Outline and Evaluate Thrasymachus’ Challenge to Socrates’ Account of the Nature of JusticeBook One of Plato’sRepubliccan be seen to be every bit much a disquisition on philosophical method as a remark on justness, ethical motives and political relations. As many observers have suggested ( Sayers, 1999 ; Annas, 1981, Howland, 2004 etc ) , Book One besides serves as an debut to the remainder of the work, non simply in footings of its embryologic philosophical subjects and concerns but in the really methods it employs to analyze them ; methods that are nevertheless more brooding of earlier Socratic duologues such asProtagoras,PhaedrusandSymposium, where there is a recognizable dialogic construction, than the remainder ofTheRepublicthat presents on the whole simply a quasi-dialogue between Socrates, Glaucon and Adeimantus.The earliest exchanges in Book One ( those between Socrates and Cephalus and Socrates and Polemarchus ) can be thought to stand for the duality between the regulation of usage and the regulation of ground, or what Kimon Lycos calls the new signifier of philosophical logical thinking and the recognized “old formulas[ 1 ] about justice” ( Lycos, 1987: 21 ) . After a slightly pastoral opening [ 2 ] , Socrates initiates a treatment with Cephalus, an aged man of affairs and his boy Polemarchus, refering the nature of justness and the character of the merely adult male. In making so, and particularly in the manner he deconstructs their statements, Socrates besides challenges the function of convention (nomos) in philosophical enquiry ( Blackburn, 2006: 28 ) and advocates the usage of reasoned statement and rational argument.
This is peculiarly noticeable in his counter statements against Polemarchus’ usage of the poet Simonides as an authorization upon justness and his impression that it consists of the due re-payment of a debt owed[ 321 ]. Socrates non merely provides an about Sophistic answer to Polemarchus but the understanding that arises out of it succeeds in paving the manner for the ejaculation of Thrasymachus subsequently on.As Annas ( 1981 ) inside informations, both points made by Cephalus and Polemarchus ( that justness exists either as a privilege of the rich and contented or as a procedure of reparation ) are seen by Socrates as announcing from usage and convention instead than ground and enquiry.
Sing the topic of justness within the dictates of usage non merely leads, as Annas ( 1981 ) provinces, to complacency but is prevailing with built-in incompatibilities and internal instabilities ; to Polemarchus’ impression that justness lies with the re-payment of a debt for case, Socrates asks whether it is of all time right to return a arm to a lunatic, something that necessarily forces Polemarchus to assent[ 332 ]. The corollary to this philosophical point, as stated by Cross and Woozley ( 1964 ) , is certainly that the nature of justness can non be found simply in the impression of merely act but in the nature of justness itself. At the decision of this subdivision, Polemarchus is in understanding with Socrates that justness can non be thought of in footings merely of good and evil or friend and enemy but alternatively must organize some sort of categorical truth over and above practical experience[ 335 ].It is the declaration and, in some respects, the victory of Socratic statement here that incenses Thrasymachus and prompts him to disrupt the dialogic flow to do the first of his expostulations [ 3 ] that, as Bertrand Russell ( 1988: 133 ) provinces, is both deadly and hard for Socrates to adequately counter.
At the beginning, Thrasymachus’ statement is a simple one and one that, as Sayers ( 1999 ) lineations, can be linked to modern impressions of hegemony, political orientation and Marxist socio-economics: for Thrasymachus, justness remainders with the strong and with the opinion elite, it is those in power who can non merely move rightly but who can make up one’s mind the parametric quantities of justness for their ain terminals[ 338 ]. The two constituents of Thrasymachus’ statement are corollaries for each other: that those in power can do Torahs and legal judicial admissions and that these can so be used non merely to protect their ain terminals but to guarantee that their power is proliferated and prolonged, as Plato writes:…the different signifiers of authorities make Torahs democratical, blue, oppressive, with a position to their several involvements ; and these Torahs, which are made by them for their ain involvements, are the justness which they deliver to their topics, and him who transgresses them they punish as the ledgeman of the jurisprudence, and unfair.[ 339 ]Justice, so harmonizing to Thrasymachus, is both comparative and a tool of the strong within society ; it is in bend unequal and a footing of farther inequality. Justice, in other words, can ne’er be divorced from the desires that underpin it and from the power that provides its base.
As Russell ( 1988 ) asserts, Socrates’ counter to this statement is to “quibble” about the nature of political administration and to use what had been a fruitful set of analogies in the old exchange: the comparing of the merely adult male with the physician and the sailing master. Socrates’ first expostulation[ 339 ]is that swayers frequently erroneously make Torahs and ordinances that harm themselves and yet these must besides be obeyed by societal topics and are therefore considered merely, contradicting Thrasymachus’ thesis. This point is fleetly countered by Thrasymachus who so suggests that a swayer who errs can no longer be said to execute that function, merely as a therapist of the sick can no longer be considered a physician[ 340-341 ] .The more significant antithetical statement put frontward by Socrates[ 342-343 ]concerns the nature of trade ortechne: every trade or skilled activity, he asserts, has foremost, a specific organic structure of cognition attached to it that elevates the practician above the ordinary adult male ( a physician in medical specialty, a sailing master in seamanship, a swayer in governing etc )[ 341 ]and secondly that such trade is frequently employed by the stronger for the benefit of the weaker: the physician, for case, uses his cognition non for himself but to mend the sick, the sailing master to guarantee safe transition for the ordinary mariner[ 342 ]and so on.
