In Plato’s Gorgias the conversation between Callicles and Socrates aims to identify if doing wrong is actually worse than having wrongs done to you. In order to accomplish this Socrates and Callicles start defining who the “superior”, “better” and “stronger” individuals in society are, and whether these individuals act with their own interest or the community’s interest in mind. This passage proved difficult for me to get through because my view of the general populaces’ rule and Socrates definitions differ drastically.
To dispute Callicles’ point Socrates points out that the masses have to be stronger than any individual member of society. Since, at this point in the dialogue, Callicles has stated that “superior”, “better”, and “stronger” are all synonyms for one another Socrates states that the belief of the masses must, therefore, be “better” than those of any individual. Callicles and Socrates both go on to define that the general populaces’ rule is that equality is just and that no one should act individualistically. Callicles goes on to refute this claim by taking back his statement that “superior”, “better”, and “stronger” are synonyms. However, I believe that the confusion stems from a different point in the conversation.
I do not agree with the claim that the general populace believes that equality is the answer, and that everyone should have their fair share. I believe that the majority of people agree with Callicles’ opinion: that actions that promote individual success should be carried out. Even if, from an idealistic standpoint, everyone believes in equality, everyone, too, is selfish to some degree. When it comes down to it they are going to choose actions that promote their own material and monetary success. This difference in opinion made this particular passage confusing for me. Furthermore, I believe that if the general populace really did value equality above everything else, there would be fewer problems in the world.