Thrasymachus and Socrates engage in a heated argument over the concept of justice and politics in society. Each of these individuals presents his understanding of justice and politics and the manner in which these events occur in any particular society. Thrasymachus views justice as an advantage to all powerful individuals in society. In fact, he asserts that it stronger individuals in society such as rulers are not prone to mistakes because they have a clear understanding of what they are supposed to do in society. Thrasymachus affirms that it is extremely difficult to associate societal leaders and rulers with common mistakes. Socrates is not convinced with any of the positions that is taken by Thrasymachus and he argues intelligently to refute these positions. He refutes the position taken by Thrasymachus that justice is an advantage to the stronger individuals in society with the assertion that justice represents the wisdom and the goodness of an individual while injustice represents ignorance and the bad side of an individual. Thrasymachus argues that injustice is something more powerful and stronger than justice at any given instance. Socrates does not agree with this assertion and uses several examples such as an unjust city would automatically lose its power because of the continuous oppressions against individuals. In Socrates’ view, it is only through justice that individuals in society are able to cooperate. He reiterates that justice would always play an instrumental role in ensuring that a given city or individual is more powerful. More so, Socrates is of the opinion that an unjust man would be an enemy of the gods because he engagers in acts that do not even impress his colleagues in society.
The argument between Thrasymachus and Socrates is intense and they widely debate about the entire issue of justice and politics in society. Socrates approaches the debate in a tricky manner, he asks questions that seem to sway Thrasymachus to accept his position about justice and societal leadership. For instance, Socrates asserts that, “I can see that the just are wiser, better and more capable of an action while the unjust are more prone to cooperate in matters of evils.” This assertion was aimed at proving his position that justice is the only way of ensuring that the society is strong enough to take on any action. According to Thrasymachus, justice is not supposed to apply to every individual in society but it should only be associated with those in power. Socrates does not agree with this proposition and he asserts that justice is applicable to every individual in society and it entails doing what is required in society. He reiterates his position with the assertion that good souls that believe in the true sense of justice will always yield the best results while bad souls that do not believe in justice will always beget poor results. Thus, the Thrasymachus and Socrates argue continually and the conclusion is that justice is better than injustice. More so, justice is applicable to all individuals in society and not only to the powerful individuals in society.
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This essay explicates the position of Thrasymachus relating to justice and politics in society. More so, it explicates Socrates’ arguments in refuting Thrasymachus position pertaining to justice and the order to politics in society. Lastly, the essay presents my explanation of the two arguments and my better side of the two arguments.
Thrasymachus Understanding of Justice
According to Thrasymachus, justice is an advantage to the powerful individuals in society. He asserts that justice is available in order to serve their different interests in society as they partake different leadership roles in society. He emphasizes his view of justice with the assertion,” justice is what the stronger thinks is good for him, whether it is really good or not” (Lycos 1987). This implies that justice is determined by leaders in society and they would always choose what is best for them. In regards to this understanding of justice, Thrasymachus indicates that the meaning of justice would always have to change in order to suit the position of the leader. This view also implies that justice will always change with the changes in the needs of those individuals in power. More so, this position implies that the existing rules in society would always have to be bend in order to accommodate what leaders feel to be the best for them. Those at the lower class in society, will never be served in a manner that is just because it is not meant to serve their interests in society. This understanding also means that individuals at the lowest class in society must always respond to the needs of the powerful individuals and satisfy their needs. Thrasymachus also tries to justify his position with the assertion that, a ruler does not make mistakes and will always enact what is best for him.” This assertion is meant to strengthen his position that justice is an advantage of the powerful individuals in society. He points out that rulers are always right and would always enact to rules that would not compromise their positions (Lycos 1987). The lack of mistakes and offenses among rulers gives them the mandate to continue enacting rules and policies that would cover the interests effectively without even considering the rest of the community.
