Coursework – Plato/Ethics
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This begins our section on Plato.
Plato, known as the father of Western philosophy, was a Greek philosopher who lived around 400 BC. Plato wrote in dialogue form. These pieces read like plays. In every one of these dialogues, the main character is Socrates. Socrates is Plato’s mouthpiece. In other words, because Plato himself doesn’t appear in the dialogues, in order to find out his position, you just need to look at what Socrates is saying. Socrates was a real person who along with Plato is considered one of the fathers of Western philosophy. Plato was Socrates’ student but we’ll be assuming that the ideas represented in the dialogue spoken through Socrates also represent Plato’s position, and when I talk about Plato’s position, I am referring to what Socrates is saying.
Although you may not regard Socrates’ ideas as radical, they were such a departure from the thinking of the day that in the end, Socrates, accused of corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of not believing in the gods of the state, was sentenced to death. He had been given a chance to escape but refused. (Plato wrote a number of dialogues about Socrates’ trial and death.)
There are a few things to note before we begin reading Plato. One is the advantage and disadvantage of dialogue form. The major disadvantage, perhaps, is that it’s not always easy to see what someone’s position is. That is, people’s beliefs unfold through discussion rather than by getting represented in clear narrative paragraphs (or, better yet, in neatly presented arguments). In order to figure out what somebody’s final position is or what they’re saying, you have to disregard parts of the discussion that are just not relevant to the main topic and that’s not always easy, especially for somebody first reading this.
An advantage of this form, however, is that we get to see how somebody’s idea unfolds. Ideas are usually based on other ideas that aren’t always brought to the forefront. But in dialogue form, ideas build off one another and it’s a little easier to see where things go wrong if they do go wrong.
Something else to note is what’s known as the Socratic Method or Socratic ignorance. Socrates has been compared to a midwife who helps people deliver…their ideas. He does this by asking them questions and feigning ignorance. In this way he forces people to articulate their views when they may never have done that
before. For instance, suppose you say: I believe so-and-so. Socrates, deep down knowing full well what so-and-so really means, might ask you what you mean by that and in posing that question to you, you’re forced to elaborate on your ideas. In
this way your ideas unfold in ways that they might not have otherwise.
The work you’ll be reading comes from one of his most famous dialogues called The Republic. This dialogue covers a lot of ground. It looks at what justice means, what a virtuous individual is, what constitutes an ideal society, and what it means to say something is good. We’ll be focusing on Plato’s notion of individual justice opposed to political justice.
We will look at Plato’s view of a just person. Before we get to that, though, Plato has Socrates argue against the popular ideas of the day about justice. By doing this, he lays the groundwork for introducing his novel and more unpopular ideas.
Democracy in Athens at the time was in trouble. Individualism ruled. In The Republic, Plato proposes an ideal society in which justice reigns supreme and where society is led by a Philosopher King. We’re going to look at Plato’s attacks on the popular views of justice during his time.
During this period, Athenians viewed justice as one’s external behavior toward others. In particular, justice was seen as a service or an art to be rendered. It was also believed that justice had to do with a particular type of behavior toward other people: that you acted in a certain way toward your friends and in a different way toward your enemies. Plato is going to oppose all of these common beliefs of the time. For Plato, justice had more to do with the internal ordering of a person’s soul.
Throughout our discussion I want you to understand justice (our use of that term) as referring to: the right thing to do. So if we’re to ask what’s the just thing to do, we’re merely asking what’s the right thing to do, that is, what’s the morally right thing to do.
Socrates asks people what “justice” means. To appreciate what it takes to define something, take some time now to think about how you would define the term “table” (the kind you work at and eat off).
Offer a definition for a table.
Therefore, the just man is kind of thief.
Translated byBenjamin Jowett
PDF file included
Socrates – GLAUCON
I wentdownyesterdaytothePiraeus with Glaucon thesonofAriston,thatImightoffer upmyprayers
tothegoddess; and also becauseIwantedtosee in whatmannertheywould celebrate thefestival,which wasa newthing. I was delightedwith the processionof the inhabitants; butthatoftheThracianswas equally,if notmore,beautiful. Whenwehad finished our prayersand viewed thespectacle,weturned in thedirection of thecity;and atthatinstantPolemarchus the sonofCephalus chanced tocatchsight of usfromadistanceas we werestartingon ourwayhome,andtold hisservanttorun and bid uswait for him. The servanttookholdofmeby the cloakbehind,and said: Polemarchus desiresyou to
I turned round,and askedhimwherehismasterwas.
