Platos Republic

Plato’s Republic the having and doing of ones own and what belongs to one would be agreed to be justice. (The Republic 434a) 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.

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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 vision of a justice. 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. 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 vain. 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 no such thing as justice). Platos concepts regarding justice in the city, and the division of labour have continued to this day. And within.

Platos Republic

Introduction
Platonic philosophy begins to appear in the middle dialogues. What are the important elements of this philosophy? The middle dialogues are dominated by the theory of the Forms. This is a theory that Plato developed from certain seldom-stated assumptions that Socrates held. Socrates’ view was that the reason he and his interlocutors failed to find definitions for things was that they were stuck in case-based, specific examples. Does bravery mean fighting against a person stronger than yourself, or does it mean having the courage to back down from the fight and accept the insults of cowardice that come with that. Does it mean having the determination to turn your father in for murder, or bravely facing him about it, because he’s your father? Such examples are bound to contradict themselves. Socrates felt that there was one bravery that was common to all these braveries, and is what makes them “brave.” Plato sculpted this idea into his theory of Forms. The Forms are basically essences, they are that which truly defines a thing. By the time of the Republic, Plato had come around to the view that everything had Forms–not just virtues, but tangible things like beds, chairs, etc. We are surrounded by chairs, but there is a single Form of the “chair” that is common to all of them and makes them what they are.
The other thing we need to know about Platonic philosophy in the Republic (actually, this is true in all of his works) is that Plato believes wholeheartedly in an objective “human Good”, and he feels it is the goal of philosophy to find that “Good”. Plato’s work rests on morality in many places, and this provides it with both passionate credibility and intellectual weakness. Plato rejected human sensory observation in favor of seeking the higher good of the Forms, which were the key by which humans could come to an understanding of the truth of their universe and lead happier, fuller lives. Plato’s rejection of the senses, and adherence to a normative belief at the core of his work, is the subject of many other philosophical schools’ attacks on his works, most notably the skeptics, the naturalists, and Aristotle.


The Republic is an expansive work that touches on many areas of Plato’s philosophy. And if we can understand it, we have moved a long way toward an understanding of Plato, who stands as one of the cornerstones of the Western philosophical tradition. The question at the center of the Republic is whether it is better to live justly or unjustly. To answer this question, Plato first constructs a perfectly Just City. This city has guardians, auxiliaries, and tradesman/craftsmen (the latter group comprising the majority of the populace). The guardians lead the city, and are all fully educated philosophers–they represent wisdom in the city. The auxiliaries are less educated than the guardians, but still well-educated; they fight and represent courage. The rest of the population receives a general education. The balance of the city is guaranteed by a harsh and complicated system of eugenics that guarantees that the best people will be selected to become guardians, and everyone else assigned to roles as their worth makes appropriate. The city is moderate because the guardians, the wise part of the population, rule over the spirited auxiliaries and the baser population at large. The city is Just because everyone is doing the job that best suits their nature. The guardians lead, the auxiliaries fight, the rest of the people work.
Plato then projects this three part division onto the human soul. We all have a rational, wise part, a spirited, honor- loving part, and an appetitive, base part (desiring money, food, sex, etc.) The soul is just when, just like the city, the rational part rules over the other two and each part of the soul does its own job.

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Plato then argues that the just person is happier than the unjust person for this reason, that the just person’s soul is in order, whereas the unjust person’s soul is in decay and disorder. Secondly, the just person’s desires are satisfied, since their rational parts limits their desires, whereas the unjust person’s desires are rampant and out of control.

Plato’s next two arguments depend on the just person not only being just but being a philosopher as well, and in touch with the theory of the Forms. The first of these arguments is that, because the philosopher is ruled by his rational part and understands truth, he understands the pleasure of a hedonist (a person ruled by appetite) and an honor-lover (a person ruled by spirit), whereas they both only know their own pleasures. Then, the philosopher has credibility in judging what way of life is best, whereas no one else does. The last argument is rooted wholly in the theory of the Forms: the idea is that, speaking purely in terms of pleasure, the philosopher enjoys his pleasures, the pleasures of the Forms, more than unjust people enjoy their pleasures, pleasures of appetite or honor, because the pleasures of philosophy are greater than those of the sensible world.

