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“Then, my friend, justice cannot be a thing of much worth1 if it is useful only for things out of use and useless. But let us consider this point. Is not the man who is most skilful to strike or inflict a blow in a fight, whether as a boxer or elsewhere, also the most wary to guard against2 a blow?” “Assuredly.” “Is it not also true that he who best knows how to guard against disease is also most cunning to communicate it and escape detection?” “I think so.” “But again

1 A virtue is presumably a good. A defintion that makes justice useless is ipso facto refuted. This line of argument is a standardized procedure in the minor dialogues. Cf. my Unity of Plato's Thought, n. 78. The argument continues: The arts are faculties of opposites. The fallacy is intentional, as in Hippias Minor 365, where it is argued that the voluntary lie is better than the involuntary. This impressed Aristotle, who met it with his distinction between habit and faculty (ἕξις and δύναμις). Cf Topics, vi. 12. 6, Eth. Nic. v. 1. 4, vi. 5. 7, Met. 1046 b, Unity of Plato's Thought, n. 38.

2 The shift from the active to the middle here helps Plato to his transition from guarding to guarding against.

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