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Analysis Of Glaucon’s Views On Justice In Plato’s Republic

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In this essay I will explore and talk about Glaucon’s third objection in the first paragraph, Plato’s response in the second, and Plato’s answer in the last paragraph. In Plato’s Republic, he uses Socrates, Glaucon and other philosophers’ conversations and arguments surrounding the ideas of justice.

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In a society, justice is a social consciousness which makes it ‘harmonious’ and individually it is a ‘human virtue’ which makes a person good. Plato thinks performing justice is fulfilling. On contrary, Glaucon argues that an unjust person lives better than a just person. Glaucon disagrees with Plato’s definition of justice and gives three objections. Because there are no motives of being just, injustice is a natural human condition. He also uses the story of The Ring of Gyges to explain the fact that being just is not a compulsion so no one is doing just willingly. This leads to the third point that the life of a total unjust man is better than the life of a total just man. However, Plato did not have a proper response for his objections, instead, he brings up another point which Plato describes a tyrannical person as unjust. I agree with Plato when he argues that the threat of a cold-hearted but clear-minded vicious amoralist is more substantial than a tyrannical-souled person because one is being purely controlled and the other is purely bad without being controlled.

Plato uses the conversations between him, Glaucon, and the philosophists to show the readers his opinion. Glaucon’s third objection is that a perfectly unjust man lives a better life than a perfectly just man. The reason is that, a perfectly just man means that he does not need any reward or good consequences to do just things, so taking away the rewards, will he keep being just? I feel that Glaucon is insisting that without any goods being just there is no reason to be justice. Even if there is, the reason of being justice is not for justice itself, it is for the reputation to be believed as a just person. On the other hand, a perfectly unjust man, being extreme unjust, does not want reputations so he can live more freely. Glaucon and Plato have different thoughts on the reason for justice and this ties in with Glaucon’s three goods. There are three kinds of good, the first being for the good itself, such as the happiness it brings. The second one is the good itself and the consequences it has, where he gives an example of knowledge and health. The last is only because of the consequences it brings, just like going to the doctors when one is sick. Plato thinks that the second good is what people views as just. However, Glaucon thinks the third to be the ultimate reason why people perform justice. Plato writes a response to Glaucon’s third objection to say that an unjust man is not happy because they are the slaves of their own desires.

Glaucon thinks that people do not do unjust things because they are afraid of the consequences, however, Socrates thinks the other way. He claims that people do just things for the good itself such as happiness and also for the consequences. Plato is a rationalist, he praises rationality. He thinks that a rational person can control his anger and desires to rule the city without impulse. If a tyrannical person is to rule a city, the city reflect his conditions, as he described lawless and in pain. He describes that people are enslaved by their own desires and passions “do not refrain from anything, no matter how foolish or shameful. ” Plato brings up an statement that the soul of a just person is peaceful, on contrary of the unjust soul or the tyrannical soul is “poor and insatiable. ” He also compares one’s soul with a city and argues that in a tyrannical city everyone becomes a slave, which reflects the tyrant’s soul. I do not agree with Plato in his statement about being a slave to one’s own desires. In my opinion, the world “slave” is too extreme. I think people might be enslaved by their desire in short terms but not so much with long terms. People can be distracted by many other things when it is long term. For example, if one’s goal is to be a doctor, he or she may change their mind halfway through their lives and move on to something else they wish to do. On the other hand, for short term an example would be when a person would have an urge or desire to check their phone, go on social media, or talk to their friends rather than studying.

Plato did not answer Glaucon’s third objection directly, however, he extended the answer to stories about two kinds of tyrannies in a soul. People are often enslaved by their nature desires and passion this shows during slumber which has nothing to do with whether the person is just or not while it is not a problem for Plato unless the person is amoral which “what he used to become occasionally in his dreams he has now permanently while awake. ” The former is with conscience and coherence and the latter is “the worst type of man, then. He is surely the one who, when awake, is like the dreaming person we described earlier. ” Plato says that a tyrannical soul is an unhealthy soul, full of disorders, fear and regret while a soul full with justice should be peaceful. Moreover, Plato insists that if a city is only full with slaves the city will become poor and crazy, therefore, it is better to be just than unjust. Plato’s example of a rich man not afraid of having a few slaves because it is a small amount. However, if a rich man has a lot of slaves he would be anxious and afraid of being rebelled against. Due to the sheer amount of people, the rich man cannot control all of them. This results in the only choice for the rich man is to compromise them and at the end he cannot control them nor himself.

To conclude, Plato and Glaucon both have interesting thoughts and they both have their own good points in their arguments, which allows us readers to have different insight on multiple perspectives. Plato gradually developed his thoughts with justice, then moved on to Glaucon’s objections, and lastly introduced a new concept to indirectly comment on his third objection. He compared a tyrannical souled person to a vicious amoralist, hence with different views on justice the reader gained more knowledge about it. Tyrannical person also describing being enslaved by everyone’s desires. Plato also used examples to demonstrate the mindset that a just person should hold.

15 July 2020

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