In Plato’s The Republic, he unravels the definition of justice. Plato believed that a ruler could not be wholly just unless one was in a society that was also just. Plato did not believe in democracy, because it was democracy that killed Socrates, his beloved teacher who was a just man and a philosopher. He believed in Guardians, or philosophers/rulers that ruled the state. One must examine what it means for a state to be just and what it means for a person to be just to truly understand the meaning of justice. According to Socrates, “…if we first tried to observe justice in some larger thing that possessed it, this would make it easier to observe in a single individual. We agreed that this larger thing is a city…(Plato 96).” It is evident, therefore, that the state and the ruler described in The Republic by Plato are clearly parallel to one another.
There are three classes in the state and three parts of the mind in the ruler. The three classes of the state are the rulers, the soldiers, and the craftsmen. The three parts of the mind are the rational or reason part, the irrational appetitive part, and the spirited part. The rational corresponds to the rulers, the appetitive corresponds to the craftsmen, and the spirited corresponds to the soldiers. Socrates then explains how the four virtues, wisdom, courage, moderation/self-control, and justice play the same roles in a person as in a state.
The rational part of the ruler is wise and therefore it should rule over the other parts of the mind. Socrates questions, “…isn’t it appropriate for the rational part to rule, since it is really wise and exercises foresight on behalf of the whole soul…(Plato 98).” In th...
... middle of paper ...
...l war between the three parts, a meddling and doing of another’s work, a rebellion by some part against the whole soul in order to rule it inappropriately (Plato 100).”
Plato’s ideal ruler must have a good mind, always be truthful, have knowledge and discipline, and not be afraid of death. In short, the ruler is a philosopher that satisfies the four virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation/self-control, and justice. Plato, nonetheless neglects the fact that everyone sins and fails to mention it in the ideal state or ruler. However, the state and ruler was made up mainly to better understand the meaning of justice and was not made up so that it might be practiced.
Marra, James L., Zelnick, Stephen C., and Mattson, Mark T. IH 51 Source Book: Plato, The Republic, pp. 77-106. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 1998.
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