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Justice in Greek Philosophy - Essay Example

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Plato, one of the Greek's ancient philosophers, ideally believed that sense-gained knowledge remains impure and confused, and that only the soul that contemplates and turns away from thinking carnally can receive true knowledge. He also believed that only the soul can know real essences of things, acquire knowledge of forms since the world as seen by the eye is nothing short of an imperfect copy (Bakalis, 2005).
The immense dialogue in the Republic is opened by questioning the nature of justice. Several definitions of justice are proposed which are found to be inadequate except that at least more emphasis is put on Sophist, Thrasymachus' definition. According to this young man, justice is anything the strongest man decides that it is. Further, he states that whatever is in the strong man's interest is just. This argument is dismissed by Socrates after proving that strong personalities rarely get to know whatever is in their best interest; this cannot be just since justice in itself is a virtuous (Griffin, Boardman & Murray, 2001). Plato had quite a different view of justice; he believed that an answer exists that derives basically from reality's nature. In his republic, justice is defined as wisdom, courage and self-control; something close to righteousness and morality.
In Greek, the Republic refers to the character or order of a political society; its regime type or constitution. The republic also refers to the city-state governance in a Socratic dialogue written in 380 BC by Plato. The republic is a most influential work of political theory and philosophy, and is Plato's best work. In fictional dialogues with foreigners, Athenians and Socrates, Plato discusses the meaning of true justice (Griffin et al., 2001). He seeks to establish whether man is happier when just or unjust by imagining a society that is governed by the guardians and philosopher-kings. The dialogue also goes further to discuss the role of philosophers, the place of poetry, the Theory of Forms and the soul's immortality.

Plato's Republic is to-date considered in respect of western philosophy to be one of the most influential works. The Republic essentially deals with the subject of how one can live well. This inquiry into how one can live a good life was shaped into two parallel questions: (1) what does an ideal state look like, or what is state justice (2) What makes a just person These questions naturally encompass others such as: how should the state citizen be educated, what arts need to be encouraged, what kind of government should state adopt, who should govern and what rewards should the governor receive, what is the soul's nature and what afterlife and divine sanctions exist (Griffin et al., 2001).

The dialogue proceeds to cover almost all aspects of Plato's thought. Platonic thought as described by several central aspects that exist in the dialogue can be summed up into three main points; the nature of justice, the ideal republic and the allegory of the divided line and the cave (which attempt to explain the theory of forms as perceived by Plato).

According to Socrates, if a person can define what a just state looks like then the person can apply that analogously to the just man. Plato on his part exposes in detail how a state can have wisdom, courage, justice and temperament - four great virtues. In his utopia, Plato divides men ...Show more


Greek philosophy is a philosophy that many concede has shaped the whole of Western philosophy ever since its inception. Alfred Whitehead noted this fact albeit with exaggeration when he stated that Western philosophy is nothing but a string of footnotes attributed to Plato…
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Justice in Greek Philosophy essay example
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