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Justice by Plato The Republic written by Plato examines many things. It mainly is about the Good life. Plato seems to believe that the perfect life is led only under perfect conditions which is the perfect society. Within the perfect society there would have to be justice. In the Republic it seems that justice is defined many different ways.
In this paper I am going to discuss a few. First I am going to discuss the reason why Glaucon and Adeimantus see justice as being a bad thing and it is better to live a unjust life. The argument of the Republic is the search after Justice, the nature of which is first hinted at by Cephalus, the just and blameless old man. Socrates then discusses it on the basis of proverbial morality and Polemarchus, then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partially explained by Socrates, and finally reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and Adeimantus, and having become invisible in the individual reappears at length in the ideal State, which is constructed by Socrates. Book I of The Republic appears to be a Socratic dialogue on the nature of justice. As always, the goal of the discussion is to discover the genuine nature of the subject at hand, but the process involves the proposal, criticism, and rejection of several inadequate attempts at defining what justice really is.
The elderly, wealthy Cephalus suggests that justice involves nothing more than telling the truth and repaying one's debts. But Socrates points out that in certain (admittedly unusual) circumstances, following these simple rules without exception could produce disastrous results. Returning a borrowed weapon to an insane friend, for example, would be an instance of following the rule but would not seem to be an instance of just action. The presentation of a counter-example of this sort tends to show that the proposed definition of justice is incorrect, since its application does not correspond with our ordinary notion of justice. In an effort to avoid such difficulties, Polemarchus offers a refinement of the definition by proposing that justice means "giving to each what is owed. " The new definition codifies formally our deeply-entrenched practice of seeking always to help our friends and harm our enemies. This evades the earlier counter-example, since the just act of refusing to return the borrowed weapon would clearly benefit one's friend.
But Socrates points out that harsh treatment of our enemies is only likely to render them even more unjust than they already are. The basis of justice, according to Socrates, is that you do what is socially most beneficial or what you do best. Socrates, however, consistently cites that the people of the kallipolis, raised in virtue, justice, and with knowledge of what is good, will realize the justice of the kallipolis and act according to their sense of justice and for the good of the city. This argument is fine in and of itself. When you reach the political structure of the kallipolis, however, certain ideas are brought into question. Socrates asserts that he born most like a leader should be the guardian of the city.
He later explicates that the guardian would be a philosopher, acting with a true understanding of justice, beauty and virtue. He concludes that the city would be either and aristocracy or a kingship. If the leader must make decisions based on his sense of justice, why does his innate ability to be a leader of men apply? Do organizing techniques, oratory skills, and a keen perception affect one's sense of justice? Socrates asserts that only he who is "by nature good at remembering, quick to learn, high-minded, graceful, and a friend and relative of truth, justice, courage, and moderation" qualifies to be a philosopher, and thus, a guardian.
The question remains, if the "inferior masses" have a correct sense of justice, why must they remain pawns of the guardian and make no use of their own sense of justice, except to approve of the guardian? The obvious answer is that by Socrates' definition of justice, if a carpenter does anything but build, he is not being just. But this carpenter was isolated from anything but justice and virtue from birth, making it impossible that he would act unjustly. It seems however, that the intrinsic sense of justice that members of the kallipolis naturally have is useful only in terms of "following the laws, " not for anything more abstract or permanent, as Socrates argues in Book 1 of The Republic. Plato's elder brother Glaucon argues that the just man is only just because of the fear that he will get caught and punished or the fear of having a bad reputations. He explains this decision in the story of the two magic rings.
The rings of magic would make a man invisible whenever he turns it on his finger. He believed that each man would act in the same manor. They would both break into houses unseen, and help themselves to whatever they wanted. The just man would no longer feel the need to be just. He would have two lifestyles one, being just in front of the eyes of the society and two being the unjust man invisible unable to get caught.
Glaucon say this proves that people are just only because they find it necessary. Adeimantus another philosopher and Socrates elder brother brought up the fact that we should take a look at the kinds of things people actually say when they get praised justice and condemn injustice. Adeimantus explains by saying that fathers tell there sons to be just because of the good reputations and social prestige that attaches to justice. So it is not justice itself that is recommended, but rather, the respectability that it brings with it.
He believes that the son will realize to be just is only worth it if you can get a good reputation. Unless you are truly just the gods will punish you but as we have learned from the poets the gods can be bribed so if you live the unjust life you can bribe the gods to not punish you. If an unjust person fakes a good reputation then he can have a wonderful life. He says live a wonderful life because the unjust man is said to live a better life because he could cheat and live well but a just man has to live with what he has or earn his wealth honestly. Glaucon points of justice as I see them are fake and unclear.
He says that if a just person were to have a magic ring then he would act as a true unjust person because there is no fear of punishment. If he was a truly a just person then he would not be unjust even if there was no fear of punishment. I define a true just man on his spirit and intentions if he is only being just because of fear of punishment then he is not just nor if he is only being just if he desire a good reputation. A man to be truly just must desire and get his pleasure on living with what he as earned fairly and helping others around him.
Glaucon keeps arguing that the unjust man lives a better life because he has the power and the wealth to boss the just man around and bribe the gods so he does not get punished by them. Socrates goes on saying that the life and surroundings are what makes up a just person. A just person should be educated and trained of what is right and wrong. The quality of the justice is to be found in the society.
If a society is unjust there can not be a just man coming out of the society because all he is taught is to be unjust. I agree that a just man must be educated and trained to tell what is right and wrong. I disagree with Socrates point that a just man is solely educated by the society around him. I believe that a just man is not educated solely by the society but rather educated by his parents and family and only barely influenced by the society. There fore a just man can come out of a unjust city and live to learn the honest life Adeimantus point of the father telling the son to be just only because it will give you a good reputation can not be true you can not be just for those reason they do not match up with the points Socrates points out when he say the quality of a just man is learned by the society.
Since a just man is influenced by his parents the parents must be just. If they are telling there son to only be just because of the fact it will give you a good reputation then the parents are not just therefore the boy cannot be truly just. Socrates point of the quality of the just is brought up in this story Adeimantus gives. The poets told us that we can bribe the gods so it does not matter if we are just or unjust as long as we have the wealth to bribe our way out of punishment. This is the bad education taught by the poets it represents all that the just state is against. We should not have the option to bribe the gods with our wealth to not be just that makes a false city.
Bibliography: Rouse, W. H. D. Great Dialogues of Plato. Penguin Books USA Inc, New York; 1984. Cross, R.
C. and Woolley, A. D. Plato's Republic: A Philosophical Commentary.
St. Martins Press, New York; 1964.
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