Justice is avidly sought of for daily, however how one knows if they are achieving justice or not. In Plato’s Republic he attempts to define justice and draws out a plan on how society would be able to achieve true justice. Plato’s strategy in The Republic is to first explicate the primary notion of societal, or political, justice, and then to derive an analogous concept of individual justice. Through discussion justice is soon defined as harmony within a structured political body. As a whole, Plato sees a just society when relations between the different classes of people are right. This, in turn, created the allegory of the Ideal City.
Within this allegory Plato proceeds to create different classes of people – the producers, the guardians, the auxiliaries and philosophers. Additionally, Plato believes that philosophers are the only ones who are fit to rule, this is supported by his arguments presented within his definition of a philosopher, the qualities a philosopher, as well as the Allegory of the Cave. Philosophers are often defined as those who love truth and wisdom. However, the philosopher that Plato had in mind when stating that only philosophers are fit to rule was different than the traditional concept of a philosopher.
The first step was to break apart these philosophers from the “the lovers of sights and sounds”, another intellectual group known for their expertise in beauty. In order to distinguish between the philosophers and the lover’s of sights and sounds Plato mentions the theory of the Forms – however does not explain them within the novel, rather assumes his audience knows the theory already. Forms are however mentioned in other Platonic dialogs and are absolute universal ideas such as the Good. Forms are not seen, but rather only understood and are responsible for making sense of the things around the universe.
These Forms are what differentiates philosopher from the lovers of sights and sounds as the lovers claim to know all about beauty but do not recognize or know the Form of the Beautiful as they do not deal with forms but only with opinions and not knowledge proving that only philosopher have knowledge. In order to prove further, this astonishing claim Plato describes a scenario, as he divides all of existence into three classes: what is completely, what is in no way, and what both is and is not. What is completely is completely knowable; what is in no way is the object of ignorance; what both is and is not is the object of opinion or belief.
The only things that are completely are the Forms. Sensible particulars both are and are not. So one can only know about Forms, and not about sensible particulars. That is why only philosophers can have knowledge, and are the only ones who do, because only they have access to the Forms. Many people question this idea of the philosopher though as no philosopher like this has ever existed, and Plato agrees however states that current philosophers have not been raised the proper way, as those born with philosophical traits are soon convinced to study elsewhere-to immerse themselves in politics, money and power.
This leads them away from philosophy all together and in their place are those who are not fit to be philosophers. As Plato reveals that only philosophers can have knowledge, it is apparent that they are clearly the ones who are most capable of understanding what is good for the city and are allotted the top spot in ruling. However, people then question whether or not philosophers have virtue or not. This is proven as a philosopher has immense virtue. The very definition of a philosopher is lover of truth and wisdom, thus his entire soul strives for truth.
This means that the rational part of his soul must rule, which means that his soul is just. !!!! INPUT AREAS OF THE SOUL> Plato again refers to the Forms as he states that the philosopher’s association with the Forms determines his virtue, as associating with this divinity he, himself becomes divine and mimic’s his soul after the form of the Good. Additionally, Plato states that due to the philosopher’s strife towards truth and wisdom the other desires – for money or pleasure – are weakened, thus ensuring there would never be a need to steal, lie or boast.
Many however, question this as it appears that the philosopher’s soul is in a state of monopoly not harmony, others question if the philosopher were to regain a love for money or honor what would happen? A simple answer would be that even if these human desires come back, the philosopher has so much reason he would not act on these desires. In order to elaborate on how education effects the human soul, Plato presents an allegory, known as the allegory of the cave. Within the allegory education moves the philosopher through stages of struggle but ultimately allows him to attain the Form of the Good.
The allegory goes as follows; A group of people have lived in a cave since birth, they have never seen the light of day and are hindered in their mobility as they are bound to chains. There is a fire behind them and behind that is a partial wall with statues manipulated by the people outside the cave. Due to the fire, the statues cast shadows across the wall that the prisoners are facing. The prisoners watch the stories that these shadows play out, and because these shadows are all they ever get to see, they believe them to be reality.
Additionally, as they speak they’re voices are echoed causing them, again, to believe this is reality. These prisoners represent the lowest stage on the divided line, this being imagination. As the allegory proceeds a prisoner is freed from his bonds, and is forced to see the fire and the statues themselves, this caused him pain and confusion as his eyes were never exposed to light, however the prisoner soon realized that this was reality – not the shadows he once perceived to be real. Eventually, he understand that together the light and the statues cast shadows on the wall and accepts these items as the most real things.
This represents belief. Although he is not yet aware of the world outside the cave, when the prisoner is taken out of the cave he is dazed and slowly embraces the beauty around him and knows that this is truly reality, and is even more real than the statues. This stage is cognitive stage, or the stage of thought, and has seen the most real things- the Forms. As his eyes adjusts to the light, he notices the Sun and realizes the sun is the cause of everything. The sun represent the Form of the Good and represents the prisoner reaching the stage of understanding.
Plato than explains this to be the goal of education, as it should not be aimed at gaining knowledge but aimed at turning the soul to the right desires. Furthermore, it expresses that the vision or knowledge of a clever wicked man could be equivalent to a philosophers but it is where is vision lies, what he wants to attain that alters his ability to rule. Therefore, the philosopher is the ultimate person to rule. Additionally, the stages of the cave are stages of life – everyone beings at the same place but not everyone would be able to make it all the way down the line, these people may only be philosophers.
At the end of the allegory the prisoner returns back to the cave, and with his new knowledge must learn to adapt back to what he once knew. People often question why he must return back, to that Plato states that although it may seem unfair to one person, the idea is not just to make one person happy but rather to make the whole city happy, and if the best way for the philosopher to learn how to rule and remain humble and true to the forms he must return to the cave. Overall, Plato is correct is stating that philosophers make the best rulers.
This was evidenced by their knowledge of the Forms, as well as their adherence to the Forms. This ensures that they are the most wise, and will know the best way to rule. The adherence they have to the Forms establishes that they are the most virtuous as they do not want to veer from the Good, and never want anything but wisdom and truth. Lastly, as presented in the allegory of the cave the philosophers are the most qualified to rule as they utilize their knowledge and virtues together while still remaining humble. All in all Plato adequately established why philosophers are the most qualified to rule.