What If You Could Get Away With Anything? Plato + Zelda

Press Start for “What If You Could Get Away With Anything?” by 8-Bit Philosophy, where classic video games introduce famous thinkers, problems, and concepts with quotes, teachings, and more.

Episode 14: What If You Could Get Away With Anything? | (Plato & The Ring of Gyges)

Written by: Mia Wood
Created & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Visual Consultant: Matt Reichle
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon

What If You Could Get Away With Anything? (Plato & The Ring of Gyges)

What if you could do whatever you want…and get away with it?

Suppose, for example, you could steal from your best friend…and not only would he never find out it was you…

He would also think you’re the best friend ever for letting him cry on your shoulder. What a sap!

He would also think you’re the best friend ever for letting him cry on your shoulder. What a sap!

Meanwhile, you’re living it up with what you stole, and have a devoted tool — er, friend — to boot!

Believe it or not, Plato talks about you in Book II of his Republic! Well, he talks about people like you, if you’re the sort of person willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead… especially if you can do it without ever getting caught.

Plato tells us a story — a myth, really — of a lowly shepherd who discovers a mysterious chasm. And inside of it was a magic ring. When he turned the ring so that the setting faced his palm, he became invisible.

That night, as he sat with other shepherds around the fire, he started turning the ring, and noticed that others, thinking he’d left his place, started talking about him. In actual fact, he was invisible.

He wasted no time seducing the queen and, with her help, murdering the king and seizing power. Even though he committed a grave injustice, he certainly benefitted, didn’t he!

Well, according to Plato, no. Despite now being infinitely richer and more powerful, Plato thinks the shepherd has NOT benefited from committing this injustice.

But why? Surely it’s good to gain some material wealth or social status. Does it really matter HOW it’s achieved?

But Plato doesn’t think that injustice really is in one’s best interest. In fact, just the opposite!

You see, according to Plato, justice is inherently valuable. The just person will always be infinitely happier — and thus richer — than the unjust person.

For Plato does not think that goodness is derived from material or social gain. Thinking that it is, is what the shepherd got wrong.

Justice in the individual is the condition of a harmonious soul governed by reason. You see, Plato thinks the soul has three parts: the appetitive part that reflects our urges; the spirited part that reflects our emotions; and the rational part that reflects our best selves.

That’s why the just individual will never commit injustices, whether s/he can get away with it or not.

In other words, the just individual knows that committing unjust acts messes with his soul, and so also his happiness.

So, dear Viewer, if you found a ring that could make you invisible, what would you do…?

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