© Kexin Yu 2017
In the Republic, the city-soul analogy made by Plato paves the way for the entire dialogue. The main interlocutors use the analogy to show the nature of justice and aim to prove that just people live better and are happier than unjust people, by establishing a city to which justice, as defined by them, is applied. Scholars have recently been debating the validity of this analogy. Some critics assert that there are several significant structural inconsistencies and logical misconceptions, thus making the analogy fallacious; at the same time, there are proponents who write extensively in favor of this analogy and defend it against the objections raised. In this paper, I will re-examine passages in the Republic where the analogy first occurs, evaluate the critique made by Bernard Williams, and present arguments defending Plato’ strategy. Ultimately, I will show that Plato’ city-soul analogy is not as far-fetched as Williams argues and this analogy – as a crucial strategy of Plato’s – is efficient and powerful enough in showing the similarities between the city and the soul, for the interlocutors to justifiably and reasonably reach the conclusion that the justice of the individual is the same as that of the city.
Yu, Kexin (2017) "Unpacking the City-Soul Analogy," Res Cogitans: Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 9. https://doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1169