The Essence Of Justice In Plato's Republic

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Plato’s Republic seeks to answer what the essence of justice is and how it can be enacted both within a city and self. Focusing on the concept of justice within the city, what follows will argue that according to Plato philosophers make the best suited to as they are the only people that possess true knowledge. He believes that no city can be just unless it is ruled by a philosopher as justice itself has an ideal form, therefore making philosophical knowledge necessary to truly understand it. As a just city is one where all people do the job they are best suited for, a city cannot be just unless the philosopher is utilized and elected to rule.

In order to determine why a philosopher is the only one suited to lead a just city, a definition
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Returning to the idea that every person has a job for which they are “naturally best suited” (433a), this demonstrates that often people do not know what their role in the city should be. If unjust cities exist, where people are doing the wrong jobs, this means that people do not naturally know what they are best suited and need a leader to guide them. As Plato will demonstrate, he believes this should be a philosopher. In Book I, Socrates describes to Thrasymachus the ideal ruler of a city. He compares a ruler to a craftsman in that they must have a specific knowledge of expertise, namely leadership. Again, as previously described, a just city is one where each person does the one job they are best suited for and nothing else. It therefore makes sense that the ruler of this city would be best suited to rule because of their leadership expertise. For Plato, the only person who possesses such knowledge is a philosopher, making them best suited to rule. By definition, philosophy is the love of knowledge and the desire to possess a universal understanding of everything. Because of a philosopher’s love of knowledge, they are the only one who can be trusted to truly know what is best for the city. If a non-philosopher, such as a sophist were to lead, they would never want to be wrong and so would always settle for lies if such; even at the cost of the city. However, Plato claims that philosophers are not as easily swayed and get no enjoyment …show more content…
To have a universal understanding of something, as Plato has demonstrated with justice, is to understand its essence or, its ideal form. This prompts Plato to introduce his Theory of Forms. To explain this, in book V Plato focuses on justice, beauty, and goodness claiming that in our everyday experiences we encounter these things to varying degrees. He claims such encounters do not present the essence of any of these things and so we must distinguish between the two. True justice, beauty or goodness are forms, and like the ideal city previously explained by Plato, they cannot be encountered through experience, they can only come to be known through thought and use of reason. Following this logic, Plato believes in two realities: one that we experience through our senses, and one that we come to know through genuine knowledge. This theory plays an essential role in both Plato’s overall argument for justice and why a city cannot be just without a philosopher as

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