Discuss Plato's view of Justice in The Republic.
Having lived an extraordinarily long life (for his time), with no consistent doctrine of belief, it has become customary to divide Plato's writings chronologically into three periods, Early, Middle and Late. The Republic, a collection of ten books, is thought to have been written after Phaedo during the 'middle-period' of Plato's life. It is during this period that Plato's philosophy becomes his own rather than a commentary on Socrates beliefs and sayings.
It is important to remember that Plato's time was an age of constant upheaval and it is this air of upheaval and constant change that led him to focus on his societies' failings and to put forward a structured society that puts his view of justice into practice.
The main theme of The Republic is to define justice and other virtues and to put forward an idea for a Utopian city-state based on his beliefs on justice and virtue to show how these ideals could be implemented.
The text takes the form of a dramatised discourse between certain characters of differing backgrounds and beliefs. The use of a dramatised debate is a useful way to demonstrate the way Plato (whose ideas are represented by the character of Socrates) would handle his sceptics. It also serves to show the development of his thought through discussion and to sceptic-proof his argument by foreseeing potential counter arguments.
Plato starts demonstrating his definition by taking some popular conceptions of what justice means and whether it is better to live a just life.
In book one the debate starts with a statement made by Cephalus, an old, retired self-made manufacturer. Cephalus puts forward the view that as people grow older they become more aware of religious teachings regarding retribution in the afterlife for living an...