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Further, Plato enlivens his presentation of justice by providing vivid images that illustrate his ideas more clearly than argument alone could do. For example, the Myth of the Metals (414c-416c) sets up an image for discussing the nature-nurture problem. The Parable of the Ship of State (488a-489c) reveals the "useless" position of philosophers in a state devoted to political struggle and intrigue. The Analogy of the Sun (506e- 509c) brings to light the distinction between sensible and intelligible objects. The Divided Line (509c-511e) and the Allegory of the Cave (514a-621b) show us the ascending scale of reality and intellectual development. And the Myth of Er (613e-end) presents a speculative view of the eternal rewards of justice. Thus, Plato is both a philosopher and a poet. His artistry offers us intellectual vision coupled with dramatic insight and inspiration.
13. In Book I Cephalus says that justice is telling the truth and paying one's debts. His son Polemarchus adds that justice is giving every man his due, which he interprets to mean that justice is what benefits one's friends and harms one's enemies. Socrates, through the process of dialectic, demonstrates that both of these views on justice are inadequate.
Thrasymachus bursts into the discussion and presents an argument that goes against the grain of traditional morality. He insists that justice is to the advantage of the stronger; in other words, justice is whatever the rulers of a state say it is. He also claims that it is more profitable for an individual to be unjust than to be just. Socrates counters Thrasymachus' arguments, succeeds in quieting him, but admits that what justice really is has still not been determined.
In Book II Glaucon and Adeimantus demand that Socrates prove to them that it is better to lead a just life than an unjust one. They want to be shown that living justly is the best way to live regardless of any financial rewards or of the good reputation that can result from just behavior. Socrates complies with their wishes and, with their help, sets out to examine what justice is in itself and by itself.
He begins by constructing the just city for, as he says, it takes keen vision to see justice in the soul. First, justice must be "writ large," that is, must be revealed in the operations of an ideal city-state. He proceeds by creating a city that is divided into three classes-rulers, auxiliaries, and producers. Most of Book III is concerned with the education of the guardians (future rulers and auxiliaries).
In Book IV Socrates discovers the particular function and excellence of each class. Rulers govern and must have reason; auxiliaries protect and must have courage; and producers take care of physical needs and must have moderation. But where is justice? Socrates says that justice is the harmonious functioning of all of the members of the city; it is each class performing its tasks well and not meddling in the affairs of the other classes.
Likewise, in the souls of men, justice is the harmonizing of the various parts of the soul. Reason (wisdom) must always govern and ally itself with emotion (courage and conviction). And both reason and emotion must control desire (the moderation of the base appetites and emotions). Thus, justice in both the city and the soul is the health produced by the harmonious functioning of Intelligence, spiritedness, and bodily sensation.