Question1: Thrasymachus’ definition of the concept of justice and Socrates’response
Thrasymachusgives a simple definition of the term justice where he states that itrefers to anything that gives advantage to a party that can beconsidered to be stronger. Thrasymachus supports this definition outhis observation that just people always get less compared to theirunjust counterparts. For example, tyrants are part of the most unjustgroups of the people, but they tend to be among the richest andhappiest people in the world. In contrast, victims of tyrannicalleadership express their interests in doing what is justice andoppose injustice in the society, but there are the poorest members ofthe society and live unhappy lives. Thrasymachus’ definition of theconcept of justice is mainly based on the ideal of imbalance of powerwhere the stronger members of the society acquire justice (wealth andhappiness) at the expense of the weaker members.
Socratesresponds by opposing the idea of basing the definition of justice onthe concept of imbalance of power as Thrasymachus does. Instead,Socrates holds that justice takes place when the stronger party seeksfor what is advantageous to the weaker party. For example, it wouldonly be considered a just action if the chief captain takes actionsthat will benefit sailors. In this case, the captain is strongerwhile sailors are weaker since the captain can determine the destinyof the sailors. However, justice is achieved when the captain listensand pursues the interests of the weaker party, which is the sailor.Similarly, a doctor who takes advantage of the patient to benefithimself financially does injustice to the client, in spite of thefact that he is the stronger party in this scenario. Socrates’understanding of the idea of justice implies that Thrasymachus’definition should be considered as injustice instead of a definitionof justice.
Question2: The difference between intrinsic goods and instrumental goods
Intrinsicgoods or values are considered to be good just because they are goodin themselves. The value of intrinsic goods is not measured on thebasis of their capacity to lead to or facilitate the acquisition ofsome other goods. Human beings pursue intrinsic goods for their ownvalue and not because they have an intention to use those goods toacquire something else. Some of the common intrinsic goods includetruth, goodness, and happiness. For example, people pursue happinessjust because it is good in itself, irrespective of whether it willhelp them achieve some other benefits. In essence, one does notrequire any justification or the reasons, other than the goodness ofhappiness in order to pursue happiness. Similarly, human beingsintrinsically good and using them to achieve some other goals (suchas sexual gratification) is wrong. Therefore, intrinsic value is anend in itself and cannot be used as a means to some end.
Instrumentalgoods, on the other hand, are goods that are pursued with theobjective of helping an individual acquire some means of gettingother goods. The value of an intrinsic good is sourced from outsideits own self. The value attached to an instrumental good depends onefficiency and the reliability with which it can help someone achievesome other goods. For example, the value attached to money is derivedfrom its capacity to help people achieve other goods, such aspleasure. This means that money has no value in itself, but itbecomes valuable if one is able to figure out the goodness that themoney can help him achieve. In this scenario, money is an instrumentthat is used to achieve pleasure. The justification to pursueinstrumental goods is obtained from some external value as opposed tointrinsic goods where justification is derived from the good itself.
Question3: Discussion on the story of the Ring of Gyges
Thestory of “the Ring of Gyges” was a legend that was told to Platoby his brother known as Glaucon. The entire story defends the notionthat justice is something that is only practical when people areforced by some authority to uphold it. For example, people will onlydo what is just when they are forced to do so by the law or someforce that they cannot resist. Glaucon supports the idea ofThrasymachus, who holds that the tendency to uphold justice isdetermined by imbalance of power. From the story, people who areperceived to be just in the society can turn to be unjust if they aregiven powers and the opportunity to act out of freewill. The factthat people practice justice due to lack of power to do injusticeimplies that the practice of justice is totally involuntary.
Fromthe story, Gyges worked as a faithful shepherded under the king ofLydia, but turned into a greedy person when he acquired a magicgolden ring from a dead person in the grazing fields. The capacity ofthe magic ring to help Gyges hide his presence and reappear made himrealize that he had acquired some powers that could assist him becomea king just like his own boss. The discovery of the new powers, thepower to appear and reappear, turned an honest shepherd who likesdoing justice into an unjust man. Gyges’ unjust nature is confirmedby the decision to kill the king and take the leadership of the king.These are unjust actions that Gyges could not do without thesupernatural power. The story indicates that unjust actions are moreprofitable compared to justice, and the acquisition of some powerswill always tempt people (including the just people) to do injusticeto maximize their happiness at the expense of the powerlesscharacters.
Question4: Different types of social classes and parts of soul
“TheRepublic” divides the society into three major social classes. Thefirst social class is referred to as the money making class. Thisclass consists of the productive members of the society. The secondclass is referred to as guardian and consists of the rulers andphilosophers. Membership in the guardian class was mainly determinedby one’s possession of special skills, education, virtues, andphilosophy. The third class is known as the auxiliary class and it iscomprised of the military members of the society. These classes areequated to different types of metals depending on the significance ofthe value in the society. For example, the ruling class is equated togold since it is perceived to be the most valuable class. Craftsmenand farmers, on the other hand, are equated to iron since they arehard and strong. Although this classification may not be regarded asthe most democratic way of grouping members of the society, it wasintended to help people accept their status or who they are in theirrespective communities.
Socratesdivided the soul into three parts and in a manner that is consistentwith the social classes aforementioned. The first part of the soul isknown as the rational or the calculating section of the soul. This isthe part that helps people, especially the guardian class, thinkbefore taking actions and it also helps people make informeddecisions. The second part is referred to as irrational or thedesiring part of the soul. This is the part that guides the moneymaking class. This is the part that drives human appetite of thedesire to acquire or achieve certain things in life. The last part isknown as the spirited part of the soul. However, the spirited partcan be aligned with the desire or rational depending oncircumstances. This part of the soul is common among the militaryclass.