The Defintion of Justice by Socrates

Topics: Justice, Ethics, Plato Pages: 4 (1276 words) Published: September 26, 2010
Definiton of Justice

The Republic examines many different aspects of the human condition. Plato reveals his opinions of Socrates by showing how other humans function and interact with one another. Socrates looks very closely at morality and the most important values people choose to hold. One value Socrates and his colleagues spend a lot of time looking at is the principle of justice. Multiple definitions of justice are laid out while Socrates analyzes and questions the validity of them. As each definition begins to form it shows how self-interest shapes the progression of each characters’, Cephalus, Polemarchus and Thrasymachus, arguments and helps contributes to the definition of justice.

The first definition of justice comes through a conversation between Socrates and Cephalus. Socrates and Cephalus are reflecting upon their old age, particularly Cephalus’, assessing their lives, when Cephalus states that his wealth "contributes a great deal to not cheating or lying to any man against one’s will, and, moreover, to not departing for that other place frightened because one owes some sacrifices to a god or money to a human being." (Bloom 7). This comment leads to Socrates questioning Cephalus on his definition of justice. Socrates asks if Cephalus really believes that justice is simply telling the truth and giving back what one takes. Socrates feels this definition is too simple and questions whether there is an exception where it is ‘"to do these very things sometimes just and sometimes unjust?"’(Bloom 7). Socrates continues by suggesting a circumstance where if someone was to borrow weapons from a friend and then that friend demands it back when they are enraged, would it be just to return the weapons? Cephalus realizes and accepts the point Socrates makes. Although Cephalus' definition would support the returning the weapons, both Socrates and Cephalus agree that it would in fact not be the right thing to do. That situation would be what is...
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