The ten books of The Republic written by Plato, a Greek philosopher and academic who was heavily influenced by Socrates, wrote many dialogues like this which features Socrates. This is an example of one of his many dialogues, but is just one of the many drama like philosophy pieces he wrote in his life, most of which features Socrates. In the first book of The Republic, Plato features Socrates who has a heated conversation with a younger Greek man named Thrasymachus who had put forth some certain arguments as to what justice is. In Thrassymachus's opinion justice is the advantage of the stronger against the weak. In this scene like most of Plato's works, Socrates is a wise older man. In this refutation, as in many others, Socrates asks a series of challenging questions to provoke thoughts and to challenge beliefs in attempting to cause them to rethink about their views. At the beginning, Thrasymachus was very sure of himself and also convinced that Socrates was incorrect. When Socrates started to ask him questions he first still thought he was correct. Then gradually Socrates proved him wrong, even if he didn't like to admit it, he saw his defeat. Socrates did this by asking a series of questions with many follow up questions involved and then came to conclusions based on the answers. Then more questions would follow on a related topic.

First Thrasymachus and Socrates discussed how the unjust does or does not overpower the just person. Thrasymachus thinks that because the unjust person outdoes the just,who is weaker then himself, he has more advantages, and thus better off. Socrates in this response answers him after a long series of questions about outdoing others. The just person being just, and having advantages already has no reason to outdo someone as good as they are. In fact, they do not wish to outdo someone like themselves but someone even better than they are. However unjust or ignorant people would not want to stay that way, if they know that they are ignorant. In that case then, they would want to outdo the people like themselves and the just people who are better at life then they are. And thus he concludes that because just people are already at where they mostly want to be, "A just person doesn't outdo someone like himself but someone unlike himself, whereas an unjust person outdoes both like and unlike" (391).1

Socrates brings Thrasymachus to this very conclusion or attempts to by a series of questions. He starts off with asking is a just person willing to compete with another just person, after the answer of no, he proceeded to ask if a just person willing to compete with an unjust person since Thrasymachus states that unjust people are better off then just ones. He asks Thrasymachus if a just person "claim{s} that he deserves to outdo an unjust person, and believe that it is just for him to do so, or doesn't he believe that" (391). usually individuals with a decent mind thinks that a just person will compete with an unjust person at what an unjust person wishes for. So, Thrasymachus answers that a just person would not compete with an unjust person. Socrates then asks if an unjust person wants to outdo a just person, or someone who does the right thing in which Thrasymachus answers that he would. This is a step towards defeating thrasymachus because Socrates wants to prove that just people are better, and if just people doesn't outdo each other and only unjust people try to outdo them then it's true that justice is better. Then Socrates proceeds to ask thrasymachus if an unjust person would outdo just people would they then desire to "outdo an unjust person or someone who does an unjust action, and will he strive to get the most he can for himself from everyone?" (391). Thrassymachus answered positively and if thrasymachus was correct it would not make sense a better person would surely not want to outdo themselves and outdo worse people? It's only worse people who want to outdo worse people and outdo even better people to get to the top. He clears up values with thrasymachus by asking and confirming that "An unjust person is clever and good, and a just one is neither?" (391). These are the values that Thrassymachus holds so he affirms this belief. Socrates makes the argument that means unjust people are this kind of person since they are these things, which thrasymachus affirms and says if they are something that they will be this kind of person so Socrates affirms this with him, which he agrees to.

This is what Socrates disagrees with and thinks he is able to refute, so he proceeds to do so. Socrates does not think it is true because as mentioned before, why would clever people want to outdo another person who is as clever, and his supposed inferiors? In this case Socrates goes through a few examples, one of a musician, one of a doctor and one about knowledge. He finally concludes that "Therefore, a good and clever person doesn't want to outdo those like himself but those who are unlike him and his opposite …But a bad and ignorant person wants to outdo both his like and his opposite" (392). He begins this segment by asking if he considers these terms musical and non-musical, which Thrasymachus agrees to. By agreeing, Socrates then asks which one is clever? This begins the major first point and an important point in the dialogue where circumstances change, as this is the beginnings of a great strategy to prove a point. Of course the musician is. This proves one thing the one with the ability and the one that does not want to outdo the people who are like himself is more clever and not the other way around as Thrasymachus was claiming, which is an efficient start to turning around the argument.

