Plato: The Republic | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Not only does Socrates (Plato's mouthpiece in the dialogue) posit two differing the paper will analyze them in relation to Socrates' own pedagogical method, and after Glaucon questions the moderate and plain lifestyle required in Socrates' just .. the real goal is to establish an ordered, just regime within oneself (). Socrates introduces the foundational principle of human society: the principle of specialization. Glaucon looks less kindly on this city, calling it a “city of pigs. Socrates will identify one of the main goals of the city as the education of the. or “what is the relation of justice to happiness?” Given Socrates and Glaucon visit the Piraeus to attend a festival in honor of the Thracian goddess Bendis ( a). .. The primary goal of the democratic regime is freedom or license (b- c).
As the sun illuminates objects so the eye can see them, the Form of the Good renders the objects of knowledge knowable to the human soul. As the sun provides things with their ability to be, to grow, and with nourishment, the Form of the Good provides the objects of knowledge with their being even though it itself is higher than being b.
Socrates offers the analogy of the divided line to explain the Form of the Good even further dd. He divides a line into two unequal sections once and then into two unequal sections again. The lowest two parts represent the visible realm and the top two parts the intelligible realm. Corresponding to each of these, there is a capacity of the human soul: The line also represents degrees of clarity and opacity as the lowest sections are more opaque and the higher sections clearer.
Book VII Socrates continues his discussion of the philosopher and the Forms with a third analogy, the analogy of the cave ac. True education is the turning around of the soul from shadows and visible objects to true understanding of the Forms c-d. Philosophers who accomplish this understanding will be reluctant to do anything other than contemplate the Forms but they must be forced to return to the cave the city and rule it.
Those who eventually become philosopher kings will initially be educated like the other guardians in poetry, music, and physical education d-e. Then they will receive education in mathematics: Following these, they will study astronomy eand harmonics d.
Then they will study dialectic which will lead them to understand the Forms and the Form of the Good a. Socrates gives a partial explanation of the nature of dialectic and leaves Glaucon with no clear explanation of its nature or how it may lead to understanding aa.
Then they discuss who will receive this course of education and how long they are to study these subjects ab. The ones receiving this type of education need to exhibit the natural abilities suited to a philosopher discussed earlier. After the training in dialectic the education system will include fifteen years of practical political training ec to prepare philosopher kings for ruling the city.
Socrates concludes by suggesting that the easiest way to bring the just city into being would be to expel everyone over the age of ten out of an existing city eb. Glaucon remembers that Socrates was about to describe the four types of unjust regime along with their corresponding unjust individuals cb.
Socrates announces that he will begin discussing the regimes and individual that deviate the least from the just city and individual and proceed to discuss the ones that deviate the most b-c. The cause of change in regime is lack of unity in the rulers d. Assuming that the just city could come into being, Socrates indicates that it would eventually change since everything which comes into being must decay a-b. The rulers are bound to make mistakes in assigning people jobs suited to their natural capacities and each of the classes will begin to be mixed with people who are not naturally suited for the tasks relevant to each class e.
This will lead to class conflicts a. The first deviant regime from just kingship or aristocracy will be timocracy, that emphasizes the pursuit of honor rather than wisdom and justice d ff. The timocratic individual will have a strong spirited part in his soul and will pursue honor, power, and success a. This city will be militaristic. Socrates explains the process by which an individual becomes timocratic: Oligarchy arises out of timocracy and it emphasizes wealth rather than honor c-e. Socrates discusses how it arises out of timocracy and its characteristics ce: The oligarchic individual comes by seeing his father lose his possessions and feeling insecure he begins to greedily pursue wealth a-c.
Thus he allows his appetitive part to become a more dominant part of his soul c. Socrates proceeds penultimately, to discuss democracy. It comes about when the rich become too rich and the poor too poor c-d.
Too much luxury makes the oligarchs soft and the poor revolt against them c-e. In democracy most of the political offices are distributed by lot a. The primary goal of the democratic regime is freedom or license b-c. People will come to hold offices without having the necessary knowledge e and everyone is treated as an equal in ability equals and unequals alike, c.
