MKAT – 201
BIG THREE’S VIEW ON LIVING A GOOD LIFE
1. Plato’s View
In the Republic, Plato asserts that every person has the opportunity to achieve a good life. His definition of "good," however, is very tailored to the individual it affects. The opportunity may not necessarily be equal for all, but it is available. His writings contrast with the concept that fate or external forces determine a person's life, an idea that is prevalent in Sophoclean tragedies. Plato uses the term "just" when speaking about the highest form of life possible. In the city, the shape of a just or good life is one that is specialized. Socrates tells Glaucon, "Justice is doing one's own work and not meddling with what is not one's own" (Rep. 433b). Something is good if it benefits the state or city as a whole, not the individual. A man's duty is simply to do his job and be of worth to his city. When looking at the soul itself, justice is very similar. The just man "does not allow the elements in him each to do the job of some other, or the three sorts of elements in his soul to meddle with one another" (Rep. 443d). These three elements are the rational part, the money-loving part, and the honor-loving part. A man will obtain the best life possible by letting the rational part of his soul rule. According to Plato, none but philosophers can achieve a truly good life, because they alone are born with the capacity to recognize the good. He states, "The pleasure pertaining to the sight of what is cannot be tasted by anyone except the philosopher" (Rep. 582c5). Their upbringing nurtures this capacity in their souls. They learn a variety of topics and procedures, such as dialectic. As a result they are able to see Truth and the good clearly. Plato uses an analogy to illustrate this point. In the allegory of the cave, those who are uneducated live in darkness. When they become educated, it is as if they have seen a light and now can recognize what is around them. This is...
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