Plato's 4 Virtues

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 329
  • Published: November 29, 2012
Read full document
Text Preview
The Four Virtues of the Republic
In the Republic, Plato sets up a framework to help us establish what the four virtues are, and their relationship between them to both the city and the soul. According to Plato, the four virtues are wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. There are three classes within the city: guardians, auxiliaries, and artisans; and three parts within the soul include intellect, high-spirited, and appetitive. By understanding the different classes of the city or parts of the soul, one will be able to appreciate how the virtues attribute to each one specifically. Book II of the Republic opens with Plato’s two brothers, both who want to know which is the better life to live: the just or the unjust. First, Socrates wants to know, “what justice and injustice are and what power each itself has when it’s by itself in the soul” (Cahn 130). One needs to understand what the soul is before one can talk about virtue because the relationship between the soul and virtue is excellence. This sets up the foundation that the structure of the soul and the city are similar in relation to the four virtues. In order for Socrates to accomplish this, he needs to examine the larger one first, the city, representing the ontological. Then, he is going to examine the smaller one, the soul, representing the epistemological. The establishment of each of these will display how the two mirror off one another, allowing the relationship between the city and the soul to become visible. Plato sets out the depiction that the city comes into being because not everyone is self-sufficient, but rather everyone needs different things in order to survive. Each person in the city is going to have one specific function to perform, which establishes the proper order of a just city contains three different classes: the guardians, the auxiliaries, and the artisans. In having established this ideal city, one can determine that it is completely good, therefore, it should be seen as wise, courageous, moderate, and just. Each one of the classes established in the city relates to a particular virtue. For the guardian class, “a whole city established according to nature would be wise because of the smallest class and part in it, namely, the governing or ruling one. And to this class, which seems to be by nature the smallest, belongs a share of the knowledge that alone among all the other kinds of knowledge is to be called wisdom” (Cahn 144). The intellect the guardians possess, allows the city to have good judgment and be considered wise by the people, since so few have this ability. This helps them pass legislation allowing all of the other classes to be in harmony with one another bringing the city to a state of unity. For the auxiliary class, “the city is courageous, then, because of a part of itself that has the power to preserve through everything its belief about what things are to be feared” (Cahn 144). The auxiliaries demonstrate this kind of preservation about what is to be feared and what is not to be feared and under no circumstances do they abandon their beliefs because of pains, pleasures, desires, or fears. As they fear the destruction of the city and anything that will bring it about, “this power to preserve through everything the correct and law-inculcated belief about what is to be feared and what isn’t is what I call courage” (Cahn 145). Their determination to remain dedicated to being courageous will lead to justice within the city. For the artisan class, “moderation spreads throughout the whole. It makes the weakest, the strongest, and those in between…all sing the same song together. And this unanimity, this agreement between the naturally worse and the naturally better as to which of the two is to rule both in the city and in each one, is rightly called moderation” (Cahn 146). By willingly accepting the dictates of the guardians by not objecting the legislation they pass, they are putting the city in a state of harmony. It...
tracking img