What Is Justice

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What is Justice?

What is justice? Well, many seem to think that they know the answer to this. No one had a better understanding of what justice was and what constituted a just life than Plato and Socrates. After reading his famous book, The Republic, it left me confused, yet well educated on what Plato thought was justice. Philosophers say this book could possibly be the single most important philosophical books of Western Tradition. Plato believed that there is more need for abstract thought than concrete thought. He proposes that there were two worlds the real world and the world of ideas (forms). Justice could mean many different things to many different people. Although philosophers are more recognizable with the workings of a city than a soul, they tried to define justice by creating the ideal city which they named Kallipolis. In this ideal city, the philosophers believed that each citizen will do the task that is best suited to him or her. Socrates then examines these various tasks and is able to separate them into three distinct groups: those which produce something for the city, those which protect the city from both internal and external subversion, and those which provide control and direct the other two groups.

Socrates makes use of the fact that each citizen in the ideal city is doing his or her own work and is therefore just. Now, if the citizen is just, then it follows each part of the person's soul and must also be doing its job and be just. This assertion, of course, rests on the assumption that justice applies to both the city and the soul and that the soul is divisible. Those who produce for the city can only be just if they produce as much goods as they can. As a result, producing goods for the good of society makes them “good’, therefore, serving a purpose in society. Citizens that are inherently unjust are those who don’t contribute to the good of society and bring the ideal city down. During the philosophers’ discussion, Socrates...
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