The Virtues :
In Robin Waterfield's translation of The Republic, Socrates attempts to give a definition of justice. At the end of Book II he began a detailed description of the construction of a good city. The good city is a relation to the human soul, and its four virtues. In the following paper I will discuss the virtues, what they are and where they are found. Also discussed will be the foundation, arrangement and the interconnectedness with each one. Next discussed would be the 3 H's and the understanding Aristotle has on the role of happiness in the moral life. Lastly, I will discuss the experience that I had that related to Leonitus.
The four virtues used by Plato are prudence, courage, temperance and justice. Plato relates the virtues to a community which is made up of the rulers, army, and workers. Now the base line is the workers and they do not try to blend with the army as the army doesn't blend with the rulers. When all of these do their own job, the community becomes one.
The first virtue to be discussed is prudence. Prudence, also known as wisdom, is found in the rulers. The people who have it are those rulers. In order to have wisdom one must be resourceful in which he/she has obtained knowledge. Plato says…resourcefulness is obviously a kind of knowledge... it's not ignorance which makes people resourceful; it's knowledge.
The second virtue is courage which is found in the military section of the community. Courage is not the virtue of standing in front of a tank and say it will not hurt me…that is stupidity. Courage is the ability to apply what you have been taught…what is to be feared and what is not to be feared. Plato relates retention to courage, "I'm saying courage is a sort of retention...the retention of notion. The ability for one to retain what one has learned is courage. Ability to retain under all circumstances a true and lawful notion about what is feared and what is not to be feared is what I'm calling courage.
The next virtue temperance is found in the workers of Plato's community. Temperance, also known as self-discipline, is needed by the workers, so that they do not desire to be in the ruler's position. It is seen that each position has its own importance in the community and for the community to function correctly each one must agree on their position in life. Plato relates… in this community... the rulers and their subjects agree on who the rulers should be.
Temperance is also used to control the desire to go against one's freewill. Plato says…To be self-disciplined is somehow to order and control the pleasures and desires. The last virtue to be discussed is Justice otherwise known as morality. Justice is found when all of the three work together and no crimes are committed. If one breaks pattern then the community becomes immoral, or if one becomes out of place then it is immoral....when each of the three classes... perform its own function and does its own job in the community, then this is morality...
Now I will discuss the human soul, containing three parts. The human soul is a larger version of Plato's community, therefore each of the virtues relate to the human soul. The first part is reason which is the capacity to think rationally.
Next is passion which is the fighting for what is right, and the two together work as allies....the rational part is wise and looks out for the whole of the mind, isn't it right for it to rule and for the passionate part to be its subordinate and its ally.
As passion and reason work together, passion is found in the military. The last part is desire which can be found in temperance, and is closely related to passion. Desire is the temptation to do what is wrong, but self-discipline corrects it....desirous part which is the major constituent of an individual's mind and is naturally insatiably greedy for things. Justice is again found in all three parts of the soul, because when they all work together justly, they are successful.
The virtues are arranged in a hierarchical pyramid in which the rulers are found at the top. The top resembles the highest position in which the rulers are in charge of the community. The next position is the military, which takes orders from the rulers and sends orders to the workers, which are last on the pyramid. The only virtue that cannot be placed in the pyramid is justice. Justice is found in all three of the virtues, therefore it reigns in all of them. The way that the virtues are arranged makes it impossible for any of them to mix, be missing or trade places. One must have all four virtues to be completely moral. Each virtue is directly related to each other in an indirect way. The rational part will do the planning and the passionate part the fighting. The passionate part will obey the ruling part and employ its courage to carry out the plans.
The three H's which underlie each virtue are Head, Habitual and Happiness. In the Head the person must contain the rational ability to know what he/she is doing. In the Habitual, the person does something all the time aimed toward the good. In Happiness, the person must simply be happy at what they are doing. When the three H's are obtained one is considered moral, or just and also has underlied all of the virtues.
Aristotle thinks that our aim in life is to live a moral life and be happy doing it. All human actions are aimed toward the good and to be real is to fulfill one's goal. The story I will use for my reflection on Leonitus' experience, began in my freshman year of high school. There was a person in my freshmen class that came across as the class nerd. He assumed a nickname of POTTSY, close to his last name. POTTSY began to run cross-country in his junior year to win an award his senior year. My senior year of cross-country was the best year of my life. I was the captain of the team, and was able to meet many different people from around the state and country. I was looked upon by all of my peers and coaches treated me with the highest respect.
Everyone was angry with him for joining, when all he wanted to do was be a part of something. He wanted to be a part of the closest sport in high school. The sixty of us refused to let him in, and chided him all the way through the season. Being a captain I had to assume the right and not the wrong.
At the beginning of the year I followed my rationality, but towards the end, my self-discipline gave in to pressure. I called him names, started more amusement and lowered myself to a different level. This level went from ruler to worker, and made him the military. My triangle became shapeless and the virtues that failed me were courage and temperance. This is because I lacked the courage to stand up for him and I lost temperance for doing what is right. My temperance was reshaped, and my courage was rebuilt when the coach lost respect in me. After attending a retreat, I remembered what I had done and wrote him a letter of apology. I was utterly disgusted with myself, but I feel that you learn from experiences, and now my triangle has been reshaped.
In conclusion, I enjoyed discussing the main elements of Plato's Republic, the virtues. I have recaptured many events that have occurred in my life and plan to live closer to the triangle.
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