Plato. The Republic. About Happiness and Justice
Many people think about philosophical notions like what is the since of life, is there life after death, what is happiness and is there an ideal model of justice. It is difficult to give definite answers to those problems. For example, I often use the words “happiness” and “justice” in everyday life. Various issues can make me think that the decision of the professor is unfair or a biscuit makes me happy. It might seem too banal, but I after having read Plato’s Republic, all these trivial things seem to be more pleasant than his idealistic perception of happiness and justice.
Nowadays, when people hear the word “justice”, they usually think of equality. Plato did not consider justice to be the same for everyone. He thought that happiness and justice are strongly connected, that is why a happy person would not break the law. The philosopher wrote: “the just-souled person won’t rob temples or commit adultery; the guardians won’t try to take away the belongings of the producing class” (Plato 46). Plato’s view on social justice seems very strange to me. From one perspective, it is a good idea to make all citizens happy and so no one would commit crimes. From another point of view, he suggested to annihilate private property and biological family. These things make the idea of the perfect state, where everyone would be happy under the law of justice utopian and impossible to realize.
According to Plato, the main principle of happiness was in the right distribution of goods and duties. The aim of creating of ideal state was to make all people who live in it happy. Plato wrote: “Each has a right to those, and only those, socially distributable benefits which will maximize his contribution, regardless of the ratio which the value of services rendered bears to that of benefits received” (Plato 51).. This idealistic way of making human beings happy has several drawbacks. First, Plato does not mention the quality of goods that are produced and distributed in the city. Second, I can not imagine a happy person who only works and buys products. This notion refers more to the emotional state of human’s psyche that to the material side.
Plato introduced the following principle of fair distribution of labor in the ideal society: “from each according to her ability, to each according to her capacity for enjoyment” (Plato 89). As far as I remember, this slogan was very popular among communists and socialists. The experience of the countries like the USSR showed that it is impossible to create a country where everyone would live in socialism.
It is necessary to note that the nature of human beings did not change a lot from the times of Plato and even now, in the 21st century, the majority prefers to get more for less effort. That is why I think that Plato’s ideas about happiness and social justice need wait several centuries. Perhaps, people might become ideal enough to create the state the philosopher described in his works.
Plato. The Republic. Web.