Free Essay

The Guardians in Plato's Republic

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By lolouch
Words 6303
Pages 26
Just individuals :
In his book ‘The Republic’, Plato searches for justice within the individual and what makes a person ‘just’. By comparing his sense of what is just at a political level and what is just at a psychological level he suggests three virtues of the individual which will make that particular person just. The virtues of wisdom, courage and moderation are common to both a just and the fictional just city of Kallipolis. This artificial city has the pre-determined virtue of being just – he does this in order to understand what justice is for the individual because Plato thinks that ‘a just man won’t differ at all from a just city in respect to the form of justice; rather he’ll be like the city.’ (Republic 435b)
In the just city Plato creates three classes: the producers, the guardians and the rulers. Each of these three classes has a certain virtue it has to display to fulfill the ‘just city’ pre-requisite that Plato has placed upon Kallipolis. The rulers are required to exhibit wisdom so that ‘a whole city established according to nature would be wise because of the smallest class and part in it, namely the governing or ruling one. And to this class, belongs a share of the knowledge that alone among all the other kinds of knowledge is to be called wisdom.’ (428e-429a) The wisdom enjoyed by the rulers would be used to ensure that the city has ‘good judgement and [be] really wise.’ (428d)
The guardians (soldiers) of Kallipolis would be educated in order to absorb the laws in the finest possible way (430a) – ‘so that their belief about what they should fear and all the rest would become so fast that even such extremely effective detergents such as pleasure, pain, fear and desire wouldn’t wash it out.’ Their ability to remain focused is the virtue of courage – which Plato concludes will lead to justice within the city. The final class of Kallipolis – the producers – will exhibit the virtue of moderation so the city will be just. Plato thinks that moderation is crucial to the existence of justice because ‘it makes the weakest, the strongest, and those in between all sing the same song together. And this unanimity, this agreement between the naturally worse and the naturally better as to which of the two is to rule both in the city and in each one is rightly called moderation.’ (432a-b) The idea of harmony is crucial to Plato’s definition of justice, as justice to him means each part of society works together in the best way possible, with each part of society content to play out its particular role as best it can. As Plato explains: ‘Justice, I think, is exactly what we said must be established throughout the city when we were founding it… that everyone must practice one of the occupations in the city for which he is naturally best suited.’(433a)
Once Plato has found justice within the larger environment of Kallipolis he seeks to transfer it back into the human soul, which he identified as having more than one single driving force. Plato bases this assumption on the ability of a person to be indecisive about actions such as drinking when something in their soul forbids them to do so even if they desire it. This indecisiveness can be transformed into internal conflict between more than one part of the soul. Plato concludes: ‘…that they are two, and different from one another. We’ll call the part of the soul with which it calculates the rational part and the part with which it lusts, hungers, thirsts and gets excited by other appetites the irrational appetitive part, companion of certain indulgences and pleasures.’ (439d) Plato then identifies a third part of the soul, the spirited part, which is used to create emotions. Originally it was felt that this part might not actually be separate from the appetitive aspect of the soul, but when the appetitive part is fighting it is, in effect, waging a civil war against the rational part within the soul. In this scenario a person will get angry and reproach him/herself, in effect having the spirited part of the soul allied with the rational part of the soul.
At this point Plato uses his conclusions from his analysis of the three classes of Kallipolis as a metaphor to transfer their virtues to the individual, in order to discover justice within the soul. His statement that ‘we are pretty much agreed that the same number and the same kinds of classes as are in the city are also in the soul of each individual’ (441c) confirms the relationship between Kallipolis and the individual. It is therefore obvious to Plato that the rational part of the soul should rule, as the rulers in the city do, because they both exhibit the virtue of wisdom and can therefore exercise foresight on behalf of the entire soul. (441e) Similarly, just as the guardians assist the rulers in maintaining justice within the city, the spirited part of the soul will use emotions in order to maintain order and harmony within the soul – which is justice. These two parts of the soul will be able to control its appetitive part, which may, through its insatiable desire for money, attempt to overthrow its particular role and rule over the body and eventually the classes that it is not naturally suited to rule over. (442a) Consequently, justice in the individual and justice in the city would be overturned leading to chaos and war. The rulers and guardians exist in order to control and direct the producers who are the majority of the population, as the rational and spirited parts of the soul rule the desires of the individual.
Therefore a just person would be one with a spirited part of the soul that would persevere through pleasures and pains in order to carry out the rational part’s intentions on what should be feared and what should not. (442b) This ability is identifiable as the virtue of courage, which is evident in the guardians. Moreover, this pattern of parallel virtues between the city and the soul continues as a person’s reason is most able to make decisions about what is advantageous for each part and for the whole soul when he/she has the knowledge associated with wisdom. As a result the desires should be kept in a state of moderation by the rational part of the soul so ‘that the ruler and the ruled both agree that the rational part should rule and not engage in civil war’. (442c)
In conclusion, justice in the individual is similar to justice within the city – where a person ‘puts himself in order, is his own friend, and harmonizes the three parts of himself like three limiting notes in a musical scale’. (443d) In the city, justice is obtained by the three parts of society each fulfilling their role as best they can, and displaying the same three virtues of wisdom, courage and moderation. This leads to a harmony between the parts, the best possible combination, which is described as justice by Plato both within the city and within the soul. This should be obvious as, after all, a city is made up of many individuals.
Juste state :
One’s search for the meaning of justice in Plato’s “Republic” would finally lead to two


-Justice is Harmony. (book 4, 434c)
-Justice is Doing one’s own job. (book 4, 443b)

