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A First Class Fool!

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A First Class Fool!

A First Class Fool!

What is the purpose behind Glaucon's "Ring of Gyges" example? Do you think he's correct that the moral and immoral person would behave the same if granted the power of invisibility? Does this establish the claim that it is better to be immoral than moral?

First I have to say that I hold Philosophers in general including Plato in the highest regard, and I do agree with Plato on that Philosophers would make the best rulers. Having that said, I do find his ideas on "morality" and more specifically who the "moral" person is, very much unrealistic. In the world Plato paints with his analogies in The Republic, such "moral" persons might exist, but in reality I find it hard to believe. I do however agree with him on one point and that is: it is better to be moral than immoral; on everything else I lean more in favor with Glaucon.

In The Republic, Glaucon Plato's brother plays the "devil's advocate" and claims that being "immoral" is more beneficial than being "moral". He argues this by saying that doing wrong is good, and that when people chose to not do wrong is only out of fear of having wrong done to them (358e); if there were no consequences to immoral action, everyone would behave in the same manner. For example: if you needed money to feed your child and you can walk into a bank and steal all the money you need without being caught and punished for it, why wouldn't you? To better make his point, Glaucon tells Plato the allegory of the shepherd Gyges of Lydia who discovers a ring that makes him invisible. With the help of the ring, Gyges manages to become a delegate to the king, seduces the queen and with her help kills the king and takes control of the kingdom (360a-b). Later, Glaucon takes "The Ring of Gyges" parable to a different level and asks Plato to imagine 2 such rings, one worn by an immoral man and the other worn by a moral man (360b-c). He goes on to explain that there is no man "who is iron-willed enough to maintain his morality and find the strength of purpose to keep his hands off what doesn't belong to him" (360b-c). It is hard not to agree with Glaucon on this point, and so I don't. I pride myself on being a very moral person. In fact, I can honestly say I have never intentionally done anything that the general public would classify as "immoral". However, my morality has never been tested the way Gyges' was. If I had the ring of Gyges and I was invisible, I just might do a few things one might consider immoral, like hop on a plane fly first class to the most beautiful part of the world, stay in the nicest most expensive resorts, so on and so forth. I actually know I would do that. I am human after all, and only Angles or as Glaucon puts it "a first class fool" (360d) would not use this ring to their advantage. Even though I will never use the ring to hurt anyone in particular, there are still some "immoral" things I would do; I am no "first class fool". And if by some chance this "moral" person did in fact exist, I would find it hard to believe that they would not use the ring to help others, and turn into some modern day "Robin Hood". After all, is it not "moral" to make right of something that is so very wrong even if it was achieved in an "immoral" manner? Plato does not think so, but I think "the greater good" argument stands a chance here and that the moral person would consider it and even act on it, because even though the act itself is considered "immoral", taking "a hit for the team" would be the "moral" thing to do. So there, Glaucon really did a good job of convincing me that: Yes, if the moral and immoral person were granted powers of invisibility they both would behave in the same manner. They may have different reasons for acting in such manner, however the means by which they reached their goals is the same; IMMORAL.

Glaucon gives another example of why at even the basic level, it is more beneficial to be immoral and have everything anyone can ask for, than be moral and have nothing. He talks about two different men who are to be at the complete opposite sides of the spectrum on morality. However it is the immoral man that is enjoying a beautiful reputation of being very moral and lives a beautiful wealthy and happy life, while the moral man has only shame, a reputation of being immoral and a life that is nothing better than awful (360e-361c). Glaucon is simply making the point that it is better to live one's life with the "appearance of morality" and not "actual morality" (362a). In a nutshell, Glaucon believes that "morality" is only extrinsically good, and without the external

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