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Witness the schematically rational formation of an ideal state rooted from

the idea of justice. An idea where its aim “was not to make any one class
specially happy but to secure the greatest possible happiness for the community
as a whole.1” This was the core idea of Plato’s work entitled “The Republic”. The
article started to establish its ideas by defining the word justice that serves as an
essential element in the formation of its ideas for the emergence of an ideal state
but however Plato claimed that his ideas will not be fully establish in the future or
at any moment be realized “Then you must not insist upon my shadowing that
this construction we have traced in thought could be reproduced in fact down to
the last detail2” Plato was able to formulate a distinct key in attaining an ideal
state through the definition of justice. This article clearly established the primary
concepts of an ideal state aside from justice which is the core idea. Plato was
able to establish his idea from the start or from the emergence of a society up to
the more complex and bigger state with increasing needs and luxury.
Plato’s work was dissected into 15 topics, 15 topics that show a step by
step process of molding an ideal state. His article was expressed through a
dialogue and later on somehow became a monologue of Socrates. Plato was
able to clearly establish the central idea of his work, the idea that started through
defining the word justice. In his article justice was defined a numerous times but
there was only one definition that jump started the whole idea. Through
Thrasymachus, Plato defined just or right as “nothing but what is to be interest of
the stronger party.3” Plato was able to conceptualize the partial definition of his
central idea of justice that leads to the creation of an ideal state. In his definition,
justice is defined by who ever is the ruling party because in this situation, laws
are made by the stronger party and that in every law they make there interest is
at stake and the law is definitely in favor of the parties’ interest. With that
definition, the stronger parties are the ones who dictate what ought or ought not
to be. The stronger party believes on a certain interest and that interest will be
the ruled or the subject must do and obey. But this definition of justice was not
the main idea all through out Plato’s work.
After the emergence of some ideas on the definition of justice, Socrates
and others began to conceptualize the ideal state through starting on the idea of
what is the essence behind a ruler, what its facets are and what the traits of ruler.
With this, Plato defined ruling as an art, “And so every art seeks, not its own
advantage-for it has no deficiencies-but the interest of the subject on which it is
exercised.4” Plato established the real concept of a ruler and define it as an art.
He claimed that as an art, it does not seek into its own advantage but rather seek
for the interest if its subject. Just like in ruling where it is made to seek for the
interest of its subject but not for itself. In this portion, Plato where able to
contradict the definition of justice which was raised by Thrasymachus earlier and
stated that “then, no art ever studies or enjoins the interest of the superior or
stronger party but always that of the weaker over which it has authority.5” With
this idea, Plato were able to clarify that if a ruler is acting as a ruler, he wont seek
for his own interest but for the interest of his subject for which it has authority.
After the definition of the ruler as an art and its facets, Plato now tried to
see things in a macro point of view and they now try to conceptualize the
existence of a society starting from a very small group of people. This small
group people were united because according to Plato, there is no individual that
is self sufficient, thus they call in to others help to be able to meet there various
requirements or necessities and these necessities are the basic needs that a
human needs. “…and when we have collected a number of helpers and
associates to live together in one place, we call that settlement a state.6” With
this, a state is established due to everyone’s needs and that there’s no individual
that is self sufficient. Due to the expansion of the state, luxury emerges. At this
point there is now a clear distinction between justice and injustice which leads us
to deeper understanding of justice. Due to luxury, people vary from what they
want in life, and on the road for acquiring it they directly or indirectly hurt other
people and with this, injustice occurs and dispute takes place.
After the complex society takes place, Plato begins to create a person
who can govern and lead this society. A person that thinks of the welfare of his
subject, the ruled and they call it a guardian. According to Plato, a guardian must
have a quality of dog that has quick sense to sense for enemies, swiftness to
pursue it, strength to be able to fight and most of all gentle to their people but
dangerous to enemies and outsiders.. Aside from its physical qualities, a
guardian must posses its philosophical elements, and to be able to have it is to
have proper education that has the doctrine of goodness. Guardians must also
have a life that is shared with everyone to be able to share the blood of a
guardian to everyone, hence a guardian’s family must be common to all, and in
other words he has no family of his own. Plato now started to establish the
virtues of a state which processes wise, brave, temperate, and just. This virtue is
considered as an essential element of a state. Wisdom, to be able to take the
lead for the state, bravery, to be able preserve something, temperate, to be able
to have order and a state of control, and just or justice means that a man should
be concerned on what properly belongs to him. According to Plato, the essential
characteristics of an ideal state are also manifested on every individual of the
state. In his article, Plato also take into consideration the state of women when it
comes to equality and stresses that women can do any thing for as long as she is
destine or she is capable of on that field but still they point out that women is
considered as the weaker sex. Plato also stressed out that a king or a guardian
must have the knowledge like a philosopher to be a better guardian in a state
and must learn to go down and reach out to people and guide them. At the end of
Plato’s article, he made a definition to democracy and how it emerged to be able
to see its facets in a state he conceptualized.
Plato’s “The Republic” was able to establish a clear concept towards the
fulfillment of having an ideal state. The philosophical ideas that were established
in the article were the basis of the present political ideas. His way of dissecting
the ideal state was on scientific basis base on its systematic way of thinking
towards the fulfillment of an ideal state and with this, it serve as an edge of this
article. He highly conceptualizes every step from its emergence up to how it will
be when on a complex state. Even though his work was almost perfect at all he
still pointed out that his work will serve as a basis on every society. Plato’s ideas
is indeed a great help in forming a better polity.
Endnotes
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 William Ebenstein (ed.) Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the
Present, 4th ed . New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston . 1969
A Review of

The Republic

By

Plato

In

William Ebenstein (ed.) Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the Present, 4th ed.
New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston . 1969

3 pages

John Michael M. Baliquig

POL SCI 100 A2

Prof. Enrique Batara

MSU – Iligan Institute of Technology

June 21, 2010