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The Republic by Plato - Barron's Booknotes
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JUSTICE IS HAPPINESS (576b-588a)

Socrates claims that the tyrant is the most miserable of men. He attempts to prove this statement by advancing three different arguments: 1. the tyrant is actually a terrified slave (576c- 580c); 2. the tyrant is not a judge of true pleasure (580d-583a); and 3. the tyrant cannot know pure pleasure (583b-588a).

3. Socrates introduces his first argument by referring Glaucon to the analogy between the state and the soul. He seeks to prove that the tyrannical state and soul are wretched, whereas the just state and soul are happy. The other types of constitutions fall, in various gradations, between the most miserable and the most happy. Also, Socrates gets Glaucon to agree that only a man ruled by reason-the philosopher-is capable of judging the best life from the worst. Now Socrates is ready to begin.

In a tyranny all people are enslaved, including the best men, the men of reason. Likewise, Socrates says, in the soul of the tyrant himself the best and most reasonable parts are enslaved, while the worst parts, the appetites, play the role of the tyrant and so are in control. Thus, the tyrant himself is tyrannized and is a slave to his appetites.

Moreover, the tyrant is utterly dependent on external things. This dependency fills him with fear and anxiety. For example, Socrates says to consider a wealthy citizen of Athens who owns many slaves. As long as he is protected by the laws of the state, he has nothing to fear. But suppose that suddenly he and his family are cast upon an island, outside of the law, with their fifty or more slaves. Will he not fear that the slaves will rise up against him? Will he not spend his days attempting to subdue his slaves through flattery and promises of freedom? Also, suppose the man becomes surrounded by neighbors who are opposed to slavery. He then finds that he is his slaves' slave and has no friends to help him.

In sum, this man's plight is the same as the tyrant's. The tyrant is unhappy in every way. He is surrounded by enemies from without (nobody likes a tyrant) and he is controlled by monstrous appetites and terrors from within.



4. Socrates' second argument is based on the tripartite soul: reason, emotion, appetite. According to Socrates each part of the soul has its own specific pleasure. Reason loves learning and wisdom; emotion loves victory and honor; appetite loves money and beautiful sensations. The characters of men also seem to fall into these three classes, so that the dominant love of an individual reveals the part of the soul that rules his personality. Each class of individuals naturally praises its own specific love as the most pleasurable.

However, the man who knows all three types of pleasure will be the best judge of which pleasure is the greatest. The philosopher is such a man. Further, the philosopher is in general best qualified to judge anything at all because he not only has experience of the three pleasures, but his experience is accompanied by intelligence and his judgments are informed by the art of discussion. Therefore, Socrates says, "the man of intelligence speaks with authority when he commends his own life," which, of course, is the life of learning and of philosophy. Socrates gives the life of honor second place and the life of money takes last place.

5. The third and final argument turns on the distinction between the pure pleasures of the philosopher and the mixed pleasures of the tyrant. Socrates introduces his proof by revealing the conclusion he intends to reach: "Other pleasure than that of the intelligence is not altogether even real or pure, but is a kind of scene painting," is an illusion.

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