In Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates and Polus have an in depth discussion about the relationship between doing wrongs and having wrongs done to you. By the end of the reading Socrates has convinced Polus that committing crimes is much worse than having crimes committed against you. If this lesson was taught today the changes could be drastic, and this possibility made the reading very intriguing for me.
In the beginning of the passage Polus believes that having a wrong done to you causes more pain and unpleasantness and, therefore, is worse. He strongly disagrees with Socrates’ views and needs a lot of evidence before understanding the truth. Socrates converts Plato by first stating that anything admirable is either admirable because it creates pleasure or is beneficial; likewise, something is contemptible because it creates displeasure or is harmful. They then both agree that doing wrongs is contemptible, but having a wrong done to you is more unpleasant. Therefore, doing wrongs must be contemptible because it is harmful, and because it is harmful it is worse.
Most people in today’s society have Polus’ original view – that having a wrong done to you is worse than committing a wrong. They believe that the unpleasantness they experience when having a wrong done to them verifies it as the worst. They fail to see that doing wrongs causes a harmful psychological state, which is much worse than any unpleasant feeling. If this fact was explained to them they would put all their effort toward not committing wrongs against others. If everyone in the world was doing this, the world would be a much safer, happier state. This possibility made the passage very thought provoking and intriguing for me.