The Plight of The Unjust Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Plight of the Uncommon Man

Submitted: January 24, 2017

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Submitted: January 24, 2017



The Plight of the Common Man

Is the common man just?

Is he?

The common man has always been a questionable source of reliability and justice. The common man believes that what they do must be justified; clearly everyone is doing the exact same thing he is. You would think that the common or the large majority must be correct in what they do or in some sense are somewhat correct when it comes to punishing and awarding the minority or the opponent. Alexander Hamilton once believed that the common man was unreliable and is gullible to fall into the hands of a charming tyrant. He placed barriers and many organizations in between the government and the common man, yet he ensured that the common man had a way to have their voice be heard. The Electoral College is the most notable organization, choosing and ultimately deciding the grand winner of the Presidential race.

So is man just when he makes his choices? The difficulty in this problem is apparent, we must first discover the definition of Justice and what it means to be Just in order to properly answer the question. Socrates had been the first to attempt to find the definition.

In Plato’s writing “The Republic” he reminisces the conversations of Socrates with his fellow philosophers.

 Socrates had asked every one of his friends what Justice was. Polemarchus, Glaucon, Cephalus, and Thrasymachus all replied their definitions; of course they were caught off guard by the question and essentially the three of the sophists stated: Giving the person what is owed. I don’t think that is such a bad explanation but its broad enough to be full of holes that could be poked into.

For instance, the example Socrates gives to argue against them is giving a madman his weapon. If you owe the man a weapon, should you give it to him? In the case of their answer it would mean that yes you would give the man his weapon and in turn he will harm you or anyone around him. It is clearly not a situation where their definition makes logical sense.

 Thrasymachus, however, went against their common beliefs and stated: “justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger”. In which he argued that only the powerful and tyrannical reach above all others, leaving the weak that followed the ideas of justice to wallow in the mud. He goes further and claims that the unjust are wise, powerful, and in line with the gods.

Socrates abashed by his claims, he starts by saying that it is unwise to not follow a path of justice—contrary to what Thrasymachus had claimed. One of the points Thrasymachus had made was that a person who strays from the path of justice challenges everybody, resulting in him ending up on the top of the pyramid. Yet, Socrates answered that if the person challenges everybody, he must challenge the gods. And it is unwise to challenge the god, making the person unwise himself to not have followed the path of justice.

 Thrasymachus stands down and Glaucon, being the rowdy one of the group intends on continuing the argument. He states that he wanted to be fully convinced by his statement, not kind of convinced. And so Socrates creates an imaginary city. A small one at first comprising of three people, yet it grows until he has a metropolis of people working in a position that they do best. He concludes that the city needs three types of people: the citizens, the auxiliary, and the guardians.

The citizens are the desires of the city in which they hunger for money. The auxiliary are the soldiers and are the courage of the city in which they strive for honor. Finally the guardians, they are the leaders of the city and they hunger for knowledge.

While I was reading this portion of the book I questioned why Socrates had put so much detail into describing a city. He answered this finally in book 4. He finally defined justice after asking about it in book 1. His definition of Justice—in a political sense—is fulfilling one's role given to them, and consequently giving to society what is owed. Doing what one does best and ensuring that he only does that job. The common man, as he explained, should not rule and instead do the job they were destined to do. A shoemaker makes shoes and the carpenter makes cabinets, not the other way around. If they attempt to do any other job, then they disrupt the natural order of the system.

The reason as to why the city was necessary was because our body is similar to that of the city. Our soul—as he describes it—is comprised of three parts. It yearns for honor, knowledge, and money. It boils down to the person and his role in society a leader has a dominant soul that yearns for knowledge more than the other two. Likewise for the auxiliary, his soul is dominated by the portion that yearns for honor. His idea is that if you do what you do best, justice will be the outcome of whatever you do.

This brings us back to our original question. Is the common man just in his decisions?

Well clearly not.

Socrates had created this perfect world in which people do the job that they are the best at. Yet we do not live in a perfect world structured as nicely as he had described; we live in one full faults and challenges. Nevertheless, what is to be noticed the most is the fact that his city still had leaders regardless of how the people followed his form of Justice. Socrates, for one, also did not trust the voice of the people.

If Socrates had believed that the common man was just, he would have let the people decide their future within his perfect world. The leader of this world should only have to control the auxiliary and nothing more, but he does not. The leader in this city is all-powerful—perfectly made in order to ensure that if someone steps out of line that they would be punished for doing so. He even believed that the people should be lied to. He brought up a story that would have to be considered fact in order for society to work.

People are of metal. There are three kinds of metals that they are made out of: copper, silver, and gold. The copper is that of the working class, silver auxiliary, and gold the guardians. If a gold appears within the copper and silver class he must be taken out of their and placed into the golds. Likewise if a copper ends up being born from some gold he must be placed with the other coppers. There is a point to this being: if a copper or silver becomes a guardian the whole state of the city will collapse.

If he trusted the choice of the people then a story would not be necessary. Rather Socrates knows that the people must be somehow tricked into following the laws without explicitly stating so. I would not consider that trusting the common man.

So what can you do with this information? A knowledgeable man knows a great deal of information, but an intelligent man knows what to do with that information.

Society is not perfect. A leader’s job is to understand the common man’s flaws and attempt to fix them to the best of their ability, ensuring the safety of the people. What I ask is entrust the leaders of the country or make an attempt of doing so. They often see clearer than what the common man does, it’s their job to do so. 

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