Platonic Justice

Plato, who began his philosophical career as a student of the Socrates, is in the pursuit of showing the weaknesses of where he lived-Athens-. He attacks ? the democracy of Athens’ which found in the degenerated conditions and he came to propose construction of an ideal society in which justice symbolizes the virtuous, since Plato believed justice is there to be the prescription for the evils. He used the Greek word “Dikaisyne” for justice which refers the work ? morality’ or ? righteousness’. The English word justice and the Greek word ?

Dikaisyne’ capture imperfectness when explaining the same concept because the Greek one implies both law-abiding behaviours and institutions, and virtues of people in social context. However, neither justice nor fairness embrace the essence of Dikaisyne, but I use justice as a translation. It is essential to point out that Plato approaches the justice at two levels: justice in the soul and justice in the city. Firstly, it is to be noted that many theories of justice were prevalent before Plato’s analysis.

Thus, before discussing his own concept of justice, it is necessary to analyze those traditional theories of justice were objected by him. Cephalus who was a representative of traditional morality of the ancient Greece established the traditional theory of justice . According to him ‘justice consists of speaking in the right way and paying one’s payment. Thus Cephalus identifies justice with right conduct. Beside, Polemarchus also maintains the same view of justice but with a little alteration.

The simple implication of this conception of justice may be that ? justice is doing good to friends and harm to enemies’. The views propounded by Cephalus and Polemarchus were criticized by Plato in the voice of Socrates. The view point of Cephalus is criticised on the ground that there may be exceptions in which this formula may involve the violation of the spirit of right. On the other hand, the oppositions of Plato force Polemarchus to find what benefits friends and harms enemies in number of specific contexts.

There is a unclarity of words ?friends’ and ? enemies. (Pappas,1995:36). But if the friends only in seeming, and an enemy in reality, then what will happen? Socrates concerns with the role of justice regardless of the differences between individuals like enemy or friends etc. If the direction of discussion is changed, the new framework, that we are faced with, is what good is justice. Thrasymachus who acts upon the rhetoric just like sophists propounded the radical theory of justice.

He defines justice as “the interest of the stronger”. In the other words, ?might makes right’. For Thrasymachus justice means personal interest of the ruling group in any state, we can further define it as “another’s good”. Any governing group passes laws that benefits itself. Those who violate such laws are punished because violation of such laws is equal to the violation of justice. (Pappas,1995:40). Socrates firmly disagrees these points of Thrasymachus by focusing on the nature of justice.

He firstly attacks the idea of the advantage of the stronger and exploits his comments about an ideal ruler ?philosopher king- to make his fallacy as the Machiavellian cynicism. (Pappas,1995:41). Socrates determines the the ruler character as the fact that the unjust attempts to find better of all others, the just only get better of unjust. In this conjucture, Socrates would like to show how justice can be profitable: justice requires cooperation, injustice separation. Therefore, the domination of justice over injustice will not result in the profitability of particular social pattern. Glaucon and Adeimantus initiates the Book 2 with the concentrating the Thrasmachus point of view.

They suggest a form of what was later to be known as a social contract theory, arguing we are only moral because ? it pays us or we have to be. ‘ They want a defensive society, but have enough intellectual integrity. They argue that justice belongs to the lowest class of good because: 1.? The rules of justice arise in social situations, out of agreements made by people pursuing their own interests. ‘ 2.? No one, who could get away with cheating, would abide by the rules of justice . That is people value justice only for its consequences. ‘ 3.?

The life of the unjust is better than the life of just. ‘(Pappas,1995:52). Plato contends that all theories proposed by Cephalus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon, have one common element. All of them consider justice as something external “an accomplishment, an importation, or a convention. Nonetheless, none of them elaborate it within the soul or within the place of its habitation-city. The ethical system of Republic is not supposed to analyze which behavior is right. Instead, Plato examines the justice at two levels: soul and city. With the beginning of the emergence of justice in

the city, Plato is in the pursuit of producing a political philosophy not only rigorous in the theory but also desirable in practice. He specifies the cities classes by turning the attention to ? who will rule’ and ? who will be ruled’. With the just polis, he considers the infrastructures and virtues vital in order to bring polis into balance, and then says that everyone, who does his own work properly in order for an ideal harmonious polis to be sustained, acts justly. The individual’s harmonious condition is in unity with harmony in the polis. Just action is equally which brings about and keeps social harmony.

To let all society to internalize the order that Plato creates, he makes use of a myth: ? Myths of Metal’. According to this, some have gold mixed into their souls, others silver, the rest bronze and iron. Hence, ? their place in the city reflects their nature crafted by god rather than historical or man-made separation. ‘(Pappas,1995:71). He wants to base class distinction on ability rather than wealth or birth. He differentiates the society into subgroups: guardians, auxiliaries, and the rest of society; respectively the men of reason, of the honor, and of the appetite.

Corresponding to these three elements in human nature there are three classes in the social organism-Philosopher class or the ruling class; auxiliaries, a class of warriors and defenders of the country; and the appetite instinct of the community which consists of farmers, artisans and so forth. With the guardians-philosopher king-, who have been identified by prolonged scrutiny to be lovers of wisdom, the balance of pleasure in the soul, weighs on reasoning and philosophical activity which is in part their work as statesmen.

