The Magic Ring of the Secret Sinner

Russell Minick 1 Comment

Plato’s Republic contains an interesting story about choices. Is restraint from actual sin righteousness or cowardice? Subsequently, is it really a sin if one would do something, say in their mind, but wouldn’t actually do it?

“Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other;,no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a God among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust. For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right. If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another’s, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another’s faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice. Enough of this.”

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Comments 1

  1. Like the irony of “keeping up appearances with one another” in hopes of foiling the invisible man. Fascinating that Jesus presents exactly the opposite scenario as you have noted in the Sermon on the Mount in which the ‘invisible’ person does right in secret and is rewarded openly (and nobody can figure out why or they simply pay no attention).

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