With my camera readied for action, I caste a sideways glance and noticed a young couple frolicking on the street corner after exiting a cab. I clicked off a split-second shot, and captured a sexy embrace. I started to wonder what was in the air? Next door to the Museum of Sex on 27th Street is the Gershwin Hotel, a budget-minded artsy place, whose horned protuberances—like a building in heat—fit in well with its neighbor. Should you get a rise or an education, be embarrassed or reminisce about past partners and experiences—or, all of the above?
Your first task is to get in the mood. You can also sample whips, dress like a child, a nurse, or wounded victims, or wear a mask. Some are projected on top of boxes, simulating beds, which curiously did heighten the reaction. In this dimly lit den of digitized iniquity, voyeurs remained silent, as if reverting back to a space they normally inhabited in the privacy of their own home. In fact, a man filmed one of the films for his own viewing pleasure later.
The most imaginative film is The Sex Life of Robots , where doll-sized robots made of metal engage in a broad range of sex play. The creator, Michael Sullivan, a doll-maker, animation specialist, and former porn movie director, engineered robots to perform various sex acts in animation. The final room contains mostly artifacts, machines, and more interactive items from the permanent collection.
The exhibition that attracted the most attention is what looks like a female blow-up doll, but is instead a full-sized, anatomically correct figure in black, fishnet stockings. Next to her in a fiberglass case with fist-sized holes in the appropriate places, is a life-size, touch-me female torso. Another man filmed himself groping the doll.
These figures can be purchased online. As self-gratification is the aim here, who needs a face, right? Displays also contain condom boxes, sex education guides, and more useful artifacts—like The Premier Vibrator from the early s that looks like a blow dryer. Thus Stallbaum, who is dissatisfied with the ordinary explanations of the argument of the Republic, imagines himself to have found the true argument 'in the representation of human life in a State perfected by justice, and governed according to the idea of good.
The truth is, that we may as well speak of many designs as of one; nor need anything be excluded from the plan of a great work to which the mind is naturally led by the association of ideas, and which does not interfere with the general purpose. What kind or degree of unity is to be sought after in a building, in the plastic arts, in poetry, in prose, is a problem which has to be determined relatively to the subject-matter.
To Plato himself, the enquiry 'what was the intention of the writer,' or 'what was the principal argument of the Republic' would have been hardly intelligible, and therefore had better be at once dismissed cp. Is not the Republic the vehicle of three or four great truths which, to Plato's own mind, are most naturally represented in the form of the State? Just as in the Jewish prophets the reign of Messiah, or 'the day of the Lord,' or the suffering Servant or people of God, or the 'Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings' only convey, to us at least, their great spiritual ideals, so through the Greek State Plato reveals to us his own thoughts about divine perfection, which is the idea of good--like the sun in the visible world;--about human perfection, which is justice--about education beginning in youth and continuing in later years--about poets and sophists and tyrants who are the false teachers and evil rulers of mankind --about 'the world' which is the embodiment of them--about a kingdom which exists nowhere upon earth but is laid up in heaven to be the pattern and rule of human life.
No such inspired creation is at unity with itself, any more than the clouds of heaven when the sun pierces through them. Every shade of light and dark, of truth, and of fiction which is the veil of truth, is allowable in a work of philosophical imagination. It is not all on the same plane; it easily passes from ideas to myths and fancies, from facts to figures of speech.
It is not prose but poetry, at least a great part of it, and ought not to be judged by the rules of logic or the probabilities of history. The writer is not fashioning his ideas into an artistic whole; they take possession of him and are too much for him. We have no need therefore to discuss whether a State such as Plato has conceived is practicable or not, or whether the outward form or the inward life came first into the mind of the writer.
For the practicability of his ideas has nothing to do with their truth; and the highest thoughts to which he attains may be truly said to bear the greatest 'marks of design'-- justice more than the external frame-work of the State, the idea of good more than justice. The great science of dialectic or the organisation of ideas has no real content; but is only a type of the method or spirit in which the higher knowledge is to be pursued by the spectator of all time and all existence.
It is in the fifth, sixth, and seventh books that Plato reaches the 'summit of speculation,' and these, although they fail to satisfy the requirements of a modern thinker, may therefore be regarded as the most important, as they are also the most original, portions of the work. It is not necessary to discuss at length a minor question which has been raised by Boeckh, respecting the imaginary date at which the conversation was held the year B. Whether all the persons mentioned in the Republic could ever have met at any one time is not a difficulty which would have occurred to an Athenian reading the work forty years later, or to Plato himself at the time of writing any more than to Shakespeare respecting one of his own dramas ; and need not greatly trouble us now.
Yet this may be a question having no answer 'which is still worth asking,' because the investigation shows that we cannot argue historically from the dates in Plato; it would be useless therefore to waste time in inventing far-fetched reconcilements of them in order to avoid chronological difficulties, such, for example, as the conjecture of C. Hermann, that Glaucon and Adeimantus are not the brothers but the uncles of Plato cp.
