The Project Gutenberg EBook of Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates, 3rd ed. Volume IV (of 4), by George Grote This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Plato and the Other Companions of Sokrates, 3rd ed. Volume IV (of 4) Author: George Grote Release Date: August 7, 2012 [EBook #40438] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PLATO, COMPANIONS OF SOKRATES, VOL IV *** Produced by Ed Brandon as part of the on-line Grote Project
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|PLATONIC REPUBLIC — ABSTRACT.|
|Declared theme of the Republic — Expansion and multiplication of the topics connected with it||1|
|Personages of the dialogue||2|
|Views of Kephalus about old age||ib.|
|Definition of Justice by Simonides — It consists in rendering to every man what is owing to him||ib.|
|Objections to it by Sokrates — There are cases in which it is not right to restore what is owing, or to tell the truth||3|
|Explanation by Polemarchus — Farther interrogations by Sokrates — Justice renders what is proper and suitable: but how? in what cases, proper? Under what circumstances is Justice useful?||4|
|The just man, being good for keeping property guarded, must also be good for stealing property — Analogies cited||5|
|Justice consists in doing good to friends, evil to enemies — But how, if a man mistakes who his friends are, and makes friends of bad men?||6|
|Justice consists in doing good to your friend, if really a good man: hurt to your enemy, with the like proviso. Sokrates affirms that the just man will do no hurt to any one. Definition of Simonides rejected||ib.|
|Thrasymachus takes up the dialogue — Repulsive portrait drawn of him||7|
|Violence of Thrasymachus — Subdued manner of Sokrates — Conditions of useful colloquy||ib.|
|Definition given by Thrasymachus — Justice is that which is advantageous to the more powerful. Comments by Sokrates. What if the powerful man mistakes his own advantage?||8|
|Correction by Thrasymachus — if the Ruler mistakes, he is pro tanto no Ruler — The Ruler, quâ Ruler — quâ Craftsman — is infallible||9|
|Reply by Sokrates — The Ruler, quâ infallible Craftsman, studies the interest of those whom he governs, and not his own interest||ib.|
|Thrasymachus denies this — Justice is the good of another. The just many are worse off than the unjust One, and are forced to submit to his superior strength||10|
|Position laid for the subsequent debate and exposition||11|
|Arguments of Sokrates — Injustice is a source of weakness — Every multitude must observe justice among themselves, in order to avoid perpetual quarrels. The same about any single individual: if he is unjust, he will be at war with himself, and perpetually weak||ib.|
|Farther argument of Sokrates — The just man is happy, the unjust man miserable — Thrasymachus is confuted and silenced. Sokrates complains that he does not yet know what Justice is||ib.|
|Glaukon intimates that he is not satisfied with the proof, though he agrees in the opinion expressed by Sokrates. Tripartite distribution of Good — To which of the three heads does Justice belong?||12|
|Glaukon undertakes to set forth the case against Sokrates, though professing not to agree with it||ib.|
|Pleading of Glaukon. Justice is in the nature of a compromise for all — a medium between what is best and what is worst||13|
|Comparison of the happiness of the just man derived from his justice alone, when others are unjust to him with that of the unjust man under parallel circumstances||14|
|Pleading of Adeimantus on the same side. He cites advice given by fathers to their sons, recommending just behaviour by reason of its consequences||15|
|Nobody recommends Justice per se, but only by reason of its consequences||16|
|Adeimantus calls upon Sokrates to recommend and enforce Justice on its own grounds, and to explain how Justice in itself benefits the mind of the just man||17|
|Relation of Glaukon and Adeimantus to Thrasymachus||18|
|Statement of the question as it stands after the speeches of Glaukon and Adeimantus. What Sokrates undertakes to prove||ib.|
|Position to be proved by Sokrates — Justice makes the just man happy per se, whatever be its results||20|
|Argument of Sokrates to show what Justice is — Assumed analogy between the city and the individual||ib.|
|Fundamental principle, to which communities of mankind owe their origin — Reciprocity of want and service between individuals — No individual can suffice to himself||ib.|
|Moderate equipment of a sound and healthy city — Few wants||22|
|Enlargement of the city — Multiplied wants and services. First origin of war and strife with neighbours — It arises out of these multiplied wants||ib.|
|Separate class of soldiers or Guardians. One man cannot do well more than one business. Character required in the Guardians — Mildness at home with pugnacity against enemies||23|
|Peculiar education necessary, musical as well as gymnastical||23|
|Musical education, by fictions as well as by truth. Fictions addressed to the young: the religious legends now circulating are often pernicious: censorship necessary||24|
|Orthodox type to be laid down: all poets are required to conform their legends to it. The Gods are causes of nothing but good: therefore they are causes of few things. Great preponderance of actual evil||ib.|
|The Guardians must not fear death. No terrible descriptions of Hades must be presented to them: no intense sorrow, nor violent nor sensual passion, must be re counted either of Gods or Heroes||25|
|Type for all narratives respecting men||26|
|Style of narratives. The poet must not practise variety of imitation: he must not speak in the name of bad characters||ib.|
|Rhythm and Melody regulated. None but simple and grave music allowed: only the Dorian and Phrygian moods, with the lyre and harp||ib.|
|Effect of musical training of the mind — makes youth love the Beautiful and hate the Ugly||27|
|Training of the body — simple and sober. No refined medical art allowed. Wounds or temporary ailments treated; but sickly frames cannot be kept alive||28|
|Value of Gymnastic in imparting courage to the mind — Gymnastic and Music necessary to correct each other||29|
|Out of the Guardians a few of the very best must be chosen as Elders or Rulers — highly educated and severely tested||ib.|
|Fundamental creed required to be planted in the minds of all the citizens respecting their breed and relationship||30|
|How is such a fiction to be accredited in the first instance? Difficulty extreme, of first beginning; but if once accredited, it will easily transmit itself by tradition||31|
|Guardians to reside in barracks and mess together; to have no private property or home; to be maintained by contribution from the people||32|
|If the Guardians fail in these precautions, and acquire private interests, the city will be ruined||32|
|Complete unity of the city, every man performing his own special function||33|
|The maintenance of the city depends upon that of the habits, character, and education of the Guardians||34|
|Religious legislation — Consult the Delphian Apollo||ib.|
|The city is now constituted as a good city — that is, wise, courageous, temperate, just. Where is its Justice?||ib.|
|First, where is the wisdom of the city? It resides in the few elder Rulers||ib.|
|Where is the Courage? In the body of Guardians or Soldiers||35|
|Where is the Temperance? It resides in all and each, Rulers, Guardians, and People. Superiors rule and Inferiors obey||ib.|
|Where is the Justice? In all and each of them also. It consists in each performing his own special function, and not meddling with the function of the others||36|
|Injustice arises when any one part of the city interferes with the functions of the other part, or undertakes double functions||37|
|Analogy of the city to the individual — Each man is tripartite, having in his mind Reason, Energy, Appetite. These three elements are distinct, and often conflicting||ib.|
|Reason, Energy, Appetite, in the individual — analogous to Rulers, Guardians, Craftsmen in the city. Reason is to rule Appetite. Energy assists Reason in ruling it||39|
|A man is just when these different parts of his mind exercise their appropriate functions without hindrance||ib.|
|Justice and Injustice in the mind — what health and disease are in the body||40|
|Original question now resumed — Does Justice make a man happy, and Injustice make him miserable, apart from all consequences? Answer — Yes||ib.|
|Glaukon requires farther explanation about the condition of the Guardians, in regard to sexual and family ties||41|
|Men and women will live together and perform the duties of Guardians alike — They will receive the same gymnastic and musical training||41|
|Nature does not prescribe any distribution of functions between men and women. Women are inferior to men in every thing. The best women are equal to second-best men||42|
|Community of life and relations between the male and female Guardians. Temporary marriages arranged by contrivance of the Elders. No separate families||ib.|
|Regulations about age, for procreation — Children brought up under public authority||44|
|Perfect communion of sentiment and interest among the Guardians — Causes of pleasure and pain the same to all, like parts of the same organism||ib.|
|Harmony — absence of conflicting interest — assured scale of equal comfort — consequent happiness — among the Guardians||45|
|In case of war both sexes will go together to battle — Rewards to distinguished warriors||46|
|War against Hellenic enemies to be carried on mildly — Hellens are all by nature kinsmen||47|
|Question — How is the scheme practicable? It is difficult, yet practicable on one condition — That philosophy and political power should come into the same hands||ib.|
|Characteristic marks of the philosopher — He contemplates and knows Entia or unchangeable Forms, as distinguished from fluctuating particulars or Fientia||48|
|Ens alone can be known — Non-Ens is unknowable. That which is midway between Ens and Non-Ens (particulars) is matter only of opinion. Ordinary men attain nothing beyond opinion||49|
|Particulars fluctuate: they are sometimes just or beautiful, sometimes unjust or ugly. Forms or Entia alone remain constant||50|
|The many cannot discern or admit the reality of Forms — Their minds are always fluctuating among particulars||51|
|The philosopher will be ardent for all varieties of knowledge — His excellent moral attributes — He will be trained to capacity for active life||ib.|
|Adeimantus does not dispute the conclusion, but remarks that it is at variance with actual facts — Existing philosophers are either worthless pretenders, or when they are good, useless||52|
|Sokrates admits the fact to be so — His simile of the able steersman on shipboard, among a disobedient crew||53|
|The uselessness of the true philosopher is the fault of the citizen, who will not invoke his guidance||54|
|The great qualities required to form a philosopher, become sources of perversion, under a misguiding public opinion||ib.|
|Mistake of supposing that such perversion arises from the Sophists. Irresistible effect of the public opinion generally, in tempting or forcing a dissenter into orthodoxy||55|
|The Sophists and other private teachers accept the prevalent orthodoxy, and conform their teaching to it||56|
|The people generally hate philosophy — A youth who aspires to it will be hated by the people, and persecuted even by his own relatives||57|
|The really great minds are thus driven away from the path of philosophy — which is left to empty pretenders||58|
|Rare cases in which a highly qualified philosopher remains — Being at variance with public opinion, he can achieve nothing, and is lucky if he can obtain safety by silence||ib.|
|The philosopher must have a community suitable to him, and worthy of him||59|
|It must be such a community as Sokrates has been describing — But means must be taken to keep up a perpetual succession of philosophers as Rulers||60|
|Proper manner of teaching philosophy — Not to begin at a very early age||ib.|
|If the multitude could once see a real, perfect, philosopher, they could not fail to love him: but this never happens||61|
|Course of training in the Platonic city, for imparting philosophy to the Rulers. They must be taught to ascend to the Idea of Good. But what is Good?||ib.|
|Ancient disputes upon this point, though every one yearns after Good. Some say Intelligence; some say Pleasure. Neither is satisfactory||62|
|Adeimantus asks what Sokrates says. Sokrates says that he can not answer: but he compares it by a metaphor to the Sun||63|
|The Idea of Good rules the ideal or intelligible world, as the Sun rules the sensible or visible world||64|
|To the intelligible world there are applicable two distinct modes of procedure — the Geometrical — the Dialectic. Geometrical procedure assumes diagrams||65|
|Dialectic procedure assumes nothing. It departs from the highest Form, and steps gradually down to the lowest, without meddling with any thing except Forms||66|
|Two distinct grades of Cognition — Direct or Superior — Nous — Indirect or Inferior — Dianoia||ib.|
|Two distinct grades of Opinion also in the Sensible World — Faith or Belief — Conjecture||67|
|Distinction between the philosopher and the unphilosophical public, illustrated by the simile of the Cave, and the captives imprisoned therein||ib.|
|Daylight of philosophy contrasted with the firelight and shadows of the Cave||69|
|Purpose of a philosophical training, to turn a man round from facing the bad light of the Cave to face the daylight of philosophy, and to see the eternal Forms||ib.|
|Those who have emerged from the Cave into full daylight amidst eternal Forms, must be forced to come down again and undertake active duties — Their reluctance to do this||70|
|Studies serving as introduction to philosophy — Arithmetic, its awakening power — shock to the mind by felt contradiction||ib.|
|Perplexity arising from the One and Many, stimulates the mind to an intellectual effort for clearing it up||72|
|Geometry conducts the mind to wards Universal Ens||ib.|
|Astronomy — how useful — not useful as now taught — must be studied by ideal figures, not by observation||73|
|Acoustics, in like manner — The student will be thus conducted to the highest of all studies — Dialectic: and to the region of pure intelligible Forms||74|
|Question by Glaukon — What is the Dialectic Power? Sokrates declares that he cannot answer with certainty, and that Glaukon could not follow him if he did||75|
|He answers partially — It is the consummation of all the sciences, raising the student to the contemplation of pure Forms, and especially to that of the highest Form — Good||ib.|
|The Synoptic view peculiar to the Dialectician||76|
|Scale and duration of various studies for the Guardians, from youth upwards||ib.|
|All these studies, and this education, are common to females as well as males||77|
|First formation of the Platonic city — how brought about: difficult, but not impossible||78|
|The city thus formed will last long, but not for ever. After a certain time, it will begin to degenerate. Stages of its degeneracy||ib.|
|1. Timocracy and the timocratical individual. 2 Oligarchy, and the oligarchical individual||79|
|3. Democracy, and the democratical individual||80|
|4. Passage from democracy to despotism. Character of the despotic city||81|
|Despotic individual corresponding to that city||82|
|The city has thus passed by four stages, from best to worse. Question — How are Happiness and Misery apportioned among them?||ib.|
|Misery of the despotised city||83|
|Supreme Misery of the despotising individual||ib.|
|Conclusion — The Model city and the individual corresponding to it, are the happiest of all — That which is farthest removed from it, is the most miserable of all||84|
|The Just Man is happy in and through his Justice, however he may be treated by others. The Unjust Man, miserable||84|
|Other arguments proving the same conclusion — Pleasures of Intelligence are the best of all pleasures||ib.|
|They are the only pleasures completely true and pure. Comparison of pleasure and pain with neutrality. Prevalent illusions||86|
|Most men know nothing of true and pure pleasure. Simile of the Kosmos — Absolute height and depth||87|
|Nourishment of the mind partakes more of real essence than nourishment of the body — Replenishment of the mind imparts fuller pleasure than replenishment of the body||88|
|Comparative worthlessness of the pleasures of Appetite and Ambition, when measured against those of Intelligence||89|
|The Just Man will be happy from his justice — He will look only to the good order of his own mind — He will stand aloof from public affairs, in cities as now constituted||90|
|Tenth Book — Censure of the poets is renewed — Mischiefs of imitation generally, as deceptive — Imitation from imitation||91|
|Censure of Homer — He is falsely extolled as educator of the Hellenic world. He and other poets only deceive their hearers||92|
|The poet chiefly appeals to emotions — Mischiefs of such eloquent appeals, as disturbing the rational government of the mind||ib.|
|Ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry — Plato fights for philosophy, though his feelings are strongly enlisted for poetry||93|
|Immortality of the soul affirmed and sustained by argument — Total number of souls always the same||ib.|
|Recapitulation — The Just Man will be happy, both from his justice and from its consequences, both here and hereafter||94|
|REPUBLIC — REMARKS ON ITS MAIN THESIS.|
|Summary of the preceding chapter||95|
|Title of the Republic, of ancient date, but only a partial indication of its contents||96|
|Parallelism between the Commonwealth and the Individual||96|
|Each of them a whole, composed of parts distinct in function and unequal in merit||97|
|End proposed by Plato. Happiness of the Commonwealth. Happiness of the individual. Conditions of happiness||98|
|Peculiar view of Justice taken by Plato||99|
|Pleadings of Glaukon and Adeimantus||ib.|
|The arguments which they enforce were not invented by the Sophists, but were the received views anterior to Plato||100|
|Argument of Sokrates to refute them. Sentiments in which it originates. Panegyric on Justice||101|
|Different senses of justice — wider and narrower sense||102|
|Plato’s sense of the word Justice or Virtue — self-regarding||104|
|He represents the motives to it, as arising from the internal happiness of the just agents||105|
|His theory departs more widely from the truth than that which he opposes. Argument of Adeimantus discussed||106|
|A Reciprocity of rights and duties between men in social life — different feelings towards one and towards the other||109|
|Plato’s own theory, respecting the genesis of society, is based on reciprocity||111|
|Antithesis and correlation of obligation and right. Necessity of keeping the two ideas together, as the basis of any theory respecting society||112|
|Characteristic feature of the Platonic Commonwealth — specialization of services to that function for which each man is fit — will not apply to one individual separately||114|
|Plato has not made good his refutation — the thesis which he impugns is true||116|
|Statement of the real issue between him and his opponents||117|
|He himself misrepresents this issue — he describes his opponents as enemies of justice||ib.|
|Farther arguments of Plato in support of his thesis. Comparison of three different characters of men||118|
|His arguments do not go to the point which he professes to aim at||120|
|Exaggerated parallelism between the Commonwealth and the individual man||121|
|Second Argument of Plato to prove the happiness of the just man — He now recalls his previous concession, and assumes that the just man will receive just treatment and esteem from others||ib.|
|Dependence of the happiness of the individual on the society in which he is placed||123|
|Inconsistency of affirming general positions respecting the happiness of the just man, in all societies without distinction||124|
|Qualified sense in which only this can be done||125|
|Question — Whether the just man is orthodox or dissenter in his society? — important in discussing whether he is happy||126|
|Comparison of the position of Sokrates at Athens, with that of his accusers||ib.|
|Imperfect ethical basis on which Plato has conducted the discussion in the Republic||127|
|Plato in Republic is preacher, inculcating useful beliefs — not philosopher, establishing scientific theory. State of Just and Unjust Man in the Platonic Commonwealth||129|
|Comparative happiness of the two in actual communities. Plato is dissatisfied with it — This is his motive for recasting society on his own principles||130|
|Confusion between the preacher and the philosopher in the Platonic Republic||131|
|Remarks on the contrast between ethical theory and ethical precepts||ib.|
|REPUBLIC — REMARKS ON THE PLATONIC COMMONWEALTH.|
|Double purpose of the Platonic Republic — ethical and political||133|
|Plato recognises the generating principle of human society — reciprocity of need and service. Particular direction which he gives to this principle||133|
|The four cardinal virtues are assumed as constituting the whole of Good or Virtue, where each of these virtues resides||134|
|First mention of these, as an exhaustive classification, in ethical theory. Plato effaces the distinction between Temperance and Justice||135|
|All the four are here assumed as certain and determinate, though in former dialogues they appear indeterminate and full of unsolved difficulties||137|
|Difficulties left unsolved, but overleaped by Plato||138|
|Ethical and political theory combined by Plato, treated apart by Aristotle||ib.|
|Platonic Commonwealth — only an outline — partially filled up||139|
|Absolute rule of a few philosophers — Careful and peculiar training of the Guardians||ib.|
|Comparison of Plato with Xenophon — Cyropædia — Œconomicus||141|
|Both of them combine polity with education — temporal with spiritual||142|
|Differences between them — Character of Cyrus||ib.|
|Xenophontic genius for command — Practical training — Sokratic principles applied in Persian training||144|
|Plato does not build upon an individual hero. Platonic training compared with Xenophontic||146|
|Platonic type of character compared with Xenophontic, is like the Athenian compared with the Spartan||147|
|Professional soldiers are the proper modern standard of comparison with the regulations of Plato and Xenophon||148|
|Music and Gymnastic — multifarious and varied effects of music||149|
|Great influence of the poets and their works on education||ib.|
|Plato’s idea of the purpose which poetry and music ought to serve in education||151|
|He declares war against most of the traditional and consecrated poetry, as mischievous||ib.|
|Strict limits imposed by Plato on poets||153|
|His view of the purposes of fiction — little distinction between fiction and truth. His censures upon Homer and the tragedians||154|
|Type of character prescribed by Plato, to which all poets must conform, in tales about Gods and Heroes||155|
|Position of Plato as an innovator on the received faith and traditions. Fictions indispensable to the Platonic Commonwealth||156|
|Difficulty of procuring first admission for fictions. Ease with which they perpetuate themselves after having been once admitted||158|
|Views entertained by Kritias and others, that the religious doctrines generally believed had originated with law-givers, for useful purposes||159|
|Main points of dissent between Plato and his countrymen, in respect to religious doctrine||161|
|Theology of Plato compared with that of Epikurus — Neither of them satisfied the exigencies of a believing religious mind of that day||ib.|
|Plato conceives the Gods according to the exigencies of his own mind — complete discord with those of the popular mind||163|
|Repugnance of ordinary Athenians in regard to the criticism of Sokrates on the religious legends||165|
|Aristophanes connects the idea of immorality with the freethinkers and their wicked misinterpretations||ib.|
|Heresies ascribed to Sokrates by his own friends — Unpopularity of his name from this circumstance||168|
|Restrictions imposed by Plato upon musical modes and reciters||ib.|
|All these restrictions intended for the emotional training of the Guardians||169|
|Regulations for the life of the Guardians, especially the prohibition of separate property and family||ib.|
|Purpose of Plato in these regulations||ib.|
|Common life, education, drill, collective life, and duties, for Guardians of both sexes. Views of Plato respecting the female character and aptitudes||171|
|His arguments against the ordinary doctrine||172|
|Opponents appealed to nature as an authority against Plato. He invokes Nature on his own side against them||173|
|Collective family relations and denominations among the Guardians||174|
|Restrictions upon sexual intercourse — Purposes of such restrictions||175|
|Regulations about marriages and family||176|
|Procreative powers of individual Guardians required to be held at the disposal of the rulers, for purity of breed||177|
|Purpose to create an intimate and equal sympathy among all the Guardians, but to prevent exclusive sympathy of particular members||178|
|Platonic scheme — partial communism||179|
|Soldiership as a separate profession has acquired greater development in modern times||180|
|Spartan institutions — great impression which they produced upon speculative Greek minds||181|
|Plans of these speculative minds compared with Spartan — Different types of character contemplated||182|
|Plato carries abstraction farther than Xenophon or Aristotle||183|
|Anxiety shown by Plato for the good treatment of the Demos, greater than that shown by Xenophon and Aristotle||ib.|
|In Aristotle’s theory, the Demos are not considered as members of the Commonwealth, but as adjuncts||184|
|Objection urged by Aristotle against the Platonic Republic, that it will be two cities. Spiritual pride of the Guardians, contempt for the Demos||ib.|
|Plato’s scheme fails, mainly because he provides no training for the Demos||186|
|Principle of Aristotle — That every citizen belongs to the city, not to himself — applied by Plato to women||187|
|Aristotle declares the Platonic Commonwealth impossible — In what sense this is true||189|
|The real impossibility of the Platonic Commonwealth, arises from the fact that discordant sentiments are already established||191|
|Plato has strong feelings of right and wrong about sexual intercourse, but referring to different objects||192|
|Different sentiment which would grow up in the Platonic Commonwealth respecting the sexual relations||193|
|What Nature prescribes in regard to the relations of the two sexes — Direct contradiction between Plato and Aristotle||194|
|Opinion of Plato respecting the capacities of women, and the training proper for women, are maintained in the Leges, as well as in the Republic. Ancient legends harmonising with this opinion||195|
|In a Commonwealth like the Platonic, the influence of Aphroditê would probably have been reduced to a minimum||197|
|Other purposes of Plato — limitation of number of Guardians — common to Aristotle also||198|
|Law of population expounded by Malthus — Three distinct checks to population — alternative open between preventive and positive||ib.|
|Plato and Aristotle saw the same law as Malthus, but arranged the facts under a different point of view||202|
|Regulations of Plato and Aristotle as to number of births and newborn children||ib.|
|Such regulations disapproved and forbidden by modern sentiment. Variability of ethical sentiment as to objects approved or disapproved||203|
|Plato and Aristotle required subordination of impulse to reason and duty — they applied this to the procreative impulse, as to others||204|
|Training of the few select philosophers to act as chiefs||205|
|Comprehensive curriculum for aspirants to philosophy — consummation by means of Dialectic||206|
|Valuable remarks on the effects of these preparatory studies||207|
|Differences between the Republic and other dialogues — no mention of reminiscence nor of the Elenchus||ib.|
|Different view taken by Plato in the Republic about Dialectic — and different place assigned to it||208|
|Contradiction with the spirit of other dialogues — Parmenidês, &c.||209|
|Contradiction with the character and declarations of Sokrates||210|
|The remarks here made upon the effect of Dialectic upon youth coincide with the accusation of Melêtus against Sokrates||211|
|Contrast between the real Sokrates, as a dissenter at Athens, and the Platonic Sokrates, framer and dictator of the Platonic Republic||ib.|
|Idea of Good — The Chiefs alone know what it is — If they did not they would be unfit for their functions||212|
|What is the Good? Plato does not know; but he requires the Chiefs to know it. Without this the Republic would be a failure||213|
|TIMÆUS AND KRITIAS.|
|Persons and scheme of the Timæus and Kritias||215|
|The Timæus is the earliest ancient physical theory, which we possess in the words of its author||216|
|Position and character of the Pythagorean Timæus||ib.|
|Poetical imagination displayed by Plato. He pretends to nothing more than probability. Contrast with Sokrates, Isokrates, Xenophon||217|
|Fundamental distinction between Ens and Fientia||219|
|Postulates of Plato. The Demiurgus — The Eternal Ideas — Chaotic Materia or Fundamentum. The Kosmos is a living being and a God||220|
|The Demiurgus not a Creator — The Kosmos arises from his operating upon the random movements of Necessity. He cannot controul necessity — he only persuades||ib.|
|Meaning of Necessity in Plato||221|
|Process of demiurgic construction — The total Kosmos comes logically first, constructed on the model of the Αὐτοζῶον||223|
|Body of the Kosmos, perfectly spherical — its rotations||225|
|Soul of the Kosmos — its component ingredients — stretched from centre to circumference||ib.|
|Regular or measured Time — began with the Kosmos||227|
|Divine tenants of the Kosmos. Primary and Visible Gods — Stars and Heavenly Bodies||229|
|Secondary and generated Gods — Plato’s dictum respecting them. His acquiescence in tradition||230|
|Remarks on Plato’s Canon of Belief||231|
|Address and order of the Demiurgus to the generated Gods||233|
|Preparations for the construction of man. Conjunction of three souls and one body||ib.|
|Proceedings of the generated Gods — they fabricate the cranium, as miniature of the Kosmos, with the rational soul rotating within it||235|
|The cranium is mounted on a tall body — six varieties of motion — organs of sense. Vision — Light||236|
|Principal advantages of sight and hearing. Observations of the rotation of the Kosmos||237|
|The Kosmos is product of joint action of Reason and Necessity. The four visible and tangible elements are not primitive||238|
|Forms or Ideas and Materia Prima — Forms of the Elements — Place, or Receptivity||ib.|
|Primordial Chaos — Effect of intervention by the Demiurgus||240|
|Geometrical theory of the elements — fundamental triangles — regular solids||ib.|
|Varieties of each element||242|
|Construction of man imposed by the Demiurgus upon the secondary Gods. Triple Soul. Distribution thereof in the body||243|
|Functions of the heart and lungs. Thoracic soul||245|
|Abdominal Soul — difficulty of controuling it — functions of the liver||ib.|
|The liver is made the seat of the prophetic agency. Function of the spleen||246|
|Length of the intestinal canal, in order that food might not be frequently needed||247|
|Bone — Flesh — Marrow||ib.|
|Nails — Mouth — Teeth. Plants produced for nutrition of man||248|
|General view of Diseases and their Causes||249|
|Diseases of mind — wickedness is a disease — no man is voluntarily wicked||ib.|
|Badness of mind arises from body||250|
|Preservative and healing agencies against disease — well-regulated exercise, of mind and body proportionally||250|
|Treatment proper for mind alone, apart from body — supremacy of the rational soul must be cultivated||251|
|We must study and understand the rotations of the Kosmos — this is the way to amend the rotations of the rational soul||252|
|Construction of women, birds, quadrupeds, fishes, &c., all from the degradation of primitive man||ib.|
|Large range of topics introduced in the Timæus||254|
|The Demiurgus of the Platonic Timæus — how conceived by other philosophers of the same century||ib.|
|Adopted and welcomed by the Alexandrine Jews, as a parallel to the Mosaic Genesis||256|
|Physiology of the Platonic Timæus — subordinate to Plato’s views of ethical teleology. Triple soul — each soul at once material and mental||257|
|Triplicity of the soul — espoused afterwards by Galen||258|
|Admiration of Galen for Plato — his agreement with Plato, and his dissension from Plato — his improved physiology||259|
|Physiology and Pathology of Plato — compared with that of Aristotle and the Hippokratic treatises||260|
|Contrast between the admiration of Plato for the constructors of the Kosmos, and the defective results which he describes||262|
|Degeneration of the real tenants of Earth from their primitive type||263|
|Close of the Timæus. Plato turns away from the shameful results, and reverts to the glorification of the primitive types||264|
|Kritias: a fragment||265|
|Proœmium to Timæus. Intended Tetralogy for the Republic. The Kritias was third piece in that Tetralogy||ib.|
|Subject of the Kritias. Solon and the Egyptian priests. Citizens of Platonic Republic are identified with ancient Athenians||266|
|Plato professes that what he is about to recount is matter of history, recorded by Egyptian priests||268|
|Description of the vast island of Atlantis and its powerful kings||ib.|
|Corruption and wickedness of the Atlantid people||269|
|Conjectures as to what the Platonic Kritias would have been — an ethical epic in prose||ib.|
|Plato represents the epic Kritias as matter of recorded history||270|
|LEGES AND EPINOMIS.|
|Leges, the longest of Plato’s works — Persons of the dialogue||272|
|Abandonment of Plato’s philosophical projects prior to the Leges||273|
|Untoward circumstances of Plato’s later life — His altered tone in regard to philosophy||ib.|
|General comparison of Leges with Plato’s earlier works||275|
|Scene of the Leges, not in Athens, but in Krete. Persons Kretan and Spartan, comparatively illiterate||277|
|Gymnastic training, military drill, and public mess, in Krete and Sparta||279|
|Difference between Leges and Republic, illustrated by reference to the Politikus||280|
|Large proportion of preliminary discussions and didactic exhortation in the Leges||281|
|Scope of the discussion laid down by the Athenian speaker — The Spartan institutions are framed only for war — This is narrow and erroneous||282|
|Principles on which the institutions of a state ought to be defended — You must show that its ethical purpose and working is good||284|
|Religious and ethical character postulated by Plato for a community||ib.|
|Endurance of pain enforced as a part of the public discipline at Sparta||285|
|Why are not the citizens tested in like manner, in regard to resistance against the seductions of pleasure?||ib.|
|Drunkenness forbidden at Sparta, and blamed by the Spartan converser. The Athenian proceeds to inquire how far such unqualified prohibition is justifiable||286|
