Plato's Republic the Quest for Justice

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Socrates himself is very concerned with the ideal combination of justice between oneself and one's city or society. It is the basis of a good deal of The Republic. His quest for the perfect description of self and society leads him to many arguments and finally to his conclusion that the self and the city should be governed quite similarly, by a hierarchy of systematic components. For the city, these components are based on present city rule. The rulers govern the guardians followed by the artisans, in the same fashion the self should first be governed by reason, then spirit and finally desire. He also interjects that justice is found in a city and in the self when both "mind their own business."

In this idea of a just society being controlled by rulers, Socrates believes that the rulers of a city should be philosophers. According to our lecture notes, philosophers are typically geeky and aloof, not characteristics that are most desired in political figures. It is also a concern that when philosophers discuss problems, their discussion can be very in depth and those who do not necessarily understand the discussion end up feeling manipulated. The city also needs the guardians and artisans in order to function properly but also that if a city is made up of just individuals it helps create a just society. Socrates also states that in order to find justice in the individual one should be made up of three parts. He decides the governing part to be reason over spirit and desire. Socrates feels that reason should be in control because it provides rational thought and self awareness. The next governing body in the self is spirit or courage and strength. Finally, Socrates states, the self shall be governed by desire. Desire accounts for basic needs and instincts: food, sex, money, the primal part of the self. It is within this balance that Socrates believes justice to be found in both examples of the self and the city, all of the separate parts need to...
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