In Plato's work, 'The Republic', Socrates is asked to prove that justice always outweighs injustice, and that the just man is ultimately happier than the unjust man. In order to do this, Socrates begins by outlining a utopian state in which justice thrives in both the state and the individual. In outlining this utopian state, Socrates emphasizes four cardinal virtues wisdom, courage, self-discipline, and justice which are essential for this ideal state to exist. Upon completing his description of this state, Socrates asserts that this society can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers (Socrates, Book V, 473c11-d4). In order to fully understand this claim that Socrates' state cannot exist unless philosophers become rulers, it is necessary to first grasp Socrates' concept of the ideal state. Once this concept has been fully understood, it becomes crucial to recognize Socrates' idea of the individual and what makes an individual just; then, once Socrates' concepts of the ideal state and a just individual have been fully understood, we will determine what Socrates' definition of a true philosopher is, and why philosophers would be the only fit rulers of the state.
[...] Socrates claims that, man who is ready to taste every branch of learning, is glad to learn and never satisfied he's the man who deserves to be called a philosopher.” (Socrates, 475c) Socrates explains that every individual possesses a unique faculty of knowledge (such as agriculture, medicine, finance, etc.) and that it is necessary for each individual to abide by their faculty of knowledge. For example, a doctor should always be a doctor and a banker should always be a banker. [...]
[...] Socrates argues that a just individual is an individual who has “bound these elements into a disciplined and harmonious whole, and so become fully one instead of many.” (Socrates, 443e) Furthermore, Socrates asserts that, call him (the individual) self-disciplined when all these three elements are in friendly and harmonious agreement, when reason and its subordinates are all agreed that reason should rule and there is no civil war among them.” (Socrates, 442d) Thus, an individual is just when he or she has achieved harmony between all three elements but has ultimately allowed reason to rule over the other elements. [...]
[...] According to Socrates, justice in the individual is a balance of the three elements, and justice in the state is a kind of harmony between all the classes having each group abide by their own duties without interfering with the duties of others. Is this concept of justice a complete one? It is arguable that this concept of justice promotes further division between the classes and thereby creates an even more hierarchical state. Can there truly be justice and equality in a hierarchical state? [...]
[...] Other people are more likely to worry about the things which make men so eager to get and spend money.” (Socrates, 485e) With this, Socrates demonstrates why philosophers would be the only people capable of maintaining a just frame of mind and not allowing ruling to corrupt them. Socrates places heavy emphasis on the differentiation between knowledge and opinion. According to Socrates, opinion is neither ignorance nor knowledge; it is rather an intermediate between them. To express this idea Socrates provides an example of a man who is enamored with visible beauty but denies that beauty is anything in itself any eternally unchanging form of beauty- this man would be a man ruled by opinion rather than knowledge. [...]
[...] It produces harmony between its strongest and weakest and middle elements so we are quite justified in regarding self-discipline as this unanimity in which there is a natural concordance between higher and lower about which of them is to rule in state and individual.” (Socrates, 432a) Therefore, self-discipline is the virtue that promotes order and obedience between the classes. Justice, the last and arguably most important cardinal virtue necessary for this state to function, is defined, according to Socrates, as minding one's own business and not interfering with other people. [...]
using our reader.