|Description of Sokrates in the Symposion — his self-command under abundant potations||287|
|Sokrates — an ideal of self-command, both as to pain and as to pleasure||288|
|Trials for testing the self-controul of the citizen, under the influence of wine. Dionysiac banquets, under a sober president||289|
|The gifts of Dionysus may, by precautions, be rendered useful — Desultory manner of Plato||ib.|
|Theory of ethical and æsthetical education — Training of the emotions of youth through the influence of the Muses, Apollo, and Dionysus. Choric practice and ceremonies||290|
|Music and dancing — imitation of the voice and movements of brave and virtuous men. Youth must be taught to take delight in this||291|
|Bad musical exhibitions and poetry forbidden by the lawgiver. Songs and dances must be consecrated by public authority. Prizes at the musical festivals to be awarded by select judges||292|
|The Spartan and Kretan agree with the Athenian, that poets must be kept under a strict censorship. But they do not agree as to what the poets are required to conform to||ib.|
|Ethical creed laid down by the Athenian — Poets required to conform to it||294|
|The Spartan and Kretan do not agree with him||296|
|Chorus of Elders are required to set an example in keeping up the purity of the music prescribed||297|
|The Elders require the stimulus of wine, in order to go through the choric duties with spirit||ib.|
|Peculiar views of Plato about intoxication||298|
|General ethical doctrine held by Plato in Leges||299|
|Pleasure — Good — Happiness — What is the relation between them?||ib.|
|Comparison of the doctrine laid down in Leges||300|
|Doctrine in Leges about Pleasure and Good — approximates more nearly to the Protagoras than to Gorgias and Philêbus||301|
|Comparison of Leges with Republic and Gorgias||302|
|Plato here mistrusts the goodness of his own proof. He falls back upon useful fiction||303|
|Deliberate ethical fiction employed as means of governing||304|
|Importance of music and chorus as an engine of teaching for Plato. Views of Xenophon and Aristotle compared||305|
|Historical retrospect as to the growth of cities — Frequent destruction of established communities, with only a small remnant left||307|
|Historical or legendary retrospect — The Trojan war — The return of the Herakleids||308|
|Difficulties of government — Conflicts about command — Seven distinct titles to command exist among mankind, all equally natural, and liable to conflict||309|
|Imprudence of founding government upon any one of these titles separately — Governments of Argos and Messênê ruined by the single principle — Sparta avoided it||310|
|Plato casts Hellenic legend into accordance with his own political theories||311|
|Persia and Athens compared — Excess of despotism. Excess of liberty||312|
|Cyrus and Darius — Bad training of sons of kings||ib.|
|Changes for the worse in government of Athens, after the Persian invasion of Greece||313|
|This change began in music, and the poets introduced new modes of composition — they appealed to the sentiment of the people, and corrupted them||314|
|Danger of changes in the national music — declared by Damon, the musical teacher||315|
|Plato’s aversion to the tragic and comic poetry at Athens||316|
|This aversion peculiar to himself, not shared either by oligarchical politicians, or by other philosophers||317|
|Doctrines of Plato in this prefatory matter||318|
|Compared with those of the Republic and of the Xenophontic Cyropædia||319|
|Constructive scheme — Plato’s new point of view||320|
|New Colony to be founded in Krete — its general conditions||ib.|
|The Athenian declares that he will not merely promulgate peremptory laws, but will recommend them to the citizens by prologues or hortatory discourses||321|
|General character of these prologues — didactic or rhetorical homilies||322|
|Great value set by Plato himself upon these prologues. They are to serve as type for all poets. No one is allowed to contradict them||323|
|Contrast of Leges with Gorgias and Phædrus||324|
|Regulations for the new colony — About religious worship, the oracles of Delphi and Dodona are to be consulted||325|
|Perpetuity of number of citizens, and of lots of land, one to each, inalienable and indivisible||326|
|Plato reasserts his adherence to the principle of the Republic, though the repugnance of others hinders him from realising it||327|
|Regulations about land, successions, marriages, &c. The number of citizens must not be allowed to increase||328|
|Position of the city and akropolis — Distribution of the territory and citizens into twelve equal sections or tribes||329|
|Movable property — Inequality therein reluctantly allowed, as far as four to one, but no farther||330|
|Census of the citizens — four classes, with graduated scale of property. No citizen to possess gold or silver. No loans or interest. No debts enforced by law||331|
|Board of thirty-seven Nomophylakes — general supervisors of the laws and their execution — how elected||332|
|Military commanders — General council of 360 — complicated mode of election||ib.|
|Character of the electoral scheme — Plato’s views about wealth — he caters partly for the oligarchical sentiment, partly for the democratical||333|
|Meetings of council — other magistrates — Agoranomi — Astynomi, &c.||335|
|Defence of the territory — rural police — Agronomi, &c.||ib.|
|Comparison with the Lacedæmonian Kryptia||336|
|Priests — Exêgêtæ — Property belonging to temples||337|
|Superintendence of Music and Gymnastic. Educational function||ib.|
|Grave duties of the Minister of Education — precautions in electing him||338|
|Private Causes — how tried||ib.|
|Public Causes must be tried directly by the citizens — strong feeling among Greeks about this||340|
|Plato’s way of meeting this feeling — intermediate inquiry and report by a special Commissioner||340|
|What laws the magistrates are to enforce — Many details must be left to the Nomophylakes||341|
|Marriage-Laws — Rich husbands to choose poor wives — No dowries — costly marriage festivals are forbidden||342|
|Laws about slavery. Slaves to be well fed, and never treated with cruelty or insolence. The master must not converse with them||ib.|
|Circular form for the city — Temples in the centre — No walls round it||344|
|Mode of life prescribed to new-married couples They are to take the best care about good procreation for the city||ib.|
|Board of superintending matrons||345|
|Age fixed for marriage. During the first ten years the couple are under obligation to procreate for the city — Restrictions during these ten years||ib.|
|How infants are to be brought up — Nurses — Perpetual regulated movements useful for toning down violent emotions||346|
|Choric and orchestic movements, their effect in discharging strong emotions||347|
|Training of boys and girls||348|
|Musical and literary teaching for youth — Poetry, songs, music, dances, must all be fixed by authority, and never changed — Mischief done by poets aiming to please||349|
|Boys and girls to learn letters and the lyre, from ten to thirteen years of age. Masters will teach the laws and homilies of the lawgiver, and licensed extracts from the poets||350|
|The teaching is to be simple, and common to both sexes||351|
|Rudiments of arithmetic and geometry to be taught||352|
|Astronomy must be taught, in order that the citizens may not assert libellous falsehoods respecting the heavenly bodies||354|
|Hunting — how far permitted or advised||355|
|Large general sense which Plato gives to the word hunting||356|
|Number of religious sacrifices to be determined by lawgiver||357|
|Military muster of the whole citizen population once in each month — men, women, and children||358|
|Gymnastic training must have reference to war, not to athletic prizes||358|
|Regulation of sexual intercourse. Syssitia or public mess||359|
|Regulations about landed property — Boundaries — Limited power of fining by magistrates||360|
|Regulations about artisans — Distribution of the annual landed produce||361|
|Admission of resident Metics — conditions attached||362|
|Offences and penal judicature — Procedure of the Dikasts||ib.|
|Sacrilege, the gravest of all crimes. High Treason||363|
|Theft punished by pœna dupli. General exhortation founded by Plato upon this enactment||364|
|All unjust men are unjust involuntarily. — No such thing as voluntary injustice. Injustice depends upon the temper of the agent — Distinction between damage and injury||365|
|Damage may be voluntary or involuntary — Injustice is shown often by conferring corrupt profit upon another — Purpose of punishment, to heal the distemper of the criminal||ib.|
|Three distinct causes of misguided proceedings. 1. Painful stimulus. 2. Pleasurable stimulus. 3. Ignorance||366|
|The unjust man is under the influence either of the first or second of these causes, without controul of Reason. If he acts under controul of Reason, though the Reason be bad, he is not unjust||367|
|Reasoning of Plato to save his doctrine — That no man commits injustice voluntarily||ib.|
|Peculiar definition of injustice. A man may do great voluntary hurt to others, and yet not be unjust, provided he does it under the influence of Reason, and not of Appetite||368|
|Plato’s purpose in the Laws is to prevent or remedy not only injustice but misconduct||369|
|Varieties of homicide — modes of dealing with them penally||370|
|Homicide involuntary — Homicide under provocation||ib.|
|Homicide between kinsmen||372|
|Homicide justifiable — in what cases||ib.|
|Infliction of wounds||ib.|
|Infliction of blows||373|
|Plato has borrowed much from Attic procedure, especially in regard to Homicide — Peculiar view of Homicide at Athens, as to procedure||374|
|Impiety or outrage offered to divine things or places||375|
|All impiety arises from one or other of three heresies. 1. No belief in the Gods. 2. Belief that the Gods interfere very little. 3. Belief that they may be appeased by prayer and sacrifice||376|
|Punishment for these three heretical beliefs, with or without overt act||ib.|
|Heretic, whose conduct has been virtuous and faultless, to be imprisoned for five years, perhaps more||ib.|
|Heretic with bad conduct — punishment to be inflicted||377|
|No private worship or religious rites allowed. Every citizen must worship at the public temples||ib.|
|Uncertain and mischievous action of the religious sentiment upon individuals, if not controuled by public authority||378|
|Intolerant spirit of Plato’s legislation respecting uniformity of belief||379|
|The persons denounced by Plato as heretics, and punished as such, would have included a majority of the Grecian world||381|
|Proëm or prefatory discourse of Plato, for these severe laws against heretics||383|
|The third variety of heresy is declared to be the worst — the belief in Gods persuadable by prayer and sacrifice||384|
|Heretics censured by Plato — Sokrates censured before the Athenian Dikasts||385|
|Kosmological and Kosmogonical theory announced in Leges||386|
|Soul — older, more powerful in the universe than Body. Different souls are at work in the universe — the good soul and the bad soul||ib.|
|Plato’s argument is unsatisfactory and inconsistent||388|
|Reverence of Plato for uniform circular rotation||389|
|Argument of Plato to confute the second class of heretics||ib.|
|Contrary doctrine of Plato in Republic||390|
|Argument of Plato to refute the third class of heretics||391|
|General belief in Greece about the efficacy of prayer and sacrifice to appease the Gods||392|
|Incongruities of Plato’s own doctrine||393|
|Both Herodotus and Sokrates dissented from Plato’s doctrine||394|
|Great opposition which Plato’s doctrine would have encountered in Greece||395|
|Local infallibility was claimed as a rule in each community, though rarely enforced with severity: Plato both claims it more emphatically, and enforces it more rigorously||396|
|Farther civil and political regulations for the Magnetic community. No evidence that Plato had studied the working of different institutions in practice||397|
|Modes of acquiring property — legitimate and illegitimate||ib.|
|Plato’s general regulations leave little room for disputes about ownership||398|
|Plato’s principles of legislation, not consistent — comparison of them with the Attic law about Eranoi||399|
|Regulations about slaves, and about freedmen||400|
|Provisions in case a slave is sold, having a distemper upon him||401|
|Retailers. Strict regulations about them. No citizen can be a retailer||ib.|
|Frauds committed by sellers — severe punishments on them||402|
|Comparison with the lighter punishment inflicted by Attic law||403|
|Regulations about Orphans and Guardians: also about Testamentary powers||404|
|Plato’s general coincidence with Attic law and its sentiment||406|
|Tutelage of Orphans — Disagreement of Married Couples — Divorce||ib.|
|Neglect of Parents||407|
|Poison — Magic — Incantations — Severe punishment||ib.|
|Punishment is inflicted with a view to future prevention or amendment||408|
|Penalty for abusive words — for libellous comedy. Mendicity forbidden||409|
|Regulations about witnesses on judicial trials||ib.|
|Censure of forensic eloquence, and the teachers of it. Penalties against contentious litigation||410|
|Many of Plato’s laws are discharges of ethical antipathy. The antipathy of Melêtus against Sokrates was of the same character||411|
|Penalty for abuse of public trust — wrongful appropriation of public money — evasion of military service||412|
|Oaths. Dikasts, Judges, Electors, are to be sworn: but no parties to a suit, or interested witnesses, can be sworn||413|
|Regulations about admission of strangers, and foreign travel of citizens||414|
|Suretyship — Length of prescription for ownership, &c.||415|
|Judicial trial — three stages. 1. Arbitrators. 2. Tribe-Dikasteries. 3. Select Dikastery||ib.|
|Funerals — proceedings prescribed — expense limited||ib.|
|Conservative organ to keep up the original scheme of the lawgiver. Nocturnal Council for this purpose — how constituted||ib.|
|This Council must keep steadily in view the one great end of the city — Mistakes made by existing cities about the right end||417|
|The one end of the city is the virtue of its citizens — that property which is common to the four varieties of Virtue — Reason, Courage, Temperance, Justice||ib.|
|The Nocturnal Council must comprehend this unity of Virtue, explain it to others, and watch that it be carried out in detail||418|
|They must also adopt, explain, and enforce upon the citizens, an orthodox religious creed. Fundamental dogmas of such creed||419|
|Leges close, without describing the education proper for the Nocturnal Counsellors. Epinomis supplying this defect||420|
|The Athenian declares his plan of education — Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy||ib.|
|Theological view of Astronomy — Divine Kosmos — Soul more ancient and more sovereign than Body||421|
|Improving effects of the study of Astronomy in this spirit||422|
|Study of arithmetic and geometry: varieties of proportion||423|
|When the general forms of things have thus been learnt, particular individuals in nature must be brought under them||ib.|
|Question as to education of the Nocturnal Council is answered in the Epinomis||424|
|Problem which the Nocturnal Council are required to solve, What is the common property of Prudence, Courage, Temperance, Justice, by reason of which each is called Virtue?||425|
|The only common property is that all of them are essential to the maintenance of society, and tend to promote human security and happiness||ib.|
|Tendency of the four opposite qualities to lessen human happiness||426|
|A certain measure of all the four virtues is required. In judging of particular acts instigated by each, there is always a tacit reference to the hurt or benefit in the special case||ib.|
|Plato places these four virtues in the highest scale of Expetenda or Bona, on the ground that all the other Bona are sure to flow from them||428|
|In thus directing the attention of the Council to the common property of the four virtues, Plato enforces upon them the necessity of looking to the security and happiness of their community as the paramount end||429|
|But he enjoins also other objectionable ends||ib.|
|Intolerance of Plato — Comparison of the Platonic community with Athens||ib.|
The Republic is the longest of all the Platonic dialogues, except the dialogue De Legibus. It consists of ten books, each of them as long as any one of the dialogues which we have passed in review. Partly from its length — partly from its lofty pretensions as the great constructive work of Plato — I shall give little more than an abstract of it in the present chapter, and shall reserve remark and comment for the succeeding.
Declared theme of the Republic — Expansion and multiplication of the topics connected with it.
The professed subject is — What is Justice? Is the just man happy in or by reason of his justice? whatever consequences may befall him? Is the unjust man unhappy by reason of his injustice? But the ground actually travelled over by Sokrates, from whose mouth the exposition proceeds, is far more extensive than could have been anticipated from this announced problem. An immense variety of topics, belonging to man and society, is adverted to more or less fully. A theory of psychology or phrenology generally, is laid down and advocated: likewise a theory of the Intellect, distributed into its two branches: 1. Science, with the Platonic Forms or Ideas as Realities corresponding to it; 2. Opinion, with the fluctuating semi-realities or pseudo-realities, which form its object. A sovereign rule, exercised by philosophy, is asserted as indispensable to human happiness. The fundamental conditions of a good society, as Plato conceived it, are set forth at considerable length, and contrasted with the social 2corruptions of various existing forms of government. The outline of a perfect education, intellectual and emotional, is drawn up and prescribed for the ruling class: with many accompanying remarks on the objectionable tendencies of the popular and consecrated poems. The post-existence, as well as the pre-existence of the soul, is affirmed in the concluding books. As the result of the whole, Plato emphatically proclaims his conviction, that the just man is happy in and through his justice, quite apart from all consideration of consequences — yet that the consequences also will be such as to add to his happiness, both during life as well as after death: and the unjust man unhappy in and through his injustice.1
1 Plat. Repub. i. pp. 328 A, 350 D, 354 A.
Personages of the dialogue.
The dramatic introduction of the dialogue (which is described as held during the summer, immediately after the festival of the Bendideia in Peiræus), with the picture of the aged Kephalus and his views upon old age, is among the richest and most spirited in the Platonic works: but the discussion does not properly begin until Kephalus retires, leaving it to be carried on by Sokrates with Polemarchus, Glaukon, Adeimantus, and Thrasymachus.
Views of Kephalus about old age.
“Old age has its advantages to reasonable men (says Kephalus). If I have lost the pleasures of youth, I have at the same time lost the violent desires which then overmastered me. I now enjoy tranquillity and peace. Without doubt, this is in part owing to my wealth. But the best that wealth does for me is, that it enables me to make compensation for deceptions and injustice, practised on other men in my younger days — and to fulfil all vows made to the Gods. An old man who is too poor to render such atonement for past falsehood and injustice, becomes uneasy in his mind as death approaches; he begins to fear that the stories about Hades, which he has heard and ridiculed in his youth, may perhaps prove true.”2
2 Plato, Repub. i. pp. 330-331.
Compare the language of Cato, more rhetorical and exaggerated than that of Kephalus, in Cic. De Senect. c. 13-14.
Definition of Justice by Simonides — It consists in rendering to every man what is owing to him.
“Is that your explanation of justice (asks Sokrates): that it consists in telling truth, and rendering to every one what you have had from him?” The old man 3Kephalus here withdraws; Polemarchus and the others prosecute the discussion. “The poet Simonides (says Polemarchus) gives an explanation like to that which you have stated — when he affirms, That just dealing consists in rendering to every man what is owing to him.”
Objections to it by Sokrates — There are cases in which it is not right to restore what is owing, or to tell the truth.
“I do not know what Simonides means,” replies Sokrates. “He cannot mean that it is always right to tell the truth, or always right to give back a deposit. If my friend, having deposited arms with me, afterwards goes mad, and in that state demands them back, it would not be right in me either to restore the arms, or to tell the truth, to a man in that condition. Therefore to say that justice consists in speaking truth and in giving back what we have received, cannot be a good definition.”3
3 Plato, Repub. i. p. 331 C-D.
The historical Sokrates argues in the same manner (in the Memorabilia of Xenophon. See his conversation with Euthydemus, iv. 2; and Cicero, De Offic. iii. 25, 94-95).
Polemarchus here gives a peculiar meaning to the phrase of Simonides: a man owes good to his friends — evil to his enemies: and he ought to pay back both. Upon this Sokrates comments.4
4 Sokrates here remarks that the precepts — Speak truth; Restore what has been confided to you — ought not to be considered as universally binding. Sometimes justice, or those higher grounds upon which the rules of justice are founded, prescribe that we should disobey the precepts. Sokrates takes this for granted, as a matter which no one will dispute; and it is evident that what Plato had here in his mind was, the obvious consideration that to tell the truth or restore a weapon deposited, to one who had gone mad, would do no good to any one, and might do immense mischief: thus showing that general utility is both the foundation and the limiting principle of all precepts respecting just and unjust. That this is present to the mind of Plato appears evident from his assuming the position as a matter of course; it is moreover Sokratic, as we see by the Memorabilia of Xenophon.
But Plato, in another passage of the Republic, clothes this Sokratic doctrine in a language and hypothesis of his own. He sets up Forms or Ideas, per se. The Just, — The Unjust, — The Honourable, — The Base, &c. He distinguishes each of these from the many separate manifestations in which it is specialised. The Form, though one reality in itself, appears manifold when embodied and disguised in these diversified accompaniments. It remains One and Unchanged, the object of Science and universal infallible truth; but each of its separate manifestations is peculiar to itself, appears differently to different minds, and admits of no higher certainty than fallible opinion. Though the Form of Justice always remains the same, yet its subordinate embodiments ever fluctuate; there is no given act nor assemblage of acts which is always just. Every just act (see Republic, v. pp. 476 A-479 A) is liable under certain circumstances to become unjust; or to be invaded and overclouded by the Form of Injustice. The genuine philosopher will detect the Form of Justice wherever it is to be found, in the midst of accompaniments however discrepant and confused, over all which he will ascend to the region of universal truth and reality. The unphilosophical mind cannot accomplish this ascent, nor detect the pure Form, nor even recognise its real existence: but sees nothing beyond the multiplicity of diverse particular cases in which it is or appears to be embodied. Respecting these particular cases there is no constant or universal truth, no full science. They cannot be thrown into classes to which the superior Form constantly and unconditionally adheres. They are midway between reality and non-reality: they are matters of opinion more or less reasonable, but not of certain science or unconditional affirmation. Among mankind generally, who see nothing of true and absolute Form, the received rules and dogmas respecting the Just, the Beautiful, &c., are of this intermediate and ambiguous kind: they can neither be affirmed universally, nor denied universally; they are partly true, partly false, determinable only by opinion in each separate case. Plato, Repub. v. p. 479 C-D: οὔτ’ εἶναι οὔτε μὴ εἶναι οὐδὲν αὐτῶν δυνατὸν παγίως νοῆσαι, οὔτε ἀμφότερα οὔτε οὐδέτερον … Τὰ τῶν πολλῶν πολλὰ νόμιμα, καλοῦ τε πέρι καὶ τῶν ἄλλων, μεταξύ που κυλινδεῖται τοῦ τε μὴ ὄντος καὶ τοῦ ὄντος εἰλικρινῶς.
Of the distinction here drawn in general terms by Plato, between the pure unchangeable Form, and the subordinate classes of particulars in which that Form is or appears to be embodied, the reasoning above cited respecting truth-telling and giving back a deposit is an example.
4Explanation by Polemarchus — Farther interrogations by Sokrates — Justice renders what is proper and suitable: but how? in what cases, proper? Under what circumstances is Justice useful?
S. — Simonides meant to say (you tell me) that Justice consists in rendering benefits to your friends, evil to your enemies: that is, in rendering to each what is proper and suitable. But we must ask him farther — Proper and suitable — how? in what cases? to whom? The medical art is that which renders what is proper and suitable, of nourishment and medicaments for the health of the body: the art of cookery is that which renders what is proper and suitable, of savoury ingredients for the satisfaction of the palate. In like manner, the cases must be specified in which justice renders what is proper and suitable — to whom, how, or what?5 P. — Justice consists in doing good to friends, evil to enemies. S. — Who is it that is most efficient in benefiting his friends and injuring his enemies, as to health or disease? P. — It is the physician. S. — Who, in reference to the dangers in navigation by sea? P. — The steersman. S. — In what matters is it that the just man shows his special efficiency, to benefit friends and hurt enemies?6 P. — In war: as a combatant for the one and against the other. S. — To men who are not sick, the physician is of no use nor the steersman, to men on 5dry land: Do you mean in like manner, that the just man is useless to those who are not at war? P. — No: I do not mean that. Justice is useful in peace also. S. — So also is husbandry, for raising food — shoemaking, for providing shoes. Tell me for what want or acquisition justice is useful during peace? P. — It is useful for the common dealings and joint transactions between man and man. S. — When we are engaged in playing at draughts, the good player is our useful co-operator: when in laying bricks and stones, the skilful mason: much more than the just man. Can you specify in what particular transactions the just man has any superior usefulness as a co-operator? P. — In affairs of money, I think. S. — Surely not in the employment of money. When you want to buy a horse, you must take for your assistant, not the just man, but one who knows horses: so also, if you are purchasing a ship. What are those modes of jointly employing money, in which the just man is more useful than others? P. — He is useful when you wish to have your money safely kept. S. — That is, when your money is not to be employed, but to lie idle: so that when your money is useless, then is the time when justice is useful for it. P. — So it seems. S. — In regard to other things also, a sickle, a shield, a lyre when you want to use them, the pruner, the hoplite, the musician, must be invoked as co-operators: justice is useful only when you are to keep them unused. In a word, justice is useless for the use of any thing, and useful merely for things not in use. Upon this showing, it is at least a matter of no great worth.7
5 Plato, Republic, i. p. 332 D. ἡ οὖν δὴ τίσι τί ἀποδιδοῦσα τέχνη δικαιοσύνη ἂν καλοῖτο;
6 Plato, Republic, i. p. 332 E. ὁ δίκαιος ἐν τίνι πράξει καὶ πρὸς τί ἔργον δυνατώτατος φίλους ὠφελεῖν καὶ ἐχθροὺς βλάπτειν;
7 Plat. Repub. i. pp. 332-333. 333 E: Οὐκ ἂν οὖν πάνυ γέ τι σπουδαῖον εἴη ἡ δικαιοσύνη, εἰ πρὸς τὰ ἄχρηστα χρήσιμον ὂν τυγχάνει;
The just man, being good for keeping property guarded, must also be good for stealing property — Analogies cited.
But let us pursue the investigation (continues Sokrates). In boxing or in battle, is not he who is best in striking, best also in defending himself? In regard to disease, is not he who can best guard himself against it, the most formidable for imparting it to others? Is not the general who watches best over his own camp, also the most effective in surprising and over-reaching the enemy? In a word, whenever a man is effective as a guard of any thing, is he not also effective as a thief of it? P. — Such seems the course of the discussion. S. — Well then, the just man turns out to be a sort of thief, like the 6Homeric Autolykus. According to the explanation of Simonides, justice is a mode of thieving, for the profit of friends and damage of enemies.8 P. — It cannot be so. I am in utter confusion. Yet I think still that justice is profitable to friends, and hurtful to enemies.
8 Plat. Repub. i. p. 334 B. ἔοικεν οὖν ἡ δικαιοσύνη … κλεπτική τις ρἶναι, ἐπ’ ὠφελείᾳ μέντοι τῶν φίλων, καὶ ἐπὶ βλάβῃ τῶν ἐχθρῶν.
Justice consists in doing good to friends, evil to enemies — But how, if a man mistakes who his friends are, and makes friends of bad men?
S. — Whom do you call friends: those whom a man believes to be good, — or those who really are good, whether he believes them to be so or not: and the like, in reference to enemies? P. — I mean those whom he believes to be good. It is natural that he should love them and that he should hate those whom he believes to be evil. S. — But is not a man often mistaken in this belief? P. — Yes: often. S. — In so far as a man is mistaken, the good men are his enemies, and the evil men his friends. Justice, therefore, on your showing, consists in doing good to the evil men, and evil to the good men. P. — So it appears. S. — Now good men are just, and do no wrong to any one. It is therefore just, on your explanation, to hurt those who do no wrong. P. — Impossible! that is a monstrous doctrine. S. — You mean, then, that it is just to hurt unjust men, and to benefit just men? P. — Yes; that is something better. S. — It will often happen, therefore, when a man misjudges about others, that justice will consist in hurting his friends, since they are in his estimation the evil men: and in benefiting his enemies, since they are in his estimation the good men. Now this is the direct contrary of what Simonides defined to be justice.9
9 Plato, Republic, i. p. 334 D.
Justice consists in doing good to your friend, if really a good man: hurt to your enemy, with the like proviso. Sokrates affirms that the just man will do no hurt to any one. Definition of Simonides rejected.
“We have misconceived the meaning of Simonides (replies Polemarchus). He must have meant that justice consists in benefiting your friend, assuming him to be a good man: and in hurting your enemy, assuming him to be an evil man.” Sokrates proceeds to impugn the definition in this new sense. He shows that justice does not admit of our hurting any man, either evil or good. By hurting the evil man, we only make him more evil than he was before. To do this belongs not 7to justice, but to injustice.10 The definition of justice — That it consists in rendering benefit to friends and hurt to enemies — is not suitable to a wise man like Simonides, but to some rich potentate like Periander or Xerxes, who thinks his own power irresistible.11
10 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 335-336.
11 Here is a characteristic specimen of searching cross-examination in the Platonic or Sokratic style: citing multiplied analogies, and requiring the generalities of a definition to be clothed with particulars, that its sufficiency may be proved in each of many successive as well as different cases.
Thrasymachus takes up the dialogue — Repulsive portrait drawn of him.
At this turn of the dialogue, when the definition given by Simonides has just been refuted, Thrasymachus breaks in, and takes up the conversation with Sokrates. He is depicted as angry, self-confident to excess, and coarse in his manners even to the length of insult. The portrait given of him is memorable for its dramatic vivacity, and is calculated to present in an odious point of view the doctrines which he advances: like the personal deformities which Homer heaps upon Thersites in the Iliad.12 But how far it is a copy of the real man, we have no evidence to inform us.
12 Homer, Iliad B 216. Respecting Thrasymachus the reader should compare Spengel — Συναγωγὴ Τεχνῶν — pp. 94-98: which abates the odium inspired by this picture in the Republic.
Violence of Thrasymachus — Subdued manner of Sokrates — Conditions of useful colloquy.
In the contrast between Sokrates and Thrasymachus, Plato gives valuable hints as to the conditions of instructive colloquy. “What nonsense is all this!” (exclaims Thrasymachus). “Do not content yourself with asking questions, Sokrates, which you know is much easier than answering: but tell us yourself what Justice is: give us a plain answer: do not tell us that it is what is right — or profitable — or for our interest — or gainful — or advantageous: for I will not listen to any trash like this.” “Be not so harsh with us, Thrasymachus” (replies Sokrates, in a subdued tone). “If we have taken the wrong course of inquiry, it is against our own will. You ought to feel pity for us rather than anger.” “I thought” (rejoined Thrasymachus, with a scornful laugh) “that you would have recourse to your usual pretence of ignorance, and would decline answering.” S. — How can I possibly answer, when you prescribe beforehand what I am to say or not to say? If you ask men — How much is twelve? and at the same time say — 8Don’t tell me that it is twice six, or three times four, or four times three — how can any man answer your question? T. — As if the two cases were similar! S. — Why not similar? But even though they be not similar, yet if the respondent thinks them so, how can he help answering according as the matter appears to him, whether we forbid him or not? T. — Is that what you intend to do? Are you going to give me one of those answers which I forbade? S. — Very likely I may, if on consideration it appears to me the proper answer.13 T. — What will you say if I show you another answer better than all of them? What penalty will you then impose upon yourself? S. — What penalty? — why, that which properly falls upon the ignorant. It is their proper fate to learn from men wiser than themselves: that is the penalty which I am prepared for.14
13 Plato, Repub. i. p. 337 C. Εἰ δ’ οὖν καὶ μὴ ἔστιν ὅμοιον, φαίνεται δὲ τῷ ἐρωτηθέντι τοιοῦτον, ἧττόν τι αὐτὸν οἴει ἀποκρινεῖσθαι τὸ φαινόμενον ἑαυτῷ, ἐάν τε ἡμεῖς ἀπαγορεύωμεν, ἐάν τε μή; Ἄλλο τι οὖν, ἔφη, καὶ σὺ οὕτω ποιήσεις; ὧν ἐγὼ ἀπεῖπον, τούτων τι ἀποκρινεῖ; Οὐκ ἂν θαυμάσαιμι, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, εἴ μοι σκεψαμένῳ οὕτω δόξειεν.
