Simple Republic Book 1

Persons in the dialogue:

The scene is in Cephalus' house at the Piraeus.

Glaucon is the son of Ariston.

Polemarchus: Socrates, you are on your way to the city. We want you to go somewhere else.

Adeimantus: Has no one told you of the torch-race on horseback in honour of the goddess which will take place in the evening?

  • Will horsemen carry torches and pass them one to another during the race?

Polemarchus: Yes. Let us rise soon after supper and see this festival.

We went to Polemarchus' house.

Cephalus: I am old and I like conversation more as I get older, so please stay with us.

How is your old life?

Cephalus: A lot of old men complain.

  • But to me these complainers complain about the wrong thing because I don't feel the same way.
  • I feel more like Sophocles.

I think you have a good old life because you are rich.

Cephalus: Yes, but people think that wealth is the cause, rather than the person.

Was your wealth inherited or did you work hard for it?

I tripled the value of my parents' wealth.

I see that you are indifferent about money like people who have inherited their fortunes.

  • The makers of fortunes love money as their own creation, just as authors love their own poems, or parents loving their children.
  • Hence they are very bad company, for they can talk about nothing but the praises of wealth.
  • What is the greatest blessing which you have reaped from your wealth?

When a person is near death, he thinks about all the bad things he has done.

  • But if someone has done no wrong, Pindar says that sweet hope is his nurse in his old age.
    • Hope cherishes the soul of him who lives in justice and holiness.
    • It is the nurse of his age and the companion of his journey.
    • Hope which is mightiest to sway the restless human soul.
  • Pindar's words are admirable!
    • Riches to a good man who does not deceive others are a great blessing.
    • When he dies he is not afraid of offerings due to the gods or debts he owes to men.
    • The possession of wealth greatly contributes to his peace of mind.
      • I think this is the greatest advantage of wealth.

What is your idea of justice? Just to speak the truth and pay your debts?

  • If a friend gives his weapons to me and asks for them when he goes crazy, should I give them back to him? People could just say that I should always speak the truth to him even if he were crazy.


Wrong. Speaking the truth and paying your debts is not a correct definition of justice.

Polemarchus: Socrates is correct according to Simonides.

Cephalus: I have to go now. You can continue with Polemarchus and the others.

Socrates to Polemarchus: What did Simonides say about justice?

Polemarchus: He said that the repayment of a debt is just.

I think it's wrong.

  • He doesn't mean that I should return the weapons to a crazy man.
  • But a deposit is a debt.
  • I should not return the weapon to the crazy man.
  • When Simonides said that the repayment of a debt was justice, he did not mean to include that case?

Certainly not. for he thinks that a friend should always do good to a friend and never evil.

You mean that the return of a deposit of gold which is to the injury of the receiver, if the two parties are friends, is not the repayment of a debt.

  • What we owe to enemies who receive them?

They are to receive what we owe them.

An enemy owes to an enemy that which is due or proper to him—that is to say, evil.

  • Simonides, then would have spoken darkly of the nature of justice.
  • For he really meant to say that justice is the giving to each man what is proper to him, and this he termed a debt.
  • Oh, if we asked him what medicine should be given and to whom, how would he respond?

He would surely reply that medicine gives drugs and meat and drink to human bodies.

What should be given by cookery and for what?

Seasoning to food.

What is that which justice gives, and to whom?

Justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies.

Who is best able to do good to his friends and evil to his enemies in time of sickness?

The physician.

Or when they are on a voyage, amid the perils of the sea?

The pilot.

How is the just man most able to do harm to his enemy and good to his friend?

In going to war against the one and in making alliances with the other.

But when a man is well, there is no need of a physician.

  • A person who is not on a voyage does not need a pilot.
  • Then in time of peace, justice will be of no use?

No, it will still be needed

So justice is useful in peace and in war, like husbandry and corn acquisition and shoemaking for getting shoes.

  • What is the use of justice peacetime?

In contracts, like partnerships.

But who is a more useful and better partner at a game of drafts?

  • The just man or the skilful player?

The skilful player.

In the laying of bricks and stones, is the just man a more useful or better partner than the builder?

The builder is better.

Then in what sort of partnership is the just man a better partner than a harp-player?

In a money partnership.

Yes, but surely not in the use of money.

