In the Greek world, philosophers such as of the Hegel and Kierkeguaard argued against each other works or beliefs of a nation. The Republic was written by Plato speaking through his great teacher Socrates. The Republic consisted of 10 books that was based on two main questions and that was: What is justice? Why should we be just? The journey that Socrates goes through in order to find out the true meaning of justice is not an easy one. Socrates travels from city to city speaking to different people of the population in the quest of truly understanding the world justice and why we have it.
The first individual that tried to answer Socrates question of what is justice was Cephalus, who was a rich men of the city, well-respected elder of the city. Cephalus definition of justice is an attempt to articulate the basic Hesiodic conception: that justice means living up to your legal obligations and being honest. Socrates opposes this formulation with a counterexample: returning a weapon to a madman. An individual commits a crime with a weapon, even though he committed a crime, the weapon legally belongs to him and it should be returned, yet this would be an unjust act, since it would endanger the lives of others if that individual was able to get that weapon back. Cephalus definition of justice could not be justified because justice is nothing more than honoring legal obligations and being honest.
The second individual that answered the same question by Socrates was Cephalus's son Polemarchus. Polemarchus lays out a new definition of justice: justice meant that you owe friends help, and you owe enemies harm. Socrates has many questions about the statement. Socrates points out that judgment with our friends and enemies are deceptive; this judgment would lead us into helping the bad and harming the good of society. As human beings, we are never friends with the honorable individual, and our enemies are not the worse of society.
Thrasymachus who was a Sophist, is the next individual that gives his definition of what justice is. Thrasymachus shows us the vicious result of this confusion between Cephalus and Polemarchus with his own definition Justice, he says, is nothing more than the advantage of the stronger. Though Thrasymachus claims that this is his definition, it is not really meant as a definition of justice as much as it is a criticism of the justice already in play. Behaving the right way does not constitute in any reward or happy feelings for an individual. Living with the correct behavior only benefits those who use it to their advantage, not for the good of the people. Thrasymachus makes that assumption that justice is the abnormal control on our natural desire to have more. Justice is a just an idea that is imposed on us, and it does not benefit the human being from listening to it, and that's why justice should be completely ignored in the mind of the people.
The discussion between Socrates and Thrasymachus has now heated up to another level. Not only did they move away from the definition of justice but they are proving what justice really is and is it worthwhile? Socrates has three arguments to employ against Thrasymachus' claim. First, he makes Thrasymachus admit that the view he is advancing promotes injustice as a virtue. In this view, life is seen as a continual competition to get more (more money, more power, etc.), and whoever is most successful in the competition has the greatest virtue. Socrates then starts going into a long explanation of what reasons he has for concluding that justice is not a virtue but it contrary to wisdom, which is virtue. Injustice is contrary to wisdom because the wise man, the man who is skilled in some art, never seeks to beat out those who possess the same art. The mathematician, for instance, is not in competition with other mathematicians. Socrates then moves on to a new one of his points. Understanding justice now is the importance to certain rules which enable a group to act in common without anyone breaking laws or rules, Socrates points out that in order to reach any of the goals Thrasymachus earlier praised as desirable one needs to be at least moderately just in the sense of adhering to this set of rules. Socrates has finished talking to Thrasmachus but finds no closure to a concensus on the definition of justice, but Socrates has only weak arguments to support what justice is.
Socrates now engages in a conversation with Adeimantus about a city without money cannot defend itself against invaders, but Socrates reminds Adeimantus that the city will have the best military from anywhere in the Mediterranean with the promise of spoils of war which would tempted slaves or other individuals to come and join the military. Socrates would limit the size of the city, because overpopulation could result in government could not governed well under the current system. Socrates also suggests that people should be the guardian of their own education in that everything that they will have in common among them will include wife and children. Socrates argues that the just city has no use for laws because guardians will be able to solve problems that arise.
Socrates presents the most famous metaphor to the Western philosophy: the allegory of the cave. This metaphor is meant to illustrate the effects of education on the human soul. Education moves the philosopher through the stages on the divided line, and ultimately brings him to the Form of the Good. Socrates describes the scene of a dark cave. A group of people have lived in a deep cave since birth, never seeing the light of day. These people are bound so they cannot look to either side or behind them, but only straight ahead. Behind them is a fire, and behind the fire is a partial wall. On top of the wall are various statues, which are manipulated by another group of people, lying out of sight behind the partial wall. Because of the fire, the statues cast shadows across the wall that the prisoners are facing. The prisoners watch the stories that these shadows play out, and because these shadows are all they ever get to see, they believe them to be the most real things in the world. When they talk to one another about "men," "women," "trees," or "horses," they are referring to these shadows. These prisoners represent the lowest stage on the line-imagination.
The Republic has influenced our way of thinking when it comes to the word justice and what it represents. The people today have no problem understanding what the word justice means but what is has to them and how it has affected their life. The definition of justice from www.dictionary.com states that "the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause". Most people today have a clear understanding from what is right and from what are wrong. People who break the law usually lack a judgment from what they think is right or wrong. The Republic has ties the life of the Greeks to the current date of citizens that live in the modern day. Ordinary citizens knew what justice was but everybody had their own individual meaning. This would all later change when important philosopher help determine what is right from wrong through a series of law. The life that individuals choose will determine whether they are rewarded or punished in the next cycle. Those who choose to live life the right way will be rewarded with going to heaven and those who choose not to live life the right way will be living life for eternity until they get it right. Those individuals who follow the law will never be in question, but those who live near the edge will always be on guard.