Finding these two phrases, however, is hardly enough to get a clear sense of what justice is. Plato offers two main analogies to examine the definition of justice. The division of parts in the soul as well as the parts of the state; We would now examine the structure of the soul. The soul is divided into three parts, the appetitive, spirited and the rational. The appetitive is the part “with which it lusts, hungers, thirsts and gets excited by other appetites” (4, 439d). It is the part of the soul that can be hungry for immoral gratification and has no rational consciousness in its desires. That leads us to the need of defining another part in the soul, the one that can keep the appetite restrained, the part that enables the soul to differentiate between good and bad. The rational part is the part in the soul that calculates, makes balanced decisions having the good of the whole soul as its interest. The third part is the spirited, the part of the soul that is courageous, vigorous and strong willed. The spirited naturally, if “it hasn’t been corrupted by a bad upbringing” (4, 441a), allies with the rational part.

By the account of the parts of the soul we are shown how a soul has different wills, yet in order for a soul to stay in the just path it must have some sort of hierarchy. Plato describes the spirited part as the courageous ally of the rational part which has the control over the appetitiveve part. Although the description of the soul might furnish an idea regarding the definitions of Justice I mentioned above, we should first examine the structure of the state.

The state is also divided into three types of people, the workers, soldiers and the rulers. It is obvious that that sort of division seems awkward when placed over our own capitalist society. We must keep in mind that in the republic that Plato is describing each individual is directed by vast education and the utmost care towards the work he could do with excellence. The children in the republic are separated from their parents at birth and therefore get the same equal chance of becoming workers or rulers without any prejudice regarding their upbringing or family background, rather, they are evaluated personally, purely according to their natural qualities.

The workers are the people that are best fitted to practice a specific form of labor. The part of the Society whose role is to provide food, clothes and any other necessities the state requires. They are required to be moderate and obedient to their ruler.

The soldiers are the people that are best fitted to fight, people that are spirited and that pass the tests of the state by holding firmly to the patriotic attitude needed in order to defend the state from foreign and domestic enemies. They most posses the virtue of courage and be well educated in order to stay loyal and not harm the citizens although they are naturally stronger. The rulers are people which posses the virtue of wisdom, they must not seek the glory and fame of being a ruler rather it should be perceived as the duty of those who are fitted to rule to take on the burden of ruling their state. The rulers are people that have the interest of the whole in mind, they love their state, they understand its rules and therefore will do everything within their power to preserve it.

The division of people into pre-determined types in the state is assumed to be done truthfully, according to their natural abilities. To soldiers who cannot understand what possessing wisdom means (because they lack it) or to workers that lack both courage and wisdom, Plato uses the “noble lie”. That is the idea that mother nature creates people out of three materials, gold, silver and bronze when obviously the golden people are fit to rule, the silver are fit to guard and the bronze are best naturally fitted to work.

Both the accounts have a similar structure, Plato claims that justice is the same in the soul and in the state. The resemblance suggests that both the workers and the appetitive share the virtue of moderation for they have to be moderate in their desires. Both the guardians and the spirited share the virtue of courage in order to guard the whole. Finally, both the ruler and the rational share the virtue of wisdom in order to control the workers and the appetitive, with the help of the guardians/spirited, all in one goal that is the good of the whole state/soul.

Would a soul that lets the appetitive part take over and commits criminal acts regardless of their consequences or allows the spirited to burst in irrational anger be considered a just soul? This rhetorical question supports the definition of justice as harmony. The condition in Which the rational rules, the spirited guards and the appetitive remains moderate while they all agree to this condition out of understanding that that is the best for the whole.

Could a state in which the cobbler rules, the guardian is a farmer and the natural ruler plays the role of a soldier be a good and just state? We must understand that in Plato’s state there will be no mistakes in the division of The classes . In order to understand the idea of a just state we must consider that each individual is practicing the very best activity he is naturally fit for. That society has the most talented cobblers, the most fearsome warriors and the wisest ruler, each practicing their part with excellence that is considered a virtue. Therefore contributing to the virtue of the whole state. In the analogy of the state Plato supports the definition of justice as “doing one’s own Work”. It becomes obvious that in order for justice to remain in the state each person has To do his own work and not meddle with another’s.

Now that we have found and understood Plato’s definition of justice, the question that inevitably has to be asked is how could this justice exist. In other words, why should the workers stay in their own work or why should the appetitive obey the rational. The answer to that comes in the form of both understanding and control. Ideally, all the parts know that maintaining the harmony is good for all and for the exception there are the guardians and the spirited to help maintain order. The main problem is yet ahead, who should be the rulers, who could be wise enough to rule and to keep the interest of the whole in mind?

To that Plato responds with his belief that justice will not exist in its full until the philosophers became kings and the kings became philosophers.
What Plato claims is that a king could rule in a just manner, therefore maintain justice, only if he has knowledge of the true form of justice. That is, true knowledge of the forms. The forms represent the ultimate truth, the way things really are in a more knowledgeable sight then the one offered by science.

In order to explain what the definitive truth is, Plato uses the analogy of the divided line. A vertical line, representing the condition of the soul, is divided into two unequal subsections. The low subsection is smaller and represents the visible, the high subsection represents the intelligible. Both subsections are divided again in the same ratio whereas the high subsection in each is longer. The lowest condition of a soul, be it out of ignorance, is the lowest in the visible. Consisting of images, shadows and the mere reflections of the objects they portray. This stage of the soul is regarded as nothing more then imagination. The second stage, still in the visible, consists of objects that previously were only known by their shadows and now, that the soul is in the stage of belief, it can see the objects as they really are (confined to the visible aspect). The third stage comes out of investigating, that is when the soul reaches for the reason things are and makes hypothesis based on the objects discovered in the previous stage. This condition of the soul is in the intelligible realm, consists of mathematical entities and is referred to as a stage of thought.

