Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Plato: Republic Book II

read the whole Book II and the allegory of cave in Book VII
text available at http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html
Journals due on February 27

guidance questions:
1. Glaukon mentioned three kinds of good, to which does justice belong?
2. Which problem did Adeimantos find in poems and religion? What does he want Socrates to prove?
3. What's the requirement of guardians in the proposed city?


  1. The problem Adeimantos found with poems on justice and injustice is that, "no one has ever yet adequately explained in poetry or prose, that injustice is the greatest evil the soul can contain within itself, justice the greatest good."(p.48) Adeimantos goes on to explain how they would all be to that day, if, justice and injustice would have been explained and had they been convinced of their meaning. That, "each of us would be his own best guardian, fearing that by doing injustice he might dwell with greatest evil."(p.48) Since this did not happen, they sit there, "on guard against each other's injustice.(p.48) Saying that, each person there, is likely to commit injustice against one another.
    Adeimantos believed religion gave reason for some one to commit injustice and get away with it. He pointed out how people got Homer to testify on how the gods can be persuaded form their purpose by men because of, humble prayers, sacrifice, brunt offerings and libations when a person did wrong. Showing how injustice could be over looked by the gods-assuming there is "gods."
    Adeimantos needed more then just being showed that justice is stronger then injustice. He wanted Socrates to show him, "what each of the two does in and of itself to him who has it, and, whether or not it escapes the notice of gods and men, that the one is good, and the other evil."(p.49)

  2. The three forms of good Glaucon speaks about are divided into three classes. The first being things that we desire for their consequences, the second, the things that desire for their own sake and the last and highest is the desire of both. What we desire for our own sake I interpret as the basic survival tools, essentially what an individual needs (ex: a job). The consequence is what we get in return, whether its money from our jobs/careers etc. The things we desire for our own sake seem to be the small natural things (ex: Happiness). The highest class of desire is having everything in a nut shell. He’s basically saying that all these classes go hand in hand, You can’t have justice with only one class. A person has to have both to have the third and only those individuals who reach that third class can rule because justice belongs to the highest class.

  3. Adeimantos ask Socrates to prove why Justice is more desirable than injustice. He says to Socrates “; and I would ask you to show not only the superiority which justice has over injustice, but what effect they have on the possessor of them which makes the one to be good and the other an evil to him.” (P.85) Still at this point Socrates is yet to provide a meaning for justice and why it’s better to be just than unjust. In so many words I feel that Adeimantos is asking for Socrates to prove his idea wrong. The idea of how easy it is to turn a just man unjust. He gave the example of the man who stole the magic ring from the dead man and used it to his benefit. He persuaded the queen (could he have been a poet?), killed the king and took over the kingdom. The man left behind all his righteousness and got away with whatever he could, so that everything benefited him. Adeimantos proved to Socrates that a person is so easily influenced and that deep inside people do crave to be unjust. I’m afraid to say I do agree with him to a certain degree, there’s plenty of things in life that I’ve never done that I‘ve wanted to do but because I don’t want to pay for the consequences later on when ‘judgment day’ arrives. See Adeimantos explains that we don’t satisfy those unjust desires afraid of just that, the God/s that we will later have to face in our afterlife. He says “Still I hear a voice saying that the Gods cannot be deceived, neither can they be compelled. But what if there are no Gods? Or, suppose them to have no care of human things-why in either case should we mind about concealment?”(p.84). this is a perfect example of what happens today. We question ourselves or others about our religion. For example you go to church, well at least in my experience (catholic, Christian and Pentecostal) and a good number of the congregation had an unjust history behind them. Meaning that they were either alcoholic's, drug addicts porn addicts etc… Now some actually go to church for the purpose of healing but what about those that come out and do the same thing? It becomes a game you do bad you get saved, you get saved you do bad. “For if we are just, although we may escape the vengeance of heaven, we shall lose the gains of injustice, but, if we are unjust, we shall keep the gains, and by our sinning and praying, and praying and sinning, the Gods will be propitiated, and we shall not be punished”. (p.84) This is the problem that he has with the poets they (the people) only know of the Gods through “tradition and genealogies of the poets”. (p.84) What I get from this is that the poets cause the chaos in a sense. If the poets didn’t exist people wouldn’t feel so guilty about the things they do and only then would it be so much easier to run a just State. Although because the poets are considered wise because of their gift of persuasion that’s why a man needs to have both classes of desires to reach that highest class because only then is he able to run a just State.

