Friday, December 10, 2021

Republic Book 2 Section 1

Whether today, right now, or over an Aion ago, Sophists gonna Soph.

"was all along seeking to do personal injury in making him look bad in the argument and probably cheated somehow in achieving the final rebuttal."

Literally Twitter. The Sophist culture is alive and well, having discovered and rediscovered the timeless strategies of the lying tongue. Thrashy is "fresh as a daisy" as some might put it. 

If someone made me look bad in argument (without lying), I would immediately kneel at their feet and be grateful for the privilege. Having do all my own error-finding is an enormous pain in the neck. 

"Socrates has said that Justice is a good, a virtue, not unlike good health and forms of human knowledge that are good in and of themselves"

Begging the question. Must first establish what Justice is before you can determine whether it's good. 

The arts of definition are somewhat subtle and clearly beyond "Form of the Good" Plato. Briefly, it's either descriptive or proscriptive, meaning either Justice is already a thing or you can simply keep trying definitions until it does what you want. In either case Socrates/Plato is fucking up.

"The attainment of the good is not consequent on the rewards (money, honor, prestige) it might entail."

No Socrates, no. Bad Socrates! No soup for you!
Money, honour, and prestige are valuable because they are valued. The good is also valued, which is why it's valuable. You can straight convert these to monetary values* and compare them directly. The good is valuable in exactly the same way money is valuable. "The attainment of the reward is not consequent on rewards." You, uh, wanna try that one again? Sleep on it. Come back tomorrow.

*(Note how in general usage this would be an equivocation but, as is now apparent, shouldn't be and isn't.)

Socrates is trying to say that the subjective trumps the objective. Consciousness is more important than mere matter. Problem: matter is merely a special kind of consciousness, and matter, too, is loved by "pure" Consciousness.
Are you trying to say Gnon shouldn't have created matter? Some do, and the reason they say that is because they resent existence and wish to have never existed.

Socrates has been confused by grassmonkey status. Especially in the scholar caste, "pure" consciousness is considered higher status and, because prestige is valuable and happens to be attached to this phenomenon, it is easy to confuse consciousness with something inherently more valuable that consciousness. However, Socrates, of all people, should have known better.

"But Glaucon's recapitulation of Thrasymachus' argument is of value, if only because it eschews the Sophist's bombast."

Yes, speaking with non-Sophists is always far less irritating. 

Do they do it on purpose? Trying to get you on tilt you so you're not thinking as clearly? Fun fact: a genuine cooperator doesn't try to bother you on purpose. They try to put things tactfully so the conversation improves your mood rather than eroding it. 

"In the old days, there was no concept of justice, no laws to fix the locus of justice. People took by force of arms whatever they could from one another"

Falsely portraying the past as worse than it was for purposes of [Progress] does not appear to be new either.

"no group of people could ally themselves in sufficient force or philosophical consensus"

Scholar flattery. Logical debate has only a minor role in the process. I suspect that, if questioned. Glaucon would go all motte-and-bailey here and claim he wasn't referring to explicit debate. Not great, but he isn't a professional thinker, so it's to be expected.

"So people agreed to a sort of rude law, tried to establish "right" actions and "wrong" actions. But their laws were engendered by fear and motivated by selfish ends."

It is true that rude, unprofessional justice is apt to be approximate. However, psychological egoism is true, so there is no way to make it unselfish. 

Agree that justice should be pursued for the joy of a good life, rather than fear of experiencing an unjust life - fearsome though that prospect may be. Sadly the lower orders do not appear to be capable of setting aside their terrors.


"Let us suppose (Glaucon continues) that each of two men possesses a magic ring that enables each man to become invisible. [...] The men's invisibility-at-will enables them to do whatever they want" 

Tolkein's ring of Power was an explicit reference to Plato's ring of Power.*

Plato, unlike many moderns (and frequently unlike his own meandering codex) immediately stabs the heart of the issue. Responsibility. 

With no responsibility, there is no justice. The purpose of invisibility is deception; the purpose of deception is invisibility. 

