Polemarchus Dialogue 09/13/2013
• Benefit friends, harm enemies
• Takes a step beyond Cephalus (tell the truth and pay your debts)
• Useful primarily in war or keeping useless things safe
• Possibility: Justice is primarily about combat
• Opens up the possibility of taking part in unjust activity
• Trustworthiness: ultimately lets army be sustained
1. Difference between seeming and being
• According to Polemarchus’ definition, just cohesion, just have to appear to like each other
• Reality: need to identify who is genuine
2. What makes someone good
• If justice is an activity we do on one another, the proper application must be to do people good and never
do harm (ie. if we beat a dog he becomes worse at being a dog)
3. What are human virtues?
• The virtue of being a musician is to play well
• Certain things every human should be competent at just to be a good human being (ie. Just because a
horse is slow, it isn’t bad at being a horse, may be a bad racehorse, but not bad at being a horse)
There are standards that a human is supposed to be, particular functions, some kind of way humans
• Just people do no harm • Instead of benefit friends, harm enemies … the real friend is the good man
• Your only real friend is a good person
• Socrates moves us away from physical things
• Moves from weaponry to services
What we are talking about is not owed in the literal sense, but figurative sense
• What is the practice, problem, and things associated with justice?
• When do you need justice in times of peace?
• Polemarchus thinks its only useful for keeping useless things
• Socrates is wrong (ie. you put money in a bank or lock on a house, not because you are using the things inside at
the time, but because you want them to be there when you get back) – this is a weak notion of justice, but it gets
• 343A: Socrates makes strange maneuver … If someone is good at A they are also good at the opposite of A (ie. good
doctor knows best how to keep someone well and healthy, then they also know the most about how to poison someone)
• They are a specialized thief for good
• Socrates won’t let this go, Polemarchus sees why he says it, but doesn’t think its right
The good man is a thief
o But just because you know a lot about something, you still have a choice (doctor vs. poison)
o Technical skills & choice/disposition are the two factors
• Socrates lets us discover for ourselves that if its true that just people cannot do harm, then unjust people do harm
to friends and enemies alike, while just people do no harm to anyone at all
o Justice is not a technical skill
o Apparently being a good poisoner involves a lot more than medical knowledge (ie sneaking around
• Takeaway conclusion is that choice or disposition/mindset/attitude is more important for understanding justice
than any particular skill
o There is a just way and an unjust way to do everything
o Not like using this specific knowledge for this specific task
• A man exists on its own, but walking does not exist on its on, only exists as a function of a man existing.
• Is justice like a person, stands on its own?
• Or does justice exist like walking, as a modification of something that can stand alone?
• One clear kind of justice: justice exists as a standard
• If unjust behavior moves us away from the standard, then part of justice is to push us back toward that standard
(ie the just amount of lumber to give depends on what kind of carpentry project we are engaged in)
• 344C Thrasymachus 09/13/2013
• “Justice is the advantage of the stronger.” Thrasymachus 09/13/2013
• Athenian delegation in Melian Dialogue says almost the same
• Up to page 346
• Character: Confident, jackass, insults Socrates, intelligent, violent
• We watch Socrates trying to fix certain types of people: Cephalus, Polemarchus, now Thrasymachus
Because Thrasymachus is both intelligent and confident, he is easy to sucker into a conversation, Socrates appeals to his
vanity, lets him tire himself out in the fight. How do we interact with people like this?
• Understands what Socrates is doing. Makes two demands:
1. Socrates has to answer instead of just question
2. Answers need to be concrete
i. Socrates, when left to his own devices, can wander off into extremely complex arguments.
• 338CD: Socrates grabs hold of the argument in the way that does the most damage, tries to strongarm the opponent’s
argument into meaning something he doesn’t mean. Socrates doesn’t point out the irony that if Socrates is actually stronger,
it can’t be unjust for him to impose his will by power because “justice is the advantage of the stronger.”
• Socrates points out that both words (advantage & stronger) can be understood in several
Thrasymachus is backed into different readings of the two words to point out how hard it is to state what
Thrasymachus wants to state
ii. Forced to define the two words
• Justice has two components (Socrates adds a 3 ) rd
1. Obey the law
2. Advantage of the ruling class
• Substance depends on who is in charge
3. Rulers make mistakes out of their interests
• When we use words like justice, the word as an independent entity dissolves into those two meanings, Socrates produces a
contradiction out of the two meanings by adding a third premise – rulers make mistakes out of their interests, so may set
down a law that harms them, then justice does harm to the ruling class, so we can say then that justice does both
advantage and disadvantage to the ruling class, so justice is just obeying the will of the stronger which is not satisfying as a
definition of justice.
