What is life? This is the one question that to this day still cannot be answered. Over the years millions of people have had there own interpretation of what is means to live. However the quest to answer this rhetorical question goes back to the golden days of Greek civilization when the worlds greatest philosophers first attempted to find the answers to this question. “As his position takes form in the Republic, Plato claims that only a very few individuals are capable of understanding how human life is to be lived.
If it could be done, the rest of us would be best off it we were to let out lives be controlled by such individuals”. This position held by Plato has been one of much discussion and disagreement over the years. In this paper I will attempt to give my own insight and stand on Plato’s position and will evaluate his position as it emerges throughout the Apology, the Crito and the Republic. The Republic written by Plato discusses the basic ideas of education, justice and gives us a sample of a ruler that “could cure the world’s ills.
On the other hand the dialogues of Crito and Apology relate to us the messages of Plato’s beloved mentor Socartes. In these dialogues Socartes talks about the respect for law and the authority by the people. Socrates also touches on the ideal of human virtue and the idea of our never dieing soul. Throughout the Republic Socartes along with his buddies Glaucon, Polemarchos, Thrasymachos, Adeimantos and Cephalos sit there and discuss all these subjects of justice, education, literature and the three classes of men where they respectively rule in order to find wisdom, honor and pleasure.
As Plato’s position forms throughout the Republic, we learn that because of the imbalance of injustice and justice, along with the very intellectual thoughts and beliefs of Socartes and the others, Plato thinks that there are only a few individuals in this world who actually and truly understand how we as human beings should live our lives. Plato is claiming this because Socartes along with the others breaks down the concept of justice and the rule of men and different classes of life.
This idea baffles because I don’t understand how somebody could be sitting there telling me that I don’t know how to live my own life. He is basically saying that we should allow someone else to govern our lives. Plato is claiming that out of all human beings on the face of this earth there’s only that select few that are “living right”. Plato is trying to insist that we are all living our lives wrongly. All that Plato is trying to infer that there is a set way to govern human life and there are only those few individuals who know that way.
He believes that there is a certain way that we as people should live our lives. I just strongly disagree with the idea that Plato is putting forward the message that there is a set and perfect way to live and the majority of us are oblivious to this. He indicates that there are only those few people who are capable of living mistake free, therefore they are the only ones who could understand how human life should be lived. So basically in a shortage of words Plato is calling all of us incompetent in having the ability to govern our own lives.
Even though I understand Plato is trying to help all of us out he is also trying to tell us to let certain individuals run our lives. I don’t know about you but I would hate for someone to tell me how to live my life. All though he is intending to do it out of good will it will still be very disturbing to me if there was someone telling me what I should and should not do. Plato is basically preaching dictatorship. He is telling us that we are incapable of controlling our own destiny and fate. He is saying that as humans would be better of if we allowed someone else to control us and lead us into living a good life.
Since most of us aren’t capable of understanding how human life should be lived then we should turn to those that do and let them control us. On the other hand I can’t help but sympathize with Plato because all he is trying to do is help all of humans out. Also you can’t blame him because as it is visible in the Republic, Thrasymachus says, “I declare justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger”. All that this quote basically incorporates is that justice is nothing to normal people but in essence it’s just an advantage to those people who are rulers and are stronger than the ordinary people.
He brings up a great point stating that when robbery and violence are practiced by normal people its considered injustice, however when this is practiced by mass or most often by rulers or those in charge its considered justice. Since the rulers themselves do not obey the principles that they impose on the citizens, they are themselves “unjust”. Because of this the tyrant himself is happy because he breaks the rules of justice that he imposes on the weak people below him. When you are allowing yourself to be governed and controlled by someone else rather than yourself it is not justice it’s basically considered slavery.
These are all the ideas brought upon by Thrasymachus in the Republic. However on the other hand in Book I of the Republic Plato’s mentor Socrates tries and contests Thrasymachus’ ideas. Socartes brings up a great point in saying that if the weak themselves were strong enough to prevent someone from becoming a tyrant then they themselves are strong meaning they don’t need help. Socartes basically insists that a lot of the power of the man has to do with his soul. Plato being mentored by Socartes strongly agrees with him.
As Plato says we should allow those individuals who understand the form of human life to control our lives he is not saying it in the form of tyrannical control rather in that of those who try and help us. The republic is a collection of books about ethics. In each of the books we learn from Socrates the way we should live life and how to be ethical. It is in this form that Plato believes that there are a lot of unjust people in this world and one of those just people in his eyes is Socartes, he in Plato’s eyes should control our lives.
The Republic is the dialogue in which we see Socrates real believes and his attempt to show us that justice is the way of life for everybody. I concur that Plato believes Socrates understands human life and we should let him control our lives. In many of Plato’s dialogues usually the first one that is found is the Apology. The Apology is the dialogue which recounts perhaps the most important even in Plato’s life. This was the sentencing of Plato’s beloved mentor Socrates as he was condemned by the Athenian courts.
It begins with Socrates trying to defend himself against the charges of impiety and corruption of the youth in Athens. Socrates was being charged on the fact that he was preaching the good way of life to the children and the people of Athens. He was getting accused of basically being a wise man and preaching God and justice. It is very evident here that Plato respects Socrates and in an essence is trying to figure out why the courts are trying to punish Socrates for trying to do good for the people and trying to help them.