This passage deserves notice, inasmuch as Plato here affirms, in very plain language, the Protagorean doctrine, which we have seen him trying to refute in the Theætêtus and Kratylus, — “Homo Mensura, — Every man is a measure to himself. That is true or false to every man which appears to him so.”
Most of Plato’s dialogues indeed imply this truth; for no man makes more constant appeal to the internal assent or dissent of the individual interlocutor. But it is seldom that he declares it in such express terms.
14 Plato, Republic, i. p. 337 D.
Definition given by Thrasymachus — Justice is that which is advantageous to the more powerful. Comments by Sokrates. What if the powerful man mistakes his own advantage?
After a few more words, in the same offensive and insolent tone ascribed to him from the beginning, Thrasymachus produces his definition of Justice:— “Justice is that which is advantageous to the more powerful”. Some comments from Sokrates bring out a fuller explanation, whereby the definition stands amended:— “Justice is that which is advantageous to the constituted authority, or to that which holds power, in each different community: monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy, as the case may be. Each of these authorities makes laws and ordinances for its own interest: declares what is just and unjust: and punishes all citizens who infringe its commands. Justice consists in obeying these commands. In this sense, justice is everywhere that which is for the interest or advantage of the more powerful.”15 “I too believe” (says Sokrates) 9“that justice is something advantageous, in a certain sense. But whether you are right in adding these words — ‘to the more powerful’ — is a point for investigation.16 Assuming that the authorities in each state make ordinances for their own advantage, you will admit that they sometimes mistake, and enact ordinances tending to their own disadvantage. In so far as they do this, justice is not that which is advantageous, but that which is disadvantageous, to the more powerful.17 Your definition therefore will not hold.”
15 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 338-339.
16 Plato, Republic, i. p. 339 B. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ξυμφέρον γέ τι εἶναι καὶ ἐγὼ ὁμολογῶ τὸ δίκαιον, σὺ δὲ προστίθης καὶ αὐτὸ φὴς εἶναι τὸ τοῦ κρείττονος, ἐγὼ δὲ ἀγνοῶ, σκεπτέον δή.
17 Plato, Republic, i. p. 339 E.
Correction by Thrasymachus — if the Ruler mistakes, he is pro tanto no Ruler — The Ruler, quâ Ruler — quâ Craftsman — is infallible.
Thrasymachus might have replied to this objection by saying, that he meant what the superior power conceived to be for its own advantage, and enacted accordingly, whether such conception was correct or erroneous. This interpretation, though indicated by a remark put into the mouth of Kleitophon, is not farther pursued.18 But in the reply really ascribed to Thrasymachus, he is made to retract what he had just before admitted — that the superior authority sometimes commits mistakes. In so far as a superior or a ruler makes mistakes (Thrasymachus says), he is not a superior. We say, indeed, speaking loosely, that the ruler falls into error, just as we say that the physician or the steersman falls into error. The physician does not err quâ physician, nor the steersman quâ steersman. No craftsman errs quâ craftsman. If he errs, it is not from his craft, but from want of knowledge: that is, from want of craft.19 What the ruler, as such, declares to be best for himself, and therefore enacts, is always really best for himself: this is justice for the persons under his rule.
18 Plato, Republic, i. p. 340 B.
19 Plato, Republic, i. p. 340 E. ἐπιλιπούσης γὰρ ἐπιστήμης ὁ ἁμαρτάνων ἁμαρτάνει, ἐν ᾧ οὔκ ἐστι δημιουργός· ὥστε δημιουργὸς ἢ σοφὸς ἢ ἄρχων οὐδεὶς ἁμαρτάνει τότε ὅταν ἄρχων ᾖ.
Reply by Sokrates — The Ruler, quâ infallible Craftsman, studies the interest of those whom he governs, and not his own interest.
To this subtle distinction, Sokrates replies by saying (in substance), “If you take the craftsman in this strict meaning, as representing the abstraction Craft, it is not true that his proceedings are directed towards his own interest or advantage. What he studies is, 10the advantage of his subjects or clients, not his own. The physician, as such, has it in view to cure his patients: the steersman, to bring his passengers safely to harbour: the ruler, so far forth as craftsman, makes laws for the benefit of his subjects, and not for his own. If obedience to these laws constitutes justice, therefore, it is not true that justice consists in what is advantageous to the superior or governing power. It would rather consist in what is advantageous to the governed.”20
20 Plato, Republic, i. p. 342.
Thrasymachus denies this — Justice is the good of another. The just many are worse off than the unjust One, and are forced to submit to his superior strength.
Thrasymachus is now represented as renouncing the abstraction above noted,21 and reverting to the actualities of life. “Such talk is childish!” (he exclaims, with the coarseness imputed to him in this dialogue). “Shepherds and herdsmen tend and fatten their flocks and herds, not for the benefit of the sheep and oxen, but for the profit of themselves and the proprietors. So too the genuine ruler in a city: he regards his subjects as so many sheep, looking only to the amount of profit which he can draw from them.22 Justice is, in real truth, the good of another; it is the profit of him who is more powerful and rules — the loss of those who are weaker and must obey. It is the unjust man who rules over the multitude of just and well-meaning men. They serve him because he is the stronger: they build up his happiness at the cost of their own. Everywhere, both in private dealing and in public function, the just man is worse off than the unjust. I mean by the unjust, one who has the power to commit wrongful seizure on a large scale. You may see this if you look at the greatest injustice of all — the case of the despot, who makes himself happy while the juster men over whom he rules are miserable. One who is detected in the commission of petty crimes is punished, and gets a bad name: but if a man has force enough to commit crime on the grand scale, to enslave the persons of the citizens, and to appropriate their goods — instead of being called by a bad name, he is envied and regarded as happy, not only by the citizens themselves, but by all who 11hear him named. Those who blame injustice, do so from the fear of suffering it, not from the fear of doing it. Thus then injustice, in its successful efficiency, is strong, free, and over-ruling, as compared with justice. Injustice is profitable to a man’s self: justice (as I said before) is what is profitable to some other man stronger than he.”23
21 Plato, Republic, p. 345 B-C.
22 Plato, Republic, p. 343 B.
A similar comparison is put into the mouth of Sokrates himself by Plato in the Theætêtus, p. 174 D.
23 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 343-344.
Position laid for the subsequent debate and exposition.
Thrasymachus is described as laying down this position in very peremptory language, and as anxious to depart immediately after it, if he had not been detained by the other persons present. His position forms the pivot of the subsequent conversation. The two opinions included in it — (That justice consists in obedience yielded by the weak to the orders of the strong, for the advantage of the strong — That injustice, if successful, is profitable and confers happiness: justice the contrary) — are disputed, both of them, by Sokrates as well as by Glaukon.24
24 Plato, Repub. i. pp. 345 A-348 A.
Arguments of Sokrates — Injustice is a source of weakness — Every multitude must observe justice among themselves, in order to avoid perpetual quarrels. The same about any single individual: if he is unjust, he will be at war with himself, and perpetually weak.
Sokrates is represented as confuting and humiliating Thrasymachus by various arguments, of which the two first at least are more subtle than cogent.25 He next proceeds to argue that injustice, far from being a source of strength, is a source of weakness — That any community of men, among whom injustice prevails, must be in continual dispute; and therefore incapable of combined action against others — That a camp of mercenary soldiers or robbers, who plunder every one else, must at least observe justice among themselves — That if they have force, this is because they are unjust only by halves: that if they were thoroughly unjust, they would also be thoroughly impotent — That the like is true also of an individual separately taken, who, so far as he is unjust, is in a perpetual state of hatred and conflict with himself, as well as with just men and with the Gods: and would thus be divested of all power to accomplish any purpose.26
25 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 346-350.
26 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 351-352 D.
Farther argument of Sokrates — The just man is happy, the unjust man miserable — Thrasymachus is confuted and silenced. Sokrates complains that he does not yet know what Justice is.
Having thus shown that justice is stronger than injustice, Sokrates next offers an argument to prove that it is happier or confers more happiness than injustice. 12The conclusion of this argument is — That the just man is happy, and the unjust miserable.27 Thrasymachus is confuted, and retires humiliated from the debate. Yet Sokrates himself is represented as dissatisfied with the result. “At the close of our debate” (he says) “I find that I know nothing about the matter. For as I do not know what justice is, I can hardly expect to know whether it is a virtue or not; nor whether the man who possesses it is happy or not happy.”28
27 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 353-354 A.
28 Plato, Republic, i. fin. p. 354 C. ὥστε μοι γέγονεν ἐκ τοῦ διαλόγου μηδὲν εἰδέναι· ὁπότε γὰρ τὸ δίκαιον μὴ οἶδα ὃ ἐστι, σχολῇ εἴσομαι εἴτε ἀρετή τις οὖσα τυγχάνει εἴτε καὶ οὔ, καὶ πότερον ὁ ἔχων αὐτὸ οὐκ εὐδαίμων ἐστὶν ἢ εὐδαίμων.
Glaukon intimates that he is not satisfied with the proof, though he agrees in the opinion expressed by Sokrates. Tripartite distribution of Good — To which of the three heads does Justice belong?
Here Glaukon enters the lists, intimating that he too is dissatisfied with the proof given by Sokrates, that justice is every way better than injustice: though he adopts the conclusion, and desires much to hear it fully demonstrated. “You know” (he says), “Sokrates, that there are three varieties of Good — 1. Good, per se, and for its own sake (apart from any regard to ulterior consequences): such as enjoyment and the innocuous pleasures. 2. Good both in itself, and by reason of its ulterior consequences: such as full health, perfect vision, intelligence, &c. 3. Good, not in itself, but altogether by reason of its consequences: such as gymnastic training, medical treatment, professional business, &c. Now in which of these branches do you rank Justice?” S. — I rank it in the noblest — that is — in the second branch: which is good both in itself, and by reason of its consequences. G. — Most persons put it in the third branch: as being in itself difficult and laborious, but deserving to be cultivated in consequence of the reward and good name which attaches to the man who is reputed just.29 S. — I know that this is the view taken by Thrasymachus and many others: but it is not mine. G. — Neither is it mine.
29 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 357.
Glaukon undertakes to set forth the case against Sokrates, though professing not to agree with it.
Yet still I think that you have not made out your case against Thrasymachus, and that he has given up the game too readily. I will therefore re-state his argument, 13not at all adopting his opinion as my own, but simply in order to provoke a full refutation of it from you, such as I have never yet heard from any one. First, I shall show what his partisans say as to the nature and origin of justice. Next, I shall show that all who practise justice, practise it unwillingly; not as good per se, but as a necessity. Lastly, I shall prove that such conduct on their part is reasonable. If these points can be made out, it will follow that the life of the unjust man is much better than that of the just.30
30 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 358.
Pleading of Glaukon. Justice is in the nature of a compromise for all — a medium between what is best and what is worst.
The case, as set forth first by Glaukon, next by Adeimantus, making themselves advocates of Thrasymachus — is as follows. “To do injustice, is by nature good: to suffer injustice is by nature evil: but the last is greater as an evil, than the first as a good: so that when men have tasted of both, they find it advantageous to agree with each other, that none shall either do or suffer injustice. These agreements are embodied in laws; and what is prescribed by the law is called lawful and just. Here you have the generation and essence of justice, which is intermediate between what is best and what is worst: that is, between the power of committing injustice with impunity, and the liability to suffer injustice without protection or redress. Men acquiesce in such compromise, not as in itself good, but because they are too weak to commit injustice safely. For if any man were strong enough to do so, and had the dispositions of a man, he would not make such a compromise with any one: it would be madness in him to do so.31
31 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 358-359.
“That men are just, only because they are too weak to be unjust, will appear if we imagine any of them, either the just or the unjust, armed with full power and impunity, such as would be conferred by the ring of Gyges, which rendered the wearer invisible at pleasure. If the just man could become thus privileged, he would act in the same manner as the unjust: his temper would never be adamantine enough to resist the temptations which naturally prompt every man to unlimited 14satisfaction of his desires. Such temptations are now counteracted by the force of law and opinion; but if these sanctions were nullified, every man, just or unjust, would seize every thing that he desired, without regard to others. When he is just, he is so not willingly, but by compulsion. He chooses that course not as being the best for him absolutely, but as the best which his circumstances will permit.
Comparison of the happiness of the just man derived from his justice alone, when others are unjust to him with that of the unjust man under parallel circumstances.
“To determine which of the two is happiest, the just man or the unjust, let us assume each to be perfect in his part, and then compare them. The unjust man must be assumed to have at his command all means of force and fraud, so as to procure for himself the maximum of success; i.e., the reputation of being a just man, along with all the profitable enormities of injustice. Against him we will set the just man, perfect in his own simplicity and righteousness; a man who cares only for being just in reality, and not for seeming to be so. We shall suppose him, though really just, to be accounted by every one else thoroughly unjust. It is only thus that we can test the true value of his justice: for if he be esteemed just by others, he will be honoured and recompensed, so that we cannot be sure that his justice is not dictated by regard to these adventitious consequences. He must be assumed as just through life, yet accounted by every one else unjust, and treated accordingly: while the unjust man, with whom we compare him, is considered and esteemed by others as if he were perfectly just. Which of the two will have the happiest life? Unquestionably the unjust man. He will have all the advantages derived from his unscrupulous use of means, together with all that extrinsic favour and support which proceeds from good estimation on the part of others: he will acquire superior wealth, which will enable him both to purchase partisans, and to offer costly sacrifices ensuring to him the patronage of the Gods. The just man, on the contrary, will not only be destitute of all these advantages, but will be exposed to a life of extreme suffering and torture. He will learn by painful experience that his happiness depends, not upon being really just, but upon being accounted just by others.”32
32 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 361-362.
15Pleading of Adeimantus on the same side. He cites advice given by fathers to their sons, recommending just behaviour by reason of its consequences.
Here Glaukon concludes. Adeimantus now steps in as second counsel on the same side, to the following effect:33 “Much yet remains to be added to the argument. To make it clearer, we must advert to the topics insisted on by those who oppose Glaukon — those who panegyrise justice and denounce injustice. A father, who exhorts his sons to be just, says nothing about the intrinsic advantages of justice per se: he dwells upon the beneficial consequences which will accrue to them from being just. Through such reputation they will obtain from men favours, honours, commands, prosperous alliances — from the Gods, recompenses yet more varied and abundant. If, on the contrary, they commit injustice, they will be disgraced and ill-treated among men, severely punished by the Gods. Such are the arguments whereby a father recommends justice, and dissuades injustice, he talks about opinions and after consequences only, he says nothing about justice or injustice in themselves. Such are the allegations even of those who wish to praise and enforce justice. But there are others, and many among them, who hold an opposite language, proclaiming unreservedly that temperance and justice are difficult to practise — injustice and intemperance easy and agreeable, though law and opinion brand them as disgraceful. These men affirm that the unjust life is for the most part more profitable than the just. They are full of panegyrics towards the wealthy and powerful, however unprincipled; despising the poor and weak, whom nevertheless they admit to be better men.34 They even say that the Gods themselves entail misery upon many good men, and confer prosperity on the wicked. Then there come the prophets and jugglers, who profess to instruct rich men, out of many books, composed by Orpheus and Musæus, how they may by appropriate presents and sacrifices atone for all their crimes and die happy.35
33 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 362-367.
34 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 364 A-B.
35 Plato, Republic, p. 364 C-E.
“When we find that the case is thus stated respecting justice, both by its panegyrists and by its enemies — that the former extol it only from the reputation which it procures, and that 16the latter promise to the unjust man, if clever and energetic, a higher recompense than any such reputation can obtain for him — what effect can we expect to be produced on the minds of young men of ability, station, and ambition? What course of life are they likely to choose? Surely they will thus reason: A just life is admitted to be burdensome — and it will serve no purpose, unless I acquire, besides, the reputation of justice in the esteem of others. Now the unjust man, who can establish such reputation, enjoys the perfection of existence. My happiness turns not upon the reality, but upon the seeming: upon my reputation with others.36 Such reputation then it must be my aim to acquire. I must combine the real profit of injustice with the outside show and reputation of justice. Such combination is difficult: but all considerable enterprises are difficult: I must confederate with partisans to carry my point by force or fraud. If I succeed, I attain the greatest prize to which man can aspire. I may be told that the Gods will punish me; but the same poets, who declare the existence of the Gods, assure me also that they are placable by prayer and sacrifice: and the poets are as good authority on the one point as on the other.37 Such” (continues Adeimantus) “will be the natural reasoning of a powerful, energetic, aspiring, man. How can we expect that such a man should prefer justice, when the rewards of injustice on its largest scale are within his reach?38 Unless he be averse to injustice, from some divine peculiarity of disposition — or unless he has been taught to abstain from it by the acquisition of knowledge, — he will treat the current encomiums on justice as ridiculous. No man is just by his own impulse. Weak men or old men censure injustice, because they have not force enough to commit it with success: which is proved by the fact than any one of them who acquires power, immediately becomes unjust as far as his power reaches.
36 Plat. Rep. ii. pp. 365 E, 366 A.
37 Plat. Rep. ii. p. 365 B-D.
38 Plat. Rep. ii. p. 366 B-D.
Nobody recommends Justice per se, but only by reason of its consequences.
“The case as I set it forth” (pursues Adeimantus) “admits of no answer on the ground commonly taken by those who extol justice and blame injustice, from the earliest poets down to the present day.39 What they 17praise is not justice per se, but the reputation which the just man obtains, and the consequences flowing from it. What they blame is not injustice per se, but its results. They never commend, nor even mention, justice as it exists in and moulds the internal mind and character of the just man; even though he be unknown, misconceived and detested, by Gods as well as by men. Nor do they ever talk of the internal and intrinsic effects of injustice upon the mind of the unjust man, but merely of his ulterior prospects. They never attempt to show that injustice itself, in the mind of the unjust man, is the gravest intrinsic evil: and justice in the mind of the just man, the highest intrinsic good: apart from consequences on either side. If you had all held this language from the beginning, and had impressed upon us such persuasion from our childhood, there would have been no necessity for our keeping watch upon each other to prevent injustice. Every man would have been the best watch upon himself, through fear lest by becoming unjust he might take into his own bosom the gravest evil.40
39 Plat. Rep. ii. p. 366 D-E. πάντων ὑμῶν, ὅσοι ἐπαινέται φατὲ δικαιοσύνης εἶναι, ἀπὸ τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἡρώων ἀρξάμενοι, ὅσων λόγοι λελειμμένοι, μέχρι τῶν νῦν ἀνθρώπων, οὐδεὶς πώποτε ἔψεξεν ἀδικίαν οὐδ’ ἐπῄνεσε δικαιοσύνην ἄλλως ἢ δόξας τε καὶ τιμὰς καὶ δωρεὰς τὰς ἀπ’ αὐτῶν δυνάμει ἐν τῇ τοῦ ἔχοντος ψυχῇ ἐνὸν καὶ λανθάνον θεούς τε καὶ ἀνθρώπους, οὐδεὶς πώποτε οὔτ’ ἐν ποιήσει οὔτ’ ἐν ἰδίοις λόγοις ἐπεξῆλθεν ἱκανῶς τῷ λόγῳ, &c. Compare p. 362 E.
Whoever reads this, will see that Plato does not intend (as most of his commentators assert) that the arguments which Sokrates combats in the Republic were the invention of Protagoras, Prodikus, and other Sophists of the Platonic century.
40 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 367 A. εἰ γὰρ οὔτως ἐλέγετο ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑπὸ πάντων ὑμῶν, καὶ ἐκ νέων ἡμᾶς ἐπείθετε, οὐκ ἀν ἀλλήλους ἐφυλάττομεν μὴ ἀδικεῖν, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς αὑτοῦ ἦν ἕκαστος φύλαξ, δεδιὼς μὴ ἀδικῶν τῷ μεγίστῳ κακῷ ξύνοικος ᾖ.
Adeimantus calls upon Sokrates to recommend and enforce Justice on its own grounds, and to explain how Justice in itself benefits the mind of the just man.
“Here therefore is a deficiency in the argument on behalf of justice, which I call upon you,41 Sokrates, who have employed all your life in these meditations, to supply. You have declared justice to be good indeed for its consequences, but still more of a good from its own intrinsic nature. Explain how it is good, and how injustice is evil, in its own intrinsic nature: what effect each produces on the mind, so as to deserve such an appellation. Omit all notice of consequences accruing to the just or unjust man, from the opinion, favourable or otherwise, entertained towards him by others. You must even go farther: you must suppose that both 18of them are misconceived, and that the just man is disgraced and punished as if he were unjust — the unjust man honoured and rewarded as if he were just. This is the only way of testing the real intrinsic value of justice and injustice, considered in their effects upon the mind. If you expatiate on the consequences — if you regard justice as in itself indifferent, but valuable on account of the profitable reputation which it procures, and injustice as in itself profitable, but dangerous to the unjust man from the hostile sentiment and damage which it brings upon him — the real drift of your exhortation will be, to make us aspire to be unjust in reality, but to aim at maintaining a reputation of justice along with it. In that line of argument you will concede substantially the opinion of Thrasymachus — That justice is another man’s good, the advantage of the more powerful: and injustice the good or profit of the agent, but detrimental to the weaker.”42
41 Plat. Rep. ii. p. 367 E. διότι πάντα τὸν βίον οὐδὲν ἄλλο σκοπῶν διελήλυθας ἢ τοῦτο (you, Sokrates).
42 Plat. Republic, ii. p. 367 C-D.
Relation of Glaukon and Adeimantus to Thrasymachus.
With the invocation here addressed to Sokrates, Adeimantus concludes his discourse. Like Glaukon, he disclaims participation in the sentiments which the speech embodies. Both of them, professing to be dissatisfied with the previous refutation of Thrasymachus by Sokrates, call for a deeper exposition of the subject. Both of them then enunciate a doctrine, resembling partially, though not entirely, that of Thrasymachus — but without his offensive manner, and with superior force of argument. They propose it as a difficult problem, which none but Sokrates can adequately solve. He accepts the challenge, though with apparent diffidence: and we now enter upon his solution, which occupies the remaining eight books and a half of the Republic. All these last books are in fact expository, though in the broken form of dialogue. The other speakers advance scarce any opinions for Sokrates to confute, but simply intervene with expressions of assent, or doubt, or demand for farther information.
Statement of the question as it stands after the speeches of Glaukon and Adeimantus. What Sokrates undertakes to prove.
I here repeat the precise state of the question, which is very apt to be lost amidst the mæanderings of a Platonic dialogue.
First, What is Justice? Sokrates had declared at 19the close of the first book, that he did not know what Justice was; and that therefore he could not possibly decide, whether it was a virtue or not:— nor whether the possessor of it was happy or not.
Secondly, To which of the three classes of good things does Justice belong? To the second class — i. e. things good per se, and good also in their consequences? Or to the third class — i. e. things not good per se, but good only in their consequences? Sokrates replies (in the beginning of the second book) that it belongs to the second class.
Evidently, these two questions cannot stand together. In answering the second, Sokrates presupposes a certain determination of the first; inconsistent with that unqualified ignorance, of which he had just made profession. Sokrates now professes to know, not merely that Justice is a good, but to what class of good things it belongs. The first question has thus been tacitly dropped without express solution, and has given place to the second. Yet Sokrates, in providing his answer to the second, includes implicitly an answer to the first, so far as to assume that Justice is a good thing, and proceeds to show in what way it is good.
Some say that Justice is good (i.e. that it ensures, or at least contributes to, the happiness of the agent), but not per se: only in its ulterior consequences. Taken per se, it imposes privation, loss, self-denial; diminishing instead of augmenting the agent’s happiness. But taken along with its results, this preliminary advance is more than adequately repaid; since without it the agent would not obtain from others that reciprocity of justice, forbearance, and good treatment without which his life would be intolerable.
If this last opinion be granted, Glaukon argues that Justice would indeed be good for weak and middling agents, but not for men of power and energy, who had a good chance of extorting the benefit without paying the antecedent price. And Thrasymachus, carrying this view still farther, assumes that there are in every society men of power who despotise over the rest; and maintains that Justice consists, for the society generally, in obeying the orders of these despots. It is all gain to the strong, all loss to the weak. These latter profit by it in no other way 20than by saving themselves from farther punishment or ill usage on the part of the strong.
Position to be proved by Sokrates — Justice makes the just man happy per se, whatever be its results.
Sokrates undertakes to maintain the opposite — That Justice is a good per se, ensuring the happiness of the agent by its direct and intrinsic effects on the mind: whatever its ulterior consequences may be. He maintains indeed that these ulterior consequences are also good: but that they do not constitute the paramount benefit, or the main recommendation of Justice: that the good of Justice per se is much greater. In this point of view, Justice is not less valuable and necessary to the strong than to the weak. He proceeds to show, what Justice is, and how it is beneficial per se to the agent, apart from consequences: also, what Injustice is, and how it is injurious to the agent per se, apart from consequences.43
43 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 368 seq.
Argument of Sokrates to show what Justice is — Assumed analogy between the city and the individual.
He begins by affirming the analogy between an entire city or community, and each individual man or agent. There is justice (he says) in the entire city — and justice in each individual man. In the city, the characteristics of Justice are stamped in larger letters or magnified, so as to be more easily legible. We will therefore first read them in the city, and then apply the lesson to explain what appears in smaller type in the individual man.44 We will trace the steps by which a city is generated, in order that we may see how justice and injustice spring up in it.
44 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 368-369.
It is in this way that Plato first conducts us to the formation of a political community. A parallel is assumed between the entire city and each individual man: the city is a man on a great scale — the man is a city on a small scale. Justice belongs both to one and to the other. The city is described and analysed, not merely as a problem for its own sake, but in order that the relation between its constituent parts may throw light on the analogous constituent parts, which are assumed to exist in each individual man.45
45 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 369 A. τὴν τοῦ μείζονος ὁμοιότητα ἐν τῇ τοῦ ἐλάττονος ἰδέᾳ ἐπισκοποῦντες.
Fundamental principle, to which communities of mankind owe their origin — Reciprocity of want and service between individuals — No individual can suffice to himself.
The fundamental principle (Sokrates affirms) to which cities 21or communities owe their origin, is, existence of wants and necessities in all men. No single man is sufficient for himself: every one is in want of many things, and is therefore compelled to seek communion or partnership with neighbours and auxiliaries. Reciprocal dealings begin: each man gives to others, and receives from others, under the persuasion that it is better for him to do so.46 Common needs, helplessness of individuals apart, reciprocity of service when they are brought together — are the generating causes of this nascent association. The simplest association, comprising the mere necessaries of life, will consist only of four or five men: the husbandman, builder, weaver, shoemaker, &c. It is soon found advantageous to all, that each of these should confine himself to his own proper business: that the husbandman should not attempt to build his own house or make his own shoes, but should produce corn enough for all, and exchange his surplus for that of the rest in their respective departments. Each man has his own distinct aptitudes and dispositions; so that he executes both more work and better work, by employing himself exclusively in the avocation for which he is suited. The division of labour thus becomes established, as reciprocally advantageous to all. This principle soon extends itself: new wants arise: the number of different employments is multiplied. Smiths, carpenters, and other artisans, find a place: also shepherds and herdsmen, to provide oxen for the farmer, wool and hides for the weaver and the shoemaker. Presently a farther sub-division of labour is introduced for carrying on exchange and distribution: markets are established: money is coined: foreign merchants will import and export commodities: dealers, men of weak body, and fit for sedentary work, will establish themselves to purchase wholesale the produce brought by the husbandman, and to sell it again by retail in quantities suitable for distribution. Lastly, the complement of the city will be made up by a section of labouring men who do jobs for hire: men of great bodily strength, though not adding much to the intelligence of the community.47
46 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 369.
47 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 371.
It is remarkable that in this first outline of the city Plato recognises only free labour, not slave labour.
22Moderate equipment of a sound and healthy city — Few wants.
Such is the full equipment of the sound and healthy city, confined to what is simple and necessary. Those who compose it will have sufficient provision of wheat and barley, for loaves and cakes — of wine to drink — of clothing and shoes — of houses for shelter, and of myrtle and yew twigs for beds. They will enjoy their cheerful social festivals, with wine, garlands, and hymns to the Gods. They will take care not to beget children in numbers greater than their means, knowing that the consequence thereof must be poverty or war.48 They will have, as condiment, salt and cheese, olives, figs, and chestnuts, peas, beans, and onions. They will pass their lives in peace, and will die in a healthy old age, bequeathing a similar lot to their children. Justice and injustice, which we are seeking for, will be founded on a certain mode of mutual want and dealing with each other.49
48 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 372 B-C. οὐχ ὑπὲρ τὴν οὐσίαν ποιούμενοι τοὺς παῖδας, εὐλαβούμενοι πενίαν ἢ πόλεμον.
49 Plato, Republ. ii. p. 372 A. ἐν αὐτῶν τούτων χρείᾳ τινὶ τῇ πρὸς ἀλλήλους.
You feed your citizens, Sokrates (observes Glaukon), as if you were feeding pigs. You must at least supply them with as many sweets and condiments as are common at Athens: and with beds and tables besides.
Enlargement of the city — Multiplied wants and services. First origin of war and strife with neighbours — It arises out of these multiplied wants.
I understand you (replies Sokrates): you are not satisfied with a city of genuine simplicity: you want a city luxurious and inflated. Well then — we will suppose it enlarged until it comprehends all the varieties of elegant and costly enjoyment: gold, silver, and ivory: musicians and painters in their various branches: physicians: and all the crowd of attendants required for a society thus enlarged. Such extension of consumption will carry with it a numerous population, who cannot be maintained from the lands belonging to the city. We shall be obliged to make war upon our neighbours and seize some of their lands. They too will do the same by us, if they have acquired luxurious habits. Here we see the first genesis of war, with all its consequent evils: springing from the acquisition of wealth, beyond the limit of necessity.50 Having war upon our hands, we need 23soldiers, and a considerable camp of them. Now war is essentially a separate craft and function, requiring to be carried on by persons devoted to it, who have nothing else to do. We laid down from the beginning, that every citizen ought to confine himself exclusively to that business for which he was naturally fit; and that no one could be allowed to engage in two distinct occupations. This rule is above all things essential for the business of war. The soldier must perform the duties of a soldier, and undertake no others.51
50 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 373.
51 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 374.
Separate class of soldiers or Guardians. One man cannot do well more than one business. Character required in the Guardians — Mildness at home with pugnacity against enemies.