  • You do not want a just man to be your counsellor in buying or selling a horse.
    • A horse expert is better for that.
  • When you want to buy a ship, the shipwright or the pilot would be better.
    • Then what is that joint use of silver or gold in which the just man is to be preferred?

When you want a deposit to be kept safely.

Money is not wanted, but allowed to lie.

  • Justice is useful when money is useless.
  • When you want to keep a pruning-hook safe, then justice is useful to the individual and to the state.
  • But when you want to use it, then the art of the vine-dresser.
  • When you want to keep a shield or a lyre, and not to use them, you would say that justice is useful.
  • But when you want to use them, then the art of the soldier or of the musician.
  • And so of all other things;—justice is useful when they are useless, and useless when they are useful.
  • Then justice is not good for much.
    • The best boxer that can box is also the best one to avoid the blows.
    • The most skilful in preventing a disease is the best able to create one.
    • The best guard of a camp is the best able to steal a march upon the enemy.
    • A good keeper of anything is also a good thief.
    • Then if the just man is good at keeping money, he is good at stealing it.
  • Then after all the just man has turned out to be a thief.
  • This is a lesson which I suspect you must have learnt out of Homer.
    • Autolycus was the maternal grandfather of Odysseus, who is a favourite of Homer.
    • Homer said of Autolycus that 'He was excellent above all men in theft and perjury.'
    • And so, you and Homer and Simonides are agreed that justice is an art of theft.
    • But it is to be practised 'for the good of friends and for the harm of enemies'?

No. But I still stand by 'for the good of friends and for the harm of enemies'

By friends and enemies do we mean those who are so really, or only in seeming?

A man may be expected to love those whom he thinks good, and to hate those whom he thinks evil.

Yes, many people often err about good and evil.

  • Many who are not good seem to be so, and conversely.
  • To them the good will be enemies and the evil will be their friends.
  • In that case, they will be right in doing good to the evil and evil to the good.
  • But the good are just and would not do an injustice.
  • Then according to your argument it is just to injure those who do no wrong?

No. It's immoral.

Then I suppose that we should do good to the just and harm the unjust?

Yes, I like that more.

But see the consequence:

  • Many people ignorant of human nature have friends who are bad.
  • In that case they should harm them.
  • People with good enemies whom he ought to benefit.
  • But, if so, we shall be saying the very opposite of that which we affirmed to be the meaning of Simonides.

Yes. I think that we had better correct an error into which we seem to have fallen in the use of the words 'friend' and 'enemy.'

What was the error?

We assumed that he is a friend who seems to be or who is thought good. We should rather say that he is a friend who seems good, but is not good.

He seems to be a friend, but not a friend.

  • He also might be an enemy.
  • People would think that:
    • the good are our friends and the bad our enemies,
    • it is just to do good to our friends when they are good, and
    • it is just to harm our enemies when they are evil.
  • But should the just injure any one at all?

He should injure those who are both wicked and his enemies.

When horses are injured, they are deteriorated.

  • Injured men become deteriorated too.
  • Then men who are injured are necessarily made unjust?


But can the musician by his art make men unmusical, or the horseman by his art make them bad horsemen?


Can the just by justice make men unjust, or generally, can the good by virtue make them bad, any more than heat can produce cold?

It cannot.

Can drought produce moisture?

Clearly not.

Nor can the good harm any one?


Then to injure a friend or any one else is not the act of a just man.

  • If a man says that justice consists in the repayment of debts, and that good is the debt which a just man owes to his friends, and evil the debt which he owes to his enemies,—to say this is not wise;
  • for it is not true, if, as has been clearly shown, the injuring of another can be in no case just.
  • Then you and I are prepared to take up arms against any one who attributes such a saying to Simonides or Bias or Pittacus, or any other wise man or seer?

I am quite ready to do battle at your side, he said.

I think that Periander, Perdiccas, Xerxes or Ismenias the Theban, or some other rich, proud, and mighty man, was the first to say that justice is 'doing good to your friends and harm to your enemies.'

  • But if this definition of justice also breaks down, what other can be offered?
  • Several times, Thrasymachus tried to get the argument into his own hands.
    • He had been put down by the rest of the company.
    • They wanted to hear the end.
    • But when Polemarchus and I had done speaking, he could no longer hold his peace.
    • He came at us like a wild beast, seeking to devour us.
    • We were quite panic-stricken at the sight of him.

Thrasymachus: If you want really to know what justice is, you should not only ask but answer.

