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Plato's Explanation of an Ideal State in his Work, The Republic

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What is the ideal state? This question has sparked debate since the very formation of organized political society. In Plato’s The Republic, Plato seeks to define justice and in doing so he seeks to explain the ideal just state. In Plato’s explanation of an ideal state, there is an extreme emphasis on unity and harmony. The reason unity and harmony are so important to Plato are because they are responsible for bonding together Plato’s ideal state and protecting it from tyranny. Plato explains at great length the framework which ties together the individual soul with the ideal political society. Without unity and harmony, an aristocracy would ultimately decay into a democracy, and according to Plato, sooner rather than later a tyrant would rule the state.

In order to understand how unity and harmony tie the ideal state together, one must first understand the coloration of unity with justice. Simply defined justice, according to Plato, is specialization. Each person doing their own craft is what justice entails. However, this definition of justice leads to something larger within the individual and the state. According to Plato, "... we must compel these Guardians and Auxiliaries of ours to second our efforts; and they, and all the rest with them, must be induced to make themselves perfect masters each of his own craft. In that way, as a community grows into a well ordered whole, the several classes may be allowed such measure of happiness as their nature will compass" (P, p. 111). The theory of justice as specialization leads to the happiness of the whole.

Just as Plato finishes explaining the proposed life of a Guardian, Adeimantus asks "how would you meet the objection that you are not making these people particularly happy" (...

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... state. In Plato's argument for the ideal state, the fundamental bonds which hold together his republic are unity and harmony. He explains how the just state is held together by the unity of each individual in each social class, and harmony between all three social classes. Plato explains how the ideal state must have citizens who are united in their goals. It is not the happiness of the individual but rather the happiness of the whole which keeps the just state ideal. At the same time, Plato argues that there must be harmony within the individual souls which make up the state. The lack of unity and harmony leads to despotism through anarchy which eventually arises within a democracy. Plato makes a clear argument, through The Republic, that without the unity and harmony of the individual and the state there can be no order and therefore there can be no ideal state.