Basically Socrates was getting condemned for no reason other than just preaching virtue and soul, all he was trying to do is just prove to the people that justice goes a long way and should be the basis of life for everyone. These people in the Athenian court that are condemning him are the ones who weren’t capable of understanding how human life should be lived and would have been much better off if they lived under Socrates control. Socrates was accused for not being a good citizen who in reality is totally far from the truth. Another great dialogue written by Plato was called “Crito”.
Crito was mainly intended to exhibit the character of Socrates not only as a great philosopher, whose main mission was to instill justice and trusting in the virtue of the soul throughout all people, but simply to show off Socrates being a good citizen. This was evident in Socrates’ will to give up his life in order to obey the laws of Athens even though he was being unjustly condemned for basically trying to help others and live a good human life. It is here where we see what exactly it is that makes Socrates the great example of human life that he really is.
This dialogue begins in prison with Socrates and his good friend and fellow philosopher Crito. Unlike Socrates Crito is very concerned with his reputation and what others think of him, he is also very concerned with wealth and property. One of his main concerns which contradicted that of Socrates was his believe that physical life is the absolute value of all life. On the other hand Socrates values above all the health of his soul and spirit and doing well. He is mainly concerned on doing justice and doing right in the world.
Crito had bribed the guard in order to see Socrates. In Socrates eyes that in itself is injustice, even though he did it because he wanted to see him Socrates still believes that bribing is doing injustice. All though Socrates is physically imprisoned, Crito is actually imprisoned in himself in the fact that he is so concerned in public opinion, wealth and most importantly his fear of death. As seen in the Apology Socrates does not care if his body is in prison or when he’s going to die all that matters to him is that his soul and spirit is unconventional.
Crito tells Socrates that he has come up with basically a full prove plan to get him out of jail and set him free but being the good human that Socrates is he refuses Crito’s proposition. This is were I see what a great individual and even more what a great human Socrates really was. He would be freer if he remained in jail and did the justifiable thing. His soul would be free and he would know that he did the right thing and remained in jail. On the other hand Crito is doing small acts of injustice by paying the guard of and by trying to get Socrates out of jail.
It is here where one of the most important questions in all of life is answered. What is more important, someone who goes throughout all of life worrying about his reputation and all of the materialistic things in life or the person who believes in only doing right and is the strongest advocate of justice. The irony throughout this whole dialogue is just how Crito is trying to free and save the body of Socrates from prison; Socrates is attempting to “save” the soul of Crito from doing injustice. Socrates does not fear death or physical harm; he fears doing injustice or spiritual harm.
Socrates is a great man who isn’t concerned with anything other than doing what is right and justifiable. Lets be realistic no one wants anybody to tell them how to life there life. I think I’m old enough to know right from wrong so when I first read this position taken by Plato I was very offended because Plato is basically claiming that I am incapable of governing and running my own life. He is just basically trying to say that there are only a few people who understand how human life should be lived and that the rest of us in this world should follow behind them and allow them to control our lives.
It is now that I realize in essence that is not what Plato really meant he was just trying to infer that everybody is different and everybody has their own view on how there life should be lived, however everyone’s views are different. I believe Plato was just trying to infer to us that we should live our live the way Socrates lived his. Socrates did not do anything to hurt anyone; his main intent in life was to do justice and most importantly to have a free soul and spirit. All Socrates wanted to be was happy without ever doing harm to anyone.
It is now that I realize that is how we should all live our lives. Our main intent in live should be happiness, however in order to achieve happiness we must not commit injustice. There are those who believe happiness means having money, or having cars and etc, however happiness in the larger picture just means doing the right thing. If you do justice in life you will be a happy person. Happiness should be measured based on how much good you do for others. In conclusion, I would just like to take back anything negative that I might have said about Plato earlier on because at first it seemed that Plato was
trying to preach a dictatorship in saying that we should let a select few of individuals control our lives and tell us how to live. I figured he meant that we as individuals did not know how to control and run our own lives and those we should put our lives in the hands of someone else. However now after reading all three of Plato’s dialogues I understand exactly where he was coming from by taking the position that he did. In the “Republic” I learned about Socrates views and ideas on justice, wisdom and education.
This was helpful in that I saw that justice is a basis that we should all base our lives on. He made it evident that no matter what happens to the body the one thing that matters most is that our soul and spirit is justifiable in all its actions. All that matters is that we do well with our lives. The “Apology” showed me just how oblivious and mistaken people can be. The Athenian court was trialing Socrates because of his ideals about soul and virtue. Instead of embracing his help they thought he was trying to do evil.
Finally in “Crito” I learned about how loved Socrates was as a friend, even more I saw how materialistic things along with the concern of death are by far not important, the one thing that is most important in life is doing justice and doing good for others. Maybe if individuals like Socrates and Plato were around today to control our lives and show us how to live, we wouldn’t have to be controlled by people like President Bush and other leaders, possibly avoiding the war and the rest of the problems in the world. But let’s be real with each other, a world without problems and full of peace, we could only dream.
Courtney from Study Moose
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