Plato’s Republic Book II

Book II deals with a few different subject matters which are very interesting. The first is whether or not justice in its most abstract form is something which people truly desire . Socrates is challenged to prove that justice is practiced just for its own sake, as well as for the consequences which it will bring. It could be just a means to an end, “quid pro quo” and all that. Or some might want to be just in order to rack up brownie points for the afterlife. I find these arguments to be super fascinating, and honestly pretty compelling! Surprisingly, I find myself drawn to Glaucon’s ideas and can totally emphasize with his viewpoints in this book.

Another relevant topic brought up is the principle of specialization, which is to say the idea that individuals should just do what they’re best at and nothing more. It’s a strange system that allows for a functioning and ‘just’ society, but I feel like it builds a potentially unjust hierarchy from the get go. Different professions have different levels, with the guardians sitting right on top. Much of the rules set in this weird world are set in order to create the perfect guardians, such as which stories about the gods were allowed to be told. The idea is that through this group effort, these guardians will be attained, therefore improving everyone’s lives overall. Here the need of the group is placed above the needs of the individual, since many sacrifices will have to be made by the lower classes in order to continue rising the city to the top.

1 thought on “Plato’s Republic Book II

  1. Christina Hendricks

    I agree that the questions of whether it’s better to be just or unjust (or, to put it differently, moral or immoral), and whether if being moral is best we should do it just for the possible consequences it can bring or because it’s good in itself, are still, today, very interesting and compelling. It’s one of the reasons this book is still read. No matter how much people today disagree with the state put forward here (and I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t), there are still numerous interesting questions and arguments. And the books is a very coherent, systematic whole–once you get most of the main arguments (which we’ll consider over the next two weeks!) you can get a decent sense of why he says what he does about the state (and several other things that may seem puzzling). It’s tied together in a nicely coherent way, even though many would now disagree with some of Plato’s starting points and thus with his conclusions.

    And yes, though one might go along with the idea of people specializing in what they’re good at, why do we need such a strong sense of hierarchy? Aren’t all parts of the state equally important to its functioning? Maybe he just means that someone has to rule, and in that sense they’re on “top,” but he certainly seems to speak of the rulers and auxiliaries as being better in some other ways than the rest of the city.

    On another note, can you please activate a plugin that allows people who are commenting to check a box to get an email if there is a reply to their comment? When you’re logged into your blog, go to “plugins” on the left menu of the dashboard, and find the one called “subscribe to comments,” or something like that. Click “activate” on this plugin, and you’re done. That way, if anyone (including you) replies to a comment, then the person making it will know without having to go back to the blog to check. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *