Plato Socrates Analysis Of Human Nature And

Plato: Socrates? Analysis Of Human Nature And Justice Essay, Research Paper

In my opinion, Socrates? analysis of human nature is very true as it ultimately brings us

his definition of justice. I agree with his theory of human nature but not his

social-political theory. In order to understand Plato?s theory of human nature and his

social-political theory, we must examine each one of them closely. Plato believed that no

one is self-sufficient enough to live individually. Human beings are not created equally;

some of us are born wiser then the rest and some of us are just born stronger. For this

reason, only the select few (which would be the guardians) among us are supposed to

know what is best for the society and therefore becomes the ruler of everyone else. Our

reasoning, spirit, and natural wants are all part of human nature. In book 1 of The

Republic, Plato had several detailed discussions on the nature of justice with other

speakers in a dialogue form. The process of discussion involves Socrates? questioning,

arguing against various inadequate theories that attempts to define the true meaning of

justice. From the rich old man Cephalus, we learned that justice involves telling the truth

and repaying one?s debts. However, Socrates points out that this definition of justice is

inadequate because it cannot account for the instances of certain circumstances. The

simple example of returning a borrowed weapon to an insane friend who demands the

return of his weapon, would be an instance of following the rule but would not seem to

be just. Then Polemarchus, Cephalus?s son attempts to define justice by proposing that

justice means ? one should pay what is owed?. Not returning or refusing to return the

borrowed weapon would clearly benefit one?s friend. Socrates said that harming our

enemies is only likely to make them even more unjust than they already are and cause

them to make more unjust choices. After that, Thrasymachus came up with his own

definition of justice which is nothing more than the advantage of the stronger; those in

positions of power use law to decide what is right. The kind of justice practiced

anywhere depends on the type of government they have in power. Socrates does not

disagree with this view if the facts about the society are as Thrasymachus says they are,

however, he argues that sometimes rulers make mistakes. In that case obedience to the

law maybe leads to its own disadvantage, therefore Thrasymachus?s definition is also

inadequate. Furthermore, Socrates says that the best ruler must always know how to rule.

They should rule for the art of ruling, but not their own interest alone. Later, Glaucon

suggests that human beings, given an opportunity to do injustice without being caught

and therefore without suffering any punishment or loss of good reputation, would

naturally choose a life of injustice, in order to maximize their own interests. Glaucons

definition of justice is that it?s an equal contract, an approach between what is the best

(doing injustice without paying the penalty) and the worse (suffering injustice without

being able to avenge one self). Adieamantus narrows the discussion further by pointing

out that to have a good reputation of justice is more important than justice is itself,

whether or not that person really does have a good reputation of justice. In an attempt to

provide an adequate, satisfying definition of justice, Socrates tries to make an analogy

between the justice of individual human beings and of an entire society or city. Since the

crucial elements of justice may be easier to observe on the larger scale like a city than on

a smaller scale like an individual. Socrates focuses on the perfect city, because the city

will represent the human soul. Socrates began with a detailed analysis of the formation,

structure, and organization of this ideal city. He argues that since individual human

beings are not self-sufficient; no one working alone can acquire all of the necessities of

life by themselves. In order to resolve this difficulty, we gather together into society for

the mutual achievement of our common goals. If each of us specializes in the practice of

a specific art, we can work more efficiently. To make this ideal city healthy (opposite of

a feverish city), Socrates states that the fundamental needs of human beings in the society

are food, shelter, and clothes. From these fundamental needs, some additional

requirements emerge that become necessary only because these needs are a part of the

defense of the city against external attacks or internal disputes. Socrates proposed an

additional class of citizens, the guardians which are responsible for guarding the city and

keeping the city in order. In order to fulfill their proper functions, the guardian then must

have a philosophy that gives them the ability to distinguish the true and false, friend and

foes, and to avoid turning against their own kind due to external influences. I think

Socrates? social-political theory does follow his theory of human nature, he believed that

an ideal state, embodying the highest and best capabilities of human social life, could

really be achieved, if the right people are put in charge. Since the key to the success of

the whole is the wisdom of the rulers who make decisions for the entire city, Plato held

that the perfect society would occur only when kings become philosophers or

philosophers are made kings. Guardians would need the virtue of courage to carry out

their orders in the face of danger without regard for personal risk. The rest of the people

in the city must follow its leaders instead of pursuing their private interests. Plato held

that guardians should own no private property, should live and eat together at

government expense, and should earn no salary greater than necessary to supply their

most basic needs. Under this regime, no one will have any corrupt motive for seeking a

position of leadership, and those who are chosen to be guardians will govern solely from

a concern to seek the welfare of the state and what is best for all of its citizens. Education

in the city is needed to promote the achievement of a proper balance of society. Physical

training and musical performance along with basic intellectual development and the

ability to get rid of human natural desire would be needed to fill this position as a

guardian. On Plato’s view, it is vital for a society to exercise strict control over the

content of everything that children read, see, or hear. By excluding all the poets and

actors, there will be only one stimulation allowed in the city which is education. The

highest goal in all of education, he believed, is knowledge of the ?Good?; that is, not

merely an awareness of particular benefits and pleasures, but acquaintance with the

actual form of ?good? itself. Glaucon and Adeimantus pose some of the arguments

against the kind of life style Socrates promotes. They question Guardians? happiness

when they are separated from the general public. Socrates said that the happiness of the

guardian must be put aside for the sake of the city. However, he points out, the guardian

class should be the happiest group under such a system. Socrates? definition of justice is

when each of these classes performs its own role appropriately and does not try to take

over the function of any other class, Plato believed that the entire city as a whole will

operate smoothly, exhibiting the harmony that is justice. Then, a human being is only

properly said to be just when the three souls perform their proper functions in harmony

with each other, working in agreement for the good of the person as a whole. In

conclusion, it was found that the education of the guardians was necessary to keep the

city running and with their education you must devote their lives to persue the common

goals and good of the city. Once the individual and the other individuals in the society or

city were working in complete harmony only then would the circle be complete and

everything would run smoothly. However, in order to achieve this the guardian had to be

trained right and raised accordingly. The people must cooperate. Everyone would reap

the benefits from a perfect society.



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