There he is,saidthe youth,coming after you, ifyou will only wait.
Certainlywe will,said Glaucon; and in a few minutesPolemarchus appeared,and with himAdeimantus,
Glaucon’s brother,Niceratus thesonof Nicias,and severalothers whohad beenat theprocession.Socrates -POLEMARCHUS -GLAUCON- ADEIMANTUS
Polemarchus said to me:Iperceive,Socrates,thatyou and our companion arealready on yourwayto
You arenotfarwrong,I said.
But do yousee,herejoined,how many we are?
And areyou strongerthanall these?for if not,you will haveto remain where you are.
Maythere notbe thealternative,I said,thatwe maypersuadeyou tolet us go?But can you persuadeus,ifwerefuse to listentoyou? hesaid.
Certainly not,replied Glaucon.
Then wearenotgoing tolisten; ofthatyoumaybe assured.
Adeimantus added:Has noonetoldyouofthetorch-race on horsebackin honour ofthegoddesswhich
will takeplacein the evening?
With horses! Ireplied: Thatis a novelty.Will horsemen carry torches and passthem one toanotherduring therace?
Yes, saidPolemarchus,and notonly so,but a festivalwill hecelebrated atnight,which you certainlyought tosee. Letusrise soon after supper and see this festival; therewill bea gathering ofyoung men,and we will havea goodtalk. Stay then,and donotbeperverse.
Glaucon said:I suppose,sinceyou insist,thatwe must.Very good,I replied.
Glaucon – CEPHALUS – SOCRATES
Accordingly we wentwithPolemarchus tohis house; and there wefound his brothers LysiasandEuthydemus, andwith themThrasymachus theChalcedonian, Charmantidesthe Paeanian,andCleitophon the sonof Aristonymus. Theretoowas Cephalus thefatherofPolemarchus,whom I had notseen for a long time,and I thoughthim very much aged. Hewasseatedon a cushioned chair,and had agarland on his head,for he had been sacrificing inthe court;and there were someother chairsin theroomarranged in a semicircle,uponwhichwesatdown byhim. He salutedmeeagerly,and then hesaid:–
You don’tcometosee me,Socrates,asoften asyouought:If I were still able togoand see youIwouldnot askyou to come to me.Butatmyage I can hardlygettothecity,andthereforeyou should comeoftener tothe Piraeus. Forletme tellyou,thatthe morethepleasuresofthebodyfade away,thegreaterto meisthepleasureand charm of conversation. Donotthen deny myrequest,butmake ourhouseyour resortandkeep company with these young men; weareold friends,and youwill be quiteathomewith us.
I replied: There is nothingwhich formypartI like better,Cephalus,than conversing with agedmen; for Iregard themastravellerswhohavegonea journeywhich I too mayhavetogo,and of whomIoughttoenquire, whether thewayis smooth and easy,orrugged and difficult. And this isa questionwhich Ishould like toaskofyou whohavearrived atthat timewhichthepoetscall the’thresholdofold age’ –Islife harder towards the end,orwhatreportdo you giveofit?
