The Ring of Gyges


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The Ring of Gyges The Ring of Gyges is a story, written by the Greek philosopher, Plato, in Book II of Plato’s Republic. The story is told by the character ‘Glaucon’, who claims that all men, even those who appear just, naturally abuse power when it is given to them. Glaucon describes a shepherd named Gyges, who finds a ring of absolute power. The ring allows the wearer to become invisible, thus allowing them to steal and sneak. Upon discovering the ring’s power, Gyges is sent to give a report to the King. Yet, “as soon as he arrived he seduced the queen, and with her help conspired against the King and slew him, and took the kingdom” (Plato).
Point of Story In this scenario, it is clear that Glaucon is right to believe that men abuse power when it is given to them. Gyges finds the ring, and within a span of a few days at the most, he has already become a home wrecking killer.. The power the ring gives him, causes him to act freely, with the aid of invisibility, and without the restraint of repercussion. Glaucon goes on to say that “for all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right” (Plato). It is in the nature of humans to act immorally if there is no reason to act otherwise. In conclusion, Glaucon is correct to believe that men are naturally unjust and immoral when they have the power to be so.
The story of the just person who is thought unjust and the unjust person who is thought to be just (part 1) In Plato’s thought experiment, the character Glaucon tells readers of two men. One man reaches the extremities of being unjust, in which he appears to be a just, law-abiding citizen, but is not. The unjust man, “while committing the greatest crimes, he has provided himself with the greatest reputation for justice; if he makes a slip he must be able to put it right; he must be a sufficiently persuasive speaker if some wrongdoing of his is made public” (Plato 18). On the contrary, there is one man who reaches the extremities of being just, in which he receives no positive reputation from his actions at all. Otherwise there is the risk that “justice would bring him honour and rewards, and it would then not be clear whether he is what he is for justice's sake or for the sake of rewards and honour. We must strip him of everything except justice and make him the complete opposite of the other. Though he does no wrong, he must have the greatest reputation for wrongdoing so that he may be tested for justice by not weakening under ill repute and its consequences” (Plato 18).
The story of the just person who is thought unjust and the unjust person who is thought to be just (part 2) Both men have a ring of ultimate power. The unjust man uses the ring for individual gain, committing crimes and wrongdoings that no one ever learns of. However, the just man never becomes corrupted by the ring, and never uses it selfishly. As a result, the unjust man has a life of happiness and success. Whereas the just man has a life of pain and hardship. It is clear through this thought experiment that Glaucon has a negative view on human nature.
Point of the Story We know that when there are no repercussions, acting unjustly is more beneficial than acting justly. Similarly, we are aware people act justly to receive the benefits. Thirdly, we know that humans do not act justly willingly, but because they are forced to. This provides the assertion that if it is possible, people will choose to act unjustly.
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