Plato’s main aim in “The Republic” is to answer two questions. One of them is what justice is while the other one is the reason as to why people should be just. The setting of the book revolves around those two challenges where Socrates pose the question, “What is justice?” The major debate that the author has brought about is what constitutes justice in a given country. For a long time, the matter has been of great concern for many writers since the period of civilization when citizens did not enjoy equal rights. Discrimination due to factors such as color, race, religion, nationality or gender has been the main cause of deterioration in many states. The writer of the “Republic” was concerned on whether or not the concept of justice may be determined by citizens in a given state. The application of laws helps to serve the citizens of a just nation in the court of law.
The primary argument that the author advances in the book is the policy responsible for securing the well-being and the good life of citizens of a country. One of the value that contributes to a happy nation is justice. Citizens feel happy and contented when the laws of the country treat them with equal measure regardless of differences in status, nationality, race or gender. Plato advances his arguments through the use of dialogue to persuade the audience about the importance of justice. In the beginning of the book, the characters start with a dialogue. It is a friendly conversation between Socrates and Cephalus. Socrates asks Cephalus about his life experiences after living such a long life in which he has been in a position to acquire a lot of wealth. As a response, Cephalus says that he is happy to have escaped the sexual appetites associated with young generation. He claims that many people try to overcome that temptation without success. Cephalus claimed that his ability to acquire wealth is a good thing since he can pay his debts comfortably.
Socrates admires Cephalus’s thoughts about life especially on the point where Cephalus criticizes other people of his age who have the tendency of lamenting the loss of youthful vigor. Instead, people should focus on making their lives better as they advance with age. When one has the strength and robustness as a young person, one should emphasize on the creation of wealth if offered the chance. The wealth makes life worthwhile since one can pay debts and live a comfortable life. The good thing about wealth is that it offers comfort to the one who possesses it. However, it cannot offer peace of mind since there are many elements apart from money that can make life difficult for individuals. If a person is of good nature, then money can offer true peace.
After a belief conversation concerning wealth, they start discussing just issues. According to Socrates, justice is the act of telling the truth and paying one’s debts. In addition, the ability to treat others equally regardless of their differences is an act of justice. Many democratic countries practice this trait by making sure that every citizen has equal opportunities for a job and public service. The right to vote leaders of choice is also an act of justice since the government gives everybody an equal chance to participate in the democratic action. Although being just improves an individual’s life by boosting his or her relations with other people, Socrates concluded that telling the truth and paying one’s debts is not always just.
At the beginning of Book I, the author introduces the audience to the narrator, Socrates and his peers. The writer has used a casual tone, and the language as well as of expression are rather simple. In this case, the audience can clearly understand the intended message. The author describes the concept through the use of dialogue between Socrates and Cephalus. Socrates inquires as to whether Cephalus’ happiness owes to the comfort of wealth or his peace of mind. From that dialogue, it is evident that a person’s nature can determine his or her peace of mind in old age. The reason is that one can have wealth but fail to benefit from it due to lack of a peaceful mind. Although wealth makes a person’s life more comfortable, it is clear from the author that an individual’s nature is the most important.
Notably, the author establishes the idea that a noble person should possess four cardinal virtues which are courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom. From the analysis, one can see that in Cephalus, Socrates had met a man who had achieved the virtue of courage through the experience of age. Specifically, one requires a great deal of courage to denial him or herself the passions of sexual appetite. Biologically, one was created with a craving for sex and the appetite more so during the youthful years. Cephalus denied himself such pleasures to concentrate in wealth creation. The author tries to prove to the audience that one has to sacrifice in order to achieve the good things in life. Cephalus has also learnt to temper his passions by avoiding sexual pressure. In this case, the author has portrayed him as an individual who has achieved temperance.
In addition, the author portrays Cephalus to have attempted to achieve justice when he decides to tell the truth and repay all the debts. He thinks that one has to achieve the right conduct in order to live a good life. According to the author, the attainment of justice and the establishment of fairness for all is good for a country that wishes to promote democracy. The author’s application of simple language helps him to achieve his purpose of explaining to the public the importance of justice. For people to live in peace and harmony, they have to practice various virtues such as justice, kindness, and integrity.
Overall, book one of the republic is about the philosophy of a good life. Socrates wanted to know what it means to live a good life when he asked Cephalus about the experiences of his lifespan. According to the book, people perceive good life as that which is free from trouble. Wealth is an example of an element that makes life good since it helps one to manage various problems such as debts and diseases. In addition, the ability to maintain peaceful relations with peers makes life comfortable, since there are no disagreements that can lead to stress. Through the use of simple language that entails dialogues, the author has succeeded in notifying the reader about important virtues in life.