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Socrates pushes forward further with the declaration that it is worse to do than to suffer wrong, a claim to which Polus objects. Polus says that many people who do wrong are happy. Socrates insists, however, that the wicked and evildoers are necessarily unhappy, while unhappier still are those who commit wrong and escape punishment. Immediately the question arises why those who commit wrongful acts should be unhappy at all, especially if they become able to get away with the committing of their wrongful act while simultaneously avoiding punishment for it. As the beginning of an answer, Socrates somewhat confusingly maintains that it is more shameful to do than to suffer wrong, and that this greater shame also means it is worse to do than suffer wrong. From this formulation, the more shameful equals the worse. Polus disagrees with this reasoning, since he considers neither the good and the fair nor the evil and the shameful to be equivalent. Even though somewhat clearly formed, the specifics of the ideas and positions in question here remain to some extent impenetrable by the understanding, since they remain in some way, at their core, matters of vague subjective perspectives on the issue which Plato attempts to develop into reality through the mechanism of this dialogue.

In a display of great patience, Socrates states that when one of two shameful things exceeds the other in "baseness," the excess either is one of pain or one of evil. The idea behind this claim is that without somehow inflicting either pain or evil, something is not bad, wicked, or shameful—is not a cause of suffering. For, without pain or evil inflicted somehow on someone, why would one suffer? Polus readily agrees with Socrates's line of thought. And, since the infliction of wrong cannot exceed the suffering of wrong in terms of pain and yet does exceed the suffering of wrong in terms of shame, the excess of infliction must be that of evil. It is more evil to commit than to suffer wrong. Polus ultimately assents to this decree.

Worse yet is to not be punished for the infliction of wrong. Socrates and Polus both agree that punishment serves to bring those guilty of wrong to justice, by balancing against the wrong which already has been committed. Socrates also points out that one who receives punishment for a wrong "suffers justly" by paying the just penalty. This fact in turn prompts him to avow that one who is justly punished suffers the good and is thereby liberated from the high evil of the soul. One who inflicts wrong and receives proper punishment therefore liberates his…


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