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  • 24 Dec 2020 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions

    Socrates’ model of the just state was that of a healthy organism, where all the parts function for the benefit of the whole, and the whole benefits the parts. Examine. (250 words)



    • Explain Socrates’ model of the just state.
    • Discuss the analogy of healthy organisms with state.
    • Give Conclusion.


    • In the second book of Plato’s Republic, Socrates believed that the justice of a human being will best be understood after one has considered the justice of a city or state. He introduces the city-soul analogy to explain the just or ideal state.


    • Socrates says that a society, like a human body is composed of parts/ organs, which are connected in similar ways.
    • He says that the parts of a state are its citizens and in case of any pain or pleasure to any of the citizens, the state endures the same feeling. That is, the “whole” feels the pain or pleasure along with the part that experiences it. The health of all the parts together constitute the health of the organism.
    • By this analogy, it is clear that the well-being of all the citizens- including the marginalised and vulnerable sections such as children, women, elderly, disabled, downtrodden, minorities- determines the well being of the state. That is, parts (Citizens) function for the benefit of the whole (State).
    • On the other hand, any opportunity or threat for the state is an opportunity or threat to its parts i.e., its citizens. The well-being of the organism works for the well-being of all its parts. A society with an efficient government is like a healthy organism.
    • Thus, the overall progress and development of the state works towards the betterment of its citizens. The fair and just nature of the state works for the overall benefit of its people. That is, the whole benefits the parts.
    • Since a complete account of the health of the body is a complete account of the health of all of its parts, and vice versa: thus, any state will be called ideal or just, if its people are well. The prevalence of justice, fairness, transparency, compassion and empathy towards weaker sections determines the justness of the state. While the integrity, honesty, law-abiding, tolerance, and sense of duty among citizens determines the overall goodness of the state.


    • Modern nation-states can gain the administrative lessons from Socrates' city-soul analogy to work towards the best interests of its people. Individuals can also learn to work for the best of their respective nation by performing their civic duties in a virtuous manner.
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