Plato is the famous Greek Philosopher, along with Socrates and Aristotle. In the book written as a dialogue, Socrates discusses the themes of Justice, whether a man is happier as a just man or as an unjust one. The book also discusses the theory of forms and the immortality of the soul. The dialogue also discusses a city state ruled by a philosopher king.
In the book Socrates asks his colleagues a definition of justice and they say that Justice is the art to do good to friends and bad to enemies. One of them describes justice as the interest of the stronger. Socrates upturns their definitions by saying that it is your advantage to be just and it’s your disadvantage to be unjust. At this juncture I would like to reiterate that Socrates is beating around the bush. A postmodernist would ask questions like whether justice is based on strength or doing good to friends and befriending the enemy. In a democratic society justice is based on Rousseau’s Social Contract where freedom is consensual proclivity. A democracy ensures equal opportunities for all and there is freedom and liberty. Of course a modern day democracy falls short of a Utopia. The question to be asked in postmodernism, will there be a just society without wars and fanaticism. Will the other be understood as one’s own self in poetic subjectivity? When will democracy shun force and coercion and foster the spirit of dialogue. There is no perfect paradigm of justice and justice is in the process of evolution.
The young companions of Socrates argue that the origin of justice lies in a Social Contract. This is true to a certain extent as democratic principles are framed on the inclusive well being of all individuals. The second argument is flawed as it says that those who practice justice do so in order of fear of punishment. There are individuals who are just because they are peaceful and they don’t want to disturb the ethos of the society. Yes, justice is enforced by the rule of law. When a crime is committed, the laws of the super ego intervene and thwart the individual to be condemned.
This book is a dialogue about education. They proceed to dissect that education should be based on three virtues: wisdom, courage and temperance. To think and dialogue about wisdom is a philosophical problem. Wisdom is a hyperbolic, semantic solipsism. Who is wise? If we look at the question from the standpoint of existentialism we come to a being and nothingness. Is Wisdom found in perfection? From the standpoint of courage I would like to ponder it philosophically: is it wrong to be weak? Is it wrong to be frail? Are martyrs courageous? Why should terrorists be considered as courageous? To pin point courage into an epistemology would be a philosophical problem. Again the body is an Epicurean brothel of desires. How can the ID exercise temperance? Morals are a weak point for existential philosophers. That’s why Sartre said: man is condemned to be free. The clever deify the ID, defy the Ego and subvert the super ego.
Book 4 is also a repetition of justice as encompassing the three cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage and temperance. Hedonism, Epicurean-ism Existentialism and Postmodernism break up these virtues and promote a synthesis of unrestrained freedom. There is creative catharsis in anarchy and chaos.
I agree with the thesis that all individuals irrespective of gender should receive the same education. The Greeks have gone a long way in emphasizing gender equality. The second argument is rather specious as it advocates that all offspring should be looked after by the state and should be ignorant of their biological parents. The family is the basic unit of the society. The parents play major role in the upbringing of their wards.
In this book Socrates states that the Philosopher king should be intelligent, reliable and willing to lead a simple life. One of the flaws of a modern democracy is that leaders live an ostentatious life. They are flamboyant globe trotters. Most of them live in the gluttony of corruption. Postmodernism asks the question: when will philosophers become rulers. Again there’s the argument that truth comes from goodness. Truth has been deconstructed as semantic misnomer. Truth is preferential.
Book 7 enunciates the allegory of the cave. There are people in a cave and there is a wall separating them from which they can see a chasm of light. Plato was trying to explicate the theory of forms. Beyond the sensible world there is an ideal world of forms. Here Plato is indulging in a metaphysical abracadabra. How can one separate matter and be an ideal as a form?
This book discusses the four states of govt. through which every society will pass and they are timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. Timocracy is the rule of property owners. Such a type of society is unjust and power becomes a privileged signifier. Next comes the rule of the Oligarchs, a rule of the rich and the powerful. Such a society is also one of privilege and marginalization. Democracy is the ideal form of govt. though we can truthfully murmur that there is no ideal democracy. Democracy has to evolve from coercive democracies to consensual democracies. I do not adhere to the view of Socrates that democratic societies would degenerate into tyranny. I would like to say that democratic societies are evolving. I would like to say that theocratic societies have degenerated into rabid, tyrannical fanaticism.