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Plato wrote the Republic in 380 BC. The first book of Plato’s Republic is concerned with justice. What is justice and why should one behave justly are two questions which Socrates and hisinterlocutors attempt to answer. The first definition of justice is proposed by Cephalus. Cephalus is an old, wise, and very wealthy man. He provides tremendous insight about old age.
He says that as one grows older, the passions relax and one feels as if he has escaped from amad and furious monster, and that one experiences a sense of calm and freedom. He alsoasserts that the greatest benefit his wealth has conferred upon him is that he never needed tointentionally or unintentionally deceive another man; for when a man nears the finish of hislife, and thinks about his past transgressions, he starts to fear the potential discipline he willendure in life following death. Cephalus concludes that justice is paying debts and telling thetruth.
Socrates invalidates Cephalus’ meaning of justice by placing a few cases in which it isn’tsimply to come clean or to pay one’s obligations. For example, it is not just to return weapons,entrusted to your care, to a friend who is not in his right senses. if a friend who is not in hisright senses approaches you and asks where other man is so that he may harm him, then it isnot just to tell him where that man is. Cephalus son Polemarchus stated that justice is doing good to friends and evil to enemies, Socrates refusesthis definition of justice by saying that the just man never does evil even to his enemies, just like a musicianwith his music cannot make a man unmusical, similarly a just man by justice cannot make a man unjust.
Thrasymarchus provides the third definition, he states that justice is interest of the stronger, he furtherexplains that all types of governments make laws according to their own interest and these laws are justicewhich they deliver to their citizens, anyone who breaks the law is on unjust, Socrates relied by saying thatrulers are liable to air and pass laws that are not in their best interest of justice is obeying the law then justiceis not always in the interest of the stronger, Socrates concludes that he has not adequately described the truenature of justice but rather has only identified a few superficial attributes consequences of behaving justly.
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