Friday, February 4, 2011

What I am Learning from Plato

Since the beginning of the semester, I have been reading Plato's Republic for my social and political philosophy class. Within the book, Plato writes dialogues between a group of men whom talk about a wide range of issues. The main points of discussion originate mostly from Socrates, Plato's legendary teacher. Socrates wishes to discuss what it means to constitute the perfect city. Obviously, Socrates reasons, in order for the city to remain perfect, the people must practice perfect justice. Here arises a problem. What is meant by justice? How can the citizens in a perfect city practice unparalleled justice if the definition is unclear? In a nutshell, Socrates claims that justice is when an individual pursues and practices what they are suited to pursue and practice. In other words, the individual is wise when it comes to passions, disallowing them to overcome their life.

The Socratic view definition of justice brings up many great points. If, lets say, humanity is inherently born good, man cannot be corrupted by anything other than his passions. His passions are not corruptible in simplest form; they are only a hindrance when they rage out of the man's control. With that being said, it would serve no purpose for a man to indulge wildly in his passions, allowing them to take priority over him and causing him to neglect his intended pursuits and practices. When this happens, injustice arises. For if a man strays away from his intended purpose, whether it be art, construction, or parenthood, he enters a realm of total unfamiliarity, thus creating chaos. This is the origin, I believe, of injustice.

But, apart from the presupposed notion that humanity is inherently good, the idea of justice seizes to have a cornerstone. If, lets take for instance, mankind is not born inherently good, this whole system is apt to collapse. It seems that the whole basis of justice would be askew if man was born with injustice already implanted in his consciousness. This is one of the many reasons why I tend to believe that humanity is born good and just.

This is what I do in my spare time. :)

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