Justice so argues Socrates, as a trade, possibly practised by the swayer but it is, finally, for the good of the public.It is here that Thrasyamachus contextualises and politicises his thesis[ 343 ], for him the unjust will ever prevail over the merely ; for case, the merely adult male pays revenue enhancements and suffers poverty whilst the unfair adult male does neither, the merely adult male is tied by private contracts, the unfair adult male is non, as Plato has him say:…injustice, when on a sufficient graduated table, has more strength and freedom and command than justness ; and as I said at first, justness is the involvement of the stronger, whereas unfairness is a man’s ain net income and involvement.[ 344 ]Continuing Socrates’ usage of analogy, Thrasymachus evokes the image of the Shepard and his flock ; it is, he says, net income non altruism that encourages him to be given to his sheep negating Socrates’ expostulations and exposing his idealism as naive and simplistic.Socrates so counter argues that unfairness, by its really nature, creates disunity and folly, whereas justness encourages integrity and ground[ 351-352 ]. In this sense, it is justness that is the stronger and injustice the weaker, the former imparts harmoniousness, friendly relationship and societal coherence and the latter, unrest, dissatisfaction and societal dislocation.
Socrates’ point here, as Annas ( 1981 ) provinces, becomes the foundation for the remainder ofTheRepublicand the footing for his impression of the relationship between the merely life and the merely province. Book One concludes with a disquisition on felicity, if justness is by its nature integrity and harmoniousness and the soul’s terminal is happiness, it follows that the merely psyche is both the happy and the right 1. The purpose of the psyche, in other words, is to happen felicity through justness, morality and equity.As many observers have suggested ( Russell, 1981 ; Lycos, 1987 ; Blackburn, 2006 ) , Plato’s portraiture of Thrasymachus can be seen as both rough and unjust. His image is one of a loud, brusque, selfish dullard who, much like his doctrine, interrupts the harmoniousness of Socratic philosophical convention. We could asseverate nevertheless that what Lycos calls the “emotional tension” ( Lycos, 1987: 42 ) between the two characters emanates mostly from their several positions: Socrates the dreamer and Thrasymachus the Sophist. In his monograph on ethical motives, C. E.
M. Joad ( 1926 ) points out the prevalence of Thrasymachan thoughts throughout the history of ethical thought ; Socrates ‘ impression of an ideal justness divorced from corruptness and political relations seems, he suggests, naif in comparing. The grade to which the statements of Thrasymachus have been reinvented by modern-day philosophers, non least of all Leo Strauss who was every bit interested as much in his accomplishments as a Rhetorician as a philosopher of moralss ( Strauss, 1978 ; Smith, 2006 ) is a testament to the failure of Socrates to supply an equal counter for his persuasive statements. By comparing himself to an Epicurean at a banquet[ 354 ]Socrates adequately depict his ain accomplishments in the gap book ofThe Republic, as his statement encompasses a figure of subjects and philosophical concerns ( aesthetics, moralss, political relations etc ) without gratifyingly offering up any decisions ( this is, of class, one of Thrasymachus ‘ initial expostulations ) .
What Socrates does accomplish in the gap transitions ofThe Republicis the constitution of a dialectical method that is used, to a greater or lesser extent, throughout the remainder of the work. Socrates besides introduces the hunt for the merely life that forms the footing of his duologues with Glaucon. The chief thesis ofThe Republic, that therearecategorical lesson and ethical truths, is laid out in these initial exchanges merely to be fleshed out and research farther subsequently on.MentionsAnnas, J ( 1981 ) ,An Introduction to Plato’s Republic, Oxford: Clarendon Press.Blackburn, S ( 2006 ) ,Plato’s Republic: A Biography, London: Atlantic Books.Cross, R and Woozley, A ( 1964 ) ,Plato’s Republic: A Philosophical Commentary, London: Macmillan.
Ferguson, J ( erectile dysfunction ) ( 1970 ) ,Socrates: A Source Book, Milton Keynes: The Open University.Howland, J ( 2004 ) ,The Republic: The Odyssey of Philosophy, London: Paul Dry Books.Joad, C. E. M ( 1926 ) ,Thrasymachus, or The Future of Ethical motives, London: Kessinger.
Lycos, K ( 1987 ) ,Plato on Justice and Power: Reading Book 1 of Plato’s Republic, London: Macmillan.Plato ( 1972 ) ,The Dialogues of Plato, ( trans. Benjamin Jowett ) , London: William Benton.Russell, B ( 1988 ) ,A History of Western Philosophy, London: Unwin.Sayers, S ( 1999 ) ,Plato’s Republic: An Introduction, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Smith, S ( 2006 ) ,Reading Leo Strauss, Politics, Philosophy, Judaism, Chicago: University of Chicago.Strauss, L ( 1978 ) ,The City and Man, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.1