The Ethical Egoist in Plato's Republic Essay

The Ethical Egoist in Plato's Republic Essay

Length: 984 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The ethical egoist is one who believes that it is morally right to act strictly in one's own self-interest. Understandably, this belief poses a threat to social cooperation and, therefore, clearly introduces a significant political problem. I believe that the best example of ethical egoism is displayed in Book I of Plato's The Republic. In this Book, Plato introduces the idea of ethical egoism, explains the political problem posed by it, and addresses the problem through the words of Socrates. I will use this paper to explain and clarify the arguments for and against the concept of ethical egoism, with specific focus on the political problem it poses and the proper approach to addressing that problem, in terms of Plato's social philosophy.
Before addressing the specific issue of ethical egoism, it is first important to understand the context of The Republic and what Plato was trying to accomplish in his writing. As a student of Socrates, Plato's goal in writing The Republic was to define justice. Furthermore, he aimed to define justice in such a way as to show that it is good for its own sake, in and of itself. In The Republic, Plato speaks through Socrates in an attempt to prove this claim. In Book I, he focuses specifically on a couple of questions: What is justice? Why is justice important?
Book I of The Republic puts Socrates discussing justice within a group of companions. Their conversation begins by discussing and arguing the various definitions of justice and what it is. Soon, a man by the name of Thrasymachus boldly enters the conversation. Thrasymachus is a sophist and an ethical egoist. Thus, the topic of conversation quickly transitions from discussing the definition of justice to whether or not just...


... middle of paper ...


...n because he and Thrasymachus had agreed that justice is a virtue of the soul and that virtue of the soul promotes health of the soul. Thus, justice provides health to the soul. "Now did we not grant that justice was a virtue of the soul, and injustice a vice? We did. . . . Consequently the just man is happy, and the unjust man is miserable" (The Republic, Book I, 353d-354a).
Thus concludes Book I of The Republic and Plato's response to ethical egoism. It is clear that the beliefs of the ethical egoist go against Plato's social philosophy because they directly assault the idea of justice altogether―one which Plato supports and spends a lot of time defending. In The Republic, Plato was able to provide an explanation as to the best way to address the problems―political and otherwise―posed by the ethical egoist.



Works Cited
Plato. The Republic. Book I.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Psychological Egoism in Plato's Republic and Other Literature Essay

- In Plato’s Republic and in Rachels' Egoism and Moral Scepticism, the authors attempt to combat psychological egoism, which is the ethical theory which asserts that all human motivation is ultimately self-interested. Each author rejects the possibility of this being a valid conclusion of philosophical ethics, and each instead offers an alternate solution to the origin of human motivation. Whether we are capable of acting out of non self-interested ways directly affects the implementation of ethics around the world....   [tags: moral scepticism, human motivation]

Better Essays
1546 words (4.4 pages)

Plato 's Views On Morality And Justice Essay

- “Remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you…” (The Holy Bible NIV). Plato and Thrasymachus have polar opposite philosophies about morals and justice. Both philosophers deliberated heavily about how individuals should ethically and morally behave. Adopting a moral code achieves harmony in one’s soul and secures over all well-being. Plato was a dominant moral philosopher in the ancient world. In Plato’s time, Athens had been rocked by the Peloponnesian War and political chaos after its defeat by Sparta (Bagnall, 2006, pp....   [tags: Morality, Ethics, Jean Piaget, Moral psychology]

Better Essays
1011 words (2.9 pages)

Justice in Plato´s The Republic Essay examples

- In book four of Plato's “The Republic” Socrates defines justice in the individual as analogous to justice in the state. I will explain Socrates' definition of justice in the individual, and then show that Socrates cannot certify that his definition of justice is correct, without asking further questions about justice. I will argue that if we act according to this definition of justice, then we do not know when we are acting just. Since neither the meaning of justice, nor the meaning of good judgement, is contained in the definition, then one can act unjustly while obeying to the definition of justice....   [tags: Plato's The Republic]

Better Essays
565 words (1.6 pages)

