GLAUCON-KANT-REVISION - A revision of Kants response to...

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A revision of Kant’s response to Glaucon’s challenge Within the opening pages of book two of Plato’s collection of Socratic dialogue, The Republic we are presented with a conversation between Glaucon and Socrates on the nature of justice. Glaucon presents an argument to which he asks Socrates to respond, stating that individuals who act in a just manner act in such a way out of necessity for fear of being punished if they act wrongly. Furthermore, he argues that the life of the unjust man is better than the life of the just man. In addressing his first point, Glaucon brings up the legend of Gyges—a shepherd who was said to have discovered a ring that had the power to render him invisible at will. Upon the realization that this ring would allow him to act without consequences, Gyges seduced the queen and with her help murdered the king and took over the kingdom. Glaucon’s purpose in presenting this story is to bring to light an aspect of human nature; individuals refrain from committing injustice merely because they fear the consequences, not because they actually value justice. Glaucon proposes a hypothetical instance in which there are two rings; one ring is given to a just man and another is just to an unjust man. “No man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked. i ” As Glaucon says, no man, just or not, would be able to obtain this ring and not do unjust things for personal gain. If there were to be a man who was able to do this, thought people would praise him to his face, in private they would condemn him as an idiot. To address his second point (being that the unjust man’s life is better than the life of the just man), Glaucon fabricates an instance in which there is a just man and an unjust man. The unjust man has reached
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the highest level of injustice--being seen as just when he is not. Thus, he reaps all the rewards of the just individual. He has reign over his city, is free to marry whomever he likes, and trades wherever and in whatever manner pleases him. Because he has no problem with acting in an unjust way, he is able to make corrupt dealings and get the better of those around him. In turn he becomes rich and is able to use his riches to help his friends, hurt his enemies, and give abundant gifts and sacrifices to the gods. The just man on the other hand is viewed as wholly unjust. “Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought of as the worst…let him continue thus to the hour of death.
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This note was uploaded on 10/01/2009 for the course PHIL 262g at USC.

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GLAUCON-KANT-REVISION - A revision of Kants response to...

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