Plato’s Influence on Justice
For most of this semester we have been looking at ideas of justice via both literary and philosophical works. This has included the ancient idea of blood justice and the Greek transition to a judicial system that centered on a trial by one’s peers, and yet was initially based on timh, reputation. Plato came of age when the transition was complete, and maybe one of the most influential events of his early life was the trial of Socrates, in which the most important man in young Plato’s life was unjustly sentenced to die. The impact of this event led Plato to construct the Platonic dialogues that would influence the Western tradition for centuries to come, including our conception of justice. Central to this influence are books VI and VII of the Republic, especially Plato’s detailed analysis of the Good as the foundation for all that exists, including justice as well. Your task is to explain how Plato’s metaphysical* construction of the Good influenced our understanding of justice; how the eidos, the form of justice, changed our perspective; how this idealized position led to a non-relative stance on justice that was to define the Western view for almost 2000 years.
*Metaphysics concerns that area of philosophy that focuses on the nature and structure of reality. It deals with such questions as: Are the objects we perceive real or illusory? Does the external world exist apart from our consciousness of it? Is reality ultimately reducible to a single underlying substance? If so, is it essentially spiritual or material? Is the universe intelligible and orderly or incomprehensible and chaotic? Beyond the question of whether or not reality is composed of one or more than one basic substance lies the question, what kind of substance is it? Idealists, such as Plato (and later Hegel), say that reality is basically spiritual and non-material, based on those “ideal forms” that we talked about.
Your essay will be graded using the following criteria:
• The quality of your discussion and argument
• Smooth incorporation and integration of the text with your argument
• Style, grammar and syntax
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