He asks him also if this non-musician wants to outdo a non-musician which Thrasymachus agrees to, and he then asks if a musician wishes to outdo another musician as good or a non-musician to which Thrasymachus disagrees. He then inquires of thrasymachus to clear up a definition. Socrates asks thrasymachus if "the things he's clever in, he's good in, and the things he isn't clever in, he's bad in?" (391). He then compares it to justice clearing up a few more definitions with Thrasymachus, by reminding him of the things agreed on earlier in the conversation and then comparing this to justice by applying the same terms, by saying, "Now, Thrasymachus, we found that an unjust person tries to outdo those like him and those unlike him? And that a just person won't outdo his like but his unlike? Then, a just person is like a clever and good one, and an unjust is like an ignorant and bad one?" (392). He then returns to clearing up definitions as Thrasymachus did agree that what a person was in terms of value or quality is also what type of person he is. Socrates confirms this by asking if Thrasymachus "agreed that each has the qualities of the one he resembles" (392). This is a major point in a way because thrasymachus had stated the opposite, and in this segment of the conversation he has agreed to the opposite of what he has originally said and comes to agree with socrates.

If a musician or a knowledgeable person is good and clever and that this person is like the just person and does not wish to compete with another just person or his inferiors but the unjust or the ignorant, the non-doctors or the non-musicians wants to compete with them this in many ways has already contradicted his original argument. He then points out to Thrasymachus that because he agreed with him on everything that means that "Then, a just person has turned out to be good and clever, and an unjust one ignorant and bad" (392). This is a large turn to the argument and now it has turned to a different segment of the conversation, and Socrates can now move on to refute other claims. As Socrates has now refuted one of the main points in Thrasymachus's arguments and on his way to successfully defeat the rest.

His next point he refutes is if injustice exist and if it's good, then why does it cause harm. Once more he inquires about a few things and then draws a conclusion. Thrassymachus had not only argued that injustice was superior but that it was also advantageous and good. This was because it was strong and powerful. Socrates initially refuted it by saying, "for surely it was claimed that injustice is stronger and more powerful than justice. But, now If justice is indeed wisdom and virtue, it will easily be shown to be stronger than injustice, since injustice is ignorance." (393). Socrates disagrees and disputes his claims more extensively as well. He concludes after many questions by stating injustice is harmful because "injustice has the power, first, to make whatever it arises in-whether it is a city, a family, an army, or anything else incapable of achieving anything as a unit, because of the civil wars and differences it creates, and, second, it makes that unit an enemy to itself and to what is in every way its opposite, namely, justice." (394). He goes on to explain besides tearing down bonds between people, nations, societies, and so forth it also harms oneself, by claiming that "even in a single individual, it has by its nature the very same effect. First, it makes him incapable of achieving anything, because he is in a state of civil war and not of one mind; second, it makes him his own enemy, as well as the enemy of just people." (394). In drawing such a conclusion and by using such questions to be able to draw such a conclusion, He is nicely and efficiently refuting another one of Thrasymachus's main points and thus getting closer in refuting his whole argument successfully and wisely. An interesting point that is brought forth, but not a point that is discussed at length is a point that Thrasymachus supplies at the end of this segment. Thrasymachus supplies that gods do not like injustice, and to the greeks at this time, pleasing the many Gods is a most important thing. Being pious shown in another few of Platos works The Euthyphro and the apology, is most important to the greeks at this time. Socrates elaborates in length in the apology, what is piety and why it is so important. Also this scene happens because all of them happens to be coming from and awaiting some celebration for the gods and some sort of worship. While it is not stressed here, socrates does ask "So an unjust person is also an enemy of the gods, Thrasymachus, while a just person is their friend?" (394). However, it probably rather helped in refuting the whole argument in some way, but it was certainly no support for Thrasymachus's original points. At the start of this segment the conversation started with whole nations. The first point that was made by Socrates was that if one city captured and enslaved the other there would be constant warring, and that a country does not last through that type of injustice. To provoke such a stance and to refute Thrasymachus's argument Socrates asked "Would you say that it is unjust for a city to try to enslave other cities unjustly and to holdthem in subjection when it has enslaved many of them?" (393). This didn't quite work as Thrasymachus pointed out that was what most cities did so Socrates asked instead whether "the city that becomes stronger than another achieve this power without justice, or will it need the help of justice?" (393). This Thrasymachus agreed with Socrates that the city would need the help of justice. Which brought Socrates a bit closer to refuting the point. At least now Thrasymachus agreed even in a corrupted and unjust act justice is needed for keeping some order. Even in a city justice is needed. Men without justice would not work together well and would always fight, at the end of a lengthy conversation about justice between individuals Socrates explains that "We have shown that just people are cleverer and more capable of doing things, while unjust ones aren't even able to act together for when we speak of a powerful achievement by unjust men acting together, what we say isn't altogether true. They would never have been able to keep their hands off each other if they were completely unjust. But clearly there must have been some sort of justice in them that at least prevented them from doing injustice among themselves at the same time as they were doing it to others. And it was this that enabled them to achieve what they did. When they started doing unjust things, they were only halfway corrupted by their injustice (for those who are all bad and completely unjust are completely incapable of accomplishing anything)." (394). By reaching this conclusion, it is even more of a reason to believe that justice is important and without it corruption is always the predominant form of men dealing with men. Even some of these acts, as Socrates reasons requires some justice. Justice therefore is good, and the most essential thing too society. It is the only thing that keeps things together. In the midst of this point, Socrates also points out "If the effect of injustice is to produce hatred wherever it occurs, then, whenever it arises, whether among free men or slaves, won't it cause them to hate one another, engage in civil war, and prevent them from achieving any common purpose?" (393-394). Thrasymachus agrees with this and this also helps refute the second main point. In adition to stating that justice is needed and if it was just based on injustice it would not be a good thing this also makes a good point in saying if it creates hatred, wars, and all sorts of evil along with corruption then why attempt to be any degree of injustice at all. All this helps completely refuting the second and last main point. Socrates has now proved how evil unjustice is, and why it is actually powerless, disadvantageous, creats conflicts and destruction and much more dark things, such as fighting and unwanted sexual advances.

