The Nature Of Justice In Plato's Myth Of Er

Good Essays
Plato’s main purpose in Republic, one of his major philosophical works, is to explore and defend justice. After discussing the nature of justice and imagining an ideal city-state, Plato introduces the Myth of Er which tells of what happens to a soul after death. In the myth, a man named Er is chosen to bring the story of the dead back to the living. The Myth of Er is Plato’s last attempt to convince others of the profits of justice and lend legitimacy of his previous claims. It gives Republic a purpose by describing the concrete consequences of an unjust life. This paper will show that while the Myth of Er is useful to Plato in that it motivates people to choose a just life, it challenges the idea that justice is its own reward.
…show more content…
It explains that each person is living the life he has because it was determined by the state of his soul in the previous life. When the spokesman who runs the death-bringing cycle hands out lots, there are no aspects of an individual life that remain hidden. All the qualities of a future life are revealed and taken into account. The spokesman cautions that “Responsibility lies with the chooser; the god is blameless” (Plato 617e). Not only are the gods blameless, but the class system of Kallipolis and the philosopher kings cannot be blamed for a choice that a citizen made in his previous life. Despite the seemingly persuasive purpose of the Myth of Er, its inclusion in Republic does present challenges to Plato’s argument. The very fact that Plato included the Myth of Er in his Republic undermines his claim that justice is beneficial in its own right. Instead, he feels the necessity to tell the Myth of Er as a motivator to live a just life. In Book 2, Plato, via Adeimantus, critiques those who defend justice by only speaking of its reputation. He ridicules these men, such as Homer and Hesiod, because “not one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except by mentioning the reputations, honors, and rewards that are the consequences” (366e). Plato considers these authors’ systems of logic to be inferior and less substantive than his own. They glorify the consequences of a just reputation “by throwing in being well
Get Access