Essay on The city

Submitted By essayreada
Words: 1662
Pages: 7

The topic of justice remains a debatable subject within the book The Republic of Plato. There are three definitions that have been discussed, including Thrasymachus a sophist whose view on justice is the "advantage of the strong", and Cephalus and Polemarchus' views on justice being "giving to each what is owed" or "helping friends and harming enemies". All of these views have been discussed and thoroughly debated, interestingly enough the majority of the commentary in the book consisted of Socrates criticizing the other characters definitions without mentioning his own explanation of justice. However, eventually he does bring up an interesting principle of specialization; in his opinion justice is state in which each person performs the role which they are naturally best suited for. For instance, a carpenter must only build thing and farmer must only farm and be concerned with agriculture. According to Socrates this principle of specialization allows everything to be done at the highest level possible. With this though in mind, Socrates begins to build the foundations of the “healthy” city. To contradict his view he also creates the “feverish” city to explain the repercussions of a city full of luxuries. In essence, the cities that Socrates creates provide insight into his political philosophy and definition of justice. For instance, in the “healthy” city only necessities of life are accepted like food, clothing, health and shelter. Thus, according to the principle of specialization the citizens of the city would be participating in their roles in the “producing class” because their role is to produce objects for use. Also, these craftsmen, doctors, and farmers must complete their jobs without interfering or engaging in any other role. Only in this way, Socrates is convinced, can everything be done at the highest level possible. The healthy city consists only of producers whose only role is to produce what is absolutely necessary for life. The advantages of this type of city are that if everyone is specifically assigned to a role that is best for them naturally they should be happy with their position in society. The citizens would be content with what they provide society with and this happiness would lower the risk of conflict. Since every citizen is responsible to develop a particular skill and to strive toward excellence at that particular craft the healthy city accepts their own natural abilities and acknowledges that each citizen does not have equal abilities. The disadvantages of this type of city are people do not have the ability to choose their own lifestyle, wealth or occupation. Much of the citizen’s lives who live in the “healthy” city would be predetermined from birth and this could lead to unhappiness. Glaucon points out that the type of city is impossible and he even goes on to call it the “city of pigs” since people naturally have both necessary and unnecessary needs. Continuing this further, he argues that people naturally have a desire to want more and crave r rich food, luxurious surroundings, and art. In a similar manner, based on Socrates definition of justice as a state in which every individuals performs a role that is naturally best suited for them” from his outlook there would be very little opportunity for injustice to occur. However, as previously mentioned citizens would only have on responsibility, farmer would farm and doctors would heal the sick, but the people who had multiple talents would be limited to one job and this can be considered unjust. In fact many people believe that “there is nothing worse in the world than wasted talent”. Socrates’ “healthy city is positive in the sense that it promotes selflessness and places a particular emphasis on only having what is necessary, however it is negative because its structure limits its citizens to fully explore and develop their talents and enjoy the luxuries of life. Continuing this further, it was obvious that Socrates had the right…