Analysis of The Republic of Plato Essay Example | 1757 Words

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Analysis of The Republic of Plato Essay Sample

What is Justice? This question was presented throughout most of  Plato’s Republic. Without a clear definition of Justice, how can we build the ideal city and perfectly just community? Socrates let it be known the true definition of justice and what it will take for a society to live ideally. Plato’s republic offered the perfect rebuttal against political idealism and how it would lead to our demise more than help.

These two contradictions of building an ideal city versus losing political idealism have the potential of being one of life’s greatest questions that are still being explored today. When reading The Republic of Plato from Book I to Book V we are drawn to the true definition of justice. Many characters fail to realize this definition is simply for “one to mind its own business”(Bloom 111).

The first step Socrates lays out in building a just community is for the city to understand this and complete their everyday tasks and not involve themselves in others’ work. To quote he uses the farmer, the craftsman, the carpenter, and the blacksmith and how they must work to provide for the city. The second step is “providing for the soul of the city. In book II we learn about “musaic”; music for the soul. Poets who tell the tale not having to exaggerate the story. One other term we learn is “gymnice” (gymnastics) for the soul. We must at an early age practice these terms for us to advance in the city”(Socrates 54).

The third step to building a just community is to allow the society to adopt these “four cardinal virtues that have to put into place courage, wisdom, modesty, and justice.”(Bloom 105) On pages, 107-110 of The Republic of Plato sketches out where the different virtues are. The overseers are the wisest and the army has the courage and the artisans are to be modest.

We must have moderation and harmony amongst the people for the city to thrive. In book V we come across Socrates’ three waves for creating the ideal city. “The first wave is men and women becoming equal. The second wave, establishing system communism for women, children, and throwing away real marriages.”(140-147)

“For the third and final wave is the most radical and problematic it is for the philosophers to become kings and the kings to become philosophers.”(Bloom180) In book V of Plato’s Republic, Socrates lays out that there will be “no gender difference between men and women in the future. As quoted “women will be able to join the military, men and women will do jumping jacks in the nude”(Bloom 137). If the people can accept this ‘modern feminist ideology’ it will get us ready for the second wave of building a communist society. 

A communist city can be created by bringing in a degree of unity and making sure each has a certain job. The women and children will be separated and it will not be the woman’s job to raise them but in the cities, there will be no family bonds and the children will be trained to join the army. The last and most crucial wave is the theory of the philosopher kings. Philosophers can pick out what others cannot “the mind’s eye” and do not understand the difference between what is good and what is not.

The mind’s eye is a symbol for being able to see the meaning of the subject. What is being expressed by Bloom, is that all people live their lives as images instead of natural truths. The city recognizes and worships the Gods’ power and stories, but is unable to recognize reason.  

To look deeper into the idea of the Philosopher King one must go in-depth about the nature of philosophy. Having a Philosopher king is considered extreme because there has never been one in history. Philosophers have a certain kind of nature that makes them stand out.

They can lay out the blueprints of building the image of the ideal city. In The Republic of Plato, it states ” Those who have no clear pattern in the soul and are hence unable-after looking off as painters do” (Bloom 164). What this quote is saying is that the philosophers are the painters that look at the pattern of knowledge to make the perfect society, and see what is the idea of justice.

They can paint the picture for the people to allow them to gain the knowledge needed. Unlike the rulers at the time who are unable to recognize the divided line of intelligible vs sensible; understanding an image versus seeing an image. (Bloom 190) Idealism can be more of a risk than beneficial to the city.

Adeimantus, one of the characters that rebuttal against Socrates’s ideal city asks, “how can the people gain a moral understanding?”(Bloom 167) Socrates uses many examples to oppose political idealism. It is mentioned there might be a group with the capacity of being philosophic and will run into each other, but might have a weak constitution and only engage in books(Bloom 176).

Socrates tells a story of the image of the cave and sun in book VII. He expressed that “we are all in a cave together and that our necks and legs are bonded by chains and we don’t understand anything and see anything. Except for writing on the wall that represents artificial values and things. By nature, a man is drawn to the outside world and wants to be set free. His vision is to see a different image and therefore question his beliefs about what he should be doing. An excellent quote that came about is ” turned toward being” meaning turning toward what is.

The story then goes into detail about the man being dragged out of the cave and into the sun outside, but the question that arises is should the man go back down to the cave and tell the others of his experience with the possibility of being hated and looked down upon?”(Bloom 193-201)  This leads to the thought of the main idea of rejecting political idealism and opposing the universal. You can’t change people overnight.

