Throughout “The Republic” there exist different characters that each holds a unique importance towards the development of certain philosophies, in this case, the meaning of “justice”. Thrasymachus is such a character, which could be considered a cynic by some; he plays an imperative role in the quest for the meaning of justice in the first book of “The Republic”. While Cephalus and his son Polemarchus are unsuccessful in providing Socrates with an adequate definition of justice, Thrasymachus presents himself annoyed with the dialogue between Socrates and Polemarchus, and furthermore demands an answer from Socrates in what he believes that justice is, instead of simply questioning the rhetoric of others. While Socrates in essence does not provide an answer, Thrasymachus confidently agrees to describe his position on the subject. In actuality, Thrasymachus not only provides his own definition of justice, but yet questions the actual value of being a just person in a society or culture by presenting an argument against the just life. Furthermore it is interesting what Thrasymachus reveals about himself in being inconsistent concerning his eagerness to speak out against justice and his argument about justice.
Thrasymachus’ view of justice is that justice is the advantage of the stronger. By this Thrasymachus means that from place to place certain forms of government rule, for example, tyranny, aristocracies, and democracies; and whoever are in power or the strongest make the laws and perpetually make the laws to their own financial and political advantage. Therefore just rulers rule to the benefit of the strongest, specifically themselves.
"Don’t you know,” he said, that some cities are ruled by tyrannically, some democratically, and some aristocratically?”. . . . “And each ruling group sets down laws for its own advantage; a democracy sets down democratic laws, a tyranny, tyrannic laws; and the others do the same. And they declare that what they have set down-their own advantage- is just for the ruled, and the man who departs from it they punish as a breaker of the law and a doer of the unjust deeds. This, best of men, is what I mean: in every city the same thing is just, the advantage of the established ruling body. It surely is master; so the man who reasons rightly concludes that everywhere justice is...
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...t of Socrates, than actually contributing to the discussion and actually finding the true meaning of justice.
I believe that Thrasymachus is an imperative character in “The Republic”. Even if his views are somewhat cynical, he is necessary in the evolution of the discussion concerning justice. Thrasymachus is the cause for the biggest turning point in Book one, where the theme of the dialogue changes from the meaning of justice, to the value of actually living a just life. And even though Socrates is pleased that Thrasymachus has calmed down and quieted a bit by his arguments, he in the end has to recognize the discontent with the discussion. In his eagerness to defend the advantages of the just life, he was unable to provide a definition for justice, thus how could he recommend the just life without having an accurate representation of what it exactly is to live the just life. Even with this inconclusiveness, I as a reader and a student of this book, find it as a necessary introduction and stage in process of finding the meaning of justice and furthermore find myself satisfied with what Thrasymachus, Socrates and the other gave explored in this philosophical arena in Book one.
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