Classes and Major Virtues on the SiteJune 27, 2021
Plato draws a direct parallel between the three classes in the site and the three parts of the soul. The three parts of the soul correspond to the three classes in the estate, the ruling, soldier, and craftsman classes. Just as virtuousness for the soul is the correct order of the three elements in the soul, virtuousness for the city is the unique function of each of the three classes.
Arete, which is the Greek equivalent of virtue, is based on the idea that man should fulfill his own nature’s work in the best possible way (Skirbekk & Gilje, 1971: 61). A properly organized site, where everyone is positioned according to their natural functions, is wise, courageous, restrained, correct, just (State, 427e).
A state established in accordance with nature owes its intelligence to the knowledge of the small community that governs it, and that is wisdom. Thus, the wisdom, which is the virtue of the ruling class, also becomes the virtue of the city, since this class is where it should be in the order of the estate. There may be sages on a site that is not properly organized, but if they are not where they should be, the wisdom of the site cannot be mentioned. Likewise, those who make the site say cowardly or brave are the military class. The site cannot be called brave unless the brave are soldiers or the soldiers are not brave (State, 429a-b).
Moderation, on the other hand, is the subordination of the good side to the bad side in the whole (Devlet, 431a-b). The reflection of this in the soul is that the intelligent part of the soul (to logistikon) controls the other parts, thus mastering the passions and desires of man, that is, he is the master of himself (Devlet, 430e). The reflection on the site is that a small minority, who have combined a good disposition with a good education, dominates other elements that have difficulty in mastering their pleasures and passions through reason and thought (State, 431bc). What distinguishes moderation from wisdom or courage is that the other two are only part of society. However, moderation has spread to the whole society in the ideal city order, and all citizens should master their passions and live in moderation (Devlet, 432a).
There is another virtue that completes all of these virtues and represents the integrity of the city order, which Plato’s understanding of city order has directed towards this virtue as the highest goal. This virtue is righteousness (aletheia) or justice (dikaiosyne) (Laws, 630e). Righteousness or justice is the value that gives birth and sustains the other three virtues, wisdom, courage and temperance (State, 433b). Justice is the mother of the virtues of the three parts of the soul. For intelligence, justice is wisdom (sophia), which means correctness of thought. Justice for the will is courage (andreia), which means the righteousness of the heart, the impulsive part of the soul. Justice for the impulse part of the soul is temperance (sophrosyne), which means the righteousness of this part. In addition to this, we can talk about the virtue of religiosity, which is righteousness in our relations with people, and justice in our relations with God or gods (Weber, 1995: 64).
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook