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Paradox of the Republic

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Paradoxes are ideas that seem to be in opposition to one another but are mutually needed to function. In Plato's Republic he discusses several paradoxes. While reading The Republic we can see which side of these paradoxes Plato favors. We find which side he feels should be stressed so that we may live in a reasonable and safe society and be better human beings. There are three categories in which these paradoxes have been divided into: ethical, metaphysical and political. Plato was a legendary Athenian philosopher. His main influence was his teacher, Socrates, whom he thought died unjustly. The Republic was written in dialogues narrated by Socrates. These dialogues were Socrates' teachings as best Plato could remember them. His writings left an undeniable mark on the world. The Republic was one of his most famous works. It outlines the core of his beliefs.

Politically, Plato explains the paradox of justice and the law. Plato believes that absolute justice is the same for everyone without exception. This justice goes beyond power and or money. He feels justice is not necessarily the law. "Law is an imperfect form of justice." What is legal is not necessarily moral. In Book 1 of Plato's The Republic, Plato explains that justice is a balance between reason, courage and man's needs or in other words, the head, the heart and the stomach. He goes on to explain that justice or fairness does not always mean equal. The law may change but justice remains constant. A good rule or law however is a just rule. Plato felt that to get people to act justly one must teach them ethics and values. He also believed that along with these ethics and values we must have a reasonable understanding of these rules. An understanding of these rules is needed so people are more apt to comply with them and therefore maintain a just and fair society.

Another paradox discussed in Plato's The Republic is authority and liberty. Plato strongly favors authority. He has little faith in man. Plato believes that men are more unreasonable than reasonable. He feels that most men and women cannot be objective and make rules that benefit all of society not just themselves or their family. He feels that personal liberty and choice only bring disunity, unhappiness and anxiety. Even today experts agree that children brought up with rules tend to be more secure and happy than children who are not taught acceptable behavior or who don't have authority figures in their lives. In The Republic, Plato explains that the authority will be made up of people who are able to make up reasonable rules. These people, men and or women would be chosen and then educated in ethics, morals and reasoning. He further

explains that if the authorities' give people objective rules with reasons then objective behavior should follow. In Plato's Republic, by using reasonable authority he is trying to create a reasonable social order. He feels that reasonable rules should come from the outside not from each person's inner feelings. The guardians, or authority are able, by using reasoning and passing just laws to keep the dignity and liberty of the individual and also maintain a just and orderly society.

In Plato's The Republic men and women would be treated equally. Both genders would be educated until the age of 18. Between the ages of 18 and 22 everyone would go to the army to gain courage. After the army all would go to college until age 26. During college they would be selected for what ever service they are qualified for. Either a man or women could become a guardian, server or helper, and or a producer. The guardians themselves would make equal amounts of money so they could concentrate on a nonmaterial existence. Plato felt an inequality of wealth would cause an ethical breakdown. These three groups, the guardians, servers and the producers, although different in the roles they play and jobs they have would not be considered better or worse, inferior or superior to one another, just different. Each group would fulfill a societal need by bringing goods and services or rules for everyone to benefit by.

When Plato was thinking out his Republic he felt society took president over the individual. "The whole is greater than it's parts", he said. However, Plato also said, "you need to balance the order of society with the rights of the individual." Plato felt in a natural state people would war against on another. That is why a civil or social contract is needed to keep man from killing one another. Man would then enter into this social contract for protection, to trade goods and services with others and simply to have their needs taken care of. For this social contract to be successful each individual must have a responsibility and an obligation to his fellow man and follow the rules of the contract. In this way the individual will gain but society will prevail. It is a give and take proposition. People are working for the benefit of society and individuals benefit from working for the society. Plato wanted to set up an interdependent society where we would service one another with competence, where each one would better themselves by working for the society and fulfilling different needs. Everyone would be working for the betterment of society and thereby helping themselves. "We are stronger together than we are individually."

In the paradox of order and change, Plato favors order. In Plato's Republic he speaks of a specific social order and feels that there are absolute laws and reasons without exceptions to keep that order. He feels order will give a permanent sense of security. He feels that change can only create chaos and anxiety. He says that each person will belong to a specific group and should work at a specific job throughout their life time. Not necessary the job a person may want, but one that he or she is good at. He wants people to do only one thing in their life and not change their jobs. He says people are happiest when they are doing something they are good at. It would be too emotionally draining and chaotic to do several jobs, or to try different professions just for the heck of it He wants people to follow the rules to maintain order in the society and in only that way can society be happy and emotionally healthy.

Plato was a deductive thinker. He was able to take general information and break it down to specifics. His was not knowledge completely dependent on experience or prior knowledge. He was able to use assumptions not necessarily based on facts or principles from which a logical conclusion could be drawn. Deduction transcends direct observations. With deductive reasoning you start with a premise and a conclusion will then follow. An example of this would be when we have a mathematical hypothesis and we must go through the specific steps to prove



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