  4. Glaukon's levels of 'good' are as follows. Starting with the lowest class, being the "harmless pleasures and enjoyments" then the "knowledge, sight, health" and lastly, where justice is grouped in, the highest class of good, "Justice, gymnastic, caring for the sick, and various ways of money making."
    I have to say that I do not understand why "various ways of money making" would even be classified as a "good" let alone in the highest class. And it being on the same level as justice, the scale seems to be a bit off.
    I also do not understand why 'Knowledge' is even classified as good, does that make someone who is less or with no education bad or evil? I understand he value of knowledge and the importance of it of course, but I do not agree with the levels of good in this work.

    Adeimantos' problem with poetry and its inclusion of religion was that he believed story telling, if fictitious, should not be read or distributed among the highly impressioned young. He also believed that justice was not painted properly in epic writings and stated "no one has ever blamed injustice or praised justice except with a view to the glories, honours, and benefits which flow from them." This statement merely says that people act in the name of justice to look good, which is return, is not noble at all.
    Finally, according to Socrates and Adeimantus, the guardians of the city should limit what the young can see when it comes to fictitious works because in his opinion, the huge fault with poetry is that it is story "telling [of] a lie.. a bad lie." To become a good guardian of the state, Adimantus believes one must sensor certain works for the good of the people.
    I of course do not agree with MOST forms of censorship (censoring the neo-nazi party for example isn't such a bad thing), but even in our society, we feed young children fictitious lies, stories, tales to keep their innocence and youth. And I believe fiction lets us explore dimensions of our minds which we couldn't if we only read true word-for-word tales. I believe imagination is key to the general public, especially while discussing philosophy.

  5. On the second book in The Repuvlic, Plato, shows that in order for the persuassion to be universal it has to include an argument that can be valid for the general audience. This book starts after Socrates seems to have debunked Thrasymachus idea about injustice being more desirable than justice. But, the others have their own opinion about it. Glaucon expresses that the ideas that Socrates expressed to contrarest the previous point of Trhasymachus do not persuade him. And so he continues to support the statement that the injustice is preferable than justice. Glaucon points out three kinds of goods.
    1.- Good that are pleasurable and produce results.
    2.-Good because bring good results but with difficulty.
    3.- Good that brings no results but is pleasurable.
    And asks Socrates what kind of good is justice?
    Glaucon also argues that society sees justice as the qualities states in number 2.
    Another thing he points out is that being an injust men is easier than being a just man.
    The injust man is so injust that showcases himself as just without being so, and that is ultimately the biggest injustice.
    On Aeschylus's words: a just man is that one who wants to be good rather than seem good.
    The requirements for the guardians is that they should be spirited enough to defend the city, must be aggressive but at the same time be able to tone it down by means of his philosophical thinking so he can be gentle and moderate so they can protect the people and cohabitate with eachother.

  6. Tawnya Ridi

    I found Republic Book II to be more along the lines of what our modern society consideres to be justice. In the begining of Book II Glaukon states “it is a mean or a compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation.” This statement, which is only to explain the beginging of the argument gives a good foundation for the subject matter. Which is what is just and unjust and is it better to be a justice man or an injustice man?

    Glaukon asks Socrates how he would arrange goods. Meanwhile, he states the three types of goods according to himself, which is 1) harmless pleasures and enjoyments with no conseqences. 2) Knowledge, sight, and health, which is desired for its results. 3) Gymnastics, care of the sick, and various ways of money making. Justice belongs to the latter form of good that which is good for goods sake not for personal gain. Glaukon believes that “For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the indivual than justice”. However, he believes a man does good to keep up the appearance that he is good, and to avoid the raft that can come along when justice is served to an unjust man.

  7. Mariah Irizarry, Republic Book II

    Glaucon mentions that three types of goods are 1) the things we want because of their results, 2)the things we desire only because we believe they should be desired, and 3)desiring things for the sake of being just and also because of their consequences. According to Glaucon, people only practice the act of justice, because they are afraid if they don't life would be much worse for them, and fear bad karma as a consequence for being unjust. Adeimantus wants Socrates to prove that justice is truly desired for the sake of being just; that the rewards of being just is not the reason people act so. As the story continues, Socrates creates a hypothetical city where there is an army of guardians to protect it. The guardians must be brave and strong to fight off enemies, "Well, and your guardian must be brave if he is to fight well? Certainly" Also, the guardians must "be dangerous to their enemies, and gentle to their friends." Socrates soon realizes that all the traits these guardians must attain is somewhat impossible, so he declares that these guardians must be trained and educated in order to teach the people of the city to be honest and good. In the end Socrates states, "that our guardians, as far as men can be, should be true worshippers of the gods and like them." It is clear that the only way for one to be just, is to worship the gods and to act and believe as the gods do.

