Plato Republic Research Proposal

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Plato: Republic

Socrates is probably one of the most famous figures in history, as a philosopher and as a character as well. His life perspective, his deeds, his teaching method and his end make him a subject of analysis and debate for all the people interested in philosophy and not only.

There are numerous writers who have had him as the main theme of their works. Such a writer is Diogenes Laertius, according to whom Socrates made himself guilty of not being willing to recognize the official gods of the city. This, together with his attempt at introducing new elements in the "divine" category represent the reasons for which he was convicted to death.

It is considered that Socrates' response to these accusations is to be found in the Apology. There are nevertheless authors who believe that a more accurate and complex response is to be found in the Republic, a book which deals with the issue that was the core of the entire story, that is the role of the philosopher within and for the community. Since the main theme that was addressed by Plato in this wok is justice, it I safe to state that there is a strong connection between the two concepts (that of doing the just thing and the part that a philosopher is supposed to play in a community).

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While the Republic was written by Plato, one could very well interpret it as an argument which succeeds in defending Socrates against the accusations that the city of Athens brought him. In my opinion, the manner in which the book presents Socrates' beliefs is strong enough to demonstrate that what he was doing was in fact just. Therefore, there was no need for a death punishment, under the circumstances in which the accusations were not justified.

Research Proposal on Plato Republic Assignment

Nevertheless, it is interesting to underline that when deciding whether the accusations brought to Socrates were real and justified one will judge based on various criteria of ethics and morality. And it is Socrates himself who defines what is just and what is unjust. In other words, if one agrees with Socrates' ideas then he will probably agree that he was innocent and the inhabitants of Athens performed un unjust deed by convicting him.

If one has a different view regarding justice, then there are more chances for him to a have a different perspective upon the entire scenario. The fact that the evaluation of the situation is so strongly connected with the judgements issued by the character under analysis makes it even more difficult to maintain it within ethical realms.

The purpose of the discussion in Plato's Republic is to define justice and analyze it. The main questions that the philosopher wisher to answer regard the nature and the purpose of justice. In other words, Socrates, and through his words, Plato wish to understand (and demonstrate) what justice is and what are the reasons for which one would be better off being just and behaving in a correct manner.

It must be underlined that there is a very strong political dimension that can be attributed to the text. The main reality under discussion is represented by the city. Socrates actually makes a division between the good and the bad cities, describing the way in which they function.

Under these circumstances it is worth mentioning that the city and the community can be considered synonymous. Therefore the role of the philosopher is represented by the responsibilities he has towards the city. This is one of the arguments which support the strong connection that can be found between justice at personal level and justice at a more formal level.

The book is based on various dialogues which take place between Socrates and other characters.It is important to underline this aspect since dialogue provides an opportunity for the confrontation between more perspectives upon the same argument. At the same time, it gives the readers the freedom to decide upon the perspective that they consider to be most proper.

The first character who attempts to give a definition of what justice is, will be Cephalus. According to him, a just person is the person who has an honest conduct. In addition, he believes that a person can be just only if he or she respects the obligations which are imposed by the law. from this point-of-view, it can be stated that the individual acquires his just dimension through his status of citizen. A good citizen is one who contributes to the well being of the city. In other words, being a good citizen makes somebody a good person as well.

Cephalus may be considered as a symbol of the traditionalist views of the Greeks according to which the law is the most important tool of rule and evaluation criterion for the definition of ethics and morality. Socrates however will reply through an example meant to prove that while the law is a good instrument, it is not infallible.

On the one hand it can be argued that the law must be the same for everybody and that the same rules must be applied regardless of the type of situation under analysis. On the other hand, people might claim that, while justice is blind, you can not afford to apply it blindly because circumstances vary from case to case. This leaves the question of how flexible the law should be and what the dangers of such flexibility are.

The truth is that justice ought to establish laws which work for the best benefit of everybody. The example given by Socrates in this respect becomes relevant. He speaks of a potential situation where a madman has been deprived of his gun. According to the law the right thing to do is give the madman his gun back because everybody must respect the property of the others.

While this is true, it is just as true that by giving the gun back to a person who is not mentally sane represents a risk for the well being of the other people. It is like this that the philosopher demonstrates that the classic view regarding justice is not a good one.

Another character who gets involved in the debate is Cepahlus son, Polemachus. The definition that he has in mind for justice is a bit more subjective than the one given by his father. In his opinion what makes a person just is the behaviour towards the others. In other words, one must do good to his friends and evil to his enemies. This implies a principle of reciprocity to the ethical norms of behaviour.

While the definition seems to differ from the previous one, it can be stated that they still have in common a very important factor. This factor is the belief according to which people must do what is appropriate to do. It could be stated that the two definitions of justice reflect two manners of thinking which are specific to two different generations.

It is true that Cephalus' son emphasizes the importance of the subjective side when deciding upon what is the right thing to do, but his definition can not be considered universally valid. Socrates underlines that our evaluation of people and their division into friends and enemies is highly personal and subjective as well. therefore, it is highly possible for or preferences to change as well. he truth is that we make friends with people who act in our own best benefit.

This does not imply that they are also the most virtuous. At the same time, the people which we consider to be our enemies are not necessarily harmful for society. This makes our judgement rather arbitrary and under these circumstances it can not consist a solid basis for an universally valid definition.

A third definition will be suggested by another character, that is Thrasymachus. According to him, justice is the advantage of those who have more power. In his opinion a rightful behaviour has the purpose of serving the interest of the others and not of the person behaving like that.

His definition is highly unusual because it does not support the idea of justice. On the contrary it seems to be acting as an agent against it. What one can read between the lines is that justice is the result of some type of constraint which keeps people form satisfying their impulses of owning more and more resources. Since this constraint is a mere social convention, always meant to serve the others and not ourselves, it results that people are better off disregarding this very concept.

It is important to analyze how the focus of the discussion slowly moves from the meaning of justice to its very purpose. This is how the author end up making a connection between virtue and justice. Justice seems to be desirable because it is a manifestation of virtue whereas virtue is a symptom of a healthy soul.

Another possible definition that will be given to morality brings the gods into discussion.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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