• 340A: Cleitophon and Polemarchus have a subdiscussion Thrasymachus 09/13/2013
o It is stupid to think advantage is just what the rulers say it is
o There are some interests that are, in fact, objective
o Cleitophon shouldn’t be pressing the arbitrary rule argument (Obey the law) because there really are some
things that will hurt you and some that will help you, Thrasymachus himself rejects number 1 (Obey the
• Thrasymachus gets rid of the argument by saying that ruling is a craft because there are
o In order to defend a salty, basic thesis, Thrasymachus has to move into a more abstract argument, case
gets more complicated
i. Ruling is a craft because of genuine interests
ii. The true ruler, or the true craftsman, is the one that doesn’t heir
iii.A craftsman is only a craftsman when he is not making a mistake, just referred to that way for
ease, only when you know exactly what you are doing do you actually assume that role
iv. Using substitutions: Justice is the advantage of the stronger ▯ justice is the genuine interest of
the ruling class when they are not making any errors
o Justice doesn’t really fit as a craft, ruling is more reasonable to call a craft because it concerns concrete
matters like people, living together, society, common defense, technical expertise is involved, while justice
o Looks specifically at the nature of the craft, every craft looks after the things under them, benefitting
themselves is just a side effect
o Ruling as a craft the ruler is a craftsman for working toward what’s advantageous for whatever is ruled
i. The proper interest of every art is the shaping of what is under it
ii. Is ruling really a craft in that way?
iii.Is a tyrant still a ruler? A bad ruler or a nonruler? If he is not paying any attention to the well
being of his people at all, how do we consider him a ruler at all?
o Rulers look out for those under them only as a means of defending their own benefit
Don’t pursue too much how a tyrant can be aligned with the public good
o 343C: Changes focus to accommodate need to maintain order among the sheep
• New meaning of justice (conventional justice):
1. Justice is what benefits the ruler
i. What people call justice is what benefits the ruler Thrasymachus 09/13/2013
• When breaking up a contract the just man will only take his share, unjust man will take more.
• If people behave according to conventional justice, don’t try to steal from one another, that will be to benefit of rulers,
because being unjust they will take advantage of regular sheeplike people. Some kind of justice exists in the city which is
ruled, justice protects people, and most people keep up with this type of justice.
o Regular people justice is not a decree of the rulers, established by the facts of what the people need
o Nature of the relationship of justice with power inverted by the new definition
i. Before power brought justice into being
ii. Now power just takes advantage of justice
• Thrasymachus is very concerned with nobility and greatness, which ties him up End Book I 09/13/2013
• Character note: bottom 348D/349A, after Thrasymachus has redefined justice (new definition of justice = well bred simple
mindedness; injustice = good judgment), tells us what kind of person Thrasymachus is – very concerned with grandeur, but
it is really tyranny (ability to take a whole city at once, nobility, greatness) that he is concerned with, there is a barrier in his
head between great acts of theft and petty crime.
o Perhaps has tyrannical aspirations of his own, but shows that he is not interested in taking his entire argument
down to the ground (just ignores the petty crime even though he knows it is a factor, doesn’t care about that)
o “What difference does it make whether I really believe this or not?” On one hand, he is completely correct because
Socrates is calling on features of the speaker to make an argument (this is invalid, called ad hominem, to reject
the argument based on who the speaker is, not about determining the truth of the argument, shouldn’t matter
whether speaker believes it or not). Just because speaker doesn’t believe something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
o For Thrasymachus it is about making a display, for Socrates it is about changing people. If Thrasymachus really
believes this, Socrates has to worry about correcting the person.
o Socrates is seriously concerned with bringing about practical effect in people’s lives, we should be equipped to be
better people, serious focus on making character better
• In order to chase down his definition of justice, Thrasymachus gives us a series of premises:
o Progression: Unjust ▯ wisdom ▯ skilled ▯ just ▯ fool ▯ unskilled on 349D (and surrounding pages)
Something strange about this argument, but does have the argument to nail it down.
o Skilled person sticks to the measure; unskilled person ignores the measure
Socrates asks a series of questions about going beyond, somewhat metaphorical, does the doctor do
more than what the medical arts call for, or do more, the virtuous person does not do less or more
because giving you more or less penicillin than you need would be wrong, it is the unskilled person who
o The just man sticks to the measure, while the unjust man ignores the measure.