The Republic contains arguments on a great variety of subjects, at various levels of complexity. Plato’s prescriptions for the Just City, and even his division of the tripartite soul, is fairly straightforward to follow, and can be taken at very literally. With the arrival of the philosopher-kings, things start to get a little more complicated. Finally, we settle on the analogy of the Line and the Sun, and the Allegory of the Cave, and we are in very difficult philosophical territory, surrounded by complexity that submits itself to a variety of interpretations.

The primary argument behind the explicit conversation about justice that is the Republic is Plato belief in a Form of the Good, an objective human good, and that the key to understanding philosophy is understanding this Form. The only way to come to such an understanding is to immerse oneself in rigorous philosophical study, and to familiarize oneself with the dialectic on a very high level. The Form of the Good casts light over all of the other Forms, and these are key to understanding the world. The Forms are the essences of things, and they are superior to anything in the sensible world. Plato does not trust empiricism or observation as tools for coming to an understanding of things. Without the Forms, we are limited to opinion, because our senses are not reliable to give us true knowledge about anything. Knowledge and understanding come from an examination of the Forms, and only from an examination of the Forms.

Plato’s view of human learning is as metaphysical as his understanding of human knowledge. Plato’s belief in the immortal soul is the reason people are able to get in touch with the Forms. Souls themselves are as eternal and unchanging as the Forms, and they already “know” everything we learn during our lives, learning is simply a matter of helping them remember. And that is what Plato’s education does, brings people into the light of the Good, and they eventually remember all that they had forgotten about the Forms.


Conclusion
Plato’s philosophy in the Republic is based on two presumptions. The first is that Forms exist. Plato deliberately places them beyond the realm of the sensible; they exist above such things, and Plato offers only common-sense arguments for their existence. Secondly, we have to believe his account that, presuming the existence of the Forms, the human mind is capable of understanding them. This is where Plato’s view of the soul becomes important, because it supports this view.

As in any positive philosophy that proposes to answer important questions, at a certain level we find belief resting beneath the arguments. Plato would of course argue that he knows about the Forms, because that is what they allow him to do, by definition.

The circularity of this arrangement, Plato defines his Forms in such a way as to presuppose their existence and his knowledge of them, has been observed and criticized by centuries of skeptical thinkers. That criticism encapsulates one of the most fundamental arguments against Plato’s theory of Forms and general willingness to draw conclusions. There is no “answer” to the question, as there are no answers to many of philosophy’s most fundamental questions.

There is a certain beauty to the option Plato presents. Rather than turn your back on all judgement and conclusion because of the imperfections of human sensory perception, imperfections of which he is well aware, he chooses instead to service his philosophy to a greater Good that stands above the sensible world. The existence of this higher plane is supported by common sense. The greatness of Plato’s philosophy in the Republic is that it makes an extremely well-supported, well-reasoned argument on these virtuous assumptions, and thus does provide a comprehensive way of looking at human good, rather than hiding from any hope of drawing concrete conclusions about right and wrong.

Platos Republic

Plato’s Republic Virtues contribute to peoples actions in todays society. Society as a whole has a common set of virtues that many people agree on. In todays society, these are known as laws. Virtues also mold the individual outlook on life, and give them the morals to do what is right. In The Republic, Plato divides the city into three classes: gold, silver, as well as bronze and iron souls. Each class is designated to posses a specific virtue. He believes that wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice combine together to form The Republic.

However, Platos four virtues individually do not necessarily produce a utopian society. A combination of the four in each citizen is imperative in producing the ideal society. In Platos search for the perfect “republic”, he decides that the basis of the city will be on four virtues. The first of them is wisdom. Plato defines wisdom, in Greek terms “Sophia”, as knowledge of the city as a whole.

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Of the three classes, the gold souls posses the virtue of wisdom. The gold souls are the only class whose knowledge goes beyond the mere facts to the level of true wisdom. “..This class, which properly has a share in that knowledge which alone among the various kinds of knowledge ought to be called wisdom, has, as it seems, the fewest members by nature” (429a). The second virtue that Plato defines is courage, which in Greek terms is “Andreia”. Courage is the preservation of the opinion produced by law, through education about what things are terrible, and what things are good.

