Glaucon And Thrasymacus Essay Research Paper Glaucon

Glaucon And Thrasymacus Essay, Research Paper

Glaucon and Thrasymachus

Plato s Republic has six main characters, Glaucon, Adeimantus,

Thrasymachus, Cephalus, Polymarchus and Socrates. The Republic is a

dialogue between Socrates and each of these five men, the topic is

justice, what it means to be just, who is just and why they choose to

be just. Each man holds his own opinion and tries to convince

Socrates that theirs is the correct answer. For the use of this

paper I will be discussing in depth the characters of Thrasymachus

and Glaucon. These two characters have very different insights as to

the question of justice, they are in effect opposites.

The first of these two men that Socrates speaks with is

Thrasymachus. When Socrates has a dialogue with someone he uses a

system called refutation. Refutation is best described as a

four-fold process. First Socrates will get his opponent to elicit an

opinion, then he will ask for clarification of the opinion given, he

will then point out some obvious flaws in the argument of his

opponent and then he will give this other person a way out, before he

tears their argument to pieces. The first mistake that one can make

when talking to Socrates is to give a strong opinion right off the

bat, this gives the appearance that this person thinks that he has

great knowledge of this subject. Socrates knows that one can not

possible know every angle of something and therefor begins to cut

down the opinion held. Thrasymachus makes this mistake very early

on. The opinion stated by him is that justice is the advantage of

the strong, or might makes right. To Thrasymachus justice is only

universal in the it is always the stronger who control it, no matter

the culture or society. Thrasymachus puts himself in immediate

danger of Socrates by stating this strong opinion so early on.

Thrasymachus also goes on to say that given the chance every man is

unjust, and that justice is less profitable then injustice is to

man. Thrasymachus says that the just man everywhere has less then

the unjust man (342e). This idea of Thrasymachus relates directly

to Aristotle s Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle says that everything

lawful is in a sense just (1129b, 10). Assuming that the laws are

created by those who are in power, this quote directly coincides with

what Thrasymachus is saying. Thrasymachus appears to be an

unvirtuous man, greedy and power-hungry. He (Thrasymachus) appears

at first glance to be an intellectual man, however in seeing him talk

with Socrates we watch his strong opinion crumble into a pile of

doubts and questions.

Glaucon takes on this dialogue with Socrates a little

differently from how Thrasymachus had gone about it. Glaucon has

been listening to Socrates take on these other men, and he thinks

that he kind of understands Socrates way of questioning. Instead of

posing a direct opinion as Thrasymachus, Cephalus and Polymarchus had

done, Glaucon tries to play along with Socrates game, he does not

mention any opinion of his own. After the discussions with

Thrasymachus and the other two men, Socrates believes that he has

conquered the dialogue and that now he may retreat back to his home.

Glaucon and Adeimantus, realizing that really nothing substantial

about whether or not it is better to be just or unjust has been

established, asks Socrates if he had wanted only to have seemed to

persuade them, or if he really had wanted to persuade them.

Socrates, never able to back down from a good discussion, admits that

he would love to be able to truly persuade the men to believe that

justice is better than injustice. Glaucon shows us immediately that

he is a knowledgeable man, first in that he calls Socrates on this

and second that he does not make a statement of his own opinion.

Glaucon merely restates and argues Thrasymachus opinion again.

Glaucon tells a story that backs up what Thrasymachus said about

everyone, given the chance, would be unjust. In doing this we see

that Glaucon is even more wise than we thought, he uses a technique

that was used by homer and the other pre-Pre-Socratics, that of story

telling. By the time we got to Plato this art of telling a story to

teach, rather than lecturing is basically lost. The story told is

that of the Ring of Gyges , in the story a man goes down into a

hole in the earth and encounters a hollow bronze horse, and within

the horse there is a corpse. Upon the corpse a ring is found that

gives the bearer of it the ability to become invisible. This man,

who had appeared to be just in his life, proceeded to kill the king,

sleep with the queen and take over his kingdom. This story is great

for Thrasymachus argument that if given the chance, any just man

will do the same as an unjust man would. Basically saying that we

are only just because people are watching, the idea of justice that

we have is superficial being that we only abide by it to keep

ourselves from looking bad and getting into trouble. It appears that

Glaucon is trying to be a virtuous man, in the dialogue we see that

he is in pursuit of knowledge and that he does not consider himself

wise in the least; to me knowing that you do not know is a virtue in

itself. Both Socrates and Glaucon share this virtue of not knowing.

It also appears that Glaucon is courageous, Socrates undoubtedly

carries a reputation with him of cutting seemingly great men up in to

little pieces. Glaucon put himself on the line, he risked his honor,

which to the ancient Greeks was the most important thing. Had

Glaucon made a fool of himself in this dialogue that is how he would

have been remembered throughout time, and being remembered as a fool

was obviously a very shameful thing to the ancient Greeks. In having

this courage Glaucon shows us again that he is a virtuous man.

Thrasymachus and Glaucon are two very different characters who

bring two very different points of view to the dialogue. One

thinking himself to be wise and finding out otherwise, by drowning

himself in his own opinions; the other, satisfied with knowing that

he is not wise, but in the same still striving to learn from others

and the world around him.


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