The Injustice of Gyges

Twice a week, every week, I co-host an online philosophical dialogue session. Given that it is a great time to elaborate on your own thoughts, listen to others, and figure out what one believes, I thought I’d deliver my take on the text we had today. Of course, if you would be interested in attending or observing, you can always reach out to me here.

Today, we read the ring of Gyges, a wonderful text where Plato lays out the foundation of what he views justice. While the root of the text was on justice and the law, the ideas of the conversation quickly shifted to the conversation of whether or not monopolies, corporations, and companies exploit the American people.

Since this is an opinionated blog, and I can basically write about how gingerbread men are a satanic practice if I want, I wanted to give my take on it the ideas and the text.

Why the hell do we care about justice?

Without quoting the text too heavily, Plato opens the text by claiming:

“To do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. And so when men have both done and suffered injustice and have had experience of both, not being able to avoid the one and obtain the other, they think that they had better agree among themselves to have neither.”

My biggest question concerning this piece was: “why the hell do we care about justice”? More accurately, “why the hell should I care about justice”? I don’t make this statement as though I have suddenly decided entertain Nihilism for my life, but because Plato leaves that question unanswered. Why, as an individual, should I care about being just if to do injustice is that which is good? Why shouldn’t any given individual try to escape justice at all times to maximize their “good”? While the law can be a pain in the side at times, I’m not going to complain a whole lot with the whole “don’t commit murder” bit. One could argue that this is simply because I value not suffering the injustice of being murdered more than the committing the injustice of murdering, but in general, the question still stands as to why should we respect the law if it is the injustice which is good?

Is that which is evil and unjust, evil and unjust because we envy it?

Continuing on this route of injustice, why do we have an emotional attachment to witnessing unjust acts? Why should any given man care that there has been the murder of an innocent, so long as the deceased was not himself or his associates? If we recognize that it is the injustice that we desire for ourselves, as Gyges does, why then do we feel there has been a disturbance or wrongdoing in the world when a man is murdered in cold blood and the killer walks free?

If we recognize that injustice is what we desire for ourselves, and justice is the restraint of those values, is our source of hatred towards all the fiends and villains of the world due to our envying their boldness in the face of the law, whilst we were cowards? Is the root of our hatred for all evil in the world, simply because we desired to be evil ourselves, and another man has beaten us to playing the role of the antagonist?

This comes with some nasty implications for what human nature is really like, the actions of which are readily available for the reader to imagine and infer. I’ll give you a moment to do so… good, now you’re the sadist, and not me.

It also implies a certain degree of original sin or original evil. However, this could as much be a problem of the laws, as they are with humanity. Is all law on earth flawed because men and women cannot follow it, or are all men and women on earth flawed because they cannot follow the law?

Are monopolies, or any form of power, evil simply because we acknowledge that we don’t wield it?

And now come the monopolies. During the conversation, an early idea present was the idea that monopolies, corporations, big companies are evil because they wield more power than we do in society. Coming from the idea that any to express power unto another person is evil, this makes sense. However, as in the second point, do we only hate the monopolies, corporations, big companies, because we envy their positions? Is the hatred of the rich on Earth the hatred of one’s self for not being rich, and the desire to drag the victor of wealth down to everyone else?

One thing that I felt must be brought up when it came to corporations and companies, though not so much true monopolies, was the idea that what happens when we surrender our own power. Feasibly, there is a company you could really hate, which you are still buying products from. Even when you don’t know that you are buying from Coca Cola, or using an algorithm based on Google’s, or buying a bean from Starbucks, is it not you who surrendered the power of your dollar to the corporation?

Finally, there is the question “Is there a way to not wield injustice onto someone”?

Suppose I accidentally coughed on you, and you and a legal body decided that was sufficient reason to put me behind bars in order to prevent further accidental coughs? Even if I were to say go buy a sandwich, have I committed an injustice against the man who would have boughten the sandwich? It seems almost obvious that neither of those is just, yet by Plato’s standards of justice where the law must restrict injustice, I would be a criminal in both of the senses. Even further, who can judge what pertains an injustice in the world, without simultaneously committing injustice themselves against the judged? I could claim that it is unjust to suppose that I am unjust, is an injustice, and thus brand those who desire justice in the first place as the malicious.

These were just a couple of notes I had from my the socratic conversation today, and as it was an interesting one, I thought this post would… “do it justice” *bdum tsss*. I always enjoy bringing more people into our little event, and as I clearly need to socialize more because of that last pun, let me know here if you are interested in attending one, once again.

Until next time,

Cade

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