When tackling a text of great literary merit, it is important to remember to approach it in the right way. For instance, if we look to the New Testament of the Bible, while masterfully written, it is not a verbatim moral or ethical code of human behavior. Likewise The Analects of Confucius, while it offers insights into the human mind exclusive to the philosophies of Confucius, if taken as writ, would be confusing, quaint, and outlandish. Perhaps these incongruities, present in any piece of true classical literature, are the result of mismatched social values—the standards of one society, as imposed upon another, will not elicit the same results. In order for us to find depth, value, and meaning in what are regarded as “great” books or works of literature, we must approach them skeptically, question endlessly, and search for the true intended conveyance.
[...] For him to express his ideas in a manner similar to a dissertation or treatise, whereby he might have constructed an extended narrative in which he presents and explains his own personal philosophies, would have been to lose the weight and relevance of the argument he is making about the true nature of justice. At the very least, it would not stimulated creative thought or pursuit on the part of those who received it—both Socrates and Plato knew this, above all, to be the supreme goal of human life. [...]
[...] In the same way that the Individual (Citizen) and the State find a commonality of purpose and are thereby inexorably tied to one another, Plato's definition of justice is related to his higher ideals of The Republic. The Republic he presents to us is a model, a paradigm of what can be achieved when each facet of the interior and exterior of human interaction is applied to a superior standard. For example, the issue of place in society, and as it relates to role (Plato extends it almost to what we might define as ‘career') is relevant to both the Individual and the State. [...]
[...] It allows for every citizen to know their own capacities and so fulfill their role to the best of their abilities. As was the common maxim: “Know Thyself.” For in knowing thyself, one identifies the way in which they may come to best serve the State, and in doing so, perpetuate the ideals and values of the State. Plato here is saying that certain individuals, based upon their talents and education, are better equipped than others to fulfill certain roles. [...]
[...] Let us assume that, much like people have come to accept religious tales that can be seen as similarly outlandish, Plato succeeded in having both the Magnificent Myth and the Allegory of the Cave accepted into Athenian canon. If people would regard it for its proverbial worth, not its literal interpretation, Plato would have accomplished the task of creating a societal dogma that could be applied—doing so would propel the actual Athenian state toward the ideal Republic. There is also a great deal of isomorphic structure to be found in the Myth; it ties into larger themes of the text, as we will come to see at a later point. [...]
[...] Injustice, borne of incongruities within the self (when Appetite rules) and in the more political model (when Guardians are bronze) is simply when an individual or a government is incapable of serving the State, which in turn fosters the populace. This is Plato's underlying theme, punctuated throughout The Republic. His ultimate concern is for the status of the Polis because he grasps the mutual relationship and common interests of the State and the Citizen, and so he sets about creating a model of what could be if all elements of these two parties could be tamed, and made to abide by their intended function. [...]
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