The Kallipolis: Justice and Ideals

1888 Words8 Pages
More than two-thousand years have elapsed since Plato wrote what many consider his most famous work, Republic. To this day, students and scholars alike grapple with the challenging philosophical issues presented therein. The thematic crux of the work lies in the nature of justice. In defining this slippery concept, Socrates details the structure and workings of what he considers a truly just city, the kallipolis. There are those who would say that this kallipolis may be equated to a utopia, an ideal society; however, I intend to illustrate a much divergent point of view. The justice of this city, made analogous to the justice of the individual, is specifically what precludes the kallipolis from being an ideal society. For this…show more content…
So effective is the education of the guardians that they fear not even death. In stark contrast to the guardians lie the producers or commoners. They serve to represent the appetitive part of the soul, and as such, are ruled from within by their own appetites. For this very reason, they are specialized to participate in economic activity. Plato goes to great pains later on to show that the least desirable existence, from both a political and individual standpoint, may be found in rule by appetite. Since the soul of the producer cannot be just, a producer cannot live a perfect life. By the presence of even one individual living a less than perfect existence, the kallipolis cannot be qualified as ideal.
Plato might argue that the producers are ruled by reason on a political level and are thus compelled toward true opinion and, therefore, a de facto just life; however, the producers are still denied the perfect existence because they are made just in their actions via external means rather than from within. The guardians compel the producers to act justly in two ways, the first and much more straightforward method being physical coercion. The legitimacy of the city government allows the guardians to exert violence upon the citizens when injustice is done. Out of fear of the guardians' power, the producers are made to act
Get Access