The functions of these soldiers are more important than those of any one else. Upon them the security of the whole community depends. They are the Guardians of the city: or rather, those few seniors among them, who are selected from superior merit and experience, and from a more perfect education to exercise command, are the proper Guardians: while the remaining soldiers are their Auxiliaries.52 These Guardians, or Guardians and their Auxiliaries, must be first chosen with the greatest care, to ensure that they have appropriate natural dispositions: next, their training and education must be continued as well as systematic. Appropriate natural dispositions are difficult to find: for we require the coincidence of qualities which are rarely found together. The Auxiliaries must be mild and gentle towards their fellow citizens, passionate and fierce towards enemies. They must be like generous dogs, full of kindness towards those whom they know, angrily disposed towards those whom they do not know.53
52 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 414 B.
53 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 376.
Peculiar education necessary, musical as well as gymnastical.
Assuming children of these dispositions to be found, we must provide for them the best training and education. The training must be twofold: musical, addressed to the mind: gymnastical, addressed to the body — pursuant to the distribution dating from ancient times.54 Music includes all training by means of words or 24sounds: speech and song, recital and repetition, reading and writing, &c.
54 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 376 E. Τίς οὖν ἡ παιδεία; ἢ χαλεπὸν εὑρεῖν βελτίω τῆς ὑπὸ τοῦ πολλοῦ χρόνου εὑρημένης ἔστι δέ που ἡ μὲν ἐπὶ σώμασι γυμναστική, ἡ δ’ ἐπὶ ψυχῇ μουσική.
This appeal of Plato to antiquity and established custom deserves notice.
Musical education, by fictions as well as by truth. Fictions addressed to the young: the religious legends now circulating are often pernicious: censorship necessary.
The earliest training of every child begins from the stories or fables which he hears recounted: most of which are false, though some among them are true. We must train the child partly by means of falsehood, partly by means of truth: and we must begin first with the falsehood. The tenor of these fictions, which the child first hears, has a powerful effect in determining his future temper and character. But such fictions as are now currently repeated, will tend to corrupt his mind, and to form in him sentiments and opinions adverse to those which we wish him to entertain in after life. We must not allow the invention and circulation of stories at the pleasure of the authors: we must establish a censorship over all authors; licensing only such of their productions as we approve, and excluding all the rest, together with most of those now in circulation.55 The fables told by Homer, Hesiod, and other poets, respecting the Gods and Heroes, are in very many cases pernicious, and ought to be suppressed. They are not true; and even were they true, ought not to be mentioned before children. Stories about battles between the Gods and the Giants, or quarrels among the Gods themselves, are mischievous, whether intended as allegories or not: for young hearers cannot discriminate the allegorical from the literal.56
55 Plato, Republ. ii. p. 377 C. ὧν δὲ νῦν λέγουσι τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐκβλητέον.
Compare the animadversions in Sextus Empiricus about the mischievous doctrines to be found in the poets, adv. Mathematicos, i. s. 276-293.
56 Plato, Republ. p. 378 D.
Orthodox type to be laid down: all poets are required to conform their legends to it. The Gods are causes of nothing but good: therefore they are causes of few things. Great preponderance of actual evil.
I am no poet (continues the Platonic Sokrates), nor can I pretend to compose legends myself: but I shall lay down a type of theological orthodoxy, to which all the divine legends in our city must conform. Every poet must proclaim that the Gods are good, and therefore cannot be the cause of anything except good. No poet can be allowed to describe the Gods (according to what we now read in Homer and elsewhere) as dispensing both good and evil to mankind. 25The Gods must be announced as causes of all the good which exists, but other causes must be found for all the evil: the Gods therefore are causes of comparatively few things, since bad things are far more abundant among us than good.57 No poetical tale can be tolerated which represents the Gods as assuming the forms of different persons, and going about to deceive men into false beliefs.58 Falsehood is odious both to Gods and to men: though there are some cases in which it is necessary as a precaution against harm, towards enemies, or even towards friends during seasons of folly or derangement.59 But none of these exceptional circumstances can apply to the Gods.
57 Plato, Republ. ii. p. 379 C. Οὐδ’ ἄρα ὁ θεός, ἐπειδὴ ἀγαθός, πάντων ἂν εἴη αἴτιος, ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ λέγουσιν, ἀλλ’ ὀλίγων μὲν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις αἴτιος, πολλῶν δὲ ἀναίτιος· πολὺ γὰρ ἐλάττω τἀγαθὰ τῶν κακῶν ἡμῖν. Καὶ τῶν μὲν ἀγαθῶν οὐδένα ἄλλον αἰτιατέον, τῶν δὲ κακῶν ἄλλ’ ἄττα δεῖ ζητεῖν τὰ αἴτια, ἀλλ’ οὐ τὸν θεόν.
58 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 380-381.
Dacier blames Plato for this as an error, saying, that God may appear, and has appeared to men, under the form of an Angel or of some man whom he has created after his own image (Traduction de Platon, tom. i. p. 172).
59 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 382 C.
The Guardians must not fear death. No terrible descriptions of Hades must be presented to them: no intense sorrow, nor violent nor sensual passion, must be recounted either of Gods or Heroes.
It is indispensable to inspire these youthful minds with courage, and to make them fear death as little as possible. But the terrific descriptions, given by the poets, of Hades and the underworld, are above all things likely to aggravate the fear of death. Such descriptions must therefore be interdicted, as neither true nor useful. Even if poetically striking, they are all the more pernicious to be listened to by youths whom we wish to train up as spirited free-men, fearing enslavement more than death.60 We must also prohibit the representations of intense grief and distress, imputed by Homer to Heroes or Gods, to Achilles, Priam, or Zeus, for the death of friends and relatives. A perfectly reasonable man will account death no great evil, either for himself or for his friend: he will be, in a peculiar degree, sufficient to himself for his own happiness, and will therefore endure with comparative equanimity the loss of friends, relatives, or fortune.61 We must teach youth to be ashamed of indulging in immoderate grief or in violent laughter.62 We must teach them also veracity and temperance,26 striking out all those passages in Homer which represent the Gods or Heroes as incontinent, sensual, furiously vindictive, reckless of obligation, or money-loving.63 The poets must either not recount such proceedings at all, or must not ascribe them to Gods and Heroes.
60 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 386-387.
61 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 387 D-E.
62 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 388 B-E.
63 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 390-391.
Type for all narratives respecting men.
We have thus prescribed the model to which all poets must accommodate their narratives respecting Gods and Heroes. We ought now to set out a similar model for their narratives respecting men. But this is impossible, until our present investigation is brought to a close: because one of the worst misrepresentations which the poets give of human affairs, is, when they say that there are many men unjust, yet happy — just, yet still miserable:— that successful injustice is profitable, and that justice is a benefit to other persons, but a loss to the agent. We affirm that this is a misrepresentation; but we cannot assume it as such at present, since the present enquiry is intended to prove that it is so.64
64 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 392 C.
Style of narratives. The poet must not practise variety of imitation: he must not speak in the name of bad characters.
From the substance of these stories we pass to the style and manner. The poet will recount either in his own person, by simple narrative: or he will assume the characters and speak in the names of others, thus making his composition imitative. He will imitate every diversity of character, good and bad, wise and foolish. This however cannot be tolerated in our city. We can permit no imitation except that of the reasonable and virtuous man. Every man in our city exercises one simple function: we have no double-faced or many-faced citizens. We shall respectfully dismiss the poet who captivates us by variety of characters, and shall be satisfied with the dry recital of simple stories useful in their tendency, expressing the feeling of the reasonable man and no other.65
65 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 396-398.
Rhythm and Melody regulated. None but simple and grave music allowed: only the Dorian and Phrygian moods, with the lyre and harp.
We must farther regulate the style of the Odes and Songs, consistent with what has been already laid down. Having prescribed what the sense of the words must be, we must now give directions about melody and rhythm. We shall permit nothing but simple music, 27calculated less to please the ear, than to inspire grave, dignified, and resolute sentiment. We shall not allow either the wailing Lydian, or the soft and convivial Ionic mood: but only the Phrygian and Dorian moods. Nor shall we tolerate either the fife, or complicated stringed instruments: nothing except the lyre and harp, with the panspipe for rural abodes.66 The rhythm or measure must also be simple, suitable to the movements of a calm and moderate man. Both good rhythm, graceful and elegant speaking, and excellence of sense, flow from good and virtuous dispositions, tending to inspire the same dispositions in others:67 just as bad rhythm, ungraceful and indecorous demeanour, defective proportion, &c., are companions of bad speech and bad dispositions. Contrasts of this kind pervade not only speech and song, but also every branch of visible art: painting, architecture, weaving, embroidery, pottery, and even the natural bodies of animals and plants. In all of them we distinguish grace and beauty, the accompaniments of a good and sober disposition — from ungracefulness and deformity, visible signs of the contrary disposition. Now our youthful Guardians, if they are ever to become qualified for their functions, must be trained to recognise and copy such grace and beauty.68 For this purpose our poets, painters, architects, and artisans, must be prohibited from embodying in their works any ungraceful or unseemly type. None will be tolerated as artists, except such as can detect and embody the type of the beautiful. Our youth will thus insensibly contract exclusive familiarity, both through the eye and through the ear, with beauty in its various manifestations: so that their minds will be brought into harmonious preparation for the subsequent influence of beautiful discourse.69
66 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 398-399.
67 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 400 A.
68 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 400-401.
69 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 401 C-D.
Effect of musical training of the mind — makes youth love the Beautiful and hate the Ugly.
This indeed (continues Sokrates) is the principal benefit arising from musical tuition, that the internal mind of a youth becomes imbued with rhythm and harmony. Hence he learns to commend and be delighted with the beautiful, and to hate and blame what is ugly; before he is able to render any reason for his sentiments: so that when mature age arrives, his 28sentiments are found in unison with what reason enjoins, and already predisposed to welcome it.70 He becomes qualified to recognise the Forms of Temperance, Courage, Liberality, Magnanimity, and their embodiments in particular persons. To a man brought up in such sentiments, no spectacle can be so lovely as that of youths combining beauty of mental disposition with beauty of exterior form. He may indeed tolerate some defects in the body, but none in the mind.71 His love, being genuine and growing out of musical and regulated contemplations, will attach itself to what is tempered and beautiful; not to the intense pleasures of sense, which are inconsistent with all temperance. Such will be the attachments subsisting in our city, and such is the final purpose of musical training — To generate love of the Beautiful.72
70 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 402 A.
71 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 402 D-E.
72 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 403 C. δεῖ δέ που τελευτᾷν τὰ μουσικὰ εἰς τὰ τοῦ καλοῦ ἐρωτικά.
Training of the body — simple and sober. No refined medical art allowed. Wounds or temporary ailments treated; but sickly frames cannot be kept alive.
We next proceed to gymnastic training, which must be simple, for the body — just as our musical training was simple for the mind. We cannot admit luxuries and refinements either in the one or in the other. Our gymnastics must impart health and strength to the body, as our music imparts sobriety to the mind.73 We shall require few courts of justice and few physicians. Where many of either are needed, this is a proof that ill-regulated minds and diseased bodies abound. It would be a disgrace to our Guardians if they could not agree on what is right and proper among themselves, without appealing to the decision of others. Physicians too are only needed for wounds or other temporary and special diseases. We cannot admit those refinements of the medical art, and that elaborate nomenclature and classification of diseases, which the clever sons of Æsculapius have invented, in times more recent than Æsculapius himself.74 He knew, but despised, such artifices; which, having been devised chiefly by Herodikus, serve only to keep alive sickly and suffering men — who are disqualified for all active duty through the necessity of perpetual 29attention to health, — and whose lives are worthless both to themselves and to the city. In our city, every man has his distinct and special function, which he is required to discharge. If he be disqualified by some temporary ailment, the medical art will be well employed in relieving and restoring him to activity: but he has no leisure to pass his life as a patient under cure, and if he be permanently unfit to fill his place in the established cycle of duties, his life ought not to be prolonged by art, since it is useless to himself and useless to the city also.75 Our medical treatment for evils of the body, and our judicial treatment for evils of the mind, must be governed by analogous principles. Where body and mind are sound at bottom, we must do our best to heal temporary derangements: but if a man has a body radically unsound, he must be suffered to die — and if he has a mind unsound and incurable, he must be put to death by ourselves.76
73 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 404 B.
74 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 405 D. φύσας τε καὶ κατάῤῥους νοσήμασιν ὀνόματα τίθεσθαι ἀναγκάζειν τοὺς κομψοὺς Ἀσκληπιάδας, οὐκ αἰσχρὸν δοκεῖ; Καὶ μάλ’, ἔφη, ὡς ἀληθῶς καινὰ ταῦτα καὶ ἄτοπα νοσημάτων ὀνόματα. Οἷα, ὡς οἶμαι, οὐκ ἦν ἐπ’ Ἀσκληπιοῦ. Also 406 C.
75 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 406 C. οὐδενὶ σχολὴ διὰ βίου κάμνειν ἰατρευομένῳ. 406 D: οὐ σχολὴ κάμνειν οὐδὲ λυσιτελεῖ οὕτω ζῆν, νοσήματι τὸν νοῦν προσέχοντα, τῆς δὲ προκειμένης ἐργασίας ἀμελοῦντα. 407 D-E: ἀλλὰ τὸν μὴ δυνάμενον ἐν τῇ καθεστηκυίᾳ περιόδῳ ζὴν, μὴ οἴεσθαι δεῖν θεραπεύειν, ὡς οὔτε αὑτῷ οὔτε πόλει λυσιτελῆ. P. 408 A.
76 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 409-410.
Value of Gymnastic in imparting courage to the mind — Gymnastic and Music necessary to correct each other.
Gymnastic training does some good in strengthening the body, but it is still more serviceable in imparting force and courage to the mind. As regards the mind, gymnastic and music form the indispensable supplement one to the other. Gymnastic by itself makes a man’s nature too savage and violent: he acquires no relish for knowledge, comes to hate discourse, and disdains verbal persuasion.77 On the other hand, music by itself makes him soft, cowardly, and sensitive, unfit for danger or hardship. The judicious combination of the two is the only way to form a well-balanced mind and character.78
77 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 411 D. Μισολόγος δὴ ὁ τοιοῦτος γίγνεται καὶ ἄμουσος, καὶ πειθοῖ μὲν διὰ λόγων οὐδὲν ἔτι χρῆται, &c.
78 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 410-411.
Out of the Guardians a few of the very best must be chosen as Elders or Rulers — highly educated and severely tested.
Such must be the training, from childhood upwards, of these Guardians and Auxiliaries of our city. We must now select from among these men themselves, a few to be Governors or chief Guardians; the rest serving as auxiliaries. The oldest and best of them must be chosen for this purpose, those who possess in the 30greatest perfection the qualities requisite for Guardians. They must be intelligent, capable, and solicitous for the welfare of the city. Now a man is solicitous for the welfare of that which he loves. He loves those whose interests he believes to be the same as his own; those whose well-being he believes to coincide with his own well-being79 — the contrary, with the contrary. The Guardians chosen for Chiefs must be those who are most thoroughly penetrated with such sympathy; who have preserved most tenaciously throughout all their lives the resolution to do every thing which they think best for the city, and nothing which they do not think to be best for it. They must be watched and tested in temptations pleasurable as well as painful, to see whether they depart from this resolution. The elders who have best stood such trial, must be named Governors.80 These few will be the chief Guardians or Rulers: the remaining Guardians will be their auxiliaries or soldiers, acting under their orders.
79 Plato, Republ. iii. p. 412 C. Οὐκοῦν φρονίμους τε εἰς τοῦτο δεῖ ὑπάρχειν καὶ δυνατοὺς καὶ ἔτι κηδεμόνας τῆς πόλεως; Ἔστι ταῦτα. Κήδοιτο δέ γ’ ἄν τις μάλιστα τούτου ὃ τυγχάνοι φιλῶν. Ἀνάγκη. Καὶ μὴν τοῦτό γ’ ἂν μάλιστα φιλοῖ, ᾧ ξυμφέρειν ἡγοῖτο τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ἑαυτῷ καὶ ὅταν μάλιστα ἐκείνου μὲν εὖ πράττοντος οἴοιτο ξυμβαίνειν καὶ ἑαυτῷ εἶ πράττειν, μὴ δέ, τοὐναντίον.
80 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 413-414.
Refer to De Leg. (I. p. 633-636-637) about resisting pleasure as well as pain.
Fundamental creed required to be planted in the minds of all the citizens respecting their breed and relationship.
Here then our city will take its start; the body of Guardians marching in arms under the orders of their Chiefs, and encamping in a convenient acropolis, from whence they may best be able to keep order in the interior and to repel foreign attack.81 But it is indispensable that both they and the remaining citizens should be made to believe a certain tale, — which yet is altogether fictitious and of our own invention. They must be told that they are all earthborn, sprung from the very soil which they inhabit: all therefore brethren, from the same mother Earth: the auxiliaries or soldiers, born with their arms and equipments. But there was this difference (we shall tell them) between the different brethren. Those fit for Chiefs or Rulers, were born with a certain mixture of gold in their constitution: those fit for soldiers or Guardians simply, with a like mixture of silver: the remainder, with brass or iron. 31In most individual cases, each of these classes will beget an offspring like themselves. But exceptions will sometimes happen, in which the golden man will have a child of silver, or brass, — or the brazen or iron man, a child of nobler metal than his own. Now it is of the last importance that the Rulers should keep watch to preserve the purity of these breeds. If any one of their own children should turn out to be of brass or iron, they must place him out among the husbandmen or artisans: if any of the brazen or iron men should chance to produce a child of gold, they must receive him among themselves, since he belongs to them by his natural constitution. Upon the maintenance of these distinct breeds, each in its appropriate function, depends the entire fate of the city: for an oracle has declared that it will perish, if ever iron or brazen men shall become its Guardians.82
81 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 415 D.
82 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 414-415.
How is such a fiction to be accredited in the first instance? Difficulty extreme, of first beginning; but if once accredited, it will easily transmit itself by tradition.
It is indispensable (continues Sokrates) that this fiction should be circulated and accredited, as the fundamental, consecrated, unquestioned, creed of the whole city, from which the feeling of harmony and brotherhood among the citizens springs. But how can we implant such unanimous and unshaken belief, in a story altogether untrue? Similar fables have often obtained implicit credence in past times: but no such case has happened of late, and I question whether it could happen now.83 The postulate seems extravagant: do you see by what means it could be realised? — I see no means (replies Glaukon) by which the fiction could be first passed off and accredited, among these men themselves: but if it were once firmly implanted, in any one generation, I do not doubt that their children and descendants would inherit and perpetuate it.84 We must be satisfied with thus much (replies Sokrates): assuming the thing to be done, and leaving the process of implanting it to spontaneous and 32oracular inspiration.85 I now proceed with the description of the city.
83 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 414 B. Τίς ἂν οὖν ἡμῖν μηχανὴ γένοιτο τῶν ψευδῶν τῶν ἐν δέοντι γιγνομένων, ὧν δὴ νῦν ἐλέγομεν, γενναῖόν τι ἓν ψευδομένους πεῖσαι μάλιστα μὲν καὶ αὐτοὺς τοὺς ἄρχοντας, εἰ δὲ μή, τὴν ἄλλην πόλιν; … Μηδὲν καινόν, ἀλλὰ Φοινικικόν τι, πρότερον μὲν ἤδη πολλαχοῦ γεγονός, ὥς φασιν οἱ ποιηταὶ καὶ πεπείκασιν, ἐφ’ ἡμῶν δὲ οὐ γεγονὸς οὐδ’ οἶδα εἰ γενόμενον ἄν, πεῖσαι δὲ συχνῆς πειθοῦς.
84 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 415 C-D Τοῦτον οὖν τὸν μῦθον ὅπως ἂν πεισθεῖεν, ἔχεις τινὰ μηχανήν; Οὐδαμῶς, ἔφη, ὅπως γ’ ἂν αὐτοὶ οὗτοι· ὅπως μέντ’ ἂν οἱ τούτων υἱεῖς καὶ οἱ ἔπειτα, οἵ τ’ ἄλλοι ἄνθρωποι οἱ ὕστερον.
85 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 415 D. Καὶ τοῦτο μὲν δὴ ἕξει ὅπῃ ἂν αὐτὸ ἡ φήμη ἀγάγῃ.
Guardians to reside in barracks and mess together; to have no private property or home; to be maintained by contribution from the people.
The Rulers and their auxiliaries the body of Guardians must be lodged in residences, sufficient for shelter and comfort, yet suitable for military men, and not for tradesmen. Every arrangement must be made for rendering them faithful guardians of the remaining citizens. It would be awful indeed, if they were to employ their superior strength in oppressing instead of protecting the flock entrusted to them. To ensure their gentleness and fidelity, the most essential guarantee is to be found in the good musical and gymnastic training which they will have received. But this alone will not suffice. All the conditions of their lives must be so determined, that they shall have the least possible motive for committing injustice towards the other citizens. None of them must have any separate property of his own, unless in special case of proved necessity: nor any house or store cupboard from which others are excluded. They must receive, from the contributions of the remaining citizens, sufficient subsistence for the health and comfort of military men, but nothing beyond. They must live together in their camp or barrack, and dine together at a public mess-table. They must not be allowed either to possess gold and silver, or to drink in cups of those metals, or to wear them as appendages to clothing, or even to have them under the same roof. They must be told, that these metals, though not forbidden to the other citizens, are forbidden to them, because they have permanently inherent in their mental constitution the divine gold and silver, which would be corrupted by intermixture with human.86
86 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 416-417.
If the Guardians fail in these precautions, and acquire private interests, the city will be ruined.
If these precautions be maintained, the Guardians may be secure themselves, and may uphold in security the entire city. But if the precautions be relinquished — if the Guardians or Soldiers acquire separate property in lands, houses, and money — they will then become householders and husbandmen instead of 33Guardians or Soldiers: hostile masters, instead of allies and protectors to their fellow-citizens. They will hate their fellow-citizens, and be hated by them in return: they will conspire against them, and will be themselves conspired against. In this manner they will pass their lives, dreading their enemies within far more than their enemies without. They, and the whole city along with them, will be perpetually on the brink of destruction.87
87 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 417 A-B.
Complete unity of the city, every man performing his own special function.
But surely (remarks Adeimantus), according to this picture, your Guardians or Soldiers, though masters of all the city, will be worse off than any of the other citizens. They will be deprived of those means of happiness which the others are allowed to enjoy. Perhaps they will (replies Sokrates): yet I should not be surprised if they were to be the happiest of all. Be that as it may, however, my purpose is, not to make them especially happy, but to make the whole city happy. The Guardians can enjoy only such happiness as consists with the due performance of their functions as Guardians. Every man in our city must perform his appropriate function, and must be content with such happiness as his disposition will admit, subject to this condition.88 In regard to all the citizens without exception, it must be the duty of the Guardians to keep out both riches and poverty, both of which spoil the character of every one. No one must be rich, and no one must be poor.89 In case of war, the constant discipline of our soldiers will be of more avail than money, in making them efficient combatants against other cities.90 Moreover, other cities are divided against themselves: each is many cities, and not one: poor and rich are at variance with each other, and various fractions of each of these classes against other fractions. Our city alone, constituted as I propose, will be really and truly One. It will thus be the greatest of all cities, even though it have only one thousand fighting men. It may be permitted to increase, so long as it will preserve its complete unity, but no farther.91 Farthermore, each of our citizens is one and not many: confined to that special function for which he is qualified by his nature.
88 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 420-421.
89 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 421 E.
90 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 422 B.
91 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 423 A.
34The maintenance of the city depends upon that of the habits, character, and education of the Guardians.
It will devolve upon our Guardians to keep up this form of communion unimpaired; and they will have no difficulty in doing so, as long as they maintain their own education and training unimpaired. No change must be allowed either in the musical or gymnastic training: especially not in the former, where changes are apt to creep in, with pernicious effect.92 Upon this education depends the character and competence of the Guardians. They will provide legislation in detail, which will be good, if their general character is good — bad, on the contrary supposition. If their character and the constitution of the city be defective at the bottom, it is useless for us to prescribe regulations of detail, as we would do for sick men. The laws in detail cannot be good, while the general constitution of the city is bad. Those teachers are mistaken who exhort us to correct the former, but to leave the latter untouched.93
92 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 424 A.
93 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 425-426.
Religious legislation — Consult the Delphian Apollo.
In regard to religious legislation — the raising of temples, arrangement of sacrifices, &c. — we must consult Apollo at Delphi, and obey what he directs. We know nothing ourselves about these matters, nor is there any other authority equally trustworthy.94
94 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 427 B. τὰ γὰρ δὴ τοιαῦτα οὔτ’ ἐπιστάμεθα ἡμεῖς, &c.
The city is now constituted as a good city — that is, wise, courageous, temperate, just. Where is its Justice?
Our city is now constituted and peopled (continues Sokrates). We mast examine it, and see where we can find Justice and Injustice — reverting to our original problem, which was, to know what each of them was, and which of the two conferred happiness. Now assuming our city to be rightly constituted, it will be perfectly good: that is, it will be wise, courageous, temperate, and just. These four constituents cover the whole: accordingly, if we can discover and set out Wisdom, Courage, and Temperance — that which remains afterwards will be Justice.95
95 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 427-428.
First, where is the wisdom of the city? It resides in the few elder Rulers.
First, we can easily see where Wisdom resides. The city includes in itself a great variety of cognitions, corresponding to all the different functions in which its citizens are employed. But it is not called wise, from 35its knowledge of husbandry, or of brazier’s and carpenter’s craft: since these are specialties which cover only a small fraction of its total proceedings. It is called wise, or well-advised, from that variety of intelligence or cognition which directs it as a whole, in its entire affairs: that is, the intelligence possessed by the chief Guardians or Rulers. Now the number of persons possessing this variety of intelligence is smaller than the number of those who possess any other variety. The wisdom of the entire city resides in this very small presiding fraction, and in them alone.96
96 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 428-429.
Where is the Courage? In the body of Guardians or Soldiers.
Next, we can also discern without difficulty in what fraction of the city Courage resides. The city is called courageous from the valour of those Guardians or Soldiers upon whom its defence rests. These men will have learnt, in the course of their training, what are really legitimate objects of fear, and what are not legitimate objects of fear. To such convictions they will resolutely adhere, through the force of mind implanted by their training, in defiance of all disturbing impulses. It is these right convictions, respecting the legitimate objects of fear, which I (says Sokrates) call true political courage, when they are designedly inculcated and worked in by regular educational authority: when they spring up without any rational foundation, as in animals or slaves, I do not call them Courage. The Courage of the entire city thus resides in its Guardians or Soldiers.97
97 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 429-430.
Where is the Temperance? It resides in all and each, Rulers, Guardians, and People. Superiors rule and Inferiors obey.
Thirdly, wherein resides the Temperance of the city? Temperance implies a due relation, proportion, or accord, between different elements. The temperate man is called superior to himself: but this expression, on first hearing, seems unmeaning, since the man must also be inferior to himself. But the expression acquires a definite meaning, when we recognise it as implying that there are in the same man’s mind better and worse elements: and that when the better rules over the worse, he is called superior to himself, or temperate — when the worse rules over the better, he is called inferior to himself, or intemperate. Our city will be temperate, because 36the better part of it, though smaller in number, rules over the worse and inferior part, numerically greater. The pleasures, pains, and desires of our few Rulers, which are moderate and reasonable, are preponderant: controuling those of the Many, which are miscellaneous, irregular, and violent. And this command is exercised with the perfect consent and good-will of the subordinates. The Many are not less willing to obey than the Few to command. There is perfect unanimity between them as to the point — Who ought to command, and who ought to obey? It is this unanimity which constitutes the temperance of the city: which thus resides, not in any one section of the city, like Courage and Wisdom, but in all sections alike: each recognising and discharging its legitimate function.98
98 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 431-432.
Where is the Justice? In all and each of them also. It consists in each performing his own special function, and not meddling with the function of the others.
There remains only Justice for us to discover. Wherein does the Justice of the city reside? Not far off. Its justice consists in that which we pointed out at first as the fundamental characteristic of the city, when we required each citizen to discharge one function, and one alone — that for which he was best fitted by nature. That each citizen shall do his own work, and not meddle with others in their work — that each shall enjoy his own property, as well as do his own work — this is true Justice.99 It is the fundamental condition without which neither temperance, nor courage, nor wisdom could exist; and it fills up the good remaining after we have allowed for the effects of the preceding three.100 All the four are alike indispensable to make up the entire Good of the city: Justice, or each person (man, woman, freeman, slave, craftsman, guardian) doing his or her own work — Temperance, or unanimity as to command and obedience between Chiefs, Guardians, and the remaining citizens — Courage, or the adherence of the Guardians to right reason, respecting what is terrible and not terrible — Wisdom, or the tutelary superintendence of the Chiefs, 37who protect each person in the enjoyment of his own property.101
99 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 432-433. 433 A: Καὶ μὴν ὅτι γε τὸ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττειν καὶ μὴ πολυπραγμονεῖν δικαιοσύνη ἐστί, καὶ τοῦτο ἄλλων τε πολλῶν ἀκηκόαμεν, καὶ αὐτοὶ πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν.
433 E. ἡ τοῦ οἰκείου τε καὶ ἑαυτοῦ ἕξις τε καὶ πρᾶξις δικαιοσύνη ἂν ὁμολογοῖτο.
100 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 433 B. δοκεῖ μοι τὸ ὑπόλοιπον ἐν τῇ πόλει ὧν ἐσκέμμεθα, σωφροσύνης καὶ ἀνδρείας καὶ φρονήσεως, τοῦτο εἶναι ὃ πᾶσιν ἐκείνοις τὴν δύναμιν πάρεσχεν ὥστε ἐγγενέσθαι, καὶ ἐγγενομένοις γε σωτηρίαν παρέχειν, ἕως περ ἂν ἐνῇ.
101 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 433 D.
Injustice arises when any one part of the city interferes with the functions of the other part, or undertakes double functions.
As justice consists in each person doing his own work, and not meddling with that of another — so injustice occurs, when a person undertakes the work of another instead of his own, or in addition to his own. The mischief is not great, when such interference takes place only in the subordinate functions: when, for example, the carpenter pretends to do the work of the shoemaker, or vice versâ; or when either of them undertake both. But the mischief becomes grave and deplorable, when a man from the subordinate functions meddles with the higher — when a craftsman, availing himself of some collateral support, wealth or party or strength, thrusts himself into the functions of a soldier or auxiliary — or when the Guardian, by similar artifice, usurps the functions of a Chief — or when any one person combines these several functions all at once in himself. Herein consists the true injustice, ruinous to the city: when the line of demarcation is confounded between these three classes — men of business, Guardians, Chiefs. That each of these classes should do its own work, is Justice: that either of them should meddle with the work of the rest, and especially that the subordinate should meddle with the business of the superior, is Injustice, with ruin following in its train.102 It is from these opposite characteristics that the titles Just or Unjust will be rightfully bestowed upon our city.
