An Introduction to Plato's Republic by Julia Annas

By Julia Annas

This interpretive advent offers designated perception into Plato's Republic. Stressing Plato's wish to stimulate philosophical considering in his readers, Julia Annas the following demonstrates the coherence of his major ethical argument at the nature of justice, and expounds similar techniques of schooling, human motivation, wisdom and realizing. In a transparent systematic style, this publication exhibits that glossy ethical philosophy nonetheless has a lot to benefit from Plato's try and stream the point of interest from questions of what acts the simply individual should practice to the extra profound questions of what kind of individual the simply individual must be.

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What field is the skill of j ustice concerned with ? Once the question has been put this way, Polemarchus is gradually cornered . The characteristic scope of j ustice, he says, is to do good to your friends and harm to your enemies. But to help your friends you have to help them in some specific way . But the best person to help you when you are ill is a doctor, and the best person when you are at sea is a navigator. The j ust man has no expertise of his own . Polemarchus retreats to the claim that the j ust man is specially useful in business, where his honesty can be relied on.

Thrasymachus was interested in the ruler only as long as he unreftectingly assumed that the ruler would be, in fact, the m an who was the stronger, the one with the greatest command of resources and power. I t is, in fact, fairly natural for Thrasymachus to make this assumption. Governments do not usually last long if they cease to control the sources of power ; a weak government is, on the whole, a government on its way out. By the time we get to the end of the Book we can see why it was especially n atural for Thrasymachus to make this assumption, for he tends to think of people as constantly in competition, and of governments as ruling by force because if they gave the opportunity for competition they would be unseated .

The man who can cure can also bring about disease ; the man with an ability to keep a thing safe can also steal it. A skill is always a skill for 'doing opposites' :. if you are skilled in doing X you are also skilled in doing the opposite of X. So on Polemarchus' conception the j ust man, who is good at keeping things safe, will also be good at appropriating them, and so will turn out to be 'a sort of thief . Polemarchus does not like this conclusion, but he admits that this is where the argument leads ( 334ag ) .

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