There is one more small point to this whole argument to finish it off in order for Socrates to have completely and most of all very successfully have refuted all of Thrasymachus's argument. This is how function works, and how vices such as injustice is not necessary or wanted as nothing could work properly otherwise, and also to prove injustice does not make you happy and functioning. This is because in Thrasymachus's original argument he claims that injustice makes you most happy and not justice. The basic refutation is that everything has a function, and it's specific as only the one particular thing can do the function best. Socrates asks in the middle of the last segment of the dialogue whether "each thing to which a particular function is assigned also have a virtue?" (395). This Thrasymachus agrees too, and Socrates uses examples to aid Thrasymachus's understanding such as eyes and ears. Socrates then asks "whether anything that has a function performs it well by means of its own peculiar virtue and badly by means of its vice?" (395). Thrasymachus agrees with this and that a person could not see with blindness or hear with deafness. To finish off the refutation nicely and to complete all the refutations neatly he compares this with a soul, and they agree that it has a function, a virtue and a vice, and that it likewise can not perform well with the vice and do need the virtue. He asks this to confirm the need of a virtuous soul by inquiring whether "a bad soul rules arid takes care of things badly and that a good soul does all these things well?" (396). The souls duty is to keep order and sometimes to govern. Socrates then proceeded before explaining the last point to clarify one more definition with Thrasymachus, and he asks if "we agreed that justice is a soul's virtue, and injustice its vice?" (396). On ansering this as a yes, Socrates completed the puzzle and completely refuted the argument by demolishing completely the original argument of Thrasymachus especially since he does agree with Socrates, or goes along with it anyway saying that "a just soul and a just man will live well, and an unjust one badly. Surely anyone who lives well is blessed and happy, and anyone who doesn't is the opposite. a just person is happy, and an unjust one wretched. It profits no one to be wretched but to be happy. Injustice is never more profitable than justice." (396). This then is the final touch, and the final point, having already refuted all the other points before on completely refuting this point then, socrates has indeed, and very certainly refuted Thrasymachus's original argument well, and finely too, whether Thrasymachus likes to except this or not.


FROM THALES TO ARISTOTLE. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011