Plato's Republic Why Do People Behave Justly  Term Paper

Length: 3 pages Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Term Paper Paper: #7962695 Related Topics: People, Discourse Community, Status Quo
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Plato's Republic

Why do people behave justly? Is it because they fear societal punishment? Or do they do so because it is good for them and thus society as a whole? Is justice, regardless of its rewards and punishments, a good thing in and of itself? How should justice be defined? Plato responds to such questions in the Republic and concludes that justice is worthwhile in and of itself.

In Book III of the Republic, Plato continues his discourse on "guardians" (373d-374e) as well as other roles that make up a society. In order to educate guardians so they can gain the necessary character traits, he notes the importance of music and poetry, with an emphasis on simplicity of style. These guardians will be motivated by beauty and the arts (401d-403c). Such studies of art and literature, along with physical training, will develop a just soul. By stressing the importance of a balance between physical training in addition to intellectual learning, Plato is stipulating that his ideal city is not an other- worldly institution for gods or all mighty individuals, who are above being concerned about the problems and imperfections of daily life. Rather, they remain aware of a combination of harshness and gentleness (410a-412a) that exists around them.

Plato also notes that some of the more educated and advanced guardians will become the society's rulers. Those "who are the most guardingly of the guardians." These individuals will do what is best for the city, since they are doing what is best for themselves, in order to maintain a just and stable community and promote conditions that will protect the city from both external and internal...


In addition to the guardians, are the producers, craftsmen, farmers and artisans and auxiliaries or warriors. Each group must only perform its appropriate function, and each must be in the right position of power in relation to the others. Rulers must rule, auxiliaries must uphold rulers' convictions, and producers must limit themselves to exercising whatever skills nature grants them, such as farming, blacksmithing and painting. Justice is a principle of specialization -- a principle that requires that each person fulfill the societal role to which he/she is fitted and not interfere in any other business.


In the Republic, Plato writes about the ideal city he would like to see. He is not speaking of a society that has already achieved this point of development. Rather, it is a city that with time and the recommendations he makes in Republic will be able to reach a stage where everyone is working together for a just, right community that is best for all concerned. This can only occur with the division of labor and each person fulfilling his/her particular role.

The important notion is that although this form of city appears difficult to attain, it can be done. Man has the capacity to establish this environment as long as the citizens are not unjust and dictatorial.

In the unfinished work Critias, Plato narrates a story of ancient Athens and Atlantis. Although the narration says a couple of times that the story is true, the reader must question if this is indeed so. Looking at this dilemma from…

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