In Plato's Republic, Plato examines the question: "what is justice?" Plato's ambition is to demonstrate that justice (or "virtue") is worthy for its own sake. In order to prove his theory, Plato primarily deals with social - political justice and then he develops from it the individual justice. Socrates was the teacher of Plato; therefore Plato uses Socrates as the philosopher in The Republic. Some of the ideas brought in the book might have been developed by Socrates and some were the fruits of Plato's thought.
In part nine of The Republic Plato analysis tyranny. By examining the philosopher that is the most virtuous person (as seen in books 1-7), Plato demonstrates the differences between the tyrant and the virtuous. The differences are measured in terms of happiness, obtaining friends, and independence.
In part nine of The Republic Plato gives five constitutions in the order he thinks they will deteriorate: aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny.
Socrates believes that aristocracy ruled by a king philosopher would eventually deteriorate to the next four stages. The deterioration begins from a conflict within the ruling class.
The first state of decline from aristocracy is timocracy. The aristocrat, who was the timocracy's father, influenced the timocrat's soul. The timocrat is honor driven and resembles the ruler of the state, but he is attracted to money, where the king philosopher finds his fulfillment within his knowledge and spiritual depth.
The following constitution is the oligarchy. The oligarch is a slave to reason and appetite, but his only desire is an economical one. The oligarch is cautious about his wealth in order not to lose it; therefore he will not give in to his desires. This ruling will be based completely on wealth; the high economical class will rule the government.
The subsequent state is democracy. The democracy consists of three social classes: the drones (the unemployed), the rich, and the working class. The drones are the leaders of the society - they steal from the rich, keep large amounts of valuables to themselves and distribute the rest to the poor. The rich cannot defend themselves because they would be accused of disloyalty to the state. The masses (that have false moral beliefs and improper education) choose a leader; therefore they open a window of opportunity for tyranny. Democracy indulges in unnecessary desires, but not lawless ones. Because of the influence of the oligarch, which is the democrat's father, the democrat who has given in to his economical virtues, still has morals that stop him from becoming ungovernable. According to Socrates, In this state there will be no order. No one will have their most appropriate role in society, therefore productivity and harmony will vanish and the republic will seize to exist as it was form to be.
The next and most wicked state is the most liberal one, Tyranny.
Who is a tyrant?
According to Socrates, all people were probably born with unnecessary desires and pleasures that are lawless and violent, but they are controlled by reason and better desires. Only during sleep the senses are unchained and one might dream of lust, murder and eating forbidden foods. The tyrant is driven by the desires for the satisfaction of his luxurious appetites. The tyrant allows the desires that stir up during his sleep (when the rational part of the mind is off-guard) to appear during his awaken hours.
Socrates describes the tyrant as a combination of drunkenness, lust and madness.
In order to prove that the just is more worthwhile then the unjust, one must examine if the tyrant is happy, does he have friends and is he self-sufficient. All this is in contrast to the philosopher, who represents the just, representing the virtuous.
The tyrant is doomed to always be unhappy:
Initially the tyrant is unhappy because he is never satisfied, since his desires are never fulfilled. As soon as one of his desires is satisfied, another replaces it. The tyrant, after using up all of his funds, the tyrant makes use of his parents' assets; when his parents have nothing more to give him, he starts stealing from other houses, robs temples and eventually commits murder.
In addition to unfulfilled desires, the tyrant will never be happy due to the fear from the people he offended or hurt. Socrates' example for this is the example of a slaveholder and his family that are moved to a distant place with his slaves. The slaveholder is out of state protection limits, in which slavery is allowed; he has no laws to protect him and no additional slaveholders to help him. He will have to get along with some of the slaves in order to ensure his security. If his new location placed between neighbors that are opposed to slavery, he will be surrounded by enemies and the slaveholder will transform from a free man into a prisoner in his home.
The tyrant will never be happy, due to his scarcity in friends. One reason for this derives from the lack of loyalty between the tyrants. Because of their unsatisfied desires, the tyrants are capable of betraying their friends in order to fulfill their personal needs. The second reason for the tyrant's loneliness is due to the fact that his friends take advantage of his power for their personal gain.
The tyrant is not independent. His lack of self-government is always linked to money and destiny; the economical state of a tyrant very much influences his class in society. Without money he has no power; therefore no possibility to fulfill his desires. In case of lack of fortune, the tyrant has no friends to give him the support he needs (as stated earlier).
Plato brings the philosopher as a counter-example to the tyrant.
Unlike the tyrant that is driven by the quest for money, the philosopher seeks knowledge of the Forms as his source of happiness; he is looking for the 'edios', 'idea', and 'pattern'. Knowledge provides the philosopher with the ability to see a particular and apply it to others, hence he giving them a universal application. The Form gives a greater degree of Being in comparison to the particular.
The Philosopher, unlike the tyrant, is usually happy. Although their desires are not always satisfied, philosophers seek purity rather then impure desires.
According to Plato there are three kinds of states: pleasure, neutral and pain.
The impure pleasure occurs when we move from the pain state to the neutral state. This kind of pleasure is impure, because it always follows pain.
Pure pleasure comes about when a person shifts from the neutral state to the state of pleasure, thus demonstrating the desire for pure pleasure does not incorporate pain. On the other hand, moving from the pleasure to the neutral state is arising pain, because it entails formfitting the highest state after achieving it.
The philosopher, who is not appetite-driven, will prefer seeking knowledge over anything else. When the philosopher will want to procreate, he will be able to satisfy his bodily pleasure without becoming mad, thus he is able to keep things within their proportions.
In contrast to the tyrant, the philosopher has friends. Philosophers share their opinions with all other philosophers. They not only expand the knowledge base of others, but are also able to enhance other philosophers' desire to gain further knowledge.
The philosopher is self-sufficient due to the fact that he does not need vast amounts of money or power to acquire knowledge. The philosopher will not pursue the kind of knowledge that will make him depend on fortune, but in case he does need financial support, he has friends by his side.
Socrates gives a final illustration of justice in part nine. The example brings a beast that is put together from a Chimaera (many headed creature), a lion and a man. The unjust man, which acts on his beastly features, cannot keep his humane appearance for long and eventually is condemned by others. On the other hand, the just man, who is controlled by his human feature, lives a harmonious life with his surroundings and lives in peace within himself.
After identifying the tyrant, his origin, his future, and the beast part of his soul, Socrates compares between the tyrant and the philosopher. The conclusion Socrates aims for is the understanding of what is just and unjust. Plato's arguments seem possible since these examples express that it is more satisfying to be just than being unjust, like the tyrant.
Throughout the Republic, Socrates attempts to explain the difference between "just" and "unjust". Eventually, he succeeds in proving that regardless to the circumstances, it is better to be just, because it leads to knowledge, safety, friendship, and independence.
In part one of book two Glaucon argues that "In all kinds of competition public or private he (the unjust) always comes off best and does down his rivals, and so becomes rich and can do good to his friends and harm his enemies." At the stage where this was told Plato did not react, but he dismisses it only when he has good enough arguments, which are brought in this part.
Plato argues that similar to within a contest, the just beats the unjust: "Well the just man has beaten the unjust in two successive rounds; now for the third... a fall in this final round should settle the matter." Socrates continues with the comparison between the tyrant and the philosopher and proves the just is worthier in all aspects of living.