Plato’s The Republic
By the beginning of Book II of Plato’s The Republic, many questions have been brought upon the table involving the definition of justice. Polemarchus argues that justice is doing good to your friends and harm to your enemies. Thrasymachus argues that justice is the advantage of the stronger. Socrates finds flaws in both of these definitions, but discovers another important question about the nature of justice. Socrates wants to know whether the just life or the unjust life is better, or happier, but all arguments thus far have proved unsatisfactory. Book II aims to further outline this complicated question, and hopefully lead them closer to an answer. Glaucon isn’t satisfied by the previous explanations on the nature of justice and injustice. To satisfy his hunger for knowledge, he proposes a challenge to Socrates. Glaucon wants Socrates to explain how justice could be intrinsically good, or, in other words, how justice could be welcomed for its own sake, such as we welcome joy for its own sake. Glaucon expresses this challenge by defining to Socrates the three kinds of goods. Intrinsic goods, he says, are those that are welcomed for their own sake, and not for what rewards could possibly come from them. Mixed goods are those that we welcome for their own sake, but also for what possible rewards could come from them. Instrumental goods are those that we only welcome for the rewards that come from them. Glaucon believes that Socrates could prove that justice is a mixed good by proving exactly how it is instrinsic. Glaucon, in an attempt to reiterate Thrasymachus’s argument in Book I, goes on to present a three-part argument proving that injustice is better than justice. In his first point, Glaucon explains the common conception of justice and it’s origins. Essentially, the natural origin of justice comes from the fact that people like doing injustice, but it is worse to endure justice. Because of this, everyone comes to an agreement not to do...
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