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Concepts of Morality and Happiness in The Ring of Gyges

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    The story about of “The Ring of Gyges” is a question of morality that compels the reader to ask himself and evaluate his own morality, that is, whether or not he considers himself moral or immoral. Although morality is not all-or-nothing, given the complexity and thoroughness with which Socrates developed this virtue, and the number of prominent people who argued for and against his stand, the story is a simple, yet direct, method of assessing personal virtuosity.

    “Happiness”, according to Socrates, “ does not consist in being delivered from evils, but in never having them.” From this statement, he elaborated on the nature of what is good by differentiating the state of happiness of three men: a sick man who refuses treatment because of fear of pain, a sick man who seeks cure, and a healthy man (who did not get sick). Following from Socrates’ statement, the healthy man is therefore the happiest among the three, followed by the sick man who wants to get cured, and least of all the sick man who refuses treatment. From this analogy, Socrates further elaborated on the virtue of justice/morality by likening it with the cure: A man who wants to get cured (or a man who wants to get rid of the evil that contaminated him) is a virtuous man. But more than that, of course, is the good man who prevents evil from beseeching him. On the other hand, the sick man who refuses treatment is a man lacking in virtue, for he does not recognize the benefits of justice in him.

    Given the above discussion by Socrates, it follows that a man who takes advantage of the Ring of Gyges, and uses it for crime and injustice, is a man who does not only allow sickness to possess him, but is also a man who would probably refuse treatment once the crime is done. Therefore, not only will the person be miserable, he will also not be happy.

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