Socrates Justice of an Individual Essay

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Justice implies superior character and intelligence while injustice means deficiency in both respects. Therefore, just men are superior in character and intelligence and are more effective in action. As injustice implies ignorance, stupidity and badness, it cannot be superior in character and intelligence. A just man is wiser because he acknowledges the principle of limit. (Plato) That is the paragraph that exemplifies Socrates view of justice of an individual as seen in Platos The Republic. It expresses Socrates view that an intelligent man is one who recognizes his limits.

This is the result of the context of the time he was teaching in Athens. For Socrates, it was a time of extreme individuality and social degradation. This is also the reason why his expression of his disagreements with the Athenian Religion and outlook caused his death sentence. Upon Closer analysis of book III, one discovers that Plato is beginning to gradually introduce and refine the concept of justice. His view on poetry and literature necessitates the alteration of pieces of art and literature when these works of art run counter t the welfare of the state. This is done for the guidance of the guardian of the city/state.

In book IV, Socrates admits that the concept of justice is built-into the framework of the state. The individual is supposed to practice what he is best suited for. This idea means that in order to contribute to the welfare of the state, people are to Specialize and enter a profession to which they are adept and attuned to. It also in this book that Socrates reveals that justice for the individual and in the state run parallel to each other in the sense that the State is a macrocosm of the individual. Also, a further explanation of the concept by saying that justice is harmony.

Justice for the individual means the harmony of his parts (reason, appetite and spirit), in the same way that harmony in the state means the harmony of its integrated parts. Book V discusses what is evil for the state and for the individual. The chapter approaches evil as one which brings disorder to the state and the individual. There are however shortcomings in Socrates view on justice that make it untenable. The first is his view and understanding of the necessity of the revision of works of art and literature in order to omit what is inconsistent with the ideals of the state.

His purpose was that in order to better guide the guardians, past mistakes should be omitted in so as to prevent them from imitating these mistakes. What he fails to see is that these mistakes would allow the guardians to learn the lessons of the past in order to avoid committing them in the future. Book IV oversimplifies the capabilities of man by limiting him to the practice of what he is best attuned for this fails to recognize that man is capable of performing a wide variety of tasks, and that his abilities is not just limited in application to one profession.

This would involve the wastage of valuable human capacity and the limit that Socrates thought of as wise would be the exact opposite. Lastly, the evil that causes disharmony as explained in book V may not necessarily be evil. What if the status quo was in itself not essentially good for the state and the individuals? This reflects the extreme confidence that Socrates has in his perfect state. However, further study reveals, that it is not perfect at all.

This would mean that its citizens are to be trapped in an imperfect system with no hope for change.


Boston University. (nd). Platos Concept of Justice: An Analysis by D. R. Bhandari. April 18, 2007. http://www. bu. edu/wcp/papers/Anci/AnciBhan. htm Plato. 360 B. C. The Republic. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1999 Paul Cantagallo. May 27, 2000. Classicnotes. Gradesaver Washington State University. (nd). The Republic By Plato. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. April 18 2007. http://www. Classics. mit. edu/Plato/republic. 6. v. htm

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