But the unjust man ignores the measure, so he must be the unskilled man as well, but the lack of skill is
associated with foolishness, so the unjust man is foolish, and the just man has wisdom (by substitution
of the original principles).
One thing in favor of this argument is that it relies on proper measure, there must be some precisely
right point that we all can work worth. Socrates assumes that all these things aim at some perfect
He gets away with making it one end of the spectrum or the other without middle ground (skilled or
unskilled) because they talk about the ruler, one perfect person, totalizes and simplifies into either
skilled or unskilled.
Socrates makes argument by comparing justice directly to technical skills. Makes this argument with
Polemarchus, a wise man in carpentry is skilled in carpentry, etc. So is justice only good for keeping
tools when they are not in use? But there is no skill of justice, proper technical matter of justice, so the
argument of the progression above is not valid. End Book I 09/13/2013
Justice is not a technical measure (middle C is middle C is middle C), but maybe more contextual (if
everyone in class earns an A, give everyone in class an A).
• Virtue is how well something functions and does its job; a vice is a defect (there is a range), when something does not do its
job correctly; if something has a task that it alone performs better than any other thing, then its specific virtue is to do that
job; unclear whether everything has both a virtue and a vice.
• Thrasymachus came in as raging wolf, by end of book he is pacified.
• The thing I call justice is the same as vice and stupidity
• If a city goes out and raids another city, but if it goes out for its own members’ justice, it will be unified, a unified band of
thieves who have given up on all justice with outside world, it will be better at being unjust because unity is just.
• If a man is warring against himself, can he undertake any great noble deed? No (Hamlet) because when he accepts his
warring, he is just to himself and can do something.
• Socrates has tangled us into a not because justice is basis for any action even the unjust one, justice = supremacy
• Can there be an international justice? Justice makes us of one mind, brings us together, converge on the answer
• If two groups do not converge, how much can they disagree before justice breaks down.
If justice is the thing required for binding things together and ruling, and the soul is the only thing that rules human as a
whole, then soul must require justice as a virtue in order to live well, justice is a necessity
Frustrating (doesn’t work): we don’t know what justice is yet, so how do we know if it is really the virtue of the soul Book I End – Start II 09/13/2013
1. Pirate Justice
a. Even an unjust activity needs internal justice.
o Socrates points out that even for a band of robbers to rob a city or establish an empire, it would need
justice within itself.
b. Adds that even an unjust man needs justice in his soul to act.
c. Justice is stronger than injustice.
d. Justice is not naturally (or exclusively) good.
Justice is an indispensible tool, but it doesn’t matter whether it is for good or evil.
What kinds does justice have? Order vs. Chaos, Morals vs. Vice, Pragmatic Concern with justice
Ties back into justice is the virtue of the soul because the nature of justice is internal, whether it is within a band of pirates or
within the man himself
A genuine justice, as virtue of the soul, has to be more than just orderliness, has to be something stronger than a change in
behavior, need a change in character
Which exists first or more? Justice or injustice? In order to do injustice, justice must exist first to some degree according to
Socrates (Glaucon thinks the opposite, justice exists in response to injustice).
Similar to Polemarchus, helping friends and harming enemies is the same idea as pirate justice.
