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Glaucon in the Republic

Essay by   •  October 9, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,053 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,710 Views

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In Plato's Republic, Glaucon is introduced to the reader as a man who loves honor, sex, and luxury. As The Republic progresses through books and Socrates' arguments of how and why these flaws make the soul unhappy began to piece together, Glaucon relates some of these cases to his own life, and begins to see how Socrates' line of reasoning makes more sense than his own. Once Glaucon comes to this realization, he embarks on a path of change on his outlook of what happiness is, and this change is evidenced by the way he responds during he and Socrates' discourse.

The first change in character begins with Glaucon's position on whether or not the unjust soul is happier than the just soul. This is seen in Book 4, 445b, when he argues against Socrates' proposal that they define justice in the individual. He feels that this is a ridiculous inquiry because, through Socrates' proofs, unjust behavior causes the soul to be in a state of unrest and torment. Glaucon believes that the query warrants no further investigation, since an individual whose soul is unbalanced cannot possibly be happy. Through his objections to pursue the matter further, it can be seen that Glaucon has already begun to transform, though gradually. He sees now, through his own admission, that material possessions and power is not worth having "when his soul Ð'- the very thing by which he lives Ð'- is ruined and in turmoil." These feelings stem from the conclusion of the three classes within the city (thus, the three parts of the soul) and Socrates' definition of justice in the individual. He proves that the person who is just is the one who does not permit one part of the soul to rule over the other part (or, in terms of the city, one who does not allow the various classes to meddle with each other's work).

Another change exhibited by Glaucon is in Book 3, 413c. Socrates comments that "the Ð''victims of magic' are those who change their mind because they are under the spell of pleasure or fear." In reply to this, Glaucon says that, in his opinion, everything that deceives does so by casting a spell. Although the two are not specifically talking about anyone in particular, Glaucon's response shows that he believes that gratification and desire are deceiving, they only "cast a spell" to trick you into believing that you are happy. This is a considerable breakthrough on his part, being that in previous discussions, it was publicized that Glaucon felt that happiness in the soul was the cause of what one possessed or how one's desires were fulfilled.

In Book 7, during Socrates' explanation of the Allegory of the Cave, Glaucon's changed perception is further revealed. When Socrates' begins talking about the allegory at 515c, Glaucon describes Socrates' image as being "strange", where Socrates' interjects to tell him that the people he is describing are "like us". This seems to spark Glaucon's interest even more. Glaucon shows his feelings at another point in Socrates' story, when he speaks of how the cave dweller who had left the cave would rather suffer in the sun than be back in the cave, sharing the opinions of the other dwellers and living as they do. Glaucon's comment is that he thinks the man would "rather suffer than live like that." This remark shows that he, although he does not say it outright, would prefer to live embracing knowledge and awareness then to live with what is familiar and comfortable. This is confirmed further, during 519d, when Socrates suggests that those who have made the ascent go back down to

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