The Republic

Three Strategies for Elucidating Justice

In his text, The Republic, Plato takes on the monumental task of elucidating the topic of justice through the discourse of Socrates with his auditors. Adding to the challenge of this task is Socrates' faithfulness to arguments made with reason, and not rhetoric. He thus avoids, and even criticizes, the type of arguments and claims that are made by poets serving primarily to manipulate their audience. To perhaps lessen the difficulty of his task, Socrates applies several strategies in discussing justice: a lie, an allegory, and a myth. I will thus aim to unpack each of these strategies, as well as to magnify the light that they shine on the topic of justice. Through this unpacking, I also hope to show a potential inconsistency in Socrates' criticism of poetry and fiction as rhetorical, and thus straying from the path of reason that he values, and claims to follow. In the end, however, Socrates takes an argument of moderation, abandoning the attainability of the just city and recognizing that injustice will always exist. Socrates therefore identifies limits in the nature of humans that call for this abandoning, but which also call for the application of such strategies that will appeal to human nature, and at the very...

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