*(Not a very good one, though. Unsurprisingly: Socrates > Plato > JRRT. LOTR never meditates on the nature of justice. Frodo is tempted abstractly, rather than with stealing Sting from Bilbo or something. He doesn't think, "Huh, why don't I invisibly rape my childhood crush real quick before I'm off to Mordor? Except that Sauron would be watching me do it, why would that be wrong? I don't care what Sauron feels about it...")

"the just man, given the opportunity, will also behave unjustly unless he is a simpleton. [...] it is more rewarding for the unjust man, reaping the benefits of injustice, to appear to be just, thereby incurring honors and reputation consequent upon the appearance of justice."


Stupid example: the just man knows he's being unjust. He cannot be invisible to himself. Maybe no other hobbits would know Frodo raped some bitch, but Frodo would know. 

Plato's secularist error is showing. Consciousness is important. The "rewards" of sex have to be placed against the penalties of thinking yourself a rapist, and, if you're not a complete psychopath, the knowledge that someone you know was unnecessarily raped. Just to start. (Do you really want sex per se? Or... do you want to be the kind of person women agree to have sex with? Checksum: prostitutes are cheaper than dating.)

Plato's Socrates will predictably argue against Glaucon's statement, but the arguments will be weak at best, impressing only star-struck fan Plato. For thousands of years, the rest of us will have to be content knowing that an argument exists, even though we cannot articulate it. 

(Spoiler: we weren't.)

"even if we are reminded that we are taught that the gods themselves [who see through invisibility] reward justice and punish injustice, we know from the stories the poets tell us that the gods can be bribed."

Oopsie, Glaucon. Yes, the gods can be bribed. No, it is not worth doing. The net benefit of injustice - the cost of the bribe > the "cost" of justice. Do the accounting. 

If the god has genuine domain over the justice, they will not accept a bribe that's cheap enough to be worth paying; that is simply the nature of heavenly entities. If they are not a just god, then bribing them is a scam. They have no authority; you're just being tricked. 


"Perhaps we can fool the gods with appearance as well as the most of mankind."

You can't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ You can't even consistently fool mankind.

What we mean by "the gods themselves" is that injustice is self-punishing. A just society is more comfortable both materially and emotionally. Per Kant, even if yourself would be forgiven for injustice, you wouldn't want anyone else doing it to you; giving up the "right" to injustice is a very low price for getting rid of everyone else's practice of injustice. 

It's a scalar. The more just the society, the more Epicurean it is. Even base hedonism has justice as a prerequisite. 

In Reality, invisible things aren't real. Either justice has tangible benefits or it has no benefits. 

Frodo's ring of invisibility doesn't grant invisibility. His crush isn't unaware of being raped; it really happens. If Frodo genuinely escapes social responsibility that's down to the profane incompetence of the other hobbits. They know Gandalf visited Frodo. They know about the ring - or at least Bilbo does. They know who his crush is. Someone gets a ring of power and then suddenly Frodo's old flame is raped by an invisible hobbit? Gee, I wonder who that was. Let me think real hard about this one. 

Sophists get away with invisibility because humans are evil. The other humans cover for and defend the Sophist's crimes and thus you get an unjust society.
Maybe Frodo bribes Bilbo to keep silent about the ring. Some think they can ride the Sophist's coattails to unpunished injustice - maybe Sam wants to rape a bitch too. Many are trapped by irrational terror - Gandalf is afraid that if Frodo doesn't take the Ring to Mordor, nobody will. If anyone realizes he picked a bad hobbit, they'll stop respecting him.
Result: everyone knows Frodo raped a bitch, but now all the bitches (and anyone who cares about them) is constantly worrying about who's going to be raped next instead of living their just lives. They develop learned helplessness and don't even try to fight off Saruman when he, too, comes to rape a bitch.
Result: Tolkien doesn't mention the rape, because it would just make the reader feel bad. The cowardice of his contemporaries will send Frodo to the blessed isles, although he himself knows he doesn't deserve it.
Result: the Ring ends up in the Cracks. This doesn't help. The Ring never had the power.
Result: America is not great. American folks all hate each other and themselves.

In short you can have a King if you want, but don't let him tax. Taxation is theft. If the King tries to tax you, leave immediately. Disavow the kingdom. If you let him tax, you (your descendants) will be the bitch raped by Sophists.

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