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Refutation of Polemarch’s Definition of Justice in Plato’s "Republic"

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In the Plato’s “Republic” the foundation for Polemarchus’ definition of Justice mostly is following in his father’s footsteps with the concept of helping friends and harming enemies, changing from the individual to the collective good. In this paper, I will argue that Polemarchus’ definition of Justice is really a total failure against Socrates’ refutation due to Polemarchus shaky & very uncertain definition of what constitutes a friend and an enemy.

The foundation for Polemarchus definition of Justice starts with the concept of an eye for an eye that echoes his father’s Cephalus view of “talking truth and to give what actually is owed”. To basically start off there are a couple of glaring problems with Cephalus definition of justice. The first is that to definitely give what generally is owed has many for all intents and purposes major exceptions that in the name of justice you cannot actually give back what actually is owed because it just would not be just to do so, which definitely is quite significant.

You can see in this one example of such in the book “Man takes the weapon from a friend when he generally is of sound mind, and when he demands them back when he essentially is mad, one shouldn’t give back such a thing”. What Socrates for the most part is pointing out here is that with Cephalus definition of justice that giving back what actually is owed he actually is pointing out how this could really lead to pretty bad outcomes which in this example could lead to death to the person who previously held the weapon if he gave it back to him in a big way. Also at the end of this paragraph Socrates also points out that you shouldn’t definitely tell the person the truth or more specifically the whole truth because in doing so it would be doing more harm than good in a subtle way.

Using the previous samples if someone for all intents and purposes told the person why he was not going to actually give back the weapon it could infuriate the person even more which would make the whole situation worse, which is fairly significant and is not justice. This is the basic foundation for Polemarchus argument that justice particularly is “doing pretty good to friends and harm to enemies” When he starts talking to Socrates after Cephalus left to do his sacrifices is when Polemarchus generally says the same definition but according to Simonides is really to be believed which Socrates refutes with the same argument, which kind of is quite significant.

This is where the definition of doing good to friends and doing bad to enemies comes about with “For he supposes that friends definitely owe it to friends to for the most part to do some particularly good and nothing bad” and is literally said right here “Justice is doing generally good to friends and harm to enemies”. This concept is generally very for all intents and purposes a very difficult one because it also specifically has some of the same basic problems as before with this definition of justice. One of the flaws that comes up for this definition of justice is the concept of appearance vs reality and who really is a friend and who really is an enemy, which is fairly significant.

You can never really know who particularly is actually a friend and who’s an enemy unless they really pass some sort of test which for the most part is not really a test it’s just definitely your basically own subjective view on who’s really good and who’s bad, which is fairly significant issue that you will never be able to fix. So someone could appear to be a friend but in reality that person might actually kind of be an enemy and vice versa where someone might appear definitely bad but actually really be very good in a really major way.

Going back to the first example the person’s view could basically be that giving back the weapon while of unsound mind is unjust but that actual person the weapon originally belonged to that it’s unjust not to give back the weapon since it actually is his, which shows the problem of justice as in someone views it will always be unjust and it is a subjective view that is individualistic. Socrates points this out here “But don’t sort of human actually make mistakes about this, so that actually many kind of seem to actually be good, although they essentially are not and vice versa” which to Polemarchus then agrees that people definitely do really make mistakes on who specifically is fairly good and who specifically is bad.

This definition that Polemarchus essentially has shown really is that it is for the pretty common good for the whole of the community for the unjust to be punished and for the just to help a friend which Polemarchus pretty basically much took Cephalus definition of justice helping the individual which kind of is to basically tell the truth and give what is owed and particularly moved it to the other side of justice which is for the common good for the whole community.

Polemarchus definition then slightly changes in the following pages to that “people that seem good, and are, basically is a friend while those that basically seem good but aren’t for all intents and purposes are bad and the actually exact same goes for bad”. This run’s into the same problem as before as how would you actually for the most part tell who essentially is who There is no definite way to tell that and again the concept of appearance vs reality thing generally is still a problem that still has no answer to tell who is who.

Also this new extended definition would then definitely imply that Polemarchus thinks that really good men that could actually particularly be good for all intents and purposes could be bad and that bad men who actually are bad could be specifically be seen as friends. This would potentially lead to a just man harming or injuring potentially other definitely good men who actually have done nothing pretty wrong and when you essentially are harming people who for all intents and purposes do not basically deserve it that is not justice.

Socrates also refutes this idea with analogies of harming animals and how when a dog actually is harmed kind of whether it is better or worse, which particularly is fairly significant. Which then Polemarchus mostly replies that the dog becomes sort of worse by virtue, which kind of is quite significant. This implies that when a basically human particularly is harmed that they really do not basically become kind of more just but the opposite of that they mostly become even more unjust which Socrates exactly mostly says here, “Should we not particularly assert the same sort of human beings, my comrade that when they essentially are harmed, they really become kind of worse with respect to actually human virtue”.

Socrates then goes on to basically ask if Justice basically is part of human virtue which Polemarchus does agree that justice for all intents and purposes is a part of human virtue in a way. So this would basically mean that harming someone will specifically do nothing but specifically make unjust men even sort of worse as Socrates analogies points out. With this agreement Polemarchus goes on to say that basically that to make the unjust man just definitely is to inflict harm or to for the most part give them a punishment which Socrates refutes by saying that any punishment towards a bad person or enemy does not generally make them more just but is actually makes them even more unjust which leads to even worse people.

It literally makes them definitely more unjust and thus a fairly worse of a person and the definition of justice with this in mind specifically is not the work of a just man but literally by the work of an unjust man, which is fairly significant as this would signify that justice is actually for unjust people. With that in mind, it for the most part means that it really does not essentially do any justice but the opposite, injustice which is evidenced here when Socrates says as such “Then it definitely is not the work of a just man to harm either a friend or anyone else, Polemarchus, but of his opposite, the unjust man”.

As seen from the essay, the definition of justice according to Polemarchus is not really justice or even done by the just man but it’s opposite the unjust man and thus fails when Socrates refutes shows some examples and analogies that show the obvious failures of this definition of justice.

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Refutation Of Polemarch’s Definition Of Justice In Plato’s “Republic”. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from
“Refutation Of Polemarch’s Definition Of Justice In Plato’s “Republic”.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
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