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[348e] but only what I just described.” “I am not unaware of your meaning in that,” I said; “but this is what surprised me,1 that you should range injustice under the head of virtue and wisdom, and justice in the opposite class.” “Well, I do so class them,” he said. “That,” said I, “is a stiffer proposition,2 my friend, and if you are going as far as that it is hard to know what to answer. For if your position were that injustice is profitable yet you conceded it to be vicious and disgraceful as some other3 disputants do, there would be a chance for an argument on conventional principles. But, as it is, you obviously are going to affirm that it is honorable and strong and you will attach to it all the other qualities

1 Socrates understands the theory, and the distinction between wholesale injustice and the petty profits that are not worth mentioning, but is startled by the paradox that injustice will then fall in the category of virtue and wisdom. Thrasymachus affirms the paradox and is brought to self-contradiction by a subtle argument (349-350 C) which may pass as a dramatic illustration of the game of question and answer. Cf. Introduction p. x.

2 ἤδη marks the advance from the affirmation that injustice is profitable to the point of asserting that it is a virtue. This is a “stiffer proposition,” i.e. harder to refute, or possibly more stubborn.

3 e.g. Polus in Gorgias 474 ff., 482 D-E. Cf. Isocrates De Pace 31. Thrasymachus is too wary to separate the κακόν and the αἰσχρόν and expose himself to a refutation based on conventional usage. Cf. Laws 627 D, Politicus 306 A, Laws 662 A.

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