Plato's Republic is an account of the "Good Life"; the harmony achieved by applying pure reason and justice. As an accolade to his mentor and teacher, Plato uses Socrates in the republic as the moderator throughout the discussion and Plato's mouthpiece. The Republic is based on a simple question: is it at all times desirable to be just than unjust. In other words, is it in my interest to be just? Socrates is challenged by Glaucon to demonstrate that justice is naturally good. Questions arise from this challenge as to whether Glaucon challenges Socrates to show that justice is naturally good or to show that, justice is the most important virtue. Whatever challenge it was, Socrates attempts to prove his allegations on the goodness of justice. However, he ends up illustrating that justice is the most important virtue (that justice is good to the just individual). In this paper, Plato has succeeded in answering these two questions, though some considerations must be taken to agree to his account.
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To respond to this question, Socrates draws an analogy of a perfect city on the basis that such a city would be just and desirable and that defining a virtuous city as such, it would aid in defining being just as being virtuous and desirable. Plato adopts a teleological viewpoint of morality that we are living the good life for as long as we properly execute our uniquely human function. Plato's thoughts and opinions are based on the social context an ideal republic. According to Plato, an ideal republic is that which directs all its members to the most perfect achievable life. Using Socrates' powerful and insightful questions and accounts on a sequence of topics, Plato brings out what his ideal society would look. The aim of the Republic is to illustrate an analogy between how the society functions as an entity and the life of any single individual. Plato argues that the soul is divided into three parts; he relates these parts of the soul to the city's different social classes.
Plato hypothesized that people show the same elements, and execute the same roles that city-states do. This presumes that an individual is, like a compound whole; that is made up of a number of distinctive parts, each with its own proper function. Nevertheless, Plato argued that when confronted with choices about what to do, we usually experience the pull of many unlike impulses in dissimilar directions simultaneous, and the most likely account for this situation is to differentiate between distinctive elements of self (117). Together with a physical body, which Plato likens to the buildings, land, and other resources of the city, he held that each person's soul exist as three distinct parts. According to Plato, a soul has a part that thinks, another that does things, and a third that desires things (119-120).
He postulates that not all these functions can be done with one part of the soul (or a whole soul. Plato presents the thought that there might be a part of the soul working simultaneously with another (117-118). Plato tells the tale of Leontius, the son of Aglian. As Leontius walks by an execution, he sees a pile of bodies. At that point, a part of him wanted to stare and another wanted to look away in disgust. Ultimately, his appetite to look worn over, and he looked at the corpses. Angry at himself, he screamed at the slayer. Plato explains that at times, when these "internal wars" occur, we act irrationally. Leontius yelling was the outcome of his thoughts about the cadavers, his appetite to stare, and lastly breaking down and looking at them (120). Therefore, Plato argument is that the human soul exists as three parts, namely; reason, desire, and emotion.
He says that a person "must harmonize the three parts of him; the parts are similar to the restraining notes in a scale, the high, low, and middle" (122). According to Plato, the rational soul is the thinking part within a person i.e. the mind or intellect and figures out reality, truth, value and makes the rational choices based on the maximum good for self and others (119). In Leontius' case, this was the part recognizing that the scene was very unsettling. The second part of the soul though prevented him from making a rational choice (120). The emotive part of the soul (desire) wants and feels numerous things.
We need to defy most our appetites in to realize some level of self-control (119-120). This part of Leontius soul that desired to look at the bodies, and overcame his rational soul. Consequently, he lost self-control (120). Finally, the spirited soul, the will, is the part that acts. It transmits the reasons of the rational soul to the real life, audaciously carrying out what the mind has established to be best (120). In Leontius case, after realizing the disturbing site and looking, he reacted in the way he deemed best: showing his dislike of the slayer.
In this utopian city, when the citizens articulate discontent with their roles, Plato proposed that they be told the "helpful falsehood" that humans, like metals, possess dissimilar traits that place each of them to a certain part of the state (111). The guardians are of the highest value in the city; thus, they are likened to gold. The spirited would be likened to silver, that "god put silver into those who are auxiliaries" the working class (farmers and craftsmen) would be likened to iron and bronze since they are strong (111). This is also identified as Plato's Myth of the Metals. Plato defends this model because it seems pragmatic. If everyone does whatever he or she does at his or her level best, then that is sensible.
He puts forward, and rightly so, that a ruler who is self centered instead of caring for the subject is not virtuous. A military man is supposed to be spirited and not leave his fellow troops. Common people should not commit crimes or generate conflict. He believes that as long as each class executes its role and not seeks to overthrow any other class, the whole city will function efficiently, and it will show the harmony that is legitimate justice (433e). Although this seems very undemocratic, one can see Plato's "logic" behind this argument as that is typically the way most civil societies are built.
Plato takes these three components of the soul to be analogous to the three castes in the perfect city. These are the working class (appetitive), the military class (spirited), and the ruling class, or the guardians (rational). Plato held that the guardian classes should only be made up highly educated people, and philosophers and those future guardians would be the progeny of previous ones (120-21). He held that each class in the republic has to execute some responsibilities. They must work in tandem for the common good for the city to flourish.
The guardians were responsible for governing the city, and as such must have the virtue of wisdom. Soldiers imposed the will of the guardians on the working class and defended the city against aggression and as need the virtue of courage. The working class, in their part, must follow the leaders, instead of following their self-centered interests. Socrates comparison seems fitting when understood to mean that reason makes the decisions. However, at times, the irrational appetites, desire a thing that is not good for the whole. Thus, the will intervenes to put in force the judgment that reason has made.
This scenario can be viewed from two different angles. Though at first, the two angles appear different at first, they are both identical arguments. From one angle, Plato's' justice is likened with harmony, and as such, the outcome of justice is justice itself. Justice is indeed the result of justice. In that sense, Plato does undeniably demonstrates that justice is good for its own sake (that it is good, and it brings harmony to the just individual).
The other view is that Plato has demonstrated that justice is good for its own sake by virtue of the idea of "the manner in which things should be" that is overt in his perfect state. Plato is persistently strengthening the idea that there exist concepts of "the way things ought to be." Plato labels these concepts as "Forms." Under the Forms structure, a metaverse is made up of a variety of Forms that operate as models for the material expression of these ideas. The principal Forms are Truth, and it is characterized by the Sun. In the metaverse, things are structured in an orderly manner.
The Forms operate as a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces have their own place and is of no value without the other pieces. Plato employs the Forms to demonstrate that there exists a clear-cut reality outside our perception. Based on these Platonic forms of arrangement, Socrates argues that there is a certain way in which things ought to work. By being just (in Socratic sense), human beings actualize their purpose. Since Socrates is of the opinion that the eventual goal of any structure is to operate in harmony with the whole universe (which is "justice" according to Socrates), justice is certainly good for its own sake.