One of them elected as the philosopher king who is accepted as the most virtuous and could attain ? the Truth’ after the long process of education regarding the cultivation of personality. It is also a necessity that philosopher king have to be endowed with ? good personality’, in the first place. Indeed, Plato suggests that the Guardians would deal much more with on philosophizing instead of performing the requirements of statesmen. In the auxiliary class, people aim at defending the polis.

They actually form the city-state army against the enemies after the physical and intellectual training. In the other class, people are more likely to be in search for their benefits and profits. According to Plato, the good city may only exist if political power is divorced from economic power. Moreover, it is a fundamental premise of Plato that moderation between the faculties of individual- reason, courage, and desire-should be inherent the class members to let society to be coherent. For the justice in the city level, Plato asserts that functional specialization demands from every social class to specialize itself in the task that is attributed to it.

Justice is thus a sort of specialization. It is simply the will to fulfil the duties of one’s station and not to meddle with the duties of another station. Laid down at the foundation of the State, “that one man should practice one thing only and that the thing to which his nature was best adopted”, says Plato. The State is expressed by Plato as a united whole in which each individual functions not for itself but for the health of the whole. Where man are out of their natural places, there the cooperation between sections would be disrupted, thus the society would dissolve.

In the further analysis of the justice, the emphasis is given at the soul level. This type of justice as ? psychic harmony’ is generally related to psychological stability. ?At least, in the theory the analogy to the city works only to suggest how to look for justice in the soul. ‘(Pappas,1995:82). The core argument of this part is that soul has the three faculties that must work out together in order to reach efficiency and unity. Plato, in my view, makes use of soul as a substitute for personality or character.

Platonic arguments connected to justice in soul suggest that soul can include in itself conflicts: 1. ?Conflict in the soul implies different parts that are opposed to each other. ‘ 2. ?Desire is opposed by the calculating part of soul. ‘ 3. ?Spirit is different from both desire and calculating part. ‘ 4. ?Parts of soul are identical in number and function with the parts of city. ‘ 5. ?Virtue in the individual will be structured the same way as virtue in the city. ‘(Pappas,1995:83) As it can be understood above, there exist 3 separate parts of soul: reason, spirit, appetite.

In the ideal soul, the reasoning part and the feelings manipulate the appetitive part in the good way. The rule of reason entails that the desire for truth must be hegemonic over the desires of the other parts of the soul. Reason, that is dominated by logos, holds back the desire out of its sphere with the help of moral motives. Here is why is a soul ruled by love of knowledge paradigmatic of a virtuous soul? Plato inherited from Socrates , the view that the most superior part of the soul is the intellect.

Socrates who equalizes the intellect with the soul, refrains its purification from destructive passions. Performing in the name of the right reason , Plato’s morality consists in knowing the good. ?Whatever problems there are of understanding Plato’s doctrine of the Good, it is at least clear that he holds that knowledge of it is attainable only by philosophical endeavour. Hence, if no soul can be virtuous without knowledge of good, and philosophical reasoning is the means by which one comes to reach the truth, then no soul can be virtuous without caring about philosophy.’ (http://www. bu. edu/wcp/Papers/TEth/TEthChin. htm,retrieved on 10. 01. 2007).

The spirited part maximizes honor by concentrating on wars and fights. They can not enforce the moral law. Instead, they mostly select acting upon anger and fury. The bravery arises in their soul since they do not show attention to the logos and they become the slaves of their passion for honor. In the ideal state in Republic, “courage” characterizes the Auxiliaries group. It is apparent that the feeling and appetitive parts are incapable of apprehending the good, since that is a matter for reasoning.

Hence, profit-seeking people, who represent in the desire faculty of soul, are incapable of leading the soul to act for the sake of the good. These people are enslaved by the Eros which is the source of conflict and passion that help them to satisfy biological and material desires. In Eros there exists no reference to the ethics concepts. Individuals who are addicted to self-destructive patterns of behavior are apt to feed their appetites at the expense of other life pursuits. People can also be ruled by material greed in much the same way.

The key here is that desire is determinative; these are cravings of the highest degree. It is apparent that oligarchic characters fit in this category. To maintain the moderation which is instrument to producing justice, the reason, appetite and spirit should be in balanced. That is to say, the new conception Plato uses is ? the parts of souls’ according to which justice consists in certain well-adjustment of rational and irrational parts to each other. This prepares the person to make himself disciplined.

It is concluded that the term of justice is, for Plato, at once a part of both individual virtue and the virtue for social relations, which make men in society. Justice is a balance of the soul, it is to the soul as health to the body-polis-. ?Plato says that justice is not mere strength, but it is a harmonious strength. Justice is not the right of the stronger but the effective harmony of the whole. All moral conceptions revolve around the good of the whole-individual as well as social. ‘(http://www. bu. edu/wcp/Papers/Anci/AnciBhan. htm,retrieved on 10. 01. 2007).