102 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 434 B-C. ἡ τριῶν ἄρα ὄντων γενῶν πολυπραγμοσύνη καὶ μεταβολὴ εἰς ἄλληλα, μεγίστη τε βλάβη τῇ πόλει καὶ ὀρθότατ’ ἂν προσαγορεύοιτο μάλιστα κακουργία … Κακουργίαν δὲ τὴν μεγίστην τῆς ἑαυτοῦ πόλεως οὐκ ἀδικίαν φήσεις εἶναι;…
χρηματιστικοῦ, ἐπικουρικοῦ, φυλακικοῦ, γένους οἰκειοπραγία, … δικαιοσύνη τ’ ἂν εἴη, καὶ τὴν πόλιν δικαίαν πάρεχοι.
Analogy of the city to the individual — Each man is tripartite, having in his mind Reason, Energy, Appetite. These three elements are distinct, and often conflicting.
We must now apply, as we undertook to do, the analogy of the city to the individual. The just man, so far forth as justice is concerned, cannot differ from the just city. He must therefore have in his own individual mind three distinct parts, elements, or classes, corresponding to the three classes above distinguished in the city. But is it the fact that there are in each man three such mental constituents — three different classes, sorts, or varieties, of mind?
To settle this point as it ought to be settled, would require a stricter investigation than our present dialogue will permit: but we may contribute something towards it.103 It is manifest that there exist different individuals in whom reason, energy (courage or passion), and appetite, are separately and unequally developed: thus in the Thracians there is a predominance of energy or courage — in the Phœnicians of appetite — in the Athenians, of intellect or reason. The question is, whether we employ one and the same mind for all the three — reason, energy, and appetite; or whether we do not employ a different mind or portion of mind, when we exercise reason — another, when we are under the influence of energy — and a third, when we follow appetite.104
103 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 435 C.
Schleiermacher (in the Introduction to his translation of the Republic, p. 71) considers that this passage of the Republic is intended to note as a desideratum the exposition in the Timæus; wherein the constituent elements of mind or soul are more fully laid down, and its connection with the fundamental elements of the Kosmos.
104 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 436 A.
To determine this question, we must consider that the same thing cannot at the same time do or suffer opposites, in the same respect and with reference to the same thing. The same thing or person cannot at the same time, and in the same respect, both stand still and move. This may be laid down as an universal truth: but since some may not admit it to be so, we will at any rate assume it as an hypothesis.105 Now in reference to the mind, we experience at the same time various movements or affections contrary to each other: assent and dissent — desire and aversion — the attracting any thing to ourselves, and the repelling it from ourselves: each of these is different from and contrary to the other. As a specimen of desires, we will take thirst. When a man is in this condition, his mind desires nothing else but to drink; and strains entirely towards that object. If there be any thing which drags back his mind when in this condition, it must be something different from that which pulls him forward and attracts him to drink. That which attracts him, and that which repels him, cannot be the same: just as when the archer at the same time pulls his bow towards him and pushes it away from him, it is one of his hands that pulls and another that pushes.106 39Now it often happens that a man athirst refuses to drink: there is something within him that prompts him to drink, and something still more powerful that forbids him. These two cannot be the same: one of them is different from the other: that which prompts is appetite, that which forbids is reason. The rational element of the mind is in like manner something different or distinguishable from all the appetites, which tend towards repletion and pleasure.
105 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 437 A.
106 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 439 A-B.
Reason, Energy, Appetite, in the individual — analogous to Rulers, Guardians, Craftsmen in the city. Reason is to rule Appetite. Energy assists Reason in ruling it.
Here then we have two distinct species, forms, or kinds, existing in the mind.107 Besides these two, however, there is a third, distinct from both: Energy, Passion, Courage, which neither belongs to Appetite nor to individual Reason. Each of these three acts apart from, and sometimes in contrariety to, each of the others.108 There are thus three distinct elements or varieties of mind in the individual — Reason, Energy, Appetite: corresponding to the three constituent portions of the city — The Chiefs or Rulers — The Guardians or Soldiers — The Craftsmen, or the remaining Community.109 The Wisdom of the city resides in its Elders: that of the individual in his Reason. The Courage of the city resides in its Guardians or Soldiers: that of the individual in his Energy. But in the city as well as in the individual, it is the right and privilege of the rational element to exercise command, because it alone looks to the welfare and advantage of the whole compound:110 it is the duty of the two other elements — the energetic and the appetitive — to obey. It is moreover the special function of the Guardians in the city to second the Chiefs in enforcing obedience upon the Craftsmen: so also in the individual, it is the special function of Energy or Courage to second Reason in controuling Appetite.
107 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 439 E. Ταῦτα μὲν τοίνυν δύο ἡμῖν ὡρίσθω εἴδη ἐν ψυχῇ ἐνόντα, &c.
108 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 440-441.
109 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 441 C. τὰ αὐτὰ μὲν ἐν πόλει, τὰ αὐτὰ δ’ ἐν ἑνὸς ἑκάστου τῇ ψυχῇ γένη ἐνεῖναι, καὶ ἴσα τὸν ἀριθμόν. 443 D: τὰ ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ γένη, &c.
110 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 441 E, 442 C. τῷ μὲν λογιστικῷ ἄρχειν προσήκει, σοφῷ ὄντι καὶ ἔχοντι τὴν ὑπὲρ ἁπάσης τῆς ψυχῆς προμήθειαν .… Σοφὸν δέ γε (ἕνα ἕκαστον καλοῦμεν) ἐκείνῳ τῷ σμικρῷ μέρει, τῷ ὃ ἦρχέ τ’ ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ ταῦτα παρήγγελλεν, ἔχον αὖ κἀκεῖνο ἐπιστήμην ἐν αὑτῷ τὴν τοῦ ξυμφέροντος ἑκάστῳ τε καὶ ὅλῳ τῷ κοινῷ σφῶν αὐτῶν τριῶν ὄντων.
A man is just when these different parts of his mind exercise their appropriate functions without hindrance.
These special functions of the separate parts being laid down, 40Justice as well as Temperance will appear analogous in the individual and in the city. Both Justice and Temperance reside in all the parts equally: not in one of them exclusively, as Wisdom and Courage reside. Justice and Temperance belong to the subordinate as well as to the dominant parts. Justice exists when each of the parts performs its own function, without encroaching on the function of the others: Temperance exists when all the parts are of one opinion as to the title of the higher or rational element to exercise command.111
111 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 442 C, 443 B.
A man as well as a city is just, when each of his three sorts or varieties of mind confines itself to its own legitimate function: when Reason reigns over and controuls the other two, and when Energy seconds Reason in controuling Appetite. Such a man will not commit fraud, theft, treachery, perjury, or any like proceedings.112 On the contrary, injustice exists when the parts are in conflict with each other: when either of them encroaches on the function of the other: or when those parts which ought to be subordinate rise in insurrection against that which ought to be superior.
112 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 442-443.
Justice and Injustice in the mind — what health and disease are in the body.
Justice is in the mind what health is in the body, when the parts are so arranged as to controul and be controuled pursuant to the dictates of nature. Injustice is in the mind what disease is in the body, when the parts are so arranged as to controul and be controuled contrary to the dictates of nature. Virtue is thus the health, beauty, good condition of the mind: Vice is the disease, ugliness, weakness, of the mind.113
113 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 444 B-C.
Original question now resumed — Does Justice make a man happy, and Injustice make him miserable, apart from all consequences? Answer — Yes.
Having thus ascertained the nature of justice and injustice, we are now in a condition (continues Sokrates) to reply to the question proposed for investigation — Is it profitable to a man to be just and to do justice per se, even though he be not known as just either by Gods or men, and may thus be debarred from the consequences which would ensue if he were known? Or is it profitable to him to be unjust, if 41he can contrive to escape detection and punishment? We are enabled to answer the first question in the affirmative, and the second question in the negative. As health is the greatest good, and sickness the greatest evil, of body: so Justice is the greatest good, and injustice the greatest evil, of mind. No measure of luxury, wealth, or power, could render life tolerable, if we lost our bodily health: no amount of prosperity could make life tolerable, without mental health or justice. As bodily health is good per se, and sickness evil per se, even apart from its consequences: so justice also is good in itself, and injustice evil in itself, apart from its consequences.114
114 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 445 A.
Glaukon requires farther explanation about the condition of the Guardians, in regard to sexual and family ties.
Sokrates now assumes the special question of the dialogue to be answered, and the picture of the just or perfect city, as well as of the just or perfect individual, to be completed. He is next proceeding to set forth the contrasts to this picture — that is, the varieties of injustice, or the various modes of depravation and corruption — when he is arrested by Polemarchus and Adeimantus: who call upon him to explain more at large the position of the body of Guardians or Soldiers in the city, in regard to women, children, and the family.115
115 Plato, Republic, v. p. 449 C.
Men and women will live together and perform the duties of Guardians alike — They will receive the same gymnastic and musical training.
In reply, Sokrates announces his intention to make such provision as will exclude separate family ties, as well as separate property, among these Guardians. The Guardians will consist both of men and women. The women will receive the same training, both musical and gymnastical, as the men.116 They will take part both in the bodily exercises of the palæstra, in the military drill, and in the combats of war. Those who deride these naked exercises as preposterous for the female sex, should be reminded (Sokrates says) that not long ago it was considered unseemly among the Greeks (as it still is among many of the barbari) for men to expose their naked bodies in the palæstra: but such repugnance has been overpowered by the marked usefulness of the practice: the Kretans first setting the example, next the Lacedæmonians;42 lastly all other Greeks doing the same.117 We maintain the principle which we laid down in the beginning, that one person should perform only one duty — that for which he is best qualified. But there is no one function, or class of functions, for which women as such are peculiarly qualified, or peculiarly disqualified. Between women generally, and men generally, in reference to the discharge of duties, there is no other difference, except that men are superior to women in every thing:118 the best women will be on a level only with the second-best men, but they will be superior to all men lower than the second best. But among women, as among men, there are great individual differences: one woman is fit for one duty, another for another: and in our city, each must be employed for the duty suitable to her individual disposition. Those who are best qualified by nature for the office of Guardians, must be allotted to that office: they must discharge it along with the men, and must be trained for it by the same education as the men, musical and gymnastical.
116 Plato, Republic, v. p. 452 A.
117 Plato, Republic, v. p. 452 D.
118 Plato, Republic, v. p. 455 C-D.
Nature does not prescribe any distribution of functions between men and women. Women are inferior to men in every thing. The best women are equal to second-best men.
If an objector accuses us of proposing arrangements contrary to nature, we not only deny the force of the objection, but we retort the charge. We affirm that the arrangements now existing in society, which restrict all women to a limited number of domestic and family functions, are contrary to nature — and that ours are founded upon the genuine and real dictates of nature.119 The only difference admissible between men and women, in the joint discharge of the functions of Guardians, is, that the easier portion of such functions must in general be assigned to women, and the more difficult to men, in consequence of the inferiority of the feminine nature.120
119 Plato, Republic, v. p. 456 C. κατὰ φύσιν ἐτίθεμεν τὸν νόμον· ἀλλὰ τὰ νῦν παρὰ ταῦτα γιγνόμενα παρὰ φύσιν μᾶλλον, ὡς ἔοικε, γίγνεται.
120 Plato, Republic, v. p. 457 B.
Community of life and relations between the male and female Guardians. Temporary marriages arranged by contrivance of the Elders. No separate families.
These intermingled male and female Guardians, in the discharge of their joint functions, will live together in common barracks and at common mess-tables. There must be no separate houses or separate family-relations43 between them. All are wives or husbands of all: no youth must know his own father, no mature man must know his own son: all the mature men and women are fathers or mothers of all the younger: all of the same age are brothers and sisters.121 We do not intend, however, that the copulation between them shall take place in a promiscuous and arbitrary manner: we shall establish laws to regulate the intermarriages and breeding.122 We must copy the example of those who regulate the copulation of horses, dogs, and other animals: we must bring together those who will give existence to the best offspring.123 We must couple, as often as we can, the men who are best, with the women who are best, both in mind and body; and the men who are least good, with the women who are least good. We must bring up the offspring of the former couples — we must refuse to bring up the offspring of the latter.124 And such results must be accomplished by underhand arrangements of the Elder Chiefs; so as to be unknown to every one else, in order to prevent discontent and quarrel among the body of the Guardians. These Elders will celebrate periodical festivals, in which they will bring together the fitting brides and bridegrooms, under solemn hymns and sacrifices. They must regulate the number of marriages in such manner as to keep the total list of Guardians as much as possible without increase as well as without diminution.125 The Elders must make an artful use of the lot, so that these couplings shall appear to every one else the effect of chance. Distinguished warriors must be rewarded with a larger licence of copulation with different women, which will produce the farther advantage of having as many children as possible born from their procreation.126 All the children as soon as born must be consigned to the Chiefs or Elders, male and female, who will conceal in some convenient manner those who are born either from the worst couples or with any 44bodily imperfection: while they place the offspring of the best couples in special outbuildings under the charge of nurses. Those mothers who are full of milk will be brought here to give suck, but every precaution will be taken that none of them shall know her own child: wet-nurses will also be provided in addition, to ensure a full supply: but all the care of the children will devolve on the public nurses, not on the mothers.127
121 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 457-458.
122 Plato, Republic, v. p. 458 E.
123 Plato, Republic, v. p. 459 A.
124 Plato, Republic, v. p. 459 D-E. δεῖ μὲν ἐκ τῶν ὡμολογημένων τοὺς ἀρίστους ταῖς ἀρίσταις συγγίγνεσθαι ὡς πλειστάκις, τοὺς δὲ φαυλοτάτους ταῖς φαυλοτάταις τοὐναντίον, καὶ τῶν μὲν τὰ ἔκγονα τρέφειν, τῶν δὲ μή, εἰ μέλλει τὸ ποίμνιον ὅ, τι ἀκρότατον εἶναι· καὶ ταῦτα πάντα γιγνόμενα λανθάνειν πλὴν αὐτοὺς τοὺς ἄρχοντας, εἰ αὖ ἡ ἀγέλη τῶν φυλάκων ὅ, τι μάλιστα ἀστασίαστος ἔσται.
125 Plato, Republic, v. p. 460 A.
126 Plato, Republic, v. p. 460 B.
127 Plato, Republic, v. p. 460 C-D.
Regulations about age, for procreation — Children brought up under public authority.
The age for such intermarriages, destined to be procreative for the benefit of the city, must be from thirty to fifty-five, for men — from twenty to forty, for women. No man or woman, above or below these limits of age, will be allowed to meddle with the function of intermarriage and procreation for the public; which function must always be conducted under superintendence of the authorities, with proper sacrifice and prayers to the Gods. Nor will any man, even within the licensed age, be allowed to approach any woman except by assignment from the authorities. If any infringement of this law should occur, the offspring arising from it will be pronounced spurious and outcast.128 But when the above limits of age are passed, both men and women may have intercourse with whomsoever they please, except fathers with daughters or sons with mothers: under condition, however, that no offspring shall be born from such intercourse, or that if any offspring be born, it shall be exposed.129
128 Plato, Republic, v. p. 461 A-B.
129 Plato, Republic, v. p. 461 C.
How is the father to know his own daughter (it is asked), or the son his own mother? They cannot know (replies Sokrates): but each couple will consider every child born in the seventh month or tenth month after their marriage, as their child, and will address him or her by the appellation of son or daughter. The fathers and mothers will be fathers and mothers of all the children born at that time: the sons and daughters will be in filial relation to all the couples brought together at the given antecedent period.130
130 Plato, Republic, v. p. 461 D.
Perfect communion of sentiment and interest among the Guardians — Causes of pleasure and pain the same to all, like parts of the same organism.
The main purpose of such regulations, in respect to family as in respect to property, is to establish the fullest communion between all the Guardians, male and 45female — and to eliminate as much as possible the feeling of separate interest in any fraction of them. The greatest evil to any city is, that which pulls it to pieces and makes it many instead of one: the greatest good to it is that which binds it together and makes it one. Now what is most efficacious in binding it together, is, community of the causes of pleasure and pain: when each individual feels pleasure from the same causes and on the same occasions as all the rest, and pain in like manner. On the other hand, when the causes of pleasure and pain are distinct, this tends to dissolution; and becomes fatal if the opposition is marked, so that some individuals are much delighted, and others much distressed, under the same circumstances. That city is the best arranged, wherein all the citizens pronounce the words Mine and Not Mine, with reference to the same things: when they coalesce into an unity like the organism of a single individual. To him a blow in the finger is a blow to the whole man: so also in the city, pleasure or pain to any one citizen ought to communicate itself by sympathy as pleasure and pain to all.131
131 Plato, Republic, v. p. 462 D.
Harmony — absence of conflicting interest — assured scale of equal comfort — consequent happiness — among the Guardians.
Now the Guardians under our regulations will present as much as possible this community of Mine and Not Mine, as well as of pleasures and pains — and this exclusion of the separate individual Mine and Not Mine, as well as of separate pleasures and pains. No individual among them will have either separate property or separate family relationship: each will have both one and the other in common with the rest.132 No one will have property of his own to be increased, nor a family of his own to be benefited, apart from the rest: all will be as much as possible common recipients of pleasure and pain.133 All the ordinary causes of dispute and litigation will thus be excluded. If two Guardians of the same age happen to quarrel, they must fight it out: this will discharge their wrath and prevent worse consequences — while at the same time it will encourage attention to gymnastic excellence.134 But no younger 46Guardian will raise his hand against an older Guardian, whom he is taught to reverence as his father, and whom every one else would protect if attacked. If the Guardians maintain harmony among themselves, they will easily ensure it among the remaining inhabitants. Assured of sufficient but modest comforts, the Guardians will be relieved from all struggles for the maintenance of a family, from the arts of trade, and from subservience to the rich.135 They will escape all these troubles, and will live a life happier than the envied Olympic victor: for they will gain the victory in an enterprise more illustrious than he undertakes, and they will receive from their fellow-citizens fuller maintenance and higher privilege than what is awarded to him, as well as honours after death.136 Their lives are not to be put in comparison with those of the farmer or the shoemaker. They must not indeed aspire to any happiness incompatible with their condition and duty as Guardians. But that condition will itself involve the highest happiness. And if any silly ambition prompts them to depart from it, they will assuredly change for the worse.137
132 Plato, Republic, v. p. 464 B.
133 Plato, Republic, v. p. 464 D. πάντας εἰς τὸ δυνατὸν ὁμοπαθεῖς λύπης τε καὶ ἡδονῆς εἶναι.
134 Plato, Republic, v. p. 464 E.
135 Plato, Republic, v. p. 465 C. τῶν κακῶν … ὧν ἀπηλλαγμένοι ἂν εἶεν, κολακείας τε πλουσίων πένητες ἀπορίας τε καὶ ἀλγηδόνας, &c.
136 Plato, Republic, v. p. 465 D. Πάντων τε δὴ τούτων ἀπαλλάξονται, ζήσουσί τε τοῦ μακαριστοῦ βίου, ὃν οἱ Ὀλυμπιονῖκαι ζῶσι, μακαριώτερον.
137 Plato, Republic, v. p. 466 A-C.
In case of war both sexes will go together to battle — Rewards to distinguished warriors.
Such is the communion of sexes which must be kept up for the duties of Guardians, and for the exigencies of military defence. As in other races of animals, males and females must go out to fight, and each will inspire the other with bravery. The children must be taken out on horseback to see the encounters from a distance, so that they may be kept clear of danger, yet may nevertheless be gradually accustomed to the sight of it.138 If any one runs away from the field, he must be degraded from the rank of Guardian to that of husbandman or craftsman. If any man suffers himself to be taken prisoner, he is no loss: the enemy may do what they choose with him. When any one distinguishes himself in battle, he shall be received on his return by garlands and by an affectionate welcome from the youth.139 Should he be slain 47in battle, he shall be recognised as having become a Dæmon or Demigod (according to the Hesiodic doctrine), and his sepulchre shall be honoured by appropriate solemnities.140
138 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 466-467.
139 Plato, Republic, v. p. 468 B.
140 Plato, Republic, v. p. 469 B.
War against Hellenic enemies to be carried on mildly — Hellens are all by nature kinsmen.
In carrying on war, our Guardians will observe a marked difference in their manner of treating Hellenic enemies and barbaric enemies. They will never enslave any Hellenic city, nor hold any Hellenic person in slavery. They will never even strip the body of an Hellenic enemy, except so far as to take his arms. They will never pile up in their temples the arms, nor burn the houses and lands, of Hellenic enemies. They will always keep in mind the members of the Hellenic race as naturally kindred with each other, and bound to aid each other in mutual defence, against Barbaric aliens who are the natural enemies of all of them.141 They will not think themselves authorised to carry on war as Hellens now do against each other, except when their enemies are Barbaric.
141 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 470-471.
Enough of this, Sokrates, replies Glaukon. I admit that your city will have all the excellencies and advantages of which you boast. But you have yet to show me that it is practicable, and how.142
142 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 471-472.
Question — How is the scheme practicable? It is difficult, yet practicable on one condition — That philosophy and political power should come into the same hands.
The task which you impose (says Sokrates) is one of great difficulty: even if you grant me, what must be granted, that every reality must fall short of its ideal type.143 One condition, and one only, is essential to render it practicable: a condition which you may ridicule as preposterous, but which, though not probable, is certainly supposable. Either philosophers must acquire the ruling power, or else the present rulers of mankind must themselves become genuine philosophers. In one or other of these two ways philosophy and political power must come into the into the same hands. Unless such condition be fulfilled, our city can never be made a reality, nor can there ever be any respite of suffering to the human race.144
143 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 472-473.
144 Plato, Republic, v. p. 473 D.
The supremacy which you claim for philosophers (replies 48Glaukon), will be listened to with repugnance and scorn. But at least you must show who the philosophers are, on whose behalf you invoke such supremacy. You must show that it belongs to them by nature both to pursue philosophy, and to rule in the various cities: and that by nature also, other men ought to obey them as well as to abstain from philosophy.145
145 Plato, Republic, v. p. 474 A-B.
Characteristic marks of the philosopher — He contemplates and knows Entia or unchangeable Forms, as distinguished from fluctuating particulars or Fientia.
The first requisite for a philosopher (replies Sokrates) is, that he shall love and pursue eagerly every sort of knowledge or wisdom, without shrinking from labour for such purpose. But it is not sufficient that he should be eager about hearing tragedies or learning the minor arts. Other men, accomplished and curious, are fond of hearing beautiful sounds and discourses, or of seeing beautiful forms and colours. But the philosopher alone can see or distinguish truth.146 It is only he who can distinguish the genuine Form or Idea, in which truth consists, from the particular embodiments in which it occurs. These Forms or Ideas exist, eternal and unchangeable. Since Pulchrum is the opposite of Turpe, they must be two, and each of them must be One: the same about Just and Unjust, Good and Evil; each of these is a distinct Form or Idea, existing as One and Unchangeable by itself, but exhibiting itself in appearance as manifold, diverse, and frequently changing, through communion with different objects and events, and through communion of each Form with others.147 Now the accomplished, but unphilosophical, man cannot see or recognise this Form in itself. He can see only the different particular cases and complications in which it appears embodied.148 None but the philosopher can contemplate each Form by itself, and discriminate it from the various particulars in conjunction with which it appears. Such philosophers are few in number, but they are the only persons who can be said truly to live. Ordinary and even accomplished men — 49who recognise beautiful things, but cannot recognise Beauty in itself, nor even follow an instructor who points it out to them — pass their lives in a sort of dream or reverie: for the dreamer, whether asleep or awake, is one who believes what is similar to another thing to be not merely similar, but to be the actual thing itself.149 The philosopher alone, who embraces in his mind the one and unchangeable Form or Idea, along with, yet distinguished from, its particular embodiments, possesses knowledge or science. The unphilosophical man, whose mind embraces nothing higher than variable particulars, does not know — but only opines, or has opinions.150
146 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 474-475. τοὺς τῆς ἀληθείας φιλοθεάμονας (p. 475 E).
147 Plato, Republic, v. p. 476 A. Ἐπειδή ἐστιν ἐναντίον καλὸν αἰσχρῷ, δύο αὐτὼ εἶναι … Οὐκοῦν ἐπειδὴ δύο, καὶ ἓν ἐκάτερον; … Καὶ περὶ δικαίου καὶ ἀδίκου καὶ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ κακοῦ καὶ πάντων τῶν εἰδῶν πέρι, ὁ αὐτὸς λόγος, αὐτὸ μὲν ἓν ἕκαστον εἶναι, τῇ δὲ τῶν πράξεων καὶ σωμάτων καὶ ἀλλήλων κοινωνίᾳ πανταχοῦ φανταζόμενα πολλὰ φαίνεσθαι ἕκαστον;
148 Plato, Republic, v. p. 476 B.
149 Plato, Republic, v. p. 476 B.
150 Plato, Republic, v. p. 476 D. Οὐκοῦν τούτου μὲν τὴν διάνοιαν ὡς γιγνώσκοντος γνώμην ἂν ὀρθῶς φαῖμεν εἶναι, τοῦ δὲ δόξαν, ὡς δοξάζοντος.
Ens alone can be known — Non-Ens is unknowable. That which is midway between Ens and Non-Ens (particulars) is matter only of opinion. Ordinary men attain nothing beyond opinion.
This latter, the unphilosophical man, will not admit what we say. Accordingly, we must prove it to him. You cannot know without knowing Something: that is, Some Ens: for Non-Ens cannot be known. That which is completely and absolutely Ens, is completely and absolutely cognizable: that which is Non-Ens and nowhere, is in every way uncognizable. If then there be anything which is at once Ens and Non-Ens, it will lie midway between these two: it will be something neither absolutely and completely cognizable, nor absolutely and completely uncognizable: it belongs to something between ignorance and science. Now science or knowledge is one thing, its object is, complete Ens. Opinion is another thing, its object also is different. Knowing and Opining belong, like Sight and Hearing, to the class of Entia called Powers or Faculties, which we and others possess, and by means of which — that is, by means of one or other of them — we accomplish everything that we do accomplish. Now no one of these powers or faculties has either colour or figure, whereby it may be recognised or distinguished from others. Each is known and distinguished, not by what it is in itself, but by what it accomplishes, and by the object to which it has special relation. That which has the same object and accomplishes the same result, I call the same power or faculty: that which has a different object, and accomplishes a different 50result, I call a different power or faculty. Now Knowing, Cognition, Science, is one of our faculties or powers, and the strongest of all: Opining is another, and a different one. A marked distinction between the two is, that Knowing or Cognition is infallible — Opining is fallible. Since Cognition is one power or faculty, and Opining another — the object of one must be different from the object of the other. But the object of Cognition is, the Complete Ens: the object of Opining must therefore be, not the Complete Ens, but something different from it. What then is the object of Opining? It is not Complete Ens, but it is still Something. It is not Non-Ens, or Nothing; for Non-Ens or Nothing is not thinkable or opinable: you cannot think or opine, and yet think or opine nothing. Whoever opines or thinks, must opine or think something. Ens is the object of Cognition, Non-Ens is the object of non-Cognition or Ignorance: Opination or Opinion is midway between Cognition and Ignorance, darker than the former, but clearer than the latter. The object of opination is therefore something midway between Ens and Non-Ens.
Particulars fluctuate: they are sometimes just or beautiful, sometimes unjust or ugly. Forms or Entia alone remain constant.
But what is this Something, midway between Ens and Particulars Non-Ens, and partaking of both — which is the object of Opination? To make out this, we must revert to the case of the unphilosophical man. We have described him, as not believing in the existence of the Form or Idea of Beauty, or Justice per se; not enduring to hear it spoken of as a real Ens and Unum; not knowing anything except of the many diverse particulars, beautiful and just. We must remind him that every one of these particular beautiful things will appear repulsive also: every one of these just and holy particulars, will appear unjust and unholy also. He cannot refuse to admit that each of them will appear under certain circumstances beautiful and ugly, just and unjust, holy and unholy. In like manner, every particular double will appear also a half: every light thing will appear heavy: every little thing great. Of each among these many particulars, if you can truly predicate any one quality about it, you may with equal truth predicate the opposite quality also. Each of them both is, and is not, the substratum of all these different and opposite qualities. You cannot pronounce51 them to be either one or the other, with fixity and permanence: they are at once both and neither.
The many cannot discern or admit the reality of Forms — Their minds are always fluctuating among particulars.
Here then we find the appropriate object of Opination: that which is neither Ens nor Non-Ens, but something between both. Particulars are the object of Opination, as distinguished from universal Entities, Forms, or Ideas, which are the object of Cognition. The many, who disbelieve or ignore the existence of these Forms, and whose minds dwell exclusively among particulars — cannot know, but only opine. Their usages and creeds, as to beautiful, just, honourable, float between positive Ens and Non-Ens. It is these intermediate fluctuations which are caught up by their opining faculty, intermediate as it is between Cognition and Ignorance. It is these also, the objects of Opination, which they love and delight in: they neither recognise nor love the objects of Cognition or Knowledge. They are lovers of opinion and its objects, not lovers of Knowledge. The philosopher alone recognises and loves Knowledge and the objects of Knowledge. His mind dwells, not amidst the fluctuating, diverse, and numerous particulars, but in contemplation of the One, Universal, permanent, unchangeable, Form or Idea.
The philosopher will be ardent for all varieties of knowledge — His excellent moral attributes — He will be trained to capacity for active life.
Here is the characteristic difference (continues Sokrates) which you required me to point out, between the philosopher and the unphilosophical man, however accomplished. The philosopher sees, knows, and contemplates, the One, Real, unchangeable, Form or Idea: the unphilosophical man knows nothing of this Form per se, and sees only its multifarious manifestations, each perpetually variable and different from all the rest. The philosopher, having present to his mind this type — and approximating to it, as far as may be, the real institutions and practices — will be the person most competent to rule our city: especially as his education will give him farthermore — besides such familiarity with the Form or Type — as large a measure of experience, and as much virtue, as can fall to the lot of the unphilosophical man.151 The nature 52and disposition of the true philosopher, if improved by education, will include all the virtue and competence of the practical man. The philosopher is bent on learning everything which can make him familiar with Universal Forms and Essences in their pure state, not floating amidst the confusion of generated and destroyed realities: and with Forms and Essences little as well as great, mean as well as sublime.152 Devoted to knowledge and truth — hating falsehood — he has little room in his mind for the ordinary desires: he is temperate, indifferent to money, free from all meanness or shabbiness. A man like him, whose contemplations stretch over all time and all essence, thinks human life a small affair, and has no fear of death. He will be just, mild in his demeanour, quick in apprehension, retentive in memory, elegant in his tastes and movements. All these excellences will be united in the philosophers to whom we confide the rule of our city.153
151 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 484.
152 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 485 A.
153 Plato, Republic, vi. pp. 485-486.
Adeimantus does not dispute the conclusion, but remarks that it is at variance with actual facts — Existing philosophers are either worthless pretenders, or when they are good, useless.
