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Why Do We Strive To Be Just? To Live Within The Constraints Of Our Laws Or For The Benefit Of Our Soul?

2013 words - 8 pages

PLATO'S GIFT.In our society murders, rapes, and other such atrocities are steadily increasing in frequency. We who pride ourselves on our efficient judicial system and competent police force still cannot control and eliminate the undesirable elements of our society. If this problem still exists within a firmly regimented society, perhaps the trouble stems from an internal failure... a failure to have the desire to be truly, and most importantly, internally just. One of the inherent problems with the twenty-first century mindset is that justice is viewed as something externally beneficial, and therefore most people are just so that they will remain within the boundaries of the law. We must begin to view justice as something beneficial to our soul and our lives instead of using it as a façade. These changes must come from within, and they must come from a desire to change. Justice must be present within the individual. Plato's Republic is admittedly over two thousand years old, but it retains its significance to this day. Within these timeless pages, the answer to a question that desperately needs to be revisited is answered: Why should I want to be just? Through telling analogies and compelling dialogue, the answer is evident, discernable, and most importantly, honest.Realizing the intricacy of this problem, Plato through Socrates creates a city, instead of a single person to explore justice because, as he says "perhaps there is more justice in the larger thing, and it will be easier to learn what it is."(II, 43) This creation or kallipolis as he calls it shows up throughout Republic and serves as an interesting parallel between the justice of a human and the justness of a city. Socrates says that if all the people within a city are just than the city will prosper and we should "[therefore], praise justice as a good of that kind, explaining how-because of its very self-it benefits its possessors"(II, 42). Further exploration indicates that in order for the city to be just all the people within the city must be just. They must all perform their functions, which benefit the greater good of the city. A philosopher king rules the kallipolis. A philosopher king is a person who has received a specific education as outlined by Plato. The education the philosopher king has received is based on knowledge, physical training and government. This original system of education was created to properly prepare the philosopher king to rule efficiently over his society so that it will remain just and firm in its beliefs. Republic is a thought experiment intended to answer many questions. It is, however, not solely to define what a good city should be like. Instead, Plato uses the city as "the same letters [existing] somewhere in a larger size and on a larger surface."(43, 368d) The letters he is trying to see are those that define what justice is in a human being. Republic, however, is so much more than just a thought experiment. It is an internal, as well...

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