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The Republic by Plato - Barron's Booknotes
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3. Flustered by the turn the discussion has taken, Thrasymachus insults Socrates (who, you can imagine, is smiling tolerantly, as one might smile at an angry, chastised child). Then he plunges into a speech, thinking, no doubt, that by drawing on his powers of persuasive rhetoric he can win the argument and the admiration of the attentive young men. After all, Socrates' preceding argument was not an especially good one. But Thrasymachus' rhetoric does not help his cause. He makes a rather tactless comparison between shepherds who fatten sheep for their own appetites and rulers who fatten people for the same reason. And he raises a controversial issue that will guide much of the discussion of The Republic-the greatest happiness belongs to the wrongdoers (tyrants, for example), not to those who are wronged.

4. Instead of immediately attacking this last statement, Socrates presents his belief that true rulers do not rule willingly. Again he compares the function of rulers to the functions of other professionals. He says that the aim of true rulers is to provide for the welfare of the state and that true rulers are more or less forced into leadership in order to avoid being ruled by people of less ability than themselves. Why should rulers want to rule? Is it not better to be provided for than to provide for others? Because leadership is such a demanding, often thankless task, rulers, like other craftsmen, deserve financial rewards for their services.

NOTE: In this section you should note the comparisons that Socrates introduces into the argument. He compares the usefulness of rulers to the usefulness of doctors, merchants, ship captains, and horse breeders. This technique is sometimes called "argument from analogy." Plato relies heavily on such arguments throughout The Republic.



In part, Plato employs analogy to make the point that statesmanship is like any other useful art or craft because it takes special skill and knowledge. But also Plato uses argument from analogy to persuade you to accept his views. Thus argument from analogy is a technique of persuasive rhetoric. With all forms of persuasive rhetoric ("propaganda" is the pejorative word), you should maintain a critical outlook. Comparisons of unlike things may be misleading, may be unfair and, more significantly, may cause you to accept as true a statement that is fals2e. And yet arguments from analogy often clarify otherwise foggy concepts.

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The Republic by Plato - Barron's Booknotes
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