Juan Rodriguez Lacasa
The theme of justice in The Republic
“The Republic” by Plato is considered to be a Socratic dialogue finished in 390 BC. In what is considered one of the most valuable pieces of work of Plato tries to answer questions such as: why should people do good things? Or other questions like: are people rewarded for doing bad things? However he also treats other themes as the theory of forms, the immortality of the soul and the roles of the philosopher and of poetry in society. But what we shall explore is how he develops the theme of justice, describe his just state and finally reflect on this just state.
The theme of justice however is first presented in Book 1; which is composed of a discussion mainly between Socrates, Cephalus, Polemarchus, Thrasymachu. The goal of this discussion is to define what justice really is. Firstly Cephalus suggests that justice involves nothing more than telling the truth and repaying one’s debts. But Socrates proves him wrong with a counter-example that shows that following this rule could end up being disastrous. For instance, if you give back a a borrowed weapon to a madman, you would therefore put in danger lives.
Subsequently Cephalus’s son Polemarchus offers another definition that justice is that you owe friends help, and you owe enemies harm. Socrates here points out that, justice can never be used to produce harm on anyone. Socrates then asks Polemarchus to define what a friend and enemy is. This proves that Polemarchus’ view is untrue as he classifies interaction between people between people on a very simple thesis. Finally Socrates proves that doing harm to anyone is creating injustice as why would we create justice if to be unjust. Therefore there is no reason to be unjust if you there is justice.
At this point returning debts owed and helping friends while harming enemies are all definitions of justice that Socrates show to be inadequate and lack of complexity. In the dialogue Plato then...
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