Plato’s Theory Of Justice
One’s search for the meaning of justice in Plato’s “Republic” would finally lead to two
-Justice is Harmony. (book 4, 434c)
-Justice is Doing one’s own job. (book 4, 443b)
Finding these two phrases, however, is hardly enough to get a clear sense of what justice is. Plato offers two main analogies to examine the definition of justice. The division of parts in the soul as well as the parts of the state; We would now examine the structure of the soul. The soul is divided into three parts, the appetitive, spirited and the rational. The appetitive is the part “with which it lusts, hungers, thirsts and gets excited by other appetites” (4, 439d). It is the part of the soul that can be hungry for immoral gratification and has no rational consciousness in its desires. That leads us to the need of defining another part in the soul, the one that can keep the appetite restrained, the part that enables the soul to differentiate between good and bad. The rational part is the part in the soul that calculates, makes balanced decisions having the good of the whole soul as its interest. The third part is the spirited, the part of the soul that is courageous, vigorous and strong willed. The spirited naturally, if “it hasn’t been corrupted by a bad upbringing” (4, 441a), allies with the rational part.
By the account of the parts of the soul we are shown how a soul has different wills, yet in order for a soul to stay in the just path it must have some sort of hierarchy. Plato describes the spirited part as the courageous ally of the rational part which has the control over the appetitiveve part. Although the description of the soul might furnish an idea regarding the definitions of Justice I mentioned above, we should first examine the structure of the state.
The state is also divided into three types of people, the workers, soldiers and the rulers. It is obvious that that sort of division seems awkward when placed over our own capitalist society. We must keep in mind that in the republic that Plato is describing each individual is directed by vast education and the utmost care towards the work he could do with excellence. The children in the republic are separated from their parents at birth and therefore get the same equal chance of becoming workers or rulers without any prejudice regarding their upbringing or family background, rather, they are evaluated personally, purely according to their natural qualities.
The workers are the people that are best fitted to practice a specific form of labor. The part of the Society whose role is to provide food, clothes and any other necessities the state requires. They are required to be moderate and obedient to their ruler.
The soldiers are the people that are best fitted to fight, people that are spirited and that pass the tests of the state by holding firmly to the patriotic attitude needed in order to defend the state from foreign and domestic enemies. They most posses the virtue of courage and be well educated in order to stay loyal and not harm the citizens although they are naturally stronger. The rulers are people which posses the virtue of wisdom, they must not seek the glory and fame of being a ruler rather it should be perceived as the duty of those who are fitted to rule to take on the burden of ruling their state. The rulers are people that have the interest of the whole in mind, they love their state, they understand its rules and therefore will do everything within their power to preserve it.
The division of people into pre-determined types in the state is assumed to be done truthfully, according to their natural abilities. To soldiers who cannot understand what possessing wisdom means (because they lack it) or to workers that lack both courage and wisdom, Plato uses the “noble lie”. That is the idea that mother nature creates people out of three materials, gold, silver and bronze when...
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