Jun 27, The Ring of Gyges: Is Justice Always Self-Interested? Glaucon argued that by nature humans are selfish and unjust, and that justice is not good in itself; instead justice is a consequential good it is only valued for the beneficial consequences.
The legends[ edit ] Gyges of Lydia was a historical king, the founder of the Mermnad dynasty of Lydian kings. Various ancient works—the most well-known being The Histories of Herodotus  —gave different accounts of the circumstances of his rise to power.
In Glaucon 's recounting of the myth, an unnamed ancestor of Gyges  was a shepherd in the service of the ruler of Lydia. After an earthquake, a cave was revealed in a mountainside where he was feeding his flock. Entering the cave, he discovered that it was in fact a tomb with a bronze horse containing a corpselarger than that of a man, who wore a golden ringwhich he pocketed.
He discovered that the ring gave him the power to become invisible by adjusting it. He then arranged to be chosen as one of the messengers who reported to the king as to the status of the flocks. Arriving at the palace, he used his new power of invisibility to seduce the queen, and with her help he murdered the king, and became king of Lydia himself.
The role of the legend in Republic[ edit ] In Republic, the tale of the ring of Gyges is described by the character of Glaucon who is the brother of Plato. Glaucon asks whether any man can be so virtuous that he could resist the temptation of being able to perform any act without being known or discovered.
Glaucon suggests that morality is only a social constructionthe source of which is the desire to maintain one's reputation for virtue and justice. Hence, if that sanction were removed, one's moral character would evaporate.
Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men.
Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust.
For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.
Though his answer to Glaucon's challenge is delayed, Socrates ultimately argues that justice does not derive from this social construct:In Republic, the tale of the ring of Gyges is described by the character of Glaucon who is the brother of Plato. Glaucon asks whether any man can be so virtuous that he could resist the temptation of being able to perform any act without being known or discovered.
A summary of Book II in Plato's The Republic. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Republic and what it means.
Glaucon appeals to a thought experiment. Invoking the legend of the ring of Gyges, he asks us to imagine that a just man is given a ring which makes him invisible.
and erotically lustful urges.
The tale of Gyges' ring narrated by Cicero at De officiis is of course originally found, 19 For a defence of ‘countermodal’ hypotheses in the context of Plato's version of the Gyges tale see Shields, C., ‘ Plato's challenge: the case against .
Apr 02, · However, in the dialog Socrates goes on to explain that justice would not be defined by just this social construct; the man that abused the power of the Ring of Gyges has become morally bankrupt and suffered irreperable failings of character, while a man that chose willingly not to use it is at least at peace with himself.
For the sake of the argument, Glaucon proposes to present a defense of injustice.
no one is willingly a follower of justice and that anyone who was free to be unjust would be unjust Glaucon tells the tale of the ring of Gyges. In this challenge the perfectly unjust man is to be squared off against the just man. The unjust man must be.
The Ring of Gyges from Plato, Republic dc Glaucon disagrees with Socrates and insists that justice and virtue are not in fact desirable in and of themselves.