  8. I am beginning this post a little different….the reading seemed to be a bit familiar seeing as we had the opportunity to read the Republic Book I a second time. It was definitely a continuation so it seemed a more familiar in terms of understanding and “predicting” what was next to follow in this chapter. As we are reading more Socrates passages, I feel that I am getting a better feel of his insights and how he essentially affected his “disciplines”, students, and/or followers. Side note – I noticed a few typos so I had to read a few sentences over several times in order to get a better understanding as to what was actually being relayed…

    “Harmless pleasures and enjoyments, which delight us at the time for a certain amount of time - although nothing comes from them”

    “Knowledge, sight and health. These are desirable not just for what they are in face-value, but also for their results/benefits.”

    “Gymnastics, the care of the sick, and the workings/efforts of a doctor, while all are means of making money – do us good. However, we regard them as disagreeable and no one would truly choose to do these efforts on their own accord but we do only for the sake of the reward that we receive from them.”

    Of course, this is my interpretation of the three kinds of goods that Glaucon mentioned. I do not understand how gymnastics played a role but I will be sure to ask this in class. The other points, I thought were valid and interesting, however perhaps I misinterpreted the text but, I do feel that people choose to be physicians and doctors not just for the money, but for the sake of helping people. After they are established, then by all means, they benefit from the money, but some initially study for the benefits of helping people.

  9. Moving onto Adeimantos, it seemed to me that he was posing three questions and/or inquires to Socrates. He spoke about parents and their children and the Gods being persuaded, and mankind as a whole approaching and appealing to the poets as authorities. I took his remarks as rather inconclusive because he had three valid points – I just could not understand which one he wanted Socrates to answer or if he just wanted to proclaim these statements.

     Adeimantos mentions that parents set their sons and children up so that they appear to be on the “right path” to justice. This “set-up” allows the children to be viewed as if they are on their way to earning a reputable and advantaged status - as well as on their way to a means of PIETY, or religious devotion. An example of this was when Adeimantos asked why is it that the Gods could be persuaded by gifts, deeds and offerings. He used Musaeus and his son as an example because essentially, by partaking in this persuasion, parents and guardians are investing in themselves and their families in order to stay in the “good graces of justice” for many generations to come. This can definitely translate to the here and now because parents do this currently on a daily basis. It is not unusual to see parents introducing their children to society and civil groups so that they can benefit from the associations early in life that will carry on in their adult years.
     My last point, Adeimantos mentions that mankind, as a whole has an unjust and unrighteous way of looking at virtue and the Gods because a simple man will approach those in authority, namely poets, and will make claims, promises, and attempts obviously for their own benefit. These simple men claim that they have been afforded special “powers” from the Gods and because of which, they can do things, whether just or unjust, for the poets. This point was quite interesting to me because if we hadn’t read and truly paid attention to the overall meaning of The Apology, one could have thought that Socrates was essentially doing the same thing as these simple men. The only difference is that while Socrates admitted he was given powers from the Gods (that he was a wise man), he did not use these in an unjust manner. Instead, he was on a quest to find out why he was the chosen one and not the poets, politicians, or craftsmen.

    Socrates and Glaucon finally determined that there is no such thing as a good guardian. After “creating” an imaginary state, they looked at all of the qualities of a guardian (i.e. quick thinking, brave, swift in being able to overtake an enemy, and invincible in spirit) and determined that it is impossible for a guardian to be able to be gentle to their friends and dangerous to their enemies. This is quite interesting because, coming back to present day, our military soldiers must be able to conquer and “wear” these qualities. Perhaps this is why when they return home, they are different people – mentally and sometimes physically. The restraints that they must carry with them for so long in combat become so deeply embedded that they cannot seem to “unmask” when they return home….

  10. Glaucon asked Socrates to persuade him into classifying justice into three kinds of goods; it seemed, as a form of rebuttal. In Glaucon’s opening statement, he was set out to prove that justice on the contrary had nothing to do with the three kinds of goods. He stated that men who practice justice do so against their own will, of necessity, but not as a good. He also stated that all men believed to do injustice, was more profitable to the individual than justice. His brother concluded in the argument that all men were unjust and the unjust were only pretending to be just for his advantage and what was beneficial for him only. While the just only agrees to be just because he is a coward or weak individual and lacks the capabilities of being unjust, whereas if he did have the courage, he would eventually turn unjust.

