Plato – Justice

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 26 November 2016

Plato – Justice

1. Introduction In this essay in is a discussion about based on philosopher and which group of people Plato thinks should be ruling and why. The essay will start off with clarifying key concepts, for example what is a philosopher because it is much easier to understand the easy when one understands the key terms in it, terms that will appear throughout the essay itself.

Then Plato’s theory will then be analysed in more detail and it is also of great importance that one also talks about Plato’s background because that is where he started to see things and that is when he started having ideas as to how the country should be ruled or governed and who should be doing the governing. It is also very important for a person to look at what was said by other people about Plato’s ideal state. 2. Clarification of key concepts.

Bellow will be the clarification of key concepts and by that it simply means that the key words that will be used in this essay will be defined and understood a little more better for convenient reading. 2. 1 What is a philosopher? When one is tackling such an essay it is very important that one understands what a philosopher is and what makes one a philosopher. Well a philosopher is a person who always trying to understand life and why things are done the way they are being done and also find better ways of doing things. Philosophers seek answers to the questions of life and seek solutions.

Philosophers use their intellect and also their personal experiences. Philosophers are also people that love to share wisdom and teach others what they already know so that they can also grow. When one talks about philosophers it is mostly about people that are deep thinkers and they think about life and the things that happen around them on a daily basis. According to Benson (1992: 63) “during the ancient times Greek philosophers would sometimes spend the whole day thinking and for that day they would not talk to anyone, it would be just them and their thoughts”.

A philosopher can be anyone and from any gender, anyone who has an interest in the study of knowledge. 2. 2 Theory of Justice According to Pappas (1995: 32) “justice is defined by Polemarchus as the act of giving what belongs to the person and doing good to friends and not good by enemies”. Theory of justice is all about treating people fairly and by fairly it means as they deserve. Rawls (2001: 83) points out that justice can be defined two different ways, one definition being that a person must earn it for example by merit or an individual can lack it.

So according to this definition it is clear that it simply means that one must be treated exactly as they deserve. This “merit theory” of justice, reflecting utilitarian ethics, uses merit to determine just how individual members of society will be rewarded or punished based solely upon whether one’s conduct is useful or harmful to society. The “need theory” of justice, which assumes that individual members of society should help those other members who are most in need so as to redress their disadvantages. So this is all about treating people as they deserve and rewarding them as they should be or for some punishing them. 3.

3 Theory of Souls Plato’s Theories of Soul According to Lorenz & Hendrik “there were various developments that were occurring in the sixth and fifth centuries in the way Greeks thought and spoke of the soul resulted in a very complex notion that strikes one as amazingly close to conceptions of the soul that we find in fourth century philosophical theories, notably Plato’s”. There is thus some reason to think that the philosophical theories in question are best interpreted as working with, and on, the relatively non-theoretical notion of the soul that by the end of the fifth century has come to be embedded in ordinary language.

In what follows our main concern will be to characterize some of the theories in question. But we should also attend, wherever this seems appropriate and helpful, to ways in which familiarity with the ordinary notion of the soul might enable us better to understand why a theory or an argument proceeds the way it does. In addition, we should note ways in which philosophical theories might seem to clarify and further articulate the ordinary notion.

We begin with Plato, and with a question that is intimately tied up with the ordinary notion of the soul as it developed from the Homeric poems onwards, namely whether a person’s soul does indeed survive the person’s death. 3. Plato’s background In understanding Plato more it is very important that one also knows Plato’s background. Plato was born in the year 427 BC and was born in an Aristocratic family. An Aristocratic family is one that is on the one hand impractical, reason being that they were based on a God-like willingness to place the good of the community before the rulers own interest (Heywood, 2007:28).

According to Plato politics in natural and not artificial. It is also important that one states that Plato’s greatest influence was Socrates as he learned a lot from him. 4. How Plato views democracy and who should rule according to Plato Heywood (2007: 71) states that thinkers such as Plato as well as Aristotle had a different view to democracy and they saw it as a system that was there to rule masses at the expense of wisdom and property. Plato wanted people to be ruled by philosophers.

According to Heywood (2007: 76) “political equality was useless and he attacked it on grounds that the people possess neither the wisdom nor the experience to rule wisely on their behalf”. So according to Plato the best people for the job of representing the people it was the philosophers. Plato believed that the philosophers were wise educated people that would apply logical thinking and also use experience too. According to Plato in his book “the republic” Plato stated that government should be placed in the hands of the philosophers being the kings and guardians.

And their rule will be that viewed as dictatorship. Plato called this “Rule by the virtuous” (Heywood, 2007:76). As it was said by Plato himself that the states troubles will never end and civilisation itself, till the world is ruled by philosophers being kings. Plato states that political power must be in the hands of kings (Plato, 2007: 192). One can say that Plato came with really good points as to why knowledgeable person should be the one’s put in charge to rule and govern the world and for them to bring happiness and justice to the world; it may look like the ideal Republic.

But still with all that said it is still unrealistic. And to further show that that is unrealistic, as it was said by Aristotle “man by nature is a political animal and it is inevitable for all”. People will always have something to say as to how they would like to see things happening and people will always want to voice out their opinions about what they do not like and how it should be done. People want to be involved in decisions that will affect them at the end of the day.

Plato’s argument is seen as unrealistic because it is like he is asking people to just turn a blind eye in the political process and also to leave their rights and opinions in the hands of the philosophers and is so doing they will be giving in to being dictated. All one sees is that Plato’s ideal state will be just unfit, the same thing that he said about a democratic state, and it is just unfit. Plato’s argument could be seen as valid as he states that philosophers have the “capacity to grasp the eternal and absolute”, as it is clear to see that common men or the public have no true knowledge of reality to govern themselves (Plato, 2007: 204).

Nevertheless, this argument is not persuasive or realistic in contemporary politics and the modern state, for a number of reasons. Plato’s idea of specialization is also linked to justice, which he considers to be structural, as political justice is a result of a structured city, where individual justice is a result of a structured soul, and where each member of the polis has a “specific craft for which he has a natural aptitude” (Reeve; 2009, 69). “Ruling … is a skill” (Wolff; 2006, 68), which requires special training available to few.

At the same time, philosophers must possess qualities that enable them to rule; for instance, they must be able to recognize the difference between friend and foe, good and bad. Above all, philosophers must “love wisdom” (Nichols; 1984, 254), as the rule of the wise leads to the reigning of justice, as philosophy becomes sovereign. Justice is a virtue, as is knowledge, which requires understanding. Understanding refers to goodness, and thus, knowledge and goodness are one. The philosopher kings have virtue as they have knowledge, and thus, according to Plato, their rule is justified. Conclusion.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 26 November 2016

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