I will tellyou,Socrates,hesaid,whatmy own feeling is. Menofmyage flocktogether; weare birdsofafeather,as the old proverbsays; and atourmeetings thetale ofmyacquaintance commonlyis –Icannoteat, Icannotdrink; thepleasuresof youth and lovearefled away:there was agood time once, butnowthat is gone,and lifeis nolonger life.Some complainof the slightswhich are putupon themby relations,and they will tellyou sadly of how many evils theirold age is the cause.Buttome,Socrates, thesecomplainersseem to blame thatwhich is notreallyin fault. For ifold agewere the cause,Itoobeing old,and every otherold man,would havefeltas they do.Butthis isnotmyown experience,northat ofotherswhomIhave known. Howwell I remember theaged poetSophocles,when in answer to
the question,Howdoes lovesuitwith age,Sophocles,–areyou stillthe manyouwere?Peace,hereplied; mostgladly haveIescaped thethingof whichyou speak;I feel asif I hadescaped fromamadand furiousmaster. His words have oftenoccurredtomy mind since,andthey seem as goodto menowas atthetime when heuttered them. For certainly old agehas a greatsense ofcalmand freedom;whenthe passions relaxtheirhold,then,as Sophoclessays,wearefreed from thegrasp notofonemadmasteronly,butofmany.Thetruth is, Socrates,thattheseregrets,and alsothe complaints aboutrelations,are tobeattributed to the samecause,which is notold age,butmen’scharactersandtempers;forhe whoisofacalmand happy nature willhardlyfeel the pressure ofage,buttohimwhoisof anoppositedispositionyouth andageareequallya burden.
I listened in admiration,and wanting todraw him out,thathe mightgo on –Yes,Cephalus,I said:butIrather suspectthatpeople in general arenotconvinced byyou when you speakthus;theythinkthatoldage sits lightlyuponyou,notbecause ofyour happydisposition,but because youarerich,and wealth iswell knownto beagreatcomforter.
You areright,he replied;theyarenotconvinced:andthereis something in whattheysay;not,however,somuch astheyimagine. ImightanswerthemasThemistocles answeredtheSeriphian whowas abusinghimand sayingthathe was famous,notforhis own meritsbutbecausehewasan Athenian: ‘If you had been a nativeofmycountry or Iofyours,neither of uswould havebeenfamous.’ And to thosewho arenotrichand areimpatientofoldage,thesamereply maybe made;forto thegoodpoormanold age cannotbea lightburden,nor cana bad richman everhavepeace withhimself.
May Iask,Cephalus,whether your fortune was forthe mostpartinherited oracquired byyou?
Acquired! Socrates;do youwantto knowhow much Iacquired?In theartofmaking moneyIhave beenmidway betweenmyfather and grandfather:formygrandfather,whose nameIbear, doubled andtrebled thevalue of his patrimony,thatwhichheinherited beingmuch whatI possess now;butmyfather Lysanias reducedtheproperty below whatit isatpresent:and Ishall besatisfied if I leavetothese mysons notless buta little more than I received.
That was whyI askedyouthequestion,I replied,becauseI seethatyou areindifferentaboutmoney,which is acharacteristicrather ofthose whohaveinherited theirfortunes thanofthosewhohaveacquired them; the makersof fortuneshavea secondlove ofmoneyasa creation of theirown,resembling theaffectionofauthors fortheirown poems,orof parents for their children, besidesthatnatural love of itforthe sake of use and profitwhich is common tothemandallmen. And hencetheyare very bad company,forthey can talkaboutnothing butthepraisesof wealth.Thatistrue, hesaid.
Yes,thatisvery true,butmayI askanother question?Whatdo you consider to bethe greatestblessingwhich you havereaped fromyourwealth?
One, he said,of which Icould notexpecteasilytoconvince others. Forletmetellyou,Socrates,thatwhen aman thinks himselftobe near death,fears andcaresenterinto hismindwhich heneverhad
before;thetalesof aworldbelowand the punishmentwhich isexactedthere ofdeeds doneherewereonce alaughing mattertohim,butnowheistormented withthethoughtthatthey maybe true: eitherfromthe weaknessofage,or becausehe is nowdrawing nearer to thatotherplace,he has a clearerviewofthesethings; suspicions and alarmscrowd thicklyuponhim,and hebegins to reflectandconsiderwhatwrongshehas done to others. Andwhen hefinds thatthe sum ofhis transgressions isgreat he willmanya time likeachild startup in his sleep forfear,and heis filledwith darkforebodings.But to him whois conscious of nosin,sweethope, asPindar charminglysays,isthekind nurse of hisage:
Hope, he says,cherishes thesoulof him who livesin justiceand holiness and is thenurse of his ageandthecompanionof his journey; –hope which ismightiesttosway therestless soulofman.
