Notes on The Republic Themes

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The Republic Topic Tracking: Justice

Justice 1: Cephalus states that justice is as simple as telling the truth and returning what you receive. Socrates disagrees, and, to prove his point, he states the following as an example: if a person receives a weapon from a friend who then becomes insane, would it be just to return that weapon if the friend then asked for it back? In this case, what would be justice - giving him his weapon back or not?, They agree that telling the truth and returning what you receive cannot always be the definition of justice.

Justice 2: Polemarchus states that justice is giving "each his due," thus quoting Simonides, and saying that the weapon should be returned to the owner in the example above. However, Socrates challenges this and Polemarchus agrees that that would be a mistake, and that by "due" perhaps Simonides was referring to doing your friends well. By giving someone his "due," you would also harm your enemy. Thus, justice is helping your friends and harming your enemies.

Justice 3: Socrates questions if friends are people who seem honest or who are honest but don't seem so. To this, he receives the reply that people are expected to love people whom they think are honest and hate those who see bad. Socrates turns this around by asking about people who make mistakes and think men are honest when they are not, and vice versa; for them, good men are enemies and bad men are friends, and thus justice means helping bad men and harming good ones. However, since it is widely accepted that good men are just and do no wrong, this argument would lead to the conclusion that it is just to injure men who do no wrong; this is the opposite of what Simonides said.

Justice 4: Thrasymachus states that justice is the advantage of the stronger. First, he establishes that justice is what the stronger thinks is to his advantage, rather than what is to his advantage. Then, through considering the function of medicine and comparing it to justice, he establishes that "no knowledge considers or prescribes for the advantage of the stronger, but for that of the weaker, which it rules" Book 1, pg. 17, line 342d. This, in turn, means that no ruler rules for his own advantage, but for that of his subjects. Having his words turned around, Thrasymachus is angry and makes the statement that in any partnership the unjust person always gets the better of the just in every way. The perfect form of injustice is one that brings happiness to the possessor and misery to others: tyranny. He then goes on to say that the reason men condemn injustice is because they fear suffering it, not committing it. Therefore, he concludes that injustice is stronger and freer than justice, yet justice is the advantage of the stronger.

Justice 5: Just men have been shown to be wiser and more capable of acting together. However, there must be a little justice in unjust men, since they are not unjust towards each other, as they can be "partners in crime."

Justice 6: Combined, it can be assumed that everything performs its function only if it has the corresponding excellence, and not evil. Using these hypotheses, Socrates moves on to say that the soul has a function, life, which no other thing can perform. Furthermore, it cannot perform its function if it is deprived of its excellence, justice. This means that a person with a bad soul will rule and manage badly, and one with a good soul will do these things well. Also, it means that the just man will live well, and the unjust man will live badly. Thus, the just man is happy, and the unjust man unhappy. This proves that injustice is never more profitable than justice, since it brings misery.

Justice 7: Socrates says that justice is in the most beautiful class of all: the class of things we choose to have for their own sake and for the sake of their consequences.

Justice 8: Glaucon says that "justice is practiced only under compulsion, as someone else's good - not our own." Book 2, pg. 33, line 360c

Justice 9: Thus, Adeimantus concludes, there is absolutely no reason to prefer justice to injustice. He then asks Socrates what strategy he would use to convince a man who had all the power and means to be unjust, to respect justice. Furthermore, he asks Socrates to show what good justice does to its possessor, and what evil injustice does to him or her.

Justice 10: Socrates says that it would make defining justice and defending it easier if they examined justice on a larger scale, and then in the individual. He then recommends that they examine justice in the state first, by watching a city coming into being and identifying justice and injustice as they accordingly come into being.

Justice 11: One of the excellences in the city is justice, and they come to find that this is simply tending your own business. This is because this, in turn, will lead to wisdom, temperance, and courage. Furthermore, since it was decided that each man is only truly good at one thing, if a person tries to meddle in affairs that are not his own, he will be doing something without any skill. This will lead to weakness in the city and eventually the city's death. Doing something that can harm the city is doing something wrong, and therefore doing injustice. By turning this around, it can be found that justice would be minding your own business. However, to examine justice on the individual level, it must first be found whether the soul has the same three levels as the city. Since the attributes of a city must arise from its people, it can safely be assumed that individuals do have these same levels.

Justice 12: It is established that "justice, although it resembles a mirage, is really concerned with internal rather than external activity - with the true self and its business." Book 4, pg. 111, line 443c Accordingly, a just person will first ensure that he is just, and that all his internal affairs are in accordance with justice, prior to engaging in external affairs.

Justice 13: Justice is "establishing the parts of the soul so that they dominate and are dominated by each other according to nature, injustice so that they rule and are ruled contrary to nature." Book 4, pg. 112, line 444d

Justice 14: It is now granted that justice is good because of itself, and that it belongs to the soul. Also, it is said that justice does give a good reputation, and that the gods know who is truly just and who is unjust, love the just and hate the other. The people whom the gods love will have the best lives, with the best of everything always available to them.

Justice 15: If we do believe in the afterlife, and practice justice accordingly, we willwin the prize for justice both in this world and in the thousand-year journey.

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