Diversity Characters

This essay has a total of 1085 words and 5 pages.


In The Republic, Plato strives to display through the character and conversations of
Socrates that justice is better than just the proper good for which men must strive for,
regardless of whether they could receive equal benefit from choosing otherwise. His method
is to use the dialogue from Socrates, questions which led the reader from one point to
another, supposedly with convincing logic by obtaining agreement to each point before
proceeding to the next, and so constructing an intriguing argument.

In the beginning, his two listeners ask the question of whether justice is stronger than
injustice, the consequences of the two, and what makes the first right and the second
wrong. As a response, Socrates deals directly with the concept of the individual's inner
goodness and decency, but also ties it to his idea of the perfect state, which is a
republic of three classes of people with a developed social structure and little in the
way of recreation.

Although Socrates returns regularly to the concept of justice in his statements on the
perfect city-state, much of it seems off topic. One of his main points, however, is that
goodness is doing what is best for the greater good, rather than for individual happiness.
There is a real sense in which his ideals turn on the concepts of virtue, and his belief
that ultimately virtue is its own reward.

His first major point is that justice is an excellence of character. He then seeks
agreement that no excellence is achieved through destructive means. The function of
justice is to improve human nature, which is inherently constructive. Therefore, at a
minimum, justice is a form of goodness that cannot be involved in injuring someone's
character. Justice, in short, is a virtue, a human excellence.

His next point is that acting in peace with excellence brings happiness. Then he ties
excellence to one's function. His examples are those of the senses -- each sensory organ
is excellent if it performs its function, as the eye sees, the ear hears. Therefore, the
just person is a happy person is a person who performs his function. Since these are tied
together, injustice can never exceed these virtues and so justice is stronger and is the

However, Socrates does not stop there. He goes on to examine the question of the nature of
justice and the just life. He identifies the three of the Athenian virtues: wisdom,
courage, self discipline. For the bulk of the book, he looks at each virtue separately in
terms of the perfect state, but our focus is on justice. But he makes the point that
justice, resides in man's relations to other men, not just in man as an individual. So
justice which must be connected to the function of efficient and healthful cooperation.
Justice is in one sense the greatest virtue for it is key to making the other virtues work
together for the common good. If all the parts are to work together as a whole, each must
have on function to excel at. Like the organs of the body, all contribute to the whole,
but the eyes only see, the ears only hear. They do not share functions. Using this
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