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Story Of Gyges Essay, Research Paper

In the story of Gyges, Glaucon and Socrates argue. Glaucon feels that justice and virtue are not in fact inherent traits in people. He tells a story to “prove” that we only act morally because we do not have the power to behave otherwise. We fear being punished. Without this fear of punishment, a majority of the people will act unjustly and immorally.

Glaucon tries to illustrate this point by, telling us the story of Gyges. Gyges worked as a shepherd for the king of Lydia. A storm and earthquake opened up the ground where his flock was feeding. Gyges climbed down into a chasm. Inside he saw a bronze horse with doors in it. Gyges looks in through the doors and sees a statue with a golden ring it. Gyges pulled the ring from it and went back to the field.

As the shepherds gathered to report to the king about his sheep, Gyges joins them. As he sat and talked he toyed with the ring. As he turned the collet of the ring in his palm he became invisible to all. They spoke of him as though he was not present. Then he touched the ring again and turned the collet outward and reappeared. Repeating this gave the same result. Collet turned inwards he was invisible and turned outwards he re-materialized. This is when Gyges realizes that with this ring he pretty much can do whatever he wants too. So, he takes advantage of his newfound secret.

As a messenger from the shepherds to the court, he took his pleasure and seduced the queen. He conspired with her against her husband and slayed the king taking control of Lydia.

As told by Glaucon in the previous paragraph, I believe a just person would act unjustly, if it was to their interest and they could get away with it. For example speeding, the some of us will travel at about five miles per hour above the posted speed limit. We do this because it is believed that we will not get pulled over and receive a ticket, thus we arrive at our destination sooner.

Next, Glaucon imagines that two magic rings exist. A “just” individual has one and an unjust person the other. Glaucon states that even the just person will be determined to remain just and not exploit the situation. He believes that in the end self-interest and hedonistic impulses will prevail. The just will not be able to resist exploiting the advantage by acquiring whatever they liked in complete safety; invading the space of others. The just would be untouchable God-like.

The just and the unjust will be indistinguishable and thus individual morality is determined by necessity not conscious will and ethical/moral behavior for its own sake. If self-indulgence can be practiced without fear of punishment then the propensity for being unjust (because it is more profitable) is demonstrated.

Glaucon argued that any one with such power and never takes advantage of it, would be considered by others, if they knew, to be an idiot. They would praise the ring holder to each other and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.

Are people naturally and thoroughly selfish? I believe people have to be selfish, in order to protect what they have or believe in. if they don t then the people who act unjustly and immorally will take from them what the want.

According to Glaucon, Justice is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation and justice is a middle point between the two and is accepted, as neither good nor bad, but as the lesser of two evils, and is upheld by man s inability to consistently do good.

Can you think of any other explanation for justice than his?

I agree with Glaucon s view of people and justice. I believe his views are right in line with modern society. His argument is played out in every part of our modern world. We have movies that demonstrate this point, like the movie What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford and Michele Phiffer, were he plays a husband who murder his girlfriend and hides the evidence to keep his marriage to Phiffer. This also demonstrates that humans are not perfect and that we make mistakes. In the end it comes down to what type of mistakes we have made and the severity of those mistakes.


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