Analysis Of Plato 's The Book I Sets The Foundation For The Subsequent Scheme Of The Republic

Analysis Of Plato 's The Book I Sets The Foundation For The Subsequent Scheme Of The Republic

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First, it is necessary to define what a form is and to establish the role Book I plays in the overall scheme of The Republic. A form, according to Plato’s Socrates, is the very essence of a thing and represents the most substantive part of reality. Book I sets the foundation for the subsequent nine books, and introduces the concept of justice as a main theme. Socrates and other characters, such as Thrasymachus, Polemarchus, and Cephalus are responsible for the original definitions of justice and the challenges defining it entails. Furthermore, there is an underlying significance to the connection between form and justice. Justice is doing goodness, which is the highest form and can only be accomplished by having an understanding of the forms. Note the parallel in needing to have “nous” (having knowledge of the forms) and understanding forms in and of themselves in addition to their relation to all things, with needing to have read the whole book and understanding the concept of form in order to understand the very essence of Book I, which is to introduce, define, and challenge the notion of justice.
The first time forms are mentioned in their own name is found in Book III of The Republic. The dialogue is taking place between Glaucon and Socrates, and it is Socrates who said, “We’ll never be musical…before we recognize the forms of moderation, courage, liberality, magnificence, and all their kin, and, again, their opposites…” (403c) Another example from this dialogue, which is discussing education in the forms, is, “a good soul by its own virtue makes the body as good as it can be.” (403d) We cannot fully understand what Socrates means here until we understand the formation of soul is, and the three virtues. We need to know form in...


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... this class would make use of forms to govern, and despite the majority of the city not grasping or being aware of the forms, they are still functioning and being made of use. A parallel can be drawn between the composition of a just city and the characters of Book I, where Socrates would take the part of the wise class, and others would be distributed throughout as either appetite or courage (I imagine Thrasymachus would be a money-maker in the appetite driven class).
Not only is it impossible to understand the Book I of Plato’s The Republic without making use of the concept of “forms,” but it can be expected that forms will be made of use and not completely understood by those using them. The connections between education, justice, souls, and forms are crucial to making this argument and emphasis the relationship between understanding forms and making use of them.

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