Essay by zamandiri March 2004

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Plato's profound early writing on politics, ethics and education discussed in the Republic are the foundations of today's governments, nations and discourses. At least that is what I am told. Plato's ideology and reasoning are not always the most believable and desirable, it makes me wonder which part of today's government practices must give due to the Republic (to be discovered in Gov 101). While it is easy to be disgusted with Plato's idealism and philosophy, which seems to deter any type of an acceptable nightlife, it does leave the reader with a desire to keep trudging through endless mounds of self-indulged prose to discover Plato's reasoning. One such view, that I've been asked to dissect, is Plato's idea of justice. Before I read the Republic justice always seemed like such a simple thing, what is right, however now it's more than that. I shall examine Plato's description of a discussion between Socrates and Thrasymachus on justice in order to understand some of Plato's views.

Thrasymachus defines justice as "nothing other than the advantage of the stronger" (Book I, 338c). This bold ignorant statement causes Socrates to spring in and draws Thrasymachus into a debate on what true justice entails. Thrasymachus expands his statement with the example of tyranny; the tyrant, the strongest, is able to enforce all their wants on the citizens, the weaker. Therefore the tyrant will always get what he desires, justice for himself, and injustice for the weaker. Socrates envisions justice as something more than the advantage of the stronger and pulls Thrasymachus into a lengthy argument on the subject.

Socrates' arguments usually involve a large amount of word twisting and manipulating Thrasymachus' original statement to mean something never intended. But this strategy works well for Socrates, so...