“The Convention of Justice”
Around 400 BCE, a famous Greek philosopher by the name of Plato constructed two characters in the books “Gorgias” and “The Republic,” that castigated the virtue of justice, and that boosted the conventional morality as a self fulfilling vice. Callicles and Thrasymachus are characters that Plato chalked into his works to represent the common convention of justice in the realm of philosopher thinkers. Being the student of Socrates, Plato avails him as the character who questions their opinions and dares them to think out of the box of their convictions. Plato conveys justice as a virtue of the human soul, and he does this by comparing and contrasting these thoughts through intelligent ‘cat and mouse’ dialogues with these three characters.
Callicles is represented in the book “Gorgias.” The debate in this dialogue is the question of nature verses law. “The truth of this can be seen in a variety of examples, drawn both from the animal world and from the complex cities and nations of human beings; right is judged to be the superior ruling over the inferior and having the upper hand(p.68, 483d).” The argument is that justice is a natural animalistic nature of being; that the strong will alway rule over the weak. The stronger man deserves more of the share, and greater pleasures. Life as an unjust being, is more beneficial then that of the just being. Superiority is built off of strength, intelligence, and courage. Only those who posses this should have this power or control to govern. Power is controlled by our appetite.
Callicles disposition is not refuted by Socrates, but he compiles that his arguments are not complete. “You, I think, for all your cleverness, have not paid attention to these matters; you have not observed how great a part geometric equality plays among gods and men, and because you neglect the study of geometry you preach the doctrine of unfair shares(p.107, 508a).” He addresses, that we have an animal nature, but in the animal kingdom there is no order, no reason. Whereas, in humans we have thought, knowledge. We strive to become who we are by discipline, or a controlling of our appetites. The book “Gorgias” was a set up for Plato’s just kingdom in the book, “The Republic.”
In the book, “The republic,” the character Thrasymachus continues this assertion that justice is the advantage of the strong. His point is foreshadowed by how he enters the intellectual debate. “All this time Thrasymachus had been trying more than once to break in upon our conversation; but his neighbors had restrained him, wishing to hear the argument to the end (p.15).” The manner of which he joined the conversation was compared to as a “wild...