The fourth, and most tricky part of Plato’s analogy, is the understanding of the forms. In this stage the soul reaches an understanding far beyond the stage of thought, an understanding of the true forms. The true form of justice is one of them. Only after enormous difficulty and vast education can a soul reach this level of understanding. By the time philosopher-king’s soul reaches that intellectual height of understanding he is no longer interested in the common rewards of fame and fortune, rather he is occupied with the true forms and seeks to guide his people towards the truth and justice.

Once acquiring this knowledge of the forms, and only then, can a ruler be fit to rule in a wise manner for he is able to truly put the interest of the whole as his own. Thus, ruling in a manner where justice exists and is carefully preserved.

In his theory of justice, Plato defines justice in the two ways we have examined earlier. Supporting those definitions by the parts in the state and the soul and their interaction. The way justice should be is shown clearly both in the state and n the soul and then comes the claim regarding the philosopher-king which is the only combination of a ruler that is fit to rule both in the sense of a just state or a just soul.
Just individuals:

Why do men behave justly? Is it because they fear societal punishment? Are they trembling before notions of divine retribution? Do the stronger elements of society scare the weak into submission in the name of law? Or do men behave justly because it is good for them to do so? Is justice, regardless of its rewards and punishments, a good thing in and of itself? How do we define justice? Plato sets out to answer these questions in the Republic. He wants to define justice, and to define it in such a way as to show that justice is worthwhile in and of itself. He meets these two challenges with a single solution: a definition of justice that appeals to human psychology, rather than to perceived behavior.

Plato’s strategy in the Republic is to first explicate the primary notion of societal, or political, justice, and then to derive an analogous concept of individual justice. In Books II, III, and IV, Plato identifies political justice as harmony in a structured political body. An ideal society consists of three main classes of people—producers (craftsmen, farmers, artisans, etc.), auxiliaries (warriors), and guardians (rulers); a society is just when relations between these three classes are right. Each group must perform its appropriate function, and only that function, and each must be in the right position of power in relation to the others. Rulers must rule, auxiliaries must uphold rulers’ convictions, and producers must limit themselves to exercising whatever skills nature granted them (farming, blacksmithing, painting, etc.) Justice is a principle of specialization: a principle that requires that each person fulfill the societal role to which nature fitted him and not interfere in any other business.

At the end of Book IV, Plato tries to show that individual justice mirrors political justice. He claims that the soul of every individual has a three part structure analagous to the three classes of a society. There is a rational part of the soul, which seeks after truth and is responsible for our philosophical inclinations; a spirited part of the soul, which desires honor and is responsible for our feelings of anger and indignation; and an appetitive part of the soul, which lusts after all sorts of things, but money most of all (since money must be used to fulfill any other base desire). The just individual can be defined in analogy with the just society; the three parts of his soul achieve the requisite relationships of power and influence in regard to one another. In a just individual, the rational part of the soul rules, the spirited part of the soul supports this rule, and the appetitive part of the soul submits and follows wherever reason leads. Put more plainly: in a just individual, the entire soul aims at fulfilling the desires of the rational part, much as in the just society the entire community aims at fulfilling whatever the rulers will.

The parallels between the just society and the just individual run deep. Each of the three classes of society, in fact, is dominated by one of the three parts of the soul. Producers are dominated by their appetites—their urges for money, luxury, and pleasure. Warriors are dominated by their spirits, which make them courageous. Rulers are dominated by their rational faculties and strive for wisdom. Books V through VII focus on the rulers as the philosopher kings.

In a series of three analogies—the allegories of the sun, the line, and the cave—Plato explains who these individuals are while hammering out his theory of the Forms. Plato explains that the world is divided into two realms, the visible (which we grasp with our senses) and the intelligible (which we only grasp with our mind). The visible world is the universe we see around us. The intelligible world is comprised of the Forms—abstract, changeless absolutes such as Goodness, Beauty, Redness, and Sweetness that exist in permanent relation to the visible realm and make it possible. (An apple is red and sweet, the theory goes, because it participates in the Forms of Redness and Sweetness.) Only the Forms are objects of knowledge, because only they possess the eternal unchanging truth that the mind—not the senses—must apprehend.
Only those whose minds are trained to grasp the Forms—the philosophers—can know anything at all. In particular, what the philosophers must know in order to become able rulers is the Form of the Good—the source of all other Forms, and of knowledge, truth, and beauty. Plato cannot describe this Form directly, but he claims that it is to the intelligible realm what the sun is to the visible realm. Using the allegory of the cave, Plato paints an evocative portrait of the philosopher’s soul moving through various stages of cognition (represented by the line) through the visible realm into the intelligible, and finally grasping the Form of the Good. The aim of education is not to put knowledge into the soul, but to put the right desires into the soul—to fill the soul with a lust for truth, so that it desires to move past the visible world, into the intelligible, ultimately to the Form of the Good.

