Plato and AristotleTerm Paper

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Plato & Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle on Justice and Pride

Plato on Justice

Plato claims justice involves all three parts of the whole performing their proper function. The Republic is an example of a dialogue, where the principle ideas of the work are conveyed through a conversation between Socrates and other individuals. In the first part, Socrates breaks down the common perception of justice through a logical series of questions. Then in order to properly define what justice is, Socrates suggests that justice at work would be more evident in the State (i.e. city or nation), and once justice in the state is determined, then the same virtues can be applied to the individual. Therefore, what is justice in an individual will also be justice in the state.

The three parts of the political body are the philosophers, the guardians and the workers/producers. The theoretical perfect state that Socrates and his companions construct is recognized to require each of these three social classes, and corresponding virtues are ascribed to each. When each class of citizen is possessed of the required characteristics and performs the role that has been delineated, then the state functions as it is supposed to.

The first recognized social caste is the workers/producers. These are the citizens that produce goods and perform services necessary to the community, such as farmers, sailors, herders, blacksmiths, and traders. These workers are responsible for meeting the basic needs of the community, namely food, shelter, and clothing. In addition, there will be those professionals that provide luxuries beyond the survival necessities listed previously, such as art or literature or specialty foods. It is firmly established through debate that an individual should be most skilled at his profession when that is his sole occupation- for example, a carpenter does not also seek to be a farmer, for to do so is to limit his skill at carpentry. Specialization of function is therefore a cornerstone of the functioning state.

The conversation then turns to the soldiers of the state, or the guardians, as they are dubbed.

While it is first suggested that the army would consist of the farmers, builders, and others fit of body from the worker class, who are pressed into military service in times of need. Socrates pints out that this goes against the prinicple of specialization which was just proved to be more efficient. "One man cannot practice many arts at once... But is not war an art?" This is the root of the creation of the guardian class- that specialization confers more benefit than generalization, so it is not good for farmers and herders to try to also be soldiers. Soldiers, as defenders of the state, should be devoted to this one task, just like any other profession. The distinction, of course, is that the guardians' job is considered so important that they must live a completely different way of life than the people who desire luxury.

Deprived of the luxuries of the working class, and taught not to desire such things from a young age, the guardians are more effective soldiers because the defense of the state is their singular goal in life. These guardians are int particular trained to be courageous in situations that would make normal men quake in fear.

The rulers are to be taken from the ranks of the guardians, and they are to be selected because they have never wavered in their duty to the state. They are to be watched throughout their lives, and if they show the proper level of dedication to the good fortunes of the state, then they shall be selected to rule. If at any point they have failed in their duty to the state, then they shall be refused the elevated status of being a ruler.

The three parts of human nature are the mind/soul, the emotions, and the bodily appetites. In following the train of thought that justice in the context of the state can be related to the context of the individua, we see that each of the three social classes correspondes with a part of human nature, according to the prevalent virtue of each. The workers are related to the bodily appetites- it is they who are motivated by the luxuries to had in life, as well as being responsible for providing the goods to satisfy those needs. The guardians correspond to the emotions, and their greatest asset to the community is the courage that is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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