The democratic individual comes to pursue all sorts of bodily desires excessively dd and allows his appetitive part to rule his soul. He comes about when his bad education allows him to transition from desiring money to desiring bodily and material goods d-e.
The democratic individual has no shame and no self-discipline d. Tyranny arises out of democracy when the desire for freedom to do what one wants becomes extreme b-c. Socrates points out that when freedom is taken to such an extreme it produces its opposite, slavery ea. The tyrant comes about by presenting himself as a champion of the people against the class of the few people who are wealthy da. The tyrant is forced to commit a number of acts to gain and retain power: The tyrant eliminates the rich, brave, and wise people in the city since he perceives them as threats to his power c.
Socrates indicates that the tyrant faces the dilemma to either live with worthless people or with good people who may eventually depose him and chooses to live with worthless people d. The tyrant ends up using mercenaries as his guards since he cannot trust any of the citizens d-e. Book IX Socrates is now ready to discuss the tyrannical individual a. He begins by discussing necessary and unnecessary pleasures and desires b-c.
Those with balanced souls ruled by reason are able to keep their unnecessary desires from becoming lawless and extreme db. The tyrannical person is mad with lust c and this leads him to seek any means by which to satisfy his desires and to resist anyone who gets in his way dd. Some tyrannical individuals eventually become actual tyrants b-d. Tyrants associate themselves with flatterers and are incapable of friendship ea.
Applying the analogy of the city and the soul, Socrates proceeds to argue that the tyrannical individual is the most unhappy individual c ff. Like the tyrannical city, the tyrannical individual is enslaved c-dleast likely to do what he wants d-epoor and unsatisfiable eafearful and full of wailing and lamenting a. The individual who becomes an actual tyrant of a city is the unhappiest of all ba. Socrates concludes this first argument with a ranking of the individuals in terms of happiness: He proceeds to a second proof that the just are happier than the unjust d.
Socrates distinguishes three types of persons: Socrates proceeds to offer a third proof that the just are happier than the unjust b. He begins with an analysis of pleasure: The only truly fulfilling pleasure is that which comes from understanding since the objects it pursues are permanent b-c.
Socrates adds that only if the rational part rules the soul, will each part of the soul find its proper pleasure da. He concludes the argument with a calculation of how many times the best life is more pleasant than the worst: Socrates discusses an imaginary multi-headed beast to illustrate the consequences of justice and injustice in the soul and to support justice c ff.
Book X Thereafter, Socrates returns to the subject of poetry and claims that the measures introduced to exclude imitative poetry from the just city seem clearly justified now a. Poetry is to be censored since the poets may not know which is; thus may lead the soul astray b.
Socrates proceeds to discuss imitation. He explains what it is by distinguishing several levels of imitation through the example of a couch: The products of imitation are far removed from the truth ec. Poets, like painters are imitators who produce imitations without knowledge of the truth ea.
Socrates argues that if poets had knowledge of the truth they would want to be people who do great things rather than remain poets b. Now Socrates considers how imitators affect their audiences c.
He uses a comparison with optical illusions c to argue that imitative poetry causes the parts of the soul to be at war with each other and this leads to injustice cb. The most serious charge against imitative poetry is that it even corrupts decent people c. He concludes that the just city should not allow such poetry in it but only poetry that praises the gods and good humans ea. Imitative poetry prevents the immortal soul from attaining its greatest reward c-d.
Glaucon wonders if the soul is immortal and Socrates launches into an argument proving its immortality: Socrates points out that we cannot understand the nature of the soul if we only consider its relation to the body as the present discussion has b-d. Socrates finally describes the rewards of justice by first having Glaucon allow that he can discuss the rewards of reputation for justice b-d.
Glaucon allows this since Socrates has already defended justice by itself in the soul. Socrates indicates justice and injustice do not escape the notice of the gods, that the gods love the just and hate the unjust, and that good things come to those whom the gods love ea.
Socrates lists various rewards for the just and punishments for the unjust in this life a-e. He proceeds to tell the Myth of Er that is supposed to illustrate reward and punishment in the afterlife b.