Philosophers form the only class of men to possess knowledge and are also the most just men. Their souls, more than others, aim to fulfill the desires of the rational part. After comparing the philosopher king to the most unjust type of man—represented by the tyrant, who is ruled entirely by his non-rational appetites—Plato claims that justice is worthwhile for its own sake. In Book IX he presents three arguments for the conclusion that it is desirable to be just. By sketching a psychological portrait of the tyrant, he attempts to prove that injustice tortures a man’s psyche, whereas a just soul is a healthy, happy one, untroubled and calm. Next he argues that, though each of the three main character types—money-loving, honor-loving, and truth-loving—have their own conceptions of pleasure and of the corresponding good life—each choosing his own life as the most pleasant—only the philosopher can judge because only he has experienced all three types of pleasure. The others should accept the philosopher’s judgment and conclude that the pleasures associated with the philosophical are most pleasant and thus that the just life is also most pleasant. He tries to demonstrate that only philosophical pleasure is really pleasure at all; all other pleasure is nothing more than cessation of pain.

One might notice that none of these arguments actually prove that justice is desirable apart from its consequences—instead, they establish that justice is always accompanied by true pleasure. In all probability, none of these is actually supposed to serve as the main reason why justice is desirable. Instead, the desirability of justice is likely connected to the intimate relationship between the just life and the Forms. The just life is good in and of itself because it involves grasping these ultimate goods, and imitating their order and harmony, thus incorporating them into one’s own life. Justice is good, in other words, because it is connected to the greatest good, the Form of the Good.

Plato ends the Republic on a surprising note. Having defined justice and established it as the greatest good, he banishes poets from his city. Poets, he claims, appeal to the basest part of the soul by imitating unjust inclinations. By encouraging us to indulge ignoble emotions in sympathy with the characters we hear about, poetry encourages us to indulge these emotions in life. Poetry, in sum, makes us unjust. In closing, Plato relates the myth of Er, which describes the trajectory of a soul after death. Just souls are rewarded for one thousand lifetimes, while unjust ones are punished for the same amount of time. Each soul then must choose its next life.
In order to clearly understand why Plato seems to find democracy and the democratic soul so objectionable one must first understand the definition of what democracy means. Platos discord with democracy does not concern the democracy we know today nor does it directly concern Athenian democracy. Rather, it is the Form of democracy in which he criticizes. For a Greek (man), democracy, meant the rule of the people in a much more literal sense than it does for the citizens of most of the modern states which claim to be democracies.

Platos charge against democracy is simply that it violates the proper order of society by creating an artificial equality. His fundamental criticism of democracy is (essentially) that it is an irrational form of the constitution. It is based on the assumption that every citizen is equally entitled to a say in political affairs, no matter how unsuited he is in terms of ability, character or training . Basically no matter how ignorant a person may be, they still could find themselves playing a significant role in public affairs. The key to a successful political career lay in being able to speak persuasivelyfor this reason the art of oratory or public speaking came to be highly valued.

A system where value and merit are disregarded and instead unconditional equality promoted disgusted Plato. Plato and Socrates both felt that all people were born with knowledge but that not all people were in touch with the knowledge they possessed. It was through a process of questioning that simply made them recall what was already ingrained. Plato throughout the book rejected the idea that all men are equals. Instead of supposing every man is innately good, Plato holds that every man has a right to pursue the good. Socrates and Plato both believed with much support that all men should strive to reach the highest forms knowledge.

Socrates believed in three parts of the individual soul- sensation, emotion, and intelligence. Each part must function in moderation to contribute to the health of the whole. Desire must be inferior to reason, or else it will throw the individual out of balance and lead him into injustice and unhappiness. Emotion can also master desire with the alliance of reason. This alliance according to Socrates is similar to the rulers and guardians of the state. Therefore, the individual is a sort of miniature state, and justice in the soul is like justice in the state. On the contrary, the situation of the unjust, whether state or individual, desires hold a tyranny. Because of a lack of internal control, outside things move the unjust person/state around at will. The unjust ends up living a life of fear and anxiety, the essence of being out of control. Socrates states that only the man of reason has pure pleasures. All others have varying degrees of unhappiness. By equating the philosopher with the man of pure reason, he sets up a situation where proof is not so much necessary for any of his points as it is to say that the philosopher, the only one who sees clearly, says so. It is these men, the philosophers, who best understood the harmony of all parts of the universe were closest to God and that only they were capable of creating a harmonious and just society. These philosophers, he believed, would agree and get along with each other with equal harmony rather than break into hostile faction.

Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils- nor the human race as I believe, - and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.

Socrates and Plato also believed that man was not self-sufficient, they believed man would be most happy living in a State. They also believed that all men wanted to live the truly good life where they could be in tune with the truth and achieve their ultimate goals. Plato believed A State comes into existence because no individual is self-sufficing. This indicates the importance of a State to an individual according to Plato.

Plato had specific ideas of an ideal society based on ideas of Socrates, a society able to provide a livelihood for its people, a society free of what he saw as the self-serving individualism and commercialism of Athens, and a society unified by a harmony of interests. Socrates account of the ideal regime and its characteristics is based around a revolution of one man; the philosopher. For the ideal regime to come into existence, one enlightened individual must first see the light and rise above the conventional lies and perversions of the truth which litter mans life and live a life of philosophy and search for the truth.

The inherent flaw in democracy is precisely that the masses who dont have access to the Form of the Good are in possession of political power in the city, for what appears as equality in democracy is the negation of social order and social hierarchy, and what appears as liberty in democracy is the negation of social type and social training. Plato deems the perfectly just city as possessing social order, social hierarchy, social type and social training therefore regarding democracy as the negation of justice.

