Plato

the having and doing of ones own and what belongs to one would be agreed to
In other words the above statement means that justice, according to Plato, is
doing only the tasks assigned to them by nature. This is the fundamental notion for
his creation of an ideal city. It is both knowing what true justice is and where one
belongs in the city that the ideal can be achieved. What this means to politics in the
ideal city is that only a certain class of person has the ability to engage in politics, just
as only a certain person has the ability to engage in carpentry. Those who engage in
politics would be the philosophers because just as the ideal individual searches for
universal truth so must the ideal city. This is a concept that would make sense to a
philosopher such as Plato, but it assumes that those who do not or cannot seek the
truth, need it, or to be ruled by it in order to live in an idealistic city.
It is necessary for Plato to define what true justice means in order for it to be
prescribed in his city .Justice in a city, according to him, can be found in an
individual as well because it is a concept that is universal; it is found within the
individual and outside the individual. Thus, it is essential to the founding of a city.
Justice in a city is when a division of labour takes place amongst its residents. As an
individual uses his or her minds for thinking and hands for making and fighting, the
ideal city classifies people into what they do best. Those with an arete (an
excellence) for artistry would be artisans, or money-makers, those that could go
beyond mere materialism, those that could seek the truth, would be the rulers. As the
ideal individual naturally conducts himself or herself by placing reason as the guide to
their conduct, the ideal city will allow those with the most reason- the philosophers-
to guide the citys conduct and act in the cities collective interest. A third class,
auxiliaries, would be in charge of carrying out what the philosophers, guardians of the
city, decided. However, Plato does admit that this system is a hierarchy with the
philosophers at the top, but he allows this because they are the only ones who can find
universal truths and pass it on to those who cannot see it. To Plato the above is his
Within his idea of justice, Plato also has three other virtues to help categorize
those within the city and find justice in the city itself- wisdom, courage, and
moderation, all ideals that would sustain the city and nurture it. Wisdom is found in
the philosophers, courage in the auxiliaries, and moderation found in all classes.
Philosophers need wisdom and the need to know what justice is. The auxiliaries, say
soldiers, need courage to protect the interests of the city. Finally, all classes need to
demonstrate moderation so as not to develop injustices through excess luxury, the
only luxury that a city can have is philosophizing. These virtues, if found in a city,
can also help one to distinguish it as a just city. Therefore, within Platos definition
of a division of labour making a city just, he also identifies other components of it.

But, for the ideal city to be nurtured, all the divisions listed must be followed to
avoid injustice. Plato goes on to discuss examples of how to define this division of
labour into what is just and unjust. This he states in 434a-d. If members of the same
class, such as a shoemaker and a carpenter, decide to switch titles and tools there is
no injustice. However, if a craftsmen tries to become a guardian of the city, this is an
injustice. For if he cannot be nurtured to become a guardian or auxiliary through
education and the ability to know the truth, his authority as a guardian would be
illegitimate and he would bring about the obvious decay of the ideal city.
What is at stake in all this is that Plato is not only defining what justice is, he is
applying the term to the city, the political sphere and shaping an entirely new and
often since borrowed view of how a society should be structured and how it can be
legitimized. He is claiming his right to the throne, or those that share his view- as a
philosopher king- and presents his claim in the text. This he does not only with the
aforementioned discussion of justice in the city, but through a further judgment into
the realm of censorship of the arts, and creating myths.

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What gives his argument validity is that we still discuss his work today. Many
philosophers since Plato have drawn on his ideas, from Aristotle to Karl Marx.
Governments, our own included, have used similar rationale for legitimizing their
authority. Regimes have used censorship to maintain harmony within their realm,
much as Plato suggested the philosophers do to the auxiliaries in order to both gain
their allegiance and so that the public would emulate good individuals who put
collective good in front of personal interests. He also put forth an often imitated
scheme to convince the artisan, money-maker class of the philosophers right to rule.
He would claim the gods endowed philosophers souls with gold- he would convince
them in terms that they could understand, those regarding common religious themes.
Regimes since have consciously put that idea into practice by writing history in a way
so that the masses would accept the founding of their polis (or country). In the Soviet
Union- who followed Marxist ideas- this device was used .

Plato assumes philosophy is right.Since we look upon philosophers, scientists,
and other intellectuals with such high esteem and their principles are often used by
regimes, and since Western philosophers seem to all say similar things to Plato, we
can assume there is some validity to his position.

In The Republic, Thrasymachus has a different interpretation of what is just and
unjust, but his argument is lost to Socrates interpretation. Others, too, lose
arguments to Socrates. These arguments are obvious contrived ploys to make Platos
argument stronger, so any attempt to use them to refute his argument is to be done in
However difficult for anybody to try and find an alternate, flawless
interpretation of justice, it is less difficult to try and make Platos argument weaker.
This might be done on the basis that his definition does not have universal
applications, that what he calls justice is tainted by his position in society, as a
philosopher. As a philosopher, would Plato not see the world with his interest in
mind? The answer is simply yes, though an argument maybe tainted by the person
who says it , the fact remains that if he claims it as universal, and others support his
idea, one cannot easily refute him (without trying an alternate view- such as there is
Platos concepts regarding justice in the city, and the division of labour have
continued to this day. And within The Republics text, Socrates ability to disprove
others arguements gives some validity to the saying that those who set the rules win
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