The Ring of Gyges

Topics: Justice, Ethics, Plato Pages: 3 (1010 words) Published: September 29, 2013

Ring of Gyges Response
Throughout the back-and-forth debate between Socrates and his comrades on the definition of justice, many questions are raised about the integrity and justice of mankind. Does man practice justice because he truly believes in it? Or perhaps because humans fear the consequences of committing injustice? In Book II, Glaucon attempts to tackle the question and points out 3 kinds of justice: the kind that is good in itself, the kind that is good in itself and its results, and the kind that is good in its results but unpleasant. He then further ventures into these ideas of justice by claiming “the best is to do injustice without paying the penalty; the worst is to suffer it without being able to take revenge” (35). Glaucon invokes the legend of the Ring of Gyges to further emphasize his argument.

The story begins with a shepherd in Lydia. After a violent thunderstorm and earthquake, the ground breaks open and creates a chasm at the place where he was tending to his sheep. While in the chasm, the shepherd discovers a corpse wearing a gold ring on its finger. He snatches the ring and comes out of the chasm. The shepherd soon realizes that if he turned the setting of the ring inward, he became invisible; if he turned it outward, he would become visible again. After this bizarre realization, he reaps the benefits of invisibility and seduces the queen, kills the king, and takes over the kingdom. This peculiar and rather disturbing tale led me to question the integrity of all mankind. Glaucon claims that if there were two rings, one worn by a just and the other by an unjust person, that both would follow the same path of injustice. Socrates believes that justice is good in itself and its results. I agree with the points that Glaucon raised in his story. Most people fear committing injustices not because it’s morally wrong, but because they fear the consequences. This does not mean that the instant one was to slip on the magical...
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