Justice is determined by…

Thrasymachus (or Thrasymakos) was an adversary of Socrates in Plato’s Republic. In Book I of the Republic, Thrasymachus attempts to disagree with Socrates concerning the nature of Justice. Thrasymachus wants to win.

Thrasy (his street name :))claims that justice is nothing but the advantage of the ruler(s) of a community.  The strong decide what is just (ie. Might makes right). Thrasy further claims that whatever is done by the ruler is, by definition, Just. Socrates challenges this claim via a series of questions.  Ultimately, Socrates asks Thrasy that if a ruler is enforcing a rule that he thinks is helping him keep power, but is actually hurting him…then doesn’t the ruler act against his own good.  Isn’t Thrasy missing an ingredient in his definition of Justice?

Just power needs to be focused by something. Otherwise, it’s a wildfire burning uncontrollably.

Wisdom, Socrates contends, establishes Justice not power.

Isn’t, in fact, wisdom equivalent to power or at least the retention of power?  Maybe wisdom in ruling is actually more important than power itself?  We are more likely to lose the power that we have if we do not know how to use it appropriately…just as we are to lose money quickly if we are fools with it.

It's not Thrasymachus, but you get the point.

Socrates could use force if he needed to.

A ruler may obtain power through force, accident, or birth-right, but can only keep it via education and wisdom.  Thrasymachus’ claim that Justice is the advantage of the stronger is undermined by Socrates’ questions concerning education.

However, if you look closer, you will see that even thought Thrasymachus is silenced (implying that he has lost the argument), it isn’t quite that simple.  Socrates’ argument was the stronger one.  Doesn’t Socrates prove Thrasy right by beating him up in the argument?  Socrates somehow combines his claim with Thrasy’s claim.  Justice IS the advantage of the stronger, but the best Justice is the wise man with power.  That is Socrates.

I take on the name of Thrasymachus because I too have been defeated by Socrates/Plato and have become a follower of sorts.  I used to think that power was the end of all action (like Nietzsche’s Will To Power), but was corrected by reading many of Plato’s dialogs featuring Socrates.  I’ve been corrupted and now follow the double headed philosopher Socrates/Plato.

The opinions in these blog are my own musings.  Generally, these writings are my attempt at self exploration as an educator and as a man.  Numerous versions of a blog are written before I feel courageous enough to finally publish one.  I will always have a couple dozen half written one’s just laying around.  Every once in a while I’ll publish something before its ready to motivate myself to get it ready (I know…it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense).

It is a type of beneficial mental disease, I think, that I talk to and chastise myself and my interlocutors (like Socrates, the Eliatic Stranger, and Timaeus) as I write and rewrite passages.  A version, perhaps, of Socrates’ daimonion.

Xkcd...a great online comic...check it out.

About Thrasymachus

2013 Northwest ISD teacher of the year, Humanities Texas 2012 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, and 2011 Outstanding Educator of North Texas Award (North Central Texas College). I'm currently a Regional Digital Learning Consultant with the Education Service Center Region 11 in Ft. Worth, Texas and a college government educator who incorporates philosophy, technology & humor. A student through and through, I walk with my students in their learning. Most importantly, I'm blessed with the 3 most perfect kids eva! I love on them ery day!!!
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1 Response to Justice is determined by…

  1. Frederick says:

    Hi, I am from Australia.
    Please find an introduction to a unique “Philosopher” via this essay on Justice

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