Republic book 1

Much of book one deals with the (fairly pessimistic, in my opinion) debate of whether justice or injustice is more beneficial. According to Thrasymachus, ¬†justice is simply the advantage which any given ruler has in that they can shape the official concept of it to meet their personal needs. Rather than seeing it as an ideal, or an embodiment of goodness, Thrasymachus, perhaps while representing the majority, seems to believe that it is relative to whatever ruler executes it. He also thinks that an unjust person can potentially become the happiest of people, that is, if they’re perceived as just (possibly like the aforementioned ruler). Socrates disagrees. First, in ¬†Socrates’ opinion, true rulers, determine true justice, and are able to impose it onto citizens for the good of all. In Socrates’ view, injustice is caused by tension with different parts of the soul to the point where the soul’s possessor can’t get anything done. It is believable, at least, that unjust people by nature cannot at least do much for anyone but themselves. Considering all this, it’s safe to say and more or less proven later in the book that Socrates didn’t think the current rulers of cities were true leaders.

Another topic of book one I found relevant was that of aging and the loss of youthfulness. The traditional reputation of old age is noted as being accompanied by a decline in spirit and potential for physical pleasures. It is argued that while this may in part be true enough, it allows more space for other, possibly intellectual pleasures. For example, Socrates describes the loss of lust as something which is “escaped from, like a slave who has escaped from all such things”(4). I found the positive argument Socrates put on the issues of old age and injustice quite pleasing if nothing else. For me, it was as if he is encouraging readers to question certain issues or reputations, in hopes of finding their benefits and true forms.

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  1. I found the discussion of old age quite interesting as well for as I read it it seemed to me that Cephalus treated it as a state of mind rather that a physical inevitability. “…old age is the cause of many evils.But I don’t think they blame the real cause, Socrates, for if old age were really the cause, I should have suffered in the same way and so should everyone else of my age.” (3). I found that whole discussion fairly interesting and a pleasant way to begin what became quite a repetitive argument.

  2. On another note, can you please activate a plugin that allows people who are commenting to check a box to get an email if there is a reply to their comment? When you’re logged into your blog, go to “plugins” on the left menu of the dashboard, and find the one called “subscribe to comments,” or something like that. Click “activate” on this plugin, and you’re done. That way, if anyone (including you) replies to a comment, then the person making it will know without having to go back to the blog to check. Thanks!

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