Plato Essay, Research Paper
In my opinion, Socrates? analysis of the human natural is very true as it ultimately brings us his definition of Justice. I agree with his theory of the human natural but not his social-political theory. But In order to understand Plato?s theory of human natural and his social-political theory. However, 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 or some of us are just born stronger. For this reason, only the select few among us are supposed to know what is best for society and therefore becomes the ruler of everyone else. Our reasoning, sprite, and natural wants are all part of human natural.
In the book 1 of The Republic, Plato had several detailed discussion of the nature of justice with other speakers in a dialogue form. In the process of discussion involves Socrates? questioning, arguing against various inadequate theory that attempts to define the true meaning of Justice.
From the rich old man Cephalus, we learned that justice involves with telling the truth, and repaying one?s debts. But 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 friends who demands the return of his weapon, would be an instance of following the rule but would not seem to be just. (331C)
Then Polemarchus, Cephalus?s son attempt to define justice by proposing that justice means ? one should pay what is owed? Since the returning of refusing to return the borrowed weapon would clearly benefit one?s friend. But Socrates said that harm our enemies is only likely to make them even more unjust than they already are. (335b-336a)
After that, Thrasymachus came up with his own definition of justice 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 practices in anywhere depends on the type of government they have. Socrates does not disagree with the 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 may be leads to its own disadvantage, therefore Thrasymachus?s definition is also in adequate. 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. (342e)
Later, Gloucon suggest that human beings–given an opportunity to do so 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. His definition of Justice is that its an equal contract, a mean between what is the best-doing injustice without paying the penalty and the worse-suffering injustice without being able to avenge one self. (359a) Adeimantus narrows the discussion further by pointing out that that to have a good reputation of justice is more important than justice is itself, whether or not that person really does. (363b)
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 one individual. The focus Socrates is a perfect city, because the city will represent human soul. (369a) He 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. 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 idea city healthy opposite of a feverish city, Socrates states that the fundamental needs of human beings in the society are food, shelter, and cloths. From such needs, some additional exigencies emerge that become necessary only because of the needs of the defense of the city against external attacks or internal disputes. He proposed additional class of citizens, the guardians who are responsible for guarding the city. In order to fulfill their proper functions, the guardian then must have philosophy that gives them the ability to disguise the true and false, friend and foes, to avoid turning against their own kind due to external influences.
I think Socrates? social-political theory does follow his theory of human natural,
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. (473d) Guardians charged 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 venal 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 in what is best for all of its citizens. Education in the city serve to achieving the proper balance of society–physical training and musical performance along with basic intellectual development, and to get rid of human natural desire. 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 simulation allowed in the city. (395a-395b)
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 Form itself. Some of the arguments Glaucon and Adeimantus pose against the kind of life style Socrates promulgates was 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 the happiest group under such 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 held, the entire city as a whole will operate smoothly, exhibiting the harmony that is justice. Then, an human being is properly said to be just when the three souls perform their proper functions in harmony with each other, working in consonance for the good of the person as a whole. (443e)
The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of rights, which guaranteed each one the equal freedom before the law, gave us the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit if happiness, its the fundamental principles of our political system. With reference to that, Socrates? theory of the perfect society contracting to our political system and are not adequate for contemporary life. The reason is that even thought the model of the perfect city sounds good in theory, economic reality severely restricts the increases for greater financial independence and social equality. The former Soviet Union was the closest attempts of putting his Model City in practice but failed miserably, for example. Thus, even thought I agree with Socrates’ theory of human natural, I do not believe his theory of Perfect City is fitting for contemporary life.