Thrasymachus and Socrates

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In Plato’s The Republic, we, the readers, are presented with two characters that have opposing views on a simple, yet elusive question: what is justice? In this paper, I will explain Thrasymachus’ definition of justice, as well as Socrates’s rebuttals and differences in opinion. In addition, I will comment on the different arguments made by both Socrates and Thrasymachus, and offer critical commentary and examples to illustrate my agreement or disagreement with the particular argument at hand.

The debate between Thrasymachus and Socrates begins when Thrasymachus gives his definition of justice in a very self-interested form. Thrasymachus believes that justice is only present to benefit the ruler, or the one in charge – and for that matter any one in charge can change the meaning of justice to accommodate their needs (343c). Thrasymachus provides a very complex example supporting his claim. He states that the man that is willing to cheat and be unjust to achieve success will be by far the best, and be better than the just man.

Thrasymachus’s definition of justice is incoherent and hard to conceptualize within the context of the debate. What remains unclear is Thrasymachus’s ideal definition of justice. At first, Thrasymachus definition of justice after passage 338c remains disputable. Justice, Thrasymachus states, “… is simply what is good for the stronger” (338c). Therefore, on its own, this statement could infer that, what can benefit the stronger is just and therefore can be beneficial to the weaker as well. Therefore Thrasymachus definition can be taken in different contexts and used to one’s discretion. Additionally, Thrasymachus changes his definition of justice multiple times during the discussion. Thrasymachus states t...

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...crates argument because there are many just ways in today’s context, where many have become better than their equals, without being unjust. If we take the example of Yahoo and Google, both search engines, Google has surpassed Yahoo by being more ambitious and offering a better service without being unjust, so far as we know. Therefore, Socrates argument is flawed because, in today’s society as well as in Socrates, there is no room for competition, which we cannot show the differences between people. One professor surely is not better than the other, but one professor might have better ideas than the other which could make him recognized more-so than the other professor. Consequently, if we keep this in Socrates context, the professor with the ingenious ideas can never, and should never try to surpass another professor, since that would be an unjust thing to do.
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