By Students of POL200
University of Toronto
Reading summary 200 Page 1
Conversation between Socrates, Polymarmarchus, and Cephalus:
Cephalus: while these burdens are eased by wealth, it is people's character and habits that
really determine whether or not their lives are hard to bear , not their age. Wealth is
important mostly because it reduces the likelihood that someone will be tempted into being
unjust, because he is poor, and so lessens his fear of what will happen to him after his dies.
Socrates and Cephalus discuss the burden of the old age:
Cephalus: speaking the truth and paying one's debt
Thrasymachus: justice is the advantage of the stronger.
What justice is :
Socrates: virtue is a craft of techne.
Cephalus: some complain about the old age ( as they lost the pleasure of drinking, parties,
sex and more) and they get angry as if they had lived well then but are now hardly living.
Some moan about the abused bestowed upon them and because of these or the mentioned
saying they think old age is the cause of many devils. But i dont think so they blame the
real cause. If the old age were really the cause, then i would have suffered the same way,
and so does everyone in my age. Once someone asked the poet ( Sophocles) : "how are you
as far as sex goes? The poet replied: I am very glad to have escaped from all that like a
slave who has escaped from a savage and tyrannical master. Old age bring peace and
freedom from all such things." in all these matters the real cause is not the old age but the
way people live. If they are moderate and content while they are young, the old age is also
Cephalus: answered to the question: ( majority of people don't agree, they think that you
bear old age more easily not because of the way you live but because you are wealthy), by
acknowledging this fact and continued that there is something in what they say, though not
as much as they think. He said the story of ( Themistocle's " a fifth century Athenian
statesman" when someone from Seriphus ( the city) insulted him by saying that his high
reputation is was due to his city and not to himself, he replied that, had he been a Sriphian,
he wouldn't be famous, but neither would the other even if he had been an Athenian. ) the
same applies to those who are not rich and find old age hard to bear; A good person would
not easily bear old age if he were poor, but a bad one wouldn't be at peace with himself
even if he were wealthy.
Cephalus suggest that if one having wealth is most valuable not for every man but for a
decent and orderly one. Wealth can do a lot to save us from having to cheat or deceive
someone against our will and from having to depart for that other place in fear because we
owe sacrifice to a God or money to a person. It has many other uses, but benefit , i would
say that this is how it is most useful to a man of any understanding.
Socrates asking Cephalus about the old age and how it is different from being young:
Polymarchus: insisted that definition of justice is to speak the truth and repaying what one
has borrowed if needed as Simonides said.
Socrates: suggested that it is not just to give to someone what one owes to him while that
person is totally out of his mind. But Polymarchus believed it is justices.
Simonides ( a lyric poet) believed that definition of justice is when you give back what you
owe and tell the truth.
Polymarchus suggests that justice gives benefits to friends and does harm to enemies.
After socrates give different examples of Ship captain and doctors who are able to do good
and bad for their friends and enemies, and if they have patience or sailors they can do
justice otherwise their justice is useless, he questioned if justice is useful for getting and
using in peacetime and polymarchus answered for contracts ( and by contracts he meant
Socrates: people often make mistakes about believing many people to be good and useful
when they are not and making the opposite mistake about enemies. And he concludes that
it is not the function of a just person to harm a friend or anyone else, rather is the function
of his opposite, an unjust person.
Plato Book I:
Reading summary 200 Page 2
of his opposite, an unjust person.
Thrasymachus: believe that justice is the advantage of the stronger. And he gave examples
of cities where rulers are aristocratic, tyrannical or democratic, who makes their laws for
their own advantage. And they for their advantage are just to their subjects. So he argued
that it is the advantage of the establishers, since the established rulers are stronger.
Socrates believed that ( no craft man ever makes errors such as doctor or accountant, if his
knowledge fails him that he makes an error, and in regard to that error he is no craftsman.
Also he suggests that no other craft seeks its own advantage for it has no further needs, but
the advantage of that of which it is the craft. No kind of knowledge seeks or orders what is
advantageous to itself , then, but what is advantageous to the weaker, which is subject to it.
As example no doctor seeks what is advantageous to himself but what is advantageous to
his patient. And he concluded that no one in any position of rule, in so far, as he is a ruler,
seeks or orders what is advantageous to himself, but what is advantageous to his subjects;
the ones of whom he is himself the craftsman. It is to his subjects and what is advantageous
and proper to them that he looks and everything he says and does he says and does for
them. No craft or rule provides for its own advantage, but for its subject and aims at its
advantage that of the weaker not the stronger.
Glaucan: believe that life of just person is better and not convinced by the idea that
Thrasymachus says that unjust gets more than what just person does.
First to make whatever it arises in- whether it is a city, family, army, or anything else
incapable of achieving anything as a unit, because of the civil wars and differences it
And second it makes that unit an enemy to itself and to what is in every way it is
opposite, namely, justice.
Socrates: a just person outdoes only those who are unjust, but an unjust person outdo both
just and unjust. A just person is like clever and good and unjust person is like ignorant and
bad one. Finally justice is virtue and wisdom and injustice is vice and ignorance. Injustice
has the power
Make him incapable of achieving anything, because he is in a state of civil war and
not of one mind.
It makes him his own enemy as well as the enemy of just people.
Socrates: by nature the very same effect of injustice is on human being as well:
Socrates: so since God is justice, and unjust person is the enemy of God, while the just
person is his friend. The function of each thing to which a particular function is assigned
also have a virtue. Such as soul's virtue is to keep us alive, and it will not perform its
function if it is deprived of its own peculiar virtue. And a bad soul rules and takes care of
things badly and a good soul does all these things as well. So he they agreed that justice is a
soul's virtues and injustice is its vice. A just soul and a just man will live well while unjust
one badly. A just person is happy and unjust person wretched. And living wretched doesnt
profit anyone. So injustice is never more profitable than justice.
Socrates at the end of Book I says : " i know nothing , for when I don't know what justice
is, I will hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is
happy or unhappy."
Reading summary 200 Page 3
Socrates and cephalus discuss the burden of the old age: Cephalus: while these burdens are eased by wealth, it is people"s character and habits that really determine whether or not their lives are hard to bear , not their age. Wealth is important mostly because it reduces the likelihood that someone will be tempted into being unjust, because he is poor, and so lessens his fear of what will happen to him after his dies. Cephalus: speaking the truth and paying one"s debt. Thrasymachus: justice is the advantage of the stronger. Socrates asking cephalus about the old age and how it is different from being young: Cephalus: some complain about the old age ( as they lost the pleasure of drinking, parties, sex and more) and they get angry as if they had lived well then but are now hardly living.