Cephalus’s Opinion essay
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The assertion that justice and truth are directly linked reiterates the fact that, in Cephalus’s opinion, people are defined by the nature of their lives; therefore, the characterization of the old age and misery cannot be attributed to all individuals. The presentation of truth to such individuals should constitute justice, where their lives are quantified according to the truthfulness of thereto. However, it is observed that telling the truth some considerations should be made on the effect of the truth to a friend. Truth may constitute justice; on the other hand, it may also constitute an injustice. Therefore, a distinction should be made where and when one needs to dish out the truth (Plato 2009, p34). Circumstances may arise where telling the truth may constitute an injustice. It is critical to identify where & when the truth is told. Sometimes telling the truth does more harm than good. This observation is reiterated when a person is of unsound mind and the truth may cause more harm than good to such a person; in such a case, it is refrained. It is necessary at times to withhold the truth in order to protect individuals from themselves. Some truths may lead to irreparable damage to an individual or to personal and impersonal relationships. Though, in Cephalus terms, justice is termed as telling the absolute truth, the extent of application of truths in society is limited by various factors. It is therefore, necessary to gauge the nature and possible effects of the truth before telling it. Cephalus observation that most truths cause more discomfort and suffering is asserted by his characterization of behavioral aspects of a number of aged people who feel that life is unfair to them. It is notable that, though these aged people lament the exploits of their youths, they should be content with their current situation. However, when confronted with the truth of their deeds in their past lives, they feel anxious and afraid of the inherent consequences of their actions.
In this context, it is essential to note that the truth in Cephalus situation is premised on his actions as a youth, and his attitudes towards his age. Despite old age having its drawbacks, Cephalus feels content with what he has. So he characterizes himself as a living example of the application of justice. This fact is reinforced by his assertion that his inheritance from his father was significantly lower that his current wealth. Therefore, his hard work and perseverance in his youth culminates in the truth of his comfort with his old age situation. Socrates asserts that the availability of wealth eases the burden of the old age; however, Cephalus counters this insinuation when he reiterates that the truth of the effect of wealth in the old age is characteristically overrated. He believes that as much as wealth mitigates the effects of the old age, it does not ease its passing. Cephalus observes that the application of wealth determines how happy a person is in old age (Plato 2009, p32). There are those individuals who in spite of their wealthy status, are exceedingly unhappy; while there are those with limited wealth resource who have their old age characterized by contentment in their accomplishments in life, hence they are happy. Though he is moderately wealthy as a result of his own hard work, Cephalus does not attach a lot of significance to money, an aspect that baffles Socrates. This aspect of Cephalus deviates from the expected norm where those who have amassed their wealth through hard work are significantly attached to their wealth. Cephalus concludes that the truth in acquiring contentment with his old age is not inherent in his wealth, but in the knowledge that he has accomplished the task he set out to do as a youth, where he hopes to leave his sons better inheritance than his father left for him. Therefore, in doing so he is just in telling the truth as is while giving his sons what rightfully belongs to them, inheritance.
Thrasymachus’s perspective on justice is premised on the assertion that justice is the advantage of the strong over the weak; hence, it is the domination by the prevailing ruler irrespective of the existing form of government (Plato 2009, p 57). Thrasymachus observes every form of government with its aims to dominate its subjects and impose the will of the existing ruler on his subjects be they free men or slaves. He asserts that the domination of one city by another is characteristic of a power struggle where the stronger emerges the winner, thus, establishing a hierarchical structure in a society where the strong have advantage over the others.
Thrasymachus observes that each ruler irrespective of his form of government ensures laws are created and implemented, which appears to benefit others. However, in real sense they aim at serving the rulers’ purposes (Plato 2009, p 55). The latter are characterized by those who dissent from the established rules and laws or those who voice their misgivings with the existing authority. Despite Socrates’s dissection of the meaning behind Thrasymachus’s observations, he reiterates that justice is a prevalent advantage of the strong. A critical observation is essential in elaborating the intended assertion on the part of Thrasymachus; where it is implied that justice is only applicable to the rulers and the strong, the weak have no right to justice. Thrasymachus asserts that the laws created by the rulers, though applicable to them, are rarely enforceable against them given the limitations and barriers inherent in the laws that place the rulers above the purview of the law. The characterization of justice with the strong reflects a significantly prevalent phenomenon where the leaders manipulate governing bodies and the legal system to suit their hidden agendas, while appearing to champion the interests and needs of the common people. In the light of this, the assertion of justice places greater significance on the strong in the society while suppressing weak groups in the community.
However, the characterization of justice as an inherent aspect of the strong, whereas the weak are subjects of the strong in the ideal government model, concludes that the weak who are members of the society have no right to justice. However, in any governing body the implementation and adherence to the implemented laws creates a fundamental basis for creating and maintaining order, where chaos is prevalent. Therefore, a ruler may make assertions or facilitate the passing of a law which characteristically inhibits or restricts his freedoms or may cause harm to the ruler. In this context, the ruler’s subjects are mandated to follow the orders calling such an action to implementation. Therefore, a ruler inasmuch as he does not intend to cause any inconveniences to himself, may be affected by his own commands directing his subjects’ actions. A ruler in every respect is defined as a person capable of ruling without erring; therefore, a ruler does not make mistakes nor does he make erroneous declarations or decrees. Hence, his subjects must do as he says. Thus, the assertion that it is just acting in an advantageous manner towards the strong. Thrasymachus insists that though the rulers may do errors in judgment and in making choices, these do not influence on the ruling factor, since it is the fundamental aspect of his argument. Therefore, any errors in orders given cannot be construed as such, but are considered as an integral aspect in the forum in which the error was done. Therefore, the purpose of the subjects is to serve the ruler, whereas the ruler is served by his subjects; hence the characterization of justice with regard to the advantage and position held in governance is critical (Plato 2009, 58 – 60). However, while justice is observed in this respect as a means in which the strong achieve their agendas, its purpose is to the contrary.
