Modern Society's Selfish Definition of Justice

Class Forums Government 2017-2018 Essay Assignment 2 Modern Society's Selfish Definition of Justice

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      Within Book 4 of Plato’s Republic, Adeimantus observes that the guardians of Socrates’ “just” city will not be happy with their simple way of life, especially compared to the lifestyle of the rulers, who are able to delight in opulence. Socrates replies that the objective of the city is not to make one group of people happy at the expense of another. The aim is to make the city as a whole happy.

      Socrates’ definition of justice is when everyone is completing their suitable occupation within a society. He implies that it does not matter if you are happy with your job or not. Your service to the city is greater than your own personal desires. This tremendously differs from ideas on the topic today. People in this day and age support the view that following your dreams and pursuing whatever makes you happy is the best approach for acquiring justice.

      Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Running after the profession you find easy and joyful might not always be what is best. Fulfilling your selfish ambitions could jeopardize the well-being of the city.

      Socrates suggests that the needs of the city outweigh the needs of its people. For the city as a whole to be happy, some individuals will have to undertake jobs they are not happy in performing. As opposed to what is promoted today, this remains the true definition of justice. Society will try to convince us that justice is when you achieve what you want. The problem with this theory is that human beings never really attain all that they want. They always desire more. They will forever crave a higher paycheck, a nicer boss, less work hours. Whatever their job is, they will find a way to complain about it. They will find a way to be unhappy.

      For the Christian, however, there is more to justice than what Socrates defines. It also requires putting God’s will above everything else. Despite what we want and even despite what would benefit the city, our occupation needs to be the one God is calling us to. Not only that, but when we do our work to the best of our abilities with a happy attitude, we shine the light of Jesus into a dark world.

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