How admirable arehiswords! And thegreatblessingof riches,I donotsayto every man,buttoa goodman, is,thathehas had no occasionto deceiveor todefraud others,either intentionally orunintentionally;and whenhedepartsto the world belowheis notin anyapprehension aboutofferingsdueto thegodsor debts which heowesto men. Now to this peace ofmind thepossessionofwealthgreatlycontributes; and thereforeIsay,that,setting onething againstanother,of themanyadvantageswhich wealth hastogive,toamanof sense this isinmy opinionthegreatest.
Well said,Cephalus,I replied;butasconcerning justice,whatisit? –tospeakthe truth and to pay yourdebts –no more than this? And evento this arethere notexceptions?Suppose thata friendwhen in hisright mind has deposited armswithme and heasks for themwhen heisnotin his rightmind,oughtItogive them backto him?Noone would saythatIoughtor thatI should berightindoing so,any morethan they would say thatIoughtalwaysto speakthe truth toonewhois in hiscondition.
You arequite right,hereplied.
But then,Isaid,speaking thetruth and paying your debts is notacorrectdefinition ofjustice.Cephalus – SOCRATES -POLEMARCHUS
Quite correct,Socrates,ifSimonides isto bebelieved,said Polemarchus interposing.
I fear,saidCephalus,thatImustgonow,for Ihavetolookafter thesacrifices,and I hand over theargumentto Polemarchusand thecompany.
Is notPolemarchusyourheir?I said.
To be sure,heanswered, and wentaway laughing to the sacrifices.Socrates -POLEMARCHUS
Tellme then,Othouheirof theargument,whatdid Simonides say,and according to you truly say,aboutjustice?
He said thattherepaymentof adebtisjust,and insaying sohe appears to meto beright.
I should besorrytodoubttheword ofsuch awise and inspired man,buthismeaning, though probablyclear to you,is thereverse of clear to me. For hecertainlydoes notmean,as we were nowsaying thatIoughttoreturn a return adepositof armsorofanything elseto one who asksfor itwhen heisnotin hisrightsenses;andyeta depositcannotbedeniedtobe a debt.
Then whenthepersonwho asksme is notin his rightmind I amby no means to makethe return?
When Simonidessaid thattherepaymentof a debtwas justice,hedid notmeantoinclude thatcase?Certainlynot;for he thinksthata friend oughtalwaystodogoodtoa friend andneverevil.
Youmeanthatthereturn of a depositof gold whichisto theinjury ofthereceiver,if the twoparties arefriends, is nottherepaymentof adebt,–thatis whatyouwould imaginehim tosay?
And areenemies alsotoreceivewhatwe owe tothem?
To be sure,hesaid,theyaretoreceivewhatwe owethem,andan enemy,asItakeit,owestoan enemythat which is due or propertohim–thatistosay,evil.
Simonides, then,afterthe mannerof poets,would seem to have spoken darkly of the nature ofjustice;for he really meanttosay thatjustice is thegiving to each manwhatisproper to him,and thishetermed a debt.
By heaven! Ireplied;and ifweasked himwhatdue orproper thing is given by medicine,and towhom,whatanswer doyouthinkthathewouldmaketous?
Hewould surely reply thatmedicine gives drugs andmeatand drinktohuman bodies.And whatdue or properthing is given bycookery,andto what?
And whatisthatwhich justicegives,andto whom?
If, Socrates,weareto beguided atall by the analogyof the preceding instances,then justiceistheartwhich gives good tofriendsand evilto enemies.
Thatis hismeaning then?I thinkso.
And whoisbestabletodogoodtohisfriends and eviltohisenemies in time ofsickness?
Or whenthey areon avoyage,amid theperilsof the sea?Thepilot.
And in whatsortof actionsor with aviewto whatresultis the justmanmostable todoharm tohisenemyand goodto his friends?
In going towaragainsttheoneand inmaking alliances withthe other.
But when aman iswell,my dearPolemarchus,thereisnoneed ofa physician?No.
And hewho is noton avoyagehas no needof apilot?No.
Then in time of peace justicewillbe of no use?I am veryfarfrom thinking so.
You thinkthatjustice may beof usein peaceas well as in war?Yes.
Likehusbandry forthe acquisitionof corn?Yes.