Cephalus appears in the introduction only, Polemarchus drops at the end of the first argument, and Thrasymachus is reduced to silence at the close of the first book. The main discussion is carried on by Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus. Among the company are Lysias the orator and Euthydemus, the sons of Cephalus and brothers of Polemarchus, an unknown Charmantides--these are mute auditors; also there is Cleitophon, who once interrupts, where, as in the Dialogue which bears his name, he appears as the friend and ally of Thrasymachus.
Cephalus, the patriarch of the house, has been appropriately engaged in offering a sacrifice. He is the pattern of an old man who has almost done with life, and is at peace with himself and with all mankind. He feels that he is drawing nearer to the world below, and seems to linger around the memory of the past. He is eager that Socrates should come to visit him, fond of the poetry of the last generation, happy in the consciousness of a well-spent life, glad at having escaped from the tyranny of youthful lusts.
His love of conversation, his affection, his indifference to riches, even his garrulity, are interesting traits of character. He is not one of those who have nothing to say, because their whole mind has been absorbed in making money. Yet he acknowledges that riches have the advantage of placing men above the temptation to dishonesty or falsehood. The respectful attention shown to him by Socrates, whose love of conversation, no less than the mission imposed upon him by the Oracle, leads him to ask questions of all men, young and old alike, should also be noted.
Who better suited to raise the question of justice than Cephalus, whose life might seem to be the expression of it? The moderation with which old age is pictured by Cephalus as a very tolerable portion of existence is characteristic, not only of him, but of Greek feeling generally, and contrasts with the exaggeration of Cicero in the De Senectute. The evening of life is described by Plato in the most expressive manner, yet with the fewest possible touches. As Cicero remarks Ep. Lysimachus in the Laches.
His 'son and heir' Polemarchus has the frankness and impetuousness of youth; he is for detaining Socrates by force in the opening scene, and will not 'let him off' on the subject of women and children. Like Cephalus, he is limited in his point of view, and represents the proverbial stage of morality which has rules of life rather than principles; and he quotes Simonides cp. Clouds as his father had quoted Pindar. But after this he has no more to say; the answers which he makes are only elicited from him by the dialectic of Socrates.
He has not yet experienced the influence of the Sophists like Glaucon and Adeimantus, nor is he sensible of the necessity of refuting them; he belongs to the pre-Socratic or pre-dialectical age. He is incapable of arguing, and is bewildered by Socrates to such a degree that he does not know what he is saying.
He is made to admit that justice is a thief, and that the virtues follow the analogy of the arts. From his brother Lysias contra Eratosth. The 'Chalcedonian giant,' Thrasymachus, of whom we have already heard in the Phaedrus, is the personification of the Sophists, according to Plato's conception of them, in some of their worst characteristics.
He is vain and blustering, refusing to discourse unless he is paid, fond of making an oration, and hoping thereby to escape the inevitable Socrates; but a mere child in argument, and unable to foresee that the next 'move' to use a Platonic expression will 'shut him up. But he is incapable of defending them in a discussion, and vainly tries to cover his confusion with banter and insolence.
Whether such doctrines as are attributed to him by Plato were really held either by him or by any other Sophist is uncertain; in the infancy of philosophy serious errors about morality might easily grow up--they are certainly put into the mouths of speakers in Thucydides; but we are concerned at present with Plato's description of him, and not with the historical reality. The inequality of the contest adds greatly to the humour of the scene. The pompous and empty Sophist is utterly helpless in the hands of the great master of dialectic, who knows how to touch all the springs of vanity and weakness in him.
He is greatly irritated by the irony of Socrates, but his noisy and imbecile rage only lays him more and more open to the thrusts of his assailant. His determination to cram down their throats, or put 'bodily into their souls' his own words, elicits a cry of horror from Socrates. The state of his temper is quite as worthy of remark as the process of the argument.
Nothing is more amusing than his complete submission when he has been once thoroughly beaten. At first he seems to continue the discussion with reluctance, but soon with apparent good-will, and he even testifies his interest at a later stage by one or two occasional remarks. When attacked by Glaucon he is humorously protected by Socrates 'as one who has never been his enemy and is now his friend.
The play on his name which was made by his contemporary Herodicus Aris. When Thrasymachus has been silenced, the two principal respondents, Glaucon and Adeimantus, appear on the scene: here, as in Greek tragedy cp. At first sight the two sons of Ariston may seem to wear a family likeness, like the two friends Simmias and Cebes in the Phaedo. But on a nearer examination of them the similarity vanishes, and they are seen to be distinct characters. Glaucon is the impetuous youth who can 'just never have enough of fechting' cp.
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He is full of quickness and penetration, piercing easily below the clumsy platitudes of Thrasymachus to the real difficulty; he turns out to the light the seamy side of human life, and yet does not lose faith in the just and true. It is Glaucon who seizes what may be termed the ludicrous relation of the philosopher to the world, to whom a state of simplicity is 'a city of pigs,' who is always prepared with a jest when the argument offers him an opportunity, and who is ever ready to second the humour of Socrates and to appreciate the ridiculous, whether in the connoisseurs of music, or in the lovers of theatricals, or in the fantastic behaviour of the citizens of democracy.