It is impossible, Sokrates (remarks Adeimantus), to answer in the negative to your questions. Nevertheless we who hear and answer, are not convinced of the truth of your conclusion. Unskilled as we are in the interrogatory process, we feel ourselves led astray little by little at each successive question; until at length, through the accumulated effect of such small deviations, we are driven up into a corner without the power of moving, like a bad player at draughts defeated by one superior to himself.154 Here in this particular case your conclusion has been reached by steps to which we cannot refuse assent. Yet if we look at the facts, we see something quite the reverse as to the actual position of philosophers. Those who study philosophy, not simply as a branch of juvenile education but 53as a continued occupation throughout life, are in most cases strange creatures, not to say thoroughly unprincipled: while the few of them who are most reasonable, derive nothing from this pursuit which you so much extol, except that they become useless in their respective cities.155
154 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 487 B. Πρὸς μὲν ταῦτα σοι οὐδεὶς ἂν οἷός τ’ εἴη ἀντειπεῖν· ἀλλὰ γὰρ τοιόνδε τι πάσχουσιν οἱ ἀκούοντες ἑκάστοτε ἂ νῦν λέγεις· ἡγοῦνται δι’ ἀπειρίαν τοῦ ἐρωτᾷν τε καὶ ἀποκρίνεσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου παρ’ ἕκαστον τὸ ἐρώτημα σμικρὸν παραγόμενοι, ἀθροισθέντων τῶν σμικρῶν ἐπὶ τελευτῆς τῶν λόγων, μέγα τὸ σφάλμα καὶ ἐναντίον τοῖς πρώτοις ἀναφαίνεσθαι, &c.
This is an interesting remark on the effect produced upon many hearers by the Sokratic and Platonic dialogues, — puzzling, silencing, and ultimately stimulating the mind, but not satisfying or convincing, rather raising suspicions as to the trustworthiness of the process, which suspicions have to be turned over and scrutinised by subsequent meditation.
155 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 487 D.
Sokrates admits the fact to be so — His simile of the able steersman on shipboard, among a disobedient crew.
Yes (replies Sokrates), your picture is a correct one. The position of true and reasonable philosophers, in their respective cities, is difficult and uncomfortable. Conceive a ship on her voyage, under the management of a steersman distinguished for force of body as well as for skill in his craft, but not clever in dealing with, or acting upon other men. Conceive the seamen all quarrelling with each other to get possession of the rudder; each man thinking himself qualified to steer, though he has never learnt it — nor had any master in it — nor even believes it to be teachable, but is ready to massacre all who affirm that it is teachable.156 Imagine, besides, these seamen importuning the qualified steersman to commit the rudder to them, each being ready to expel or kill any others whom he may prefer to them: and at last proceeding to stupify with wine or drugs the qualified steersman, and then to navigate the vessel themselves according to their own views; feasting plentifully on the stores. These men know nothing of what constitutes true and able steersmanship. They extol, as a perfect steersman, that leader who is most efficacious, either by persuasion or force, in seizing the rudder for them to manage: they despise as useless any one who does not possess this talent. They never reflect that the genuine steersman has enough to do in surmounting the dangers of his own especial art, and in watching the stars and the winds: and that if he is to acquire technical skill and practice adequate to such a purpose, he cannot at the same time possess skill and practice in keeping his hold of the rudder whether the crew are pleased with him or not. Such being the condition of the ship and the crew, you see plainly that they will despise and set aside the true steersman as an useless proser and star-gazer.157
156 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 488.
157 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 488 D-E.
54The uselessness of the true philosopher is the fault of the citizen, who will not invoke his guidance.
Now the crew of this ship represent the citizens and leaders of our actual cities: the steersman represents the true philosopher. He is, and must be, useless in the ship: but his uselessness is the fault of the crew and not his own. It is not for the true steersman to entreat permission from the seamen, that they will allow him to command; nor for the wise man to solicit employment at the doors of the rich. It is for the sick man, whether he be poor or rich, to ask for the aid of the physician; and for every one who needs to be commanded, to invoke the authority of the person qualified to command. No man really qualified will submit to ask command as a favour.158
158 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 489 B. τῆς μέντοι ἀχρηστίας τοὺς μὴ χρωμένους κέλευε αἰτιᾶσθαι, ἀλλὰ μὴ τοὺς ἐπιεικεῖς. Οὐ γὰρ ἔχει φύσιν κυβερνήτην ναυτῶν δεῖσθαι ἄρχεσθαι ὑφ’ αὑτοῦ, &c.
Thus, Adeimantus (continues Sokrates), I have dealt with the first part of your remark, that the true philosopher is an useless man in cities as now constituted: I have shown you this is not his fault — that it could not be otherwise, — and that a man even of the highest aptitude, cannot enjoy reputation among those whose turn of mind is altogether at variance with his own.159
159 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 489 D. ἔκ τε τοίνυν τούτων καὶ ἐν τούτοις οὐ ῥᾴδιον εὐδοκιμεῖν τὸ βέλτιστον ἐπιτήδευμα ὑπὸ τῶν τἀναντία ἐπιτηδευόντων.
I shall now deal with your second observation — That while even the best philosophers are useless, the majority of those who cultivate philosophy are worthless men, who bring upon her merited discredit. I admit that this also is correct; but I shall prove that philosophy is not to be blamed for it.160
160 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 489 E. ὅτι οὐδὲ τούτου φιλοσοφία αἰτία, πειραθῶμεν δεῖξαι.
The great qualities required to form a philosopher, become sources of perversion, under a misguiding public opinion.
You will remember the great combination of excellent dispositions, intellectual as well as moral, which I laid down as indispensable to form the fundamental character of the true philosopher. Such a combination is always rare. Even under the best circumstances philosophers must be very few. But these few stand exposed, in our existing cities, to such powerful causes of corruption, that they are prevented from reaching maturity, except by some happy accident. First, each one of those very qualities, which, when 55combined, constitute the true philosopher, — serves as a cause of corruption, if it exists by itself and apart from the rest. Next, what are called good things, or external advantages, act in the same manner — such as beauty, strength, wealth, powerful connections, &c. Again, the stronger a man’s natural aptitudes and the greater his external advantages, — the better will he become under favourable circumstances, the worse will he become, if circumstances are unfavourable. Heinous iniquity always springs from a powerful nature perverted by bad training: not from a feeble nature, which will produce no great effects either for good or evil. Thus the eminent predispositions, — which, if properly improved, would raise a man to the highest rank in virtue, — will, if planted in an unfavourable soil, produce a master-mind in deeds of iniquity, unless counteracted by some providential interposition.
Mistake of supposing that such perversion arises from the Sophists. Irresistible effect of the public opinion generally, in tempting or forcing a dissenter into orthodoxy.
The multitude treat these latter as men corrupted by the Sophists. But this is a mistake. Neither Sophists nor other private individuals produce mischief worth mentioning. It is the multitude themselves, utterers of these complaints, who are the most active Sophists and teachers: it is they who educate and mould every individual, man and woman, young and old, into such a character as they please.161 When they are assembled in the public assembly or the dikastery, in the theatre or the camp — when they praise some things and blame others, with vociferation and vehemence echoed from the rocks around — how irresistible will be the impression produced upon the mind of a youth who hears them! No private training which he may have previously received can hold out against it. All will be washed away by this impetuous current of multitudinous praise or blame, which carries him along with it. He will declare honourable or base the same things as they declare to be so: he will adopt the character, and follow the pursuits, which they enjoin. Moreover, if he resists such persuasive influence, these multitudinous 56teachers and Sophists have stronger pressure in store for him.162 They punish the disobedient with disgrace, fine, and even death. What other Sophist, or what private exhortation, can contend successfully against teachers such as these? Surely none. The attempt to do so is insane. There neither is, nor has been, nor will be, any individual human disposition educated to virtue in opposition to the training of the multitude:163 I say human, as distinguished from divine, of which I make exception: for in the existing state of society, any individual who is preserved from these ascendant influences to acquire philosophical excellence, owes his preservation to the divine favour.
161 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 492 A. ἢ καὶ σὺ ἡγεῖ, ὥσπερ οἱ πολλοί, διαφθειρομένους τινὰς εἶναι ὑπὸ σοφιστῶν νέους, διαφθείροντας δέ τινας σοφιστὰς ἰδιωτικούς, ὅ, τι καὶ ἄξιον λόγον, ἀλλ’ οὐκ αὐτοὺς τοὺς ταῦτα λέγοντας μεγίστους μὲν εἶναι σοφιστάς; παιδεύειν δὲ τελεώτατα καὶ ἀπεργάζεσθαι οἵους βούλονται εἶναι καὶ νέους καὶ πρεσβυτέρους καὶ ἄνδρας καὶ γυναῖκας;
162 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 492 C-D. Καὶ φήσειν τε τὰ αὐτὰ τούτοις καλὰ καὶ αἰσχρὰ εἶναι, καὶ ἐπιτηδεύσειν ἅπερ ἂν οὗτοι, καὶ ἔσεσθαι τοιοῦτον … Καὶ μὴν οὕπω τὴν μεγίστην ἀνάγκην εἰρήκαμεν. Ποίαν; Ἓν ἔργῳ προστιθέασι, λόγῳ μὴ πείθοντες, οὗτοι οἱ παιδευταί τε καὶ σοφισταί. Ἢ οὐκ οἶσθα ὅτι τὸν μὴ πειθόμενον ἀτιμίαις τε καὶ χρήμασι καὶ θανάτοις κολάζουσιν; Καὶ μάλα, ἔφη, σφόδρα.
163 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 492 D.
The Sophists and other private teachers accept the prevalent orthodoxy, and conform their teaching to it.
Moreover, though the multitude complain of these professional teachers as rivals, and decry them as Sophists — yet we must recollect that such teachers inculcate only the opinions received among the multitude themselves, and extol these same opinions as wisdom.164 The teachers know nothing of what is really honourable and base, — good and evil, — just and unjust. They distribute all these names only with reference to the opinions of the multitude:— pronouncing those things which please the multitude to be good, and those which displease to be evil, — without furnishing any other rational account. They call things necessary by the name of just and honourable; not knowing the material difference between what is good and what is necessary, nor being able to point out that difference to others. Thus preposterous are the teachers, who count it wisdom to suit the taste and feelings of the multitude, whether in painting or in music or in social affairs. For whoever lives among them, publicly exhibiting either poetry or other performances private or official, thus making the multitude his masters beyond the strict limits of necessity — the consequence is infallible, that he must adapt his works to that which they praise. But whether the works which he executes are really 57good and honourable, he will be unable to render any tolerable account.165
164 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 493 A. ἕκαστον τῶν μισθαρνούντων ἰδιωτῶν, οὓς δὴ οὗτοι σοφιστὰς καλοῦσι καὶ ἀντιτέχνους ἡγοῦνται, μὴ ἄλλα παιδεύειν ἢ ταῦτα τὰ τῶν πολλῶν δόγματα, ἃ δοξάζουσιν ὅταν ἀθροισθῶσι, καὶ σοφίαν ταύτην καλεῖν.
165 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 493 C-D.
The people generally hate philosophy — A youth who aspires to it will be hated by the people, and persecuted even by his own relatives.
It is therefore the multitude, or the general voice of society — not the Sophists or private teachers, mere echoes of that general voice — which works upon and moulds individuals. Now the multitude cannot tolerate or believe in the existence of those Universals or Forms which the philosopher contemplates. They know only the many particulars, not the One Universal. Incapable of becoming philosophers themselves, they look upon the philosopher with hatred: and this sentiment is adopted by all those so-called philosophers who seek to please them.166 Under these circumstances, what chance is there that those eminent predispositions, which we pointed out as the foundation of the future philosopher, can ever be matured to their proper result? A youth of such promise, especially if his body be on a par with his mind, will be at once foremost among all his fellows. His relatives and fellow-citizens, eager to make use of him for their own purposes, and anxious to appropriate to themselves his growing force, will besiege him betimes with solicitations and flatteries.167 Under these influences, if we assume him to be rich, well born, and in a powerful city, he will naturally become intoxicated with unlimited hopes and ambition; fancying himself competent to manage the affairs of all governments, and giving himself the empty airs of a lofty potentate.168 If there be any one to give him a quiet hint that he has not yet acquired intelligence, nor can acquire it without labour — he will turn a deaf ear. But suppose that such advice should by chance prevail, in one out of many cases, so that the youth alters his tendencies and devotes himself to philosophy — what will be the conduct of those who see, that they will thereby be deprived of his usefulness and party-service, towards their own views? They will leave no means untried to 58prevent him from following the advice, and even to ruin the adviser, by private conspiracy and judicial prosecution.169 It is impossible that the young man can really turn to philosophy, against obstructions thus powerful. You see that those very excellences and advantages, which form the initial point of the growing philosopher, become means and temptations for corrupting him. The best natures, rare as they always are, become thus not only ruined, but turned into instruments of evil. For the same men (as I have already said) who, under favourable training, would have done the greatest good, become perpetrators of the greatest evil, if they are badly placed. Small men will do nothing important, either in the one way or the other.170
166 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 494 A. φιλόσοφον μὲν ἄρα πλῆθος ἀδύνατον εἶναι … Καὶ τοὺς φιλσοφοῦντας ἄρα ἀνάγκη ψέγεσθαι ὑπ’ αὐτῶν … καὶ ὑπὸ τούτων δὴ τῶν ἰδιωτῶν, ὅσοι προσομιλοῦντες ὄχλῳ ἀρέσκειν αὐτῷ ἐπιθυμοῦσιν.
167 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 494 B.
168 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 494 C. πληρωθήσεσθαι ἀμηχάνου ἐλπίδος, ἡγούμενον καὶ τὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων καὶ τὰ τῶν βαρβάρων ἱκανὸν εἶναι πράττειν.
169 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 494 D-E. ἐὰν δ’ οὖν, διὰ τὸ εὖ πεφυκέναι καὶ τὸ ξυγγενὲς τῶν λόγων, εἶς αἰσθάνηταί τέ πῃ καὶ κάμπτηται καὶ ἕλκηται πρὸς φιλοσοφίαν, τί οἰόμεθα δράσειν ἐκείνους τοὺς ἡγουμένους ἀπολλύναι αὐτοῦ τὴν χρείαν τε καὶ ἑταιρείαν; οὐ πᾶν μὲν ἔργον, πᾶν δ’ ἔπος, λέγοντάς τε καὶ πράττοντας καὶ περὶ αὐτόν, ὅπως ἂν μὴ πεισθῇ, καὶ περὶ τὸν πείθοντα, ὅπως ἂν μὴ οἷός τ’ ᾖ, καὶ ἰδίᾳ ἐπιβουλεύοντας καὶ δημοσίᾳ εἰς ἀγῶνας καθίσταντας;
170 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 495 A-B.
The really great minds are thus driven away from the path of philosophy — which is left to empty pretenders.
It is thus that the path of philosophy is deserted by those who ought to have trodden it, and who pervert their exalted powers to unworthy objects. That path — being left vacant, yet still full of imposing titles and pretensions, and carrying a show of superior dignity as compared with the vulgar professions — becomes invaded by interlopers of inferior worth and ability, who quit their own small craft, and set up as philosophers.171 Such men, poorly endowed by nature, and debased by habits of trade, exhibit themselves, in their self-assumed exaltation as philosophers, like a slave recently manumitted, who has put on new clothes and married his master’s daughter.172 Having intruded themselves into a career for which they are unfit, they cannot produce any grand or genuine philosophical thoughts, or any thing better than mere neat sophisms, pleasing to the ear.173 Through them arises the discredit which is now attached to philosophers.
171 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 495 C-D. καθορῶντες γὰρ ἄλλοι ἀνθρωπίσκοι κενὴν τὴν χώραν ταύτην γιγνομένην, καλῶν δὲ ὀνομάτων καὶ προσχημάτων μεστήν, ὥσπερ οἱ ἐκ τῶν εἰργμῶν εἰς τὰ ἱερὰ ἀποδιδράσκοντες, ἄσμενοι καὶ οὗτοι ἐκ τῶν τεχνῶν ἐκπηδῶσιν εἰς τὴν φιλοσοφίαν.
172 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 495 E.
173 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 496 A.
Rare cases in which a highly qualified philosopher remains — Being at variance with public opinion, he can achieve nothing, and is lucky if he can obtain safety by silence.
Amidst such general degradation of philosophy, some few 59and rare cases are left, in which the pre-eminent natures qualified for philosophy remain by some favourable accident uncorrupted. One of these is Theagês, who would have been long ago drawn away from philosophy to active politics, had he not been disqualified by bad health. The restraining Dæmon, peculiar to myself (says Sokrates), is another case.174 Such an exceptional man, having once tasted the sweetness and happiness of philosophy, embraces it as an exclusive profession. He sees that the mass of society are wrongheaded — that scarce any one takes wholesome views on social matters — that he can find no partisans to aid him in upholding justice175 — that while he will not take part in injustice, he is too weak to contend single-handed against the violence of all, and would only become a victim to it without doing any good either to the city or to his friends — like a man who has fallen among wild beasts. On these grounds he stands aloof in his own separate pursuit, like one sheltering himself under a wall against a hurricane of wind and dust. Witnessing the injustice committed by all around, he is content if he can keep himself clear and pure from it during his life here, so as to die with satisfaction and good hopes.
174 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 496 D.
175 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 496 C-D. καὶ τούτων δὴ τῶν ὀλίγων οἱ γευόμενοι καὶ γευσάμενοι ὡς ἡδὺ καὶ μακάριον τὸ κτῆμα, καὶ τῶν πολλῶν αὖ ἱκανῶς ἰδόντες τὴν μανίαν, καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς οὐδὲν ὑγιὲς, ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, περὶ τὰ τῶν πόλεων πράττει, οὐδ’ ἔστι ξύμμαχος μεθ’ ὅτου τις ἰὼν ἐπὶ τὴν τῶν δικαίων βοήθειαν σώζοιτ’ ἄν, ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ εἰς θηρία ἄνθρωπος ἐμπεσών, οὔτε ξυναδικεῖν ἐθέλων οὔτε ἱκανὸς ὢν εἷς πᾶσιν ἀγρίοις ἀντέχειν, πρίν τι τὴν πόλιν ἢ φίλους ὀνησαι προαπολόμενος ἀνωφελὴς αὑτῷ τε καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἂν γένοιτο — ταῦτα πάντα λογισμῷ λαβῶν, ἡσυχίαν ἔχων καὶ τὰ αὐτοῦ πράττων … ὁρῶν τοὺς ἄλλους καταπιμπλαμένους ἀνομίας, ἀγαπᾷ εἴ πη αὐτὸς καθαρὸς ἀδικίας, &c.
He will perform no small achievement (remarks Adeimantus) if he keeps clear to the end.176
176 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 497 A.
The philosopher must have a community suitable to him, and worthy of him.
True (replies Sokrates) — yet nevertheless he can perform no great achievement, unless he meets with a community suited to him. Amidst such a community he will himself rise to greatness, and will preserve the public happiness as well as his own. But there exists no such community anywhere, at the present moment. Not one of those now existing is worthy of a philosophical disposition:177 which accordingly becomes perverted, and degenerates 60into a different type adapted to its actual abode, like exotic seed transported to a foreign soil. But if this philosophical disposition were planted in a worthy community, so as to be able to assert its own superior excellence, it would then prove itself truly divine, leaving other dispositions and pursuits behind as merely human.
177 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 497 B-C.
It must be such a community as Sokrates has been describing — But means must be taken to keep up a perpetual succession of philosophers as Rulers.
You mean by a worthy community (observes Adeimantus), such an one as that of which you have been drawing the outline? — I do (replies Sokrates): with this addition, already hinted but not explained, that there must always be maintained in it a perpetual supervising authority representing the scheme and purpose of the primitive lawgiver. This authority must consist of philosophers: and the question now arises — difficult but indispensable — how such philosophers are to be trained up and made efficient for the good of the city.
Proper manner of teaching philosophy — Not to begin at a very early age.
The plan now pursued for imparting philosophy is bad. Some do not learn it at all: and even to those who learn it best, the most difficult part (that which relates to debate and discourse) is taught when they are youths just emerging from boyhood, in the intervals of practical business and money-getting.178 After that period, in their mature age, they abandon it altogether; they will scarcely so much as go to hear an occasional lecture on the subject, without any effort of their own: accordingly it has all died out within them, when they become mature in years. This manner of teaching philosophy ought to be reversed. In childhood and youth, instruction of an easy character and suitable to that age ought to be imparted; while the greatest care is taken to improve and strengthen the body during its period of growth, as a minister and instrument to philosophy. As age proceeds, and the mind advances to perfection, the mental exercises ought to become more difficult and 61absorbing. Lastly, when the age of bodily effort passes away, philosophy ought to become the main and principal pursuit.179
178 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 498 A. Νῦν μὲν οἱ καὶ ἁπτόμενοι μειράκια ὄντα ἄρτι ἐκ παιδῶν τὸ μεταξὺ οἰκονομίας καὶ χρηματισμοῦ πλησιάσαντες αὐτοῦ τῷ χαλεπωτάτῳ ἀπαλλάττονται, οἱ φιλοσοφώτατοι ποιούμενοι· λέγω δὲ χαλεπώτατον τὸ περὶ τοὺς λόγους· ἐν δὲ τῷ ἔπειτα, ἐὰν καὶ ἄλλων τοῦτο πραττόντων παρακαλούμενοι ἐθέλωσιν ἀκροαταὶ γίγνεσθαι, μεγάλα ἡγοῦνται, πάρεργον οἰόμενοι αὐτὸ δεῖν πράττειν.
179 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 498 C.
If the multitude could once see a real, perfect, philosopher, they could not fail to love him: but this never happens.
Most people will hear all this (continues Sokrates) with mingled incredulity and repugnance. We cannot wonder that they do so: for they have had no experience of one or a few virtuously trained men ruling in a city suitably prepared.180 Such combination of philosophical rulers within a community adapted to them, we must assume to be realised.181 Though difficult, it is noway impracticable: and even the multitude will become reconciled to it, if you explain to them mildly what sort of persons we mean by philosophers. We do not mean such persons as the multitude now call by that name; interlopers in the pursuit, violent in dispute and quarrel with each other, and perpetually talking personal scandal.182 The multitude cannot hate a philosophical temper such as we depict, when they once come to know it — a man who, indifferent to all party disputes, dwells in contemplation of the Universal Forms, and tries to mould himself and others into harmony with them.183 Such a philosopher will not pretend to make regulations, either for a city or for an individual, until he has purified it thoroughly. He will then make regulations framed upon the type of the Eternal Forms — Justice, Temperance, Beauty — adapting them as well as he can to human exigencies.184 The multitude, when they know what is really meant, will become perfectly reconciled to it. One single prince, if he rises so as to become a philosopher, and has a consenting community, will suffice to introduce the system which we have been describing. So fortunate an accident can undoubtedly occur but seldom; yet it is not impossible, and one day or other it will really occur.185
180 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 498 E.
181 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 499 B-C.
182 Plato, Republic, vi. pp. 499-500.
183 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 500 C-D.
184 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 501 A.
185 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 502.
Course of training in the Platonic city, for imparting philosophy to the Rulers. They must be taught to ascend to the Idea of Good. But what is Good?
I must now (continues Sokrates) explain more in detail the studies and training through which these preservers Rulers of our city, the complete philosophers, must be created. The most perfect among the Guardians,62 after having been tested by years of exercises and temptations of various kinds, will occupy that distinguished place. Very few will be found uniting those distinct and almost incompatible excellences which qualify them for the post. They must give proof of self-command against pleasures as well as pains, and of competence to deal with the highest studies.186 But what are the highest studies? What is the supreme object of knowledge? It is the Idea of Good — the Form of Good: to the acquisition of which our philosophers must be trained to ascend, however laborious and difficult the process may be.187 Neither justice nor any thing else can be useful or profitable, unless we superadd to them a knowledge of the Idea of Good: without this, it would profit us nothing to possess all other knowledge.188
186 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 503.
187 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 504.
188 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 505 A. ὅτι γε ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέα μέγιστον μάθημα πολλάκις ἀκήκοας, ᾖ δίκαια καὶ τἄλλα προσχρησάμενα χρήσιμα καὶ ὠφέλιμα γίγνεται, &c.
Ancient disputes upon this point, though every one yearns after Good. Some say Intelligence; some say Pleasure. Neither is satisfactory.
Now as to the question, What Good is? there are great and long-standing disputes. Every mind pursues Good, and does every thing for the sake of it — yet without either knowledge or firm assurance what Good is, and consequently with perpetual failure in deriving benefit from other acquisitions.189 Most people say that Pleasure is the Good: an ingenious few identify Intelligence with the Good. But neither of these explanations is satisfactory. For when a man says that Intelligence is the Good, our next question to him must be, What sort of Intelligence do you mean? — Intelligence of what? To this he must reply, Intelligence of the Good: which is absurd, since it presumes us to know already what the Good is — the very point which he is pretending to elucidate. Again, he who contends that Pleasure is the Good, is forced in discussion to admit that there are such things as bad pleasures: in other words, that pleasure is sometimes good, sometimes bad.190 From these doubts and disputes about the real 63nature of good, we shall require our philosophical Guardians to have emancipated themselves, and to have attained a clear vision. They will be unfit for their post it they do not well know what the Good is, and in what manner just or honourable things come to be good.191 Our city will have received its final consummation, when it is placed under the superintendence of one who knows what the Good is.
189 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 505 E. Ὃ δὴ διώκει μὲν ἅπασα ψυχὴ καὶ τούτου ἕνεκα πάντα πράττει, ἀπομαντευομένη τὶ εἶναι, ἀποροῦσα δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσα λαβεῖν ἱκανῶς τί ποτ’ ἐστίν, οὐδὲ πίστει χρήσασθαι μονίμῳ, οἵᾳ καὶ περὶ τἄλλα, διὰ τοῦτο δὲ ἀποτυγχάνει καὶ τῶν ἄλλων εἴ τι ὄφελος ἦν, &c.
190 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 505 C.
191 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 506 A. δίκαιά τε καὶ καλὰ ἀγνοούμενα ὅπῃ ποτὲ ἀγαθά ἐστιν, οὐ πολλοῦ τινὸς ἄξιον φύλακα κεκτῆσθαι ἂν ἑαυτῶν τὸν τοῦτο ἀγνοοῦντα.
Adeimantus asks what Sokrates says. Sokrates says that he can not answer: but he compares it by a metaphor to the Sun.
But tell me, Sokrates (asks Adeimantus), what do you conceive the Good to be — Intelligence or Pleasure, or any other thing different from these? I do not profess to know (replies Sokrates), and cannot tell you. We must decline the problem, What Good itself is? as more arduous than our present impetus will enable us to reach.192 Nevertheless I will partially supply the deficiency by describing to you the offspring of Good, very like its parent. You will recollect that we have distinguished the Many from the One: the many just particulars, beautiful particulars, from the One Universal Idea or Form, Just per se, Beautiful per se. The many particulars are seen but not conceived: the one Idea is conceived, but not seen.193 We see the many particulars through the auxiliary agency of light, which emanates from the Sun, the God of the visible world. Our organ and sense of vision are not the Sun itself, but they are akin to the Sun in a greater degree than any of our other senses. They imbibe their peculiar faculty from the influence of the Sun.194 The Sun furnishes to objects the power of being seen, and to our eyes the power of seeing: we can see no colour unless we turn to objects enlightened by its rays. Moreover it is the Sun which also brings about the generation, the growth, and the nourishment, of these objects, though it is itself out of the limits of generation: it generates and keeps them in existence, besides rendering them 64visible.195 Now the Sun is the offspring and representative of the Idea of Good: what the Sun is in the sensible and visible world, the Idea of Good is in the intelligible or conceivable world.196 As the Sun not only brings into being the objects of sense, but imparts to them the power of being seen so the Idea of Good brings into being the objects of conception or cognition, imparts to them the power of being known, and to the mind the power of knowing them.197 It is from the Idea of Good that all knowledge, all truth, and all real essence spring. Yet the Idea of Good is itself extra-essential; out of or beyond the limits of essence, and superior in beauty and dignity both to knowledge and to truth; which are not Good itself, but akin to Good, as vision is akin to the Sun.198
192 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 506 B-E. Αὐτὸ μὲν τί ποτ’ ἐστὶ τἀγαθὸν ἐάσωμεν τὰ νῦν εἶναι· πλέον γάρ μοι φαίνεται ἢ κατὰ τὴν παροῦσαν ὁρμὴν ἐφικέσθαι τοῦ γε δοκοῦντος ἐμοὶ τὰ νῦν· ὅς δὲ ἔκγονός τε τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ φαίνεται καὶ ὁμοιότατος ἐκείνῳ, λέγειν ἐθέλω (p. 506 E).
193 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 507 B-C. Καὶ τὰ μὲν (πολλὰ) δὴ ὁρᾶσθαί φαμεν, νοεῖσθαι δὲ οὔ· τὰς δ’ αὖ ἰδέας νοεῖσθαι μέν, ὁρᾶσθαι δὲ οὔ.
194 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 508 A. ἡ ὄψις — ἡλιοειδέστατον τῶν περὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις ὀργάνων.
195 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 509 B. Τὸν ἥλιον τοῖς ὁρωμένοις οὐ μόνον τὴν τοῦ ὁρᾶσθαι δύναμιν παρέχειν φήσεις, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν γένεσιν καὶ αὔξην καὶ τροφήν, οὐ γένεσιν αὐτὸν ὄντα.
196 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 508 B-C. Τοῦτον (τὸν ἥλιον) τὸν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἔκγονον, ὃν τἀγαθὸν ἐγέννησεν ἀνάλογον ἑαυτῷ, ὅ, τι περ αὐτὸ ἐν τῷ νοητῷ τόπῳ πρός τε νοῦν καὶ τὰ νοούμενα, τοῦτο τοῦτον ἐν τῷ ὁρατῷ πρός τε ὄψιν καὶ τὰ ὁρώμενα.
197 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 508 E. Τοῦτο τοίνυν τὸ τὴν ἀλήθειαν παρέχον τοῖς γιγνωσκομένοις καὶ τῷ γιγνώσκοντι τὴν δύναμιν ἀποδιδὸν τὴν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέαν φάθι εἶναι, αἰτίαν δ’ ἐπιστήμης οὖσαν καὶ ἀληθείας ὡς γιγνωσκομένης, &c.
198 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 509 B. Καὶ τοῖς γιγνωσκομένοις τοίνυν μὴ μόνον τὸ γιγνώσκεσθαι φάναι ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ παρεῖναι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ εἶναι τε καὶ τὴν οὐσίαν ὑπ’ ἐκείνου αὐτοις προσεῖναι, οὐκ οὐσίας ὄντος τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ, ἀλλ’ ἔτι ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας πρεσβείᾳ καὶ δυνάμει ὑπερέχοντος. Καὶ ὁ Γλαύκων μάλα γελοίως, Ἄπολλον, ἔφη, δαιμονίας ὑπερβολῆς! Σὺ γάρ, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, αἴτιος, ἀναγκάζων τὰ ἐμοὶ δοκοῦντα περὶ αὐτοῦ λέγειν. — Also p. 509 A.
