Socrates Character Analysis

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In this paper, I am going to present the three dialogues of Socrates with the three characters- Cephalus, Polymarchus, and Thrasymachus- of The Republic book one by Plato and show that of all the three unfavorable characters Polymarchus is the best interlocutor.
Arguments of Cephalus and Thrasymachus: The book one of The Republic commences with a discussion on Cephalus’s wealth. It is difficult to judge his argument from such a limited point as it doesn’t imply that he is a bad arguer. He often mentions the difficulties that old age brings and the tyranny of sexual appetite. According to Cephalus, a person with calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure and difficulties of age. No doubt that wealth is an indispensable factor, this
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He seems basically wise in practical affairs, mouthing quotes of different poets, and appreciating their meaning, thus, representing the old traditional school of morality. The character of Cephalus is so apparent in our modern life; there are many old traditional people afraid of the feeling of punishment, which pushes them to go to praying and sacrifices. He is as well a weak character; his weakness is hidden behind his wealth; however, in many cases his vulnerability appears when he freezes for a criticism, excuses himself because he had to attend to the sacrifices and leaves the argument. On the other hand, the son and heir of Cephalus, Polymarchus, has the freakiness and eagerness of youth. Like his father, he is limited in his point of view, since he quotes Simonides as his father had quoted Pindar. However, his definition and path of argument change as soon as he stops answering to Socrates’s questions. He is wise, friendly and good in making affairs. He represents the modern school of morality where the definition of justice is related to the concept of friendship. He resembles the businessman, who has good skills in contracts and aim to establish tight friendship using their wide arena of thought, but at the same time he’s stuck to some traditional beliefs and values, yet he is open to arguments and criticism. In contrast,…show more content…
This definition seems to be so specific, that is, one cannot always return the owned thing; for instance, you ought not to return the weapon of a madman, because he will most probably use to harm others. I believe that Cephalus is not one of those who have nothing to say, because their whole mind has been absorbed in making money. His definition of justice is all about what is just around himself, he can justify himself as a righteous man. The only reason people listen to his weak argument is because of the respect that his old age brought. Polymarchus’s definition of justice, in fact, is more general than Cephalus's. Unpacking what Simonides means he goes by saying: “Friends owe it to their friends to do well by them, and never harm them, and enemies are owed harm.” Here a basic aspect: I am a human being and I often make mistakes, it is too basic that I may consider an enemy as a friend and do just to him or the other way around considering a friend an enemy and do the unjust. So, what is a friend? When Socrates asks him: “is justice an art or craft? “ Polymarchus takes justice as an art for a moment and asks for the special domain of justice in helping friends and hurting enemies. He eventually withdraws from the idea as he sees if justice is an art then it has no use (334c). So the concept turns to
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