Virtue Essay

1137 words - 5 pages


Virtues contribute to people’s actions in today’s society. Society as a whole has a common set of virtues that many people agree on. In today’s society, these are known as laws. Virtues also mold the individual outlook on life, and give them the moral’s to do what is right. In The Republic, Plato divides the city into three classes: gold, silver, as well as bronze and iron souls. Each class is designated to posses a specific virtue. He believes that wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice combine together to form The Republic. However, Plato’s four virtues individually do not necessarily produce a utopian society. A combination of the four in each citizen is imperative in producing the ideal society. In Plato’s search for the perfect "republic", he decides that the basis of the city will be on four virtues. The first of them is wisdom. Plato defines wisdom, in Greek terms "Sophia", as knowledge of the city as a whole. Of the three classes, the gold souls posses the virtue of wisdom. The gold souls are the only class whose knowledge goes beyond the mere facts to the level of true wisdom. "…This class, which properly has a share in that knowledge which alone among the various kinds of knowledge ought to be called wisdom, has, as it seems, the fewest members by nature" (429a). The second virtue that Plato defines is courage, which in Greek terms is "Andreia". Courage is the preservation of the opinion produced by law, through education about what things are terrible, and what things are good. Courage can be found in the silver souls. Plato uses the example that when dyers want to dye wool, they start with the background. They need the right kind of white material, and they have to prepare it carefully; and if they go to this trouble, you can not bleach the color out. If they do a poor job of it, the cloth quickly becomes washed-out and faded. Plato used the dyeing analogy to state how he wishes to train the silver souls (429d- 430b). He states that the people will undergo a precise training. Certain music and physical activity will only be allowed. Plato wanted a good upbringing to make the right ideas permanent in them, so that the bleach of pleasure, grief, fear, or death, would not wash the true colors from their souls. "For, in my opinion, you regard the right opinion about these same things that comes to be without education- that found in beast and slaves- as not at all lawful and call it something other than courage" (430b). Once they got to this point of having a clear, firm grasp of what is really dangerous to a man, they knew their only task was to show courage. The third virtue in The Republic, is moderation. The Greek term for moderation is Sophrosune. Plato defines moderation as the kind of accord and harmony between the bronze and silver souls. Moderation is the ability to control desires and to be the master of ones self. There are two things at work in a man’s heart. One is good, and one is bad. The bad can overwhelm...

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