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But if a doctor were ignorant of that bodily condition which we have now called “health,” or a general ignorant of victory, or any of the other matters we have mentioned, could he possibly be thought to possess reason about any of these things?Clinias
How could he?Athenian
What, now, shall we say about a State? If a man were to be plainly ignorant as regards the political mark to be aimed at, would he, first of all, deserve the title of magistrate, and, [962b] secondly, would he be able to secure the salvation of that object concerning the aim of which he knows nothing at all?Clinias
How could he?Athenian
So now, in our present case, if our settlement of the country is to be finally completed, there must, it would seem, exist in it some element which knows, in the first place, what that political aim, of which we are speaking, really is, and, secondly, in what manner it may attain this aim, and which of the laws, in the first instance, and secondly of men, gives it good counsel or bad. But if any State is destitute of such an element, it will not be surprising [962c] if, being thus void of reason and void of sense, it acts at haphazard always in all its actions.Clinias
In which, then, of the parts or institutions of our State have we now got anything so framed as to prove an adequate safeguard of this kind? Can we answer that question?Clinias
No, Stranger; at least, not clearly. But if I must make a guess, it seems to me that this discourse of yours is leading up to that synod which has to meet at night, as you said just now. [962d] Athenian
An excellent reply, Clinias! And, as our present discourse shows, this synod must possess every virtue; and the prime virtue is not to keep shifting its aim among a number of objects,1 but to concentrate its gaze always on one particular mark, and at that one mark to shoot, as it were, all its arrows continually.Clinias
So now we shall understand that it is by no means surprising if the legal customs in States keep shifting, seeing that different parts of the codes in each State look in different directions. And, in general, it is not surprising that, with some statesmen, [962e] the aim of justice is to enable a certain class of people to rule in the State (whether they be really superior, or inferior), while with others the aim is how to acquire wealth (whether or not they be somebody's slaves); and others again direct their efforts to winning a life of freedom. Still others make two objects at once the joint aim of their legislation,—namely, the gaining of freedom for themselves, and mastery over other States; while those who are the wisest of all, in their own conceit, aim not at one only, but at the sum total of these and the like objects, since they are unable to specify any one object of preeminent value towards which they would desire all else to be directed.
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