Analysis of Thrasymachus

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Analysis of Thrasymachus
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...
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