The Traditional Theory Of Justice In Plato's The Republic

1152 Words 5 Pages
Nguyen 1

Randy Nguyen

Ancient Philosophy

Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J.


Justice, What is Justice? In the world, where many people don’t look out for others but only themselves, justice can be the considered the big reason for a person’s happiness. In Book 1 of Plato’s The Republic, Socrates engages in a discussion with Thrasymachus, Polemarchus, and Cephalus, on asking and answering questions about what justice really is. Socrates attempts to show that certain attitudes and beliefs of justice and its nature are inconsistent with society. The big problem about justice begins in the Republic, when Socrates
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Cephalus is the first one, to give his view of justice as simply “speaking the truth and giving back what one takes” (Plato, Republic 331). From this he is trying to make a point that it is right to do the right thing and to be honest.
Cephalus was also the first one to establish the traditional theory of justice. According to him justice is when someone tells the truth and pays a person’s debt if they owe anything to anyone. He also mentions that leading a good life is the key point of Justice. On the other hand Socrates disagrees and mentions that justice is only an attribute within the human soul and that is not always telling the truth and paying a person’s debt. He also defines justice as one of the human virtue, and that justice is within the human soul. Socrates also addresses the question “what is justice” in terms of political aspect and an individual person aspect, which leads to the big discussion in this
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He also points out Thrasymachus goes back at Socrates by mentioning that rulers or government don’t mistakes at all. At one point Thrasymachus calls Socrates a fool, and comes up with arguments by pretending to be indignant towards Socrates. He mentions that justice is following laws, and this doesn’t lead to justice as a benefit of another and it doesn’t benefit the stronger people such as the rulers or government. Justice is so great that anyone who embraces it is better off, in tough and painful situations.
Throughout the dialogue, Socrates and Thrasymachus both offer their ideas on justice. Thrasymachus is focused on the power of man and their position, while Socrates looks at justice and power of man in a philosophical way. Socrates believes that man alone isn’t true justice, a man is more than just his strength but they have moral beliefs and moral conducts. A man is more powerful, if they have moral beliefs and righteous behavior then a man who becomes powerful by the use of force and threat. From Socrates and Thrasymachus statements on justice, we see the theory of good versus evil in

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