Would every man steal and cheat if he had a magic ring that could make him invisible? Is it better to be just or unjust? “Wherever a man feels he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust” ?
Is it the greatest thing in life to aspire for “the way” to be unjust wherever you can safely be so, as Thrasymachus claims? Socrates had dedicated most of his life to get to the bottom of these kinda bottomless ethical questions. And the showdown takes place in Piraeus, near Athens, at the festival of Bendindea.
In order to explore how being just and unjust affects persons and states they created an analogy of a state, or The Republic, for the sake of their discussion. Socrates is known for being big on analogies, and thanx to sharp minds in the crowd, not everyone was satisfied with his conclusion that being just is better because he debunked Thrasymachus arguments for injustice; by proclaiming that the just are (usually) the wise and the superior; and the unjust are usually the ignorant and foul, sometimes as bad as deformed and villainish – depending on what analogy Socrates was making about them.
He had some difficulty explaining how the various things affect the human psyche, it wasn’t until almost 2 millennia later that real empirical studies of some the things they were talking about were being practiced on a large scale. Psychological studies and so forth. The average person, or perhaps most, didn’t have any clue that the brain had anything to do with though. Such thoughts weren’t able to cross a person’s mind with the same level of depth and understanding we’ve had for the past few hundred years. But on this day near Athens, some deep thinkers of various ethical understandings got together for a very long discussion.
Understanding where justice lies in a state as whole, Socrates said, you can see it more clearly in individuals – in your self. So while they built the state and saw how it become more excellent and how it deteriorated, they got deeper into where justice lies. This is after accepting the analogies that fancy justice is the same as wisdom and so forth; and the arguments somewhat drifts into Platos paradoxes of “things that are the same must be same throughout or it’s not ‘same'” sometimes.
For the state to be most beneficial/industrious, as well as just, they almost conclude, every citizen must be dedicated to his main “job”, that which he is best fittet for by nature. While should you multitask your skills, you’ll deteriorate – that is you (your self) as well as the state.
This of course begets questions of individual happiness; whether or not this kind of state/society is possible and so forth. Lots of interesting conversation subjects, and a cool read (or group read) for everyone.
Educational. Mostly an overview over some quantum mechanic principles for the layman.
The book is kind-of all over the place. We basically follow all of Siddhartha’s mood swings. But there isn’t enough character development to understand how over two or three pages he goes from being a stoic resisting some girl, to falling head over heels for another one (a prostitute?). Or how he’s laughing at people’s money-hungriness and material attachments, then a few pages later he’s addicted to gambling. A few lines of metaphorical poetry to explain how he changed that way was’t enough for me.
Who is this Siddhartha anyway? It’s not Gotama Siddhartha, I believe.