The Third Man Argument: Aristotle's Critique of Forms . In the dialogue, Socrates asks Glaucon to imagine a cave, in which prisoners are kept. Glaucon, eager to hear Socrates demonstrate that justice is worthy of Finally, Socrates arrives at the nature of the relations between men. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Glaucon, one of Socrates's young companions, explains what they would like.
This dialogue provides Plato's version of a speech given by Socrates to defend himself against the charges of corrupting the youth and impiety, charges that Socrates ultimately was convicted of and sentenced to death. This dialogue contains one have the most frequently cited lines in the entire history of Western thought.
When speaking to the jury to explain why he can't simply stop what he is doing, why he can't stop annoying people by constantly questioning them about what they believe and why, Socrates says that he can't stop examining his own life because the unexamined life is not worth living. That statement provides tremendous insight into Socrates's understanding as to what it means to live a good life. What Socrates is telling us is that the person who merely wakes up in the morning, goes to work, does his job, comes home, watches television, goes to bed, and then repeats this process, day in and day out for his entire life, never really reflecting on what he ought to be doing or what he values and why, that that life is not worth living.
But for Socrates, participating in this type of rational reflection about what you value and why, that is, doing philosophy, is not enough by itself in order to live a good life. What is also needed is that an individual becomes a master of himself, using his reason to rein in his passions, as well as doing what he can to help promote the stability of his community.
And these topics are explored directly in Plato's dialogue Republic. While most people think of Republic as a political dialogue that focuses on the nature of justice, it is perhaps better understood as a dialogue focusing on virtue and the role of philosophy, community, and the state in helping to create the conditions that make living well possible. At the beginning of book two, Glaucon, one of Socrates's interlocutors in the dialogue, poses a challenge to Socrates.
Glaucon tells the fable of the Ring of Gyges, which, like the One Ring in the Lord of the Rings, has the power to make its wearer invisible. He notes that the person who wears the ring, through various types of deception, would be able to get anything he wanted: The moral of this story seems to be that it's not important to actually be just, but rather merely to appear to be just.
And so his challenge to Socrates is: Isn't it simply necessary for that person to appear to be just? In the remaining eight and a half books of Republic, Socrates attempts to address this challenge. His solution is to see justice not just as a political condition, but also as a state of a person's soul.
The apparently inevitable conclusion is that the best man and the one who lives best would be the one who appears to be just, but manages to practice injustice when it suits his purposes. Glaucon is actually rather coy about all of this.
He presents this argument as not being his own opinion, but a view that is commonly, but powerfully held. Glaucon proposes a sharp contrast between two different men: This man will be very likely to suffer harm from his fellows. In direct contrast, we have an unjust man who appears just. This man will be much more likely to prosper and be rewarded by his fellows. Socrates must show that the second man the unjust man who appears just does not live well and that the first man the just man who appears unjust does live well.
You might want to notice that here, among other things, we are getting our first major hint that the Republic, is an expanded and revised version of the Apology. Socrates himself is exactly such a man: He is being tacitly asked to defend himself, and to defend the philosophic life, the pursuit of virtue as knowledge, all over again.
Plato will answer this question by showing or claiming to show that justice is not arbitrary and conventional; that it is not something external to nature and based upon force and constraint. Instead, Plato will show or claim to that justice is actually the right condition of the human soul or psyche and that it is something demanded by the very nature of human beings.
In fact Plato will in a sense deduce or derive a just state from a theory of the nature of the soul. Such a theory would be able to identify the constituent elements in the soul and identify the proper relation among these elements. Later on, in fact, one of the ways we can examine in order to offer criticisms of Plato will not be to question his political prescriptions directly, but to question the view of human nature, the nature of the soul, from which his politics is derived, and by which it is defended.
Plato, however, does not move directly into offering this theory of the nature of the soul. Instead, in sectionshe suggests that we will be able to see things more clearly if we first examine them on a macro-level, on a large scale.
Perhaps, Socrates suggests, by constructing a just city from its birth or origins we will be able to see what justice is more clearly. So first, he suggests, we should look for the nature and structure of justice inside the model of a city, and only afterwards try to see the same nature and structure in an individual and ask whether it necessarily brings with it well-being and happiness.
Although this question is very important to Plato, it is equally important to his strategy to first lay out the nature of justice, and to some extent to keep separate the question of justice in the individual and in the city.
At this point Socrates seems to agree with Glaucon that the city, and therefore its rules and its justice, have their origin in weakness. That is, he begins from the postulate that individuals on their own are weak, they lack self-sufficiency.
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The needs of the body for food, shelter, pleasure and security, those needs corresponding to the part of the soul Plato calls the "appetitive", are not met spontaneously by nature.
Moreover, says Socrates, individuals are born with different talents. It would make sense that each person should specialize in that role for which he or she is best suited. Some will be farmers, and some artisans. There will be a basic and rudimentary division of labour of some kind. Socrates seems to be quite happy with this city, and willing to stop with it.
It will, says Socrates, have neither justice nor injustice. It is a place where contentment is possible and it is untroubled by internal power struggles or by war with its neighbours.
But there is a problem here, or actually two problems: Glaucon is dissatisfied unless there is luxury and great variety. But is there really any reason to go beyond the city that Glaucon despises?
The Good Life: Plato
A second problem has to do with the fact that Socrates, at the very beginning, has already assumed that on the basis of varying natural talents, people have to be assigned different and exclusive roles. Now this might be necessary for the sake of absolutely maximum efficiency, but is it necessary?
Especially for a city that lives in peace with its neighbours and is not driven to pursue ever more in the way of material goods? Maximum efficiency is one thing, but allowing each person to do several or many different things could still easily mean that things are being done well enough.
Maximum efficiency does not automatically trump adequacy. The argument in fact seems to be that only where person does one thing exclusively, does he do that thing supremely well. It is only the specialist who can find fame or glory.