Plato’s theory brings out justice as an outcome of the whole man and how he affects those around him. It is curbing the moral, emotional and spiritual decay of a person and springing some form of holiness in a man. On the other hand, Cephalus, an old yet very rich attributes justice to morality or doing right. Cephalus points out that justice is speaking the truth to your neighbor and paying all your debts. He also points justice as being able to conduct yourself rightly.
Socrates replies to Cephalus view by saying that such a rule is not meaningful because, In an instance where you had borrowed a weapon from a friend who is mad, it would make no sense to return it since in his insanity he can use it to kill himself. He doesn’t seem to agree with Cephalus. (Republic1 – 4) Cephalus also says that for a man that is good and poor being young or not is not a light burden neither is being bad and rich, for this man can ever have peace within him.
Polemarchus views are different with Cephalus who is his father; he says that good should be done to our friends while evil to our enemies (Republic 331 c). Socrates refute that concept by saying that, if it be so then evil acts to our enemies would only make them more unjust and evil. This would then be a violation of society morals. Socrates at some point poses to Polemarchus, whether justice on becomes useful when other are not useful and it is not useful when others are useful. Polemarchus argues that the person able to prevent a disease is also able to create another.
The best guard of a city is also that is best in stealing it, that the one who safely keeps the money is the one who is likely to steal it. Polemarchus, says that every person is expected to love those that he attributes are good people and hate those that are evil and bad. He says that it should not be assumed that the one referred to as a friend is good and that it be assumed that the one who is an enemy is bad. He rather says that a friend is one who seems like he is good and indeed is good. However, one who is not good, only looks like he is good but he is not a friend.
He further reaffirmed his statement by saying that it is justice when we do good to those who are our friends and harm to those who are our enemies when they do evil. The unjust man is the one who is likely to place injury on a friend. (written 360 B. C. E ; translated by Benjamin Jowett). Plato’s and Aristotle’s definition for human flourishing is not only based on accumulation of wealth and riches but also acquisition of virtues, performance excellence and wisdom. Human flourishing is not living a happy and enjoyable life as people perceive.
Human flourishing is also different from economic development in a country or a person. Human flourishing which comes from a Greek word Eudomenia demands a development in the human being’s intellect, moral and spiritual being. It involves a critical thinking in a human being in addition to development of virtues like obedience, honesty, loyalty, courage etc and acquisition of friendships that benefit people and are of good will. Cephalus points that being wealthy preserves one from being an unjust person.
Socrates argues that statement that a just person who is short of wealth, fortunes but is just is better than a person who is full of fortunes but is unjust. Socrates wonders how justice relates to human flourishing or happiness, he states that justice belongs to a class that should be longed for in order for one to be blessed. (Triglav meeting 16-17 December; human flourishing and social justice. ) According to Cephalus his right character and good deeds of virtue have led to his happy life, rather than his wealth and prosperity. Indeed he is wealthy; however his wealth would not give him the satisfaction he has.
With his good conduct and virtues like loyalty and faithfulness he is been able to pay his debts, keep his word and be obedient to the gods. In his attempt to give his view of the human good, Socrates asks Polemarchus whether any person who is just would willingly do any evil to anybody. He uses the analogy of a horse to ask him whether doing evil to the horse would block it’s purpose in nature. It is for a fact that doing evil to the horse would add more problems to it. This is likened to when you do evil to an unjust person, the unjust person is likely to do more evil to them.
Socrates says that a just person can never do any evil to anyone’s character willingly. Socrates attributes that a just person is superior in his character and his got an abundance of knowledge while an unjust person lack both knowledge and wisdom. Socrates says that the life of a just man is full of happiness and satisfaction. This just person is able to emit good virtues that will keep him and even if he does not possess a lot of wealth he is satisfied with his good innate nature. Outward happiness contributes to the happiness of the soul.
When the soul is happy then the man is extremely happy. According to the human good life, justice is not external; it is an inward goodness full of joy and peace that comes from within. Justice in a human’s soul is not dictated by fear of the unjust in the society but courage that drives one into exhibiting more virtues. In conclusion, Plato in his book The Republic, while focusing on Justice, points that justice should be a form of ‘career’ where one is willing to do good to himself and to others without exhibiting vices that will harm him and the society around him.
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