Plato on Justice as Harmony




Justice, Harmony, Soul, Spirit, Reason and Eudaimonia


It discusses Plato’s conception of justice. Justice, for Plato, is teleologically linked with goodness and consists of the harmony of the three parts of the soul i.e. reason, spirit, and appetite. Through the series of discussions between Socrates and Thrasymachus, Plato unveils Socrates' definition of justice.


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Plato, 1941: 7.

Ibid, p. 14.

Plato, 1974: 204.

Ibid, p. 218. Quoting Justice as “harmony” and “minding one’s own work” does not imply that justice has been defined rather they both refers to principles of justice. At many instances in The Republic the quotes has been referred as principles of justice rather than definitions of justice. It is difficult to understand what justice is, from these two phrases. It is only when Plato examines two main analogies of; parts of individual soul and parts of state, the clear meaning and better understanding of justice comes up.

Plato, 1941: 127.

“It is believed in Greek mythology, the beautiful goddess Harmonia (Αρμονία) is the daughter of Ares -the god of war- and Aphrodite. Harmonia is the deity who connects and harmonizes the opposites. She is a new Aphrodite. Her husband was Cadmus, who founded the Greek city of Thebes.”

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Harmonia”. Encyclopedia Britannica. (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Graham, Daniel W., “Heraclitus”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Plato does not call them ‘virtues’, and the translations therefore uses the more neutral term qualities.

Psyche refers to conscious, unconscious part of human mind. Term psyche in ancient times is rendered as soul.

Plato, 1941: 129-138.

Plato's use of the term "spirited" here is not the same as "spiritual." He means "spirited" in the same sense that we speak of a high-spirited horse, for example, one with lots of energy and power.

Plato’s analysis of three parts of soul doesn’t intend to cover complete psychology. It is concerned with factors involved in moral behaviour. It is not scientific analysis of mind but general classification of impulses and motives. In Plato’s myth of creation the three pats are lodged in the head, the chest and the belly and organs of generation. Rational alone is immortal and separable from the body.

Plato, 1974: 197-205.

Ibid, p. 219.

Ibid, p. 219.

Plato’s division of class was not based on caste system where’s man position is determined by birth. In Plato’s Republic man’s position was determined on his capacity and attainments. Plato insisted “that every man is to be assigned to the rank and function for which his character and the abilities fit him whatever his parentage may be” Plato, 1955: 134.

Plato, 1974: 206.

Ibid, p. 206.

Plato in The Republic discussed in length “who is a philosopher?” to which he explains: A philosopher is a man who loves wisdom (Sophia). Philosopher's passion is for the wisdom of every kind without distinction.

Plato, 1974: 264.

Plato, 1974: 98-101.



How to Cite

Sumegha Goyal. (2019). Plato on Justice as Harmony. Jai Maa Saraswati Gyandayini An International Multidisciplinary E-Journal, 5(I), 01–08.