Answered step-by-step

Plato's Republic: Questions on the response argumentInitial argumentObjection!Response

Assuming my initial argument and objection argument are both correct, then the only part that is questionable is the response argument.

The relevant passage from Plato's Republic 473c to 496e has been provided at the end of the questions.

In Plato's Republic, Plato predicts that there will be "no end to suffering ... for our cities, and none, I suspect, for the human race, unless either the philosophers become kings in our cities, or the people who are now called kings and rulers become real, true philosophers" (473c-d).

Reconstruct Plato's initial argument for the rule of philosopher-kings.

The initial argument (Plato's initial argument)

Plato tells us why he thinks that philosophers should be in charge in Books 5 and 6 of the Republic, only between 473c and 496e. The relevant passages have been provided below. Relevant Passage from Plato's Republic 473c to 496e.

This section of the Republic contains a series of related arguments concerning the philosopher and their (alleged) fitness to rule the city. Identify what are the central premises of Plato's overall argument, present them as clearly as possible.

Question: Part of this question is determining an effective and concise way to present Plato's view and selecting from the various arguments and claims presented in the relevant and provided passage. I have determined the response argument, which includes three premises and a conclusion. In other words, are my premises and conclusion of the response argument sound and valid?

I have identified the central premises of the objection to Plato's initial argument (shown below). My question is what can be said about why the premises of the response argument could be true. I have shown an effective and concise way to present Plato's view and selecting from the various arguments and claims presented in the relevant and provided passage.

Present the argument in formal premises-and-conclusion format.

There is no particular number of premises the arguments require, and I'm not certain whether each argument can be stated in two premises and a conclusion. This will depend on how you formulate the arguments. Present the arguments formally, i.e., with listed premises and a conclusion.

Plato's initial argument


Premise 1: Philosophers are great leaders because they passionately seek wisdom and truth and, more importantly, are genuine lovers of wisdom.


Premise 2: Philosophers are great leaders because they are also graceful, have a sense of natural proportion, and innate disposition to lead. Like a captain of the ship, rulers must not be easily swayed by the opinions of others, and that would only be possible if the ruler is a philosopher who understands the nature of the city that they are ruling.

Conclusion: Therefore, philosopher-kings or rulers, who are simultaneously philosophers, must govern a city for the city to be noble and just.

Question: Are my premises and conclusion correct? If the premises and conclusion are wrong, please let me know.

Objection! The objection to Plato's initial argument

Premise 1:  After many years of intensive school training and many years studying philosophy, many philosophers continue to be completely bad people who commit vicious acts. This group of bad people with training in philosophy will be called rogue philosophers.

Premise 2:  The most elite group of philosophers who have had decades of studying philosophy and who are the most knowledgeable in the city-state would be useless when it comes to the art of ruling.

Conclusion: Therefore, both the elite group and the rogue group of philosophers would be completely useless to the city-state or cause great harm and corruption to the city-state. Both groups of philosophers will not be naturally suited to govern a city-state, but this is NOT a universal statement on ALL philosophers.

The second part of the question is about providing an explanation as to why the objection could be both valid and sound. Is the objection valid? Is the objection sound or unsound (not sound)?

And finally, there is the response...


Premise 1: Ancient Greek philosophers did not have the right upbringing when it came to having the correct training and education in philosophy. Therefore, these ancient philosophers are not adequately trained in philosophy, and society and the city-state are to blame for their poor leadership skills and uselessness to the city-state.

Premise 2: The completely bad people who become immoral philosophers in ancient Athens lack the correct genuine nature to study philosophy. These bad people study philosophy because the genuine students of philosophy decided to study different occupations. These evil people who do not possess all the skills to study philosophy end up becoming bad and corrupted philosophers.

Premise 3:  If all students in ancient Greece have the right upbringing in philosophy, they will not become evil or useless. The properly trained group of young philosophers will have the knowledge and all four cardinal virtues of governing the city with justice.

Conclusion: If only good students of philosophy who have a philosophical mind from childhood have the right upbringing, they will become philosophers who will know the Form of the Good. Thus, the city will benefit from their knowledge and competence in ruling the city.

Please provide an explanation that is coherent, logical, and relevant to the questions.

Relevant Passage from Plato's Republic 473c to 496e.

Republic (Hackett Classics) 1st Edition

by Plato (Author), C. D. C. Reeve  (Translator, Introduction)

[473c] GLAUCON: Absolutely.

SOCRATES: Well, there is one change we could point to that I think would

accomplish this. It certainly is not small or easy, but it is possible.

GLAUCON: What is it?

SOCRATES: I am now about to confront what we likened to the greatest

wave. Yet, it must be stated, even if it is going to drown me in a wave of outright

ridicule and contempt, as it were. So listen to what I am about to say.

GLAUCON: Say it.

SOCRATES: Until philosophers rule as kings in their cities, or those who

are nowadays called kings, and leading men become genuine and adequate

philosophers so that political power and philosophy become thoroughly

blended together, while the numerous natures that now pursue either one

exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest

from evils, my dear Glaucon, nor, I think, will the human race. And until

that happens, the same constitution we have now described in our discussion

will never be born to the extent that it can, or see the light of the sun.

It is this claim that has made me hesitate to speak for so long. I saw how

very unbelievable it would sound, since it is difficult to accept that there

can be no happiness, either public or private, in any other city.

GLAUCON: Socrates, what a speech, what an argument you have let burst

with! But now that you have uttered it, you must expect that a great many

people—and not undistinguished ones either—will immediately throw off

their cloaks and, stripped for action, snatch any available weapon and make

a headlong rush at you, determined to do terrible things to you. So, if you

45 As at 458c6 and 473e4-5, Socrates is supposing that Glaucon is designing the ideal


do not defend yourself by argument and escape, you really will pay the penalty

of general derision.

SOCRATES: But aren't you the one who is responsible for this happening to


GLAUCON: And I was right to do it. Still, I won't desert you. On the contrary,

I will defend you in any way I can. And what I can do is provide good

will and encouragement, and maybe give you more careful answers to your

questions than someone else. So, with the promise of this sort of assistance,

try to demonstrate to the unbelievers that things are as you claim.