2. Glaucon’s Demands
• Justice in the soul
• Wants to see its effects on the soul
• Wants to see it praised as an end in itself, doesn’t want to hear about the honor/money/etc. one gets
• Needs to be about justice in the person and nothing else that gives justice value
i. Different from the others because the others all related justice to some sort of activity, but Glaucon says
none of that counts
ii. Sensible because justice has something to do with attitude, character, intentions
• Part of justice’s genuine goodness may be that it makes you worth being trusted
• Blocks out some equally reasonable ways of describing justice, which we should be suspicious of. Means that we
will at most get a partial account of justice (though Socrates kind of sneaks past Glaucon eventually) Book I End – Start II 09/13/2013
• Socrates: Should be just because it is required for living together and brings us so many benefits
This is what Glaucon does not want to hear
ii. Glaucon wants to scrub argument as clean as he can to talk about nature
• 357D/358A: Some things are both good because they are useful and innately enjoyable as opposed to things
that are good because they are useful but not enjoyable or good for enjoyment but not useful
i. Justice is burdensome but useful, willing to put up with justice for its benefits – Socrates disagrees
because he feels it is both
ii. Glaucon only wants to see the good in itself part
• Gives his genealogy of morals
i. By nature, everyone is unjust, will try to take advantage of people, but others will try to take advantage of
them, and the damage of being taken advantage of outweighs the benefit that has been done by being
Gains of being unjust don’t balance out the punishment of being the subject of unjustness
Willing to not be unjust because they see the benefit of not being unjust
Only the most unjust, those with power, will lose out in the creation of a just society. The weak
will benefit from forming a just society.
3. Ring of Gyges
4. Adiemantus’ additions
Adiemantus and Glaucon believe in justice, but feel no one has ever given them reason to believe in it Book II – The Brothers 09/13/2013
1. Unjust by nature
Glaucon’s account of origin of justice:
i. In the beginning it is a state of nature, taking advantage is beneficial, but being taken advantage of does
not equalize it in the long run
ii. Justice emerges as a pact not to harm one another, to defend one another
• Glaucon says that left to our own devices, nature, we are unjust
i. Justice is imposed, rules limit ability to get what you want
ii. No truly powerful man would form a contract, give up anything to anyone else
o But working together would make you stronger (pirates)
o Contract of justice hurts the strong man the most
o Once we form groups, justice will protect the formerly strong man as well
o Working together, goes from powerful preying on you, to you being able to prey on them, to
o Some things good for an individual, but bad for group
iii. Limitless greed
• Glaucon and Adiemantus switch back and forth
i. Private interest in the state of nature is not the same as private interest within a city
o Once in a city, new benefits created, some private (primitive) interest lines up with public
o Glaucon wants to see justice in its purity, not in its usefulness in public
• The imposition of justice makes stealing a crime rather than just an act, so it is in a sense limiting
i. Rules also bring about good things like cooperation, etc.
ii. Is injustice profitable or not?
2. Ring of Gyges Book II – The Brothers 09/13/2013
• Famous story – mythological form – in analogy and metaphor, you have to be comparing like things, genuinely
similar – story lavishes attention on the mythological beginning of the ring, the finding of the ring – by escaping
society Gyges’ ancestor can achieve greatness – by being able to turn invisible, no longer held back by justice,
removes self from society – able to get the king’s wife and the kingdom – in reality, the ring does not help him get
anything – the ability to turn invisible does not get him the throne
i. If we were able to turn invisible, it would be tempting to do bad things because we avoid consequences
ii. Escaping society would not get him the goals he wants to achieve
iii. The people still need to agree he should be king, the woman still has to agree to be wife
o The ring is not the reason for the benefits
• General assumption is that nobody notices the injustice, or they don’t care
i. Have already established that people generally do not trust unjust people, give advantages to those that
they consider just
ii. If I could escape from watchful eye of society, would I still be good? (get out of jail free card)
o Does it make sense to be a member of society, but not be seen by society
3. Comparison of pure types
• Start 360E: The comparison test
i. The unjust man looks just, just man looks unjust
ii. Gives great wisdom and skill to the unjust man
o Strengthened this man unbelievably
o All public goods go to the unjust man
• Because the unjust man appears to be just, receives many benefits – honor, wife, etc.
i. Only thing that remains for the just man is his own good, his own justice
ii. What are the effects of inner and outer benefit?
• Unjust man gets all the good things in the world except the inner worth of justice
i. Glaucon: Why is inner worth of justice enough to compensate for all the good things the unjust man has?
ii. In this society the public seems to be blind – don’t know when they are robbed Book II – The Brothers 09/13/2013
o Opposite of Ring of Gyges because society blind rather than man just invisible to society
• Glaucon: What is the special dignity and value of inner justice?
