Analysis Of Plato's Republic

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In the Republic Plato outlines a society whose values are radically different from those we possess in western societies today. Plato believes that the "good" will be achieved through justice and that justice can be delivered by structuring a society in a hierarchical manner such that each person is assigned a job based on his/her greatest talent. Justice, while it may seem to be in the same spirit as many of our western democratic views ends up clashing with our most basic inalienable right, in a word freedom. It is for this reason that the values espoused in the Republic, namely justice, happiness, equality etc... Come into direct opposition with our own culturally esteemed values of freedom. One might say that the Republic is sympathetic to our views in that we both claim to value "equality", "justice", "goodness" but the fact is that the two social orders are similar only in the words through which they decide to define their cultural values. In essence, the words, justice, equality, freedom, happiness only have relevant meaning within the context of the societies which define them. Now, the question of whether "equal opportunity" exists within the Republic becomes fairly clear. Because Plato's social order does not value equality as we define it the issue of "equal opportunity" can only be assessed in terms of Plato's views and our own. From Plato's point of view equal opportunity absolutely exists in the republic. Every citizen has exactly the same opportunity in the Republic that is of course that they have one opportunity; the opportunity to do whatever the state decides they are best at. Guardians have the right to be guardians, farmers to be farmers, cobblers to be cobblers etc... The same reality exits in terms of chara... ... middle of paper ... ...r role perfectly can still be perfectly miserable and likewise a person who fills no useful role in society can achieve great happiness. Again the two views on the same thing come into direct conflict. Plato's happiness, like his justice and his "equality of opportunity" are simply different from ours. The examples of equality, justice and happiness all point to one conclusion; that while Plato attempts to form absolute definitions of intangibles he becomes ensared in the trap of relativity. He cannot escape the fact that these values can only be defined within a context. In attempting to escape this fact he only creates a fictional context in which to present them, thus negating much of their useful application as absolutes. The Republic, while being different from a polis such as Athens, still carries its own values which define the intangibles in its own context.

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