Or like shoemaking forthe acquisitionof shoes,–thatis whatyou mean?
And whatsimilar use orpowerof acquisition hasjusticein time ofpeace?
In contracts,Socrates,justiceisof use.And bycontractsyoumeanpartnerships?Exactly.
Butis the justmanortheskilful playeramoreusefuland betterpartner ata game of draughts?
And in thelayingof bricksand stonesis thejust mana moreusefulor better partner than thebuilder?
Then in whatsortof partnership is thejust man abetter partnerthan the harp-player,as in playingtheharp theharp-playeris certainlya better partnerthanthejustman?
In a moneypartnership.
Yes,Polemarchus,butsurelynotin the use ofmoney; for you donotwanta just man to be yourcounsellor thepurchase orsale of a horse;amanwhois knowing abouthorseswould bebetterforthat,would he not?
And when you wanttobuy a ship,the shipwrightorthepilotwould bebetter?
Then whatis thatjointuseof silveror gold in whichthejustman istobepreferred?
When youwanta deposittobe keptsafely.
Youmeanwhenmoney isnotwanted,butallowedto lie?Precisely.
That is to say,justice is useful whenmoneyisuseless?Thatis theinference.
And when you wanttokeep a pruning-hooksafe,then justiceisuseful to theindividual and to the state;but whenyouwanttouseit,thentheartofthe vine-dresser?
And when you wanttokeep a shieldor a lyre,and nottousethem,youwould saythatjusticeis useful;but whenyouwanttousethem,thentheartofthe soldierorof the musician?
And soof allthe otherthings;–justiceis usefulwhentheyareuseless,and useless whenthey areuseful?
Then justiceis notgoodformuch. Butletus consider this further point:Isnothe whocan beststrikeablowin aboxingmatch or in anykindof fighting bestabletowardoffa blow?
And hewho ismostskilful in preventingorescaping from a diseaseisbestableto create one?
And heis the bestguard ofa campwhois bestable to steal amarch upon theenemy?
Then he whoisa goodkeeper ofanything is also agood thief?That, I suppose,istobe inferred.
Then if the justman is good atkeeping money,he is goodatstealing it.
Thatis implied intheargument.
Then afterall thejustmanhas turnedouttobe athief. And this is a lesson whichI suspectyoumusthave learntoutof Homer; for he,speakingof Autolycus,thematernal grandfather ofOdysseus,whoisafavouriteof his,affirms that
He wasexcellentaboveallmen intheftand perjury. And so,youand Homerand Simonidesare agreedthatjusticeis anartoftheft;tobe practised however ‘for thegoodof friendsandfor theharmofenemies,’ –thatwaswhatyouweresaying?
No, certainlynotthat,though I donotnow knowwhatI did say;butI still stand bythelatter words.
Well, thereisanother question: Byfriends and enemies do we mean those whoaresoreally,oronlyinseeming?
Surely, he said,amanmay beexpectedto love those whomhethinks good,andtohatethose whom hethinks evil.
Yes, butdonotpersonsoften err aboutgoodand evil: manywhoare notgood seemto be so,andconversely?
Then tothem thegoodwillbeenemies and the evilwill betheirfriends? True.And in thatcasethey will berightin doing good tothe eviland eviltothe good?
Butthegoodarejustandwould notdoan injustice?True.
Then according toyour argumentitis justtoinjure those who dono wrong?
Nay, Socrates; thedoctrine is immoral.
Then I supposethatwe oughttodogoodto the justand harmtotheunjust?
Butsee the consequence:–Manyamanwhois ignorantof human nature has friends whoarebadfriends, and in thatcase he oughttodoharmto them; and hehas goodenemieswhomhe oughttobenefit; but,if so,we shallbesaying thevery opposite ofthatwhich we affirmedtobe themeaningofSimonides.
Very true,he said: and I thinkthatwehad better correctanerror intowhichweseemtohavefallen intheuse ofthe words’friend’ and ‘enemy.’
What was the error,Polemarchus?I asked.
Weassumedthatheis afriend who seemstobe orwhois thoughtgood.And howisthe errortobe corrected?
