What I feel would restrain a man from using the ring from the Myth of Gyges therefore is contingent upon poorly erected moral codes, and poorly formed social contracts. Man seeks happiness, and if a man truly knows his definition of happiness, he would similarly know it is not something that can be grasped in his hands, nor taken from another’s. It is purely intangible and unique to each man, though many other truths allow for a man to experience happiness. This belief speaks of morality in a way similar to Plato, saying – in my opinion – that man’s. If there is any struggle to find happiness, it is because the society that the man lives within is preventing him from finding what truly leads to happiness. An example of this might follow as such: in the myth, it is said that Gyges seduces the Queen into taking him on as her husband. In essence, Gyges has spoken to the Queen’s mind, for he has spoken words that have led her to believe she indeed loves him, when in truth there is no true emotion or feeling of love experienced. Love could be seen as an intangible part of what attributes to true happiness, which a wise man will know cannot be held nor stolen. If one is loved, it is because another holds the feelings in their heart, not because their mind tells them to. While words and kindness can lend to a greater and stronger love, it cannot create it alone.
It would stand to reason that most men would desire to feel loved, whether we look at it romantically and at the feelings which cannot be described, or if we look at this more scientifically. In terms of this latter option, we could look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, wherein we find that companionship and acceptance from others falls into the third most important slot on the road to self-actualization, or happiness. To have someone who thinks they love you is not to have any real companionship at all, for eventually their head will be persuaded just as easily that they no longer need you. In this matter, it would be said that Gyges has no companionship, and therefore is not able to go beyond this step towards happiness. In essence, by lacking true companionship, it is unlikely he will ever achieve happiness, and a man who knows this will see the ring as worthless.
Should we look at love in the way of the romantics, channeling our inner Goethe or Cummings, we would again find that Gyges does not experience the phenomenon these two giants speak of. The passion that might come with his seduction would fall to the grey area of lust rather than to love, because ultimately we cannot convince another of the reasons to love us, it is up to the heart of an individual to choose. And in this same way, in our romantic interpretation of love and companionship, Gyges himself feels no love for he has only used his powers in order to seize a throne that does not belong to him and will never truly be his. Again, the ring has not helped him find happiness, and a wise man would still find no use for the ring.
As such, it would seem clear and acceptable to conclude that Gyges does not act immorally because he is unjust, but rather because the society he lives in is not structured correctly. The structure of his world and the beliefs they hold do not align with the truths and therefore, Gyges acts in a way in line with these beliefs. He is unaware however that the truths are intangible, thinking power and money are the highest goods a man can hold, when in fact these bring him nothing. In a society where men give up certain powers and abilities, such as the ability to kill or steal as wanted – leaving behind the state of nature – to achieve happiness, then there will truly be moral men and Gyge’s ring will hold no power over anyone. But first, it is necessary for the society to accept that the material does not hold the truth and they must then dedicate themselves to finding the self-actualization that leads to their happiness.