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[340a] are commanded to perform.” “Yes, by Zeus, Socrates,” said Polemarchus, “nothing could be more conclusive.” “Of course,” said Cleitophon, breaking in, “if you are his witness.”1“What need is there of a witness?” Polemarchus said. “Thrasymachus himself admits that the rulers sometimes enjoin what is evil for themselves and yet says that it is just for the subjects to do this.” “That, Polemarchus, is because Thrasymachus laid it down that it is just to obey the orders2 of the rulers.” “Yes, Cleitophon, but he also took the position that the advantage of the stronger is just. [340b] And after these two assumptions he again admitted that the stronger sometimes bid the inferior and their subjects do what is to the disadvantage of the rulers. And from these admissions the just would no more be the advantage of the stronger than the contrary.” “O well,” said Cleitophon, “by the advantage of the superior he meant what the superior supposed to be for his advantage. This was what the inferior had to do, and that this is the just was his position.” “That isn't what he said,” [340c] replied Polemarchus. “Never mind, Polemarchus,” said I, “but if that is Thrasymachus's present meaning, let us take it from him3 in that sense.

“XIV. So tell me, Thrasymachus, was this what you intended to say, that the just is the advantage of the superior as it appears to the superior whether it really is or not? Are we to say this was your meaning?” “Not in the least,” he said.4“Do you suppose that I call one who is in error a superior when he errs?” “I certainly did suppose that you meant that,” I replied, “when you agreed that rulers are not infallible [340d] but sometimes make mistakes.” “That is because you argue like a pettifogger, Socrates. Why, to take the nearest example, do you call one who is mistaken about the sick a physician in respect of his mistake or one who goes wrong in a calculation a calculator when he goes wrong and in respect of this error? Yet that is what we say literally—we say that the physician5 erred and the calculator and the schoolmaster. But the truth, I take it, is, that each of these [340e] in so far as he is that which we entitle him never errs; so that, speaking precisely, since you are such a stickler for precision,6 no craftsman errs. For it is when his knowledge abandons him that he who goes wrong goes wrong—when he is not a craftsman. So that no craftsman, wise man, or ruler makes a mistake then when he is a ruler, though everybody would use the expression that the physician made a mistake and the ruler erred. It is in this loose way of speaking, then, that you must take the answer I gave you a little while ago. But the most precise statement is that other, that the ruler

1 It is familiar Socratic doctrine that the only witness needed in argument is the admission of your opponent. Cf. Gorgias 472 A-B.

2 τὰ κελευόμενα ποιεῖν is a term of praise for obedience to lawful authority, and of disdain for a people or state that takes orders from another. Cleitophon does not apprehend the argument and, thinking only of the last clause, reaffirms the definition in the form “it is just to do what rulers bid.” Polemarchus retorts: “And (I was right), for he (also) . . .”

3 Socrates always allows his interlocutors to amend their statements. Cf. Gorgias 491 B, 499 B, Protagoras 349 C, Xenophon Memorabilia iv. 2. 18.

4 Thrasymachus rejects the aid of an interpretation which Socrates would apply not only to the politician's miscalculation but to his total misapprehension of his true ideal interests. He resorts to the subtlety that the ruler qua ruler is infallible, which Socrates meets by the fair retort that the ruler qua ruler, the artist qua artist has no “sinister” or selfish interest but cares only for the work. If we are to substitute an abstraction or an ideal for the concrete man we must do so consistently. Cf. modern debates about the “economic man.”

5 For the idea cf. Rousseau's Emile, i.: “On me dira . . . que les fautes sont du medecin, mais que la medicine en elle-meme est infaillible. A al bonne heure; mais qu'elle vienne donc sans le medecin.” Lucian, De Parasito 54, parodies this reasoning.

6 For the invidious associations of ἀκριβολογία(1) in money dealings, (2) in argument, cf. Aristotle Met. 995 a 11, Cratylus 415 A, Lysias vii. 12, Antiphon B 3, Demosthenes. xxiii. 148, Timon in Diogenes Laertius ii. 19.

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