If they are genuinely seduced they will be skeptical of the truth of what’s good versus bad. The next question that arises from Glaucon, Socrates’ companion in this story is, “wouldn’t the people want to stay, don’t they believe there is an aisle of blessing?”(Bloom 198). Socrates lets him know the people must remain up and not go back down to the cave and bring the others to the light because to help the city the philosophers must go outside the city. To conclude his theory philosophers must remain out of politics and not get involved in the necessities of the city.   

Political Idealism cannot be because the philosopher can not state justice is minding its own business, but yet offer this information to the people and expect them to understand right away. How will people know the right moral values and knowledge to know what is acceptable to fulfill their duties? When Socrates says “if the philosophers must leave the city to help it” it could turn the city into chaos.

The thought of having a philosopher-king can be a bad thing because the philosopher does not understand what will benefit the city versus what will not and therefore can not understand what the city needs to run efficiently. If the philosopher becomes the king they might become distracted in their research for more knowledge and leave the society to wander without purpose or direction, lost to think for themselves. 

The city will lose its way and forget everything they have learned and go back to its old ways. If the philosophers are to stay out of politics and let the city run itself it would allow a democratic society to form and the benefits of communism lost.

The citizens will fight for power to determine who has the authority to make the laws and regulations for the city to live by. The upper-class sophist will believe they should have control and the ordinary citizens will believe they should have a say. Plato’s Republic provided arguments against living in a political ideal society and how it can lead to the demise of its city and citizens. 

The two points of building a just community and ideal city versus the argument over political idealism is a topic that is still being explored today. In today’s society, people are afraid of anything that sounds like socialism. Efforts by democratic governments to address the extremes of poverty and wealth so that citizens are not deprived of the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and medical assistance are interpreted as socialism. These governments are not trying to take the means of production from private enterprises nor do they attempt to interfere in private ownership. 

The establishment of regulations to protect the public and the best interest of all parties in a given setting are required and should not be removed without careful consideration of the effects of their removal. An example of this is the regulations governing air pollution. A completely free market may allow industries to pursue policies that are economically beneficial to them but harmful to society.

Therefore the struggle between the wealthy upper class and the ordinary individual citizens has continued throughout the ages. Societies cannot be stable with masses of people deprived of necessities. Governments are still struggling to balance the age-old questions of justice and idealism. We are still striving to find a balance between a completely free capitalist society and regulations that protect individuals and promote the good of society.  

The cardinal virtues mentioned earlier in this essay are still the most important qualities that should be considered in choosing our leaders. It is the character of any candidate that should be given the most consideration. A well-trained mind that can look at problems in depth and judge the effect of any action on all parties. These are the qualities that Plato’s Republic wanted to convey as the requirements for leadership. 

Once the philosopher has left the cave and seen the sun is an obligation to share that light with others. Those who attend university and are allowed to study in their given field are obliged to use their knowledge for the benefit of society. Knowledge should not begin in words and end in words but be applied to advance the world. All should benefit from the light of knowledge.  

Allan Bloom. The Republic of Plato: Second Edition. Basic Books. 199

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main point of the Republic by Plato?

Describes the significance of being just in the world and how just leads to happiness. It is a text that describes an ideal city and a method for just and philosophical governance to create happiness.

What is Plato’s thesis in the Republic?

Plato focuses on justice and its application in societal institutions in the Republic. He describes his ideal society, with justice as the book’s main theme.

What is Plato’s conclusion?

Plato concluded that everything in our world is a copy of a perfect form that exists in a realm accessible only through contemplation. Plato’s premise, on the other hand, was primarily ethical rather than metaphysical.

What can we learn from Plato’s Republic?

It aims to teach us that justice is valuable in and of itself and that being just is preferable to being unjust. It is preferable to be just than unjust because the just person avoids misery and lives a happy life.

Who is Plato, summary?

Plato was a philosopher who lived in the fifth century BCE. He was a Socrates student who later taught Aristotle. He established the Academy, which many consider being the first Western university.

What are the four virtues in Plato’s Republic?

The catalog of later tradition refers to as “the four cardinal Platonic virtues” – wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice – is presented without comment at first.

What was Plato’s ideal society?

Plato’s ideal state was a republic with three types of citizens: artisans, auxiliaries, and philosopher-kings, each with distinct personalities and abilities. Furthermore, those proclivities reflected a specific combination of elements within one’s tripartite soul: appetite, spirit, and reason.

What are the main points of Plato’s ethics?

For Plato, ethics is two fundamental concepts: eudaimonia and arete. Plato teaches that we should all strive for eudaimonia, or “well-being.” The ideal person has eudaimonia, and ethics mostly describes what such an ideal person would truly be like.

What is self for Plato in your own words?

Plato, at least in many of his dialogues, held that the true self of humans is the reason or intellect that constitutes their soul and is distinct from their body. For his part, Aristotle maintained that the human being is a composite of body and soul and that the soul cannot be separated from the body.

