POL200Y5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Cephalus, Thrasymachus, Socratic Method

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28 Sep 2016
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1. POL200 – Lecture 4 – Plato; Republic I & II
The Republic – Book I
A dialogue about Justice – doing the right thing.
Setting was 429 B.C – in Piraeus. This book was written 19 years after
Socrates was killed
oPlato tried to develop a further Socratic method – thus using
Socrates in many of his books
Cephalus – is a man of great wealth. Socrates engages with a
conversation with him.
o“How is old age treating you?”
Cepahlus says old age isn’t really doing much – perhaps because
Cephalus is wealthy it makes life easier
oSocrates suggests this and Cephalus sort of agrees. Cephalus
says the only good thing about wealth is that it allowed him to
do the right thing
Theories of Justice – Cephalus and Polemarchus
Doing the right thing – paying back, speaking the truth. Socrates
questions if this is the definition of justice…
oSocrates suggests is simply giving something which is owed
always good? Certainly not always – giving a weapon to a mad
man for example.
oCephalus leaves the argument.
Polemarchus enters the argument – agrees that paying what is owed
and speaking the truth is not a clear definition for justice
oHe suggests doing good to friends and harm to enemies = just.
Giving each what is owed to them – good to good, bad to bad.
These are two traditional definitions of justice – both views see justice
as the idea of giving each person what is owed to them
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oEveryone gets what they deserve
Theories of Justice – Thrasymachus
Who is also a Sophist – new how to put together an argument.
Sophists believed Justice had no divine, or natural beginning. It was
agreed amongst people.
oThis is the view Thrasymachus represents
His definition of justice is “nothing other than the advantage of the
stronger.” – much of a political definition
Rulers make laws – just to only his subjects. Justice basically is that
which is lawful – ruler must declare what is just and unjust.
oTo the advantage of the rulers
Thrasymachus focuses our attention on the happiness of being unjust
– what does unjust behavior allow you to accomplish in the world
Thrasymachus states injustice is simply better than justice. Unjust
rulers are happiest – the best life belongs to a Tyrant.
oDoing the right things always leads to miserable, unsatisfied life.
While committing unjust acts brings joy and self-satisfaction.
Socrates attacks the argument on three levels – intelligence, strength,
happiness
oThe claim that the unjust man is more intelligent than the just
man is refuted – using crafts of other occupations. Ignorant
person (unjust man) always tries to outdo others.
oInjustice being a source of strength – complete injustice is a
source of chaos and disunity. A group of thieves wouldn’t
survive long without justice unifying them. If there is
disloyalty/unjust acts between them then they would break
apart. Justice = Strength.
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