Book 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are the two views of justice asserted in Book One?

2. For whose benefit does a just ruler rule, according to Socrates?

3. How does Thrasymachus say people view the life of a tyrant?

4. Why has living a just life given Cephalus peace of mind in his old age?

5. What example does Socrates use to show that giving back what one has taken can be an unjust act?

6. Why does being bad to one’s enemies result in injustice, according to Socrates?

7. What virtue is necessary for the soul to perform its work well?

8. What reward does the just man seek for ruling?

9. How will a just ruler deal with other states, according to Thrasymachus?

10. List the two examples Socrates gives of making mistakes through mistaking what seems to be for what is.

Answers
1. The two views of justice asserted in Book One are the conventional view of justice, which only requires giving others what they are due, and Thrasymachus’ view of justice, which is best summarized in the phrase “might makes right.”

2. Socrates says that a just ruler rules for the benefit of his subjects.

3. Thrasymachus says that people consider a tyrant to be happy and blessed.

4. Cephalus has peace of mind because he has no fear of how he will be judged in the world of the dead.

5. Socrates gives the example of a madman asking to have his weapon back as a case where a man who returned what he had borrowed would be acting unjustly.

6. Since being bad to someone could only make them worse, treating even an enemy badly could only result in injustice.

7. According to Socrates, the soul needs justice in order to do its work.

8. The just man only rules for fear of being ruled by someone worse than himself.

9. A just ruler will seek to dominate other states.

10. The first example Socrates gives is with Polemarchus (354). When Polemarchus asserts that it is just to harm one’s enemies, Socrates points out that one might, by this course of action, harm someone who seems to be an enemy but is actually a friend. Similarly, when arguing with Thrasymachus over in whose interest laws are passed, Socrates shows that it is possible for a ruler to pass laws that seem to be in his interest, thus producing an unjust result, according to Thrasymachus’ definition.