in Virtue and Happiness

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646043
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743368 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy


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This chapter criticizes the Republic’s state-soul analogy on several grounds. First, the presumption that we can find individual justice by looking to the justice of a state because the state is larger than an individual is false: although ‘large’ applies to state and individual soul in the same sense, what it is for a state such as Athens to be large has to do with the size of its population, whereas what it is for an individual such as Aristides to be large has to do his height or weight. So ‘large’ does not have the ‘same form’ in state and individual. Second, like ‘large’, ‘just’ does not have the same form in the state and the individual (even if it’s possible to say a state and individual are just in the same sense): what it is for a state to be just, Plato says, is for the parts of the state to each do their own job. But what it is for an individual to be just can’t be for that individual’s soul-parts to do their own work, because individual souls don’t exist. Even supposing they did, and supposing that they had parts, Socrates simply asserts without argument the manifestly false thesis that having your parts each do their own work is sufficient for justice.

Keywords: Republic; Athens; Aristides; Plato; Socrates; justice

Chapter.  8997 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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