What is justice? How does it relate to society and the individual? Who should govern the ideal city? These are some of the questions Plato poses in his work The Republic, one of the most important dialogues in ancient philosophy and of all time.
In this book, Plato presents a series of arguments and examples to define justice and show that it is a good in itself, independent of its rewards or punishments. For this, he proposes to build an ideal city, in which each class of people (producers, warriors and rulers) fulfills its proper function and harmonizes with the others. Justice, according to Plato, is a principle of specialization: each one must do what corresponds to him according to his nature and not interfere in the affairs of others.
But who should rule this city? Plato replies that the best ruler is the philosopher, the only one who loves knowledge and truth, and who recognizes reality beyond appearances. The philosopher must be educated from childhood to prepare himself for his task, and he must live a simple and austere life, owning neither gold nor silver nor property. His only reward will be the good of the city and its inhabitants.
The Republic is not only a political treatise, but also a psychological and ethical study of the human soul. Plato affirms that the soul has three parts: the rational, the irascible and the concupiscible. Individual justice consists in each part fulfilling its function, directed by reason, so that the appetites and the spirit are controlled. Just as the rational part of the soul must rule over the others, the rational part of the citizens, the philosopher, must rule over the warriors and the producers.
The Republic is a fascinating and provocative work, which invites the reader to reflect on universal themes such as justice, education, art, happiness and the meaning of life. It is a work that leaves no one indifferent, and that has influenced generations of thinkers and politicians. If you want to know Platos ideas about the ideal city and the just man, dont miss The Republic, an essential classic of Western philosophy.