In The Republic, justice is presented almost as a way to measure the moral values of individuals for citizens in society. Despite the fact that The Republic is largely dedicated to explaining and defining the system of justice through the lens of past teachings, it defines and explores issues of political doctrine and mores. Among the major writings that Plato has published, The Republic is the most influential historical document. In fact, it is so significant that the theory proposed in this historical work relates to the political beliefs and systems of the contemporary world. Plato’s proposal has challenged political scientists and theorists to detach from their assumptions about the system of justice and to observe the system with the understanding that morality and justice are the building blocks of Plato’s political theory.
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Plato is a well known Greek philosopher, scientist, historian, and political theorist. He is the son of the statuary, Sophroniscus, and of the midwife, Phaenarete. Plato was a disciple of Socrates. He was born in Athens in June of 427 B.C. He excelled in the fields of astrology, geometry and was acquainted with the doctrines of Greek leaders. Because he was a close follower of the teachings of Socrates, the majority of his ideas about the system of justice and his perception of how the system operates in society, directly represent those of Socrates. Thus, his relationship with Socrates leads him to learn the art of crafting and shaping his own theories that identify with his own individuality. That fact that his works mirror those of Socrates has brought him much fame throughout history. Because his works are so significant to the political field, he is credited as the most celebrated Greek moralist. His early efforts in defending and defining the system of justice has gained him fame in the political field. However, though he has proposed many great theories that have benefited the society significantly, Plato’s greatest contribution to political science is essentially his powerful yet impartial definition of system. In The Republic, Plato explains that the common perception of justice in the contemporary world is that those who behave unjustly naturally gain power and become rulers and stronger people in society. On the other hand, when weak people behave in accordance with justice, they are disadvantaged, and the strong gain the advantage.
In the “second title, Concerning Justice” Plato equates justice with virtue, thus making them equal. Notwithstanding, as one attempts to explain justice within the context of political discipline, one sees that laws were initially created to bring peace and social order to society. According to Bruell, The Republic presents itself as a consideration of justice. This is an important statement because it shows Plato’s argument about the system of justice as a dynamic political philosophy. The fact that it is perceived as a “consideration” of justice shows it is the work of the humanistic intellect rather than expose of a universal truth. Plato’s consideration of justice shows that in the domain of justice there are multiple ways to designate its private and public place in the society. He argues that justice is an orderly system and it functions according to the needs of the society and the individual (Website). In fact, the system itself is so powerful it can become manipulative in regulating the lives of innocent individuals when such a system rests in the hands of powerful rulers who practice lawlessness.
The Republic argues that in order to discover the truth about right and wrong, one must abandon the traditions of the past and start observing justice personally by building up knowledge without resting on traditional beliefs. His penetrating questions and hypothesis on the relativity of justice is highly philosophical. In discovering the true nature of justice, Plato primarily dedicates the majority of his writings centering on his notion of morality. Most importantly, The Republic serves to introduce the relativity, the all-encompassing reach of Plato’s conception of justice. In a nutshell, Plato states that it is advantageous when one practices justice. He creates a connection between the acts of righteousness to the act of justice and concludes that such deeds are worthwhile (website). He encourages one to perceive just deeds as more than mere good deeds, namely, they also brings one “pleasure” in the sense that they transforms the individual who practices then. “There is nothing more appropriate than that philosophers should rule, for that activity consists in modeling the moral and social whole according to the harmony of the forms”(article). Thus, the introspective facet of reason can never be freed entirely from “participation” in the ruling dimension. Hence, Plato’s greatest contribution in politics is his argument that it is fundamentally the partiality that the system of justice encompasses which makes it a powerful system.
In The Republic, Plato defines clearly the definition of justice and morality. His work is a major political discovery to the truth of right and wrong. The system of justice can be interpreted in different ways but essentially its political theory proves that the strong holds advantage over the weak is a universal truth. However, his revealing of the truth between right and wrong gives birth to the notion that justice is defined by the act of good will, rather than the self-interest of the individual. The intellectual notion of justice that Plato argues for is so powerful that the validity of its political doctrines is timeless in human history.
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