The word perfect or ideal signifies something that has no flaws and is not prone to objection. Therefore, we can reason that something so intricate probably has no substitute either. However, learning about the ideal society in More’s Utopia and Plato’s The Republicmakes my previous statement void of any substance. Although the two philosophers are aiming for the same objective, the structure between the ruler and ruled in their respective worlds could not be more different, which puts us in doubt as to what is ‘real’ justice.
However, there are some parallelisms that we can draw from the texts. They strongly believe that it is important to understand the meaning of justice, in Plato’s case by the philosopher king and in More’s case the general public. They also agree that the perfect society must be modeled in either absolutes: either everyone is good natured or they are morally incompetent. They both want to avoid the abuse of power by either providing an all-knowing central figure or by disregarding personal benefits and desires.
In The Republic, Plato brings forward the idea that it is necessary for someone who is of a higher standing i.e. more learned, to guide the perfect State. He reasons that people are misguided by personal desires and the wrong motives therefore, a savior or “philosopher king” is needed to teach them the right from wrong. Although this constitutes a form of dictatorship he believes the philosopher king will know better than to abuse such power. Plato’s State is built on the centralized figure whose sole responsibility is the functioning of the state.
Contrary to Plato’s belief, More in Utopia reasons that society cannot work solely on the ideology of one person. It has to be the collaboration of people that would help it rise to success. His Utopian people work together disregarding social status, which implies equality and reliance on each other rather than individual work. More shows that his Utopia’s abundant resources are due to everyone sharing the burden. More’s government is more democratically minded because it takes into account the opinion of the people and chooses leaders among them. Even the leaders are no exception to extreme laws and are not in any higher financial standing than the rest. More’s basis is that the good will and their peaceful forward moving attitude will enable them to work towards an Utopia.
Even though the texts are polar opposites of each other, they bring to light that a society needs either a leader or willed people to function well. May be, rather it is a combination of the two that will provide us an answer to the “real” justice.