Another significant point asserted by Thrasymachus is that justice is excessively weaker than injustice. He reiterates that unjust individuals are always successful in their activities compared to those individuals that strongly believe in justice. He holds the position that most individuals who pretend to observe the true sense of justice are losers in society. He emphasizes this with the assertion, “injustice is a thing which is stronger, freer and more powerful than justice as long as it is practiced on a large scale.” In regard to this assertion, Thyrasymachus is of the opinion that individuals must engage in acts that would satisfy them adequately without putting into consideration the fact that they are acting unjustly to others. He uses the example of a contracted entered into by a just and an unjust individual. He notes that a person that is perceived unjust is likely to benefit from the contractual agreements compared to the person who pretends to act in a manner that is just and acceptable in society. More so, he emphasizes his position with the assertion that, “where distributions are to be made by the state, a just man would always get a lesser share compared to an unjust individual.” In his view, nations around the globe would only be successful in cases where most of the individuals are unjust. Injustice is a catalyst to faster development among individuals and to different nations. Thyrasymachus asserts that individuals should observe the true sense of injustice in order to be successful in society. In his opinion, justice is not a healthy condition for the growth of any particular individual or society. He emphasizes the view that all individuals in society must uphold injustice because it is the easiest way to profitability. Injustice begets strength in a nation and ensures that there is adequate prosperity in the pursuit of development. This is reinforced with his assertion that, “injustice is what is profitable and good for oneself.” Therefore, the shortest way to becoming rich and developing adequately is to act unjustly according to Thyrasymachus.
Thrasymachus also refers to justice as “noble simplicity” and injustice as “common sense.” This assertion implies that individuals would only be treated in a justly manner according to the kindness of their ruler. Thrasymachus observes that rulers of different cities will always have to share their justice with other citizens as they deem fit. According to him, justice is not a prerequisite for effective leadership but it could only be achieved in cases where the ruler is kind enough to share with his people. More so, he views injustice as common sense because it emanates from the inner sense of an individual and is always aimed at a greater benefit to the individual compared to justice, which is likely to fail someone in society. His assertion also implies that injustice individuals who believe in injustice are more sensible because they have goals, which drive their lives. He also reiterates that an unjust man is, “wise and good” while the man who believes in justice is none of these. He believes that an individual would only be judged to be sensible and wise in cases where he acts in an unjust manner. Unjust individuals are able to satisfy their and achieve their inner desires because they always have the desire to pursue their ambitions compared to individuals who believe in justice.
Socrates’s Success in Trying to Refute Thrasymachus’s Conceptualization of Justice
Socrates engages in a heated argument with Thrasymachus with the aim of refuting his claims about justice and politics in society. Firstly, he refutes Thrasymachus belief that justice is only an advantage of the stronger in society. Socrates is of the opinion that,” no one at any position of authority, to the extent that he is in authority thinks about what is only good for himself, he thinks about what is good for his subjects instead.” He uses several examples such as a doctor being mindful of the patient because it is the patient who needs care and not him. More so, he asserts that the horseman would be more concerned about his horses above his own interests. All these assertions were successful in refuting Thrasymachus position that justice exists at the advantage of more powerful individual in society. Socrates is of the opinion that individuals holding different positions in authority are skilled and knowledgeable and would always utilize their skills with the aim of ensuring that their subjects are better off. He holds the position that skills and knowledge exist in society with the aim of satisfying the interests of other individuals and not the professionals themselves. In addition, he successfully refutes that claim that rulers are not prone to making mistakes. He asserts that, “rulers are normal beings and are prone to making errors like other professionals such as doctors.” Rulers are prone to making mistakes and the mistakes should be treated as sensible because of the fact that these individuals are normal beings and can mess at any instance.
