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But if we agree that a passion though just is unseemly, then justice and beauty will be at discord, when just things are called most unseemly.Clinias
What do you mean by that?Athenian
It is not hard to grasp. The laws we enacted a short time ago might seem to enjoin what is absolutely contrary to our present statements.Clinias
What statements? [860b] Athenian
We laid it down1 that it is just to put to death the temple-robber and the enemy of the rightly-enacted laws; and then, when we were minded to enact a host of similar rules, we held our hand, since we perceived that such rules involve passions infinite both in number and in magnitude, and that, although they are eminently just, they are also eminently unseemly. Thus the just and the beautiful will seem to us at one moment wholly identical, at another, utterly opposed, will they not?Clinias
I am afraid so. [860c] Athenian
Thus it is that by the multitude the beautiful and the just are flung apart, and inconsistent language is used about them.Clinias
It certainly seems so, Stranger.Athenian
Then let us look again at our own view, and see how far it is consistent in this respect.Clinias
What kind of consistency, and in respect of what, do you mean?Athenian
I believe that I expressly stated2 in our previous discourse,—or, if I did not do it before, please assume that I now assert—Clinias
What? [860d] Athenian
That all bad men are in all respects unwillingly bad; and, this being so, our next statement must agree therewith.Clinias
What statement do you mean?Athenian
This,—that the unjust man is, indeed, bad, but the bad man is unwillingly bad.3 But it is illogical to suppose that a willing deed is done unwillingly; therefore he that commits an unjust act does so unwillingly in the opinion of him who assumes that injustice is involuntary—a conclusion which I also must now allow; for I agree that all men do unjust acts unwillingly; so, since I hold this view—and do not share the opinion of those who, [860e] through contentiousness or arrogance, assert that, while there are some who are unjust against their will, yet there are also many who are unjust willingly,—how am I to prove consistent with my own statements? Suppose you two, Megillus and Clinias, put this question to me—“If this is the state of the case, Stranger, what counsel do you give us in regard to legislating for the Magnesian State? Shall we legislate or shall we not?” “Legislate by all means,” I shall reply. “Will you make a distinction, then, between voluntary and involuntary wrongdoings, and are we to enact heavier penalties for the crimes and wrongdoings that are voluntary,
3 In what follows, the Athenian, adopting the Socratic dictum that “vice is involuntary” (cp. Plat. Tim. 86e ff.), applies it to the special vice of injustice; but here his view is found to conflict with the popular view which distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary acts of injustice, and assigns to them different legal penalties. If this popular distinction is wrong, the lawgiver must either (a) simply apply the Socratic rule, and enact that all unjust acts are involuntary and deserve therefore equal penalties, or (b) draw a new distinction, which Ath. proceeds to do in 861 E ff. (see note ad loc.).
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