His weaknesses are several times alluded to by Socrates, who, however, will not allow him to be attacked by his brother Adeimantus. He is a soldier, and, like Adeimantus, has been distinguished at the battle of Megara anno ? The character of Adeimantus is deeper and graver, and the profounder objections are commonly put into his mouth.
Glaucon is more demonstrative, and generally opens the game. Adeimantus pursues the argument further. Glaucon has more of the liveliness and quick sympathy of youth; Adeimantus has the maturer judgment of a grown-up man of the world. In the second book, when Glaucon insists that justice and injustice shall be considered without regard to their consequences, Adeimantus remarks that they are regarded by mankind in general only for the sake of their consequences; and in a similar vein of reflection he urges at the beginning of the fourth book that Socrates fails in making his citizens happy, and is answered that happiness is not the first but the second thing, not the direct aim but the indirect consequence of the good government of a State.
In the discussion about religion and mythology, Adeimantus is the respondent, but Glaucon breaks in with a slight jest, and carries on the conversation in a lighter tone about music and gymnastic to the end of the book. It is Adeimantus again who volunteers the criticism of common sense on the Socratic method of argument, and who refuses to let Socrates pass lightly over the question of women and children. It is Adeimantus who is the respondent in the more argumentative, as Glaucon in the lighter and more imaginative portions of the Dialogue. For example, throughout the greater part of the sixth book, the causes of the corruption of philosophy and the conception of the idea of good are discussed with Adeimantus.
Glaucon resumes his place of principal respondent; but he has a difficulty in apprehending the higher education of Socrates, and makes some false hits in the course of the discussion.
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Once more Adeimantus returns with the allusion to his brother Glaucon whom he compares to the contentious State; in the next book he is again superseded, and Glaucon continues to the end. Thus in a succession of characters Plato represents the successive stages of morality, beginning with the Athenian gentleman of the olden time, who is followed by the practical man of that day regulating his life by proverbs and saws; to him succeeds the wild generalization of the Sophists, and lastly come the young disciples of the great teacher, who know the sophistical arguments but will not be convinced by them, and desire to go deeper into the nature of things.
These too, like Cephalus, Polemarchus, Thrasymachus, are clearly distinguished from one another. Neither in the Republic, nor in any other Dialogue of Plato, is a single character repeated. The delineation of Socrates in the Republic is not wholly consistent. In the first book we have more of the real Socrates, such as he is depicted in the Memorabilia of Xenophon, in the earliest Dialogues of Plato, and in the Apology.
He is ironical, provoking, questioning, the old enemy of the Sophists, ready to put on the mask of Silenus as well as to argue seriously. But in the sixth book his enmity towards the Sophists abates; he acknowledges that they are the representatives rather than the corrupters of the world. He also becomes more dogmatic and constructive, passing beyond the range either of the political or the speculative ideas of the real Socrates. In one passage Plato himself seems to intimate that the time had now come for Socrates, who had passed his whole life in philosophy, to give his own opinion and not to be always repeating the notions of other men.
There is no evidence that either the idea of good or the conception of a perfect state were comprehended in the Socratic teaching, though he certainly dwelt on the nature of the universal and of final causes cp. The Socratic method is nominally retained; and every inference is either put into the mouth of the respondent or represented as the common discovery of him and Socrates. But any one can see that this is a mere form, of which the affectation grows wearisome as the work advances.
The method of enquiry has passed into a method of teaching in which by the help of interlocutors the same thesis is looked at from various points of view. The nature of the process is truly characterized by Glaucon, when he describes himself as a companion who is not good for much in an investigation, but can see what he is shown, and may, perhaps, give the answer to a question more fluently than another. Neither can we be absolutely certain that Socrates himself taught the immortality of the soul, which is unknown to his disciple Glaucon in the Republic cp. His favorite oath is retained, and a slight mention is made of the daemonium, or internal sign, which is alluded to by Socrates as a phenomenon peculiar to himself.
A real element of Socratic teaching, which is more prominent in the Republic than in any of the other Dialogues of Plato, is the use of example and illustration Greek : 'Let us apply the test of common instances. The composite animal in Book IX is an allegory of the parts of the soul.
The noble captain and the ship and the true pilot in Book VI are a figure of the relation of the people to the philosophers in the State which has been described. Other figures, such as the dog, or the marriage of the portionless maiden, or the drones and wasps in the eighth and ninth books, also form links of connexion in long passages, or are used to recall previous discussions.
Plato is most true to the character of his master when he describes him as 'not of this world. To him, as to other great teachers both philosophical and religious, when they looked upward, the world seemed to be the embodiment of error and evil. The common sense of mankind has revolted against this view, or has only partially admitted it.
And even in Socrates himself the sterner judgement of the multitude at times passes into a sort of ironical pity or love. Men in general are incapable of philosophy, and are therefore at enmity with the philosopher; but their misunderstanding of him is unavoidable: for they have never seen him as he truly is in his own image; they are only acquainted with artificial systems possessing no native force of truth-- words which admit of many applications.