He also refutes Thrasymachus claim that justice is weaker than injustice. Initially, Thrasymachus puts forward the argument that injustice is stronger and better than justice because it helps individuals develop at a faster rate in society. Socrates is successful in refuting this claim by asking Thrasymachus, “Do you agree that one person is musical and the other unmusical?” In asking this question, he seeks a clarification from Thrasymachus on who understands what is doing best. Thrasymachus agrees with him that the musical individual has a better understanding of his actions compared to an unmusical person. This means that a just person has a better understanding of what he does compares to an unjust person. He compares a musical individual to a just person who is good and stronger in the area of music. The unmusical person is compared to an unjust person who is bas and weaker in the areas of music. In line with these comparisons, Socrates is successful in refuting the claim that injustice is better than justice is. He also refutes this claim with the point that just individuals would always be mindful of others. They do not take advantage of others in society and they are loved by most of their subjects. On the other hand, he asserts that,”unjust individuals are also hated by their gods because of the advantage they take over other people.” In his opinion, it unlikely to find a musical person trying to outdo an unmusical person because he understands his weaknesses in the areas. According to Socrates, this also applies in the area of justice, and it is unlikely to find a person who believes in justice acting wrongly towards unjust individuals. Additionally, justice brings about permanent wealth and profitability compared to injustice.
Socrates is also successful in refuting the assertion that justice is a noble simplicity and injustice is common sense. He does not agree with this position and successfully launches his refutation with the assertion that, “suppose a city, territory, thieves, or pirates set up an unjust venture, are they likely to be successful?” Thrasymachus agreement that unjust individuals would not be able to succeed in cases where they treat each other unjustly is a proof of Socrates’ success in refuting his claim. Socrates is also successful in refuting this claim by asserting that it is insensible to act in an unjustly manner because it would ultimately lead to failure. His opinions are in line with his belief that most individuals who act in a just manner are wiser compared to those who engage in unjust acts. Socrates refutes Thrasymachus view that justice is noble simplicity by asserting that justice is a right and not a privilege to individuals. Therefore, rulers should not take it as a noble duty to individuals but should treat their subjects in a just manner as a satisfaction of their rights. In Socrates’ view, justice is more of a right than noble simplicity in society.
In my opinion, Thrasymachus bases his arguments on the strength of rulers in society. His assertion are based on the assumption that all rulers are always right in their action and do not have the capacity to deviate from the set traditions. I have the view that Thrasymachus is a believer in the rules that are imposed to citizens by their rulers despite the many loopholes that could be inherent in the rules. He finds no fault in the rules that are imposed by authorities to their subjects due to his assertion that justice is always aimed at favoring the stronger in society and ensuring that their needs are satisfied adequately. I believe that his assertions are meant to vindicate even dictatorial authorities of any acts of injustice against their citizens. His arguments force citizens to bow to all rules that are made by their regimes even in cases where these rules are unfair. Citizens do not have the opportunity to defend their rights because their rulers are doing what they perceive just. In opinion, it is extremely difficult for an individual to survive in a city or world where he is forced to follow all the rules that do not put into consideration his interests. Thrasymachus assertions are only likely to apply in a purely tyrannical regime where citizens are subjected to immense suffering. More so, it is difficult to categorize justice as a noble duty, I think it should be strongly classified as a right for all individuals (Santas 2010).
In addition, I am of the opinion that Socrates’ assertions are more applicable to a democratic political system which effectively recognizes the rights of each individual. His assertion that justice is supposed to emanate from individuals and should be aimed at satisfying the rights of other individuals. I strongly agree with his position that an individual should be dedicated towards helping others instead of aiming at satisfying his needs in society. In my opinion, it would be wise of a leader to devote his powers to helping other individuals in society instead of putting place rules that are likely to infringe on the rights of his citizens. I believe that any regime that wishes to be successful has to put into consideration the rights of individuals and ensure that all the rights of individuals that make up the state. I also think that Socrates was wise when asserting that a country would not be able to develop accordingly in cases where injustice exists. People should uphold justice in order to ensure that they succeed in their entire operations. It would be difficult and out of order to assert that there is development and growth in a world full of injustice. Therefore, I am of the opinion that justice should be spread accordingly in the entire society in order to ensure that all citizens are treated appropriately. In fact, professionals such as doctors must always work for the benefit of other individuals. This would be a significant depiction of pure justice in society and its amazing success in society. In my opinion, justice should be upheld by all individuals in society starting from the rulers, as this would ensure that there is an adequate level of success and prosperity.
