Plato And Epicurus: What Makes A Man Just Essay, Research Paper
For many years, dating back to the first birth of man there has been the ultimate question of what makes a man just. This question has been pondered by numerous great philosophers. The question is varied to answer because of a multitude of opinions due to the nature of human diversity. Whether or not there is an objective answer to the question still remains a mystery. Plato and Epicurus have both given their detailed opinions of what makes one just. Plato believes that justness is something that comes from a more internal location dealing with the soul this disagrees with the idea that Epicurus holds which is justness is more of a physical or external matter. In this paper I will prove that Plato’s ideas on this subject are the more appropriate and more truthful.
The ideas that Plato instills are both detailed and distinctive, on the other hand he believes that actions do not necessarily justify a person but rather, he states that justness is more of an internal virtue. The idea he is trying to convey is that justness comes from the interpretation of the soul rather than the physical functions. The reasoning behind this is that if the soul remains just, then the resulting actions will reflect just ends. Once the fact that the soul must be just is accepted, the question arises of what qualifies the soul as just will need to be answered.
To answer this question, we must again refer to Plato’s reasoning behind the topic of the soul. When Plato suggests that the soul must be justified in order to spawn just actions, he means they have to be able to distinguish between a couple of different things. The first thing is the personal will or reasoning of the just man must be able to control his earthly desires and passions to avoid falling into temptation and losing control or becoming lost within those desires. While he does have to halter to the appeal of these desires, so to speak, there is some extent as to which these desires should be allowed to seek fulfillment. He must not starve himself of necessary or innocent desires that the soul has because they to must be allowed to perform there given duties or roles in the body. These desires are such things as the need for food, water, shelter, clothing and other fundamental needs to sustain a person as an individual. In addition to the reasoning and the fulfilling of necessary desires, another important needed factor exists. This factor is the presence of human emotions. The emotions in the soul must be allowed to exist as well as function properly in order to be healthy and allow openness to growth. The emotions and desires must never get out of control, reach insanity to the point were they master over the soul instead of the reasoning. The overall importance behind all of this would be the fact that man’s reasoning must remain stable over man’s abstraction in order for him to be looked upon as a just man. With these philosophies that have been explored and explained, Plato arrives at a very general yet relatively simple conclusion. That is, a just mans mind will overall be in order.
Epicurus also presents his insight of what qualifies a man to be just. His views on this subject are somewhat vague and do not entail as much description as those of Plato’s. To Epicurus justice in men is more reliant upon external stimuli and physical characteristics, both of which are very materialistic. In his beliefs concerning the nature of a person, he didn’t believe in any incorporeal soul, rather he simply said it didn’t exist. He says, “The just life is most free from disturbance, but the unjust life is full of the greatest disturbance” (Epicurus 22). This definition of justice is universal by it’s nature according to him. In the days of Epicurus, justice was considered to be a written argument between people that they would neither harm someone in trade for not being harmed. It was an extremely critical idea, as well as, a useful tool in the every day social relationships concerning the people of that time period. To Epicurus, the definition of justice was never anything except a written contract. Along with this injustice was something bad and that the people lived in fear of punishment from those who held the power to enflict it. He states that no one should break a written contract and not live in fear of being punished for any of the actions that he has committed to break it. Epicurus also discussed about nature’s justice and this focused on the previously stated fact of the contracts between the people. Therefore, the view that Epicurus held on the subject of justness or what made a man just, to him it was a very external thing based on environmental surroundings and physical being.
My opinion of what makes someone a just person is a very similar to the ideas that Plato has instilled in his writing. To explain myself further, I think there are a couple different things that I believe are necessary for man to be rightfully considered just. I agree with Plato’s ideas in that I think that the justness of a man is an internal process varying by each man’s separate personality. I say this agreeing with all the things that Plato stated as well as a couple of my one personal believes in addition to that. I feel that having a well-balanced soul is a very important part of being a just person. Being a just person is the result of personal experience incorporated with moral value. To build upon this, I believe that your first-hand experience in life contributes to your soul to the extent that it forms balance and equality in an entity that is so emotionally based on soul. Part of being just also deals with having a concern for others and I feel that in order to be a just man you must take into consideration your reasoning in compliance with the God-given rights and feelings of some of the people around you. The next thing that I think contributes to a man being just is the way that he accepts what comes to him and the way that he approaches the problems and the decisions in his life. In my point of view being a just person is something that every person is capable of doing, it is something that one decides for himself. I don’t think that a person is particularly raised or born to be a just man but that it is a personal or internal decision that is made over a period of time. These two great philosophers Plato and Epicurus both have their own views on justice and also on what makes a person just. By examining these I hope that I have made it clear what their stance on the position of justness was and also I hope that I made it clear what it means to be a just person. I also hope that I made it clear that I favor Plato’s opinion and that I also have some additional beliefs myself about what it means to be a just man.