Why should I be moral Plato summary?

We must be moral because failing to do so is a choice to be dissatisfied with oneself. For Socrates, virtue is the character strength that ensures happiness. Immoral acts erode our character by undermining our future ability to act freely and courageously.

How did Plato influence the world?

His writings addressed issues of justice, beauty, and equality, as well as aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, epistemology, and the philosophy of language. Plato established the Academy in Athens, one of the Western world’s first institutions of higher learning.

How does Plato define knowledge?

Thus, knowledge is justified, true belief, according to Plato. The Forms and Reason Because the truth is objective, our understanding of true propositions must be grounded in reality. These real things, according to Plato, are Forms. Their nature is such that rationality is the only way to understand them.

What is Plato saying about truth?

Truth, according to Plato, is dependent on being. Statements are true because the world is that way because of highly complex metaphysical structures and relationships. The kind being (along with other kinds) ensures the existence of forms. It allows forms to be combined with other beings in ontic predictions.

What does The Republic talk about?

The Republic, written in 380 BC, essentially consists of Socrates discussing the meaning and nature of justice with various men, speculating on how different hypothetical cities would fare under different forms of justice.

 

What are the 3 classes in Plato’s Republic?

  1. The producers
  2. The auxiliaries
  3. The guardians

What is the most important virtue, according to Plato?

Plato considered sōphrosynē, also known as sound-mindedness, to be the most important virtue.

What does Plato think about God?

According to Plato, God is transcendent—the highest and most perfect being—and one who fashions an eternal and uncreated universe out of eternal forms or archetypes. The imperfections in materials limit the order and purpose he gives to the universe.

Is the Republic by Plato a utopia?

Plato’s “Republic” is the first utopian novel, complete with a perfect city—Kallipolis. Since then, many thinkers have moved in the opposite direction due to Kallipolis’ totalitarian tendencies.

Why is Plato critical of democracy?

He claims that excessive freedom endangers democracy. He also claims that in a system where everyone has the right to rule, selfish people who care nothing for the people and are only motivated by their desires can rise to power.

Why is Plato so important?

Many consider Plato to be the greatest philosopher who ever lived. In philosophy, he is known as the “Father of Idealism.” His ideas were elitist, with the ideal ruler being the philosopher king. Plato’s cave parable, which appears in Plato’s Republic, is perhaps best known to college students.

What is Plato’s definition of philosophy?

Philosophy is a process of constant questioning, and questioning necessarily takes the form of dialogue.

What did Plato contribute to philosophy?

Plato’s Contribution to Philosophy: Plato shaped philosophy by formulating and debating many metaphysical and ethical issues. He developed a metaphysics of Forms to explain the similarities and resemblances among physical world objects.

What are the ideas of things in Plato?

As Plato described, ideas and the specific things of this world are inherently opposed. Ideas are universals, while specifics are individuals. Ideas are realities, while specifics are appearances. Ideas are known through reason, while particulars are known through perception.

How can you relate yourself to Plato?

Plato discusses the ‘true self in the context of knowledge and embodiment and holds that we acquire our true self when we activate our latent knowledge of the Forms. The question is whether our embodied existence does not present an insurmountable barrier to attaining this state.

What is Plato’s contribution to education?

Plato sees education as a means of achieving both individual and social justice. Individual justice, according to Plato, can be obtained when each individual develops his or her ability to the fullest. In this context, justice entails excellence. Excellence is a virtue, according to the Greeks and Plato.

What is Plato’s motto?

“Love is a serious mental disease.”

“When the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself.”

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”

What does Plato compare the world to?

Plato characterizes the physical world as a “dark place” where humans can only perceive objects through their senses. Plato referred to these objects as phenomena or weak forms of reality. As a result, humans cannot obtain knowledge of true reality in the physical world.

What does Plato say about justice in the Republic?

According to Plato, justice is more than just strength; it is a harmonious strength. Justice is the effective harmony of the whole, not the right of the stronger. All moral ideas revolve around the good of the whole—individual and social.

How did Plato feel about religion?

Plato believed there must be a measure of goodness to identify God as benevolent. He maintained an independent standard of ‘goodness.’ This became the foundation for Plato’s central idea, which corresponded to his concept of the soul.

How did Plato feel about democracy?

Plato believes that democracy is not the best form of government. According to him, equality attracts power-hungry individuals motivated by personal gain. They can be highly corruptible, which can lead to tyranny.

What was Plato’s theology?

Plato’s theological theories or other Platonism-related theories can be called Platonic theology. The ancient philosopher Proclus’ work Theologia Platonica

Is Plato a saint?

Yes,

Venerated in the Greek Orthodox Church Catholic Church

Do philosophers believe in God?