Justice aims at eliminating the status quo, where the rulers use justice as a means of gaining advantage over their subjects. However, the ruler is not established to serve his own personal interests but his purpose is to serve his people. While Thrasymachus may be viewed as making the wrong assumption in his insinuations, his perspective of justice in society is significantly prevalent. In spite of this, the optimal view on the application of justice where governing a state is concerned, Socrates’s perspectives are in focus. The argument that justifiable endeavor seeks to empower the weak by affording them a competitive advantage in the face of ravenous society hammer it as to the actual meaning and purpose of justice. Therefore, a just ruler does not seek to empower himself over his subjects but attempts to improve the advantage of the weak by creating the mean in which they can fend and protect themselves against the strong in the society. The ruler concentrates every action in realizing advantages for others but not his own. Thrasymachus observes that any characterization of justice with the doing good to the weak negates the principles where the fittest survive. He believes that a just person is significantly disadvantaged in wealth acquisition; share of profits or in the application of protocols and procedures in acquiring an asset. He believes than an unjust person is highly likely to emerge with the largest portion of everything in contrast to a just man. An unjust person is not constraint by virtue of moral obligation and equitability; but is rather driven by a selfish desire to satiate his own needs at the cost of depriving others of their rightful share. However, unjust person is oblivious of any negative impacts his actions reflect on others and their impacts, hence Thrasymachus assertion that an individual possessing great power has the capacity to outdo everyone else.
Nicias and Laches are known for their attempt at finding the most acceptable definition of courage. However, each has his own interpretation which Socrates finds to be dissatisfying as he queries the wisdom in each assertion, finding discrepancies in the interpretation of each man’s definition of courage. The characterization of virtue as an integral aspect to be found in every man and soldier leads to the attempt of qualifying each observation while defining what constitutes courage (Plato 2008, p35). Laches defines courage as facing one’s enemies without turning back. He asserts that in the face of conflict courage is critical in enforcing ones position. Therefore, while in confrontation with an adversary it is crucial that a soldier stands his ground. Laches asserts that giving way to an enemy constitutes cowardice; therefore, the soldier’s position must be maintained at all costs. However, this explanation does not satisfy Socrates’s intellect and he demands for a more in-depth definition of courage. Laches observes his earlier position and reinforces his statement by asserting that courage is in all respects is an endurance of the soul (Plato 2008, p20); is premised on the fact that in the event of confrontation and adversity, it is critical to endure the prospect of danger to oneself, while strengthening the resolve to quiver in the face of the enemy. The characterization of endurance of the soul and wisdom aims at describing the reasonable application of the soul’s endurance. The achievement of set objectives in times of war and peace depends on the strength illustrated; therefore, any indications of weakness, indecisions and reluctance to act are constituted as a sign of cowardice and disgrace (Plato 2008, p2). This leads to a loss of strategic advantage where the enemy perceives their opponents as weakened and lacking in spirit, hence easily defeated. Therefore, courage demands that a soldier illustrate strength in the face of adversity; however, it is critical to observe sensible endurance in the face of danger, since there are battles which cannot be won by displays of defiance in the face of danger.
While Laches illustrates courage as endurance of the soul (Plato 2008, p20), Nicias has a different perspective as to what constitutes courage. Nicias believes that courage constitutes wisdom as knowledge of the grounds for fear and hope (Plato 2008, p29). Nicias assertion aims at illustrating courage as an aspect that relies on information to enable decision making in lieu of the prevailing situation. Therefore, a distinction must be drawn where; knowledge should not be construed as fearlessness (Plato 2008, p30). This observation is met with criticism on the part of Laches who a point out that knowledge is not applicable in defining courage. He asserts that courage is a display of aggressive behavior aimed at intimidating an enemy. Nicias believes that courage is the result of the expression of fear and implementation of knowledge. In this light, his definition of courage incorporates fear, where any individual must display fear and fright during the life threatening moments; however, fear is not restricted to battle or military environments alone but it is applicable in other situations where individuals are illustrate fear of the unknown and anything whose outcome they have no control (Plato 2008, p26). Therefore, Nicias assertion that courage constitutes the wisdom knowledge is applied to synthesizing fear and projecting hope in dire situations. Nicias perspective merits the significance of hope where one aspires to persevere in the face of adversity, in the hope that they will merge as victors. While the two generals disagree upon the definition of courage, their assertions are merited by their respective interpretations. Nicias’s perspective assumes that aggressive displays in the face of adversity are not relevant in asserting one’s courage; hence the application of wisdom in the knowledge that a situation commands fear while giving hope is critical.
While each general attempts to define what courage is Socrates finds a rationale to discredit each perspective. He asserts that Nicias observation of courage only focuses on future events while neglecting the present or the past. Therefore, in order to retain relevance in the argument, Nicias must incorporate a timeless definition of courage in order to have credibility in his assertions. On other hand, he discredits Laches’s definitions of courage as ambiguous and aligning towards foolish endurance of the soul rather than wise endurance of the soul. He observes that it is illogical to depict oneself as wise while giving the enemy an opportunity to inflict harm based on blind assumptions of courage. While is important to assert courage it is essential to maintain safety.