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[351a] What is the nature of injustice as compared with justice? For the statement made, I believe, was that injustice is a more potent and stronger thing than justice. But now,” I said, “if justice is wisdom and virtue, it will easily, I take it, be shown to be also a stronger thing than injustice, since injustice is ignorance—no one could now fail to recognize that—but what I want is not quite so simple1 as that. I wish, Thrasymachus, to consider it in some such fashion as this. A city, you would say, may be unjust and [351b] try to enslave other cities unjustly, have them enslaved and hold many of them in subjection.” “Certainly,” he said; “and this is what the best state will chiefly do, the state whose injustice is most complete.” “I understand,” I said, “that this was your view. But the point that I am considering is this, whether the city that thus shows itself superior to another will have this power without justice or whether she must of necessity combine it with justice.” [351c] “If,2” he replied, “what you were just now saying holds good, that justice is wisdom, with justice; if it is as I said, with injustice.” “Admirable, Thrasymachus,” I said; “you not only nod assent and dissent, but give excellent answers.” “I am trying to please you,” he replied.

“Very kind of you. But please me in one thing more and tell me this: do you think that a city,3 an army, or bandits, or thieves, or any other group that attempted any action in common, could accomplish anything if they wronged one another?” [351d] “Certainly not,” said he. “But if they didn't, wouldn't they be more likely to?” “Assuredly.” “For factions, Thrasymachus, are the outcome of injustice, and hatreds and internecine conflicts, but justice brings oneness of mind and love. Is it not so?” “So be it,” he replied, “not to differ from you.” “That is good of you, my friend; but tell me this: if it is the business of injustice to engender hatred wherever it is found, will it not, when it springs up either among freemen or slaves, cause them to hate and be at strife with one another, and make them incapable [351e] of effective action in common?” “By all means.” “Suppose, then, it springs up between two, will they not be at outs with and hate each other and be enemies both to one another and to the just?” “They will,” he said. “And then will you tell me that if injustice arises in one4 it will lose its force and function or will it none the less keep it?” “Have it that it keeps it,” he said. “And is it not apparent that its force is such that wherever it is found in city, family, camp, or in anything else

1 Cf. 331 C, 386 B. Instead of the simple or absolute argument that justice, since it is wisdom and virtue, must be stronger, etc., then injustice, Socrates wishes to bring out the deeper thought that the unjust city or man is strong not because but in spite of his injustice and by virtue of some saving residue of justice.

2 Thrasymachus can foresee the implications of either theory.

3 For the thought cf. Spencer, Data of Ethics, 114: “Joint aggressions upon men outside the society cannot prosper if there are many aggressions of man on man within the society;” Leslie Stephen, Science of Ethics, Chapter. VIII. 31: “It (the loyalty of a thief to his gang) is rather a spurious or class morality,” etc.; Carlyle: “Neither James Boswell's good book, nor any other good thinng . . . is or can be performed by any man in virtue of his badness, but always solely in spite thereof.” Proclus, In Rempub. Kroll i. 20 expands this idea. Dante (ConvivioI. xii.) attributes to the Philosopher in the fifth of the ethics the saying that even robbers and plunderers love justice. Locke (Human Understanding i. 3) denies that this proves the principles of justice innate: “They practise them as rules of convenience within their own communities,” etc. Cf. further Isocrates xii. 226 on the Spartans, and Plato Protagoras 322 B, on the inconveniences of injustice in the state of nature,ἠδίκουν ἀλλήλους.

4 The specific function must operate universally in bond or free, in many, two, or one. The application to the individual reminds us of the main argument of the Republic. Cf. 369 A, 433 D, 441 C. For the argument many, few or two, one, Cf. Laws 626 C.

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