Hello! I Recently decided to read Plato‘s Republic, and I thought It would be a good idea to write analysis of it. I am going to do 1 post per book. (I would love to do more, but as it is this will take up a lot of my posts and I want to be able to write about other things too.) There are a lot of Ideas brought up in Book 1, but I’ll do my best. Oh, and I would love to hear and respond to others analysis’s or ideas in the comments section. All right, here I go!
I think there is certainly a primary subject to Book 1. Justice. Socrates talks to different people, and about different things, but that is certainly the primary subject. So lets start with his discussion with Cephalus. It Begins about old age, but slowly transfers into them talking about wealth. Socrates asks Cephalus whether most of the money he possesses was inherited or self-made. Cephalus says he is about half-and-half. Socrates makes an interesting point: Those who make money are usually more fond of it, even though it is not always shown that way in modern society. People who inherit money are always money-grubbing gluttons, and people who make money are always honest, hard-working, good-guys. But pragmatically, those who make money would become more obsessed with it, and those who inherited it would not become intertwined because they cared less about it.
Later, when Socrates is arguing with Polemarchus, they bring up Simonides. Apparently, Simonides thinks you should give everyone what they deserve. Socrates questions this, as he believes otherwise. He asks Simonides a question. “If someone gives you something for safekeeping, and then they go insane and ask for it back, is it right to give it back to them then? Simonides responds that they do deserve it, but you still shouldn’t give it back. I find this interesting. But is that contradiction possible? I’m not sure. Later, when they are talking about deservance, Polemarchus says he thinks the same thing as Simonides. He thinks you should treat your friends well, (because they deserve that,) and your enemies badly, because that’s what they deserve. Socrates asks if your “Friends” are the people who seem like that to you or are the ones who are actually, truly, good. When Polemarchus replies they are the same, Socrates retorts that people make mistakes. And so he proves, according to Polemarchus, that it is good to harm the good.
I have to skip a bunch of stuff if I am ever going to finish this paper, so I am going to pack into this paper something that I found interesting in Thrasymachus’s conversation with Socrates. Thrasymachus makes an interesting point when Socrates says that rulers are not perfect and they do make mistakes: Technically, skilled people and just rulers never make mistakes, because at the moment they make the mistakes, they are not skillful. So only unskillful people make mistakes. But I object. Because I think the moment you make that mistake, you may turn into an unskilled person, but that, in itself, is a mistake.
The last thing I am going to talk about is the thing that truly astounded me most. Socrates and Thrasymachus are arguing, and it is brought up that injustice is more profitable than justice. Thrasymachus then claims, astoundingly, that because injustice is more profitable, it is a virtue. And because Justice isn’t, its a vice! At first, I was very suprised. Apparently, so was Socrates. Thrasymachus was effectively saying that profitability is virtue! So stealing is virtue! Of course, I had to argue with this. First of all, I am pretty sure virtue has to do with ethics. But, of course, I can’t be sure that is has anything to do with ethics!! I would love if anyone who believes otherwise, or just has an argument for something else, to say so in the comments. Anywise, even if it does have to, I feel that justice does kinda have it’s own reward. (Though moneys nice too.)
Anyways, to wrap this up, (actually this time,) I wanted to point out the way Socrates argues. Its something that I consider very brave. That is, when he argues, he questions each thing he says. He makes no assumption. Most people, myself included, when they argue, seem like their trying to make a point. Everything they say, they speedily get through. But every time Socrates says something, he gives the person to respond or correct him. This makes me think that he is actually trying to find the truth, instead of trying to prove a point.