I. The VirtuesIn Robin Waterfield’s translation of The Republic,Socrates attempts togive a definition of justice. At the end of Book II he began a detaileddescription of the construction of a good city. The good city is a relation tothe human soul, and its four virtues. In the following paper I will discussthe virtues, what they are and where they are found. Also discussed will bethe foundation, arrangement, and the interconnectedness with each one.
Nextdiscussed would be the 3 “H’s” and the understanding Aristotle has on the roleof happiness in the moral life. Lastly, I will discuss the experience that Ihad that related to Leonitus.The four virtues used by Plato are prudence, courage, temperance, andjustice. Plato relates the virtues to a community, which is made up of therulers, army, and workers.
Now the base line is the workers, and they do nottry to blend with the army as the army doesn’t blend with the rulers. When allof these do their own job, the community becomes one.The first virtue to be discussed is prudence. Prudence, also known aswisdom, is found in the rulers. “The people who have it are those rulers”(428d) In order to have wisdom one must be resourceful, in which he/she hasobtained knowledge. Plato says, ” resourcefulness is obviously a kind ofknowledge it’s not ignorance which makes people resourceful; it’s knowledge.
“(428b)The second virtue is courage, which is found in the military section ofthe community. Courage is not the virtue of standing in front of a tank and sayit will not hurt me, that is stupidity. Courage is the ability to apply whatyou have been taught: what is to be feared and what is not to be feared.
Platorelates retention to courage, “I’m saying courage is a sort of retentiontheretention of notion.” (429c) The ability for one to retain what one has learnedis courage. “Ability to retain under all circumstances a true and lawful notionabout what is feared and what is not to be feared is what I’m calling courage.”(430b)The next virtue temperance, is found in the workers of Plato’scommunity. Temperance, also known as self-discipline, is needed by theworkers, so that they do not desire to be in the ruler’s position. It is seenthat each position has its own importance in the community, and for thecommunity to function correctly each one must agree on their position in life.Plato relates,” in this community the rulers and their subjects agree onwho the rulers should be.
” (431e) Temperance is also used to control thedesire to go against one’s free-will. Plato says, “To be self-disciplined issomehow to order and control the pleasures and desires.” (430e)The last virtue to be discussed is Justice otherwise known as morality.Justice is found when all of the three work together, and no crimes arecommitted. If one breaks pattern then the community becomes immoral, or if onebecomes out of place then it is immoral. “when each of the three classesperform its own function and does its own job in the community, then this ismorality” (434c)Now I will discuss the human soul, containing three parts. The humansoul is a larger version of Plato’s community, therefore each of the virtuesrelate to the human soul.
The first part is reason, which is the capacity tothink rationally. Next is passion, which is the fighting for what is right,and the two together work as allies. ” the rational part is wise and looksout for the whole of the mind, isn’t it right for it to rule,and for thepassionate part to be its subordinate and its ally.” (441e) As passion andreason work together, passion is found in the military. The last part isdesire, which can be found in temperance, and is closely related to passion.Desire is the temptation to do what is wrong, but self-discipline corrects it.
“desirous part, which is the major constituent of an individual’s mind and isnaturally insatiably greedy for things.” (442a) Justice is again found in allthree parts of the soul, because when they all work together justly, the aresuccessful.The virtues are arranged in a hierarchical pyramid, in which the rulersare found at the top.The top resembles the highest position, in which therulers are in charge of the community. The next position is the military,which takes orders from the rulers and sends orders to the workers, which arelast on the pyramid. The only virtue that cannot be placed in the pyramid isjustice. Justice is found in all three of the virtues, therefore it reigns inall of them.
The way that the virtues are arranged makes it impossible forany of them to mix, be missing, or trade places. One must have all fourvirtues to be completely moral. Each virtue is directly related to each otherin an indirect way. “The rational part will do the planning, and thepassionate part the fighting.
The passionate part will obey the ruling part andemploy its courage to carry out the plans.” (442b)The three “H’s” which underlie each virtue are Head, Habitual, andHappiness. In the Head the person must contain the rational ability to knowwhat he/she is doing. In the Habitual, the person does something all the timeaimed toward the good. In Happiness, the person must simply be happy at whatthey are doing.
When the three “H’s” are obtained one is considered moral, orjust, and also has underlied all of the virtues.Aristotle thinks that our aim in life is to live a moral life, and behappy doing it. All human actions are aimed toward the good, and to be real isto fulfill one’s goal.The story I will use for my reflection on Leonitus’ experience,beganin my freshman year of high school. There was a person in my freshmen class,that came across as the class nerd. He assumed a nickname of “Pottsy”, closeto his last name.Pottsy began to run cross-country in his junior year to win an award hissenior year.
My senior year of cross-country was the best year of my life. Iwas the captain of the team, and was able to meet many different people fromaround the state and country. I was looked upon by all of my peers,andcoaches treated me with the highest respect. Everyone was angry with him forjoining, when all he wanted to do was be a part of something.
He wanted to bea part of the closest sport in high school. The sixty of us refused to let himin, and chided him all the way through the season. Being a captain I had toassume the right and not the wrong.At the beginning of the year I followed my rationality, but towards theend,my self-discipline gave in to pressure.
I called him names,startedmore amusement, and lowered myself to a different level. This level went fromruler to worker, and made him the military. My triangle became shapeless, andthe virtues that failed me were courage, and temperance.
This is because Ilacked the courage to stand up for him, and I lost temperance for doing what isright. My temperance was reshaped, and my courage was rebuilt, when the coachlost respect in me.After attending a retreat, I remembered what I had done, and wrote hima letter of apology.
I was utterly disgusted with myself, but I feel that youlearn from experiences, and now my triangle has been reshaped.In conclusion, I enjoyed discussing the main elements of Plato’sRepublic, the virtues. I have recaptured many events that have occurred in mylife, and plan to live closer to the triangle.Category: Philosophy