[The Good as Order and Arrangement]

[from] The Gorgias by Plato
translated by Benjamin Jowett

SOC. ...Will not the good man, who says whatever he says with a view to the best, speak with a reference to some standard and not at random; just as all other artists, whether the painter, the builder, the shipwright, or any other look all of them to their own work, and do not select and apply at random what they apply, but strive to give a definite form to it? The artist disposes all things in order, and compels the one part to harmonize and accord with the other part, until he has constructed a regular and systematic
whole; and this is true of all artists, and in the same way the trainers and physicians, of whom we spoke before, give order and regularity to the body: do you deny this?

CAL. No; I am ready to admit it.

SOC. Then the house in which order and regularity prevail is good, that in which there is disorder, evil?

CAL. Yes.

SOC. And the same is true of a ship?

CAL. Yes.

SOC. And the same may be said of the human body?

CAL. Yes.

SOC. And what would you say of the soul? Will the good soul be that in which disorder is prevalent, or that in which there is harmony and order?

CAL. The latter follows from our previous admissions.

SOC. What is the name which is given to the effect of harmony and order in the body?

CAL. I suppose that you mean health and strength?

SOC. Yes, I do; and what is the name which you would give to the effect of harmony and order in the soul? Try and discover a name for this as well as for the other.

CAL. Why not give the name yourself, Socrates?

SOC. Well, if you had rather that I should, I will; and you shall say whether you agree with me, and if not, you shall refute and answer me. "Healthy," as I conceive, is the name which is given to the regular
order of the body, whence comes health and every other bodily excellence. Is that true or not?

CAL. True.

SOC. And "lawful" and "law" are the names which are given to the regular order and action of the soul, and these make men lawful and orderly; and so we have temperance and justice, have we not?

CAL. Granted.

SOC. And will not the true rhetorician who is honest and understands his art have his eye fixed upon these, in all the words which he addresses to the souls of men, and in all his actions, both in what he gives and in what he takes away? Will not his aim be to implant justice in the souls of his citizens mind take away injustice, to implant temperance and take away intemperance, to implant every virtue and take away every vice? Do you not agree?

CAL. I agree.

SOC. For what use is there, Callicles, in giving to the body of a sick man who is in a bad state of health a quantity of the most delightful food or drink or any other pleasant thing, which may be really as bad for him as if you gave him nothing, or even worse if rightly estimated. Is not that true?

CAL. I will not say No to it.

SOC. For in my opinion there is no profit in a man's life if his body is in an evil plight. In that case, his life also is evil. Am I not right?

CAL. Yes.

SOC. When a man is in health the physicians will generally allow him to eat when he is hungry and drink when he is thirsty, and to satisfy his desires as he likes, but when he is sick they hardly suffer him to satisfy his desires at all: even you will admit that?

CAL. Yes.

SOC. And does not the same argument hold of the soul, my good sir? While she is in a bad state and is senseless and intemperate and unjust and unholy, her desires ought to be controlled, and she ought to be prevented from doing anything which does not tend to her own improvement.

CAL. Yes.

SOC. Such treatment will be better for the soul herself?

CAL. To be sure.

SOC. And to restrain her from her appetites is to chastise her?

CAL. Yes.

[At this point, Callicles becomes angry and is reluctant to continue the argument. Gorgias urges Socrates to continue the argument on his own, for the benefit of those listening.]

SOC. Listen to me, then, while I recapitulate the argument: Is the pleasant the same as the good? Not the same. Callicles and I are agreed about that. And is the pleasant to be pursued for the sake of the good? or the good for the sake of the pleasant? The pleasant is to be pursued for the sake of the good. And that is pleasant at the presence of which we are pleased, and that is good at the presence of which we are good? To be sure. And we-good, and all good things whatever are good when some virtue is present in us or them? That, Callicles, is my conviction. But the virtue of each thing, whether body or soul, instrument or creature, when given to them in the best way comes to them not by chance but as the result of the order and truth and art which are imparted to them: Am I not right? I maintain that I am. And is not the virtue of each thing dependent on order or arrangement? Yes, I say. And that which makes a thing good is the proper order inhering in each thing? Such is my view. And is not the soul which has an order of her own better than that which has no order? Certainly. And the soul which has order is orderly? Of course. And that which is orderly is temperate? Assuredly. And the temperate soul is good? No other answer can I give, Callicles dear; have you any?

CAL. Go on, my good fellow.

SOC. Then I shall proceed to add, that if the, temperate soul is the good soul, the soul which is in the opposite condition, that is, the foolish and intemperate, is the bad soul.

Very true. [Socrates answers himself]

And will not the temperate man do what is proper, both in relation to the gods and to men; for he would not be temperate if he did not? Certainly he will do what is proper. In his relation to other men he will do what is just; See and in his relation to the gods he will do what is holy; and he who does what is just and holy must be just and holy? Very true. And must he not be courageous? for the duty of a temperate man is not to follow or to avoid what he ought not, but what he ought, whether things or men or pleasures or pains, and patiently to endure when he ought; and therefore, Callicles, the temperate man, being, as we have described, also just and courageous and holy, cannot be other than a perfectly good man, nor can the
good man do otherwise than well and perfectly whatever he does; and he who does well must of necessity be happy and blessed, and the evil man who does evil, miserable. Now this latter is he whom you were applauding, the intemperate who is the opposite of the temperate. Such is my position, and these things I affirm to be true. And if they are true, then I further affirm that he who desires to be happy must pursue and practise temperance and run away from intemperance as fast as his legs will carry him; he had better order his life so as not to need punishment; but if either he or any of his friends, whether private individual or city, are in need of punishment, then justice must be done and he must suffer punishment, if he would be happy. This appears to me to be the aim which a man ought to have, and towards which he ought to direct all the energies both of himself and of the state, acting so that he may have temperance and justice present with him and be happy, not suffering his lusts to be unrestrained, and in the never-ending desire satisfy them leading a robber's life. Such; one is the friend neither of God nor man, for he is incapable of communion, and he who is incapable of communion is also incapable of friendship. And philosophers tell us, Callicles, that communion and friendship and orderliness and temperance and justice bind together heaven and earth and gods and men, and that this universe is therefore called Cosmos or order, not disorder or misrule, my friend. But although you are a philosopher you seem to me never to have observed that geometrical equality is mighty, both among gods and men; you think that you ought to cultivate inequality or excess, and do not care about geometry.