The souls of the dead go up through an opening on the right if they were just, or below through an opening on the left if they were unjust d. The various souls discuss their rewards and punishments ea.
Socrates explains the multiples by which people are punished and rewarded a-b. The souls of the dead are able to choose their next lives d and then they are reincarnated e. Socrates ends the discussion by prompting Glaucon and the others to do well both in this life and in the afterlife c-d.
Ethics or Political Philosophy? The Republic has acquired the recognition of a classic and seminal work in political philosophy. It is often taught in courses that focus on political theory or political philosophy. Moreover, in the dialogue Socrates seems primarily concerned with what is an ethical issue, namely whether the just life is better than the unjust life for the individual.
These two observations raise two issues. The first is whether the Republic is primarily about ethics or about politics.
If it is primarily about ethics then perhaps its recognition as a seminal political work is unwarranted. Moreover, considering it a political work would be somewhat mistaken. The second issue is that even if thinking of it as a classic in political philosophy is warranted, it is very difficult to situate it in terms of its political position. Interpreters of the Republic have presented various arguments concerning the issue of whether the dialogue is primarily about ethics or about politics.
In Book II, he proposes to construct the just city in speech in order to find justice in it and then to proceed to find justice in the individual a. Thus, he seems to use a discussion in political matters as a means by which to answer what is essentially an ethical question.
But, Socrates also spends a lot of time in the dialogue on political matters in relation to the question of political justice such as education, the positions and relations among political classes, war, property, the causes of political strife and change of regimes, and several other matters.
Each of these could provide important contributions to political philosophy. Another relevant consideration is that there are several indications in the dialogue that the aim in the discussion is more pressing than the means the just city.
Thus, the argument goes, Socrates does not seem primarily interested in discussing political philosophy but ethics instead. Another related argument indicates that the discussion entails great doubts about whether the just city is even possible. Socrates claims this along with the idea that the function of the just city in the argument is to enable the individual to get a better idea of justice and injustice b-d, a-b. Thus, it is very difficult for us to conclude that Socrates takes the political discussion as seriously as he does the moral question see Annas, Julia.
Platonic Ethics, Old and New. Other interpreters indicate that the Republic is essentially about both ethics and politics among others see Santas, Gerasimos. Political Philosophy; Reeve C. Thus, these social reforms seem to be developed for their own sake.
In Book VIII he criticizes democracy as an unjust regime and thus he seems to launch a critique against Athenian democracy. He also adopts several measures in the just city, which were part of the Spartan constitution.
Like Spartan citizens, the guardians of the just city are professional soldiers whose aim is the protection of the city, the guardians eat together, and they have their needs provided for by other classes. But unlike Sparta, the just city has philosophers as rulers, a rigorous system of education in intellectual matters, and it is not timocratic or honor loving. Thus, the argument suggests, in addition to the main ethical question the dialogue is also about political philosophy.
Another position is that even though the discussion of political matters is instrumental to addressing the main ethical question of the dialogue, Socrates makes several important contributions to political philosophy.
One such contribution is his description of political regimes in Book VIII and his classification of them on a scale of more or less just.
Another such contribution is his consideration of the causes of political change from one political regime to another. Moreover, Socrates seems to raise and address a number of questions that seem necessary in order to understand political life clearly.
Thus, according to this view, it is warranted to regard the Republic as a work on political philosophy and as a seminal work in that area. A further relevant consideration has to do with how one understands the nature of ethics and political philosophy and their relation. Since modernity, it becomes much easier to treat these as separate subjects. Modern ethics is more focused on determining whether an action is morally permissible or not whereas ancient ethics is more focused on happiness or the good life.
Thus, ethics and political philosophy are more closely linked for ancient thinkers than they may be for us since modernity. Ethics and political philosophy seem to be different sides of the same coin. There are several competing candidates. The Republic entails elements of socialism as when Socrates expresses the desire to achieve happiness for the whole city not for any particular group of it b and when he argues against inequalities in wealth d.
There are also elements of fascism or totalitarianism. Several commentators focused on these elements to dismiss the Republic as a proto-totalitarian text see Popper, Karl. The Open Society and Its Enemies. There are also some strong elements of communism such as the idea that the guardian class ought to possess things in common. Socrates seems to argue against allowing much freedom to individuals and to criticize the democratic tendency to treat humans as equals.