SOCRATES: I will have to, especially when you agree to be so great an ally!

If we are going to escape from the people you mention, I think we need to

define for them who the philosophers are that we dare to say should rule;

so that once that is clear, one can defend oneself by showing that some

people are fitted by nature to engage in philosophy and to take the lead in a

city, while there are others who should not engage in it, but should follow

a leader.

GLAUCON: This would be a good time to define them.

SOCRATES: Come on, then, follow me on the path I am about to take, to

see if it somehow leads to an adequate explanation.

GLAUCON: Lead on.

SOCRATES: Do I have to remind you, or do you recall, that when we say

someone loves something, if the description is correct, it must be clear not

just that he loves some part of it but not another; but, on the contrary, that

he cherishes the whole of it?46

GLAUCON: You will have to remind me, it seems. I do not recall the point

at all.

SOCRATES: I did not expect you to give that response, Glaucon. A passionate

man should not forget that all boys in the bloom of youth somehow

manage to sting and arouse a passionate lover of boys, and seem to merit his

attention and passionate devotion. Isn't that the way you people behave to

beautiful boys? One, because he is snub-nosed, you will praise as "cute;"

another who is hook-nosed you will say is "regal;" while the one in the

middle you say is "well proportioned." Dark ones look "manly," and pale

ones are "children of the gods." As for the "honey-colored," do you think

that this very term is anything but the euphemistic coinage of a lover who

found it easy to tolerate a sallow complexion, provided it was accompanied

by the bloom of youth? In a word, you people find any excuse, and use any

expression, to avoid rejecting anyone whose flower is in full bloom. 475a

GLAUCON: If you insist on taking me as your example of what passionate

men do, I will go along with you . . . for the sake of argument!

SOCRATES: What about lovers of wine? Don't you observe them behaving

in just the same way? Don't they find any excuse to indulge their passionate

devotion to wine of any sort?

GLAUCON: They do, indeed.

SOCRATES: And you also observe, I imagine, that if honor-lovers cannot

become generals, they serve as lieutenants,47 and if they cannot be honored

by important people and dignitaries, they are satisfied with being honored

by insignificant and inferior ones, since it is honor as a whole of which they

are desirers.

GLAUCON: Exactly.

SOCRATES: Then do you affirm this or not? When we say that someone

has an appetite for something, are we to say that he has an appetite for

everything of that kind, or for one part of it but not another?

GLAUCON: Everything.

SOCRATES: Then in the case of the philosopher, too, won't we say that he

has an appetite for wisdom—not for one part and not another, but for all of it?


SOCRATES: So, if someone is choosy about what he learns, especially if he

is young and does not have a rational grasp of what is useful and what is

not, we won't say that he is a lover of learning or a philosopher—any more

than we would say that someone who is choosy about his food is famished,

or has an appetite for food, or is a lover of food rather than a picky eater.

GLAUCON: And we would be right not to say it.

SOCRATES: But someone who is ready and willing to taste every kind of

learning, who turns gladly to learning and is insatiable for it, he is the one

we would be justified in calling a philosopher. Isn't that so?

GLAUCON: In that case, many strange people will be philosophers! I mean,

all the lovers of seeing are what they are, I imagine, because they take pleasure

in learning things. And the lovers of listening are very strange people

to include as philosophers: they would never willingly attend a serious discussion

or spend their time that way; yet, just as if their ears were under

contract to listen to every chorus, they run around to all the Dionysiac festivals,

whether in cities or villages, and never miss one. Are we to say that

these people—and others who are students of similar things or of petty

crafts—are philosophers?

47 Trittarchousi: "command the soldiers in a trittys." A trittys was one third of one of

the ten tribes of which Athens consisted.

SOCRATES: Not at all, but they are like philosophers.

GLAUCON: Who do you think, then, are the true ones?

SOCRATES: The lovers of seeing the truth.

GLAUCON: That, too, is no doubt correct,48 but what exactly do you

mean by it?

SOCRATES: It would not be easy to explain to someone else. But you, I

imagine, will agree to the following.


SOCRATES: That since beautiful is the opposite of ugly, they are two things.

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: And since they are two things, each of them is also one?

GLAUCON: That's true too.

SOCRATES: And the same argument applies, then, to just and unjust, good

and bad, and all the forms: each of them is itself one thing, but because

they appear all over the place in partnership with actions and bodies, and

with one another, each of them appears to be many things.

GLAUCON: That's right.

SOCRATES: Well, then, that is the basis of the distinction I draw: on one

side are the lovers of seeing, the lovers of crafts, and the practical people

you mentioned a moment ago; on the other, those we are arguing about,

the only ones it is correct to call philosophers.

GLAUCON: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: The lovers of listening and seeing are passionately devoted to

beautiful sounds, colors, shapes, and everything fashioned out of such

things.49 But their thought is unable to see the nature of the beautiful itself

or to be passionately devoted to it.

GLAUCON: That's certainly true.

SOCRATES: On the other hand, won't those who are able to approach the

beautiful itself, and see it by itself, be rare?


SOCRATES: What about someone who believes in beautiful things but

does not believe in the beautiful itself, and would not be able to follow anyone

who tried to lead him to the knowledge of it? Do you think he is living

in a dream, or is he awake? Just consider. Isn't it dreaming to think—

48 See 449c6-8.

49 A poem or play is fashioned out of sounds, a painting out of colors and shapes. See


whether asleep or awake—that a likeness is not a likeness, but rather the

thing itself that it is like?

GLAUCON: I certainly think that someone who does that is dreaming.

SOCRATES: But what about someone who, to take the opposite case, does

believe in the beautiful itself, is able to observe both it and the things that

participate in it, and does not think that the participants are it, or that it is

the participants—do you think he is living in a dream or is awake?

GLAUCON: He is very much awake.

SOCRATES: So, because this person knows these things, we would be right

to describe his thought as knowledge; but the other's we would be right to

describe as belief, because he believes what he does?

GLAUCON: Certainly.