The Republic By Plato Essay

- "The Republic" by Plato The Republic written by Plato examines many things. It mainly is about the Good life. Plato seems to believe that the perfect life is led only under perfect conditions which is the perfect society. Within the perfect society there would have to be justice. In the Republic it seems that justice is defined many different ways. In this paper I am going to discuss a few. First I am going to discuss the reason why Glaucon and Adeimantus see justice as being a bad thing and it is better to live a unjust life....   [tags: Republic Justice Plato Essays]

Better Essays
1084 words (3.1 pages)

Model of Justice in Plato's The Republic Essay

- Model of Justice in Plato's The Republic In what is perhaps his most well-known text, The Republic, Plato explores the fundamental concept of justice, how it is observed in the world, and its application to the lives of men. When he identifies the good in Book VI, which is reality and knowledge in their true forms, Plato also describes the visual world of shadows and false reality that people perceive and is cast by the sun. What follows from these definitions is that, while justice is a concept that exists autonomously from injustice and other fleeting conditions, injustice requires justice to be a medium for it to exist, develop, and spread itself....   [tags: Republic Plato Philosophy]

Better Essays
1719 words (4.9 pages)

Plato's The Republic and Aristophanes The Birds Essay

- Plato's The Republic and Aristophanes The Birds      It is evident, by Plato's The Republic and Aristophanes The Bird's, that one's vision of an ideal state is not the same mystical utopia. Plato's Republic is an well-ordered society that emphasizes the development of the community, which leads to its people believing in this philosophy. Cloudcuckooland, the idea of two lazy Athenians, is an unorganized society that lacks the substance to make it a workable society. I would much rather live in the organized Republic to the unorganized Cloudcuckooland....   [tags: Plato Republic Aristophanes Birds Essays]

Better Essays
1197 words (3.4 pages)

Justice In Plato's The Republic Essay

- Justice In Plato's The Republic Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “One man’s justice is another’s injustice.” This statement quite adequately describes the relation between definitions of justice presented by Polemarchus and Thrasymachus in Book I of the Republic. Polemarchus initially asserts that justice is “to give to each what is owed” (Republic 331d), a definition he picked up from Simonides. Then, through the unrelenting questioning of Socrates, Polemarchus’ definition evolves into “doing good to friends and harm to enemies” (Republic 332d), but this definition proves insufficient to Socrates also....   [tags: Plato Republic Justice Philosophy Essays]

Better Essays
999 words (2.9 pages)

Justice in Plato's Republic Essays

- Justice in Plato's Republic Justice. What is justice. In this world where many people look out only for themselves, justice can be considered the happiness of oneself. But because selfish men do not always decide our standards in society, to find a definition, society should look at the opinions of many. Just as in the modern society to which we live, where everyone feels justice has a different meaning, the society of Plato also struggled with the same problem. In this paper, I will look into the Republic, one of the books of Plato that resides heavily on defining an answer to the meaning of Justice, and try to find an absolute definition....   [tags: Papers Justice Plato Republic Essays]

Free Essays
971 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Plato's Republic

- Plato's Republic In Plato’s Republic, Glaucon is introduced to the reader as a man who loves honor, sex, and luxury. As The Republic progresses through books and Socrates’ arguments of how and why these flaws make the soul unhappy began to piece together, Glaucon relates some of these cases to his own life, and begins to see how Socrates’ line of reasoning makes more sense than his own. Once Glaucon comes to this realization, he embarks on a path of change on his outlook of what happiness is, and this change is evidenced by the way he responds during he and Socrates’ discourse....   [tags: Plato Republic Glaucon Essays]

Better Essays
1033 words (3 pages)

Plato's Republic Essay

- In reading the Republic, there is no reason to search for arguments which show that Platonic justice ('inner justice' or 'psychic harmony') entails ordinary justice. The relationship between inner justice and ordinary justice is of no importance in Plato's Republic. We note that Plato tries to argue from the very first book that the true source of normativity lies in knowledge attained by philosophical reason. What is crucial, then, is the relationship between inner justice and acts which brings about a just polis....   [tags: Philosophy Justice Plato Papers]

Better Essays
4423 words (12.6 pages)