Platos ideas, philosophies and beliefs are extremely detailed ranging from his thoughts on an ideal person and how that person should live life to his beliefs in what an ideal society consists of. He distrusted democracy and believed that it would eventually evolve into a tyranny as people who do not know just from unjust run it. It seems Plato disagreed with everything in his world, he became convinced that the way people went around living was wrong and that if they only knew the truth, or what he believed, then a much more peaceful society would be formed. In the Republic, Plato has many ideals, but in reality ideals are not reality. I dont believe life is supposed to exemplify societies ideals because there is no way to know what a perfect life would consist of. It is possible to theorize and philosophize but at the end of the day what you still are left with is a society of people who all think differently, and who all have individual morals and beliefs on the purpose of life. It is these differences I believe that make the world the interesting and diverse place it is today.
Equality men and women:
Plato’s view on feminism is further entrenched by the views he held 1) that woman’s biology ought not to settle the question of her destiny and (2) that women’s intelligence and reason ought to be called upon in the running of the state. These two served as the basis for believing that to a certain extent Plato supports the feminists’ views.
In book 5, Plato discusses the possibility of equality among men and women. He does not want to limit the woman’s role as merely inferior to that of man. Just because the women’s bodies are made differently do not necessarily follows that it would make them different from and inferior to men. As a matter of fact, Plato believes that some women are capable of being equal to the best of men if not superior. Due to that, the best state must provide women the opportunity to govern. This chance should not be withhold upon women on the basis of gender alone.
In Book 5 of Plato’s Republic, Socrates suggests that women have the makings of becoming effective guardians or having the ability to fulfill the role of philosopher-rulers of the state just like men. This view might be unpopular even opposed by most men during Plato’s time because this was not the custom uphold in that period of Athenian society and history. Women were then treated as properties and often viewed as inferior to men in status. n keeping with Plato’s view on inegalitarianism, he delineates the principles behind a society rooted in justice: 1) different kinds of people have different natures and 2) both individuals and the state are best served if people perform the functions for which their natures, complemented by the appropriate education, best suit them. People need other people because one could not everything well. As a matter of fact, everyone can only do one thing well. Justice is existence of harmony in such conditions. It necessarily follows then that Plato believes that by virtue of justice men and women are supposed to fulfill different responsibilities and functions which are not necessarily determined by their gender. Gender therefore is irrelevant to the state of soul of a person. The soul is an innate aspect of the person, one which is not dictated upon by society or gender but by the individual inclinations or the manifestations of the soul. The person is born with the kind of soul he or she has and her/his amount of responsibility depends on the type of soul he/she has whether ruler, auxiliary or multitude. For instance, if a man and woman have a physician’s soul then they have the same nature irregardless of the fact that they don’t have the same gender.
In book 5 of the Republic Socrates maintains that there is no reason women should be excluded among the philosopher-rulers. This is in consonance with the principle that “different pursuits to different natures and the same to the same”. A man’s virtue then is not brought about by his sex. Virtue is virtue regardless of the person’s gender.
Plato asserts that no facts about a person’s body imply facts about the person’s nature or soul. Even if some bodily facts reveal something about the person’s nature, their sexuality is not one of these facts. Plato then believes that the soul/body distinction allow him to “see beyond” a person’s sex. The soul and body then are two different kind of things.
The reason why this statement is considered contradictory is due to the fact that he often makes comments on what he viewed as the shortcomings of womanhood. Plato often utilizes the female gender as a way to stress his philosophical point. Plato adheres to the belief that the soul is more important than the body. Paying too much attention to bodies will corrupt the soul. As an example to this he points to the women as the embodiment of corrupted souls. Women are believed to be the vain kind. They are believed to be more interested in the pursuit of beautifying one’s appearance instead of enriching the soul. Women also, more often than not, allow emotions to overpower their reason. This is the weakness Plato is pointing out in his examples that he believes is often embodied by a woman. Women have the tendency to use emotion rather than reason. “A woman , young or old or wrangling with her husband, defying heaven, loudly boasting, fortunate in her own conceit, or involved in misfortune or possessed by grief and lamention” provides a poor role model for a young man and the worse model is “a woman that is sick, in love or in labor” (Republic 395).
According to Plato to have more concern for the body than the soul is to act like a woman. The opposing views that Plato holds on women are due partly to his drive to make a clear distinction between the soul and the body and not necessarily on the gender of the person. It is not an assessment of the sex of a person but rather on preaching on the significance of soul as personalized by the characteristics of men and women. about who is fit to be a ruler of the state, what matters is not whether you are male or female but what kinds of pursuits you are suited for, what kinds of activities you can do well, and how you respond to challenges to self-control. What matters is not what kind of body you have, but what you do with it, and how well you can control it.…...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Plato's Philosophy

...Gradiene S. Tandoc Mariah Janey Vicente PLATO’S WORKS and WRITINGS Plato wrote extensively and most of his writings survived. His works are in the form of dialogues, where several characters argue a topic by asking questions of each other. Why do you think Plato choose this form of writing (dialogue)? These may be the possible reasons: 1. This form allows Plato to raise various points of view and let the reader decide which is valid. 2. The use of character and conversation allowed Plato to awaken the interest of his readers and therefore to reach a wider audience. 3. The dialogue form allows Plato's evident interest in pedagogical questions (how is it possible to learn? what is the best way to learn? from what sort of person can we learn? what sort of person is in a position to learn?) to be pursued not only in the content of his compositions but also in their form. 4. Plato evidently enjoys creating a sense of puzzlement among his readers, and the dialogue form is uniquely suited to this goal. CHRONOLOGY The exact order in which Plato's dialogues were written is not known, nor is the extent to which some might have been later revised and rewritten. However, there is enough information internal to the dialogues to form a rough chronology. The dialogues are normally grouped into three fairly distinct periods, with a few of them considered transitional works. The generally agreed upon modern ordering is as follows: early, middle, and late......