SOCRATES: What if the person we describe as believing but not knowing

is angry with us and disputes the truth of what we say? Will we have any

way of soothing and gently persuading him, while disguising the fact that

he is not in a healthy state of mind?

GLAUCON: We certainly need one, at any rate.

SOCRATES: Come on, then, consider what we will say to him. Or—once

we have told him that nobody envies him any knowledge he may have—

that, on the contrary, we would be delighted to discover that he knows

something—do you want us to question him as follows? "Tell us this: does

someone who knows know something or nothing?" You answer for him.

GLAUCON: I will answer that he knows something.

SOCRATES: Something that is50 or something that is not?

GLAUCON: That is. How could something that is not be known?

SOCRATES: We are adequately assured of this, then, and would remain so,

no matter how many ways we examined it: what completely is, is completely

an object of knowledge; and what in no way is, is not an object of

knowledge at all?

GLAUCON: Most adequately.

SOCRATES: Good. In that case, then, if anything is such as to be and also

not to be, wouldn't it lie in between what purely is and what in no way is?

GLAUCON: Yes, in between them.

SOCRATES: Then, since knowledge deals with what is, ignorance must

deal with what is not, while we must look in between knowledge and

ignorance for what deals with what lies in between, if there is anything of

that sort.

50 See Glossary of Terms s.v. thing that is.


SOCRATES: So, then, do we think there is such a thing as belief?

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: Is it a different power from knowledge, or the same?

GLAUCON: A different one.

SOCRATES: So, belief has been assigned to deal with one thing, then, and

knowledge with another, depending on what power each has.


SOCRATES: Now, doesn't knowledge naturally deal with what is, to know

how what is is? But first I think we had better go through the following.


SOCRATES: We think powers are a type of thing that enables us—or anything

else that has an ability—to do whatever we are able to do. Sight and

hearing are examples of what I mean by powers, if you understand the kind

of thing I am trying to describe.

GLAUCON: Yes, I do.

SOCRATES: Listen, then, to what I think about them. A power has no

color for me to see, nor a shape, nor any feature of the sort that many other

things have, and that I can consider in order to distinguish them for myself

as different from one another. In the case of a power, I can consider only

what it deals with and what it does, and it is on that basis that I come to call

each the power it is: those assigned to deal with the same things and do the

same, I call the same; those that deal with different things and do different

things, I call different. What about you? What do you do?

GLAUCON: The same.

SOCRATES: Going back, then, to where we left off, my very good fellow: do

you think knowledge is itself a power? Or to what type would you assign it?

GLAUCON: To that one. It is the most effective power of all.

SOCRATES: What about belief? Shall we include it as a power or assign it

to a different kind?

GLAUCON: Not at all. Belief is nothing other than the power that enables

us to believe.

SOCRATES: But a moment ago you agreed that knowledge and belief are

not the same.

GLAUCON: How could anyone with any sense think a fallible thing is the

same as an infallible one?

SOCRATES: Fine. Then clearly we agree that belief is different from

knowledge. 478a

GLAUCON: Yes, it is different.

SOCRATES: Each of them, then, since it has a different power, deals by

nature with something different?

GLAUCON: Necessarily.

SOCRATES: Surely knowledge deals with what is, to know what is as it is?


SOCRATES: Whereas belief, we say, believes?


SOCRATES: The very same thing that knowledge knows? Can the object

of knowledge and the object of belief be the same? Or is that impossible?

GLAUCON: It is impossible, given what we have agreed. If different powers

by nature deal with different things, and both opinion and knowledge are

powers but, as we claim, different ones, it follows from these that the object

of knowledge and the object of belief cannot be the same.

SOCRATES: Then if what is is the object of knowledge, mustn't the object

of belief be something other than what is?

GLAUCON: Yes, it must be something different.

SOCRATES: Does belief, then, believe what is not? Or is it impossible even

to believe what is not? Consider this: doesn't a believer take his belief to

deal with something? Or is it possible to believe, yet to believe nothing?

GLAUCON: No, it is impossible.

SOCRATES: In fact, there is some single thing that a believer believes?


SOCRATES: But surely what is not is most correctly characterized not as a

single thing, but as nothing?

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: But we had to assign ignorance to what is not and knowledge

to what is?

GLAUCON: Correct.

SOCRATES: So belief neither believes what is nor what is not?

GLAUCON: No, it does not.

SOCRATES: Then belief cannot be either ignorance or knowledge?

GLAUCON: Apparently not.

SOCRATES: Well, then, does it lie beyond these two, surpassing knowledge

in clarity or ignorance in opacity?

GLAUCON: No, it does neither.

SOCRATES: Then does belief seem to you to be more opaque than knowledge

but clearer than ignorance?

GLAUCON: Very much so.

SOCRATES: It lies within the boundaries determined by them?


SOCRATES: So belief will lie in between the two?

GLAUCON: Absolutely.

SOCRATES: Now, didn't we say earlier that if something turned out both

to be and not to be at the same time, it would lie in between what purely is

and what in every way is not, and that neither knowledge nor ignorance

would deal with it; but whatever it was again that turned out to lie in

between ignorance and knowledge would?

GLAUCON: Correct.

SOCRATES: And now, what we are calling belief has turned out to lie in

between them?

GLAUCON: It has.

SOCRATES: Apparently, then, it remains for us to find what partakes in

both being and not being, and cannot correctly be called purely one or the

other, so that if we find it, we can justifiably call it the object of belief,

thereby assigning extremes to extremes and in-betweens to in-betweens.

Isn't that so?


SOCRATES: Now that all that has been established, I want him to tell me

this—the excellent fellow who believes that there is no beautiful itself, no

form of beauty itself that remains always the same in all respects, but who

does believe that there are many beautiful things—I mean, that lover of seeing

who cannot bear to hear anyone say that the beautiful is one thing, or

the just, or any of the rest—I want him to answer this question: "My very

good fellow," we will say, "of all the many beautiful things, is there one that

won't also seem ugly? Or any just one that won't seem unjust? Or any pious

one that won't seem impious?"

