Hello, I’m Dr. Anadale. I teach philosophy at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg Maryland. This video is an introduction to Book Two of Plato’s Republic. In Book One, Socrates started the quest for the true definition of justice. After considering and rejecting some conventional definitions, the conversation produced two crucial conclusions. First: justice is not a craft like medicine or shipbuilding, but has a unique character. And second: justice never harms; it only brings benefit. Halfway through Book One Thrasymachus enters the conversation conversation and defines justice as the advantage of the stronger. Socrates disagrees and they argue. At the beginning of Book Two, Thrasymachus abandons the conversation and two more speakers, Glaucon and Adeimantus, take over his position. Book Two falls into three roughly equal parts, which I call Glaucon’s Challenge, the Political Metaphor, and the Guardians, their character and education. I will discuss each part separately. First, what I call Glaucon’s Challenge. This is the first third of Book Two, up to approximately 368c. Several very important things happen in this section so you should read these pages very carefully. Glaucon’s Challenge contains three important passages: the framework, giving three types of goods, the story of the natural origin of justice and the story of the Ring of Gyges. So we have a framework and two stories that make up Glaucon’s challenge. Book Two starts by giving a framework for the discussion to follow. Glaucon says there are three kinds of goods: goods that are valued for themselves alone, things like harmless pleasures, like playing a game simply because I enjoy it, not because I hope to get anything out of it. Second, goods that are valued for themselves and for their results: things like knowing, or seeing, or being healthy. These things are pleasant and good in themselves and they also make it possible for me to do other pleasant and good things. And third, goods that are valued for their results but which are burdensome in themselves. And these are things like exercise, or taking medicine, or doing physical labor in exchange for money. No one would do these things unless they were somehow connected to some kind of external reward structure. Glaucon asks Socrates which category justice belongs in; what type of good is it? Socrates says he thinks it’s in the second category: it’s like good health or seeing; it’s valuable in itself and valuable for its consequences. Glaucon replies that the masses, the common people, would probably disagree. They would put justice in category 3: they would say being just has good consequences but it’s burdensome and difficult in itself and nobody would do it unless they felt they had to. Crucial to note here is that they differ not on the results of justice which they agree are beneficial. They disagree on the question of whether justice is valuable in itself, in isolation from its practical effect on our lives. Glaucon then takes up Thrasymachus’ side of the argument, saying that he wants Socrates to demonstrate the value of justice and injustice in the soul, independent of their consequences. Glaucon insists that he doesn’t believe what he is about to say about justice, but he wants to state a strong case for Thrasymachus’ point of view so that Socrates can defeat it. It’s worth pausing to note the value of this work by Glaucon. It’s valuable because if we had relied on Thrasymachus to carry his side of the argument we wouldn’t learn anything, because Thrasymachus got fed up and walked away. It’s also giving us a very good example of the practice of stating an enemy’s case in the strongest possible form before attacking it. This is an example of the intellectual honesty and integrity of Socrates’ method. Glaucon then tells what he thinks the masses believe. This is his story of the natural origin of justice. He says primitive people recognized that doing injustice was good and suffering injustice was bad. So it feels good to beat up the people who are smaller than me, but it feels bad to get beat up by the people who are bigger and stronger than me. Most people, being in the middle, experienced both sides of this: they were able to victimize others but they were also the victims of people who are stronger than them. And they realized that the pain of suffering oppression was greater than the pleasure they got from oppressing the weaker. So they banded together, all these primitive people, and agreed among themselves that no one would victimize anyone else. And this is what they decided to call “justice.” Therefore justice, says Glaucon, is an agreement between people who are too weak to dominate everyone else. It’s something like a truce in the war of the strong against the weak, which has been called by all the people who know that they’re not the strongest. Some of you will recognize in this the basic idea behind social contract theory. The upshot of this story is that for each person justice is always a second best situation. It is what I settle for instead of my best-case scenario, which would be my being powerful enough to dominate everyone around me and this is why Glaucon says that people only do justice unwillingly. That is, they are just only because they realize that they are not strong enough to get away with being unjust. But if they could get away with it they certainly would choose injustice and domination as the better life in itself. To illustrate this view of justice, Glaucon tells the story of the Ring of Gyges. He considers the case of a just and an unjust person and what they would each do if they had complete freedom of action to act exactly as they like with no consequences for their reputation. My reading question for you is: summarize the Ring of Gyges story. What lesson does Glaucon think it teaches about the difference between being just and seeming to be just? After he tells the story, Glaucon compares the just life to the unjust life. To separate the benefits of reputation from the benefits of actually being just or unjust, he’s going to compare two extremes. He’s going to compare the just person whom everyone thinks is unjust to the unjust person whom everyone thinks is just. So consider this the case of Mother Teresa in real life, but everybody thinks she’s Hitler, and on the other side Hitler in real life but everybody thinks he’s Mother Teresa; he has that reputation. If being just always makes one happy, and being unjust always makes one miserable, we would expect these two lives to still be happy and miserable. So the challenge that Glaucon poses to Socrates is: compare these two extreme lives–the just life with a reputation for injustice, and the unjust life with a reputation for justice–and prove to me that the just life is still preferable, is still happier and is still the life more worthy of imitation for somebody who’s trying to choose how to live their life. At this point Glaucon’s brother Adeimantus interrupts and gives his own defense of injustice, starting at 362d. He points out that people who praise justice still seem to believe that injustice would be better for an individual. People who praise justice, he says, really are only praising its reputation. Injustice is “sweet and easy to acquire” and “the unjust person who has secured for himself a reputation for justice lives the life of a god.” That’s the best life possible: the unjust life with a reputation for justice. So Adeimantus puts this challenge to Socrates again slightly differently: Show us, he says, how justice *by itself* makes a person happy, and show us how injustice *by itself* harms a person. To respond to this challenge, Socrates is going to introduce the next stage of Book Two, which is the political metaphor. He is going to consider the structure of an ideal city. I’ll talk about that metaphor in a different video. Thanks for watching today; goodbye.