Debate of Justice (the Republic) Essay

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Shivansh Rastogi
The Debate of Justice

The Republic discusses the existence and validity of justice. In book 1, Thrasymachus argues that Justice is invalid and in fact only beneficial for the individuals who are unjust, and the system of justice is simply illegitimate. Socrates refutes these claims in books 2, 3 and 9 through the virtue and ideals behind justice, and the health of the individuals who are just and unjust. Injustice may provide artificial gains, but it will never yield a healthy soul and will ultimately lead to failure.
Thrasymachus believes that it always better have a life of perfect injustice rather than justice because that life would yield the least hardships, pain and misery. The following quote exemplifies his belief, “You will understand it most easily, if you come to the most perfect injustice, which makes the unjust man most happy, and makes those who are wronged and will not be unjust most miserable."(Plato, Book 9, 344a) Thrasymachus views perfect injustice as injustice done by the tyrants of society, this type of injustice tends to be ignored because of the high social status of these tyrants. These individuals are able to shield themselves from justice when they commit unjust acts because of the social standing and in turn harms the just man who belongs to the middle class, as he is the victim of these crimes. Therefore Thrasymachus believes justice is advantageous to those who are strong, because the strong are able to exploit the just behavior of those who are weak, and the weak are unable to do anything to rectify their situation. Thrasymachus further believes that justice is a social practice that is placed on individuals simply because of tradition and it does not impose individuals to obey it, thus the strong do not. Thrasymachus believes that in this society, the best way to resolve this problem would be to ignore justice altogether. Thrasymachus’ points convey that injustice should be pursued and those who pursue justice in the eyes of society are foolish and will inevitably suffer. Socrates argues that although justice may not always prevail, it is still essential to act in accordance with it. Socrates undermines Thrasymachus by stating the fact that wisdom is a virtue, and that if wisdom exists then injustice should not, as they are contradictory. Socrates main point derives from the Tyrannical Soul that justice is what brings order and maintains the health of the human soul. He claims that individuals who act unjustly, act this way because they lack inner harmony or have a weak soul, thus injustice is not beneficial. He further states that justice will lead individuals to success because once harmony of the soul is