GLAUCON: There is not. On the contrary, it is inevitable that they would

somehow seem both beautiful and ugly; and the same with the other things

you asked about.

SOCRATES: What about the many things that are doubles? Do they seem

to be any the less halves than doubles?


SOCRATES: And again, will things that we say are big, small, light, or

heavy be any more what we say they are than they will be the opposite?

GLAUCON: No, each of them is always both.

SOCRATES: Then is each of the many things any more what one says it is

than it is not what one says it is?

GLAUCON: No, they are like those puzzles one hears at parties, or the children's

riddle about the eunuch who threw something at a bat—the one

about what he threw at it and what it was in.51 For these things, too, are

ambiguous, and one cannot understand them as fixedly being or fixedly not

being, or as both, or as neither.

SOCRATES: Do you know what to do with them, then, or anywhere better

to put them than in between being and not being? Surely they cannot

be more opaque than what is not, by not-being more than it; nor clearer

than what is, by being more than it.

GLAUCON: That's absolutely true.

SOCRATES: So, we have now discovered, it seems, that the majority of

people's many conventional views about beauty and the rest are somehow

rolling around between what is not and what purely is.52

GLAUCON: We have.

SOCRATES: And we agreed earlier that if anything turned out to be of that

sort, it would have to be called an object of belief, not an object of knowledge—

a wandering, in-between object grasped by the in-between power.

GLAUCON: We did.

SOCRATES: As for those, then, who look at many beautiful things but do

not see the beautiful itself, and are incapable of following another who

would lead them to it; or many just things but not the just itself, and similarly

with all the rest—these people, we will say, have beliefs about all these

things, but have no knowledge of what their beliefs are about.

GLAUCON: That is what we would have to say.

SOCRATES: On the other hand, what about those who in each case look at

the things themselves that are always the same in every respect? Won't we

say that they have knowledge, not mere belief?

GLAUCON: Once again, we would have to.

SOCRATES: Shall we say, then, that these people are passionately devoted

to and love the things with which knowledge deals, as the others are

devoted to and love the things with which belief deals? We have not forgotten,

have we, that the latter love and look at beautiful sounds, colors, and

things of that sort, but cannot even bear the idea that the beautiful itself is a

thing that is?

GLAUCON: No, we have not.

SOCRATES: Will we be striking a false note,53 then, if we call such people

"philodoxers" (lovers of belief) rather than "philosophers" (lovers of wisdom

or knowledge)? Will they be very angry with us if we call them that?

GLAUCON: Not if they take my advice. It is not in accord with divine law

to be angry with the truth.

SOCRATES: So, those who in each case are passionately devoted to the

thing itself are the ones we must call, not "philodoxers," but "philosophers"?

GLAUCON: Absolutely.

Book 6



SOCRATES: Who the philosophers are, then, Glaucon, and who they aren't

has, through a somewhat lengthy argument and with much effort, somehow

been made clear.

GLAUCON: That's probably because it could not easily have been done

through a shorter one.

SOCRATES: I suppose not. Yet I, at least, think that the matter would have

been made even clearer if we had had only that topic to discuss, and not the

many others that remain for us to explore if we are to discover the difference

between the just life and the unjust one.

GLAUCON: What comes after this one, then?

SOCRATES: What else but the one that comes next? Since the philosophers

are the ones who are able to grasp what is always the same in all respects,

while those who cannot—those who wander among the many things that

vary in every sort of way—are not philosophers, which of the two should

be the leaders of a city?

GLAUCON: What would be a reasonable answer for us to give?

SOCRATES: Whichever of them seems capable of guarding a city's laws and

practices should be established as guardians.

GLAUCON: That's right.

SOCRATES: So, is the answer to the following question clear: should a

guardian who is going to keep watch over something be blind or keensighted?

GLAUCON: Of course it is.

SOCRATES: Well, do you think there is any difference, then, between the

blind and those who are really deprived of the knowledge of each thing

that is, and have no clear model of it in their souls—those who cannot

look away, like painters, to what is most true, and cannot, by making constant

reference to it and by studying it as exactly as possible, establish here

on earth conventional views about beautiful, just, or good things1 when

1 See 479d3-5 for what happens to conventions not established in this way.


they need to be established, or guard and preserve those that have been


GLAUCON: No, by Zeus, there is not much difference between them.

SOCRATES: Shall we appoint these blind people as our guardians, then, or

those who know each thing that is, have no less experience than the others,

2 and are not inferior to them in any other part of virtue?

GLAUCON: It would be absurd to choose anyone but philosophers, if

indeed they are not inferior in these other things. For the very area in

which they are superior is just about the most important one.

SOCRATES: Shouldn't we explain, then, how the same men can have both

sets of qualities?

GLAUCON: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then, as we were saying at the beginning of this discussion, it

is first necessary to understand the nature of philosophers.3 And I think that

if we can agree sufficiently about that, we will also agree that the same people

can have both qualities, and that they alone should be leaders in cities.

GLAUCON: How so?

SOCRATES: Let's agree that philosophic natures always love the sort of

learning that makes clear to them some feature of the being4 that always is

and does not wander around between coming-to-be and decaying.

GLAUCON: Yes, let's.

SOCRATES: And further, let's agree that they love all of it and are not willing

to give up any part, whether large or small, significant or insignificant,

just like the honor-lovers and passionate men we described before.5

GLAUCON: That's right.

SOCRATES: Consider next whether there is a further feature they must have

in their nature if they are going to be the way we described.


SOCRATES: Truthfulness; that is to say they must never willingly tolerate

falsehood in any form. On the contrary, they must hate it and have a natural

affection for the truth.

GLAUCON: They probably should have that feature.

SOCRATES: But it is not only probable, my friend; it is entirely necessary for

a naturally passionate man to love everything akin to or related to the boys

he loves.

GLAUCON: That's right.

SOCRATES: Well, could you find anything that is more intimately related

to wisdom than truth?

GLAUCON: Of course not.

SOCRATES: Then is it possible for the same nature to be a philosopher

(lover of wisdom) and a lover of falsehood?