  • You should not seek honour to yourself from the refutation of an opponent, but have your own answer.
  • Many ask but cannot answer.
  • I will not let you say that justice is duty or advantage or profit or gain or interest, for this sort of nonsense will not do for me.
  • I must have clearness and accuracy.

I was panic-stricken.

Thrasymachus: Whatever he was asked he would refuse to answer, and try irony or any other shuffle, in order that he might avoid answering?

You are a philosopher, Thrasymachus,

  • You know if you ask a person what numbers make up twelve, taking care to prohibit him whom you ask from answering twice six, or three times four, or six times two, or four times three, 'for this sort of nonsense will not do for me,'—then obviously, if that is your way of putting the question, no one can answer you.
  • But suppose that he were to retort, 'Thrasymachus, what do you mean?
  • If one of these numbers which you interdict be the true answer to the question, am I falsely to say some other number which is not the right one?—is that your meaning?'—How would you answer him?

Just as if the two cases were at all alike!

Why should they not be?

  • Even if they are not, but only appear to be so to the person who is asked, ought he not to say what he thinks, whether you and I forbid him or not?

I presume then that you are going to make one of the interdicted answers?

Despite the danger, yes, if upon reflection I approve of any of them.

But what if I give you a better answer about justice, and what should we do to you?

Then I must learn from the wise—that is what I deserve to have done to me, even pay you money for it.

Glaucon: But you have, Socrates.

  • Thrasymachus does not need be anxious about money because we will all contribute to pay for Socrates.

Yes, and then Socrates will do as he always does—refuse to answer himself.

  • But he will destroy the answer of someone else.

How can any one who knows nothing make an answer?

  • How can anyone who has faint ideas utter them when a man of authority tell him not to utter them?
  • The natural thing is, that the speaker should be some one like yourself who professes to know and can tell what he knows. Will you then kindly answer, for the edification of the company and of myself?
  • Glaucon and the rest of the company joined in my request.
  • Thrasymachus thought that he had an excellent answer, and would distinguish himself.
    • At first he affected to insist on my answering.

Behold the wisdom of Socrates.

  • He refuses to teach himself, and goes about learning of others, to whom he never even says Thank you.

I do learn from others, but I am always grateful.

  • I do not have money, so I pay in praise, which is all I have.

I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger.

  • Why don't you praise me?
  • But of course you won't.

Let me first understand you.

  • Justice, as you say, is the interest of the stronger.
  • But you cannot mean to say that.
    • Polydamas, the pancratiast, is stronger than we are.
    • He finds the beef conducive to his bodily strength.
    • Does that mean that beef is equally good and just for us who are weaker?

That's abominable of you, Socrates.

  • You take the words in the sense which is most damaging to the argument.
  • Have you never heard that forms of government differ?
    • There are tyrannies, democracies, and aristocracies.
    • The government is the ruling power in each state.
    • The different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical, tyrannical, with a view to their several interests.
      • These laws, which are made by them for their own interests, are the justice which they deliver to their subjects, and him who transgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law, and unjust.
      • That is what I mean when I say that in all states there is the same principle of justice, which is the interest of the government.
      • As the government must be supposed to have power, the only reasonable conclusion is, that everywhere there is one principle of justice, which is the interest of the stronger.

In defining justice you have yourself used the word 'interest' which you forbade me to use.

  • It is true, however, that in your definition the words 'of the stronger' are added.
  • We must first verify whether what you are saying is true.
  • We both agreed that justice is interest of some sort, but you go on to say 'of the stronger'.
  • I am not so sure of this on this addition.
    • It is just for subjects to obey their rulers.
    • But the rulers of states sometimes make mistakes in making laws.
      • When they make them rightly, they make them agreeably to their interest.
      • When they are mistaken, contrary to their interest.
  • If justice is the subjects obeying the laws, then justice is not only obedience to the interest of the stronger but the reverse.
    • If rulers make mistakes then obeying those mistakes is also justice.
    • Then you must also acknowledge that justice is not for the interest of the stronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things which injure themselves.

Cleitophon: Yes,  if you are allowed to be his witness.

Polemarchus: But there is no need of any witness for Thrasymachus acknowledges that:

  • rulers may sometimes command what is not for their own interest, and
  • that for subjects to obey them is justice.

Yes Polemarchus, Thrasymachus said that for subjects to do what was commanded by their rulers is just.

