The Republic By Plato Essay

1481 words - 6 pages

Wisdom, courage, moderation and justice are four essential virtues the ideal state must be built upon, as explained by Socrates in Plato’s Republic. Throughout the eight books of Socratic dialogue the ideal state and ideas of justice are debated, on both individual and state levels. The guidelines for a perfect state and how it will come about are thoroughly described. Socrates covers every aspect of political life and how it should work stating that “until power and philosophy entirely coincide… cities will have no rest form evils” . In Plato’s Republic Socrates emphasizes the superiority of the philosopher and their abilities to rule as kings above others. He believes that they are best suited to rule as a result of their pure souls and lust for knowledge, the desire for truth over opinions and things that are tangible. The philosopher is best able to fulfill the four essential virtues of the state and thus must be the king. He evokes the idea of a cave, a parallel to the effects of education on the soul and a metaphor for human perceptions, to describe how humans will act and show distinctions between groups of people. This conception of the ideal state has been heavily criticized by his successors, but when applied according to how Plato perceived the state and human capacity, in theory the idea of the philosopher-king is extremely convincing. According to Socrates the soul is made up of three parts, and each person is governed primarily by a different one. Which aspect of the soul occupies a person affects their access to the four virtues deemed ultimate. The appetitive part of the soul is at the bottom of the divided line; it controls the unnecessary desires and is undesirable to be governed by. The spirited element of the soul desires honor is also seen as a limit to a person’s virtue and ability to rule. The only one who can be truly just is the one ruled by the rational part of the soul, the philosopher. This essay will argue that as described by Plato’s Republic those ruled by rationality and reason are the only one capable of transcending the lower levels of the soul and governing the just ideal state, thus the philosopher must be synonymous to power.
Socrates asks his friends to imagine a dark, cave like space that only mimics true reality but is believed by its inhabitants to be absolute. People in the world are trapped in this narrow-minded, metaphorical space, “they’ve been here since childhood, fixed in the same place, with their necks and legs fettered” Socrates explains to his friends. He goes on to explain that there are shadows of statues projected on the wall in front of them. These images appear to be reality, but are not true forms, they are just opinions. The appetitive level of the soul is satisfied within this space. Those governed by this part are controlled by the unnecessary desires of life such as private property and wealth. The souls that do not have the power to transcend the appetitive soul level comprise the...

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