• Glaucon (combination of Cephalus and Polemarchus): if our unjust man is successful = very rich, will be able to
pay back debts to Gods, damage enemies, do good to friends, does better service to gods and humans than the
just man, so it is more suitable for unjust man to be dear to the gods
i. The gods might smote you, don’t want that
o Glaucon says you don’t have to worry too much about them because by being unjust, you will
have a lot of money to give the gods, just man will not
o Makes more sense for gods to like you than the just guy
• Adiemantus gives narration about what people say about the gods
• Glaucon’s argument runs through nature – we are taught to be just
• Adiemantus runs through second nature – education, we have been taught in such a bad way about the gods that
we need to be watched over, account of justice is not good in itself, wanting to benefit themselves, we would stay
good to justice
Water in a strainer myth – Plato references his own writing
• 364A: What the poets say about justice
• The world benefits people who do good, much easier to be evil
• Gods like you to be just, but the gods can be bought off
• 365C/D: If ability to appear just can beat out being just, where do we find an anchor, how do we find the genuine wisdom to
understand the nature of the world? Set the bar very high. Need to give an honest account to distinguish mere appearance
of justice from the real thing.
• It’s not easy always to go undetected evil
i. Problems with the argument presented in 365C/D
o By associating with those who are evil, out yourself as evil as well
o Won’t be able to go undetected
o Says we will hire someone to train us to rip people off… but would you give money to
someone who’s expertise is in scamming people and ripping them off? Would do so only
because you have some way to trust him, some way to restrain his natural tendency to screw
o How will secret conspiracies and brotherhoods work without being founded on some ground of
justice Book II – The Brothers 09/13/2013
a. The supremely unjust man has to have some sort of justice within him
b. If we have an unjust man with some justice mingled, we cannot compare purely –
we compare the just man with the mostly unjust but sometimes just man
ii. Assuming the gods can be bribed
o If unjust man gets so many benefits, and just man only gets justice in his soul, why would we
not want injustice
How do we educate people such that they will choose justice rather than injustice? Book II (Cities) 09/13/2013
Monday Read 405A – end Book III (don’t need to read all of III)
Paradox of the Letters 368D
• Want to look for justice in the soul, but it is hard to look into the individual, so we bring into being a city (in speech) and use
the ideas of the city to find justice
• Image of the city to see the soul
• No guarantee that justice as it appears in the city is the same as justice as it appears in the soul because we don’t know
what justice in the soul actually looks like
• We can’t be certain that every aspect of what’s clear in the city has a perfect analog in the soul, are we comparing
apples with apples?
• Could be falsifying one or the other to make the argument work without being truth in Socrates speech; may be
modeling city to be what he wants it to be, psychological, meant to refer to a single human being’s nature, not
really talking about city, just inflated person discussed – why there is something off about this procedure, can’t
completely trust Socrates
True (Simple) City
• Glaucon refers to Socrates’ idealized city as the city of pigs
• Has no standards whatsoever, is a truly simple city
• Need cities because no human is selfsufficient
• Have a little piece of everything needed, have work for everyone
• 372C – cautious of poverty, no children beyond needs produced
• Sophisticated – connected with others by international trade, but doesn’t seem to have any other connections with outside
• No laws, etc.
• Yet everyone seems to get along and have a place
• Not referring to a particular city, but the basic, fundamental aspects of any city for city to function at all
Whatever we can dredge out of true, simple city will have to apply to every city because every city has this basic,
• Though there will be specifics in any city that differ from this Book II (Cities) 09/13/2013
• Glaucon is not satisfied with the simple city
Simple and unreal
• If this is a way to live, what happens when the neighbors invade?
o Not sustainable way of life
o Can’t exist for any long period of time
• Publicity has returned to the dialogue in this city
• Instead of being only about what justice does in the soul, get back to discussion about people and interacting,
about the right number of specialists and right number of laborers and larger city things
• Not about how justice is useful for pleasures or honors, etc.
• Everything in the city has some function, we come together precisely because we can be of use to one another
o Subtle correction of Glaucon’s overambition (latter book II and most of book III are about walking back
the arguments Glaucon made, Socrates slowly undoes these arguments)
• 329D: back to Cephalus, the true city looks more like Cephalus in his peaceable (old age) state than anything else
• Peaceable and orderly – no ambition, not looking to take power
Something essential to justice about being able to achieve a peaceable and orderly state, being able to get
yourself in bounds
• Justice has to find some type of right point to tune forward
• There is a natural limit to what people need (maybe not what they want)
o What do I require to get through the world? A basic life
o Restraining desire and passion turn out to be major problems
• The True City breaks down because Glaucon says it won’t work because of pe