What is the significance of Socrates's conversation with Cephalus? How does Cephalus understand the notion of justice? Does Cepahlus's concept of justice have universal value or applicability? Does one concept of justice apply to humans and gods alike? Is his concept of justice in any way influenced by the commercial values inherent to his life as a money-maker? What is Socrates's objection to Cephalus's views? What is missing in such concepts?
As Polemarchus continues the conversation, how does he adopt and also modify or qualify Cephalus's views? What do the similarities and differences suggest about changes and continuities in the culture (and the practices of money-makers) across generations (from father to son in this case)? In what ways does Polemarchus interpret the formulations of the poet Simonides regarding justice? What does this suggest about the possible differences between poetic and commercial values? What is the problem with Polemarchus's idea of justice as "that which renders benefits and harms to friends and enemies" (46). What is Socrates's main objection to that formulation? How does Socrates understand the behavior of a truly just person toward friends and enemies? How does Socrates come to the conclusion that Polemarchus's conception of justice could only be understood as an idea issuing from a rich man? (50). Why does Socrates speak of justice as "a thing more precious than much fine gold"? (51). According to Socrates, how is justice in conflict with money-making and wealth? Can a just person also be rich?
Is Thrasymachus mistaken in his notion that "the just is nothing else than the advantage of the stronger"? What does he mean by it? Are there some senses in which his formulation may be accurate? Which? What is Socrates's main objection to this idea? Are Socrates and Thrasymachus speaking about justice in the same sense? If not, what conceptions of justice are at odds here? Why does Socrates want to know whether a physician is a money-maker or a healer of the sick? (55). According to Thrasymachus, what is most important to people, to do their job well or to profit themselves? How does this relate to the alternative views of justice under discussion? Why does Thrasymachus suggest that a just person (in Socrates's sense of "just") is a simpleton and at a disadvantage in the world of business and politics (what we would call the "real" world)?
How does Thrasymachus come to the conclusion that the most unjust (in Socrates's sense of "unjust") are the most powerful and successful? What is Socrates's point in his suggestion that good, just people do not try to "outreach or exceed another just man"? What does he mean by saying that "the just man does not seek to take advantage of his like but of his unlike, but the unjust man of both"? (63). How does this square with his earlier arguments (against Polemarchus) claiming that the just person cannot harm anyone (49-50)? Can Socrates adequately refute Thrasymachus's points? On the basis of Socrates's arguments, is it possible to meaningfully distinguish between the just and the unjust? Why or why not? How does Socrates's understanding of the just and the unjust relate to economic activity and the behavior of economic agents such as craftsmen and professionals in various disciplines?
What are the implications for human character of the acceptance or rejection of the views of Thrasymachus or of Socrates? What are the implications for human society of the acceptance or rejection of those views? What sort of people and what sort of social world are associated with each set of views? Can one of those worlds be transformed into the other? How? Which view describes the world in which we live? Which view describes the world in which we should live?
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