GLAUCON: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: So, right from childhood, a genuine lover of learning must

strive above all for truth of every kind.

GLAUCON: Absolutely.

SOCRATES: But in addition, when someone's appetites are strongly

inclined in one direction, we surely know that they become more weakly

inclined in the others, just like a stream that has been partly diverted into

another channel.

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: Then when a person's desires flow toward learning and everything

of that sort, they will be concerned, I imagine, with the pleasures that

the soul experiences just by itself, and will be indifferent to those that come

through the body—if indeed the person is not a counterfeit, but rather a

true, philosopher.6

GLAUCON: That's entirely inevitable.

SOCRATES: A person like that will be temperate, then, and in no way a

lover of money. After all, money and the big expenditures that go along

with it are sought for the sake of things that other people may take seriously,

but that he does not.

GLAUCON: That's right.

SOCRATES: And of course, there is also this to consider when you are

going to judge whether a nature is philosophic or not.


SOCRATES: You should not overlook its sharing in illiberality; for surely

petty-mindedness is altogether incompatible with that quality in a soul that is

always reaching out to grasp all things as a whole, whether divine or human.

GLAUCON: That's absolutely true.

6 See Phaedo 64c10-67c3.


SOCRATES: And do you imagine that a thinker who is high-minded

enough to look at all time and all being will consider human life to be a

very important thing?

GLAUCON: He couldn't possibly.

SOCRATES: Then he won't consider death to be a terrible thing either,

will he?

GLAUCON: Not in the least.

SOCRATES: Then a cowardly and illiberal nature could not partake, apparently,

in true philosophy.

GLAUCON: Not in my opinion.

SOCRATES: Well, then, is there any way that an orderly person, who is not

money-loving, illiberal, a lying imposter, or a coward, could come to drive

a hard bargain or be unjust?

GLAUCON: There is not.

SOCRATES: Moreover, when you are considering whether someone has a

philosophic soul or not, you will consider whether he is just and gentle,

right from the time he is young, or unsociable and savage.

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: And you won't ignore this either, I imagine.


SOCRATES: Whether he is a slow learner or a fast one. Or do you expect

someone to love something sufficiently well when it pains him to do it and

a lot of effort brings only a small return?

GLAUCON: No, it could not happen.

SOCRATES: What if he could retain nothing of what he learned, because

he was completely forgetful? Could he fail to be empty of knowledge?

GLAUCON: Of course not.

SOCRATES: Then if he is laboring in vain, don't you think that in the end

he is bound to hate himself and what he is doing?

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: So let's never include a person with a forgetful soul among

those who are sufficiently philosophical; the one we look for should be

good at remembering.

GLAUCON: Absolutely.

SOCRATES: Moreover, we would deny that an unmusical and graceless

nature is drawn to anything besides what is disproportionate.

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: And do you think that truth is akin to what is disproportionate

or to what is proportionate?

GLAUCON: To what is proportionate.

SOCRATES: Then, in addition to those other things, let's look for a mind

that has a natural sense of proportion and grace, one whose innate disposition

makes it easy to lead to the form of each thing which is.

GLAUCON: Indeed.

SOCRATES: Well, then, do you think the properties we have gone through

aren't interconnected, or that any of them is in any way unnecessary to a

soul that is going to have a sufficiently complete grasp of what is?

GLAUCON: No, they are all absolutely necessary.

SOCRATES: Is there any criticism you can find, then, of a pursuit that a

person cannot practice adequately unless he is naturally good at remembering,

quick to learn, high-minded, graceful, and a friend and relative of

truth, justice, courage, and temperance?

GLAUCON: Not even Momus could criticize a pursuit like that.

SOCRATES: Well, then, when people of this sort are in perfect condition

because of their education and their stage of life, wouldn't you entrust the

city to them alone?

And Adeimantus replied:

No one, Socrates, would be able to contradict these claims of yours. But all

the same, here is pretty much the experience people have on any occasion

on which they hear the sorts of things you are now saying: they think that

because they are inexperienced in asking and answering questions, they are

led astray a little bit by the argument at every question, and that when these

little bits are added together at the end of the discussion, a big false step

appears that is the opposite of what they said at the outset. Like the

unskilled, who are trapped by the clever checkers players in the end and

cannot make a move, they too are trapped in the end, and have nothing to

say in this different kind of checkers, which is played not with pieces, but

with words. Yet they are not a bit more inclined to think that what you

claim is true. I say this in relation to the present case. You see, someone

might well say now that he is unable to find the words to oppose you as you

ask each of your questions. Yet, when it comes to facts rather than words,

he sees that of all those who take up philosophy—not those who merely

dabble in it while still young in order to complete their upbringing, and

then drop it, but those who continue in it for a longer time—the majority

become cranks, not to say completely bad, while the ones who seem best

are rendered useless to the city because of the pursuit you recommend.


When I had heard him out, I said:

Do you think that what these people say is false?



: I do not know. But I would be glad to hear what you think.



: You would hear that they seem to me to be telling the truth.



: How, then, can it be right to say that there will be no end

to evils in our cities until philosophers—people we agree to be useless to

cities—rule in them?



: The question you ask needs to be answered by means of an





: And you, of course, are not used to speaking in images!



: So! After landing me with a claim that is so difficult to establish,

are you mocking me, too? Anyway, listen to my image, and you will

appreciate all the more how I have to strain to make up images. What the

best philosophers experience in relation to cities is so difficult to bear that

there is no other single experience like it. On the contrary, one must construct

one's image and one's defense of these philosophers from


sources, just as painters paint goat-stags by combining the features of different


Imagine, then, that the following sort of thing happens either on one

ship or on many. The shipowner is taller and stronger than everyone else

on board. But he is hard of hearing, he is a bit shortsighted, and his

knowledge of seafaring is correspondingly deficient. The sailors are quarreling

with one another about captaincy.


