Right vs. Wrong
In Plato’s Republic, Book 1, various interlocutors make arguments on the definition of justice. Cephalus proposes the definition of justice as “speaking the truth and paying whatever debts one has incurred” (Plato, 331c). I will prove Cephalus’ argument true by analyzing the structure and his use of examples, discussing possible errors in his reasoning and finally rebutting those who disagree. Justice is knowing right versus wrong and acting on that understanding. Cephalus begins by explaining meetings he has with men of his same age where the majority “recites a litany of all the evils old age has caused them” (Plato, 329b). They reminisce on the pleasures of their youth and blame old age as the root cause for their feeling deprived. Cephalus uses this premise and the conclusion of old age as a stepping stone to his real conclusion. Cephalus uses an example of a conversation he overhears between Sophocles and another man to support his argument. Sophocles compares the “pleasures” the group of old men were lamenting over earlier as slavery and explains how age has made him free from that previous hold on him. “I am very glad to have escaped from all that, like a slave who has escaped from a deranged and savage master. You see, old age brings peace and freedom from all such things” (Plato, 329c). Cephalus then states to Socrates, “the real cause isn’t old age, but the way people live” (Plato, 329d). He also refutes any argument that wealth or lack thereof is to blame by comparing a situation Themistocles encountered, when a man from Seriphus pointed out that his high reputation was only due to his city, which he replied “had he been a Seriphian, he would not be famous; but nor would the other, had he been an Athenian” (Plato, 329e). Cephalus argues that this comparison parallels with those who are poor and struggle with old age. “A good person would not easily bear old age if it were coupled with poverty, but one who wasn’t good would not be...
Cited: Plato. Republic. Classics of Moral and Political Theory. Ed. Michael L. Morgan. Fourth ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2011. 75-77. Print.
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