Plato's The Republic Books 6 Through 10

In books 6 through 10 of Platos Republic, we see many different discussions on the subject of justice, philosophy, and goodness. The philosopher Socrates has now defined what a philosopher is. His next task is to show that a philosopher is best qualified to be the ruler of a state. A good ruler must surely know what Justice and Goodness are, for he must administer Justice and always act for the good of the community. But a philosopher, as we have seen, has knowledge of the Forms, so from this point of view at least, he is best qualified to be a ruler.

A good ruler must have a good character as well as a good mind; he must always be truthful, high-minded, and disciplined, and never mean, petty, or cowardly. A philosopher will satisfy these requirements too, Socrates argues. Since the philosopher loves truth, he will always be honest and forthright. Socrates is being much too idealistic here. The idea that a philosopher should be the ruler of a state is just an idle dream. Politicians should be practical and experienced. However philosophers have wisdom and goodness. Next Socrates is asked, What is Goodness?

Socrates tries to answer this question in the form of an analogy. The Analogy of the Sun, as this is called, can be represented in a diagram: SightKnowledge The Sun Goodness Is the source of is the source of Light, Truth, And so makes objects and so makes the Forms Visible, and allows the intelligible, and allows Eye to see. The mind to know. This analogy does not tell us what Goodness is; it only gives us some idea of the relation in which Goodness stands to other intelligible or knowable things. He also tells about the Allegory of the Cave, which contains a number of important and interesting messages.

For one thing, it illustrates Platos belief that all knowledge is connected in the knowledge of Goodness itself. The study of the five branches of mathematics, can serve only as an introduction to the real intellectual training that the future philosopher-rulers must receive. Plato considers mathematics to be the first stage in the intellectual education of the philosopher-ruler. If they have mastered mathematics, then they will have begun to think in abstract terms. However, we do not want them to be mathematicians, but rather philosophers. They must therefore learn to understand the nature of Reality- that is, they must grasp the Forms.

To be able to do this, says Socrates, they must learn to argue logically. The science of logical argument is called Dialetic. We must, therefore, teach them Dialectic. Philosophers must learn the whole knowledge of Goodness and argue in Dialectic. In Book VII, Socrates now outlines the entire program of study for the future philosopher-rulers. First, he emphasizes once again the necessity of selecting only those with good characters and with the appropriate intellectual gifts. The trainees must be honest, brave, hardworking, and quick to learn. The entire life of those who are to become rulers is divided into six stages, as follows: . )

Childhood: The young people should receive training in literature, music, and elementary mathematics. However the learning should not enforced. Children will also learn about warfare, and taken to watch battles. 2. ) Army Training: The best from stage 1 will now be selected for intensive physical and military training. It will last two to three years and they will have no time to study. 3. ) Young Adulthood: At age 20, the best from stage 2 are selected. They will take the advanced course in mathematics. The rest will presumably remain soldiers, and thus they will form the second class of the state, the auxiliary class.

The math course will last ten years. They will see the connections between the various branches of mathematics. 4. ) Manhood: When the students are thirty, yet a further selection is made and they will now study Dialectic for a period of about five years. 5. ) Philosophy: At the age of thirty-five, the trainees will have become philosophers. They must now receive the necessary practical experience for ruling. They will accept junior positions in military and political life. This period of practical training will last fifteen years.

6. Philosopher-Ruler: At the age of fifty, the philosopher-rulers will at last be fully formed. They will spend a large part of the rest of their lives in contemplation and philosophy, but they must also take their turn in public and political life, and do their duty in ruling and guiding the state. For now they will know Goodness itself, and thus they will know what is best for the community. At this point, Socrates has discovered the nature of Justice, both in the state and in the individual man, and he had begun to answer the question Why is it better for a man to lead a just life than it is for him to lead an unjust life?

The Myth of Er tells us that even after death justice is rewarded and injustice punished. Platos view is that a man who chooses to be unjust is a matter of ignorance. A man guided by reason would realize that living an unjust life causes him unhappiness and suffering. Socrates than says that there are four main types of unjust societies. These are Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny. This is the order of their degrees of injustice; timocracy is closest to the just state, and tyranny is the most unjust and diseased of all.


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