The Republic Of Plato Essay

1556 words - 6 pages

In Book one of the Republic of Plato, several definitions of justice versus injustice are explored. Cephalus, Polemarchus, Glaucon and Thracymicus all share their opinions and ideas on what actions they believe to be just, while Socrates questions various aspects of the definitions. In book one, Socrates is challenged by Thracymicus, who believes that injustice is advantageous, but eventually convinces him that his definition is invalid. Cephalus speaks about honesty and issues of legality, Polemarchus explores ideas regarding giving to one what is owed, Glaucon views justice as actions committed for their consequences, and Socrates argues that justice does not involve harming anybody. Through the interrogations and arguments he has with four other men, and the similarity of his ideas of justice to the word God, Socrates proves that a just man commits acts for the benefits of others, and inflicts harm on nobody.
The first definition that we explore is that of Cephalus, an elder of the city who is also the father of Polemarchus. Cephalus believes that justice is “Speaking the truth, and giving back what one takes (331d). Although speaking the truth is always an act of righteousness, This definition is proven inconsistent when Socrates raises the argument involving the mad man and the gun. “Everyone would surely say that if a man takes weapons from a friend when the latter is of sound mind, and the friend demands them back when he is mad, one shouldn’t give back such things, and the man who gave them back would not be just(331c). The idea of Socrates is that although the man who is keeping the weapons from his friend is breaking a law, he is potentially saving other people from injury in keeping the weapons away from the mad man. The friend of the madman owes him his weapons, but would be putting other people in danger if he returned the weapon. A similar situation that people often encounter might involve reporting a friend to the police for engaging in illegal activity and living up to legal responsibilities, but hesitating to betray his friend. When related to a government situation, this definition of justice emphasizes living up to legal obligations as duty of a citizen, but if the government is tyrannical and ruling unjustly, than it is better to rebel against them in pursuit of justice.
After Cephalus explains his view of justice, he must attend religious sacrifices and his son proceeds to contribute to the discussion (331d). He entails that justice means owing your friends help, and your enemies harm (332d)). This definition is contrary to the word of God, who said not to harm anyone. A soldier’s job is to defend his country and in the process kill others who prevent him from doing so. Although the opposing army is considered the enemy, they are also trying to act just by doing the same job. Socrates points out that as human beings it is not uncommon to for friends to be misconceived as enemies, and enemies to be...

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