Their leaders have nothing to measure with, and are therefore ignorant of their own stature. But they are to be pitied or laughed at, not to be quarrelled with; they mean well with their nostrums, if they could only learn that they are cutting off a Hydra's head.
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This moderation towards those who are in error is one of the most characteristic features of Socrates in the Republic. In all the different representations of Socrates, whether of Xenophon or Plato, and amid the differences of the earlier or later Dialogues, he always retains the character of the unwearied and disinterested seeker after truth, without which he would have ceased to be Socrates.
Leaving the characters we may now analyse the contents of the Republic, and then proceed to consider 1 The general aspects of this Hellenic ideal of the State, 2 The modern lights in which the thoughts of Plato may be read. BOOK I. The Republic opens with a truly Greek scene--a festival in honour of the goddess Bendis which is held in the Piraeus; to this is added the promise of an equestrian torch-race in the evening.
The whole work is supposed to be recited by Socrates on the day after the festival to a small party, consisting of Critias, Timaeus, Hermocrates, and another; this we learn from the first words of the Timaeus.
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When the rhetorical advantage of reciting the Dialogue has been gained, the attention is not distracted by any reference to the audience; nor is the reader further reminded of the extraordinary length of the narrative. Of the numerous company, three only take any serious part in the discussion; nor are we informed whether in the evening they went to the torch-race, or talked, as in the Symposium, through the night. The manner in which the conversation has arisen is described as followsSocrates and his companion Glaucon are about to leave the festival when they are detained by a message from Polemarchus, who speedily appears accompanied by Adeimantus, the brother of Glaucon, and with playful violence compels them to remain, promising them not only the torch-race, but the pleasure of conversation with the young, which to Socrates is a far greater attraction.
They return to the house of Cephalus, Polemarchus' father, now in extreme old age, who is found sitting upon a cushioned seat crowned for a sacrifice. Yes, replies Socrates, but the world will say, Cephalus, that you are happy in old age because you are rich. Cephalus answers that when you are old the belief in the world below grows upon you, and then to have done justice and never to have been compelled to do injustice through poverty, and never to have deceived anyone, are felt to be unspeakable blessings. Socrates, who is evidently preparing for an argument, next asks, What is the meaning of the word justice?
To tell the truth and pay your debts? No more than this? Or must we admit exceptions? Ought I, for example, to put back into the hands of my friend, who has gone mad, the sword which I borrowed of him when he was in his right mind? The description of old age is finished, and Plato, as his manner is, has touched the key-note of the whole work in asking for the definition of justice, first suggesting the question which Glaucon afterwards pursues respecting external goods, and preparing for the concluding mythus of the world below in the slight allusion of Cephalus.
The portrait of the just man is a natural frontispiece or introduction to the long discourse which follows, and may perhaps imply that in all our perplexity about the nature of justice, there is no difficulty in discerning 'who is a just man. He proceeds: What did Simonides mean by this saying of his? Did he mean that I was to give back arms to a madman? He meant that you were to do what was proper, good to friends and harm to enemies. He is answered that justice does good to friends and harm to enemies.
But in what way good or harm? The answer is that justice is of use in contracts, and contracts are money partnerships. Yes; but how in such partnerships is the just man of more use than any other man? And there is another difficulty: justice, like the art of war or any other art, must be of opposites, good at attack as well as at defence, at stealing as well as at guarding. But then justice is a thief, though a hero notwithstanding, like Autolycus, the Homeric hero, who was 'excellent above all men in theft and perjury'--to such a pass have you and Homer and Simonides brought us; though I do not forget that the thieving must be for the good of friends and the harm of enemies.
And still there arises another question: Are friends to be interpreted as real or seeming; enemies as real or seeming? And are our friends to be only the good, and our enemies to be the evil? The answer is, that we must do good to our seeming and real good friends, and evil to our seeming and real evil enemies--good to the good, evil to the evil.
But ought we to render evil for evil at all, when to do so will only make men more evil? Can justice produce injustice any more than the art of horsemanship can make bad horsemen, or heat produce cold? The final conclusion is, that no sage or poet ever said that the just return evil for evil; this was a maxim of some rich and mighty man, Periander, Perdiccas, or Ismenias the Theban about B. Thus the first stage of aphoristic or unconscious morality is shown to be inadequate to the wants of the age; the authority of the poets is set aside, and through the winding mazes of dialectic we make an approach to the Christian precept of forgiveness of injuries.
Similar words are applied by the Persian mystic poet to the Divine being when the questioning spirit is stirred within him'If because I do evil, Thou punishest me by evil, what is the difference between Thee and me? The first definition of justice easily passes into the second; for the simple words 'to speak the truth and pay your debts' is substituted the more abstract 'to do good to your friends and harm to your enemies.
We may note in passing the antiquity of casuistry, which not only arises out of the conflict of established principles in particular cases, but also out of the effort to attain them, and is prior as well as posterior to our fundamental notions of morality.
