Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's all Greek to me

(At the end of this post is an invitation to comment that is extended to everyone. I don't care if you've commented here a zillion times before, or you accidentally stumbled here looking for the "Fanta Song" or "Kill Possums in Wisconsin"....seriously. I'm just curious about people's thoughts.)

For me, any existential crisis worth its salt allows me to find comfort, and at least temporary resolution, in the world of philosophy. The existential crisis I currently find myself in is a real doozy....so it's required me to break out the big philosophical guns, so to speak. I've been revisiting the Ancient Greeks for the past few days, especially Socrates. Socrates is my personal favorite. (Plato's a close second though.)

I've been considering the questions that Socrates posed to various strangers, in an effort to refine human knowledge and understanding....giving birth to the Socratic method of inquiry.

I'd really like it if people would take a minute or two to just consider one of his questions and post a thought or two. It doesn't need to be profound....just your gut reaction. I think it'd be pretty hard to have a true Socratic dialectic blog-style....but you never know. It's worth a shot.

So, consider if you will the question that most intrigues me at this precise moment:

What is Justice?

so....what is it to you?

15 Comments:

Blogger jenny said...

justice to me has very much to do with rights/obligations and it's collective. like, it's unjust to be killed therefor it's an obligation to not kill. i have a hard time differentiate justice from society, in that, for me, the whole idea of justice cannot stand alone. it's hard to define without implementing. it's like with didactics; if there's no educational situation there's no didactics. so if there's no society of people, there's no justice, or rather, there's no need for justice. also i think that justice isn't served when treating every person the same, i think that in order to be really just one has to look at the needs and abilities of people. a same-for-everybody-practice will only go so far until it starts getting unjust in itself; just as people are not qualified to do the same work, they should not be obligated to do the same work. i'd like to think that humans have an innate sense of justice but i'm not sure i can.

that's my gut reaction. :)

December 12, 2005 4:21 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Could one person, on their own, be either just of unjust?

December 12, 2005 9:29 AM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

I'm going to go Socratic with my response and say what justice ISN'T:

Justice isn't capitalism. It's not the Southern cop who busts your taillight. It's not getting out of a ticket because you know the sheriff. It's not unequal punishments for users of crack versus coke users. It certainly isn't the current state of leadership. It's not the good suffering for the bad.

It wasn't justice for Jeffrey Dahmer to get off for another month because the cops didn't feel like questioning the black people who found one of his victims incoherent and bleeding. Justice would not have allowed the federal response to Hurricane Katrina fail the way it did. It certainly wasn't around for anyone sitting on death row who doesn't belong there.

Justice should not be based on wealth or personal merit. But it is. And while there might not be one concrete form of justice, you have to admit we can do a lot better than we're doing right now.

December 12, 2005 12:01 PM  
Blogger jenny said...

it depends on what you mean by "be" (oh, sweet language) - i can set your house on fire on my own and that would be un-just even of you're not there - but no. you act just or un-just or you are treated just or un-just. i don't think it's a personality trait. more of a habit of actions, if you like.

December 12, 2005 1:18 PM  
Blogger barn said...

I think that, much as we differentiate between 'spirituality' and Organized Religion, we should differentiate between justice, the Platonic ideal (viz. fairness, impartiality, 'the moderation between selfishness and selflessness'), and Justice, the organized, bureaucratized and codified Societal rationalization for our baser human desire to punish those unlike ourselves.
But what do I know?

December 12, 2005 1:38 PM  
Blogger jenny said...

undoubtedly, barn has a point, but i think the latter hardly does its name justice.

December 12, 2005 3:14 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 12, 2005 10:11 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I think for Socrates's purposes, he was referring to the former, barn. At least I hope he was.

December 12, 2005 10:19 PM  
Blogger Phillip said...

why isn't this on your myspace blog? i need to know these things.

it's funny you bring this up since richard pryor just died. he was the one who wrote the "justice is just us" joke, however it goes.

my own worthless opinion is that justice is balance, but it's a platonic form, an ideal that can't be reached. it would necessitate the full disclosure of facts and a perfect sense of ownership, which rarely occur in and of themselves must less convene.

it's illusory. i guess we try to get as close to the ideal as possible but we're human, and thus fallible. plust objectivity makes any real agreement on what is or is not just impossible. factor in emotions and biases and it's a wonder the concept exists at all.

ultimately though i think it's balance.

December 13, 2005 8:45 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Phillip...you must know by know that Socrates and MySpace cannot mix. I'm relatively sure that most of the people on my MySpace list probably believe that Socrates is the name of a cartoon dog, or something. Plus, MySpace is a social-type thingy...and as a female, I learned long ago that in any sort of social-type thingy, it is never a good idea to let on that I am smart and spend my time doing things such as reading books.

December 13, 2005 9:00 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

As for furthering the discussion....

U.S. kids recite everday "And Justice for all." What do you think that was SUPPOSED to mean?

Can forgiveness be justice?

December 13, 2005 9:09 AM  
Blogger Phillip said...

it's spoon-fed propaganda, like everything else. we say we're just and morally superior because our leaders repeat these mantras so they can further their own agendas while we think they're doing it for "good".

how is america great, really?

December 13, 2005 9:35 AM  
Blogger jenny said...

you read books?? *gasp*

anyway. "and justice for all" (except for being a metallica album) probably originally meant just that, that justice (however you define it..) applies to everybody; just as "land of the free" probably meant that in america people should be free, but we all know that's not the case. so i'm with phillip on that one. propaganda. you're now in a state of illusion. well, not _you_ obviously, but, you know. the rest of them.

then really. what do i know. i'm just a foreigner with prejudice ;)

December 13, 2005 11:41 AM  
Blogger jenny said...

but then "everybody" back in the day obviously meant white men. but since indians, black people and women don't count how could they be included with "everbody". just like democracy in old greece only applied to free men.

December 13, 2005 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Roxy said...

See what I miss when I'm buried in returned textbooks? Interesting conversations.

I enjoy the concept of justice as, ideally, balance. I guess I roughly equate it with the concept of karma. However, I think "people," in the general large-group-of-others sense, have both karma and justice a little wrong. I don't think that either can exist within a framework of hard and fast rules, which is the problem society runs into when trying to "establish justice for all."

Justice being balance also reminds me of the fallacy I see in our modern visualization of justice: as a blind person. The idea that justice doesn't care what you look like is cute when you're studying the Constitution in the fourth grade but I think that for there to truly be justice, as Phillip said, there has to be full disclosure so that all aspects of the situation can be taken into account.

December 14, 2005 5:54 PM  

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