[00:00.00]Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a philosophy class. [00:03.53]The professor has been talking about ethics.
[00:06.51]Professor: OK, if we’re going to discuss goodness and justice - what makes an individual good or a society just or virtuous-then we need to start with the ancient Greeks. [00:18.45]So we'll start with Plato-Plato's philosophy. [00:21.95]Now, some of you may have studied Plato's philosophy in some other course, so this might be easy. [00:27.83]OK, at the risk of boring you, let me give you just an overview of Plato’s ethical theory. [00:34.36]Plato says the soul has-and by "soul" he simply means that which animates the body, gives it life-anyway, he says that the soul has three separate parts …called, um, "faculties," which I’ll come back to. [00:50.60]He believed that goodness in an individual was to be found when the three parts of the soul worked together, when they weren't in conflict, but existed in harmony. [01:00.39]A good or just person will have a soul in which the three faculties work well together.
[01:06.88]So how does he arrive at that analysis? [01:09.67]Well, he starts out in his very famous work The Republic, um, he starts out by saying it's very difficult to get a grasp on what the individual's soul looks like. [01:20.94]So, to get some idea of what the individual human soul is like, he says we should study the structure of society-what kinds of people and activities every society has to have. [01:33.28]He argues that every society has to have three groups of people: workers, soldiers, and leaders. [01:40.81]And each has a sort of defining characteristic.
[01:44.38]Every society has to have workers like farmers or, um, people who work in factories, producing all the things that we need for everyday life. [01:54.41]And according to Plato, the key feature of workers is that they’re focused on their own desires or appetites- interested in satisfying the needs of the body. [02:04.40]So workers are associated with desire... OK?
[02:09.13]Now, if you live in a society that has a good amount of wealth-um, good agriculture, good industry-other societies are probably going to try to take it. [02:19.40]So you need a class of soldiers, who are supposed to protect the state from external threats. [02:24.89]Well, these soldiers, well, they're going to be in dangerous situations quite frequently, so you need people with, um, a ... a lot of high spirit-uh, an emotional type of individual. [02:38.64]Emotion is what characterizes this group.
[02:41.84]And then, Plato says, the third group you need is leaders. [02:46.85]Their main role will be to think rationally, to use their reason or intellect to make decisions. [02:53.15]As decision makers, leaders determine what the state is to do, how the affairs of the citizens are to be run.
[03:00.36]Plato then asks himself: OK, assume we’ve got such a society with these three groups. [03:07.98]When will this society be a good, um, a ... a just society? [03:14.41]Well, you can only have a good society when its three parts are working well together-each doing its proper thing. [03:22.23]And Plato believes this can only happen if workers and soldiers learn moderation, or self-control.
[03:29.42]But why? Why do workers and soldiers have to learn self-control? [03:34.69]Well, how can a society flourish if the workers and soldiers don’t control their desires and emotions? [03:41.43]Plato thinks that if they aren't under control, workers will sleep too much and play too much, so they’re not going to get their jobs done. [03:49.53]And soldiers need to channel their high-spiritedness in a certain direction, precisely by being courageous.
[03:56.91]But you're not going to get that automatically. [03:59.67]You need to teach them this kind of moderation. [04:02.62]So you need an educational system that first of all will train the leaders, so that they’ll make good decisions, so they’ll know what's wise. [04:11.97]Then make leaders responsible-um, uh, turn over to them the education of the other two groups. [04:19.49]And through education, build a society so that the workers and soldiers learn to use their intellect to control their desires and emotions. [04:28.66]If you had all that, then, for Plato, you'd have a good or just society.
[04:34.83]Now, take that picture - that social, political picture-and apply it to the individual person. [04:42.38]You remember about the soul? [04:44.63]That it consists of three separate parts, or faculties? [04:48.44]Can you guess what they are? [04:50.32]Desires, emotions, and intellect-the characteristics associated with the three groups of society. [04:57.78]And can you guess how Plato defines a good or just person? [05:02.06]Well, it’s parallel to how he characterizes a good or just society. [05:07.29]The three parts have to be in harmony. [05:10.10]In each of us, our desires and emotions often get the better of us, and lead us to do foolish things. [05:16.45]They're in conflict with the intellect. [05:19.21]So, to get them to all work together, to coexist in harmony, every person needs to be shaped in the same way that we’ve shaped society-through the educational system. [05:30.85]Individuals must be educated to use their intellect to control their emotions and desires. [05:37.31]That’s harmony in the soul.