The 'interrogation' of moral ideas; the appeal to the authority of Homer; the conclusion that the maxim, 'Do good to your friends and harm to your enemies,' being erroneous, could not have been the word of any great man, are all of them very characteristic of the Platonic Socrates.
Here Thrasymachus, who has made several attempts to interrupt, but has hitherto been kept in order by the company, takes advantage of a pause and rushes into the arena, beginning, like a savage animal, with a roar. At first Thrasymachus is reluctant to argue; but at length, with a promise of payment on the part of the company and of praise from Socrates, he is induced to open the game. Do you mean that because Polydamas the wrestler, who is stronger than we are, finds the eating of beef for his interest, the eating of beef is also for our interest, who are not so strong?
Thrasymachus is indignant at the illustration, and in pompous words, apparently intended to restore dignity to the argument, he explains his meaning to be that the rulers make laws for their own interests. But suppose, says Socrates, that the ruler or stronger makes a mistake--then the interest of the stronger is not his interest. Thrasymachus is saved from this speedy downfall by his disciple Cleitophon, who introduces the word 'thinks;'--not the actual interest of the ruler, but what he thinks or what seems to be his interest, is justice.
The contradiction is escaped by the unmeaning evasion: for though his real and apparent interests may differ, what the ruler thinks to be his interest will always remain what he thinks to be his interest. Of course this was not the original assertion, nor is the new interpretation accepted by Thrasymachus himself. But Socrates is not disposed to quarrel about words, if, as he significantly insinuates, his adversary has changed his mind.
In what follows Thrasymachus does in fact withdraw his admission that the ruler may make a mistake, for he affirms that the ruler as a ruler is infallible. Socrates is quite ready to accept the new position, which he equally turns against Thrasymachus by the help of the analogy of the arts. Every art or science has an interest, but this interest is to be distinguished from the accidental interest of the artist, and is only concerned with the good of the things or persons which come under the art.
And justice has an interest which is the interest not of the ruler or judge, but of those who come under his sway. Thrasymachus is on the brink of the inevitable conclusion, when he makes a bold diversion. Why do you ask? For you fancy that shepherds and rulers never think of their own interest, but only of their sheep or subjects, whereas the truth is that they fatten them for their use, sheep and subjects alike.
And experience proves that in every relation of life the just man is the loser and the unjust the gainer, especially where injustice is on the grand scale, which is quite another thing from the petty rogueries of swindlers and burglars and robbers of temples. The language of men proves this--our 'gracious' and 'blessed' tyrant and the like--all which tends to show 1 that justice is the interest of the stronger; and 2 that injustice is more profitable and also stronger than justice.
But the others will not let him go, and Socrates adds a humble but earnest request that he will not desert them at such a crisis of their fate. Then why are they paid? Is not the reason, that their interest is not comprehended in their art, and is therefore the concern of another art, the art of pay, which is common to the arts in general, and therefore not identical with any one of them?
Nor would any man be a ruler unless he were induced by the hope of reward or the fear of punishment;--the reward is money or honour, the punishment is the necessity of being ruled by a man worse than himself. And if a State or Church were composed entirely of good men, they would be affected by the last motive only; and there would be as much 'nolo episcopari' as there is at present of the opposite The satire on existing governments is heightened by the simple and apparently incidental manner in which the last remark is introduced.
There is a similar irony in the argument that the governors of mankind do not like being in office, and that therefore they demand pay. Enough of this: the other assertion of Thrasymachus is far more important--that the unjust life is more gainful than the just. Now, as you and I, Glaucon, are not convinced by him, we must reply to him; but if we try to compare their respective gains we shall want a judge to decide for us; we had better therefore proceed by making mutual admissions of the truth to one another.
Thrasymachus had asserted that perfect injustice was more gainful than perfect justice, and after a little hesitation he is induced by Socrates to admit the still greater paradox that injustice is virtue and justice vice. Socrates praises his frankness, and assumes the attitude of one whose only wish is to understand the meaning of his opponents.
At the same time he is weaving a net in which Thrasymachus is finally enclosed. The admission is elicited from him that the just man seeks to gain an advantage over the unjust only, but not over the just, while the unjust would gain an advantage over either. Socrates, in order to test this statement, employs once more the favourite analogy of the arts.
The musician, doctor, skilled artist of any sort, does not seek to gain more than the skilled, but only more than the unskilled that is to say, he works up to a rule, standard, law, and does not exceed it , whereas the unskilled makes random efforts at excess. Thus the skilled falls on the side of the good, and the unskilled on the side of the evil, and the just is the skilled, and the unjust is the unskilled. There was great difficulty in bringing Thrasymachus to the point; the day was hot and he was streaming with perspiration, and for the first time in his life he was seen to blush.
But his other thesis that injustice was stronger than justice has not yet been refuted, and Socrates now proceeds to the consideration of this, which, with the assistance of Thrasymachus, he hopes to clear up; the latter is at first churlish, but in the judicious hands of Socrates is soon restored to good-humour: Is there not honour among thieves? Is not the strength of injustice only a remnant of justice?