Words: 880 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Plato Republic

...Written by Plato, The Republic strives to answer the question ‘What is Justice?’ Unlike other dialogues starring Socrates, The Republic provides an answer for the question being posed, instead of leaving readers puzzled. Using Socrates as a mouth piece, Plato creates a formula to define justice using an ideal society, the soul of an individual in an ideal society, and the greek social virtues. By using a mathematical argument to link the tasks in society, with the parts of the soul, and matching them to social virtues, Plato is able to provide an acceptable definition of justice that embodies both the ideals of a society and of an individual. In order to locate justice, Plato performs a though experiment where he creates an ideal society. In the ideal society everyone has a merit-based assignment. Plato states that in the perfect society there are three categories of people. There are the rulers, the auxiliaries, and the craftsmen. The rulers are in charge of ruling the ideal society, the auxiliaries are in charge of policing the ideal society, and the craftsmen are in charge of creating the basic tools to fulfill society’s needs. In Greece many accept that in an ideal society there are four standard virtues: wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. Plato argues that since his society is ideal the standard virtues must be within the society. He also argues that if we are able to locate the standard values in society we will be able to locate justice. Plato uses an......

Words: 1441 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Plato's Cave and the Matrix

...1. Reflect upon Plato’s account of the experience of the prisoner who is freed from his chains in The Republic. Do you agree with Morpheus in the Matrix that most people prefer to remain in the prisons of their minds? Please show evidence that you have carefully read the primary text(s) and viewed the film clip(s). The intent of this paper is to display the scope of the question “what is reality?” in relation to Plato’s arguments in ‘The Republic’ and the theories and inferences put forth in the film ‘The Matrix’. I will discuss the extent to which reality may be more than what appears ‘real’ to us, and I will also address the logic behind the human desire for security through examination my own thought processes. In the Plato’s Cave scenario in The Republic, the prisoner who is freed from his shackles is taken from his own world, the world as he has always known it and lead to enlightenment through the discovery of a new, better world. He is coming from a place where he is happy in his knowledge of his surroundings. When he is shown the world as it really is, he is leaving what he once believed was the only version of reality. He is shown that what he has experienced in the Cave was governed by other forces. As people, we are both enlightened and unenlightened on this matter. What is to say that we are not the prisoner? We are perfectly happy to live in the state in which we find ourselves right now, so thoughts of leaving our secure reality can be daunting. Could we not......

Words: 875 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

The Guardians in Plato’s Republic

...have to work together for its general well being. Here, Plato defines three social classes that constitute a society: the guardians that have the wisdom; the auxiliaries that have the courage, and the workers that have the temperance. These three social classes are compared to the components of the soul that are the reason, the spirit, and the desire. Guardians are believed to represent the reason in the soul since they are supposed to use their minds in order to make the right decisions that will promote the well being of the society. Auxiliaries represent the courage of an individual because they are supposed to protect the society from outside dangers. Finally, workers are compared to the desire that pushes individuals to commit or pursue irrational acts. For Plato, a successful just society is one in which the guardians control or rule using reason, the auxiliaries protect the society’s wealth and territory from outside attacks though their courage; while workers will moderate their desires. Therefore, guardians are considered to be as moral experts that have a philosophical thinking, which means that they have the necessary knowledge to ask the right questions about human life and assess what is best for the society as a whole. They are compared to dogs for their intelligence, loyalty, courage and strength; and they are supposed to educate in Plato’s Society in order to establish justice. They need to establish a good educational system that fulfills the needs of every......

Words: 3041 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay

Plato's Cave

...ts 4. What is your understanding of Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’? Plato’s Allegory of the Cave illustrates the long and arduous journey that is undertaken on the road to true enlightenment. The influence of Socrates is prevalent throughout the text. Socrates, who was Plato’s mentor, was ‘committed to a life that cultivated wisdom’. (Lecture Notes) The pursuit of Truth (The Allegory of the Cave) is one way in which we become wise. I agree with the Allegory to a certain extent. I do believe that people can have a fear of the unknown and can therefore remain static or ignorant as it were. However, I also believe that many people, and in particular children, are naturally inclined to explore and question and therefore further their knowledge, which is at odds with the prisoner as presented to us in the Cave. The first thing that must be done when discussing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is to ask ourselves what it represents. Firstly, it’s important to point out that it is told by Plato in the context of education. The Allegory is a metaphor for the journey people must take on the road to true enlightenment or in order to gain true knowledge. He utilises the Allegory as a way to explain his theory of forms and his differing views of illusion and reality. The prisoners are living in a world in which they ‘can only look straight ahead of them and can’t turn their heads’. (Plato, 1955, p.256) In this sense, we see what we are told to see and we believe/accept it without ever......

Words: 833 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Plato's Unjust Society

...In this essay, I will argue that Plato’s suggestion of diminishing families by having the Guardians take away and raise the children of the city is in fact, unjust. The point that Plato is addressing seems unfair to the citizens that reside in the city. It also seems a little unnecessary. First Aristotle critiques Plato’s argument by stating that when children are raised by the community, they will not be taken care of because “what is common to many is taken least care of.”1 Plato’s reasoning behind the Guardians raising children is that it helps the society remain Just. However, Plato does not realize the downfalls of this decision. Such downfalls include citizens wondering whom their ancestors and relatives are as well as a lost sense of family ties and ownership. These types of relationships can help the city grow more than Plato anticipates. Family relationships also help strengthen relationships with friends. Having a family creates a sense of pride and ownership for those in the family. Without a family to look out for, one’s sense of self-worth diminishes. If the city wants to flourish, they must start at the family level. Plato does not realize this. Therefore, he removes the sense of family and property ownership and as a result, the idea of creating a Utopia is nearly impossible. In an egalitarian society, having a family and fellowship promotes gains in society. Self-worth is promoted when individuals have these bonds and a family to provide for. ......