  • Yes, Cleitophon, but he also said that justice is the interest of the stronger.
  • While admitting both these propositions, he further acknowledged that the stronger may command the weaker who are his subjects to do what is not for his own interest.
  • whence follows that justice is the injury quite as much as the interest of the stronger.

Cleitophon: But, he meant by the interest of the stronger what the stronger thought to be his interest,—this was what the weaker had to do; and this was affirmed by him to be justice.

Polemarchus: Those were not his words.

Never mind.

  • If he now says that they are, let us accept his statement.
  • Thrasymachus did you mean by justice what the stronger thought to be his interest, whether really so or not?

Certainly not.

  • Do you suppose that I call him who is mistaken the stronger at the time when he is mistaken?

Yes, my impression was that you did so, when you admitted that the ruler was not infallible but might be sometimes mistaken.

You argue like an informer, Socrates.

  • Do you mean that:
    • a person who is mistaken about the sick is a physician?
    • or that he who errs in arithmetic or grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian
  • We say that the physician or arithmetician or grammarian has made a mistake, but this is only a way of speaking.
    • This is because neither the physician, arithmetician, or grammarian or ever makes a mistake.
    • If they made mistakes then they would not be called as such.
  • Likewise, no sage or ruler errs when he is supposed to give wisdom or to rule, even if he commonly errs.
    • I have used the common mode of speaking.
    • To be perfectly accurate, since you are such a lover of accuracy, we should say that the ruler is unerring,
    • But to be unerring, always commands that which is for his own interest.
    • His followers are required to execute his commands.
    • Therefore, justice is the interest of the stronger.

Do I really appear to you to argue like an informer and do you suppose that I ask these questions hoping to injure you in the argument?

Nay, 'suppose' is not the word -- I know it.

  • But you will be found out.
  • By sheer force of argument, you will never prevail.

I shall not try.

  • But in what sense do you speak of a ruler or stronger whose interest is superior?
  • Is he a ruler in the popular, or in the strict sense of the term?

In the strictest of all senses.

  • Now cheat and play the informer if you can.
  • I ask no quarter at your hands, but you never will be able to.

Do you think that I will try and cheat?

You tried a minute ago, and you failed.

Enough of these civilities.

  • Is the physician, taken in that strict sense of which you are speaking, a healer of the sick or a maker of money?
  • I am now speaking of the true physician.

A healer of the sick.

Is the true pilot a captain of sailors or a mere sailor?

A captain of sailors.

The circumstance that he sails in the ship is not to be taken into account.

  • Neither is he to be called a sailor.
  • His title as 'pilot' has nothing to do with sailing, but signifies his skill and of his authority over the sailors.
  • Does every art has an interest?

Very true.

Is the interest of any art the perfection of it and nothing else?

  • Suppose you were to ask me whether the body is self-sufficing or has wants, I should reply: Certainly the body has wants;
  • for the body may be ill and require to be cured, and has therefore interests to which the art of medicine ministers; and this is the origin and intention of medicine, as you will acknowledge.
  • But is the art of medicine or any other art faulty or deficient in any quality in the same way that the eye may be deficient in sight or the ear fail of hearing, and therefore requires another art to provide for the interests of seeing and hearing—has art in itself, I say, any similar liability to fault or defect, and does every art require another supplementary art to provide for its interests, and that another and another without end? Or have the arts to look only after their own interests?
  • Or have they no need either of themselves or of another?—having no faults or defects, they have no need to correct them, either by the exercise of their own art or of any other.
  • They have only to consider the interest of their subject-matter.
  • For every art remains pure and faultless while remaining true—that is to say, while perfect and unimpaired. Take the words in your precise sense, and tell me whether I am not right.
  • Then medicine does not consider the interest of medicine, but the interest of the body?


Nor does the art of horsemanship consider the interests of the art of horsemanship, but the interests of the horse.

  • neither do any other arts care for themselves, for they have no needs; they care only for that which is the subject of their art.
  • But surely, Thrasymachus, the arts are the superiors and rulers of their own subjects?

To this he assented with a good deal of reluctance.

Then, no science or art considers or enjoins the interest of the stronger or superior, but only the interest of the subject and weaker?

He tried to contest this proposition also, but finally acquiesced.

Then, no physician considers his own good in what he prescribes, but the good of his patient.