Some have argued that the Republic is neither a precursor of these political positions nor does it fit any of them. They find that the Republic has been such a seminal work in the history of political philosophy precisely because it raises such issues as its political stance while discussing many of the features of such political positions. The Analogy of the City and the Soul The analogy of the city and the soul, is Socrates proposed and accepted method by which to argue that the just person is better off than the unjust person Book II, ca.
If Socrates is able to show how a just city is always happier than unjust cities, then he can have a model by which to argue that a just person is always happier than an unjust one. He plausibly assumes that there is an interesting, intelligible, and non-accidental relation between the structural features and values of a city and an individual. But commentators have found this curious approach one of the most puzzling features of the Republic.
Moreover, there is much controversy concerning its usefulness in the attempt to discover and to defend justice in terms of the individual. In several passages Socrates seems to say that the same account of justice must apply to both cities justice is the right order of classes and to individuals justice is the right order of the soul.
But even though he says this he seems to think that this ought to be the case for different reasons. For example, at ahe seems to say that the same account of justice ought to apply to the city and to the individual since the same account of any predicate X must apply to all things that are X. So, if a city or an individual is just then the same predicates must apply to both. In other passages Socrates seems to mean that same account of justice ought to apply to the city and to the individual since the X-ness of the whole is due to the X-ness of the parts d.
And as State is to State in virtue and happiness, so is man in relation to man? Then comparing our original city, which was under a king, and the city which is under a tyrant, how do they stand as to virtue? They are the opposite extremes, he said, for one is the very best and the other is the very worst. There can be no mistake, I said, as to which is which, and therefore I will at once enquire whether you would arrive at a similar decision about their relative happiness and misery.
And here we must not allow ourselves to be panic-stricken at the apparition of the tyrant, who is only a unit and may perhaps have a few retainers about him; but let us go as we ought into every corner of the city and look all about, and then we will give our opinion.
A fair invitation, he replied; and I see, as every one must, that a tyranny is the wretchedest form of government, and the rule of a king the happiest. And in estimating the men too, may I not fairly make a like request, that I should have a judge whose mind can enter into and see through human nature?
He must not be like a child who looks at the outside and is dazzled at the pompous aspect which the tyrannical nature assumes to the beholder, but let him be one who has a clear insight. May I suppose that the judgment is given in the hearing of us all by one who is able to judge, and has dwelt in the same place with him, and been present at his dally life and known him in his family relations, where he may be seen stripped of his tragedy attire, and again in the hour of public danger--he shall tell us about the happiness and misery of the tyrant when compared with other men?
That again, he said, is a very fair proposal. Shall I assume that we ourselves are able and experienced judges and have before now met with such a person? We shall then have some one who will answer our enquiries.
Let me ask you not to forget the parallel of the individual and the State; bearing this in mind, and glancing in turn from one to the other of them, will you tell me their respective conditions? What do you mean? Beginning with the State, I replied, would you say that a city which is governed by a tyrant is free or enslaved? No city, he said, can be more completely enslaved. And yet, as you see, there are freemen as well as masters in such a State?
Yes, he said, I see that there are--a few; but the people, speaking generally, and the best of them, are miserably degraded and enslaved. Then if the man is like the State, I said, must not the same rule prevail? And would you say that the soul of such an one is the soul of a freeman, or of a slave? He has the soul of a slave, in my opinion. And the State which is enslaved under a tyrant is utterly incapable of acting voluntarily?
And also the soul which is under a tyrant I am speaking of the soul taken as a whole is least capable of doing what she desires; there is a gadfly which goads her, and she is full of trouble and remorse?
And is the city which is under a tyrant rich or poor? And the tyrannical soul must be always poor and insatiable? And must not such a State and such a man be always full of fear? Is there any State in which you will find more of lamentation and sorrow and groaning and pain?
And is there any man in whom you will find more of this sort of misery than in the tyrannical man, who is in a fury of passions and desires? Reflecting upon these and similar evils, you held the tyrannical State to be the most miserable of States?