Each of them thinks that he

should captain the ship, even though he has not yet learned the craft and

cannot name his teacher or a time when he was learning it. Indeed, they

go further and claim that it cannot be taught at all, and are even ready to

cut to pieces anyone who says it can. They are always crowding around the

shipowner himself, pleading with him, and doing everything possible to

get him to turn the rudder over to them. And sometimes, if they fail to

persuade him and others succeed, they execute those others or throw

them overboard. Then, having disabled their noble shipowner with mandragora


or drink or in some other way, they rule the ship, use up its cargo

drinking and feasting, and make the sort of voyage you would expect of

such people. In addition, they praise anyone who is clever at persuading or

forcing the shipowner to let them rule, calling him a "sailor," a "skilled

captain," and "an expert about ships" while dismissing anyone else as a

good-for-nothing. They do not understand that a true captain must pay

attention to the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all that

pertains to his craft if he is really going to be expert at ruling a ship. As for


he is going to become captain of the ship, whether people want him

to or not, they do not think it possible to acquire the craft or practice of

doing this at the same time as the craft of captaincy. When that is what is

happening onboard ships, don't you think that a true captain would be sure

to be called a "stargazer," a "useless babbler," and a "good-for-nothing" by

those who sail in ships so governed?



: I certainly do.



: I do not think you need to examine the image to see the

resemblance to cities and how they're disposed toward true philosophers,

but you already understand what I mean.



: Indeed, I do.



: First teach this image, then, to the person who is surprised

that philosophers are not honored in cities, and try to persuade him that it

would be far more surprising if they were honored.



: I will.



: Furthermore, try to persuade him that you are speaking the

truth when you say that the best among the philosophers are useless to the

masses. But tell him to blame their uselessness on those who do not make

use of them, not on those good philosophers. You see, it is not natural for

the captain to beg the sailors to be ruled by him, nor for the wise to knock

at the doors of the rich. The man who came up with that bit of sophistry

was lying.


What is truly natural is for the sick person, rich or poor, to go

to doctors' doors, and for anyone who needs to be ruled to go to the doors

of the one who can rule him. It is not for the ruler—if he is truly any

use—to beg the subjects to accept his rule. Tell him he will make no mistake

if he likens our present political rulers to the sailors we mentioned a

moment ago, and those who are called useless stargazers by them to the

true ship's captains.



: That's absolutely right.



: For those reasons, then, and in these circumstances, it is not

easy for the best pursuit to be highly honored by those whose pursuits are its

very opposites. But by far the greatest and most serious slander is brought

on philosophy by those who claim to practice it—the ones about whom the

prosecutor of philosophy declares, as you put it, that the majority of those




1391a7-12, says that when Simonides was asked whether it was

better to be rich or wise, he replied: "Rich—because the wise spend their time at the

doors of the rich."


who take it up are completely bad, while the best ones are useless. And I

admitted that what you said was true, didn't I?11


SOCRATES: Haven't we now explained why the good ones are useless?

ADEIMANTUS: We certainly have.

SOCRATES: Do you next want us to discuss why it is inevitable that the

greater number are bad, and try to show, if we can, that philosophy is not

responsible for this either?

ADEIMANTUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then let's begin our dialogue by recalling the starting point of

our description of the nature that someone must have if he is to become a

fine and good person. First of all, if you remember, he was led by truth,12

and he had to follow it wholeheartedly and unequivocally, on pain of being

a lying imposter with no share at all in true philosophy.

ADEIMANTUS: That's what we said.

SOCRATES: Well, isn't that fact alone completely contrary to the belief

currently held about him?

ADEIMANTUS: It certainly is.

SOCRATES: So, won't it be reasonable, then, for us to plead in his defense

that a real lover of learning naturally strives for what is? He does not linger

over each of the many things that are believed to be, but keeps on going,

without losing or lessening his passion, until he grasps what the nature of

each thing itself is13 with the part of his soul that is fitted to grasp a thing of

that sort because of its kinship with it.14 Once he has drawn near to it, has

intercourse with what really is, and has begotten understanding and truth,

he knows, truly lives, is nourished, and—at that point, but not before—is

relieved from his labor pains.

ADEIMANTUS: Nothing could be more reasonable.

SOCRATES: Well, then, will a person of that sort love falsehood or, in

completely opposite fashion, will he hate it?

ADEIMANTUS: He will hate it.

SOCRATES: And if truth led the way, we would never say, I imagine, that a

chorus of evils could follow it.

ADEIMANTUS: Of course not.

SOCRATES: On the contrary, it is followed by a healthy and just character,

and the temperance that accompanies it.

ADEIMANTUS: That's right.

SOCRATES: What need is there, then, to go back to the beginning and

compel the rest of the philosophic nature's chorus to line up all over again?

You surely remember that courage, high-mindedness, ease in learning, and

a good memory all belong to philosophers. Then you objected that anyone

would be compelled to agree with what we are saying, but that if he left the

arguments aside and looked at the very people the argument is about, he

would say that some of those he saw were useless, while the majority of

them were thoroughly bad. Trying to discover the reason for this slander,

we have arrived now at this question: why are the majority of them bad?

And that is why we have again taken up the nature of the true philosophers

and defined what it necessarily has to be.

ADEIMANTUS: That's right.

SOCRATES: What we now have to do is look at the ways this nature gets

corrupted; how it gets completely destroyed in the majority of cases, while

a small number escape—the very ones that are called useless, rather than

bad. After that, we must next look at those who imitate this nature and

adopt its pursuit. We must see what natures the souls have that enter into a

pursuit that is too valuable and too high for them—souls that, by often

striking false notes, give philosophy the reputation that you said it has with

everyone everywhere.

ADEIMANTUS: What sorts of corruption do you mean?

SOCRATES: I will try to explain them to you if I can. I imagine that everyone

would agree with us about this: the sort of nature that possesses all the

qualities we prescribed just now for the person who is going to be a complete

philosopher, is seldom found among human beings, and there will be

few who possess it. Or don't you think so?

ADEIMANTUS: I most certainly do.

SOCRATES: Consider, then, how many great sources of destruction there

are for these few.

ADEIMANTUS: What are they?

SOCRATES: The most surprising thing of all to hear is that each one of the

things we praised in that nature tends to corrupt the soul that has it and

drag it away from philosophy. I mean courage, temperance, and the other

things we mentioned.

