Plato's Republic

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Plato's Republic discusses numerous topics such as justice, music, poetry, politics, etc. While I found the discussions on music very controversial and interesting, the discussions on justice also caught my eye and provoked a lot of thought on my part. Plato's Republic examines justice carefully.

One main idea is to get rid of common but false ideas about justice and to clear the air for a new theory. Socrates engages in a discussion with Thrasymachus, Polemarchus and Cephalus in which they discuss the true nature of justice. From the discussions, you can easily see the traditional view on justice that Socrates wants to get rid of. Traditionally, people regard justice as a cardinal virtue and one in which all people will be dealt with equally. Simply put, it's a set of rules that govern how a good person should conduct him or herself. However, as Socrates points out, it's not really clear why and how we all benefit from this idea of justice.

Instead, Socrates wants people to examine the benefits of justice. Socrates feels that the quality of an individual's mind determines how they will act and inherently has a direct effect on true justice.

Socrates begins by describing a previous conversation he had with an old man named Celaphus and a few people at his house. Celaphus is a wealthy old man and thus he relies on his wealth to lead a "just" life. Celaphus can only make conclusions based on the life he's lived and thus he sees wealth as the way to lead a just life. Later in the conversation, Celaphus basically says that a just life is one that avoids injustices and is free of cheating and one in which obligations to the gods and man are fulfilled.

Socrates feels that telling the truth...