when all are acting harmoniously, create what Socrates considers to be justice. Before he outlines this city and soul, he listens to the arguments of three men who hold popular ideas of the period. These men act to legitimize Socrates’ arguments because he finds logical errors in all of their opinions. In The Apology, a different, more down-to-Earth, Socrates is presented who, through his self-defense in court, reveals a different, even contradictory, view of the justice presented in The Republic. In this paper, the full argument of justice from The Republic will be examined, as well as the possible inconsistencies between The Republic and The Apology. Socrates’ three opponents in The Republic come in the form of Cephalus, Polemarchus, and Thrasymachus. Cephalus provides his opinion first, which is that justice is defined by, “truthfulness and returning anything we have borrowed (The Republic, 331C).” Socrates quickly counters, and says that Cephalus’ interpretation of justice cannot be right, because, “if one borrowed a weapon from a friend who subsequently went out of his mind
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