Friday, 26 August 2011
"There is no doubt about that."
"It necessarily follows, Polemarchus, that people who are harmed become less moral."
"So it seems."
"Now, can musicians use music to make people unmusical?"
"Can skilled horsemen use their skill to make people bad horsemen?"
"So can moral people use morality to make people immoral? Or in general can good people use their goodness to make people bad?"
"No, that's impossible."
"So harming people is not the function of a good person, but of his opposite."
"I suppose so."
"And is a moral person a good person?"
"It is not the job of a moral person, then, Polemarchus, to harm a friend or anyone else, it is the job of his opposite, an immoral person."
What Socrates argues here is a interesting precursor to what Jesus would preach a few centuries later. The dialogue begins with Polemarchus arguing that morality is doing good to those who are your friends and doing harm to evil. The dialogue evolves and Socrates tears apart Polemarchus' arguments through various means including question who is a friend, and whether a insane man could determine what a friend or foe is. The conclusion is clear though:
"“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’"But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," Matthew 5:43-44 (English Standard Version)
What does it mean to love your enemy? Can it mean harming those who are less moral than you?
 14. Plato. Republic. Oxford University Press: London. 1993.