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Republic by Plato (REVIEW)

Implicit in this advocacy for justice is the assumption that we all share a common understanding of what exactly the term “justice” entails.

2 months ago

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A Critic's Meta Review: 6/5

Republic by Plato (425-348 BC). Published by planksip

A Critic's Meta Review: 6/5

“No justice, no peace!” is a chant that I have both heard and partaken in on what I feel to be far too regular of a basis. This is due to the fact that, at least in the modern era, it is typically used in response to some form of injustice dished out by one of the very institutions of the state intended to provide just the opposite, such as a police department or courtroom. Implicit in this advocacy for justice is the assumption that we all share a common understanding of what exactly the term “justice” entails. Ask anybody what they believe is meant by the term, and they will most likely give you some sort of karmic spiel about how people ought to get what they deserve and whatnot. The point is, however we describe it, at the very least we can all agree that it is, in fact, a thing that exists.

Try telling that to Thrasymachus (and then try saying that five times fast); indeed, Thrasymachus would have been the type of guy to show up at one of those rallies and see one of those “no justice, no peace” signs and then quickly grab some posterboard and a sharpie and shoddily scrawl “What even is justice, man?” across it, annoying both protesters and counterprotesters alike. You see, Thrasymachus was a Sophist. Sophists did not believe in objective truth. This means that they did not believe that terms like “justice,” “wrong,” or “hemorrhoids” I mean, say what you will about the tenets of Platonism - at least it’s an ethos. This sophistry, it’s just - it’s for the birds. Bush league psych-out stuff. Of little to no value.

Plato would certainly agree. He spends the vast majority of The Republic picking apart this entire worldview held by Sophists, the idea that nothing means anything and we should all be able to get away with murder, by presenting his model for a just society. This society is based on the principle that everyone just does what they are naturally inclined to do - whether it be farm, cook, or make puppets - and do it to the best of their ability. This specialization will result in the most ideal society, one in which everything is in its right place. It reminds me quite a bit of the Hindu concept of dharma, which is hard to define in English but essentially translates to “doing one’s duty” or “living in accordance with the infinite” (take your pick).

I’m with it. Kudos, Plato - you’ve done it again.

Republic by Plato (425-348 BC). Published by planksip

Published 2 months ago