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.
While it might be intuitive to a person that there is a correlation between justice and goodness, Plato has substantial arguments to reveal the reason for their relationship. When considering the good, Plato defines it essentially as something which gives rise only to that which is also like it. He writes, “Then good produces good and is the source of happiness. / It follows that the good is not the cause of all things but only of good things. It cannot be blamed for those things which are evil.” (Plato, 75-6) The nature of the good is that it is the best state to be in, and as the best it must not produce anything bad. To do so would contradict its essence. Correspondingly, we consider something that is good to be ordered in such a way that it does not change from being the good to anything else. Plato claims that, by its definition, we hold the following to be true about goodness: “Then we ought to be able to assert a universal truth: everything that is well made in nature or in art is best able to withstand change from without.” (Plato, 7...
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...fe on earth the opportunity to do so. In the case of the totally unjust, whose loss of reason is incurable, they are kept below earth and not allowed to reincarnate because to do so would be a worse punishment than to remain in Hades. These souls would only stray further from the good and corrupt their realities further, living contently but never happily. Based on Plato’s model of justice, therefore, it is just to prevent these souls from reincarnation. We then understand that justice is the search for knowledge and its beauty through reason and virtue. Once we have found the good, we continue to use reason and knowledge to remain just. We do this because no other condition results in a better life in this one or the next.
Plato. The Republic. Trans. Richard W. Sterling and William C. Scott. New York:
W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.
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