RINGOF GYGES TALE TOLD IN PLATO’S REPUBLIC
Inthe story of Gyges the Lydian, Plato’s book II of the Republic,Glaucon’s intrudes in following Socrates reply to Thrasymachusabout justice. He goes on and takes advantage of the situation in thestory and uses this opportunity to defend the idea justice is onlypracticed by people by the mere fear of the outcome of failing topractice it. Plato as the author of the book which stars Socrates,the main objective is to understand what justice is, and unlike otherwritten arguments, the Republic is bold enough to provide solutionsas well as answers to questions that most of the rest of writtendialogues do not do. Indeed, Plato combines both mathematical andtheoretical tasks in the society so as to be able to provide thedefinition of justice that satisfies both the interests of thesociety as well as individuals
Inhis quest to classify justice, Plato performs an experiment bysuggesting an ideal society where everyone has an incentive basedchore. He goes on to clarify that in such an ideal society, thereexists three kinds of individuals the leaders, the craftsmen and theauxiliaries. In such a society, each of these individuals has socialresponsibilities. The rulers are in charge of leading the society,the craftsmen in charge of producing the basic needs in order tosatisfy society’s needs, and lastly, the auxiliaries in charge ofgenerating rules in the society.1Thereare at least four basic virtues in Greece that have been widelyaccepted by people moderation, courage, justice as well as wisdom.According to Plato, these basic virtues are indispensable in an idealsociety. Plato, having identified these basic virtues in the society,says that it is very possible for us to find justice. He uses anelimination system to find justice.
Thefirst elementary virtue is wisdom, where Plato relates it to therulers of the society. He believes that for the rulers to draw soundjudgment regarding societal issues they must utilize wisdom or betterstill there has to be some thought processes involved. Next is thevirtue of courage, where in relation to the societal auxiliaries, thearmy of the society needs a lot of courage so as to protect thesociety at all costs without dread. Last but not least, Platoidentifies moderation relative to the craftsmen in the society. Thisis to mean that the craftsmen need moderation as a virtue to attainpeace in the society. He claims that individuals must recognize theirplaces in the society in the sense that they are all not equal.Persons should concede to their rulers and fellow subjects too.
Havingbeen able to relate the three primary societal virtues in thesociety, Plato links all these virtues to justice. He adds that forjustice to be felt there should be harmony in the society, whichimplies that every individual in the society does his or her own jobas a perfect way of knowing your place in the society. By so doingPlato has already been able to shade a light to the definition ofjustice by introducing a balance of wisdom, courage and moderation inthe society. By using an elimination method, Plato has argued withlogic in defining the meaning of justice in the society. Though thismight be satisfactory, he has yet to bring forth answers to readersthat relate justice to individuals.
Accordingto Plato, for justice to be transmitted to individuals in thesociety, he separated three aspects from a harmonious soul. Thesethree aspects from the harmonious soul include the appetitive, therational and the spirited aspects. Using logic to argue out thepresence of three different parts in the soul, Plato employs variouskinds of principle namely the principle of honor in relation to ourlikes, the principle of relatives and lastly the principle ofrelatives. Plato was able to divide the soul into three differentaspects by the using the example of thirst as his logic argument. Inorder for the presence of a rationale, Plato employs the principle ofopposites and relatives and the appetitive section of the soulbecause they are meticulously linked to each other, while at the sametime very different.
Bythe use of his thirst example, Plato states that in the appetitivepart of the soul, an individual would be enthusiastic to consume anykind of drink irrespective of the taste preference and the quality ofthe beverage because he or she has a craving, hence not willing tomake a choice. On the other hand, the rational section of the soulconsiders that the individual should be cautious of the drink he orshe is willing to take as it is not only taking a drink to satisfythe thirst but rather it should be something drinkable. The drinkshould be able to satisfy thirst by considering factors like tasteand preference.
Withan equilibrium achieved in the three aspects of the soul, Plato isable to provide a logical argument in defining justice within anindividual. In agreement with the three divisions of the soul, Platohas helped note the presence of justice within an individual.However, we can either concur or disagree with Plato’s argument bycreating our own mental experiment. For instance, in a situationwhere an individual would want to rob a bank, we can put to testPlato’s experiment of justice within an individual. In order tohave a comfortable and independent life, humans will always desire tohave cash or rather get financial richness. By so, the appetitivepart of the soul will be so much willing to rob a bank so as toattain financial stability.2
However,the reasonable or rather other side of the soul would urge you not tosteal anything since it’s morally wrong and totally unacceptable tothe society as you would be punished once caught. More so you wouldnot want anyone to steal from you. The spirited section of the soulwould then argue that it is not right to steal since once caught andpunished you might be injured beyond recovering back to your normalhealth. In such a mental experiment we can note that both thespirited as well as the reasonable segments of the soul will deteryou from pursuing your thirst of stealing due to the expected outcomethat overweigh the benefits hence justice is met by not robbing thebank.
ThroughPlato’s ideal mental experiment we can conquer that he hassatisfactorily defined justice both at the society as well as at anindividual’s levels. However he is yet to provide a comprehensivedefinition of justice that links both the societal justice as well asthe individual justice at the same time. He is able to achieve thisby providing similarities of both situations. First, Plato relatesboth wisdom and the rational part of the soul to the rulers, where heargues that since the rulers are responsible for governing the towns,there is a need for them to be wise and rational. They should notfall victims of desire and greed as it will not benefit the societybut rather personal needs. In order for the rulers to make decisionsthat will benefit the general society, they should be wise andrational.3
NextPlato tries and relates courage and the spirited section of the soulto the auxiliaries, where he argues that since the auxiliaries areresponsible for protecting the town, they should not fear anythingregardless of the risks pain or even pleasure involved. By linkingauxiliaries to honor, it implies that every battle in honor requirescourage since an auxiliary will have no fear in order to avoid beingashamed. Lastly by relating the appetitive section of the soul andmoderateness to the craftsmen, the craftsmen are responsible forfulfilling the societal desires and needs just like the appetitivepart of the soul that are solely responsible for satisfyingindividual needs as well as desires. Since both the craftsmen and theappetitive part work towards satisfying desires, they can thereforebe linked to closely to moderateness.
Accordingto Plato, he has accurately been able to argue that in presence ofmoderation, wisdom and courage there will be justice. By this, we cancorrectly define justice at both the societal as well as atindividual’s levels of understanding. Plato has also been able todefine justice mathematically, and basing on his formulae we canconquer that it is correct as all these factors do apply in an idealsociety.4
Matthews,Gareth, "The Ring Of Gyges", Thinking:The Journal Of Philosophy For Children,12/4 (1996),
1 Gareth Matthews, "The Ring Of Gyges", Thinking: The Journal Of Philosophy For Children, 12/4 (1996)
2 Gareth Matthews, "The Ring Of Gyges", Thinking: The Journal Of Philosophy For Children, 12/4 (1996)
3 Gareth Matthews, "The Ring Of Gyges", Thinking: The Journal Of Philosophy For Children, 12/4 (1996)
4 Gareth Matthews, "The Ring Of Gyges", Thinking: The Journal Of Philosophy For Children, 12/4 (1996), 1-1.