This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
“So now, Glaucon,” I said, “our argument after winding1 a long2 and weary way has at last made clear to us who are the philosophers or lovers of wisdom and who are not.” “Yes,” he said, “a shorter way is perhaps not feasible.” “Apparently not,” I said. “I, at any rate, think that the matter would have been made still plainer if we had had nothing but this to speak of, and if there were not so many things left which our purpose3 of discerning the difference between the just and [484b] the unjust life requires us to discuss.” “What, then,” he said, “comes next?” “What else,” said I, “but the next in order? Since the philosophers are those who are capable of apprehending that which is eternal and unchanging,4 while those who are incapable of this but lose themselves and wander5 amid the multiplicities of multifarious things, are not philosophers, which of the two kinds ought to be the leaders in a state?” “What, then,” he said, “would be a fair statement of the matter?” “Whichever,” I said, “appear competent to guard the laws and pursuits of society, [484c] these we should establish as guardians.” “Right” he said. “Is this, then,” said I, “clear, whether the guardian who is to keep watch over anything ought to be blind or keen of sight?” “Of course it is clear,” he said. “Do you think, then, that there is any appreciable difference between the blind6 and those who are veritably deprived of the knowledge of the veritable being of things, those who have no vivid pattern7 in their souls and so cannot, as painters look to their models, fix their eyes8 on the absolute truth, and always with reference to that ideal and in the exactest possible contemplation of it [484d] establish in this world also the laws of the beautiful, the just and the good, when that is needful, or guard and preserve those that are established?” “No, by heaven,” he said, “there is not much difference.” “Shall we, then, appoint these blind souls as our guardians, rather than those who have learned to know the ideal reality of things and who do not fall short of the others in experience9 and are not second to them in any part of virtue?” “It would be strange indeed,” he said, “to choose others than the philosophers, provided they were not deficient in those other respects, for this very knowledge
1 The argument is slightly personified. Cf. on 503 A.
2 It is captious to object that the actual discussion of the philosopher occupies only a few pages.
3 This is the main theme of the Republic, of which Plato never loses sight.
5 Cf. p. 89, note h, on 505 C.
7 Cf. Polit. 277 B, 277 D f., etc., Soph. 226 C, Parmen. 132 D.
9 Cf. 539 E, 521 B, Phileb. 62. Cf. Introd. p. xl; Apelt, Republic, p. 490.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.