Words: 693 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Plato’s Cave

...Simon Blackbum on Plato’s cave Plato was one of the followers of Socrates. The most famous dialogue called “The republic” describes his perfect world that is utopia. He believes that the physical world is illusion and knowledge is directed towards the good thing around the world. “Allegory of the cave ” found in the republic and appearances the theory of forms, that is explains life as composed of two worlds. The physical world is known thorough our experience or sense, and mental world is know though your imagination or mind. According to Plato’s cave theory, the story was written about 2400 years ago. There are groups of prisoner living in a black cave, who cannot move or leave the cave, because they were locked in that cave. Therefore, these people do not have any opportunity to feel the real world and all they see was just the image of the shadow. Accidentally, one of them escaped the chains and had a chance to get out of the cave. He realize that the real world contain lots of unknown things such as sun, moon etc. Finally, he went back to cave and tell the prisoner what was the real world look like, but everyone was unexpected and totally think that people was stupid than before. They are trying to kill that people who leave the cave. By reading this story, I would like to talk about some point of views about this article. I think all human beings should not always believe what they see, because seeing is not always true. For example, prisoners were living in the......

Words: 516 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Reflection Paper on Plato’s Republic

...Reflection Paper on Plato’s Republic According to Plato, a perfect society is a society that is organized in a superlatively efficient way, a society, which some scholars consider as an aristocratic government (Phylosophypages, 2001). Plato had it that such a society is made up of the rulers, the soldiers, and the people. In this perfect society, Plato claimed that the guardians of the state are supposed to be people with skills to lead. He was however, incredulous by the fact that this may not be achieved in the future of the perfect society. To this fact he gives an ingenious riposte, such societies will be under the guardianship of the offspring of the current guardians. That means what the future society will be under the guardianship of a not skill but the benefits of inheritance. In such a society, dissatisfaction is possibly the way of the day. Plato maintained that for dissatisfaction an understanding of the nature of the human being is the answer. That is, people are naturally different and they have where they fit in the society (Philosophyprofessor). In such a situation, they will be able to rule the society. A perfect society, I believe, is one that is distinctive by leaders who have the interests of the society at hand. That is, a society under the reign of guardians who are in favor of the members of the society and their needs. A society that is simply having rulers who have inherited power is liable to doom. This is because, in most cases, such kinds of......

Words: 767 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Plato's Republic: Metals Metaphor

...Plato’s Republic: Metals Metaphor Interpretation In Plato’s The Republic, there are many arguments to what may build a perfect city. Plato offers the reader an in-depth presentation of Socrates’ personal thoughts and philosophical ideas. One concept I thoroughly examined was the Metals Metaphor. This metaphor states, citizens are born with innate metals within them whether it be gold, silver, or iron/bronze. This would be utilized to ensure people would understand which of the classes they are placed within the city. The Metals Metaphor has been interpreted in many different ways. Some believe this would be told to the city to ensure the auxiliaries, or working class, would be pleased with their place in society, while other have interpreted it was a means to maintain the rulers’ happiness considering they lived a life without wealth and possessions. I do not believe this tale would be told to preserve the rulers’ contentment. I disagree with this specific interpretation for a few different reasons. First and foremost, Socrates speaks on how highly valued education is. Socrates presents “The Allegory of the Cave”, and how a leader would need to metaphorically “be dragged out of a cave as far as possible” to rule efficiently. I believe a ruler, with all of the education provided, would understand the importance of their leadership and would place that above possessions and/or wealth. They are born into thinking a “philosopher-king” position is the outmost highest......

Words: 505 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

The Republic one of his best qualifications for ruling. The only good ruler rules out of a sense of duty and obligation, rather than out of a desire for power and personal gain. The philosopher is the only type of person who could ever be in this position, because only he has subordinated lower drives toward honor and wealth to reason and the desire for truth. Summary: Book VII, 521e–end Now we know what distinguishes the philosopher-king from everyone else: he knows the Form of the Good, and so he has an understanding of everything. But it is left for Socrates to tell us how to produce this sort of man. He must explain what sort of supplementary education is added to the general education we read about in Books II and III, in order to make the guardians turn their souls toward ultimate truth and seek out the Form of the Good. The answer, it turns out, is simple: they must study mathematics and philosophical dialectic. These are the two subjects that draw the soul from the realm of becoming—the visible realm—to the realm of what is—the intelligible realm. Of these two, mathematics is the preparation and dialectic the ultimate form of study. Dialectic leaves behind sense perceptions and uses only pure abstract reasoning to reach the Good itself. Dialectic eventually does away with hypotheses and proceeds to the first principle, which illuminates all knowledge. Though he is enamored of dialectic, Socrates recognizes that there is a great danger in it. Dialectic should never be taught......

