In the first book of ‘The Republic,’ Plato tried to solve two issues by representing his teacher Socrates. The two issues that are outlined in the book are the definitions of justice and the reasons of being just. Cephalus, Polemarchus, and Thrasymachus provided different definition of justice, but Socrates rejected these definitions through giving his reasons. Cephalus provided the definition of justice as an effort to express the basic Hesiodic notion. He defined justice as an achievement of legal responsibilities, and the act of becoming honest. Socrates disputed this definition with an example of a person taking back a weapon to a madman. A person owes the madman his weapon to a certain extent if the madman has a right to keep his weapon lawfully. However, this may be an undeserved action because it may put at risk the lives of other individuals. Therefore, according to Socrates, it cannot be appropriate that justice is nothing above respecting lawful responsibilities and becoming honest.
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Polemarchus defined justice in their discussion as a case where people owed enemies who harmed and friends who helped. Although this meaning of justice may appear different from Cephalus’ definition. They share fundamental imperative of offering somebody things he or she owes or giving someone things that are acceptable. Socrates provided an explanation against this perception. He stated that since the decision about enemies and friends was imperfect, these beliefs would take people to help the wicked people and hurt the fortunate people. People are not often friends with the moral people, and enemies are not often the scum of the community. Socrates stated that there was incoherence in the perception of hurting individuals through justice.
Thrasymachus provided also the definition of justice as nothing more than the advantage or gain of the stronger people. Although Thrasymachus stated that this was his explanation of justice, it was not truly intended to be the meaning of justice, but it represented a delegitimization of justice. Thrasymachus believes that justice is unnatural control on people’s natural wish for more. The logical approach to do is to disregard justice entirely. Socrates provided three explanations to oppose this suggestion. First, Socrates made Thrasymachus confess that the perception he was providing would encourage injustice as a virtue. In this perception, life is observed to be a persistent competition to receive more finances, authority, and other requirements.
This shows that the most successful individuals in the competition have the highest virtue. Justice can be an action of becoming loyal to some rules that allow people to operate in common. Socrates stated that people were required to be at least reasonably just to meet a certain set of rules and goals. Finally, Socrates asserted that it was accepted that justice was a virtue of the souls that also meant that justice was a safety of the souls. Therefore, justice is enviable since it signifies health or happiness of the soul.
The first book of ‘The Republic’ does not only discuss the definition of justice, but it also addresses several other issues. Some researchers emphasize that the book is mainly concerning something else apart from justice. First, the book initiates other philosophical explanations that are found in the modern generation. The discussion carried out by Socrates, host, and friends helped promote wider perception and understanding of justice and morality. This book provides a different perception concerning morality more than what will be explained in the second book of ‘The Republic.’ Significantly, in this notion of justice, morality is an outside action.