An Introduction to Plato's Republic by Julia Annas

By Julia Annas

This interpretive creation presents distinctive perception into Plato's Republic. Stressing Plato's wish to stimulate philosophical considering in his readers, Julia Annas right here demonstrates the coherence of his major ethical argument at the nature of justice, and expounds similar suggestions of schooling, human motivation, wisdom and knowing. In a transparent systematic type, this booklet indicates that glossy ethical philosophy nonetheless has a lot to profit from Plato's try to movement 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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Polemarchus would not be unusual among people of his time i n saying that j ustice is helping your friends and harming your enemies ; this is a view natural in a world where desirable goods are in limited supply and people are predominantly perceived by others as being in competition for them . In such a world , the q u alities and virtues most ad m ired will be the ' competitive' ones, as they have been labelled, rather than the ' co-operative' ones, and the moral world will be perceived as being d ivided between relations with one's friends ( not necessarily people you like, but p eople who are on your side, co-operating in your enterprise) and one's enemies (again, not necessarily people you hate, but people who are in your way, preventing you from getting what you want) .

A democracy sets up laws of a democratic spirit, and analogously for oligarchies, 40 Book One tyrannies, and so on. In making these laws they declare that this is just for their subj ects, namely what is in their own interests, and they punish the man who transgresses them as a lawbreaker and unjust man . Thrasymachus is expanding his formula in political terms, in a way that Polemarchus did not : j ustice is analysed in terms of the relationship of government to governed , not in terms of 'how one ought to live' in general.

Dryness makes things dry, not wet. Excellence makes things excellent, not the opposite ( 3 3 5d ) . So the j ust person cannot operate so as to make others more unj ust ; and, given the steps of the argument already accepted , this means that he cannot h arm anybody. I njustice must be produced by the unj ust person, so it is he who will do any harming that is done. This is an irritating argument, because even if one agrees with the conclusioi:i, it is hard to go along with the steps of the argument.

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