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Word Count: 682
The argument of the Republic is the search after Justice the nature of which is first hinted at by Cephalus the just and blameless old man Socrates then discusses it on the basis of proverbial morality and Polemarchus then caricatured by Thrasymachus and partially explained by Socrates and finally reduced to an abstraction by Glaucon and Adeimantus and having become invisible in the individual reappears at length in the ideal State which is constructed by Socrates Book I of The Republic appears to be a Socratic dialogue on the nature of justice As always the goal of the discussion is to discover the genuine nature of the subject at hand but the process involves the proposal criticism and rejection of several inadequate attempts at defining what justice really is The elderly wealthy Cephalus suggests that justice involves nothing more than telling the truth and repaying ones debts But Socrates points out that in certain admittedly unusual circumstances following these simple rules without exception could produce disastrous results Returning a borrowed weapon to an insane friend for example would be an instance of following the rule but would not seem to be an instance of just action The presentation of a counter-example of this sort tends to show that the proposed definition of justice is incorrect since its application does not correspond with our ordinary notion of justice In an effort to avoid such difficulties Polemarchus offers a refinement of the definition by proposing that justice means giving to each what is owed The new definition codifies formally our deeply-entrenched practice of seeking always to help our friends and harm our enemies This evades the earlier counter-example since the just act of refusing to return the borrowed weapon would clearly benefit ones friend But Socrates points out that harsh treatment of our enemies is only likely to render them even more unjust than they already are The basis of justice according to Socrates
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