  • The true physician is also a ruler having the human body as a subject, and is not a mere money-maker.
  • The pilot likewise is a ruler of sailors and not a mere sailor?


Such a pilot and ruler will provide and prescribe for the interest of the sailor who is under him, and not for his own or the ruler's interest?

He gave a reluctant 'Yes.'

Then there is no ruler who considers what is for his own interest.

  • But always considers what is for the interest of his subject or suitable to his art in everything which he says and does.

Everyone saw that the definition of justice had been completely upset.

Tell me, Socrates, have you got a nurse?

  • She leaves you to snivel, and never wipes your nose.
  • She has not even taught you to know the shepherd from the sheep.
  • You fancy that the shepherd fattens the sheep or oxen with a view to their own good and not to the good of himself or his master.
  • You imagine that the rulers of states:
    • never think of their subjects as sheep, and
    • do not study their own advantage day and night.
  • You are totally astray in your ideas about the just and unjust.
    • You do not even know that justice and the just are in reality another's good.
    • Justice is the interest of the strong, and the loss of the weak.
    • Injustice is the opposite.
    • The unjust is lord over the truly simple and just.
      • The ruler is the stronger.
      • His subjects do what is for his interest, which is very far from being their own.
  • Most foolish Socrates, the just is always a loser in comparison with the unjust.
    1. In private contracts: wherever the unjust is the partner of the just you will find that, when the partnership is dissolved, the unjust man has always more and the just less.
    2. In their dealings with the State: when there is an income-tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same income.
      • The just gains nothing and the unjust gains much.
    3. Observe also what happens when they take an office: there is the just man suffering losses but getting nothing out of the public because he is just.
      • Moreover, he is hated by his friends for refusing to serve them in unlawful ways.
    4. But all this is reversed in the case of the unjust man.
  • The advantage of the unjust is most apparent on a large scale.
  • This injustice has the highest form when the criminal is the happiest of men.
    • Those who refuse to do injustice are the most miserable.
    • Tyrants steal not little by little but wholesale.
  • People who do small wrong acts, such as burglars and swindlers, are punished and incur great disgrace.
  • But when a man steals all the people's money and has made slaves of them, he is called happy and blessed by the people and by those who hear of his injustice.
  • This is because if people censure injustice, they fear that they may be the victims of it and not because they shrink from committing it.
  • Thus, injustice, when on a sufficient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than justice.
    • That is why justice is the interest of the stronger, whereas injustice is a man's own profit and interest.

Thrasymachus spoke like a bath-man, deluged our ears with his words, then went away.

How suggestive are your remarks!

  • Are you running away before you have learned whether they are true or not?
  • Is the attempt to determine the way of man's life so small a matter to you—to determine how life may be passed by each one of us to the greatest advantage?

Do I differ from you as to the importance of the enquiry?

You appear to have no care or thought about us.

  • Whether we live better or worse from not knowing what you know, is to you a matter of indifference.
  • Please do not keep your knowledge to yourself.
  • Any benefit you give to us will be rewarded.
  • I am not convinced.
  • I do not believe injustice to be more gainful than justice, even if uncontrolled and allowed to have free play.
  • For, granting that there may be an unjust man who is able to commit injustice by fraud or force, this still does not convince me of the superior advantage of injustice.
  • You should convince us that we are mistaken in preferring justice to injustice.

How can I convince you if you are not already convinced by what I have just said?

I would only ask you to be consistent.

  • If you change, change openly and let there be no deception.
  • You defined the true physician but did not define a true shepherd.
    • You defined a shepherd that treats his sheep as food.
    • But that is a definition for a trader of meat, not a shepherd.
    • A true shepherd is concerned only with the good of his flock.
      • He must provide the best for them.
    • Likewise, the ruler could only regard the good of his flock or subjects.
      • But you think that the definition of a true ruler is to be in authority.

I am sure of it.

Then why in the case of lesser offices do people never take them willingly without payment, unless under the idea that they govern for the advantage not of themselves but of others?

  • Are not the several arts different, by reason of their each having a separate function?

Yes, that is the difference.

Each art gives us a particular good and not merely a general one—medicine.

  • For example, gives us health; navigation, safety at sea, and so on?


The art of payment has the special function of giving pay.

  • But we do not confuse this with other arts.
    • The art of the pilot is not to be confused with the art of medicine even if the health of the pilot may be improved by a sea voyage.
  • You do not say that navigation is the art of medicine.
  • If a man is in good health when he receives pay, you do not say that the art of payment is medicine.
  • You also do not say that medicine is the art of receiving pay because a man takes fees when he is engaged in healing.

