Plato’s Republic Books I-IV: An Analysis Essay

Justice: A Means or an End?

Determine whether the justice that results is more than a means to an end.

……As the search for justice within the city is concluded, Socrates then returns to the questions of where justice resides within the individual and what that entails as to what kind of good it can be considered to be. Socrates first breaks down our soul into parts that resemble the makeup of the complete city. We have a rational part that governs the rest of the soul, the irrational part that has desires that aren’t always acceptable and a spirited part that, when aligned with the rational, provides courage to do good and if aligned with the irrational, joins it in demanding pleasures (Book 4, 439c-440c). This corresponds to the three parts of the city where the rational part is the rulers, the irrational part is the craftspeople and the spirited refers to the guardians. In extension, the places that the virtues were found in the city are also found in the corresponding parts of the soul. The rational part of the soul makes decisions based on reason and so, is wise. Courage is found in the spirited part of the soul and can be the shield against what might cause one to abandon reason. Moderation, then, is in the ruling of the rational part over the irrational part so that the soul can control desires (Book 4, 441c). Just like how the city relies on justice to ensure the maximum efficiency and harmony of its working parts; in the soul, justice exists when the parts of the soul are in balance with one another and allows the individual to be able to perform to their utmost capacity and a harmonious soul means that the individual can be happy while a disharmonious soul is at war with itself (Book 4, 443d-e). Therefore, since justice is desirable because its presence means a harmonious soul and allows the individual to focus on external things other than the state of their soul, justice would be considered the second type of good where it has both an intrinsic and instrumental value and not just a means to an end.

Advertisements