    As to my surprise, Socrates took an entirely different approach in his argument against Glaucon and his brother Adiemantus. Rather than disputing justice and injustice in a direct manner as in Socrates previous dialogues, he disputed Glaucon’s story of Gyges to prove his point of justice. He stated that it was the responsibility of the adults for raising the children and teaching them right from wrong and to mold them in the way of teaching them truths from birth. The State also had the responsibility of not allowing the poets and eulogist to repeat such lies and offensive stories of the Gods to children who cannot discern right from wrong or good from evil. Socrates conclusion was that the result of these story tellings to the young could easily coerce and influence the children from youth that telling lies is just.

    Although I agree in most parts with all three men, I had some concerns myself of various statements made. I must disagree with Glaucon’s statement that the unjust wants to be unjust as a reality and not just seem to be unjust. In reality, no one wants to seem or view themselves to be unjust because they know there are consequences and repercussion as in Adiemantus statement that in some way you will pay for all evil you do.

    Socrates made a statement that young men should not be told that in committing the worst of crimes he is far from doing anything outrageous. Would it not also be correct to say that whether you tell him or not, and individual is free to do his own will by nature? Parents teach their kids everyday from birth right from wrong and truth from lies, yet they still choose by their own free will to do as they please whether good or bad. I also disagreed when Socrates said that bravest and wisest soul be least confused and deranged by any external influence. Good people everyday that have been doing good from birth and have never done any wrong or evil can be influenced and coerced into doing something unjust perhaps cause of some sort of change in their life or surroundings. There is no one on this earth that can say they have never done some type of injustice whether small or large. If that were so, then we would be admitting that we were a God or equal to God.

  11. The three kinds of good that Glaukon mentioned to Socrates were: (1) "...some which we welcome for their own sakes, and independently of their consequences, as, for example, harmless pleasures and enjoyments, which delight us at the time, although nothing follows from them." This being the good that comes simply from our enjoyment without the need of any type of reward (2) "...knowledge, sight, health, which are desirable not only in themselves, but also for their results" the basic goods that we require to keep us strong and healthy in order to live a long life. &(3) "gymnastic, and the care of the sick, and the physician's art; also the various ways of money-making --these do us good but we regard them as disagreeable; and no one would choose them for their own sakes, but only for the sake of some reward or result which flows from them." This is the third and last class of goods. This class of goods is the class of goods that benefits us solely from the reward we receive upon completion of the service. With this being said, Glaukon then asks Socrates in which of the three classes he would place justice. Socrates then tells him that he would place justice in the highest class of good being the good which brings happiness to the person through their own sake and that of their results. That good being the third good, the good which one does for the reward. What I understood to be the problem that adeimantos found in poems and religion is that with poetry, although they may speak out about being just and how bad injustice is, not many people are persuaded by it so not many people who are unjust will change their ways. The problem with religion, would be that because religion plays a very strong role for most people, many people will commit unjust acts in the name of their religion. This meaning that people will either use their religion as an excuse to be unjust or they will be so attached to their religion that it may bring them to commit an unjust act because it is to defend the religion which they strongly believe in and commit themselves to.

  12. Before I can discuss the requirements of the guardians, I would like to distinguish sight from vision.

    Sight – 1. Perception of objects by use of the eyes. 2. Mental perception or regard. 3. (informal) Something unusual, surprising or shocking or distressing. 4. Anything that is seen. 5. (informal) Anything unpleasant and undesirable to see.

    Vision – 1. The act or power of sensing without the eyes. 2. The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be. 3. A vivid imaginative conception or anticipation. 4. An experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present often under an influence of a divine or other agency.

    As you can see, sight has to do with what is seen and vision has to do with what is perceived to be seen. While sight is what is seen as an object of physical nature, vision is what is perceived by the mental nature.

    Socrates starts by describing prisoners that are in darkness in a cave/den that can only perceive to see objects by shadows and hear sounds conversation. (Vision) It’s not until they come out of the darkness that they try to recognize the light and objects that they envisioned in the cave. (Sight) Socrates really does not distinguish between sight and vision in their proper definition as he relates the ascending to the light as good to the soul while descending into darkness as having to do with wickedness, corruption, or evil to the soul. He used this metaphorical comparison between good and light and evil and darkness too set the standards for the requirements of the guardians.

    The guardians must remain humble by nature in recognizing that knowledge relates the goodness of the soul but too much knowledge can lead power that can be used to do evil and leading back the soul to the darkness. The guardian must remain humble at all times and not let power coerce them yet they must be reminded of the prisoner in the dark cave. Better to have knowledge and power and use it wisely where all can benefit to do greater good than to try to use it selfishly to benefit themselves which will result in corruption and injustice.

    Socrates initially required that all guardians should be knowledgeable in arithmetic, science, and astronomy. Socrates contradicted himself in many ways throughout his argument, first in identifying the difference between sight and vision, then stating that the guardians should be educated in these areas, and then saying that in all this dialect is the most important.

