The Republic

The Rational, the Just, the Virtuous, the Happy

Plato's most precise ethical argument in his Socratic dialogues is that of justice's dual effect; he holds that while a "good" may be pleasant in effect, it must also be good in itself in order to qualify as justice. Justice fills the whole of Plato's definition of the virtuous life, because only by living justly can a person find true happiness. Similarly, if a person's supposed happiness is based only on an action's good and pleasing end, then the result is not truly happiness, but merely the wanton outcome of what happiness has come to represent. Whether the end be wealth, goods, food, or reputation, that sort of end appears as happiness only to the individual who does not realize the falseness of his ideology and who is controlled by his drives for physical satisfaction and honorable recognition. In Plato's mind, only one who has a genuine understanding of the good itself can begin to understand the principle of virtue, and thus, the spiritual, intellectual, and political elevation in living a just life and in living the best life2EIn Plato's eyes, through proper education, one reaches not merely knowledge, but truth. Following the allegory of the Cave in Book VII of the Republic,...

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