People define justice differently according to their understanding of the situation in question. Most people confuse justice and punishment (Lyons 16). The idea behind it is that two mistakes can provide a solution which implies that a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. I suppose that justice is fair treatment and acting fairly in all situations that one may come across. To get a more precise definition, justice is the course or action which will restore balance to a situation (Augustine 34).
In the discussion, how different philosophers define justice and how they propose on how it should be handled by different groups of people is extremely valuable (Dockendorf 24). For that case, we take two most identified philosophers who are Socrates and Augustine. The two scholars gave their definitions of justice basing on different perspectives but all pointing towards the same direction in giving fairness to people.
For many years, people have defined justice in various ways. Plato’s work has given records on Socrates views on justice. This gives us the ability to read and understand the Socrates way of thinking toward justice. According to Socrates, justice was just good, and it could only be reached through self knowledge. He claimed that unanimous good existed and each and every person had the ability to find the good.
When philosophers analyzed the justice issue, they discussed and gave their results as justice being good. This is according to Plato’s Republic first two books. Then they also looked at the opposite of justice as evil. For a person to be seen as just, he or she ought to be a good person and the crucial question here is to know what good is. Kealy indicates that good can be what is necessary, lacked or desired (Lyons 27).
Socrates comes in on the same note and says that they are natural requirements but not what a person feels that he needs. A person’s nature is the daimon (the person’s inner self which seeks fulfillment). Logically the good preferred since it fulfills a person’s nature and Socrates indicate that the hunt for happiness is the normal objective in life.
When I look at the word good, and the definition it leaves me puzzled. What may seem good to me might be worst to another person (Dockendorf 39). This justifies the saying that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” Every individual is just unique on his or her own way.
The daimon of one person is much different from the other person’s daimon. Basing on this factor, Kealy proposes that one should identify his or her own potential (Augustine 43). Somebody’s ideas should not be followed to determine what is good for him or herself. This must be done considering Knowledge Next (Lyons 35). Socrates explained the idea and notes that knowledge directs one to good and knowledge itself is good.
This indicates that self knowledge directs one to knowledge of differentiating between evil and good. It is only through the understanding that one can avoid committing evil deeds. One can only commit wrong if he or she is ignorant in his own actions (Augustine 48). According to Socrates knowledge is a virtue and on the reverse is ignorance. In this case, I can cite for major virtues courage, justice, temperance and piety. All these virtues can be drawn back to knowledge.
Justice can be achieved after understanding what is good and what is evil. The search for happiness can be done from good deeds but not evil. In fact, evil will results to the opposite of happiness. So when evil does not exist happiness will prevail (Augustine 50). This can be supported by observing an ill person go to seek medical attention from the caregivers.
When compared with a man who never gets sick, it is obvious that an ailment free person is always happy than a treated man. Then basing on this comparison Socrates argues that the cure for the crime (evil) is punishment and justice enforces that punishment. In this relation, the ill free person is happier than the treated person (Lyons 37). So the person, who never did wrong, will always be happy while the wrong doer gets the punishment for his misdeeds.
Then he identifies the next person who lives an evil life and does not recognize the punishment. This person is similar to a child who avoids medicine to cure his or her illness which is justice (Augustine 56). Later on the child acquires blindness due to ignorance. This child is the same as the person who commits evil and avoids getting punishment. The same behavior may continue which in turn prolongs the punishment and suffering (Dockendorf 46).
Socrates proposes that there is no need of living with unjust souls. The just souls are more important than all the possessions of the earth. He also proposes that if any person realizes that he has committed evil, he should run to the judge and get justice. If he waits for any longer, then he will be increasing the length of suffering. So it is better treating the illness earlier than later, because it would not be chronic then.
According to Socrates, it is good to do just to friends when they are good to us. Then we should harm the enemies when they do evil to us. He identifies that doing evil is harmful than receiving evil or harm (Augustine 58).
Doing justice may be internal; on the contrary, doing harm is unjust while a just man will never harm another. In conclusion, Socrates means that no person should harm another because it is more important to live a just life. In his view, a just soul of a poor person is far much better than a rich man’s soul who got his wealth through unjust means.
Saint Augustine was a God fearing person who lived in the Roman Empire. As a man of God, he worked hard to fulfill the requirements of His creator. The most prominent of these requirements was providing justice for all people (Augustine 60). This was to set a good example for the forth coming generations to follow the correct footsteps.
In his live Augustine had a soul that sought the will of God so as to live that was full true human character. In his opinion, he defined justice in the concepts of desire and the will of God (Dockendorf 49). He imagined of an anthropology which gave God a central and primary influence. So he could not foresee true justice lacking the essential element of God (Augustine 64). He gives us his discussion of justice and a society that is just through the City of God in Greek Language.
Augustine makes use of the Bible quoting from different books in justifying his opinions. For example, he quotes from Habakkuk that a just person is comparable to the justice of God who controls his obedient city in respect of his own grace. Form these, it tells us that a just person will always live by his Christian faith (Lyons 39).
In Augustine’s view, this should be like that faith which is lively in Christian love. This love should be the love of God alone then the love for neighbors’ just like him or herself. Justice can also be seen as the respect of God through following the rule of love from the Bible. The just individual (par excellence) is an individual whose faith results from the (caritas) which is love of God and others (Lyons 47).
In the City of God peoples, relationship to justice is just secondary sense in Augustine’s view justice is mainly about God. To be more precise in occasions where God does not receive His due then He has been subjected to injustice.
Justice starts and ends with Christian adoration, devotion and the love of God. In respect of God, there can be no justice without Christ (Augustine 70). The reason behind this is that Jesus Christ lived without sin, and He is truly the only just man who is a measure of justice. Augustine did not restrict himself on spiritual mediation alone.
He performed the role of a magistrate by himself (Dockendorf 56). Whenever there was a conflict, he reasoned out transforming much deeper wisdom, from the Bible and Christ (Augustine 78). He applied a good example of the woman who committed adultery and Jesus told her to go and never sin any more. This is to signify that God has justice for everybody but does not give anybody chance to continue sinning.
Justice as defined by both Socrates and Augustine point towards the same direction although from different perspectives. According to Socrates justice is good as seen by a person and evil as understood by the person. To be able to identify good and evil one requires knowledge (Dockendorf 66). This knowledge helps one to see if good verify evil or good. He proposes that if one realizes that he has done evil he should run for justice (punishment) (Lyons 59).
The highest person who gives punishment is the Judge, from Socrates point of view. Socrates states that justice should not wait; it should be done immediately to avoid increasing the suffering (Augustine 75). St. Augustine, on the other hand, believes that Jesus Christ is the only just man and justice prevails when a society relies on God. Justice comes through faith and love for oneself and others.
The highest person as regarded by ST. Augustine is only God. Justice can never prevail without God in the midst (Lyons 70). In all the definitions of justice, we find that human being is obviously just to others. For justice to prevail, it requires that all people must keep to their correct sides, and whenever one makes a mistake he should seek justice.
Dockendorf, Luc. Socrates,Virginia. West Virginia University, 1996. Print
Lyons, David. Ethics and the Rule of Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Print
St. Augustine. Confessions IV. New York: Long Horn publishers, 2008. Print