We should rathersay thatheis a friend whois,aswell as seems,good; and thathewho seems only,andis notgood,onlyseems to beand is nota friend;andof anenemy thesamemay besaid.
Youwould argue thatthegoodareour friendsand the bad ourenemies?Yes.
And instead ofsaying simplyaswedid atfirst,thatitisjusttodogood to our friends and harmtoour
enemies,we should further say:Itisjusttodogoodto our friendswhen theyaregood and harmto ourenemieswhen theyareevil?
Yes,thatappearsto metobethe truth.Butoughtthejusttoinjure any oneatall?
Undoubtedlyhe oughttoinjurethosewhoarebothwickedand his enemies.
When horses areinjured,aretheyimprovedor deteriorated?Thelatter.
Deteriorated,thatisto say,in thegood qualitiesof horses,notof dogs?
And dogs aredeteriorated in thegood qualitiesofdogs,and notofhorses?
And will notmen whoareinjured bedeteriorated inthatwhich isthepropervirtueofman?
And thathumanvirtue is justice?Tobe sure.
Then men whoareinjuredareofnecessity madeunjust?Thatis theresult.
Butcan themusician byhisartmake men unmusical?Certainlynot.
Or thehorseman byhis artmakethembad horsemen?Impossible.
And can thejustbyjusticemake men unjust,orspeaking general can thegood byvirtue makethembad?
Anymore than heatcan producecold?Itcannot.
Nor canthegood harmany one?
Then toinjureafriendor anyone elseis nottheactofa justman,butofthe opposite,who istheunjust?
I thinkthatwhatyou say isquitetrue,Socrates.
Then if aman saysthatjusticeconsistsin therepaymentof debts,andthatgood is thedebtwhicha manowes tohis friends,and evilthedebtwhich heowestohisenemies,–tosaythis isnotwise;for itisnot true,if,as has been clearlyshown,theinjuring ofanothercan bein nocasejust.
I agree withyou,said Polemarchus.
Then you and I areprepared totake up arms against anyonewhoattributessucha sayingto Simonidesor BiasorPittacus,or any other wise manor seer?
Iamquitereadytodobattleatyourside,hesaid.Shall I tellyouwhoseI believe the saying tobe?Whose?
I believethatPerianderorPerdiccasor XerxesorIsmenias theTheban,or some other rich andmightyman,whohad agreatopinion ofhisown power,wasthefirsttosay thatjusticeis ‘doing good toyourfriends and harm to your enemies.’
Most true,he said.
Yes, Isaid;butifthis definitionof justicealsobreaks down,whatother can be offered?
Severaltimes inthe course ofthediscussion Thrasymachus had madean attempttogettheargumentinto hisown hands,and had been putdown by the restofthe company,whowanted tohearthe end.But whenPolemarchus andI had done speaking andtherewas a pause,he couldnolonger hold hispeace;and,gathering himself up,hecameatus likeawild beast,seeking todevour us. We werequitepanic-stricken atthesightof him…..
…..Wellthen,proceed with youranswers,and letmehavetheremainderofmyrepast. Forwehavealready shownthatthejustareclearly wiser and better and abler thantheunjust,and thattheunjustare incapable of commonaction; naying at more,thatto speakaswedidofmenwhoareevil acting atany time vigorouslytogether,is notstrictlytrue,for iftheyhad been perfectlyevil,they would havelaidhands upon one another;butitisevidentthatthere musthave beensome remnantof justice in them,which enabledthem tocombine; if therehad notbeen they would have injuredoneanotheraswell astheir victims; theywerebuthalf –villains intheirenterprises;for hadthey beenwhole villains,andutterlyunjust,they wouldhavebeen utterlyincapableofaction. That,asI believe,is thetruthof thematter, and notwhatyousaid atfirst.Butwhether thejusthave a better and happier lifethanthe
unjust is a furtherquestionwhich wealsoproposedto consider.I thinkthatthey have,and forthereasonswhich tohave given;butstill Ishould liketo examine further,for nolightmatter isatstake,nothing lessthan the rule of human life.
I will proceed byasking a question:Would you notsay thata horse has some end?
And theendor use ofa horseor ofanythingwouldbethatwhichcould notbe accomplished,or notsowell accomplished,byanyotherthing?