    His example of the finger was absurd in saying that the sight of the eye will conclude that if you see one finger you see them all. That to me is vision not sight. Vision will perceive all the fingers to be just a multitude of fingers while sight will distinguish that all fingers are not of the same size. What you may perceive may not be what you see. Sight can also be deceitful in perceiving an object only to what the mind may tell you it is. This can be perceived as knowledge and truth of the soul in which I believe Socrates was trying to conclude in the requirements of the guardians.

  13. In the republic book to Glaucon mention the three class of good in to which Socrates believes that justice belongs to the highest class. The three classes that Glaucon refers to are a.thing we desire for our own sakes, and their consequences b. things that are desirable themselves but also for their results c.is a hybrid of the positives of the two classes which is things we desire for our own sakes and for their results. Justice is placed in the highest class which is the hybrid of the first two classes

  14. On the subject of the nature of justice one must enquire into the nature of god in order for us to understand it. The definition of God is tainted by the poets and artists who depict him as a magician who appears in different forms, but he is that which cannot be seen, therefore, does not transform into shapes we already know. The contradiction of man, is how he contradicts himself so readily with what is passed on as the truth by the many. In this case, the belief that god would alter himself, but has no need to alter himself for anything due to his absolute perfection. Having a motive to change appearance is a sign of deception, which he is not responsible for. All stories involving quarrels with God cannot be considered in defining the nature of him for he will not contradict himself the way we do. He is the cause of all that is good, and not the reason for any misery. This is also often mistakened by the masses. They are taught to think that God punishes cruely and that one must suffer the injustices of the world in order to be happy, but that's just a means to keep the masses under tight rule by those in power; so that one day, they don't just all unite and say, "we're through being unhappy fools! Let's override those in charge... suppressing us inhumanely with these hours of wage and unfair treatment!" They will say no such thing, becuase they are taught to be falsely happy with their own condition as is. One must rejoice in the truth, not the lie. However, the reverse applies. If suffering should make us happy, why are the masses suffering while being so "unhappy?" Deprivation of satisfaction with the things we are told to believe keep us in this state, and hence, we are on the constant search for the true answers, I hope. The poets can decieve the masses with their prophesies, but one must be taught to discern what they hear and see, or they will believe anything. Is the believer of any religious text happier than the philosopher? I say not, for by former definition one is only happy when presented with the truth and thus must be able to see it is for what it is having no antagonizing regard toward it. Otherwise, they are mistaken like the lot casually decieving themselves and living day by day unaffected by the "untruths." The scary thing is that Plato's Republic rests on the foundation of censoring the sort of writing that can lead to "corruption of the youth" He wants to shadow a just state with the inclusion of just people and the teaching of these norms. Socrates also says that we should percieve anyone who blasphemizes the true image or nature of god as ignorant or lacking in the knowledge of the true god. This includes anyone who uses his name as the shifter of shape/form, and illusionist and the author of all things, rather than the author of all that is good.

  15. The process of nurturing a proper guardian to me seems to be the process of grooming a protector of the unjust. If we are to adopt the idea that the desired guardian is to have the temperament of a philosopher, then we are also to accept Socrates's statement that a good guardian is an impossibility since no man is in possession of a perfect balance between gentle nature and great spirit. For example, Thrasymachus, who vehemently defended injustice and attacked justice. Socrates proposes the censorship of "casual tales which may have been devised by casual persons" as a heuristic for grooming a guardian. However, for many Sophists like Thrasymachus, Socrates was considered one of these "casual persons", which seems to imply that Thrasymachus follows a similar direction in his denouncement of justice and Socrates.

  16. Glaukon illustrates the three kinds of good to which justice belongs,when he conversed with socrates. He said " They say that to do injustice is,by nature good; to suffer injustices,evil: but that the evil is greater than the good." Which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation;and justice, being at the middlee point between the two, is toloerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil.
    Adeimantos wants socrates to prove" how superiority which justice has over injustice, but what effect they have on the possessor of them which makes the one to be a good and the other an evil to him whether seen or unseen by the gods and men. Adeimantos felt poems and religion are censured only by laws and opinions.
    People worship these gods by giving sacrifices and monetary offerings. He suggests the gods can be decieved and persuaded from wealth which is not beneficial to the true justices. The real injustices are when they despise and overlook the poor an less fortunate. There are much injustice in the gods who suppose to practice justice. The requirements of the guardians in the proposed city is as follows; the ability to unite in himself philosophy, his soul full of spirit, he must be courageos and brave, as wellas quick to conquer their enemies yet gentle to their friends.