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Ben Bulac

ENVILAW LYCEUM Plato, The Republic Paper

A Just Man

As a student of the law, I have often faced the moral dilemma as to whether I
have set upon the wrong path in life. The various jokes and metaphorical swings the
media and popular culture constantly takes on my desired profession sometimes
leaves me to question whether one can be a lawyer and a just man. The Republic by
Plato is one of those readings that seek to incite the reader to a rational discourse
with another or to meditate on ones actions in life.

Plato’s differentiation of the different roles played in society is not that far
from various socio-political dichotomies that we have in our country. The Producers
who were portrayed as individuals ruled by their emotions more than reason are
often likened to the poor while the learned/upper crust of society are closer to the
Guardians. I feel that this divide is faulty in that justice is portrayed as a goal that
only those in power or those who can afford such ambitions can afford to have. That
the producers, the artisans or the poor who are deemed preoccupied with survival
must live of their baser instincts. This contradicts the many movements done
activists, NGO’s and even individuals who not only represent the marginalized but
also form part of such group.

The realm of the intelligible and the realm of the visible although separated
in my opinion cannot exist without the other. The search for absolutes such as
Justice, Goodness and Beauty can never be truly experienced if one did not start
their search in the tangible world. The essence of Dasein or man, as Heidegger
stated in his philosophy, is a privileged being that is able to address the question of
being. In limiting such search of the absolutes to the Guardians, I believe Plato has
likewise limited the view on such matters. Can one who has never been hungry or
never felt pain comprehend the true value of Justice? One can paint a picture or
simulacra of something that one has never experienced but upon further inspection
it would seem hollow. The Guardians, although capable of resisting the different
temptations of the world must be able to comprehend the pangs of the Auxiliaries
and the Producers of the world in order to truly experience the Absolutes. An
Athenian citizen, during the early republic was a landowner, a freeman, a soldier
and a sometime artisan. These various roles and professions gave them a
perspective that we who are compartmentalized in smaller roles cannot begin to
fathom. It would be important then if we were to seek absolutes such as Justice to
look at perspectives that we would not consider at times.