The Highest Good and Justice

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One of the main attractions of Socrates in Plato's Republic was his constant focus on issues of immediate relevance to man both individually and in a larger social context. Rather than addressing issues of a metaphysical nature, he instead dealt with questions and concerns that impacted people's lives more directly and more concretely.


These two characteristics, the concern for practical applications of his philosophy and the use of reason to supplant theological directives, distinguished Socrates. His was an attempt to teach people how to better define the highest good, how to attain justice, and therefore how to attain happiness both individually and socially.
This essay will examine Socrates' notions of a highest good and justice, his linking of the individual and society through an integrated philosophical approach, and the implications of different choices regarding public administration and public order.
As a preliminary matter, it is important to note that Socrates' teachings were most directed at the individual. The highest good, therefore, was a condition that each individual was capable of attaining; however, this highest good could only be known through reason and a knowledge of one's self. Socrates equated this highest good with knowledge and happiness. Significantly, though, he went to great lengths to distinguish true happiness from illusory pursuits of happiness. He did this by drawing distinctions between absolute levels of ignorance and fancy ideals of true knowledge. ...
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