Is not absolute injustice absolute weakness also? A house that is divided against itself cannot stand; two men who quarrel detract from one another's strength, and he who is at war with himself is the enemy of himself and the gods. Not wickedness therefore, but semi-wickedness flourishes in states, --a remnant of good is needed in order to make union in action possible,-- there is no kingdom of evil in this world.
Another question has not been answered: Is the just or the unjust the happier? To this we reply, that every art has an end and an excellence or virtue by which the end is accomplished. And is not the end of the soul happiness, and justice the excellence of the soul by which happiness is attained? Justice and happiness being thus shown to be inseparable, the question whether the just or the unjust is the happier has disappeared.
Thrasymachus replies: 'Let this be your entertainment, Socrates, at the festival of Bendis. And yet not a good entertainment--but that was my own fault, for I tasted of too many things. First of all the nature of justice was the subject of our enquiry, and then whether justice is virtue and wisdom, or evil and folly; and then the comparative advantages of just and unjust: and the sum of all is that I know not what justice is; how then shall I know whether the just is happy or not? Thus the sophistical fabric has been demolished, chiefly by appealing to the analogy of the arts.
Among early enquirers into the nature of human action the arts helped to fill up the void of speculation; and at first the comparison of the arts and the virtues was not perceived by them to be fallacious. They only saw the points of agreement in them and not the points of difference. Virtue, like art, must take means to an end; good manners are both an art and a virtue; character is naturally described under the image of a statue; and there are many other figures of speech which are readily transferred from art to morals. The next generation cleared up these perplexities; or at least supplied after ages with a further analysis of them.
The contemporaries of Plato were in a state of transition, and had not yet fully realized the common-sense distinction of Aristotle, that 'virtue is concerned with action, art with production' Nic. And yet in the absurdities which follow from some uses of the analogy, there seems to be an intimation conveyed that virtue is more than art. This is implied in the reductio ad absurdum that 'justice is a thief,' and in the dissatisfaction which Socrates expresses at the final result.
The expression 'an art of pay' which is described as 'common to all the arts' is not in accordance with the ordinary use of language. Nor is it employed elsewhere either by Plato or by any other Greek writer. It is suggested by the argument, and seems to extend the conception of art to doing as well as making. Another flaw or inaccuracy of language may be noted in the words 'men who are injured are made more unjust. The second of the three arguments, 'that the just does not aim at excess,' has a real meaning, though wrapped up in an enigmatical form.
That the good is of the nature of the finite is a peculiarly Hellenic sentiment, which may be compared with the language of those modern writers who speak of virtue as fitness, and of freedom as obedience to law. The mathematical or logical notion of limit easily passes into an ethical one, and even finds a mythological expression in the conception of envy Greek. Ideas of measure, equality, order, unity, proportion, still linger in the writings of moralists; and the true spirit of the fine arts is better conveyed by such terms than by superlatives.
The harmony of the soul and body, and of the parts of the soul with one another, a harmony 'fairer than that of musical notes,' is the true Hellenic mode of conceiving the perfection of human nature. In what may be called the epilogue of the discussion with Thrasymachus, Plato argues that evil is not a principle of strength, but of discord and dissolution, just touching the question which has been often treated in modern times by theologians and philosophers, of the negative nature of evil. In the last argument we trace the germ of the Aristotelian doctrine of an end and a virtue directed towards the end, which again is suggested by the arts.
The final reconcilement of justice and happiness and the identity of the individual and the State are also intimated. Socrates reassumes the character of a 'know-nothing;' at the same time he appears to be not wholly satisfied with the manner in which the argument has been conducted. Nothing is concluded; but the tendency of the dialectical process, here as always, is to enlarge our conception of ideas, and to widen their application to human life. Thrasymachus is pacified, but the intrepid Glaucon insists on continuing the argument. He is not satisfied with the indirect manner in which, at the end of the last book, Socrates had disposed of the question 'Whether the just or the unjust is the happier.
He then asks Socrates in which of the three classes he would place justice. In the second class, replies Socrates, among goods desirable for themselves and also for their results. Socrates answers that this is the doctrine of Thrasymachus which he rejects. Glaucon thinks that Thrasymachus was too ready to listen to the voice of the charmer, and proposes to consider the nature of justice and injustice in themselves and apart from the results and rewards of them which the world is always dinning in his ears. He will first of all speak of the nature and origin of justice; secondly, of the manner in which men view justice as a necessity and not a good; and thirdly, he will prove the reasonableness of this view.
As the evil is discovered by experience to be greater than the good, the sufferers, who cannot also be doers, make a compact that they will have neither, and this compact or mean is called justice, but is really the impossibility of doing injustice. No one would observe such a compact if he were not obliged. Let us suppose that the just and unjust have two rings, like that of Gyges in the well-known story, which make them invisible, and then no difference will appear in them, for every one will do evil if he can.
