PHIL-330 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Thrasymachus, Intellectual Honesty, PolemarchusPremium
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Thrasymachus: heis name means bold in battle
-ot a aidetal harater hoie wild east, lio. Is agry soo as he egis—why? He does’t
agree with Socrates views and behaviour. Thrasymachus believes he knows best; he is angry because
Polemarchus would no longer hire him to teach rhetoric and receive payment, when Polemarchus
pledges allegiance to philosophy. The loss of a wealthy customer to philosophy.
-Thrasymachus insists that Socrates gives a definition himself, rather than setting others up to fail: sets
parameters of justice being the right, the beneficial, the advantageous [336D]. Socrates insists he cannot
provide a definition on those terms, because he is not sure that justice is NOT the advantageous and the
-Socrates likely already knows what his definition of justice is, but he does not know it to be
true; but also he has been prevented from using words he would use. Socrates has informed
Polemarchus of his own ignorance in the Socratic style
-Thrasymachus will give his own definition but will include the words he just banned Socrates
Socrates claims he cannot give the definition of justice in compliance with these terms.
Thrasymachus characterization: he is hypocritical, petty. Intellectual dishonesty: undermining the rules
set by oneself.
Sophistry: winning the argument is most important, not getting to the truth
Thrasymachus defines justice as:. So justice is what is advantageous to the stronger.
- obedience to laws, rules, and customs [nomoi]. Citizens are obligated to obey these rules which are in
the best interest of the ruler, who is the stronger of the two parties
Obedience out of fear of punishment; and the reward of not being punished when one is obedient. Just
individuals (rule followers) benefit the rulers the most—they only benefit themselves in the sense that
they avoid punishment
-psychology: conventional morality; a non natural form of morality in which one acts to avoid
certain things. Justice is conventional in the sense that the stronger party makes the rules
-nomos: the greek word for law, which can be translated as both law and custom
-Thrasyahus oedes that rulers a ake istakes: they ake rules or laws whih are i their ow
iterest ut atually uderie their est iterests/receiving some sort of harm
-according to this: rulers can do what is both advantageous and disadvantageous to oneself by
Polearhus takes the side of “orates; Cleitopho takes Thrasyahus’ side. Why does
Cleitophon interject only this one time?—rejects Socrates refutation on the grounds that he has
understood it wrong
340b: Cleitophon defines justice as what the ruler BELIEVES IS BEST FOR HIM (in this sense, the
definition is purely power based—a dangerous view that power and control define justice)
-Thrasymachus argues Cleitophon is also wrong: will make a statement about the ruler as a ruler
The ruler, in a philosophical manner: the ruler is a ruler in so far as he acts like a ruler (the
notion of genuine rule is a type of knowledge, a type of techne)
A ruler who makes a mistake is a failure in the concept of ruler based on his failure. [341a]
When the ruler is deficient in knowledge only then will he make a mistake; at this point, he
would not e a skilled worker of his craft
-Thrasymachus has conceded we all make mistakes; but real ruling would then be impossible
because no one can never make mistakes. Thus justice is impossible since perfect rule is not possible,
and justice is a ruler doing what they believe to be of benefit.
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