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Plato’s Notion of Common Good

My point of view on Plato’s notion of the common good.

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An individual’s happiness is never the core of Plato’s the Republic. It is clearly disputed the way that Socrates argued with Thrasymachus as the latter suggests that injustice is more profitable than justice and that justice is the advantage of the stronger. What Thrasymachus meant was that in any society, the stringer rule and take control of their subjects – they use their power to manipulate things that are in favor for them.

Plato shows in the Republic that justice is in every one’s best interest. A city governed by uncorrupted and virtuous individuals trained in proper education will fulfill the aims of the state. It is also Plato’s conviction that education plays much role on how the Republic could be achieved, for it aims to balance if not to control over the desires. Censorship of things that will lead people to being selfish and corrupt is implied.

The soul, governed by desires will determine the type of citizen a person is, thus how s/he will contribute to the society. Having different desires though will lead to different conceptions of good, but Plato believes in the concept of a “common good” – which can be determined by philosophers, according to Plato, because of their rational desires.

Plato delves that virtue will lead the leaders to consider what is good for their subject. And, as good and virtuous citizens’ one must perform his/her task for the city. Performing one’s task will not only do well for the city but also make one happy.

As Adeimantus questions the happiness of the guardians, Plato’s stand on happiness in the state is clearly asserted. The interlocutors noticed that, in as much as that everyone in the state is supposed to be happy, the guardians do not seem to be made happy. Socrates answers that the goal of the state is not to make one particular group (or person) happy, but to make everyone as happy as his nature allows.

Plato may appear to support to be totalitarian and sort of dictatorship, which people may react to violently. On the other hand, we cannot deny that Plato is right – that personal interests and injustice leads the state to corruption and that happiness can only be achieved through justice and temperance.

Applying to the current situation of our university I think, Plato is right that we should allow the state to take charge of us, but in a country like the Philippines, a country known for its corrupt and selfish officials, shouldn’t we let our voices be heard? Even Plato believes that education is a top priority.

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