Socrates on Civic and Human Justice

The Tripartite Soul

Socrates arguments in Book IV points towards a tripartite soul. This implies that he views the soul as divided into three parts each with distinct functions and virtues. These parts are the appetites, the spirited soul, and the mind soul. The appetite soul entails all the desires and pleasures of living. It helps confer comfort and satisfaction to the human being and keep the body at ease. The spirited soul is the second part of the human soul. This part entails the anger feelings and the perception of immorality and injustices. It is also the part of the soul that is determined to overcome pressures and challenges and cherish victory and honor. The main virtue of this part is nobility. The third part of the soul is the mind. This part is the charioteer of the appetites and the spirited parts, and the main purpose is to guide the other two parts. It is the part that judges situations, make analysis and even predict to determine the best course of action.

Socrates on Justice in Society

Socrates believes in justice as a virtue that should be upheld. According to him, living honorably and justly is well and better. The justice in us is, therefore, to be considered more profitable not only to the just person but the rest of the community. If the society is just, people are naturally able to do good, be good and live honorably. This means justice will benefit the whole community. The vice in this is injustice and the unjust persons. The person who does unjust acts does not benefit others but only themselves.

Socrates Response to Glaucon

Glaucon believes that there is no real value in being and acting just. When he looks at the consequences of being just, he observes that there can be nothing that prevents anyone from being unjust if he or she can get away with it. If the consequences of an unjust act are favorable, then the unjust act according to Glaucon, is not a vice as the act is ‘good for its own sake’ and has favorable consequences. Glaucon also observes that an unjust act may not be condemned due to its value and the consequences.

Socrates, however, argues that being just is better that having an unjust life. His argument is based on the social construct theory. However, he refutes the belief held by Glaucon that unjust can also be accepted for its good and its consequences. First, he observes that the natural world and human nature, in general, cannot be said to be morally indifferent as Glaucon observes. It is rather a complex combination of natures and personalities, and like any republic, something must be present to unify the amalgam of human nature. The unifier is justice and must, therefore, be accorded the highest social value. According to Socrates, the unjust only believes in authentic possession of all that they have and not the common good. This does not unify the society but rather divides it causing conflicts. This argument by Socrates is convincing as it focuses on the general structure of the society. In addition, Socrates first allows Glaucon to exhaust his side of arguments and convincingly refutes all his points and stresses on his.

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