Plato's Republic Justified
In Plato's Republic, Socrates leads a discussion with his fellow philosophers attempting to isolate the concept of justice in the soul. In order to accomplish this task,
they hypothesize that justice can occur both in the city as well as and the soul. Because the philosophers are more familiar with the workings of a city than the soul,
they try to find justice by creating the ideal city, or Kallipolis. When they find justice in the ideal city, they are able to apply as well as justify the use of that same
concept in the soul. From their discussion, they conclude that the components of the soul and the components of the city are related, and that the concept of justice
occurs in both.
Empirical observation shows that a city is created because no single person is self-sufficient. All the needs of the citizens determine the components of their city, from
the basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, to the more elaborate needs such as swords, plumbing, and books. In an ideal city, the philosophers believe each
citizen will do the task that is best suited to him or her. Such a division of labor makes the city the most efficient, or ideal.
Socrates then examines these various tasks and is able to separate them into three distinct groups: those which produce something for the city, those which protect
the city from both internal and external subversion, and those which provide control and direct the other two groups. The people who carry out these tasks are called
producers, guardians, and rulers, respectively.
Socrates then deals heavily with education. He decrees that the citizens, specifically the guardians, are to have both physical and mental training, for "those who
devote themselves exclusively to physical training turn out to be more savage than they should, while those who devote themselves to music and poetry turn out
softer than is good for them" (410c). Here, starting to lay the groundwork for relating the city to the soul, Socrates likens the savageness to a person's spirited
characteristics and the softness to his or her philosophic characteristics. The two are in harmony to make the guardian both moderate and courageous.
Turning to the rulers, Socrates hypothesizes that they "must be the best of the guardians" (412c) and hence "the ones who are best at guarding the city" (412c). The
rulers need to be knowledgeable, not easily deceived, care for the city greatly, and pursue what is most advantageous to the city.
The producers of the city are not discussed as in depth as the other two classes. Socrates wants to wait until justice has been isolated before delving into the topic of
the producers' manner of education.
With their Kallipolis formed, they are now able to make certain assumptions that are needed in order to support the concept of justice in the soul. Foremost, they
can assume that the city is completely good, solely from the fact that it is an ideal city....