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Plato Republic

Essay by   •  October 29, 2010  •  Essay  •  616 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,962 Views

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Plato Republic

Socrates engages in conversations with people claiming to be experts, usual in ethical matters. By asking simple questions, Socrates gradually reveals that these people were in fact very confused and did not actually know anything about the matters about which they claimed to be an expert. Morality is the ethical matter that is brought up in Plato's Republic. Socrates argues the response of Cephalus, Polemarchus and Thrasymachus on what morality is.

The question of morality came up when Socrates and Cephalus, who is a rich old man, were having a conversation about money. Socrates asks Cephalus if being rich makes it easier to enjoy old age. At first, Cephalus says no, but he soon admits that there are advantages to being rich. Cephalus says being true and giving things back is what morality is. Socrates gives an example where you can do something good by not giving back. His example was if you borrow a weapon from a friend, and he is sane at the time and at the time you should give it back your friend is insane then you shouldn't give it back so you can protect him from doing harm, which is also good. Cephalus agreed that Socrates was correct that this was doing something good so Socrates said if that is the case than the definition of morality isn't to tell the truth and give something back whatever one has borrowed.

Polemarchus is the son of Cephalus, and he "inherits" his father's position in the argument. Polemarchus says that morality is to tell the truth and to give whatever one has borrowed, which he attributed to the poet Simonides. Polemarchus says what Simonides was trying to say was friends owe friends good deeds not bad ones. Socrates responds by saying, what Simonides meant was we give back to people what is appropriate for them or owed to them. Socrates makes a point that morality only seems useful when something is not being used, for example when money need to be saved. Socrates asks if a moral person can harm anyone and Polemarchus agreed that a moral person could harm an evil man. What Socrates was trying to get at was well if this man was really moral why is he trying to harm anyone. Polemarchus agreed to this, which basically went against everything he said in the opening of this conversation.

Thrasymachus interjected by saying that Socrates is taking the easy way out. He said if Socrates wants to know what morality

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