Words: 3699 - Pages: 15

Premium Essay

Plato's Republic

...warriors.. or "guardians" Members of this class must be gentle.. and tough. Guardians should be spirited, etc..Nature isnt sufficient to produce guardians... needs education. - You tell stories to guardians to taech them.. but under two conditions... - 1. gods must always represented as good and responsible for good in teh world.. if not.. children will beleive that it is permissible to be bad.. (role model) - 2. Gods cannot be represented as sorcerrers who change themselves into different forms or liars.. children would grow up without trutha nd honesty Book III Socrates - most important function of these stories is to immunize young guardians against fear of death. Heroes in these stories must never fear death or perferring slavery to death. Heroes shoul never engage in violent emotions, like gods, they must be portrayed as honest. - Should these stories be dramatic or lyrical? - All characteristics besides those the guardians should emulate are excluded. - Socrates talks about correct love between boy and man - it is vital to boy's education. - do not allow sexual intercourse. - physical training of teh guardians - resemble training for war, and not athletic engagement. Balance music and poetry with training... so they wont be savage. - Medical traininging should be provided in just city - only cure curable ailments - and let teh chornoic ills die, as well as the incurable mental diseases. Third and final class : Rulers - the best of the guardians are......

Words: 3760 - Pages: 16

Premium Essay


...PAD 700 Prof A. Blazina Chapter 2 Homework Sept 15, 2009 Republic is a form of government where a boss or someone high up resides in the people who elect agents to represent the people in decision making; Ex: The United States is republic because of how the gov’t is chosen starting from the congress, president, and then broken up into judicial and legislative branches. In this case the people would be the boss because their ones that elect the agents (gov’t) to represent us for social, economic, and political decisions. Representative Democracy is a group of citizens that establish a relationship between them and the gov’t. In today’s society the U.S. structure is broken up into a Hierocracy that allows congress to oversee all the parties, administrators, and president, etc... If you think about history and going back to the slavery policy was that blacks didn’t have any freedom. The regulators were the slave owners who had to make sure that was implemented and put into play. Policy sets orders and direction for someone or something to gain power. Policy must have administrative structure because of the different decision making and implantation set for various depts. in various complex organizations. Without order or policy settings for any organization there wouldn’t be any progress. Now and days if you look from the bottom street bureaucrats like police officers cannot fire their guns just because there are certain guidelines and steps that they have to follow......

Words: 681 - Pages: 3

Free Essay


...History of Central African Republic: The Central African Republic (CAR) is located in the heart of equatorial Africa. The country, with an estimated population of 4.4 million and a landmass of 622,984 sq km , is landlocked, sharing borders with Chad, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon. The country, a former colony of France (formerly known as Ubangi-Shari), gained independence on August 13, 1960. Like most former colonies, CAR was subject to interference in domestic affairs by its former colonizer. The French were linked to the death of Barthélémy Boganda, the country’s pre-independence leader . The French were also directly involved in several coups within the CAR. Following the death of Boganda, David Dacko a former Boganda aide, would go on to become the country’s first President (with assistance from France). During his first term as president, Dacko significantly increased the country’s diamond production, and even had a diamond cutting facility built in the country’s capital city of Bangui. As a result, diamonds became the co... ... middle of paper ... ... documents, administrative fees for customs clearance and technical control, terminal handling charges and inland transport. The cost measure does not include tariffs or duties. Based on the Bank’s data the cost for importing one 20-foot container into the CAR is $ 5,554, and the cost for exporting, $5,491. Compared to the Sub-Saharan average of $2,365 and......

Words: 274 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Plato's Cave

...Explain the analogy of the cave in Plato’s republic (25 marks) Plato, 428-347 B.C., was an Athenian philosopher who lived in Ancient Greece. In 407 B.C. he became a pupil and friend of Socrates. After living for a time at the Syracuse court, Plato founded (c.387 B.C.) near Athens the most influential school of the ancient world, the Academy, where he taught until his death. The “Republic” is one of Plato’s greatest books that he has written. Plato’s presents one of the most famous analogies in philosophy: the cave. This analogy illustrates the effects of true knowledge. True knowledge moves the philosopher through life without any distractions, which in due course brings him to the Form of the Good. He tells the Allegory of the Cave as a conversation between his teacher Socrates who inspired many of Plato's philosophical theories and Glaucon. In the dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon, Socrates asks Glaucon to imagine a cave, in which prisoners have been kept since their childhood, and each of them is held where they are all chained so that their legs and necks are unable to turn or allow them to move. This leaves them in a predicament where they’re forced to look at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is a fire and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway (bridge), on which people can walk. These people are shadow play, and they are carrying objects, in the shape of human and animal figures, as well as everyday items. The prisoners could only......

Words: 1315 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Plato's Republic

...Analyzing Locke’s Empirical View Student’s Name Institutional Affiliation Analyzing Locke’s Empirical View Introduction In his theory, Locke tries to explain the source and the limits of human knowledge. According to Locke, knowledge is gained from sensation and reflection, it is very different from opinion and belief, and its certainty can only be achieved through intuition, sensation and reason. His essay on human understanding is divided into four books. Book I explain that there are no innate ideas in the mind of a person. Book two explains the origin of all ideas and states that they originate from sensation and reflection (Locke 1948). Book III explains how words signify idea and that they are essential for communication. Finally, Book IV describes how the ideas are the source of human knowledge, determines the nature, extent, and certainty of human knowledge. Locke argues that it is not possible to claim we have knowledge that we are unaware (Locke 1948). My View On Locke’s Argument I do not agree with Locke’s position that we do not possess knowledge that we are unaware. Foremost, in his argument, Locke failed to differentiate between psychological and justificatory thesis. When he claims that when we are born the mind is a blank tablet which is filled with ideas through experience, Locke failed to distinguish the doctrine of psychology and the epistemological thesis that explains experience is the test for truth (Cummins 1975). His conclusion of a plain...

Words: 735 - Pages: 3