Courage can be found in the silver souls. Plato uses the example that when dyers want to dye wool, they start with the background. They need the right kind of white material, and they have to prepare it carefully; and if they go to this trouble, you can not bleach the color out. If they do a poor job of it, the cloth quickly becomes washed-out and faded. Plato used the dyeing analogy to state how he wishes to train the silver souls (429d- 430b). He states that the people will undergo a precise training.

Certain music and physical activity will only be allowed. Plato wanted a good upbringing to make the right ideas permanent in them, so that the bleach of pleasure, grief, fear, or death, would not wash the true colors from their souls. “For, in my opinion, you regard the right opinion about these same things that comes to be without education- that found in beast and slaves- as not at all lawful and call it something other than courage” (430b). Once they got to this point of having a clear, firm grasp of what is really dangerous to a man, they knew their only task was to show courage. The third virtue in The Republic, is moderation.

The Greek term for moderation is Sophrosune. Plato defines moderation as the kind of accord and harmony between the bronze and silver souls. Moderation is the ability to control desires and to be the master of ones self. There are two things at work in a mans heart. One is good, and one is bad.

The bad can overwhelm the good. If the people have bad training or keep company with the wrong people, the bad force grows powerful and can overwhelm the good. If the good one controls them, then there is moderation; but if the bad one controls, they are a slave to their own desires and that they are out of control or unprincipled. “If, therefore, any city ought to be designed stronger than pleasures, desires, and itself, then this one must be so called” (431d). When a city as a whole is moderate, it is in harmony.

Moderation is different from wisdom or courage. It is found not just in the gold and silver souls, but as something that runs throughout the city. “Three of them have been spied out in our city, at least sufficiently to form some opinion. Now what would be the remaining form thanks to which the city would further partake in virtue? For, plainly, this is justice” (432b). The fourth and final virtue in The Republic is justice.

Justice, or in Greek terms, “Dikaiosune”, is defined by Plato as minding ones own business. Justice comes about when every person in the republic is doing what he or she is set to do. The shoemakers make only shoes, and the farmers only deal with agriculture. When everyone minds their own business and does what he or she does the work they are trained for, there will be no injustice. Justice is the trait that makes all the other virtues possible. Plato says that when wisdom, courage, and moderation have been obtained then the remaining has to be justice.

He believes that each part of the soul works in conjunction with the others to form the utopian society that he is searching for. Each one of these virtues corresponds with a part of Platos “soul”. Wisdom corresponds with the calculating and knowledgeable part of the soul. Courage goes to the spirited and opinionated sector of the soul. The virtue of moderation corresponds with the appetative and ignorant part of the soul. Plato believes that when each part of the soul does its exact job, then justice will be found. Nevertheless Plato believes that only the four virtues stated above are necessary.

Plato does not necessarily have anything missing in his four virtues. He covers almost all the basics in defining the virtues. Although some of the more personal aspects are missing, Plato is on the right track. Love, sadness, happiness, and all other emotion are all factors of a balanced life. Plato is trying to establish a utopia, but is leaving out some key factors. Virtues are on more of a personal level, whereas he places them in the people of The Republic.

In The Republic Plato only allows certain classes to be virtuous in one virtue. If all people in a society posses all of the virtues that Plato states, along with love and emotion, all the people of the society will have the same moral outlook on life. Therefore a balanced society will be obtained and everyone would be in harmony with each other. The four Platonic virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice are the foundation of Platos Republic. He not only revolves his city around them, but also his people. Plato tries to instill virtues onto certain classes, without thinking about what the “republic” would be like if he gave all people ALL the virtues.

Virtue is something that individual people possess out of their own willingness to be virtuous. Virtues are not characteristics that can be isolated and dispensed individually. They are complimentary. In order to have one; you must possess the others.

Plato’s Republic

the having and doing of
ones own and what belongs to one would be agreed
to be justice. (The Republic 434a) 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 vision of a justice. 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. 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 vain. 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 no such thing as justice). Platos
concepts regarding justice in the city, and the
division of labour have continued to this day. And
within

x

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