Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thrasymachus v. Socrates

I'm with Socrates on this one. Thrasymachus' argument isn't quite what I would call logical, and his contensions aren't common sensical. He is holding that "the just is always a loser in comparison with the unjust" (T.R. pg 18). And later on the same page, after going through his explanation, he concludes that "Injustice, when on a sufficient scale, has more strength and freedom and mastery than justice; and as I said at first, justice is in the interest of the stronger, whereas injustice is a man's own profit and interest." Their definition of "justice" has not been stated, which leads to some ambiguity as to a clear communication of ideas between Socrates and Thrasymachus. As we are well informed from Austin's "speech act theory", it is the context and intension of the words that are being said that matter most. So what was Thrasymachus intending to prove in his argument? That you will be better off if you are unjust than if you are just. Meanwhile, Socrates is trying, and eventually succeeds (i think), to prove him wrong. And judging from the dialogue between the two contenders, it seems that Thrasymachus is answering Socrates' questions with a lot of reluctance, which indicates that he has not fully thought through his position. And because of this, Socrates wins the argument by proving in the end that "injustice can never be more profitable than justice" (TR p. 29), with which Thrasymachus agrees. As I was reading this and thinking about Austin's theory, it seems to me that Socrates won this verbal-battle by manipulating Thrasymachus's ideas and twisting his intended meanings to fit his own argument. Socrates used more of a logos-centered approach, appealing to the audience's logical path of reasoning. This is much more affective than Thrasymachus's throwing out ideas and trying to defend them...but ultimately being unsuccessful.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tiffany said...

I also thought the same thing about Thrasymachus as I was reading Book 1. The statements he made from one point to another was not as fluid and connected as it should have been to win an argument. And I also agree that it was Socrates' fine logical skills that was able to not only persuade the audience that his arguements were mrore reasonable, but it also served to confuse Thrasymachus of what his original position was.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Wei Wei Wu said...

I agree with the both of you on Socrates' way of persuasion by asking questions and using logic, he makes people think about their preconceived notion and doubt about it. This makes Socrates much stronger in his argument though Thrasymachus' ideas may good... it's just the way he presents it

1:49 AM  

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