And he who abstains will be regarded by the world as a fool for his pains. Men may praise him in public out of fear for themselves, but they will laugh at him in their hearts Cp. Imagine the unjust man to be master of his craft, seldom making mistakes and easily correcting them; having gifts of money, speech, strength--the greatest villain bearing the highest character: and at his side let us place the just in his nobleness and simplicity--being, not seeming--without name or reward-- clothed in his justice only--the best of men who is thought to be the worst, and let him die as he has lived.
I might add but I would rather put the rest into the mouth of the panegyrists of injustice--they will tell you that the just man will be scourged, racked, bound, will have his eyes put out, and will at last be crucified literally impaled --and all this because he ought to have preferred seeming to being. How different is the case of the unjust who clings to appearance as the true reality!
His high character makes him a ruler; he can marry where he likes, trade where he likes, help his friends and hurt his enemies; having got rich by dishonesty he can worship the gods better, and will therefore be more loved by them than the just. He considered that the most important point of all had been omitted'Men are taught to be just for the sake of rewards; parents and guardians make reputation the incentive to virtue.
And other advantages are promised by them of a more solid kind, such as wealthy marriages and high offices. There are the pictures in Homer and Hesiod of fat sheep and heavy fleeces, rich corn-fields and trees toppling with fruit, which the gods provide in this life for the just. And the Orphic poets add a similar picture of another. The heroes of Musaeus and Eumolpus lie on couches at a festival, with garlands on their heads, enjoying as the meed of virtue a paradise of immortal drunkenness.
Some go further, and speak of a fair posterity in the third and fourth generation. But the wicked they bury in a slough and make them carry water in a sieve: and in this life they attribute to them the infamy which Glaucon was assuming to be the lot of the just who are supposed to be unjust. And mendicant prophets knock at rich men's doors, promising to atone for the sins of themselves or their fathers in an easy fashion with sacrifices and festive games, or with charms and invocations to get rid of an enemy good or bad by divine help and at a small charge;--they appeal to books professing to be written by Musaeus and Orpheus, and carry away the minds of whole cities, and promise to "get souls out of purgatory;" and if we refuse to listen to them, no one knows what will happen to us.
Appearance is master of truth and lord of happiness. To appearance then I will turn,--I will put on the show of virtue and trail behind me the fox of Archilochus. I hear some one saying that "wickedness is not easily concealed," to which I reply that "nothing great is easy. Only from the poets, who acknowledge that they may be appeased by sacrifices. Then why not sin and pay for indulgences out of your sin?
For if the righteous are only unpunished, still they have no further reward, while the wicked may be unpunished and have the pleasure of sinning too. But what of the world below? Nay, says the argument, there are atoning powers who will set that matter right, as the poets, who are the sons of the gods, tell us; and this is confirmed by the authority of the State.
Add good manners, and, as the wise tell us, we shall make the best of both worlds. Who that is not a miserable caitiff will refrain from smiling at the praises of justice? Even if a man knows the better part he will not be angry with others; for he knows also that more than human virtue is needed to save a man, and that he only praises justice who is incapable of injustice.
Had we been taught in early youth the power of justice and injustice inherent in the soul, and unseen by any human or divine eye, we should not have needed others to be our guardians, but every one would have been the guardian of himself. This is what I want you to show, Socrates;--other men use arguments which rather tend to strengthen the position of Thrasymachus that "might is right;" but from you I expect better things.
And please, as Glaucon said, to exclude reputation; let the just be thought unjust and the unjust just, and do you still prove to us the superiority of justice' The thesis, which for the sake of argument has been maintained by Glaucon, is the converse of that of Thrasymachus--not right is the interest of the stronger, but right is the necessity of the weaker. Starting from the same premises he carries the analysis of society a step further back;--might is still right, but the might is the weakness of the many combined against the strength of the few. There have been theories in modern as well as in ancient times which have a family likeness to the speculations of Glaucon; e.
All such theories have a kind of plausibility from their partial agreement with experience. For human nature oscillates between good and evil, and the motives of actions and the origin of institutions may be explained to a certain extent on either hypothesis according to the character or point of view of a particular thinker. The obligation of maintaining authority under all circumstances and sometimes by rather questionable means is felt strongly and has become a sort of instinct among civilized men. The divine right of kings, or more generally of governments, is one of the forms under which this natural feeling is expressed.
Nor again is there any evil which has not some accompaniment of good or pleasure; nor any good which is free from some alloy of evil; nor any noble or generous thought which may not be attended by a shadow or the ghost of a shadow of self-interest or of self- love. We know that all human actions are imperfect; but we do not therefore attribute them to the worse rather than to the better motive or principle. Such a philosophy is both foolish and false, like that opinion of the clever rogue who assumes all other men to be like himself.
And theories of this sort do not represent the real nature of the State, which is based on a vague sense of right gradually corrected and enlarged by custom and law although capable also of perversion , any more than they describe the origin of society, which is to be sought in the family and in the social and religious feelings of man. Nor do they represent the average character of individuals, which cannot be explained simply on a theory of evil, but has always a counteracting element of good.
