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Can Justice In The State Exist In The Individual? Plato

3039 words - 12 pages

Plato (427-347BC), along with Aristotle, is one of the most influential thinkers in western history, having written numerous works on politics, ethics, and metaphysics - the study of things that transcend the physical world. In The Republic, Plato aims to give an account of the ethical life. Themes such as knowledge, the well-ordered life and wisdom are interwoven into the discussion of the ethical life, however, the principle of justice and the organization of the Good Life, is the central topic of Plato's discussion. To outline the ethical life for an individual, Plato employs the Socratic Method to examine the virtues of the Kallipolis, the ideal just city. By better understanding the existence of justice in the city, one gain's insight into justice in one's life and soul. The goal of this paper is to elaborate upon this method and to prove that such a connection exists when the circumstances are favorable. I will first discuss the broad concept of justice, applying it to the state and individual and then give my critique of why and how an analogy can be drawn between the two. I will assume the audience has read the The Republic and has a basic insight into the structure and arguments of the work.Justice in Greek times differs from our definition today. Today we associate justice with the successful implementation and execution of political law, however, to the Ancient Greek's justice was used to describe the proper and correct method for living. Justice is harmony and was believed it could be achieved through learning. Before examining the true nature of justice, Plato first establishes that justice is good (and consequently part of the good life) in Book I. The individuals in Plato's audience attempt to describe their own version of justice: Cephalus argues that justice is a matter of self-interest; Polemarchus suggests justice is helping one's friends and harming one's enemies; and finally Thrasymachus proclaims that justice is the advantage of the stronger. Plato listens to these theories and argues that justice is an excellence of character. The role that justice plays is to improve human nature. In addition to other things, justice is a form of goodness that cannot participate in any activity that attempts to harm one's character.Plato employ's argument by analogies to enhance the theory that justice is one of the things that comprises 'goodness'. He compares the art of living to the musician's art. A musician has knowledge of music and by this he is better in music than one that lacks musical knowledge. The musician does not wish to transcend others who share his knowledge, he just wants to be superior to those 'unmusical' individuals. The same idea applies to the just man - he wants to outdo the unjust individual, but not those of his own kind. On the other hand, the unjust individual is self-serving and wants to be better than those both just and unjust alike. Plato goes on to dispel the theory that justice is power by showing that...

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