Defining Justice In Plato And Plato's Republic

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Republic written by Plato is one of the early works of political philosophy. Using dialogue between students and Socrates, his teacher, Plato attempts to define justice and explain why being just is rewarding. Republic ends with the myth of Er, a story about a man who travels to the afterlife then returns to tell what he saw. The myth of Er fits into the rest of Republic because it supports the assertion that being just is beneficial and that being just or unjust is a choice; however, it appears different than the rest of the book because the myth introduces a different reason why justice is advantageous, and it has a non-dialectical style. These differences support the idea that Plato may have used the myth of Er to persuade those who …show more content…
In the myth of Er, the reasoning of why someone should be just is based on the individual and the rewards they receive by being just. Socrates tells Glaucon, "they had to suffer ten times the pain they had caused to each individual. But if they had done good deeds and had become just and pious, they were rewarded according to the same scale" (286). The individual focus of the myth of Er contradicts the emphasis earlier in the dialogue of being just to help the community. Earlier in Republic, Socrates argues to Glaucon that philosophers should rule even though they are the ones who dislike political rule the most. He claims that justice is to make the community as a whole happy, not the individual: "it isn 't the law 's concern to make any one class in the city outstandingly happy but to contrive to spread happiness throughout the city" (191). Plato uses the argument that justice helps the community achieve the common good to support the claim that being just is worthwhile. Contrarily, in the myth of Er, individuals are motivated to be just out of self-interest instead of for the common good since souls are rewarded and punished based on whether they were just or unjust. This is one of the differences between the myth of Er and the rest of …show more content…
The myth of Er tells a story and gets away from the dialectic nature of the rest of the argument. The previous arguments in Republic use deductive reasoning in an attempt to discover the truth. In comparison, the myth of Er is anecdotal evidence. Ironically, the myth of Er is similar to the myths in epic poems which Plato believes should be banned. Socrates tells Glaucon, "all such poetry is likely to distort the thought of anyone who hears it" (265). Socrates argues poets imitate things because they do not truly understand what they imitate. It is strange that Plato ends Republic with the myth of Er because he suggests these stories are used by those who do not understand. The stylistic difference between the myth of Er and the previous parts of the dialogue is peculiar considering the negative view of poetry that Plato

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