And I was right, he said. And when you see the same evils in the tyrannical man, what do you say of him?
I say that he is by far the most miserable of all men. There, I said, I think that you are beginning to go wrong. I do not think that he has as yet reached the utmost extreme of misery. Then who is more miserable? One of whom I am about to speak.
He who is of a tyrannical nature, and instead of leading a private life has been cursed with the further misfortune of being a public tyrant. From what has been said, I gather that you are right. Yes, I replied, but in this high argument you should be a little more certain, and should not conjecture only; for of all questions, this respecting good and evil is the greatest. Very true, he said. Let me then offer you an illustration, which may, I think, throw a light upon this subject.
What is your illustration? The case of rich individuals in cities who possess many slaves: Yes, that is the difference. You know that they live securely and have nothing to apprehend from their servants? What should they fear? But do you observe the reason of this?
Yes; the reason is, that the whole city is leagued together for the protection of each individual. Very true, I said. But imagine one of these owners, the master say of some fifty slaves, together with his family and property and slaves, carried off by a god into the wilderness, where there are no freemen to help him--will he not be in an agony of fear lest he and his wife and children should be put to death by his slaves? Yes, he said, he will be in the utmost fear.
The time has arrived when he will be compelled to flatter divers of his slaves, and make many promises to them of freedom and other things, much against his will--he will have to cajole his own servants. Yes, he said, that will be the only way of saving himself. And suppose the same god, who carried him away, to surround him with neighbours who will not suffer one man to be the master of another, and who, if they could catch the offender, would take his life?
His case will be still worse, if you suppose him to be everywhere surrounded and watched by enemies. And is not this the sort of prison in which the tyrant will be bound-- he who being by nature such as we have described, is full of all sorts of fears and lusts?
His soul is dainty and greedy, and yet alone, of all men in the city, he is never allowed to go on a journey, or to see the things which other freemen desire to see, but he lives in his hole like a woman hidden in the house, and is jealous of any other citizen who goes into foreign parts and sees anything of interest. And amid evils such as these will not he who is ill-governed in his own person--the tyrannical man, I mean--whom you just now decided to be the most miserable of all--will not he be yet more miserable when, instead of leading a private life, he is constrained by fortune to be a public tyrant?
He has to be master of others when he is not master of himself: Yes, he said, the similitude is most exact. Is not his case utterly miserable? He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the real slave, and is obliged to practise the greatest adulation and servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind.
He has desires which he is utterly unable to satisfy, and has more wants than any one, and is truly poor, if you know how to inspect the whole soul of him: Moreover, as we were saying before, he grows worse from having power: No man of any sense will dispute your words.
Come then, I said, and as the general umpire in theatrical contests proclaims the result, do you also decide who in your opinion is first in the scale of happiness, and who second, and in what order the others follow: The decision will be easily given, he replied; they shall be choruses coming on the stage, and I must judge them in the order in which they enter, by the criterion of virtue and vice, happiness and misery.
Need we hire a herald, or shall I announce, that the son of Ariston the best has decided that the best and justest is also the happiest, and that this is he who is the most royal man and king over himself; and that the worst and most unjust man is also the most miserable, and that this is he who being the greatest tyrant of himself is also the greatest tyrant of his State?
Make the proclamation yourself, he said. Let the words be added.
Then this, I said, will be our first proof; and there is another, which may also have some weight. The second proof is derived from the nature of the soul: It seems to me that to these three principles three pleasures correspond; also three desires and governing powers. How do you mean? There is one principle with which, as we were saying, a man learns, another with which he is angry; the third, having many forms, has no special name, but is denoted by the general term appetitive, from the extraordinary strength and vehemence of the desires of eating and drinking and the other sensual appetites which are the main elements of it; also money-loving, because such desires are generally satisfied by the help of money.
That is true, he said. If we were to say that the loves and pleasures of this third part were concerned with gain, we should then be able to fall back on a single notion; and might truly and intelligibly describe this part of the soul as loving gain or money.