The Idea of Good rules the ideal or intelligible world, as the Sun rules the sensible or visible world.
Here then we have two distinct regions or genera; one, the conceivable or intelligible, ruled by the Idea of Good — the other the visible, ruled by the Sun, which is the offspring of Good. Now let us subdivide each of these regions or genera, into two portions. The two portions of the visible will be — first, real objects, visible such as animals, plants, works of art, &c. — second, the images or representations of these, such as shadows, reflexions in water or in mirrors, &c. The first of these two subdivisions will be greatly superior in clearness to the second: it will be distinguished from the second as truth is distinguished from not-truth.199 Matter of knowledge is in the same relation to matter of opinion, as an original to its copy. Next, the conceivable or intelligible region must be subdivided into two portions, similarly related one to the other: the first of these 65portions will be analogous to the real objects of vision, the second to the images or representations of these objects: the first will thus be the Forms, Ideas, or Realities of Conception or Intellect — the second will be particular images or embodiments thereof.200
199 Plato, Republic, vi. pp. 509-510. 510 A: διῃρῆσθαι ἀληθείᾳ τε καὶ μή, ὡς τὸ δοξαστὸν πρὸς τὸ γνωστόν, οὔτω τὸ ὁμοιωθὲν πρὸς τὸ ᾧ ὡμοιώθη.
200 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 510 B.
To the intelligible world there are applicable two distinct modes of procedure — the Geometrical — the Dialectic. Geometrical procedure assumes diagrams.
Now in regard to these two portions of the conceivable or intelligible region, two different procedures of the mind are employed: the pure Dialectic, and the Geometrical, procedure. The Geometer or the Arithmetician begins with certain visible images, lines, figures, or numbered objects, of sense: he takes his departure from certain hypotheses or assumptions, such as given numbers, odd and even — given figures and angles, of three different sorts.201 He assumes these as data without rendering account of them, or allowing them to be called in question, as if they were self-evident to every one. From these premisses he deduces his conclusions, carrying them down by uncontradicted steps to the solution of the problem which he is examining.202 But though he has before his eyes the visible parallelogram inscribed on the sand, with its visible diagonal, and though all his propositions are affirmed respecting these — yet what he has really in his mind is something quite different — the Parallelogram per se, or the Form of a Parallelogram — the Form of a Diagonal, &c. The visible figure before him is used only as an image or representative of this self-existent form; which last he can contemplate only in conception, though all his propositions are intended to apply to it.203 He 66is unable to take his departure directly from this Form, as from a first principle: he is forced to assume the visible figure as his point of departure, and cannot ascend above it: he treats it as something privileged and self-evident.204
201 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 510 B. ᾗ το μὲν αὐτοῦ (τμῆμα) τοῖς τότε τμηθεῖσιν ὡς εἰκόσι χρωμένη (this is farther illustrated by p. 511 A — εἰκόσι χρωμένην αὐτοῖς τοῖς ὑπὸ τῶν κάτω ἀπεικασθεῖσἰ) ψυχὴ ζητεῖν ἀναγκάζεται ἐξ ὑποθέσεων, οὐκ ἐπ’ ἀρχὴν πορευομένη ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τελευτήν, &c.
202 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 510 C-D. οἱ περὶ τὰς γεωμετρίας τε καὶ λογισμοὺς καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα πραγματευόμενοι, ὑποθέμενοι τό τε περιττὸν καὶ τὸ ἄρτιον καὶ τὰ σχήματα καὶ γωνιῶν τριττὰ εἴδη καὶ ἄλλα τούτων ἀδελφὰ καθ’ ἑκάστην μέθοδον, ταῦτα μὲν ὡς εἰδότες, ποιησάμενοι ὑποθέσεις αὐτά, οὐδένα λόγον οὔτε αὑτοῖς οὔτε τοῖς ἄλλοις ἔτι ἀξιοῦσι περὶ αὐτῶν διδόναι, ὡς παντὶ φανερῶν· ἐκ τούτων δ’ ἀρχόμενοι τὰ λοιπὰ ἤδη διεξιόντες τελευτῶσιν ὁμολογουμένως ἐπὶ τοῦτο, οὖ ἂν ἐπὶ σκέψιν ὁρμήσωσιν.
203 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 510 D-E. τοῖς ὁρωμένοις εἴδεσι προσχρῶνται, καὶ τοὺς λόγους περὶ αὐτῶν ποιοῦνται, οὐ περὶ τούτων διανοούμενοι, ἀλλ’ ἐκείνων πέρι οἷς ταῦτα ἔοικε, τοῦ τετραγώνου αὐτοῦ ἕνεκα τοὺς λόγους ποιούμενοι καὶ διαμέτρον αὐτῆς, ἀλλ’ οὐ ταύτης ἣν γράφουσι, καὶ τἄλλα οὕτως· αὐτὰ μὲν ταῦτα ἃ πλάττουσί τε καὶ γράφουσιν, ὧν καὶ σκιαὶ καὶ ἐν ὕδασιν εἰκόνες εἰσί, τούτοις μὲν ὡς εἰκόσιν αὖ χρώμενοι, ζητοῦντές τε αὐτὰ ἐκεῖνα ἰδεῖν, ἃ οὐκ ἂν ἄλλως ἴδοι τις ἢ τῇ διανοίᾳ.
204 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 511 A. οὐκ ἐπ’ ἀρχὴν ἰοῦσαν, ὡς οὐ δυναμένην τῶν ὑποθέσεων ἀνωτέρω ἐκβαίνειν, εἰκόσι δὲ χρωμένην αὐτοῖς τοῖς ὑπὸ τῶν κάτω ἀπεικασθεῖσιν, καὶ ἐκείνοις πρὸς ἐκεῖνα ὡς ἐναργέσι δεδοξασμένοις τε καὶ τετιμημένοις.
Dialectic procedure assumes nothing. It departs from the highest Form, and steps gradually down to the lowest, without meddling with any thing except Forms.
From the geometrical procedure thus described, we must now distinguish the other section — the pure Dialectic. Here the Intellect ascends to the absolute Form, and grasps it directly. Particular assumptions or hypotheses are indeed employed, but only as intervening stepping-stones, by which the Intellect is to ascend to the Form: they are afterwards to be discarded: they are not used here for first principles of reasoning, as they are by the Geometer.205 The Dialectician uses for his first principle the highest absolute Form; he descends from this to the next highest, and so lower and lower through the orderly gradation of Forms, until he comes to the end or lowest: never employing throughout the whole descent any hypothesis or assumption, nor any illustrative aid from sense. He contemplates and reasons upon the pure intelligible essence, directly and immediately: whereas the Geometer can only contemplate it indirectly and mediately, through the intervening aid of particular assumptions.206
205 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 511 B. τὸ ἕτερον τμῆμα τοῦ νοητοῦ … οὖ αὐτὸς ὁ λόγος ἅπτεται τῇ τοῦ διαλέγεσθαι δυνάμει, τὰς ὑποθέσεις ποιούμενος οὐκ ἀρχὰς ἀλλὰ τῷ ὄντι ὑποθέσεις, οἷον ἐπιβάσεις τε καὶ ὁρμάς, ἵνα μέχρι τοῦ ἀνυποθέτου, ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ παντὸς ἀρχὴν ἰών, ἁψάμενος αὐτῆς, πάλιν αὖ ἐχόμενος τῶν ἐκείνης ἐχομένων, οὕτως ἐπὶ τελευτὴν καταβαίνῃ, αἰσθητῷ παντάπασιν οὐδενὶ προσχρώμενος, ἀλλ’ εἴδεσιν αὐτοῖς δι’ αὐτῶν εἰς αὐτά, καὶ τελευτᾷ εἰς εἴδη.
206 Plato, Republic, vi. p. 511 C. σαφέστερον εἶναι τὸ ὑπὸ τῆς τοῦ διαλέγεσθαι ἐπιστήμης τοῦ ὄντος τε καὶ νοητοῦ θεωρούμενον ἢ τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν τεχνῶν καλουμένων, αἷς αἱ ὑποθέσεις ἀρχαί, &c.
Two distinct grades of Cognition — Direct or Superior — Noûs — Indirect or Inferior — Dianoia.
The distinction here indicated between the two different sections of the Intelligible Region, and the two different sections of the Region of Sense — we shall mark (continues Sokrates) by appropriate terms. The Dialectician alone has Noûs or Intellect, direct or the highest cognition: he alone grasps and comprehends directly the pure intelligible essence or absolute Form. 67The Geometer does not ascend to this direct contemplation or intuition of the Form: he knows it only through the medium of particular assumptions, by indirect Cognition or Dianoia; which is a lower faculty than Noûs or Intellect, yet nevertheless higher than Opinion.
Two distinct grades of Opinion also in the Sensible World — Faith or Belief — Conjecture.
As we assign two distinct grades of Cognition to the Intelligible Region, so we also assign two distinct grades of Opinion to the Region of Sense, and its two sections. To the first of these two sections, or to real objects of sense, we assign the highest grade of Opinion, viz.: Faith or Belief. To the second of the two, or to the images of real objects of sense, we assign the lower grade, viz.: Conjecture.
Here then are the four grades. Two grades of Cognition — 1. Noûs, or Direct Cognition. 2. Dianoia, or Indirect Cognition: both of them belonging to the Intelligible Region, and both of them higher than Opinion. Next follow the two grades of Opinion. 3. The higher grade, Faith or Belief. 4. The lower grade, Conjecture. Both the two last belong to the sensible world; the first to real objects, the last to images of those objects.207
207 Plato, Republic, p. 511 D-E.
Distinction between the philosopher and the unphilosophical public, illustrated by the simile of the Cave, and the captives imprisoned therein.
Sokrates now proceeds to illustrate the contrast between the philosopher and the unphilosophical or ordinary man, by the memorable simile of the cave and its shadows. Mankind live in a cave, with its aperture directed towards the light of the sun; but they are so chained, that their backs are constantly turned towards this aperture, so that they cannot see the sun and sunlight. What they do see is by means of a fire which is always burning behind them. Between them and this fire there is a wall; along the wall are posted men who carry backwards and forwards representations or images of all sorts of objects; so that the shadows of these objects by the firelight are projected from behind these chained men upon the ground in front of them, and pass to and fro before their vision. All the experience which such chained men acquire, consists in what they observe of the appearance and disappearance, the 68transition, sequences, and co-existences, of these shadows, which they mistake for truth and realities, having no no acquaintance with any other phenomena.208 If now we suppose any one of them to be liberated from his chains, turned round, and brought up to the light of the sun and to real objects — his eyesight would be at first altogether dazzled, confounded, and distressed. Distinguishing as yet nothing clearly, he would believe that the shadows which he had seen in his former state were true and distinct objects, and that the new mode of vision to which he had been suddenly introduced was illusory and unprofitable. He would require a long time to accustom him to daylight: at first his eyes would bear nothing but shadows — next images in the water — then the stars at night — lastly, the full brightness of the Sun. He would learn that it was the Sun which not only gave light, but was the cause of varying seasons, growth, and all the productions of the visible world. And when his mind had been thus opened, he would consider himself much to be envied for the change, looking back with pity on his companions still in the cave.209 He would think them all miserably ignorant, as being conversant not with realities, but only with the shadows which passed before their eyes. He would have no esteem even for the chosen few in the cave, who were honoured by their fellows as having best observed the co-existences and sequences among these shadows, so as to predict most exactly how the shadows would appear in future.210 Moreover if, after having become fully accustomed to daylight and the contemplation of realities, he were to descend again into the cave, his eyesight would be dim and confused in that comparative darkness; so that he would not well recognise the shadows, and would get into disputes about them with his companions. They on their side would deride him as having spoilt his sight as well as his judgment, and would point him out as an example to deter others from emerging out of the cave into daylight.211 Far from wishing to emerge themselves,69 they would kill, if they could, any one who tried to unchain them and assist them in escaping.212
208 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 514-515.
209 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 515-516.
210 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 516 C. Τιμαὶ δὲ καὶ ἔπαινοι εἴ τινες αὐτοῖς ἦσαν τότε παρ’ ἀλλήλων καὶ γέρα τῷ ὀξύτατα καθορῶντι τὰ παριόντα, καὶ μνημονεύοντι μάλιστα ὅσα τε πρότερα αὐτῶν καὶ ὕστερα εἰώθει καὶ ἅμα πορεύεσθαι, καὶ ἐκ τούτων δὴ δυνατώτατα ἀπομαντευομένῳ τὸ μέλλον ἥξειν, δοκεῖς ἂν αὐτὸν ἐπιθυμητικῶς αὐτῶν ἔχειν καὶ ζηλοῦν τοὺς παρ’ ἐκείνοις τιμωμένους τε καὶ ἐνδυναστεύοντας;
211 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 517 A. ἆρ’ οὐ γέλωτ’ ἂν παράσχοι καὶ λέγοιτο ἂν περὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀναβὰς ἄνω διεφθαρμένος ἥκει τὰ ὄμματα, καὶ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξιον οὐδὲ πειρᾶσθαι ἄνω ἰέναι;
212 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 517 A. καὶ τὸν ἐπιχειροῦντα λύειν τε καὶ ἀνάγειν, εἴ πως ἐν ταῖς χερσὶ δύναιτο λαβεῖν καὶ ἀποκτεῖναι, ἀποκτιννύναι ἂν;
Daylight of philosophy contrasted with the firelight and shadows of the Cave.
By this simile (continues Sokrates) I intend to illustrate, as far as I can, yet without speaking confidently,213 the relations of the sensible world to the intelligible world: the world of transitory shadows, dimly seen and admitting only opinion, contrasted with that of unchangeable realities steadily contemplated and known, illuminated by the Idea of Good, which is itself visible in the background, being the cause both of truth in speculation and of rectitude in action.214 No wonder that the few who can ascend into the intelligible region, amidst the clear contemplations of Truth and Justice per se, are averse to meddle again with the miseries of human affairs and to contend with the opinions formed by ordinary men respecting the shadows of Justice, the reality of which these ordinary men have never seen. There are two causes of temporary confused vision: one, when a man moves out of darkness into light — the other when he moves from light into darkness. It is from the latter cause that the philosopher suffers when he redescends into the obscure cave.215
213 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 517. τῆς γ’ ἐμῆς ἐλπίδος, ἐπειδὴ ταύτης ἐπιθυμεῖς ἀκούειν· θεὸς δέ που οἶδεν εἰ ἀληθὴς οὖσα τυγχάνει.
This tone of uncertainty in Plato deserves notice. It forms a striking contrast with the dogmatism of many among his commentators.
214 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 517 C.
215 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 517-518.
Purpose of a philosophical training, to turn a man round from facing the bad light of the Cave to face the daylight of philosophy, and to see the eternal Forms.
The great purpose of education is to turn a man round from his natural position at the bottom of this dark cave, where he sees nothing but shadows: to fix his eyes in the other direction, and to induce him to ascend into clear daylight. Education does not, as some suppose, either pour knowledge into an empty mind, or impart visual power to blind persons. Men have good eyes, but these eyes are turned in the wrong direction. The clever among them see sharply enough what is before them: but they have nothing before them except shadows, and the sharper their vision the more mischief they do.216 What is required is to turn them 70round and draw them up so as to face the real objects of daylight. Their natural eyesight would then suffice to enable them to see these objects well.217 The task of our education must be, to turn round the men of superior natural aptitude, and to draw them up into the daylight of realities. Next, when they shall have become sufficiently initiated in truth and philosophy, we must not allow them to bury themselves permanently in such studies — as they will themselves be but too eager to do. We must compel them to come down again into the cave and exercise ascendancy among their companions, for whose benefit their superior mental condition will thus become available.218
216 Plato, Republic, p. 519 A-B.
217 Plato, Republic, p. 519 B. ὧν εἰ ἀπαλλαγὲν περιεστρέφετο εἰς τἀληθῆ, καὶ ἐκεῖνα ἂν τὸ αὐτὸ τοῦτο τῶν αὐτῶν ἀνθρώπων ὀξύτατα ἑώρα, ὥσπερ καὶ ἐφ’ ἂ νῦν τέτραπται.
218 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 519-520.
Those who have emerged from the Cave into full daylight amidst eternal Forms, must be forced to come down again and undertake active duties — Their reluctance to do this.
Coming as they do from the better light, they will, after a little temporary perplexity, be able to see the dim shadows better than those who have never looked at anything else. Having contemplated the true and real Forms of the Just, Beautiful, Good — they will better appreciate the images of these Forms which come and go, pass by and repass in the cave.219 They will indeed be very reluctant to undertake the duties or exercise the powers of government: their genuine delight is in philosophy; and if left to themselves, they would cultivate nothing else. But such reluctance is in itself one proof that they are the fittest persons to govern. If government be placed in the hands of men eager to possess it, there will be others eager to dispossess them, so that competition and factions will arise. Those who come forward to govern, having no good of their own, and seeking to extract their own good from the exercise of power, are both unworthy of trust and sure to be resisted by opponents of the like disposition. The philosopher alone has his own good in himself. He enjoys a life better than that of a ruler; which life he is compelled to forego when he accepts power and becomes a ruler.220
219 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 520 C.
220 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 520-521.
Studies serving as introduction to philosophy — Arithmetic, its awakening power — shock to the mind by felt contradiction.
The main purpose of education, I have said (continues Sokrates) is, to turn round the faces of the superior men, and to invite them upwards from darkness to 71light — from the region of perishable shadows to that of imperishable realities.221 Now what cognitions, calculated to aid such a purpose, can we find to teach?222 Gymnastic, music, the vulgar arts, are all useful to be taught: but they do not tend to that which we are here seeking. Arithmetic does so to a certain extent, if properly taught which at present it is not.223 It furnishes a stimulus to awaken the dormant intellectual and reflective capacity. Among the variety of sensible phenomena, there are some in which the senses yield a clear and satisfactory judgment, leaving no demand in the mind for anything beyond: there are others in which the senses land us in apparent equivocation, puzzle, and contradiction — so that the mind is stung by this apparent perplexity, and instigated to find a solution by some intellectual effort.224 Thus, if we see or feel the fingers of our hand, they always appear to the sense, fingers: in whatever order or manner they may be looked at, there is no contradiction or discrepancy in the judgment of sense. But if we see or feel them as great or small, thick or thin, hard or soft, &c., they then appear differently according as they are seen or felt in different order or under different circumstances. The same object which now appears great, will at another time appear small: it will seem to the sense hard or soft, light or heavy, according as it is seen under different comparisons and relations.225 Here then, sense is involved in an apparent contradiction, declaring the same object to be both hard and soft, great and small, light and heavy, &c. The mind, painfully confounded by such a contradiction, is obliged to invoke intellectual reflection to clear it up. Great and small are presented by the sense as inhering in the same object. Are they one thing, or two separate things? Intellectual reflection informs us that they are two: enabling us to conceive separately two things, which to our sense appeared confounded together. Intellectual (or abstract) conception is thus developed in our mind, as distinguished from sense, and as 72a refuge from the confusion and difficulties of sense, which furnish the stimulus whereby it is awakened.226
221 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 521 C. ψυχῆς περιαγωγή, ἐκ νυκτερινης τινὸς ἡμέρας εἰς ἀληθινὴν τοῦ ὄντος ἰούσης ἐπάνοδον, ἣν δὴ φιλοσοφίαν ἀληθῆ φήσομεν εἶναι.
222 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 521 C. Τί ἂν οὖν εἴη μάθημα ψυχῆς ὁλκὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ γιγνομένου ἐπὶ τὸ ὄν;
223 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 522-523 A.
224 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 523 C.
225 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 523-524.
226 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 524 B-C.
Perplexity arising from the One and Many, stimulates the mind to an intellectual effort for clearing it up.
Now arithmetic, besides its practical usefulness for arrangements of war, includes difficulties and furnishes a stimulus of this nature. We see the same thing both as One and as infinite in multitude: as definite and indefinite in number.227 We can emerge from these difficulties only by intellectual and abstract reflection. It is for this purpose, and not for purposes of traffic, that our intended philosophers must learn Arithmetic. Their minds must be raised from the confusion of the sensible world to the clear daylight of the intelligible.228 In teaching Arithmetic, the master sets before his pupils numbers in the concrete, that is, embodied in visible and tangible objects — so many balls or pebbles.229 Each of these balls he enumerates as One, though they be unequal in magnitude, and whatever be the magnitude of each. If you remark that the balls are unequal — and that each of them is Many as well as One, being divisible into as many parts as you please — he will laugh at the objection as irrelevant. He will tell you that the units to which his numeration refers are each Unum per se, indivisible and without parts; and all equal among themselves without the least shade of difference. He will add that such units cannot be exhibited to the senses, but can only be conceived by the intellect: that the balls before you are not such units in reality, but serve to suggest and facilitate the effort of abstract conception.230 In this manner arithmetical teaching conducts us to numbers in the abstract — to the real, intelligible, indivisible unit — the Unum per se.
227 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 525 A. ἅμα γὰρ ταὐτὸν ὡς ἕν τε ὁρῶμεν καὶ ὡς ἄπειρα τὸ πλῆθος.
228 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 525 B. διὰ τὸ τῆς οὐσίας ἁπτέον εἶναι γενέσεως ἐξαναδύντι, &c.
229 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 525 D. ὁρατὰ ἢ ἁπτὰ σώματα ἔχοντας ἀριθμοὺς, &c.
230 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 526 A. εἴ τις ἔροιτο αὐτούς, Ὦ θαυμάσιοι, περὶ ποίων ἀριθμῶν διαλέγεσθε, ἐν οἷς τὸ ἓν οἷον ὑμεῖς ἀξιοῦτέ ἐστιν, ἴσον τε ἕκαστον πᾶν παντὶ καὶ οὐδὲ σμικρὸν διαφέρον, μόριόν τε ἔχον ἐν ἑαυτῷ οὐδέν; τί ἂν οἴει αὐτοὺς ἀποκρίνασθαι; Τοῦτο ἔγωγε, ὅτι περὶ τούτων λέγουσιν ὧν διανοηθῆναι μόνον ἐγχωρεῖ, ἄλλως δ’ οὐδαμῶς μεταχειρίζεσθαι δυνατόν.
Geometry conducts the mind to wards Universal Ens.
Geometrical teaching conducts the mind to the same order of contemplations; leading it away from variable particulars to unchangeable universal Essence. Some 73persons extol Geometry chiefly on the ground of its usefulness in applications to practice. But this is a mistake: its real value is in conducing to knowledge, and to elevated contemplations of the mind. It does, however, like Arithmetic, yield useful results in practice: and both of them are farther valuable as auxiliaries to other studies.231
231 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 526-527.
Astronomy — how useful — not useful as now taught — must be studied by ideal figures, not by observation.
After Geometry — the measurement of lines and superficial areas — the proper immediate sequel is Stereometry, the measurement of solids. But this latter is nowhere properly honoured and cultivated: though from its intrinsic excellence, it forces its way partially even against public neglect and discouragement.232 Most persons omit it, and treat Astronomy as if it were the immediate sequel to Geometry: which is a mistake, for Astronomy relates to solid bodies in a state of rotatory movement, and ought to be preceded by the treatment of solid bodies generally.233 Assuming Stereometry, therefore, as if it existed, we proceed to Astronomy.
232 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 528 A-C.
233 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 528 A-B. ἐν περιφορᾷ ὂν ἤδη στερεὸν λαβόντες, πρὶν αὐτὸ καθ’ αὑτὸ λαβεῖν. Also 528 E.
Certainly (remarks Glaukon) Astronomy, besides its usefulness in regard to the calendar, and the seasons, must be admitted by every one to carry the mind upwards, to the contemplation of things not below but on high. I do not admit this at all (replies Sokrates), as Astronomy is now cultivated: at least in my sense of the words, looking upwards and looking downwards. If a man lies on his back, contemplating the ornaments of the ceiling, he may carry his eyes upward, but not his mind.234 To look upwards, as I understand it, is to carry the mind away from the contemplation of sensible things, whereof no science is attainable — to the contemplation of intelligible things, entities invisible and unchangeable, which alone are the objects of science. Observation of the stars, such as astronomers now teach, does not fulfil any such condition. The heavenly bodies are the most beautiful of all visible bodies and the most regular of all visible movements, approximating most nearly, though still with a long interval of inferiority, to the ideal figures and movements of genuine and self-existent Forms — quickness, slowness, number, figure, &c., as 74they are in themselves, not visible to the eye, but conceivable only by reason and intellect.235 The movements of the heavenly bodies are exemplifications, approaching nearest to the perfection of these ideal movements, but still falling greatly short of them. They are like visible circles or triangles drawn by some very exact artist; which, however beautiful as works of art, are far from answering to the conditions of the idea and its definition, and from exhibiting exact equality and proportion.236 So about the movements of the sun and stars: they are comparatively regular, but they are yet bodily and visible, never attaining the perfect sameness and unchangeableness of the intelligible world and its forms. We cannot learn truth by observation of phenomena constantly fluctuating and varying. We must study astronomy, as we do geometry, not by observation, but by mathematical theorems and hypotheses: which is a far more arduous task than astronomy as taught at present. Only in this way can it be made available to improve and strengthen the intellectual organ of the mind.237
234 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 529 B.
235 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 529 D.
236 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 529-530.
237 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 530 B. Προβλήμασιν ἄρα χρώμενοι ὥσπερ γεωμετρίαν, οὕτω καὶ ἀστρονομίαν μέτιμεν· τὰ δ’ ἐν τῷ οὐράνῳ ἐάσομεν, &c.
Acoustics, in like manner — The student will be thus conducted to the highest of all studies — Dialectic: and to the region of pure intelligible Forms.
In like manner (continues Sokrates), Acoustics or Harmonics must be studied, not by the ear, listening to and comparing various sounds, but by the contemplative intellect, applying arithmetical relations and theories.238
After going through all these different studies, the student will have his mind elevated so as to perceive the affinity of method239 and principle which pervades them all. In this state he will be prepared for entering on Dialectic, which is the final consummation of his intellectual career. He will then have ascended from the cave into daylight. He will have learnt to see real objects, and ultimately the Sun itself, instead of the dim and transitory shadows below. He will become qualified to grasp the pure Intelligible Form with his pure Intellect alone, without either aid or disturbance from sense. He will acquire that dialectical discursive power which deals exclusively with these Intelligible Forms, carrying on ratiocination by means of 75them only, with no reference to sensible objects. He will attain at length the last goal of the Dialectician — the contemplation of Bonum per se (the highest perfection and elevation of the Intelligible)240 with Intellect per se in its full purity: the best part of his mind will have been raised to the contemplation and knowledge of the best and purest entity.241
238 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 531.
239 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 531 D.
240 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 532 A. οὕτω καὶ ὅταν τις τῷ διαλέγεσθαι ἐπιχειρῇ, ἄνευ πασῶν τῶν αἰσθήσεων διὰ τοῦ λόγου ἐπ’ αὐτὸ ὃ ἔστιν ἕκαστον ὁρμᾷ, καὶ μὴ ἀποστῇ πρὶν ἂν αὐτὸ ὃ ἔστιν ἀγαθὸν αὐτῇ τῇ νοήσει λάβῃ, ἐπ’ αὐτῷ γίγνεται τῷ τοῦ νοητοῦ τέλει, &c.
241 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 532 D.
Question by Glaukon — What is the Dialectic Power? Sokrates declares that he cannot answer with certainty, and that Glaukon could not follow him if he did.
I know not whether I ought to admit your doctrine, Sokrates (observes Glaukon). There are difficulties both in admitting and denying it. However, let us assume it for the present. Your next step must be to tell us what is the characteristic function of this Dialectic power — what are its different varieties and ways of proceeding? I would willingly do so (replies Sokrates), but you would not be able to follow me.242 I would lay before you not merely an image of the truth but the very truth itself; as it appears to me at least, whether I am correct or not — for I ought not to be sure of my own correctness.
242 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 533 A.
He answers partially — It is the consummation of all the sciences, raising the student to the contemplation of pure Forms, and especially to that of the highest Form — Good.
But I am sure that the dialectic power is something of the nature which I have described. It is the only force which can make plain the full truth to students who have gone through the preliminary studies that we have described. It is the only study which investigates rationally real forms and essences243 — what each thing is, truly in itself. Other branches of study are directed either towards the opinions and preferences of men — or towards generation and combination of particular results — or towards upholding of combinations already produced or naturally springing up: while even as to geometry and the other kindred studies, we have seen that as to real essence, they have nothing better than dreams244 — and that they cannot see it as it is, so long 76as they take for their principle or point of departure certain assumptions or hypotheses of which they can render no account. The principle being thus unknown, and the conclusion as well as the intermediate items being spun together out of that unknown, how can such a convention deserve the name of Science?245 Pursuant to custom, indeed, we call these by the name of Sciences. But they deserve no higher title than that of Intellectual Cognitions, lower than Science, yet higher than mere Opinion. It is the Dialectician alone who discards all assumptions, ascending at once to real essence as his principle and point of departure:246 defining, and discriminating by appropriate words, each variety of real essence — rendering account of it to others — and carrying it safely through the cross-examining process of question and answer.247 Whoever cannot discriminate in this way the Idea or Form of Good from every thing else, will have no proper cognition of Good itself, but only, at best, opinions respecting the various shadows of Good. Dialectic — the capacity of discriminating real Forms and maintaining them in cross-examining dialogue is thus the coping-stone, completion, or consummation, of all the other sciences.248
243 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 533 B. ὡς αὐτοῦ γε ἑκάστου πέρι, ὃ ἔστιν ἕκαστον, οὐκ ἄλλη τις ἐπιχειρεῖ μέθοδος ὁδῷ περὶ παντὸς λαμβάνειν, &c.
244 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 533 C. ὡς ὀνειρώττουσι μὲν περὶ τὸ ὄν, ὕπαρ δὲ ἀδύνατον αὐταῖς ἰδεῖν, ἕως ἂν ὑποθέσεσι χρώμεναι ταύτας ἀκινήτους ἐῶσιν, &c.
245 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 533 D.
246 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 533 E.
247 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 534 B. ἦ καὶ διαλεκτικὸν καλεῖς τὸν λόγον ἕκαστου λαμβάνοντα τῆς οὐσίας;
248 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 534 C-E. ὥσπερ θριγκὸς τοῖς μαθήμασιν ἡ διαλεκτικὴ ἡμῖν ἐπάνω κεῖσθαι, &c.
The Synoptic view peculiar to the Dialectician.
Scale and duration of various studies for the Guardians, from youth upwards.
