Glaucon's The Republic: An Analysis

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This essay will attempt to show that the case against justice by Glaucon in book II of ‘The Republic’ is very convincing. Glaucon’s three fold case for injustice will be evaluated, namely in the form of: the origins of justice, the Gyges’ ring example, and finally the comparison of two lives. Socrates’ attempted response will then be discussed, with particular focus on his conception of justice in a city state. The main strength of Glaucon’s arguments will be their seeming basis in how mankind really behaves, given the opportunity. In Book II of ‘The Republic’, Glaucon along with his brother Adeimantus, ‘want to know what justice and injustice are and what power each itself has when it’s by itself in the soul.’1 In other words, what is the intrinsic value of each one? Glaucon then goes on to state that all goods fall into one of three categories: • Those we value only for their own sake eg. pleasure • Those we value only for their consequences eg physical training • Those we value for both their consequences and for their own sake eg knowledge (the ‘highest class’) Glaucon then proceeds to ask Socrates which category justice…show more content…
This is because the origin of justice is merely out of utility, rather than intrinsic value. This argument is not without problems however. It is purely a hypothetical account of where justice came from, and while it may be generally believed to be so, it does not make it a fact. Socrates offers an alternate account in the form of the origin of a city. He starts by saying that ‘none of us is self-sufficient,’4 and then goes on to list basic needs of simple individuals (such as food, shelter, clothing etc). He then goes on to state that a city runs optimally ‘if each person does one thing for which he is naturally suited,’5 or in other words if individuals specialize in a particular craft, to which his interlocutors

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