Plato’s character in “The Ring of Gyges” is trying to convey certain points about human nature and wisdom. In Glaucon’s fictional story, Gyges is a shepherd who stumbles upon a mysterious ring which allows him the power to become invisible. Gyges eventually gives up his lowly life as a shepherd and becomes an authoritative and crooked dictator due to the power of the ring. Glaucon’s main point in this story is that people are inherently immoral and will look out for themselves over the good of others. Due to his assumption about the nature of the human race Glaucon proclaims that in order to keep human’s from causing damage to others our social order should emphasize a government that will contain their constituents. Glaucon’s proposed social order became the building blocks of the social contract theory of government; “People in a society mutually agreeing not to harm one another and setting up sanctions when they do,” (Caste, 2014).
Glaucon makes multiple points ...view middle of the document...
Following this line of thought Glaucon suggests that “There’s nothing intrinsically good about being good. The only thing we really need to worry about is whether society will punish us for our actions,” (Caste, 2014). The last point Glaucon makes is that he expects that all of society would use the ring to fulfill immoral needs and wants; human nature predicts that people act morally only to avoid the inevitable punishments for immoral acts.
I believe both Socrates and Aristotle would disagree with Glaucon’s ideas about the morality of people and how they achieve happiness. Socrates disagreed with Glaucon’s conclusion for the remaining pages of the dialogue; for example, Socrates and Aristotle believed in areté: the belief that everything people do is done in the desire to make themselves happy and that these people do these things to the best of their ability. A great example of Socrates disagreeing with Glaucon can be seen in the example of a physician doing his or her job to treat patients. Based on Glaucon’s ideals the doctor is only considering him or herself in treating the patient; meaning the doctor should try to keep the patient sick in order to maximize his or her profits on treating that patient. While Socrates argues that the physician will do the best they can to cure the patient because of the ideal of areté; they truly wish to do their duty and they gain satisfaction from doing that. Aristotle and Socrates states that the best type of society would be one in which every citizen is doing the best they can at a job which suits them and are, therefore; fulfilling areté. The main differences between Socrates’s ideas, Aristotle’s ideas, and Glaucon’s ideas are the way people achieve happiness. Socrates believes happiness comes from doing your best at your job and for society, Aristotle believed the same thing but added that people needed leisure time to relax and achieve happiness. Glaucon, on the other hand, argues happiness comes from selfish fulfillment of personal desires no matter the consequences for others in society.
Caste, N. J. (2014). Plato: The Republic. Political Philosophy: Government and Human Nature (1st edition). : Cognella, Inc..