Conversation held on 2/26/18, 8pm central.
Summary of 341c-341e
Thrasymachus has just hurled another insult at Socrates, saying that he is a “nonentity” in argument, after correcting Socrates with his restriction of meaning, his precise speech about the ruler: the ruler as such doesn’t make mistakes.
Socrates says “Enough…” and then, step-by-step, proceeds to turn Thrasymachus’ argument around in the other direction (443a). All along he gets Thrasymachus’ assent. Although, as the argument proceeds, Thrasymachus throws up more and more resistance, but he can’t deny the conclusion: that rulers – and the masters of the arts on Thrasymachu’s analogy – all the arts look to benefit the things over which their art rules. So on the analogy the Thrasymachus himself offers, the art of rulership looks to benefit the things over which it rules, namely the people, and does not look to advantage of itself or to the ruler.
When the argument reaches this point, Socrates narrates that it became evident to everyone what had happened, and then Thrasymachus hurled yet another insult at Socrates: He asks him if he has a wet nurse who wipes his sniveling nose…because it must be her fault that he can’t see the truth about the matter. He then goes on to “pour a great shower of speech” over everyone (344d). Here it is, in full:
“Because of what, in particular?” I said.
“Because you suppose shepherds or cowherds consider the good of the sheep or the cows and fatten them and take care of them looking to something other than their masters’ good and their own; and so you also believe that the rulers in the cities, those who truly rule, think about the ruled differently from the way a man would regard sheep, and that night and day they consider anything else than how they will benefit themselves. And you are so far off about the just and justice, and the unjust and injustice, that you are unaware that justice and the just are really someone else’s good, the advantage of the man who is stronger and rules, and a personal harm to the man who obeys and serves. Injustice is the opposite, and it rules the truly simple and just; and those who are ruled do what is advantageous for him who is stronger, and they make him whom they serve happy but themselves not at all. And this must be considered, most simple Socrates: the just man everywhere has less than the unjust man. First, in contracts, when the just man is a partner of the unjust man, you will always find that at the dissolution of the partnership the just man does not have more than the unjust man, but less. Second, in matters pertaining to the city, when there are taxes, the just man pays more on the basis of equal property, the unjust man less; and when there are distributions, the one makes no profit, the other much. And, further, when each holds some ruling office, even if the just man suffers no other penalty, it is his lot to see his domestic affairs deteriorate from neglect, while he gets no advantage from the public store, thanks to his being just; in addition to this, he incurs the ill will of his relatives and his acquaintances when he is unwilling to serve them against what is just. The unjust man’s situation is the opposite in all of these respects. I am speaking of the man I just now spoke of, the one who is able to get the better in a big way. Consider him, if you want to judge how much more to his private advantage the unjust is than the just. You will learn most easily of all if you tum to the most perfect injustice, which makes the one who does injustice most happy, and those who suffer it and who would not be willing to do injustice, most wretched. And that is tyranny, which by stealth and force takes away what belongs to others, both what is sacred and profane, private and public, not bit by bit, but all at once. When someone does some part of this injustice and doesn’t get away with it, he is punished and endures the greatest reproaches-temple robbers, kidnappers, housebreakers, defrauders, and thieves are what they call those partially unjust men who do such evil deeds. But when someone, in addition to the money of the citizens, kidnaps and enslaves them too, instead of these shameful names, he gets called happy and blessed, not only by the citizens but also by whomever else hears that he has done injustice entire. For it is not because they fear doing unjust deeds, but because they fear suffering them, that those who blame injustice do so. So, Socrates, injustice, when it comes into being on a sufficient scale, is mightier, freer, and more masterful than justice; and, as I have said from the beginning, the just is the advantage of the stronger, and the unjust is what is profitable and advantageous for oneself.”