ADEIMANTUS: That does sound strange.

SOCRATES: Furthermore, in addition to those, all so-called good things

also corrupt it and drag it away—beauty, wealth, physical strength, powerful

family connections in the city, and all that goes along with these. You

understand the general pattern of thing I mean?

ADEIMANTUS: I do, and I would be glad to acquire a more precise understanding

of it.

SOCRATES: Grasp the general principle correctly and the matter will

become clear to you, and what I said about it before won't seem so strange.

ADEIMANTUS: What are you telling me to grasp?

SOCRATES: In the case of every seed or growing thing, whether plant or

animal, we know that if it fails to get the food, climate, or location suitable

for it, then the more vigorous it is, the more it is deficient in the qualities

proper to it. For surely bad is more opposed to good than to not-good.

ADEIMANTUS: Of course.

SOCRATES: So, I suppose it is reasonable that the best nature comes off

worse than an inferior one from unsuitable nurture.


SOCRATES: Well, then, Adeimantus, won't we also say that if souls with the

best natures get a bad education, they become exceptionally bad? Or do

you think that great injustices and unalloyed evil originate in an inferior

nature, rather than in a vigorous one that has been corrupted by its

upbringing? Or that a weak nature is ever responsible for great good things

or great bad ones?

ADEIMANTUS: No, you are right.

SOCRATES: Well, then, if the nature we proposed for the philosopher happens

to receive the proper instruction, I imagine it will inevitably grow to

attain every virtue. But if it is not sown, planted, and grown in a suitable

environment, it will develop in entirely the opposite way, unless some god

comes to its aid. Or do you too believe, as the masses do, that some young

people are corrupted by sophists—that there are sophists, private individuals,

who corrupt them to a significant extent? Isn't it, rather, the very people

who say this who are the greatest sophists of all, who educate most

effectively and produce young and old men and women of just the sort

they want?

ADEIMANTUS: When do they do that?

SOCRATES: When many of them sit together in assemblies, courts, theaters,

army camps, or any other gathering of a majority in public and, with

a loud uproar, object excessively to some of the things that are said or

done, then approve excessively of others, shouting and clapping; and

when, in addition to these people themselves, the rocks and the surrounding

space itself echo and redouble the uproar of their praise or blame. In a

situation like that, how do you think—as the saying goes—a young man's

heart is affected?15 How will whatever sort of private education he received

hold up for him, and not get swept away by such praise and blame, and go

be carried off by the flood wherever it goes, so that he will call the same

things beautiful or ugly as these people, practice what they practice, and

become like them?

ADEIMANTUS: The compulsion to do so will be enormous, Socrates.

SOCRATES: And yet we have not mentioned the greatest compulsion of all.

ADEIMANTUS: What is that?

SOCRATES: It is what these educators and sophists impose by their actions

if their words fail to persuade. Or don't you know that they punish anyone

who is not persuaded, with disenfranchisement, fines, or death?

ADEIMANTUS: They most certainly do.

SOCRATES: What other sophist, then, or what sort of private conversations

do you think will oppose these and prove stronger?

ADEIMANTUS: None, I imagine.

SOCRATES: No, indeed, even to try would be very foolish. You see, there

is not now, never has been, nor ever will be, a character whose view of virtue

goes contrary to the education these provide. I mean a human character,

comrade—the divine, as the saying goes, is an exception to the rule.

You may be sure that if anything is saved and turns out well in the political

systems that exist now, you won't be mistaken in saying that divine providence

saved it.

ADEIMANTUS: That is what I think, too.

SOCRATES: Well, then, you should also agree to this.


SOCRATES: Each of those private wage-earners—the ones these people

call sophists and consider to be their rivals in craft16—teaches anything

other than the convictions the masses hold when they are assembled

together, and this he calls wisdom. It is just as if someone were learning

the passions and appetites of a huge, strong beast that he is rearing—how

to approach and handle it, when it is most difficult to deal with or most

docile and what makes it so, what sounds it utters in either condition, and

what tones of voice soothe or anger it. Having learned all this through

associating and spending time


with the beast, he calls this wisdom, gathers

his information together as if it were a craft, and starts to teach it. Knowing

nothing in reality about which of these convictions or appetites is fine or

shameful, good or bad, just or unjust, he uses all these terms in conformity

with the great beast's beliefs—calling the things it enjoys good and the

things that anger it bad. He has no other account to give of them, but calls

everything he is compelled to do just and fine, never having seen how

much the natures of necessity and goodness really differ, and being unable

to explain it to anyone. Don't you think, by Zeus, that someone like that

would make a strange educator?

ADEIMANTUS: I do, indeed.

SOCRATES: Then does this person seem any different from the one who

believes that wisdom is understanding the passions and pleasures of the

masses—multifarious people—assembled together, whether in regard to

painting, music, or politics for that matter? For if a person associates with

the masses and exhibits his poetry or some other piece of craftsmanship to

them or his service to the city, and gives them mastery over him to any

degree beyond what is unavoidable, he will be under Diomedean compulsion,


as it is called, to produce the things of which they approve. But

that such things are truly good and beautiful—have you ever heard anyone

presenting an argument for that conclusion that was not absolutely


ADEIMANTUS: No, and I do not suppose I ever will.

SOCRATES: So then, bearing all that in mind, recall our earlier question:

can the majority in any way tolerate or accept that the beautiful itself (as

opposed to the many beautiful things), or each thing itself (as opposed to

the corresponding many), exists?

ADEIMANTUS: Not in the least.

SOCRATES: It is impossible, then, for the majority to be philosophic.

ADEIMANTUS: It is impossible.

SOCRATES: And so, those who practice philosophy are inevitably disparaged

by them?

ADEIMANTUS: Inevitably.

SOCRATES: And also by those private individuals who associate with the

majority and want to please them.


SOCRATES: On the basis of these facts, then, do you see any way to preserve

a philosophic nature and ensure that it will continue to practice philosophy

and reach the end? Consider the question in light of what we said

before. We agreed that ease in learning, a good memory, courage, and highmindedness

belong to the philosophic nature.