Most of philosophy isn’t concerned in any direct sense with God or God’s existence,”

Who is God God?

God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:15; Acts 7:32). He also describes himself as “I am.” By these two names, we know that God is both intimately personal and concerned with individual people he loves dearly, and he is the supreme being, even “being” itself

What is justice, according to Socrates in The Republic?

Socrates attempts to define justice as one of the cardinal human virtues, and he views virtues as states of the soul. So his understanding of justice depends on his understanding of the human soul. According to the Republic, every human soul has three parts: reason, spirit, and appetite.

Why is Plato called utopian?

Because Plato considers justice the ultimate form of good, the search for justice to live a ‘just’ life and his expectation for others to do the same is an argument for which Plato is a Utopian thinker.

Did Plato justify his idea of a perfect society to live harmoniously?

Plato defined a perfect society as one in which everyone coexisted peacefully and without fear of violence or material possession. He believed that political life in Athens was too raucous and that no one could live a happy life in such a democracy.

What was Plato’s utopian society?

Plato’s work is characterized by a consistent and passionate interest in the ideal form of society. The ideal community is one in which the citizens are content with their lives. Furthermore, they do not do so by prioritizing money, a comfortable life, or power, as most people in our societies do.

How does Socrates organize his ideal society?

Because a perfect society would run an ideal city, Socrates first examines the populace’s class divisions. According to Socrates, the perfect city would have its citizens divided into two distinct groups, the first being further subdivided.

What was Plato’s biggest theory?

The Theory of Forms, however, was one of his most influential contributions to philosophy. Plato’s Theory of Forms asserts, in essence, that the physical world is not the’real’ world; instead, ultimate reality exists beyond our physical world.

What is the main idea of philosophy?

It is a reasoned pursuit of fundamental truths, a quest for comprehension, and a study of ethical principles. It aims to establish evidence standards, provide rational methods for resolving conflicts, and develop techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments.

How do you think like Plato?

What does Plato’s allegory tell us about how we recognize things what does it tell us about what we see with our eyes?

That all we see is an illusion.

What is the main message of the allegory of the cave?

The Allegory of the Cave examines how our ideas and perceptions differ from life’s actual reality. It compares human knowledge to their ideas and beliefs and how others are treated.

What is Plato’s two-world theory?

ABSTRACT. Plato was thought to hold the so-called Two Worlds Theory (TW) in at least some dialogues, according to which there can be belief but not knowledge about sensible and understanding but not an idea about forms.

How did Plato view the world?

Plato’s Socrates believed that the world of Forms is transcendent to our world (the world of Substances) and serves as the fundamental foundation of reality. Forms are the purest of all things because they are superior to matter.

What is self for Plato in your own words?

Plato, at least in many of his dialogues, held that the true self of humans is the reason or intellect that constitutes their soul and is distinct from their body. For his part, Aristotle maintained that the human being is a composite of body and soul and that the soul cannot be separated from the body.

What is the main point of Plato’s Republic?

Plato’s Republic is a text that describes the importance of being just in the world and how just making one happy. It is a text that describes an ideal city and a method for just and philosophical governance to create happiness.

Why should I be moral Plato summary?

We must be moral because failing to do so is a choice to be dissatisfied with oneself. For Socrates, virtue is the character strength that ensures happiness. Immoral acts erode our character by undermining our future ability to act freely and courageously.

What are the main points of Plato’s ethics?

For Plato, ethics is two fundamental concepts: eudaimonia and arete. Plato teaches that we should all strive for eudaimonia, or “well-being.” The ideal person has eudaimonia, and ethics mostly describes what such a perfect person would indeed be like.

Does Socrates believe in God?

Socrates, like most Athenians, believes in God, but his understanding is quite different. While the gods are human-like and confused to the Athenians, Socrates believes God is perfect and wise. His God is morally logical. His God, too, serves a purpose.

Who is God, according to philosophy?

In religion, God’s existence is the belief that there is a supreme supernatural or preternatural being who created, sustains, or rules over the universe and everything in it, including humans.

What is said about God?

God is commonly regarded as the supreme being, creator, and primary object of faith in monotheistic thought. God is frequently thought to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent, as well as eternal and necessary.

How did Plato influence the world?

His writings addressed issues of justice, beauty, and equality, as well as aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, epistemology, and language philosophy. Plato established the Academy in Athens, one of the first institutions of higher learning in the Western world.

Why was Plato’s Republic written?

Plato’s school, known as the Academy, aimed to educate future Greek leaders on using reason and wisdom in ruling. Plato’s most important work, The Republic, was written shortly after he founded the Academy. In this work, Plato attempted to design an ideal society and government free of injustice and conflict.

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