[336b] Several times in the course of the discussion Thrasymachus had made an attempt to get the argument into his own hands, and had been put down by the rest of the company, who wanted to hear the end. But when Polemarchus and I had done speaking and there was a pause, he could no longer hold his peace; and, gathering himself up, he came at us like a wild beast, seeking to devour us. We were quite panic-stricken at the sight of him.
He roared out to the whole company: [336c] What folly, Socrates, has taken possession of you all? And why, sillybillies, do you knock under to one another? I say that if you want really to know what justice is, you should not only ask but answer, and you should not seek honour to yourself from the refutation of an opponent, but have your own answer; for there is many a one who can ask and cannot answer. [336d] And now I will not have you say that justice is duty or advantage or profit or gain or interest, for this sort of nonsense will not do for me; I must have clearness and accuracy.
I was panic-stricken at his words, and could not look at him without trembling. Indeed I believe that if I had not fixed my eye upon him, I should have been struck dumb: but when I saw his fury rising, [336e] I looked at him first, and was therefore able to reply to him.
Thrasymachus, I said, with a quiver, don’t be hard upon us. Polemarchus and I may have been guilty of a little mistake in the argument, but I can assure you that the error was not intentional. If we were seeking for a piece of gold, you would not imagine that we were “knocking under to one another,” and so losing our chance of finding it. And why, when we are seeking for justice, a thing more precious than many pieces of gold, do you say that we are weakly yielding to one another and not doing our utmost to get at the truth? Nay, my good friend, we are most willing and anxious to do so, but the fact is that we cannot. And if so, you people who know all things should pity us [337a] and not be angry with us.
How characteristic of Socrates! he replied, with a bitter laugh;—that’s your ironical style! Did I not foresee—have I not already told you, that whatever he was asked he would refuse to answer, and try irony or any other shuffle, in order that he might avoid answering?
In The Republic, we will be looking at the passage where Thrasymachus argues that Justice is whatever is in the interest of the stronger, in section 336b. At what point do you think Socrates really starts to take control of the argument? Assignment Expectations Don’t give me a play-by-play statement, but rather try to find the point where the tide turns in Socrates’s favor. This is a judgment call. There is no right answer. I am not going to say, “No, the argument turned two sentences earlier.” However, I do want you to give me solid reasons why you think the argument works the way it works. Write a 3-page paper, answering this question, and upload your work by the end of the module.
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