In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Plato's Political Analogy: Fallacy or Analogy? ROBERT W. HALL THE INTERPRETATIONOf the familiar political analogy between the state and the soul is crucial to a proper understanding of Plato's conception of the individual and his relation to the polls. Interpretations which, consciously or not, tend to identify the justice of the individual with that of the state result either in a subordination of justice of the individual to that of the state, or in endowing the ordinary citizen with an inferior justice. These interpretations of the political analogy have beert adequately dealt with? Recently, Vlastos has stressed what he considers to be the logical or deductive character of the analogy." He finds defects or fallacies in Plato's logic, which, while not necessarily fatal to the significance of the analogy, seriously impair its cogency. What is of particular interest is Vlastos' claim that the primary goal of the analogy is a demonstration, unknown to most scholars, albeit an unsuccessful one, that the justice of the individual necessarily instantiates or entails ordinary acts of justice,a Vlastos has thus raised the question of what kind of approach is most fruitful in unlocking the meaning of the political analogy. My own conviction is that the political analogy can best be understood through a careful examination or observation of the two wholes, the state and the individual , and the character of their relationship. A consideration of the essentials of Vlastos' outlook on the analogy will be a useful introduction to what may be termed a "phenomenological" approach. Such a perspective may provide a better understanding of what Plato is attempting to establish in the analogy, and of how he goes about it. Vlastos' interpretation of the political analogy is strongly colored by his assessment of the central concern of the Republic, the proof that justice "pays." By this Vlastos means that what he terms "psychological justice," the correct, hierarchical arrangement of the three parts or aspects of the soul, must be proven to result in acts of external justice. It is this relationship between psychological justice and ordinary or social justice which sets the problem of logical consistency in Vlastos' account of the political analogy. As the definition of justice of the individual or psychological justice, Vlastos offers Socrates' statement, "In the case of each one of us, whoever is such that each of the three [psychic elements] in him does its own, he is a just man." The social description of justice is: What we laid down at the start as a general requirement when we were founding the polls this, or some form of it, is justice. We did lay down, and often stated, if you recall, that every single person ought to engage in the social function.., for which his own nature is I For exponents of these positions and their critics, cf. my "Plato's Theory of Justice in the Republic," Bucknell Review, XV, 2 (May, 1967), 60, n. I. G. Vlastos, "Justice and Psychic Harmony in the Republic," The 1ournal of Philosophy, LXVI, 16 (August 21, 1969), 505-521. All further references to this article will be by page number. s 506, 515. [419] 420 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY best fitted.uWe did say this.--And indeed that to do one's own and not to be meddlesome is justice, this we have often heard from many others, and have often said ourselves.-Wc have said it.--This, then, my friend, if taken in a certain way, appears to be justice: to do one's own. (433A-B) 4 Vlastos admits that this social description is not really a definition of the justice of the individual, "that 'doing one's own' was not meant to constitute a definition of the justice of an individual person.''~ Nonetheless, this social description functions for him as a definition of the individual's justice, and plays a prominent role in the supposed fallacy of equivocation in the meaning of justice. Vlastos argues for this social description on the grounds that "/or Plato every just man must have the disposition named by the 'doing one's own' formula.''e The basis for this claim is Socrates' declaration that "the same (moral) characters...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 419-435
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.