And as men become better such theories appear more and more untruthful to them, because they are more conscious of their own disinterestedness. A little experience may make a man a cynic; a great deal will bring him back to a truer and kindlier view of the mixed nature of himself and his fellow men. The two brothers ask Socrates to prove to them that the just is happy when they have taken from him all that in which happiness is ordinarily supposed to consist. Not that there is 1 any absurdity in the attempt to frame a notion of justice apart from circumstances. For the ideal must always be a paradox when compared with the ordinary conditions of human life.
Neither the Stoical ideal nor the Christian ideal is true as a fact, but they may serve as a basis of education, and may exercise an ennobling influence. An ideal is none the worse because 'some one has made the discovery' that no such ideal was ever realized. And in a few exceptional individuals who are raised above the ordinary level of humanity, the ideal of happiness may be realized in death and misery. This may be the state which the reason deliberately approves, and which the utilitarian as well as every other moralist may be bound in certain cases to prefer.
Nor again, 2 must we forget that Plato, though he agrees generally with the view implied in the argument of the two brothers, is not expressing his own final conclusion, but rather seeking to dramatize one of the aspects of ethical truth. He is developing his idea gradually in a series of positions or situations. He is exhibiting Socrates for the first time undergoing the Socratic interrogation. Lastly, 3 the word 'happiness' involves some degree of confusion because associated in the language of modern philosophy with conscious pleasure or satisfaction, which was not equally present to his mind.
Glaucon has been drawing a picture of the misery of the just and the happiness of the unjust, to which the misery of the tyrant in Book IX is the answer and parallel. And still the unjust must appear just; that is 'the homage which vice pays to virtue. He seems to feel the difficulty of 'justifying the ways of God to man.
In their attempt to view justice as an internal principle, and in their condemnation of the poets, they anticipate him. The common life of Greece is not enough for them; they must penetrate deeper into the nature of things. It has been objected that justice is honesty in the sense of Glaucon and Adeimantus, but is taken by Socrates to mean all virtue.
May we not more truly say that the old-fashioned notion of justice is enlarged by Socrates, and becomes equivalent to universal order or well-being, first in the State, and secondly in the individual? He has found a new answer to his old question Protag. In seeking to establish the purely internal nature of justice, he is met by the fact that man is a social being, and he tries to harmonise the two opposite theses as well as he can. There is no more inconsistency in this than was inevitable in his age and country; there is no use in turning upon him the cross lights of modern philosophy, which, from some other point of view, would appear equally inconsistent.
Plato does not give the final solution of philosophical questions for us; nor can he be judged of by our standard. The remainder of the Republic is developed out of the question of the sons of Ariston. Three points are deserving of remark in what immediately followsFirst, that the answer of Socrates is altogether indirect. He does not say that happiness consists in the contemplation of the idea of justice, and still less will he be tempted to affirm the Stoical paradox that the just man can be happy on the rack.
But first he dwells on the difficulty of the problem and insists on restoring man to his natural condition, before he will answer the question at all. He too will frame an ideal, but his ideal comprehends not only abstract justice, but the whole relations of man. Under the fanciful illustration of the large letters he implies that he will only look for justice in society, and that from the State he will proceed to the individual.
His answer in substance amounts to this,--that under favourable conditions, i. That he falls into some degree of inconsistency, when in the tenth book he claims to have got rid of the rewards and honours of justice, may be admitted; for he has left those which exist in the perfect State.
And the philosopher 'who retires under the shelter of a wall' can hardly have been esteemed happy by him, at least not in this world. Still he maintains the true attitude of moral action. Let a man do his duty first, without asking whether he will be happy or not, and happiness will be the inseparable accident which attends him. First ethics, then politics--this is the order of ideas to us; the reverse is the order of history.
Only after many struggles of thought does the individual assert his right as a moral being. In early ages he is not ONE, but one of many, the citizen of a State which is prior to him; and he has no notion of good or evil apart from the law of his country or the creed of his church. And to this type he is constantly tending to revert, whenever the influence of custom, or of party spirit, or the recollection of the past becomes too strong for him.
Thirdly, we may observe the confusion or identification of the individual and the State, of ethics and politics, which pervades early Greek speculation, and even in modern times retains a certain degree of influence. The subtle difference between the collective and individual action of mankind seems to have escaped early thinkers, and we too are sometimes in danger of forgetting the conditions of united human action, whenever we either elevate politics into ethics, or lower ethics to the standard of politics.
The good man and the good citizen only coincide in the perfect State; and this perfection cannot be attained by legislation acting upon them from without, but, if at all, by education fashioning them from within. Socrates praises the sons of Ariston, 'inspired offspring of the renowned hero,' as the elegiac poet terms them; but he does not understand how they can argue so eloquently on behalf of injustice while their character shows that they are uninfluenced by their own arguments.
He knows not how to answer them, although he is afraid of deserting justice in the hour of need. He therefore makes a condition, that having weak eyes he shall be allowed to read the large letters first and then go on to the smaller, that is, he must look for justice in the State first, and will then proceed to the individual. Accordingly he begins to construct the State. Society arises out of the wants of man.
His first want is food; his second a house; his third a coat.