PHI 100 Section 081 03/15/13
We as humans possess a very strong belief that moral righteousness and being just play a gigantic role in living a peaceful and harmonious life. It is in our best interest that we behave just. But we may ask ourselves the question why do we behave justly? Is it because we are afraid that we might become recipients of societal punishment? Or is it because we fear that we will be divinely disgraced in the hereafter? Or is it due to the dominant power of the upper class citizens upon the lower class people forcing them into submission in the name of law? Or is it simply because we behave justly knowing that justice is an act that is good in itself? Do we inculcate justice amongst ourselves having a blind eye to what its reward or punishment may be? All these questions are imperative that it be answered, that is why I shall aim to dive deep into this phenomenon using Plato as my mouthpiece allowing us to arrive at a solution. Hence, in order to start solving these questions we first need to understand “what is justice” (socratic elenchus), what is the definition of justice? Plato in “The Republic” defines justice in such a manner that enables him to defeat two challenges or problems that he is faced with; he must prove through such a definition that justice is good for its own self apart from its consequences. In order to get rid of these two challenges Plato defines justice in a way that it is grasped by the human psychology and not only by how behavior is perceived. In books 2,3,4 of “The Republic” Plato starts his mission to explicate first what is political and societal justice, explicating that notion he comes to explaining what justice is in an individual. So what do we mean by societal or political justice? Plato tries to crack this by stating that having justice in society or in politics is to have harmony in all its bodies. Therefore he argues that in order for a city to be ideal or just it must consist of three classes of people: The Guardians (rulers), The Auxiliaries (warriors) and The Producers (farmers, artisans etc.) He brings in this notion so that by explaining it one can understand how it relates similarly in what is to be just in the soul (individual).
So these three parts of the city can be regarded as solid building blocks that makes a city just and ideal. Now what does Plato mean by such a notion? Firstly, we must establish and come to an agreement that all these three parts of the city in order to maintain justice they must have consensus of opinion amongst themselves. As in they must agree who should carry out what duties they have been obligated to do. Each part must do their specified obligated functions and not interfere with others. Socrates the mouthpiece of Plato argues that every single individual has been created with natural abilities to carry out and execute only those actions, which they are most wholesome at. For example, The Guardians; it is in their natural capacity to rule and possess such knowledge that will benefit the city both internally and externally in relation to other cities. The Auxiliaries have been embedded with the ability to uphold the ruler’s judgments and convictions, and have preservations of belief on what is to be feared and what is not to be feared. Finally, The Producers must expose their natural traits of farming, carpeting, and blacksmithing etc. Having established this, we have now come to an understanding that the principal of justice in the city is for each one of these parts to fulfill their compulsory roles in society, which they are naturally befitted to do without interfering with the duties of others. So far Plato still hasn’t completely answered and dealt with the two challenges we mentioned on top, that, why is justice good in itself apart from its consequences. He concludes book 4 of “The Republic” continuing to solve this…