Justice and Moderation of the Soul in The Republic, by Plato

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In his philosophical text, The Republic, Plato argues that justice can only be realized by the moderation of the soul, which he claims reflects as the moderation of the city. He engages in a debate, via the persona of Socrates, with Ademantus and Gaucon on the benefit, or lack thereof, for the man who leads a just life. I shall argue that this analogy reflecting the governing of forces in the soul and in city serves as a sufficient device in proving that justice is beneficial to those who believe in, and practice it. I shall further argue that Plato establishes that the metaphorical bridge between the city and soul analogy and reality is the leader, and that in the city governed by justice the philosopher is king.

The three men discuss justice as if it's a good thing. Glaucon wants Socrates to prove that it is, and argues if it is just to do wrong in order to have justice, or on the other hand, is it unjust to never do wrong and therefore have no justice. For example; a man who lies, cheats and steals yet is a respected member of the community would be living a just life, in comparison to a man who never lied, cheated, nor stole anything but lives in poverty and is living an unjust life. Glaucon assumes the life of a just man is better than the life of an unjust man.

Socrates now introduces a new method with use of imagery. He mentions a city and all that's within a city, to be applied in reference to the human soul. There are three cities he speaks of the city of necessity, the city of luxury, and the feverish city. The city of necessity only includes items, such as food, shelter and clothing, needed for survival as well as laborers to provide them. Soon, the laborers begin to expand necessity to comfort, thus forming th...

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...s. When justice reigns in man's soul, he is a happy man and rules over his soul like a good ruler rules over a society. When injustice reigns in his soul, he is an unhappy man, just as men under an unjust ruler are unhappy. Injustice always brings bondage, so the man who lives in injustice is in bondage either to his own failings or to an evil society. Whether the just man receives extra rewards beyond the happiness of living in a just soul is beside the point. His soul is his world, and if it is a just one, it is a happy place to live.

Works Cited

Dunkle, Roger. "The Classical Origins of Western Culture" Brooklyn College, The City University of New York. 1986 . Web. 29 July 2015.


Plato. Republic. Trans. G.M.A. Grube and C.D.C. Reeve. Plato Complete Works. Ed. John M. Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997.

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