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432B - 434C Where then is Justice? We must beware lest she escape us. Socrates presently exclaims that he has found the trail. Justice is the principle, or else one form of the principle, which we laid down at the beginning, viz. that each individual shall fulfil that function only for which he is naturally best fitted. In other words, Justice is, in a certain sense, ‘minding one's own business.’ Four considerations point to this conclusion. In the first place, it is in order to make the other three take root that we require a fourth virtue; and it is just the division of duty according to natural capacity which renders the other three virtues possible. Secondly, this is the only principle which can be compared with the other three virtues in respect of benefit conferred upon the State: and Justice must be comparable with them in this respect. Thirdly, it is by this principle that the Rulers will direct their judicial decisions, and Justice is the principle by which our Rulers judge. Lastly, the violation of this principle works the greatest mischief in the City. So does Injustice; so that the principle itself is identical with Justice.

For Plato's view of Civic Justice see on 434 C.

ὥς γε -- δόξαι. This phrase is apparently quite unique in Plato: see Grünenwald cited on 430 E.

ὥσπερ κυνηγέτας. The image is a favourite one with Plato: cf. Laws 654 E, Parm. 128 C, Lys. 218 C. Other examples may be found in Stallbaum's note on this passage. The particular kind of hunting from which Plato takes his illustration is clearly described in Xen. de Ven. 8. 4—8. A net was drawn round the bush where the hare was, and the hunters stood round, ready μεταθεῖν κατὰ τὰ ἴχνη, ἐὰν ἐκκυλισθῇ ἐκ τῶν δικτύων.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Plato, Parmenides, 128c
    • Plato, Lysis, 218c
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