Socrates and Justice

The Republic offers a very interesting array of definitions of the term justice, and the development between each of the definitions is what really catches attention as a reader. From Thsymachus’, justice is the advantage of the stronger, to some of the definitions we came up with in class that dealt with morals and power, the question comes up as what really determines what is right or wrong? Isn’t justice the way of determining what is right and wrong? If justice is harmony between the three parts of the soul, then what does that make our own legal justice system?

My own realization is basically this. Our legal justice system is composed of people who have learned as much as they can about past experiences of right and wrong in order to do the best they can to determine whether a persons actions fit their impression of what is just and what is unjust. A good judge who would make a well-guessed decision would be familiar with the Socratic form of justice and maybe even use it to keep their own judgment as clear and clean as possible, maintaining the strength and dignity necessary to rule over a challenging trial. Were nothing but reason involved in the justice system, you’d get nothing but trials like OJ Simpson’s. An answer is ignored despite obvious evidence, because one link is missing in the grand scheme of a brutal murder and because of the combination of reason and the appetites of fame and fortune, a shrunken glove is proof of innocence. A spiritually engaged trial would have probably been ruled differently, however when something is ruled entirely by spiritual guidance, trials end up biased. It seems that most unfair trials are the result of either lack of knowledge or lack of balance within the soul. When a trial becomes about something other than justice, which it seems that it has in many cases throughout the United States legal system as well as around the world, the trial is either useless or creates another evil where justice should have been. For example, when a religious group begins to take action against something that has no real place in their religion or the members personal lives, it becomes an issue that they aggressively parade against to the point where it causes more harm than good. Wars in the middle east, crusades, all the violence the Jews have faced throughout history, even social issues in America like gay marriage and equal rights are all things that have been put on trial and heavily examined by a group of people who have deemed themselves fit to oversee and control another party. This is not a form of justice, even though in many cases a system of justice is involved. Bold issues and conflicts stem from fundamental beliefs of superiority and other false things that cause twice as much trouble as they should. No situation where people have been put to trial and the result has been biased or untrue has the right to be called justice, or be part of a set system of justice. Which is why Socrates’ definition of justice is so fitting for most any situation. When conflict has arisen and emotions rise; reason, spirit, and appetites last. If you can rationalize what has occurred and search for what is going to make your soul be at rest, justice should happen incidentally. Also, in this way of thought, very little crime would happen to begin with, therefore someone deciding these things should only have to deal with rare instances where people were “off-key” with their souls. Regardless, with a concept of justice that follows what Socrates supports, little conflict and crime would arise in society.


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