Or hear,exceptwith the ear?No.
These thenmay betrulysaid tobethe endsof these organs?They may.
But you can cut off avine-branch with adagger orwith a chisel,and inmany other ways?
And yetnotso wellaswitha pruning-hookmadefor thepurpose?True.
Maywenotsay thatthis istheendof a pruning-hook?Wemay.
Then nowI thinkyou will havenodifficultyin understanding my meaningwhen Iaskedthequestionwhetherthe end ofanything would be thatwhich could notbe accomplished,ornotso wellaccomplished, byany other thing?
I understand yourmeaning,hesaid,and assent.
And thattowhichan end isappointed hasalso an excellence?Need I askagain whether theeyehasanend?
And has nottheeye an excellence?Yes.
And theear has an end andan excellencealso?True.
And thesameistrue ofallotherthings;theyhave each of them an end and aspecial excellence?
Well, and can the eyes fulfil their end iftheyare wanting in their own properexcellence and havea
Howcan they,he said,iftheyareblind and cannotsee?
Youmeanto say,if theyhavelosttheir properexcellence,which is sight; butI havenotarrivedatthatpoint yet. Iwould rather askthequestion more generally,andonly enquirewhether the things whichfulfil their ends fulfilthem bytheirown properexcellence,and falloffulfilling thembytheir owndefect?
I mightsaythesame ofthe ears; when deprived oftheir own proper excellence theycannotfulfiltheirend?
And thesame observationwill applytoallother things?I agree.
Well;and has notthe soulan end which nothing else can fulfil?for example,tosuperintend andcommand and deliberateand thelike.Arenotthese functions proper to thesoul,and can theyrightlybeassigned to any other?
And is notlifetobe reckoned among the endsof thesoul?Assuredly, he said.
And has notthesoul anexcellence also?Yes.
And can she or canshenotfulfil her own endswhendeprivedofthatexcellence?
Then an evil soulmustnecessarily beanevil rulerandsuperintendent,and thegoodsoul agood ruler?
And wehaveadmitted thatjusticeis the excellence ofthesoul,and injusticethedefectofthesoul?
Thathas been admitted.
Then the justsoul and the justmanwill live well, and theunjustman will live ill?
And hewho lives well is blessed and happy,and hewholives illthereverse of happy?
Then the justis happy,andtheunjustmiserable?Sobeit.
Buthappiness and notmiseryisprofitable.Of course.
Then,myblessedThrasymachus,injustice can neverbemore profitablethan justice.
Letthis,Socrates,he said,beyour entertainmentattheBendidea.
For which Iam indebtedtoyou,Isaid,now thatyou havegrown gentle towardsme and haveleftoffscolding. Nevertheless,Ihavenotbeenwell entertained;butthatwasmy own faultand notyours. Asanepicure snatches ataste ofeverydishwhich is successively broughtto table,henothaving allowedhimselftimeto enjoytheonebefore,sohaveIgone from onesubjecttoanotherwithouthavingdiscoveredwhatIsoughtatfirst,thenature of justice.I leftthatenquiryand turned awaytoconsiderwhetherjustice isvirtue and wisdom orevil and folly; and when therearose a further question about thecomparative advantages of justice and injustice,I could notrefrain frompassing on tothat.Andtheresultof the wholediscussion has been thatI knownothing atall. ForI knownotwhatjusticeis,andtherefore Iamnotlikelyto know whether itisor is nota virtue,nor can Isay whether the justman is happyor unhappy.
Moral Person Exercise
Consider and comment here on what you think goes into making a person moral. Is it what they intend? What they do? Something else? It might help to think about a particular person and examine why you think he or she is moral and then extract your response from that.
So,forPlato,whenyouharmsomeone,youareaffectingthemnegatively.Specifically,youaremakingitmorelikelythattheywillthemselvesbelessjust—-anddoingthatcannotitself beajustactforthereasonsgiven(it’snotthepurposeofa thingtoproduceitsopposite).
