Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Thomas Brickhouse
Dr. Lesley Friedman
Dr. Stephen Dawson
Few, if any, texts in philosophy have been more widely read and written on than Plato’s Republic. For many reasons philosophers have found this particular book to be extremely interesting. Of the many issues and arguments that appear in the Republic, Glaucon’s challenge is the most essential. Noticing the complexity and seriousness of the challenge, Socrates uses the entirety of the Republic to respond. The challenge deals with a very real and troublesome issue— whether one is happier when pursuing a life of justice or injustice. Philosophers have struggled with Glaucon’s challenge and Socrates’ response for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most serious criticism is that Socrates does not completely answer the challenges posed by Glaucon and Adeimantus. David Sachs, professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins and author of “A Fallacy in Plato’s Republic,” contends that Socrates’ response using the account of the Platonic soul is not relevant to the challenges due to its failure to meet multiple requirements. This well-known controversy is known as “The Sachs Problem.” The purpose of this paper will be to explore Glaucon’s Challenge and Socrates’ response in order to discover if, in fact, Socrates does truly answer the challenge. In order to do this, I will focus on Socrates’ response in Book IV, in which Socrates provides his account of the harmonious soul and on “The Sachs Problem,” which is intended to show that Socrates is unsuccessful in his attempt to dismiss the challenge. Finally, I plan to focus on Book IX, in which I believe Socrates provides his true response to the challenge that was issued by Glaucon and Adeimantus. Here, Socrates gives his account of the tyrannical soul and of his moral psychology. Ultimately, my aim is to discover if Sachs is successful in arguing that Socrates’ response to Glaucon’s Challenge is irrelevant or, on the other hand, if Sachs is mistaken and Socrates does provide a valid response to the challenge.
Myers, Matthew, "A Response to Glaucon’s Challenge: The Sachs Problem and the Account of the Tyrannical Man" (2016). Undergraduate Theses and Capstone Projects. 102.