Certainly not.

The good of each art is specially confined to the art.

  • Then, if there is any good which all artists have in common, that is to be attributed to something of which they all have the common use.
  • When the artist is benefited by receiving pay, the advantage is gained by an additional use of the art of pay.
    • This art of pay is not his art.

He gave a reluctant assent to this.

Then the pay is not derived by the several artists from their respective arts.

  • But the truth is, that while the art of medicine gives health, and the art of the builder builds a house, another art attends them which is the art of pay.
  • The various arts may be doing their own business.
    • But would the artist receive any benefit from his art unless he were paid as well?

I suppose not.

But does he give no benefit when he works for nothing?

Certainly, he gives a benefit.

Then neither arts nor governments provide for their own interests.

  • They rule and provide for the interests of their subjects who are the weaker and not the stronger.
  • This is why no one is willing to govern.
    • Because no one likes to reform evils without remuneration.
    • Because the true artist does not regard his own interest when he works or gives orders.
      • Instead, he always regards that of his subjects.
    • Therefore, in order that rulers may be willing to rule, they must be paid in one of three modes:
      1. money,
      2. honour, or
      3. a penalty for refusing.

Glaucon: What do you mean, Socrates?

  • How can a penalty be a payment?

Ambition and avarice are a disgrace.

  • This is why money and honour have no attraction for rulers.
  • Good men do not wish to openly demand payment for governing or to get employees.
    • They do not secretly help themselves to the public revenues to get the name of thieves.
    • They are not ambitious and do not care about honour.
  • Therefore, necessity must be laid on them and they must be induced to serve from the fear of punishment.
    • This is why the forwardness to take office has been deemed dishonourable.
    • The worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.
    • I think that the fear of this induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they cannot help it and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to any one who is better than or as good as themselves.
  • If a city were composed entirely of good men, then to avoid office would be as much an object of contention as to obtain office is at present.
  • This is proof that the true ruler is not meant by nature to regard his own interest, but that of his subjects.
    • Every one who knew this would choose rather to receive a benefit from another than to have the trouble of giving benefit.
  • It is more serious for Thrasymachus to say that life of the unjust is more advantageous than that of the just.
    • Glaucon, which do you prefer?

The life of the just is the more advantageous.

  • Thrasymachus has not convinced me.

If enumerates he makes a set speech and we make another recounting all the advantages of being just, and he answers and we rejoin, there must be a numbering and measuring of the goods which are claimed on either side, and in the end we shall want judges to decide.

  • But if we proceed in our enquiry as we lately did, by making admissions to one another, we shall unite the offices of judge and advocate in our own persons.
  • Thrasymachus says that perfect injustice is more gainful than perfect justice
  • Is justice is a virtue and injustice a vice?

No, justice is sublime simplicity and injustice is discretion.

  • To me, the unjust appear as wise and good.
  • The perfectly unjust as those who can subdue states and nations.
  • I class injustice with wisdom and virtue.

I realize that you call injustice as honourable and strong.

  • The qualities that we attribute to the just, you attribute to the unjust.
  • But does the just man try to gain any advantage over the just?

No, if he did, he would not be the simple amusing creature which he is.

Would he try to go beyond just action?


How would he regard the attempt to gain an advantage over the unjust?

  • Would he consider it as just or unjust?

He would think it just, and would try to gain the advantage; but he would not be able to.

Whether he would or would not be able is not the point.

  • Should the just man, while refusing to have more than another just man, claim to have more than the unjust?


Does the unjust claim to have more than the just man and to do more than is just?

Of course, for he claims to have more than all men.

So the unjust man will strive to obtain more than the unjust man in order that he may have more than all.

  • Therefore, the just does not desire more than his like but more than his unlike, whereas the unjust desires more than both his like and his unlike.
  • So the unjust is good and wise, and the just is neither.
  • In the case of the arts, one man is a musician and another is not a musician.
    • Which is wise and which is foolish?

Clearly the musician is wise, and the non-musician is foolish.

A musician would stay within the same limits as other musicians would, but can go beyond the limits of a non-musician.

  • Likewise, a man who has knowledge would not want to say more than another man who has the same knowledge.
  • Likewise, the wise and good will not desire to gain more than the wise and the good, but want to gain more than the unwise?
  • Whereas the bad and ignorant will desire to gain more than both?