Question – 10 Points
Plato on Harm Assignment
Discuss Plato’s argument against harm that we looked at together. Maybe you want to talk about whether it’s really always true that harming something makes it worse. Maybe you want to comment on Plato’s claim that it isn’t the purpose of something to produce its opposite. What about justice being man’s excellence or special quality? You may criticize Plato or agree with him—-in either case, give reasons for your claims. Or rather than look at a particular premise, you might want to look at the structure of the argument—-the way he is reasoning. You need only bring up one point—-but put some thought into it.
Question – 10 Points
Just Life Happy Life Assignment
On around page 11 of the reading, Plato gives an argument that the just or the moral life is the happy life. The reason he needs to prove this is that very few people will be interested in living the just life if it turns out to be an unhappy one. Try to come up with his argument. (Hint: The argument talks about things having a function and an excellence or virtue.) Use numbered premises and conclusions (this one contains a subconclusion—a minor conclusion derived from some of the premises before it that itself functions as a premise to the main conclusion).
Shortanswerexamsareoneofthewaysthatyouconveytomewhetheryouhavea firmgrasp(ornot)ofmaterialpresentedwithinaweek(orweeksincaseswherea subjectspansovermorethanoneweek)sothatIhaveameasureonwhichtobaseyourcoursegrade.
Thatsaid,thisiswhatIamlookingfor:answertheveryquestionthatisasked,using alltheinformationyoubelieveisneededinordertodothat.Donotincludeeverythingyouknowaboutthegeneralsubjectbecausethatgivesmetheimpressionthatyoudon’tactuallyknowtheanswerbutarethrowingatmeeverythingyouhave,hoping it’sinthere.WhenIreadshortanswerexams,Iamlookingfortheanswertothequestion(becausethereisone—andifthereisn’t,I’llmakeitclearthatI’mlookingforyourthoughtsonthesubject).
Mostpeopleviewthistypeofgivingasanactofcharity—somethingwedon’thavetodoandif/whenwedo,it’samatterofkindnessonourparts.Infact,forSinger,wehaveamoralobligationtohelpothersingreatneed;thisisbased ontheviewthatbeinginsuchneedisbadandifweareabletopreventbad(withoutputtingourselvesinasituationsimilartotheonewearetryingto help)weshould.
Icouldhavestoppedat“forSinger,wehaveamoralobligationtohelpothersingreatneed”butthatiswhat isinquestionsoIwant toincludehisreasonforthatview,too.NoticethatIamnotcallingthatpointintoquestion(thewayothersactuallydoincriticizinghim)becausethatdoesn’tcontributetotheveryquestion
Plato Short Answer Exam
Answer one of the questions below using what you have learned about Plato. (Note: I am not looking foryour personal views on the subject at hand here–I’m looking for Plato’s). Remember that in exams I am testing your understanding of a position you learned about.
Answer one of the questions below.
How do you think Plato would explain what is wrong with the Boston Marathon or 9/11 terrorists that they committed these immoral acts (how would he explain why they acted immorally—HINT: your answer should include some discussion of the nature of the souls of the terrorists)?
What would Plato think of a sentence of solitary confinement for life for these terrorists? Explain your answer. (Hint: think of the different purposes of jail time and Plato’s thoughts about harm, especially with respect to the terrorists here.)
Plato multiple choice Questions
The general view of justice during Plato’s time that he attacked:
Justice has to do with following laws.
Justice has to do with one’s external behavior toward others.
Justice has to do with your intentions.
Justice has to do with your soul.
According to Plato, it is wrong to harm someone because when you harm someone, you:
Violate a law.
Make them less perfect in their own special way.
Cause them pain.
All of these.
The madman at your door, coming to ask for the return of his weapon example is meant as a counterexample to which definition of justice?
Justice is returning what’s not yours and telling the truth.
Justice is obeying the law and protecting what’s yours.
Justice is obeying the law.
Justice is keeping things safe.
According to Plato, the thing that is special about humans (their excellence) is:
Forming a society
During Plato’s time, one of the views of justice was that it was an art to be rendered.
Plato thought that living the just life was hard because being just doesn’t make you happy.
Plato argued that the just man was a type of thief to show that the just man shouldn’t be defined as someone who is good at keeping money safe.
Doing good things, according to Plato, is what makes someone just.
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