I agree with you. Again, is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling and conquering and getting fame? Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious--would the term be suitable? On the other hand, every one sees that the principle of knowledge is wholly directed to the truth, and cares less than either of the others for gain or fame. One principle prevails in the souls of one class of men, another in others, as may happen?
Then we may begin by assuming that there are three classes of men-- lovers of wisdom, lovers of honour, lovers of gain? And there are three kinds of pleasure, which are their several objects?
Now, if you examine the three classes of men, and ask of them in turn which of their lives is pleasantest, each will be found praising his own and depreciating that of others: And the lover of honour--what will be his opinion? Will he not think that the pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the pleasure of learning, if it brings no distinction, is all smoke and nonsense to him?
And are we to suppose, I said, that the philosopher sets any value on other pleasures in comparison with the pleasure of knowing the truth, and in that pursuit abiding, ever learning, not so far indeed from the heaven of pleasure? Does he not call the other pleasures necessary, under the idea that if there were no necessity for them, he would rather not have them?
SOCRATES - GLAUCON
There can be no doubt of that, he replied. Since, then, the pleasures of each class and the life of each are in dispute, and the question is not which life is more or less honourable, or better or worse, but which is the more pleasant or painless-- how shall we know who speaks truly? I cannot myself tell, he said. Well, but what ought to be the criterion? Is any better than experience and wisdom and reason? There cannot be a better, he said.
Then, I said, reflect. Of the three individuals, which has the greatest experience of all the pleasures which we enumerated? Has the lover of gain, in learning the nature of essential truth, greater experience of the pleasure of knowledge than the philosopher has of the pleasure of gain? The philosopher, he replied, has greatly the advantage; for he has of necessity always known the taste of the other pleasures from his childhood upwards: Then the lover of wisdom has a great advantage over the lover of gain, for he has a double experience?
Again, has he greater experience of the pleasures of honour, or the lover of honour of the pleasures of wisdom? Nay, he said, all three are honoured in proportion as they attain their object; for the rich man and the brave man and the wise man alike have their crowd of admirers, and as they all receive honour they all have experience of the pleasures of honour; but the delight which is to be found in the knowledge of true being is known to the philosopher only.
His experience, then, will enable him to judge better than any one? And he is the only one who has wisdom as well as experience? Further, the very faculty which is the instrument of judgment is not possessed by the covetous or ambitious man, but only by the philosopher? Reason, with whom, as we were saying, the decision ought to rest.
And reasoning is peculiarly his instrument? If wealth and gain were the criterion, then the praise or blame of the lover of gain would surely be the most trustworthy? Or if honour or victory or courage, in that case the judgement of the ambitious or pugnacious would be the truest?
But since experience and wisdom and reason are the judges-- The only inference possible, he replied, is that pleasures which are approved by the lover of wisdom and reason are the truest. And so we arrive at the result, that the pleasure of the intelligent part of the soul is the pleasantest of the three, and that he of us in whom this is the ruling principle has the pleasantest life.
Unquestionably, he said, the wise man speaks with authority when he approves of his own life. And what does the judge affirm to be the life which is next, and the pleasure which is next? Clearly that of the soldier and lover of honour; who is nearer to himself than the money-maker.
Last comes the lover of gain? Twice in succession, then, has the just man overthrown the unjust in this conflict; and now comes the third trial, which is dedicated to Olympian Zeus the saviour: Yes, the greatest; but will you explain yourself? I will work out the subject and you shall answer my questions. Say, then, is not pleasure opposed to pain?
And there is a neutral state which is neither pleasure nor pain? A state which is intermediate, and a sort of repose of the soul about either--that is what you mean?
You remember what people say when they are sick? What do they say? That after all nothing is pleasanter than health. But then they never knew this to be the greatest of pleasures until they were ill.
Yes, I know, he said. And when persons are suffering from acute pain, you must. And there are many other cases of suffering in which the mere rest and cessation of pain, and not any positive enjoyment, is extolled by them as the greatest pleasure?
Yes, he said; at the time they are pleased and well content to be at rest. Again, when pleasure ceases, that sort of rest or cessation will be painful? Then the intermediate state of rest will be pleasure and will also be pain? So it would seem.
But can that which is neither become both?