I suppose so.

But didn't you say that:

  • the unjust goes beyond both his like and unlike?
  • the just will not go beyond his like but his unlike?
  • the just is like the wise and good, and the unjust like the evil and ignorant?
  • each of them is such as his like is?

Then the just has turned out to be wise and good and the unjust evil and ignorant.

Thrasymachus admitted these with extreme reluctance.

But you also said that injustice was stronger than justice.

  • But we identified justice with wisdom and virtue.
  • If injustice is ignorance then justice is stronger.
  • A state may be unjust and enslaving other states.
  • Can the superior state's power be exercised without justice or only with justice?

If justice is wisdom, then only with justice.

  • But if I am right, then without justice.

An evil state, army, or a band of robbers and thieves act at all if they injured one another.

  • They could act together better if they abstained from injuring one another.
  • This is because injustice creates divisions and hatreds and fighting.
    • Justice imparts harmony and friendship.
  • Injustice has this tendency to arouse hatred.
    • This hatred will make the hate each other and render them incapable of common action.
    • Two unjust people will quarrel and fight, and become enemies to one another and to the just.
  • If injustice were in a single person, would you say that she loses or retains her natural power?

Let us assume that she retains her power.

Yet is not the power which injustice exercises of such a nature that wherever she takes up her abode, whether in a city, in an army, in a family, or in any other body.

  • That body is, to begin with, rendered incapable of united action by reason of sedition and distraction.
  • Does it not become its own enemy and at variance with all that opposes it, and with the just?
  • Is not injustice equally fatal when existing in a single person; in the first place rendering him incapable of action because he is not at unity with himself, and in the second place making him an enemy to himself and the just?
  • surely the gods are just.

Granted that they are.

But if so, the unjust will be the enemy of the gods, and the just will be their friend.

  • Therefore, the just are clearly wiser and better and abler than the unjust, and that the unjust are incapable of common action.
  • Evil men acting at any time vigorously together, is not strictly true.
    • for if they had been perfectly evil, they would have laid hands upon one another.
    • So there must have been some remnant of justice in them to enable them to unite.
    • If there were none, then they would have injured one another as well as their victims.
    • they were but half-villains in their enterprises.
    • had they been whole villains, and utterly unjust, they would have been utterly incapable of action.
  • But do the just have a better and happier life than the unjust?
    • I think that they have.
    • But I would like to examine this further by asking whether the purpose of anything would be that which could not be accomplished, or not so well accomplished, by any other thing?
    • And that to which an end is appointed has also an excellence?
      • For example, an eye which sees has an excellence.

It has.

Can the eyes fulfill their purpose if they are lacking in excellence and have a defect instead?


Does the soul not have a purpose which nothing else can fulfil?

  • For example, to superintend, command, deliberate, etc.
  • Are not these functions proper to the soul, and can they rightly be assigned to any other?

To no other.

Life is one of the purposes of the soul.

  • The soul also has excellence.
  • Without such excellence, the soul cannot fulfill its purpose.
  • Therefore, an evil soul must necessarily be an evil ruler.
    • A good soul is a good ruler.
  • Justice is the excellence of the soul.
    • Injustice is the defect of the soul.
  • Therefore, the just soul and the just man will live well, and the unjust man will live ill.
    • He who lives well is blessed and happy, and he who lives ill the reverse of happy.
    • Then the just is happy, and the unjust miserable.
  • But happiness is profitable, not misery.
  • Then injustice can never be more profitable than justice.

Let this be your entertainment at the Bendidea.

I am indebted to you for this entertainment now that you have grown gentle towards me and have left off scolding.

  • Nevertheless, I have not been well entertained.
  • But that was my own fault and not yours.
  • An epicure snatches a taste of every dish which is successively brought to table.
    • He does not give himself time to enjoy the one before.
    • So have I gone from one subject to another without having discovered what I sought at first, the nature of justice.
  • I left that enquiry and turned away to consider whether justice is virtue and wisdom or evil and folly.
  • When there arose a further question about the comparative advantages of justice and injustice, I could not refrain from passing on to that.
  • The result of the whole discussion has been that I know nothing at all.
  • For I know not what justice is, and therefore I am not likely to know whether it is or is not a virtue, nor can I say whether the just man is happy or unhappy.