Is Plato's Republic Just? Essay

Submitted By izzyaf21
Words: 1017
Pages: 5

The “Just” City Plato sets out in his work, The Republic, to identify and define the meaning of justice and what true justice would look like in practice. Plato does this through the voice of his great teacher Socrates and in developing a cohesive definition for justice; he sets out to formulate the completely just city. This ideally just city is then used to define how the concept of ideal justice would look and be administered practically within Plato’s ideally just city. An admirable and truly difficult feat, through this formulation of the ideally just city Plato creates a situation full of inherent flaws and in essence creates a communistic city with a rampantly unjust caste system void of any form of equality or self-determination. This paper aims to serve as a critique of some of Plato’s major flaws within the creation of this ideal just city addressing namely the falsified caste system he creates through his myth of the metals and also addressing the downfalls of depriving the citizens of this ideal city autonomy and equality which would ultimately lead to injustice. Considering this work is aimed at defining justice and just behavior, it does not take long for injustice to rears its head and present early on an injustice situation dictated through the rulers of Plato’s ‘just’ city. The myth of the metals is an elaborate falsehood constructed in order to separate the people in the city into different caste based on primarily on a lie about each individual’s soul. The myth is essentially a story which dictates that a particular metal is inherently blended into the soul of each citizen and depending on the value of the metal a person’s place within the society is established (Plato, 91). The system is built so that those deemed to have gold blended into their souls would be most adequate for ruling over the city since they inherently are of a higher caliber then others within the city (Plato, 91). The next tier are those whom possess silver within their souls and they are best suited to be of the warrior or auxiliary class commissioned to protect the city (Plato, 91). Finally there are those of the iron or bronze souls whom will serve as the farmers and craftsmen of the city (Plato, 92). The myth allows for some small percentage of people to move across these lines due to their parents having produced a higher or lower caliber child but essentially this myth is made to stop breeding between people of different parts of society in an attempt at a eugenic like system where the goal of breeding is to produce the best offspring through the highest people of society (Plato, 92). Having summarized the myth of the metals, this falsehood would inherently lead to a plethora of issues first of which would be getting the citizens to believe such an outlandish justification for the formulation of the caste system. Beyond this first and crucial problem arise the unjust nature of peddling such an idea. Though Plato feels that within his ideal city everyone is to do what they are best suited to do; i.e. a seamstress and a salesmen open up a haberdashery, this overtly fictitious lie would only produce a timed explosion type situation where eventually rampant breeding across the caste lines would occur while also producing a system which would feed off of corruption from the top in order to maintain the status quo. Also seeing as the Republic is a manifesto of sorts with the aim at universal justice it seems odd that this myth would go against an important part, the allegory of the cave. Within Plato’s allegory of the cave he speaks of the importance of those who achieve enlightenment through understanding would instead of trying to enlighten there brothers produce their own cave of lies and caste the majority of a society into a darker cave built upon deceit (Plato, 189). Having addressed the problems associated with creating a caste system through a