Republic: Book 2

Glaucon and Ademantus

The Charters

Plato's brothers.

Both fought in the Peloponnesian war.

Glaucon, an artist, more ambitious. Ademantus, more down to earth.

Three Classes

  1. The intrinsically desirable

  2. The extrinsically desirable

  3. The doubly-desirable

The Challenge

Show Justice is doubly-desirable.

Glaucon's Claim: It is extrinsically desirable

Glaucon's Theory

They say to do injustice is by nature good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good... Hence there arise laws and mutual covenants... justice, being at a middle point between [doing harm and suffering harm] is tolerated not as a good, but as a lesser evil

Glaucon's Arguments

  1. Gyges Argument: Justice is involuntary. Any reasonable person who can get away with injustice will ignore justice.
  1. Argument from isolation: The perfectly saint is miserable. The perfect villain lives well.

Ademantus' Arguments

  1. Parents and tutors urge justice, but for the sake, not of justice, but for the sake of the admiration and favor of others (human and divine)
  1. Everyone agrees that virtue is hard and vice can be profitable---even the gods seem (and are reported) not to favor the more virtuous.

Ademantus Anticipates objections

  1. You say it'll be hard to get away with this. Fine, let's assume we have a secret society, and that we're very persuasive.
  1. You say the gods will know. But let's be consistent. Either we believe what the poets say about the gods, in which case we can bribe them, or we believe there are no gods, in which case no retribution.

The Revised Challenge

In order to answer the challenge, while resisting these arguments, Socrates must

  1. Show "The superiority of justice over injustice"
  1. Show "The effect that they have on the possessor of them which makes one a good and the other an evil to [the possessor]" (this addresses Glaucon's arguments)
  1. Do so without appealing to reputation: show that justice is a good to its possessor "whether seen or unseen by gods or men". (this addresses Ademantus' arguments and objections)

The Just State

The Strategy

in the larger, the quantity of justice is likely to be larger and more easily discernible. I propose therefore that we enquire into the nature of justice and injustice, first as they appear in the State, and secondly in the individual

The First City

Basic social roles, farmers, traders, etc.

War and famine are avoided by abstaining from luxuries.

Justice consists "in the dealings of these citizens with one another"

In my opinion the true and healthy constitution of the state is the one which I have described.


in a more luxurious state, we shall be more likely to see how justice and injustice originate

The Fevered City

Add artisans, musicians, cooks, swineherds, physicians...

And an army (since neighboring cities will want to invade)

The Guardians

A group of people who are both passionate enough to defend the city, and gentle enough to be good citizens must be lovers of wisdom

Their Education

Careful censorship of fiction: only truth about the Gods.

Theological Principles

  1. Gods do not quarrel
  2. God is not the cause of evils (what's the argument?)
  3. God is unchanging (argument)
  4. God is incapable of falsehood (argument?)

Echoes of Xenophanes