Friday, January 31, 2020

Plato’s The Republic Essay Example for Free

Plato’s The Republic Essay All philosophers write about something to address a particular issue which they feel need to be addressed.   The same is true in Plato’s The Republic.   Considering the political and social situation during 360 B.C.E, Plato was concerned about the deteriorating condition of Greece.   To be more particular, he was extremely concerned about the fate of his teacher, Socrates. Socrates was tried, and subsequently sentenced to death, for a crime that he did not commit.   Plato was also apprehensive about the individualist philosophy advocated by a famous group of philosophers called Sophists.    For the Sophists, the standard of what is good or evil depended on man alone without regard for the universal concepts of morality and justice. The individualist philosophy of the Sophists has affected the morals of the Greeks, to wit: â€Å"Sophistic teaching of the ethics of self-satisfaction resulted in the excessive individualism also induced the citizens to capture the office of the State for their own selfish purpose and eventually divided Athens in to two hostile camps of rich and poor, oppressor and oppressed. Evidently, these two factors amateur needlesomeness and excessive individualism became main targets of Platos attack.†   (Bhandari 2) Plato found a solution to free the society from the individualist philosophy of the Sophists.   This can be found in his book The Republic where Plato, speaking through his teacher Socrates, discussed the concepts of a just state and a just individual. According to Plato, Justice is â€Å"the minding of one’s own business and not meddling with other men’s concerns† (Book 4, The Republic).   He also said that Justice is Harmony.   (Book 4, The Republic)   In the same manner, there is injustice when a person does not mind his own business or minds other person’s business.   There is also injustice when there is discord and disharmony. In explaining the concept of Justice, Plato made two (2) analogies: his analogy on the parts of the state and the structure of the soul.   He argued that justice may exist not just in the state but also in the individual and that there is a relationship between a just state and a just individual. Plato argues that the state is formed because no individual is self sufficient.   He needs the help of other members of the society to perform some function of which he has no knowledge or expertise.   The continued existence of the society is dependent upon the individuals who specialize in the performance of certain affairs of the state.   Plato thus divided the state into three types of people: the workers, soldiers and the rulers each of which performs a particular function for the good of the whole society.   According to Kemerling, the orderly functioning of the state will depend on the separation of functions and the specialization of their individual tasks.   (Kemerling, p. 1). For example, the workers are those best suited to perform a particular labor for example the farmers, builders, weavers and laborers.   The soldiers are those people who are best suited to fight and defend the state against its aggressors.   The rulers on the other hand are those who possess wisdom and have the capacity to rule.   Plato considered that in an Ideal State each of these three kinds of people limit themselves to the performance of their functions.   A person who has the skill of a farmer should not be allowed to lead the state otherwise anarchy will result within the state.   An intellectual who is born to lead does not have the skill to build houses for the state. A person who has the skill in combat cannot be allowed to make laws for the state.   In addition, a just state is when each of the class possesses certain virtue: the working class possesses the virtue of temperance, the soldiers possess courage and the rulers possess wisdom.   Thus, according to Plato, â€Å"And a State was thought by us to be just when the three classes in the State severally did their own business; and also thought to be temperate and valiant and wise by reason of certain other affections and qualities of these same classes?† One may ask, who is a just man for Plato?   Plato’s concept of a just man is similar to his concept of a just state because essentially the same three divisions which exist in the state also exist in the individual.   If the society is divided into three (3) classes of persons, a person’s soul is likewise divided into three categories.   Plato made this analogy because he also believed that that the three parts of the human soul corresponds to the three classes of persons in the state. If it is better for a state that those who possess skill in manual labor to work and for those who possess skill in fighting to defend the state and for the intellectuals to lead the state, it is also better for the individual to control the desires of the other parts of the soul. If the society is divided into three groups of people, the soul is likewise divided into three parts, the appetitive, the spirited and the rational.   The appetitive is the part that hungers for worldly pleasures and wants and feels many things.   It is the part of the soul that yearns for wealth, power and material pleasures. Thus, the craving to eat burgers despite its hazards to health is a sign that a person gives in to the desires of the appetitive soul.   A person who decides to cut class to watch a movie or to play games also gives in to the appetitive soul.  Ã‚   For Plato, the goal of an individual is to develop the virtue of temperance and self-control. The spirited soul is the part of the soul that aims to carry out the dictates of reason.   It is the execution of whatever the intellect has determined to be the best for the person.   When a manager despite knowing that an employee is causing problems to the company because of his lack of professionalism fails to make the decision of terminating him, his spirited soul is considered weak.   For Plato, it is important for an individual to develop courage so that this part of the soul is controlled. The rational part is the thinking part which has the capacity to determine what is real and what are illusions or what is true and what is false or what should be done and what should not be done.   The rational part is also the part of the soul which makes the balanced decisions the purpose of which is the protection of its own interest and welfare.   When a person until now could not decide whom to vote for president of the United States, he is deemed to lack the rational soul.   When a person until could not decide whether to continue going to college, then his rational soul is weak. If justice in the state is to be attained by the three classes of individuals each performing their own function, justice in the individual person is to be attained by having temperance, courage, and wisdom. (Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World, p.72)   A person must have temperance and he is expected to be able to control his desire for worldly pleasures.   A person must also be able to distinguish between pleasures of the flesh and pleasures of the spirit.   The former is short-lived while the latter is eternal.   A person is also expected to have courage.   He must be able to take action and stand by his actions no matter how difficult it may be.   He must be able to take the risk.   A person must also develop wisdom so that he may know what is best for himself. According to Plato, justice can only be attained if every part of the soul is working in harmony with each other.   A person’s desire for wealth should not cloud his judgment.   A manager’s friendly relationship with a colleague should not hinder him from making the right decision.  Ã‚  Ã‚   A just man is therefore someone who can control the worldly pleasures and is able to discipline himself such that he does not submit himself to the wishes of his appetitive soul. Plato thus advocated self-mastery and discipline.   Ã‚  In controlling the appetitive soul, the rational soul is expected to ally with the spirited soul.  Ã‚   A person is also expected to be able to execute his decision.   He may have all the knowledge and wisdom in the world but if he cannot apply his knowledge to the practical world, then the person is also committing an injustice. In the end, the â€Å"justness† or the â€Å"injustness† of an individual will be determined based on how each of the different parts of the soul is able to relate with each other.   Thus Plato states that: â€Å"It will be the business of reason to rule with wisdom and forethought on behalf of the entire soul; while the spirited element ought to act as its subordinate ally.   The two will be brought into accord, as we said earlier, by that combination of mental and bodily training which will tune up one string of the instrument and relax the other, nourishing the reasoning part on the study of noble literature and allaying the other’s wildness by harmony and rhythm.† (Book 4, The Republic)

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