SOCRATES: Right from the start, then, won't someone like that be first

among the children in everything, especially if his body's nature matches

that of his soul?

ADEIMANTUS: Of course he will.

SOCRATES: So as he gets older, I imagine his family and fellow citizens

will want to make use of him in connection with their own affairs.

ADEIMANTUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: They will get down on their knees, begging favors from him

and honoring him, flattering ahead of time the power that is going to be

his, so as to secure it for themselves.

ADEIMANTUS: That's usually what happens, at least.

SOCRATES: What do you think someone like that will do in such circumstances—

especially if he happens to be from a great city where he is rich

and noble, and if he is good-looking and tall as well? Won't he be filled

with an impractical expectation and think himself capable of managing the

affairs, not only of the Greeks, but of the barbarians, too? And won't he

exalt himself to great heights, as a result, and be brimming with pretension

and empty, senseless pride?19

ADEIMANTUS: He certainly will.

SOCRATES: Now, suppose someone gently approaches a young man in

that state of mind and tells him the truth: that he has no sense, although he

needs it, and that it cannot be acquired unless he works like a slave to attain

it. Do you think it will be easy for him to hear that message through the

evils that surround him?

ADEIMANTUS: Far from it.

SOCRATES: And suppose that, because of his noble nature and his natural

affinity for such arguments, he somehow sees the point and is turned

around and drawn toward philosophy. What do we suppose those people

will do if they believe that they are losing his services and companionship?

Is there anything they won't do or say in his regard to prevent him from

being persuaded? Or anything they won't do or say in regard to his persuader

to prevent him from succeeding, whether it is in private plots or

public court cases?20

ADEIMANTUS: There certainly is not.

SOCRATES: Then is there any chance that such a person will practice philosophy?

ADEIMANTUS: None at all.

SOCRATES: Do you see, then, that we weren't wrong to say that when a

philosophic nature is badly brought up, its very components—together

with the other so-called goods, such as wealth and every provision of that

sort—are somehow the cause of its falling away from the pursuit?

ADEIMANTUS: No, we were not. What we said was right.

SOCRATES: There you are, then, you amazing fellow! That is the extent of

the sort of destruction and corruption that the nature best suited for the

noblest pursuit undergoes. And such a nature is a rare occurrence anyway,

we claim. Moreover, men who possess it are the ones that do the worst

things to cities and individuals, and also—if they happen to be swept that

way by the current21—the greatest good. For a petty nature never does anything

great, either to a private individual or a city.

ADEIMANTUS: That's very true.

SOCRATES: So when these men, for whom philosophy is most appropriate,

fall away from her, they leave her desolate and unwed, and themselves

lead a life that is inappropriate and untrue. Then others, who are unworthy

of her, come to her as to an orphan bereft of kinsmen, and shame her. They

are the ones responsible for the reproaches that you say are cast upon philosophy

by her detractors—that some of her consorts are useless, while the

majority deserve many evils.

ADEIMANTUS: Yes, that is what they say.

SOCRATES: And it is a reasonable thing to say. For other worthless little

men see that this position has become vacant, even though it is brimming

with fine accolades and pretensions, and—like prisoners escaping from jail

who take refuge in a temple—leap gladly from their crafts to philosophy.

These are the ones who are most sophisticated at their own petty craft. You

see, at least in comparison to other crafts, and even in its present state, philosophy

still has a grander reputation. And that is what many people are

aiming at, people with defective natures, whose souls are as cramped and

spoiled by their menial tasks as their bodies are warped by their crafts and

occupations. Isn't that inevitably what happens?

ADEIMANTUS: It certainly is.

SOCRATES: Do you think that they look any different than a little, baldheaded

blacksmith who has come into some money and, newly released

from debtor's prison, has taken a bath, put on a new cloak, got himself up

as a bridegroom, and is about to marry the master's daughter because she is

poor and abandoned?

ADEIMANTUS: They are no different at all.

SOCRATES: What sort of offspring are they likely to beget, then? Won't

their children be wretched illegitimates?

ADEIMANTUS: Inevitably.

SOCRATES: What about when men who are unworthy of education

approach philosophy and associate with her in a way unworthy of her?

What kinds of thoughts and beliefs are we to say they beget? Won't they be

what are truly and appropriately called sophisms, since they have nothing

genuine or truly wise about them?

ADEIMANTUS: Absolutely.

SOCRATES: Then there remains, Adeimantus, only a very small group who

associate with philosophy in a way that is worthy of her: a noble and well

brought-up character, perhaps, kept down by exile, who stays true to his

nature and remains with philosophy because there is no one to corrupt

him; or a great soul living in a small city, who disdains the city's affairs and

looks beyond them. A very few might perhaps come to philosophy from

other crafts that they rightly despise because they have good natures. And

some might be held back by the bridle that restrains our friend Theages—

you see, he meets all the other conditions needed to make him fall away

from philosophy, but his physical illness keeps him out of politics and prevents

it. Finally, my own case is hardly worth mentioning—my daimonic

sign22—since I don't suppose it has happened to anyone else or to only a

few before. Now, those who have become members of this little group

have tasted how sweet and blessed a possession philosophy is. At the same

time, they have also seen the insanity of the masses and realized that there is

nothing healthy, so to speak, in public affairs, and that there is no ally with

whose aid the champion of justice can survive; that instead he would perish

before he could profit either their city or his friends, and be useless both to

himself and to others—like a man who has fallen among wild animals and

is neither willing to join them in doing injustice nor sufficiently strong to

oppose the general savagery alone. Taking all this into his calculations, he

keeps quiet and does his own work, like someone who takes refuge under a

little wall from a storm of dust or hail driven by the wind. Seeing others

filled with lawlessness, the philosopher is satisfied if he can somehow lead

his present life pure of injustice and impious acts, and depart from it with

good hope, blameless and content.

ADEIMANTUS: Well, that is no small thing for him to have accomplished

before departing. 497a

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Student review
100% (1 rating)
Easy to follow

"Thank you! Your explanation is easy to follow."