I would favor Socrates’ assertions about justice. I believe that he has a true sense and understanding of what justice entails. He asserts that justice is a right that must be granted to subjects in order to ensure that there is success in society. I favor Socrates’ assertion that all professionals and other skilled individuals always work towards the betterment of others hence ensuring that justice is spread in society. All efforts dedicated towards justice must be effected starting from the lower areas of the city or country. More so, I am in favor of Socrates’ position because it caters for all individuals in society without paying attention to their position in society. He does not recognize justice as an advantage for the powerful individuals in society but recognizes it as the equality that must be served to all individuals. This means that individuals would be protected adequately in societies where justice is a right for each person rather than where it is taken as a privilege for a few individuals. Additionally, I favor his opinion that unjust individuals would always lead to scandals in the country and there would be no adequate ground for the growth of the country. This assertion is pragmatic because it can be easily proven that most states have operated under unjust regimes have definitely fallen in the shortrun. Therefore, it would be in order for individuals to uphold justice as this promotes immense success and growth of an individual and the state. People should also believe that justice facilitates the achievement of the set goals injustice, which leads to unfair acquisition of resources and other properties.
In conclusion, Thrasymachus and Socrates engage in an intense argument over the concept of justice and politics in society. They both present their understanding of justice and politics and the manner in which these events occur in any particular society. Thrasymachus perceives justice as an advantage to the stronger individuals in society. He asserts that stronger individuals in society such as rulers are not prone making mistakes because they are automatically wise as they go about their activities. According to Thrasymachus it is extremely difficult to associate societal leaders and rulers with common mistakes. On the other hand, Socrates does not support any of the positions taken by Thrasymachus and he argues intelligently to refute these positions. He refutes the position taken by Thrasymachus that justice is an advantage to the stronger individuals in society with the assertion that justice represents the wisdom and the goodness of an individual while injustice represents ignorance and the bad side of an individual. Thrasymachus argues that injustice is something more powerful and stronger than justice is at any given instance. Socrates does not agree with this assertion and uses several examples such as an unjust city would automatically lose its power because of the continuous oppressions against individuals. In Socrates’ view, it is only through justice that individuals in society are able to cooperate. He reiterates that justice would always play an instrumental role in ensuring that a given city or individual is more powerful. More so, Socrates is of the opinion that an unjust man would be an enemy of the gods because he engagers in acts that do not even impress his colleagues in society.
Socrates presents numerous examples such as the doctor-patient relationships in order to refute the position taken by Thrasymachus. He approaches the debate in a tricky manner by asking Thrasymachus questions that make him agree with him. For instance, Socrates asserts that, “I can see that the just are wiser, better and more capable of an action while the unjust are more prone to cooperate in matters of evils” (Santas 2010). This assertion was aimed at proving his position that justice is the only way of ensuring that the society is strong enough to take on any action. According to Thrasymachus, justice is not supposed to apply to every individual in society but it should only be associated with those in power. He reiterates his position with the assertion that good souls that believe in the true sense of justice will always yield the best results while bad souls that do not believe in justice will always beget poor results. Thus, the Thrasymachus and Socrates argue continually and the conclusion is that justice is better than injustice. More so, justice is applicable to all individuals in society and not only to the powerful individuals in society.
In my opinion, Thrasymachus position would be mostly used by regimes that believe in dictatorship and do not value the rights of individuals. I do not agree with his proposition that justice only exists for the benefit of the stronger individuals in society. Justice is for all individuals and should be viewed as such all over the society. More Socrates successfully refutes the assertions put forward by Thrasymachus because they represent an unfair state of conditions. He is of the opinion that justice is for everyone in society and authorities must be careful to ensure that each person is treated fairly. Therefore, the society would only be successful in cases where it uphold the true conditions of justice to reign over any personal interests.