Plato Argument from Opposites - 1 Republic Book VII...

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1 Republic Book VII […] Socrates: Who should be urged to take charge of the republic other than those who are wisest about public affairs and who, at the same time, love higher honors and have a better life than a political one? Glaucon: These are the people I would choose, no one else. Socrates: Then should we consider how such leaders might come to exist, how we might bring them from darkness into the light—and how some, as we are told, have ascended from the world below to the gods? Glaucon: We should consider that. Socrates: Well, it is not child’s play. It’s not like the game in which children flip an oyster shell to produce dark or light, depending on which side comes up. We’re talking about the turning of a soul from the daylight, which is no better than night, to the true day, the ascent to true being made possible by philosophy. What kind of learning has this power? Shall we consider that question? Glaucon: Of course. Socrates: Then we must determine what kind of knowledge would draw the soul from becoming to being. And something else just occurred to me. Do you remember what we said about our guards—that, in their youth, they should be good warriors and athletes? Glaucon: Yes, I remember that clearly. Socrates: Then this new kind of knowledge must include another quality. Glaucon: What quality? Socrates: Usefulness in war. Glaucon: Yes, I suppose so. Socrates: We identified two studies in the educational program we discussed before, didn’t we? Glaucon: That’s right. Socrates: There was gymnastics, which has to do with growth and decay by watching over the development and decline of the body. Glaucon: Yes. Socrates: But that’s not the kind of knowledge we are looking for. [522] Glaucon: No. Socrates: What about the arts? How did they figure in our educational program? Glaucon: They were the counterpart of gymnastics. Their purpose was to instill proper habits in the soul, not as a science would, but by providing a kind of harmony and rhythm both in music and in words, unconcerned with truth and falsehood. But such artistic knowledge is not the kind that produces the good you’re looking for now. Socrates: Your memory is excellent, Glaucon. There was no knowledge of that kind in our earlier curriculum. But, my friend, what branch of knowledge is there of the sort we are seeking? We rejected the practical arts as crude. Glaucon: Yes, but if we reject gymnastics and both the fine arts and the practical arts, then what is left? Socrates: Perhaps there is nothing left. But then where can we find something that has universal application? Glaucon: What do you have in mind? Socrates: I mean something that all forms of thought, including the arts and sciences, use in common. It’s something everyone learns as part of elementary education.

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