The Republic Written by Plato – Book Report/Review Example
The paper "The Republic Written by Plato " is a brilliant example of a philosophy book report. The most exciting thing about “The Republic” written by Plato in 360 B.C.E, is that after all these years, it remains contemporary. The issues raised by this great Greek philosopher regarding the State and the Individual remain alive even today. Modern man had not been able to outlive these issues. The Book of Republic, comprising of ten books, is a series of dialogues by Socrates with ten other characters or followers, beginning with an elderly arms manufacturer, named Cephalus. The dialogues start at the house of Cephalus. These dialogues are recreated by Plato as his own way of philosophical inquiry into what makes an ideal State and an ideal citizen. Though Socrates taught his students how to live a happy life, he found that happiness was often equated to worldly possessions and pleasures. Morality took a back seat. The question of morality not only of the individual but also of the State and the rulers is the central theme of “Republic”. The book one tries to define justice and asks a simple question: is it better to be just than unjust. The dialogue on this question starts with Cephalus and continues through Polemarchus. But both of them fail to give a clear definition to justice. In the next dialogue, Thrasymachus challenges Socrates and his equation of good life as just life. According to Thrasymachus, justice is what the strong people in society impose on the weak. Socrates argues out Thrasymachus who withdraws sullenly. Now Glaucon and Adeimantus take on Socrates. Their argument is that in the society only the justice of the strong is valued. A weak man is just is not visible at all. To counter this argument Socrates gives an account of a good city. A good city will be a city where justice prevails. Justice in a city can prevail only if justice is a pure virtue of the human beings in that city. Thus it is these “invisible”, just men together, who make a city just. Books two and three deal with details of moral education that is to be given to make men perfectly virtuous and just. Thus by the end of the Book, four Socrates characterizes justice as the personal virtue, shaped up by proper moral education, and which in turn will become a social virtue as well, though only the virtue of the society or the city will be visible. According to the Republic, the ideal city consists of three classes of people – Philosophers (rulers), warriors and commoners. The soul also has three layers of virtues—Wisdom, Courage, and Temperance. The dominance of wisdom over the other two makes a man more virtuous and just. Thus a just man is wise too. In Books five through seven, Socrates completes the account of the motivations of the perfectly virtuous people. He concludes that to be perfectly virtuous one has to be a philosopher. So to keep a city ideal and just, philosophers shall rule that city. Philosophers are the best rulers because they will not impose their ruling on the commoners and will also inspire them to be virtuous. Socrates also emphatically argues that a just city and just human being are good and in principle possible too. In Books eight and nine, Socrates puts forward three “proofs” for being just than unjust. In book ten Socrates argues that his “proofs” are not contradictory to the teachings of great poets. By discussing just an ideal city and giving examples of bad regimes, the Republic contributes to political philosophy in many ways. It discusses different possible forms of governance from Utopianism to Totalitarianism and tyranny to Democracy. “A philosopher king is the happiest and most just of people, a timocrat is second in virtue and happiness, an oligarch third, a Democrat fourth, a tyrant fifth, the most unjust and the most wretched of all.” (Republic by Plato, Translated by G.M.A Grube, revised by C.D.C Reeve page, 241) Plato has contempt for Democracy as the ruler there usually is not a philosopher. Republic Remains a book noted for its remarkably long-lived contribution to human ethics and politics.