The preliminary sciences must be imparted to our Guardians during the earlier years of life, together with such bodily and mental training as may test their energy and perseverance of character.249 After the age of twenty, those who have distinguished themselves in the juvenile studies and gymnastics, must be placed in a select class of honour above the rest, and must be initiated in a synoptic view of the affinity pervading all the separate cognitions which have been imparted to them. They must also be introduced to the view of Real Essence and its nature. This is the test of aptitude for Dialectics: it is the synoptic view only, which constitutes the Dialectician.250
249 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 535-536 D.
250 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 536-537 C. καὶ μεγίστη πεῖρα διαλεκτικῆς φύσεως καὶ μή· ὁ μὲν γὰρ συνοπτικὸς διαλεκτικός, ὁ δὲ μή, οὔ.
In these new studies they will continue until thirty years of 77age: after which a farther selection must be made, of those who have most distinguished themselves. The men selected will be enrolled in a class of yet higher honour, and will be tested by dialectic cross-examination: so that we may discover who among them are competent to apprehend true, pure, and real Essence, renouncing all visual and sensible perceptions.251 It is important that such Dialectic exercises should be deferred until this advanced age — and not imparted, as they are among us at present, to immature youths: who abuse the license of interrogation, find all their homegrown opinions uncertain, and end by losing all positive convictions.252 Our students will remain under such dialectic tuition for five years, until they are thirty-five years of age: after which they must be brought again down into the cave, and constrained to acquire practical experience by undertaking military and administrative functions. In such employments they will spend fifteen years: during which they will undergo still farther scrutiny, to ascertain whether they can act up to their previous training, in spite of all provocations and temptations.253 Those who well sustain all these trials will become, at fifty years of age, the finished Elders or Chiefs of the Republic. They will pass their remaining years partly in philosophical contemplations, partly in application of philosophy to the regulation of the city. It is these Elders whose mental eye will have been so trained as to contemplate the Real Essence of Good, and to copy it as an archetype in all their ordinances and administration. They will be the Moderators of the city: but they will perform this function as a matter of duty and necessity — not being at all ambitious of it as a matter of honour.254
251 Plato, Republic, p. 537 D.
252 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 538-539.
253 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 539 D-E.
254 Plato, Republic, vii. pp. 539-540.
All these studies, and this education, are common to females as well as males.
What has here been said about the male guardians and philosophers must be understood to apply equally to the female. We recognise no difference in this respect between the two sexes. Those females who have gone through the same education and have shown themselves capable of enduring the same trials as males, will participate, after fifty years of age, in the like philosophical contemplations, and in superintendence of the city.255
255 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 540 C.
78First formation of the Platonic city — how brought about: difficult, but not impossible.
I have thus shown (Sokrates pursues) how the fundamental postulate for our city may be brought about. — That philosophers, a single man or a few, shall become possessed of supreme rule: being sufficiently exalted in character to despise the vulgar gratifications of ambition, and to carry out systematically the dictates of rectitude and justice. The postulate is indeed hard to be realised — yet not impossible.256 Such philosophical rulers, as a means for first introducing their system into a new city, will send all the inhabitants above ten years old away into the country, reserving only the children, whom they will train up in their own peculiar manners and principles. In this way the city, according to our scheme, will be first formed: when formed, it will itself be happy, and will confer inestimable benefit on the nation to which it belongs.257
256 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 540 E.
257 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 541 A.
Plato thus assumes his city, and the individual man forming a parallel to his city, to be perfectly well constituted. Reason, the higher element, exercises steady controul: the lower elements, Energy and Appetite, both acquiesce contentedly in her right to controul, and obey her orders — the former constantly and forwardly — the latter sometimes requiring constraint by the strength of the former.
The city thus formed will last long, but not for ever. After a certain time, it will begin to degenerate. Stages of its degeneracy.
But even under the best possible administration, the city, though it will last long, will not last for ever. Eternal continuance belongs only to Ens; every thing generated must one day or other be destroyed.258 The fatal period will at length arrive, when the breed of Guardians will degenerate. A series of changes for the worse will then commence, whereby the Platonic city will pass successively into timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, despotism. The first change will be, that the love of individual wealth and landed property will get possession of the Guardians: who, having in themselves the force of the city, will divide the territory among themselves, and reduce the other citizens to dependence and slavery.259 They will at the same time retain a part of their former mental training. 79They will continue their warlike habits and drill: they will be ashamed of their wealth, and will enjoy it only in secret: they will repudiate money-getting occupations as disgraceful. They will devote themselves to the contests of war and political ambition — the rational soul becoming subordinate to the energetic and courageous.260 The system which thus obtains footing will be analogous to the Spartan and Kretan, which have many admirers.261 The change in individual character will correspond to this change in the city. Reason partially losing its ascendancy, while energy and appetite both gain ground — an intermediate character is formed in which energy or courage predominates. We have the haughty, domineering, contentious, man.262
258 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 546 A. γενομένῳ παντὶ φθορά ἐστιν, &c.
259 Plato, Republic, vii. p. 547.
260 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 547-548 D. διαφανέστατον δ’ ἐν αὐτῇ ἐστὶν ἕν τι μόνον ὑπὸ τοῦ θυμοειδοῦς κρατοῦντος — φιλονείκιαι καὶ φιλοτίμιαι.
261 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 544 C.
262 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 549-550.
1. Timocracy and the timocratical individual. 2 Oligarchy, and the oligarchical individual.
Out of this timocracy, or timarchy, the city will next pass into an oligarchy, or government of wealth. The rich will here govern, to the exclusion of the poor. Reason, in the timocracy, was under the dominion of energy or courage: in the oligarchy, it will be under the dominion of appetite. The love of wealth will become predominant, instead of the love of force and aggrandisement. Now the love of wealth is distinctly opposed to the love of virtue: virtue and wealth are like weights in opposite scales.263 The oligarchical city will lose all its unity, and will consist of a few rich with a multitude of discontented poor ready to rise against them.264 The character of the individual citizen will undergo a modification similar to that of the collective city. He will be under the rule of appetite: his reason will be only invoked as the servant of appetite, to teach him how he may best enrich himself.265 He will be frugal, — will abstain from all unnecessary expenditure, even for generous and liberal purposes — and will keep up a fair show of honesty, from the fear of losing what he has already got.266
263 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 550 D-E-551 A. 550 E: προϊόντες εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν τοῦ χρηματίζεσθαι, ὅσῳ ἂν τοῦτο τιμιώτερον ἡγῶνται, τοσούτῳ ἀρετὴν ἀτιμοτέραν. ἢ οὐχ οὕτω πλούτου ἀρετὴ διέστηκεν, ὥσπερ ἐν πλάστιγγι ζυγοῦ κειμένου ἑκατέρου ἀεὶ τοὐναντίον ῥέποντε; Also p. 555 D.
264 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 552 D-E.
265 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 553 C.
266 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 554 D.
803. Democracy, and the democratical individual.
The oligarchical city will presently be transformed into a democracy, mainly through the abuse and exaggeration of its own ruling impulse — the love of wealth. The rulers, anxious to enrich themselves, rather encourage than check the extravagance of young spendthrifts, to whom they lend money at high interest, or whose property they buy on advantageous terms. In this manner there arises a class of energetic men, with ruined fortunes and habits of indulgence. Such are the adventurers who put themselves at the head of the discontented poor, and overthrow the oligarchy.267 The ruling few being expelled or put down, a democracy is established with equal franchise, and generally with officers chosen by lot.268
267 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 555-556.
268 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 557 A.
The characteristic of the democracy is equal freedom and open speech to all, with liberty to each man to shape his own life as he chooses. Hence there arises a great diversity of individual taste and character. Uniformity of pursuit or conduct is scarcely enforced: there is little restraint upon any one. A man offers himself for office whenever he chooses and not unless he chooses. He is at war or at peace, not by obedience to any public authority, but according to his own individual preference. If he be even condemned by a court of justice, he remains in the city careless of the sentence, which is never enforced against him. This democracy is an equal, agreeable, diversified, society, with little or no government: equal in regard to all — to the good, bad, and indifferent.269
269 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 557-558.
So too the democratical individual. The son of one among these frugal and money-getting oligarchs, departing from the habits and disregarding the advice of his father, contracts a taste for expensive and varied indulgences. He loses sight of the distinction between what is necessary, and what is not necessary, in respect to desires and pleasures. If he be of a quiet temperament, not quite out of the reach of advice, he keeps clear of ruinous excess in any one direction; but he gives himself up to a great diversity of successive occupations and amusements, passing from one to the other without discrimination of good 81from bad, necessary from unnecessary.270 His life and character thus becomes an agreeable, unconstrained, changeful, comprehensive, miscellany, like the society to which he belongs.271
270 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 560-561 B. εἰς ἴσον δή τι καταστήσας τὰς ἡδονὰς διάγει, τῇ παραπιπτούσῃ ἀεὶ ὥσπερ λαχούσῃ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀρχὴν παραδιδούς, ἕως ἂν πληρωθῇ, καὶ αὖθις ἄλλῃ, οὐδεμίαν ἀτιμάζων, ἀλλ’ ἐξ ἴσου τρέφων.
271 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 561 D-E. παντοδαπόν τε καὶ πλείστων ἡθῶν μεστόν, καὶ τὸν καλόν τε καὶ ποικίλον, ὥσπερ ἐκείνην τὴν πόλιν, τοῦτον τὸν ἄνδρα εἶναι.
4. Passage from democracy to despotism. Character of the despotic city.
Democracy, like oligarchy, becomes ultimately subverted by an abuse of its own characteristic principle. Freedom is gradually pushed into extravagance and excess, while all other considerations are neglected. No obedience is practised: no authority is recognised. The son feels himself equal to his father, the disciple to his teacher, the metic to the citizen, the wife to her husband, the slave to his master. Nay, even horses, asses, and dogs, go free about, so that they run against you in the road, if you do not make way for them.272 The laws are not obeyed: every man is his own master.
272 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 562-563 C.
The subversion of such a democracy arises from the men who rise to be popular leaders in it: violent, ambitious, extravagant, men, who gain the favour of the people by distributing among them confiscations from the property of the rich. The rich, resisting these injustices, become enemies to the constitution: the people, in order to put them down, range themselves under the banners of the most energetic popular leader, who takes advantage of such a position to render himself a despot.273 He begins his rule by some acceptable measures, such as abolition of debts, and assignment of lands to the poorer citizens, until he has expelled or destroyed the parties opposed to him. He seeks pretences for foreign war, in order that the people may stand in need of a leader, and may be kept poor by the contributions necessary to sustain war. But presently he finds, or suspects, dissatisfaction among the more liberal spirits. He kills or banishes them as enemies: and to ensure the continuance of his rule, he is under the necessity of dispatching in like manner every citizen prominent either for magnanimity, intelligence, or wealth.274 Becoming thus odious to all the better citizens, he 82is obliged to seek support by enlisting a guard of mercenary foreigners and manumitted slaves. He cannot pay his guards, without plundering the temples, extorting perpetual contributions from the people, and grinding them down by severe oppression and suffering.275 Such is the government of the despot, which Euripides and other poets employ their genius in extolling.276
273 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 565-566.
274 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 567 B.
275 Plato, Republic, viii. pp. 568-569.
276 Plato, Republic, viii. p. 568 B.
Despotic individual corresponding to that city.
We have now to describe the despotic individual, the parallel of the despotised city. As the democratic individual arises from the son of an oligarchical citizen departing from the frugality of his father and contracting habits of costly indulgence: so the son of this democrat will contract desires still more immoderate and extravagant than his father, and will thus be put into training for the despotic character. He becomes intoxicated by insane appetites, which serve as seconds and auxiliaries to one despotic passion or mania, swaying his whole soul.277 To gratify such desires, he spends all his possessions, and then begins to borrow money wherever he can. That resource being exhausted, he procures additional funds by fraud or extortion; he cheats and ruins his father and mother; he resorts to plunder and violence. If such men are only a small minority, amidst citizens of better character, they live by committing crimes on the smaller scale. But if they are more numerous, they set up as a despot the most unprincipled and energetic of their number, and become his agents for the enslavement of their fellow-citizens.278 The despotic man passes his life always in the company of masters, or instruments, or flatterers: he knows neither freedom nor true friendship — nothing but the relation of master and slave. The despot is the worst and most unjust of mankind: the longer he continues despot, the worse he becomes.279
277 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 572-573 D. Ἔρως τύραννος ἔνδον οἰκῶν διακυβερνᾷ τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς ἅπαντα. 574 E-575 A: τυραννευθεὶς ὑπὸ Ἔρωτος — Ἔρως μόναρχος, &c.
278 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 574-575.
279 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 575-576.
The city has thus passed by four stages, from best to worse. Question — How are Happiness and Misery apportioned among them?
We have thus gone through the four successive depravations which our perfect city will undergo — timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, despotism. Step by step we have passed from the best to the worst — from one 83extreme to the other. As is the city, so is the individual citizen — good or bad: the despotic city is like the despotic individual, — and so about the rest. Now it remains to decide whether in each case happiness and misery is proportioned to good and evil: whether the best is the happiest, the worst the most miserable, — and so proportionally about the intermediate.280 On this point there is much difference of opinion.281
280 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 576 D.
281 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 576 C. τοῖς δὲ πολλοῖς πολλὰ καὶ δοκεῖ.
Misery of the despotised city.
If we look at the condition of the despotised city, it plainly exhibits the extreme of misery; while our model city presents the extreme of happiness. Every one in the despotised city is miserable, according to universal admission, except the despot himself with his immediate favourites and guards. To be sure, in the eyes of superficial observers, the despots with these few favourites will appear perfectly happy and enviable. But if we penetrate beyond this false exterior show, and follow him into his interior, we shall find him too not less miserable than those over whom he tyrannises.282
282 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 577 A.
Supreme Misery of the despotising individual.
What is true of the despotised city, is true also of the despotising individual.283 The best parts of his mind are under subjection to the worst: the rational mind is trampled down by the appetitive mind, with its insane and unsatisfied cravings. He is full of perpetual perturbation, anxiety, and fear; grief when he fails, repentance even after he has succeeded. Speaking of his mind as a whole, he never does what he really wishes for the rational element, which alone can ensure satisfaction to the whole mind, and guide to the attainment of his real wishes, is enslaved by furious momentary impulses.284 The man of despotical mind is thus miserable; and most of all miserable, the more completely he succeeds in subjugating his fellow-citizens and becoming a despot in reality. Knowing himself 84to be hated by everyone, he lives in constant fear of enemies within as well as enemies without, against whom he can obtain support only by courting the vilest of men as partisans.285 Though greedy of all sorts of enjoyment, he cannot venture to leave his city, or visit any of the frequented public festivals. He lives indoors like a woman, envying those who can go abroad and enjoy these spectacles.286 He is in reality the poorest and most destitute of men, having the most vehement desires, which he can never satisfy.287 Such is the despot who, not being master even of himself, becomes master of others: in reality, the most wretched of men, though he may appear happy to superficial judges who look only at external show.288
283 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 577 C-D. τὴν ὁμοιότητα ἀναμιμνησκόμενος τῆς τε πόλεως καὶ τοῦ ἀνδρός … εἰ οὖν ὅμοιος ἀνὴρ τῇ πόλει, οὐ καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῳ ἀνάγκη τὴν αὐτὴν τάξιν ἐνεῖναι; &c. Also 579 E.
284 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 577-578. Καὶ ἡ τυραννουμένη ἄρα ψυχὴ ἥκιστα ποιήσει ἃ ἂν βουλήθῃ, ὡς περὶ ὅλης εἰπεῖν ψυχῆς· ὑπὸ δὲ οἴστρου ἀεὶ ἑλκομένη βίᾳ ταραχῆς καὶ μεταμελείας μεστὴ ἔσται (557 E).
285 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 578-579.
286 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 579 C.
287 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 579 E.
288 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 579-580.
Conclusion — The Model city and the individual corresponding to it, are the happiest of all — That which is farthest removed from it, is the most miserable of all.
Thus then (concludes Sokrates) we may affirm with confidence, having reference to the five distinct cities above described — (1. The Model-City, regal or aristocratical. 2. Timocracy. 3. Oligarchy. 4. Democracy. 5. Despotism) — that the first of these is happy, and the last miserable: the three intermediate cities being more or less happy in the order which they occupy from the first to the last.
The Just Man is happy in and through his Justice, however he may be treated by others. The Unjust Man, miserable.
Each of these cities has its parallel in an individual citizen. The individual citizen corresponding to the first is happy — he who corresponds to the last is miserable: and so proportionally for the individual corresponding to the three intermediate cities. He is happy or miserable, in and through himself, or essentially; whether he be known to Gods and men or not — whatever may be the sentiment entertained of him by others.289
289 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 580 D. ἐάν τε λανθάνωσι τοιοῦτοι ὄντες ἐάν τε μὴ πάντας ἀνθρώπους τε καὶ θεούς.
There are two other lines of argument (continues Sokrates) establishing the same conclusion.
Other arguments proving the same conclusion — Pleasures of Intelligence are the best of all pleasures.
1. We have seen that both the collective city and the individual mind are distributed into three portions: Reason, Energy, Appetite. Each of these portions has its own peculiar pleasures and pains, desires 85and aversions, beginnings or principles of action: Love of Knowledge: Love of Honour: Love of Gain. If you question men in whom these three varieties of temper respectively preponderate, each of them will extol the pleasures of his own department above those belonging to the other two. The lover of wealth will declare the pleasures of acquisition and appetite to be far greater than those of honour or of knowledge: each of the other two will say the same for himself, and for the pleasures of his own department. Here then the question is opened, Which of the three is in the right? Which of the three varieties of pleasure and modes of life is the more honourable or base, the better or worse, the more pleasurable or painful?290 By what criterion, or by whose judgment, is this question to be decided? It must be decided by experience, intelligence and rational discourse.291 Now it is certain that the lover of knowledge, or the philosopher, has greater experience of all the three varieties of pleasure than is possessed by either of the other two men. He must in his younger days have tasted and tried the pleasures of both; but the other two have never tasted his.292 Moreover, each of the three acquires more or less of honour, if he succeeds in his own pursuits: accordingly the pleasures belonging to the love of honour are shared, and may be appreciated, by the philosopher; while the lover of honour as such, has no sense for the pleasures of philosophy. In the range of personal experience, therefore, the philosopher surpasses the other two: he surpasses them no less in exercised intelligence, and in rational discourse, which is his own principal instrument.293 If wealth and profit furnished the proper means of judgment, the money-lover would have been the best judge of the three: if honour and victory furnished the proper means, we should consult the lover of honour: but experience, intelligence, and rational discourse, have been shown to be the means — and therefore it is plain that the philosopher is a better authority than either of the other two. His verdict must be considered as final. He will assuredly tell us, that the pleasures belonging86 to the love of knowledge are the greatest: those belonging to the love of honour and power, the next: those belonging to the love of money and to appetite, the least.294
290 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 581.
291 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 582 A. ἐμπειρίᾳ τε καὶ φρονήσει καὶ λόγῳ.
292 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 582 B.
293 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 582 C-D. λόγοι δὲ τούτου μάλιστα ὄργανον.
294 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 582-583.
They are the only pleasures completely true and pure. Comparison of pleasure and pain with neutrality. Prevalent illusions.
2. The second argument, establishing the same conclusion, is as follows:— No pleasures, except those belonging to philosophy or the love of wisdom, are completely true and pure. All the other pleasures are mere shadowy outlines, looking like pleasure at a distance, but not really pleasures when you contemplate them closely.295 Pleasure and pain are two conditions opposite to each other. Between them both is another state, neither one nor the other, called neutrality or indifference. Now a man who has been sick and is convalescent, will tell you that nothing is more pleasurable than being in health, but that he did not know what the pleasure of it was, until he became sick. So too men in pain affirm that nothing is more pleasurable than relief from pain. When a man is grieving, it is exemption or indifference, not enjoyment, which he extols as the greatest pleasure. Again, when a man has been in a state of enjoyment, and the enjoyment ceases, this cessation is painful. We thus see that the intermediate state — cessation, neutrality, indifference — will be some times pain, sometimes pleasure, according to circumstances. Now that which is neither pleasure nor pain cannot possibly be both.296 Pleasure is a positive movement or mutation of the mind: so also is pain. Neutrality or indifference is a negative condition, intermediate between the two: no movement, but absence of movement: non-pain, non-pleasure. But non-pain is not really pleasure: non-pleasure is not really pain. When therefore neutrality or non-pain, succeeding immediately after 87pain, appears to be a pleasure — this is a mere appearance or illusion, not a reality. When neutrality or non-pleasure, succeeding immediately after pleasure, appears to be pain — this also is a mere appearance or illusion, not a reality. There is nothing sound or trustworthy in such appearances. Pleasure is not cessation of pain, but something essentially different: pain is not cessation of pleasure, but something essentially different.
295 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 583 B. οὐδὲ παναληθής ἐστιν ἑ τῶν ἄλλων ἡδονὴ πλὴν τῆς τοῦ φρονίμου, οὐδὲ καθαρά, ἀλλ’ ἐσκιαγραφημένη τις, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκῶ μοι τῶν σοφῶν τινὸς ἀκηκοέναι.
296 Plato, Republ. ix. pp. 583 E-584 A. Ὃ μεταξὺ ἄρα νῦν δὴ ἀμφοτέρων ἔφαμεν εἶναι, τὴν ἡσυχίαν, τοῦτό ποτε ἀμφότερα ἔσται, λύπη τε καὶ ἡδονή … Ἦ καὶ δυνατὸν τὸ μηδέτερα ὂν ἀμφότερα γίγνεσθαι; Οὔ μοι δοκεῖ. Καὶ μὴν τό γε ἡδὺ ἐν ψυχῇ γιγνόμενον καὶ τὸ λυπηρὸν κίνησίς τις ἀμφοτέρω ἔστον; ἢ οὔ; Ναί. Τὸ δὲ μήτε ἡδὺ μήτε λυπηρὸν οὐχὶ ἡσυχία μέντοι καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τούτων ἐφάνη ἄρτι; Ἐφάνη γάρ. Πῶς οὖν ὀρθῶς ἔστι τὸ μὴ ἀλγεῖν ἡδὺ ἡγεῖσθαι, ἢ τὸ μὴ χαίρειν ἀνιαρόν; Οὐδαμῶς. Οὐκ ἔστιν ἄρα τοῦτο, ἀλλὰ φαίνεται, παρὰ τὸ ἀλγεινὸν ἡδὺ καὶ παρὰ τὸ ἡδὺ ἀλγεινὸν τότε ἡ ἡσυχία, καὶ οὐδὲν ὑγιὲς τούτων τῶν φαντασμάτων πρὸς ἡδονῆς ἀλήθειαν, ἀλλὰ γοητεία τις.
Most men know nothing of true and pure pleasure. Simile of the Kosmos — Absolute height and depth.
Take, for example, the pleasures of smell, which are true and genuine pleasures, of great intensity: they spring up instantaneously without presupposing any anterior pain — they depart without leaving any subsequent pain.297 These are true and pure pleasures, radically different from cessation of pain: so also true and pure pains are different from cessation of pleasure. Most of the so-called pleasures, especially the more intense, which reach the mind through the body, are in reality not pleasures at all, but only cessations or reliefs from pain. The same may be said about the pleasures and pains of anticipation belonging to these so-called bodily pleasures.298 They may be represented by the following simile:— There is in nature a real Absolute Up and uppermost point — a real Absolute Down and lowest point — and a centre between them.299 A man borne from the lowest point to the centre will think himself moving upwards, and will be moving upwards relatively. If his course be stopped in the centre, he will think himself at the absolute summit — on looking to the point from which he came, and ignorant as he is of any thing higher. If he be forced to return from the centre to the point from whence he came, he will think himself moving downwards, and will be really moving downwards, absolutely as well as relatively. Such misapprehension arises from his not knowing the portion of the Kosmos above the centre — the true and absolute Up or summit. Now the case of pleasure and pain is analogous to this. Pain is the absolute lowest — Pleasure the absolute highest — non-pleasure, non-pain, the centre intermediate between them. But most men know 88nothing of the region above the centre, or the absolute highest — the region of true and pure pleasure: they know only the centre and what is below it, or the region of pain. When they fall from the centre to the point of pain, they conceive the situation truly, and they really are pained: but when they rise from the lowest point to the centre, they misconceive the change, and imagine themselves to be in a process of replenishment and acquisition of pleasure. They mistake the painless condition for pleasure, not knowing what true pleasure is: just as a man who has seen only black and not white, will fancy, if dun be shown to him, that he is looking on white.300
297 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 584 B.
298 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 584 C.
299 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 584 C. Νομίζεις τι ἐν τῇ φύσει εἶναι τὸ μὲν ἄνω, τὸ δὲ κάτω, τὸ δὲ μέσον; Ἔγωγε.
300 Plato, Republic, pp. 584 E-585 A. Οὐκοῦν ταῦτα πάσχοι ἂν πάντα διὰ τὸ μὴ ἔμπειρος εἶναι τοῦ ἀληθινῶς ἄνω τε ὄντος καὶ ἐν μέσῳ; … ὅταν μὲν ἐπὶ τὸ λυπηρὸν φέρωνται, ἀληθῆ τε οἴονται καὶ τῷ ὄντι λυποῦνται, ὅταν δὲ ἀπὸ λύπης ἐπὶ τὸ μεταξύ, σφόδρα μὲν οἴονται πρὸς πληρώσει τε καὶ ἡδονῇ γίγνεσθαι, ὥσπερ δὲ πρὸς μέλαν φαιὸν ἀποσκοποῦντες ἀπειρίᾳ λευκοῦ, καὶ πρὸς τὸ ἄλυπον οὕτω λύπην ἀφορῶντες ἀπειρίᾳ ἡδονῆς ἀπατῶνται;
Nourishment of the mind partakes more of real essence than nourishment of the body — Replenishment of the mind imparts fuller pleasure than replenishment of the body.
Hunger and thirst are states of emptiness in the body: ignorance and folly are states of emptiness in the mind. A hungry man in eating or drinking obtains replenishment: an ignorant man becoming instructed obtains replenishment also. Now replenishment derived from that which exists more fully and perfectly is truer and more real than replenishment from that which exists less fully and perfectly.301 Let us then compare the food which serves for replenishment of the body, with that which serves for replenishment of the mind. Which of the two is most existent? Which of the two partakes most of pure essence? Meat and drink — or true opinions, knowledge, intelligence, and virtue? Which of the two exists most perfectly? That which embraces the true, eternal, and unchangeable — and which is itself of similar nature? Or that which embraces the mortal, the transient, and the ever variable — being itself of kindred nature? Assuredly the former. It is clear that what is necessary for the sustenance of the body partakes less of truth and real essence, than what is necessary for the sustenance of the 89mind. The mind is replenished with nourishment more real and essential: the body with nourishment less so: the mind itself is also more real and essential than the body. The mind therefore is more, and more thoroughly, replenished than the body. Accordingly, if pleasure consists in being replenished with what suits its peculiar nature, the mind will enjoy more pleasure and truer pleasure than the body.302 Those who are destitute of intelligence and virtue, passing their lives in sensual pursuits, have never tasted any pure or lasting pleasure, nor ever carried their looks upwards to the higher region in which alone it resides. Their pleasures, though seeming intense, and raising vehement desires in their uninstructed minds, are yet only phantoms deriving a semblance of pleasure from contrast with pains:303 they are like the phantom of Helen, for which (as Stesichorus says) the Greeks and Trojans fought so many battles, knowing nothing about the true Helen, who was never in Troy.
301 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 585 B. Πλήρωσις δὲ ἀληθεστέρα τοῦ ἧττον ἢ τοῦ μᾶλλον ὄντος; Δῆλον ὅτι τοῦ μᾶλλον. Πότερα οὖν ἡγεῖ τὰ γένη μᾶλλον καθαρᾶς οὐσίας μετέχειν, τὰ οἷον σίτου καὶ ποτοῦ καὶ ὄψου καὶ ξυμπάσης τροφῆς, ἢ τὸ δόξης τε ἀληθοῦς εἶδος καὶ ἐπιστήμης καὶ νοῦ καὶ ξυλλήβδην ξυμπάσης ἀρετῆς;
302 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 585 E.
303 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 586.
Comparative worthlessness of the pleasures of Appetite and Ambition, when measured against those of Intelligence.
The pleasures belonging to the Love of Honour (Energy or Passion) are no better than those belonging to the Love of Money (Appetite). In so far as the desires belonging to both these departments of mind are under the controul of the third or best department (Love of Wisdom, or Reason), the nearest approach to true pleasure, which it is in the nature of either of them to bestow, will be realised. But in so far as either of them throws off the controul of Reason, it will neither obtain its own truest pleasures, nor allow the other departments of mind to obtain theirs.304 The desires connected with love, and with despotic power, stand out more than the others, as recusant to Reason. Law, and Regulation. The kingly and moderate desires are most obedient to this authority. The lover and the despot, therefore, will enjoy the least pleasure: the kindly-minded man will enjoy the most. Of the three sorts of pleasure, one true and legitimate, two bastard, the despot goes most away from the legitimate, and to the farthest limit of the bastard. His condition is the most miserable, that of the kingly-minded man is the happiest: between the two come the oligarchical90 and the democratical man. The difference between the two extremes is as 1: 729.305
304 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 586-587.
305 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 587 E.
The Just Man will be happy from his justice — He will look only to the good order of his own mind — He will stand aloof from public affairs, in cities as now constituted.
I have thus refuted (continues Sokrates) the case of those who contend — That the unjust man is a gainer by his injustice, provided he could carry it on successfully, and with the reputation of being just. I have shown that injustice is the greatest possible mischief, intrinsically and in itself, apart from consequences and apart from public reputation: inasmuch as it enslaves the better part of the mind to the worse. Justice, on the other hand, is the greatest possible good, intrinsically and in itself, apart from consequences and reputation, because it keeps the worse parts of the mind under due controul and subordination to the better.306 Vice and infirmity of every kind is pernicious, because it puts the best parts of the mind under subjection to the worst.307 No success in the acquisition of wealth, aggrandisement, or any other undue object, can compensate a man for the internal disorder which he introduces into his own mind by becoming unjust. A well-ordered mind, just and temperate, with the better part governing the worse, is the first of all objects: greater even than a healthy, strong, and beautiful body.308 To put his mind into this condition, and to acquire all the knowledge thereunto conducing, will be the purpose of a wise man’s life. Even in the management of his body, he will look not so much to the health and strength of his body, as to the harmony and fit regulation of his mind. In the acquisition of money, he will keep the same end in view: he will not be tempted by the admiration and envy of people around him to seek great wealth, which will disturb the mental polity within him:309 he will, on the other hand, avoid depressing poverty, which might produce the same effect. He will take as little part as possible in public life, and will aspire to no political honours, in cities as at present constituted91 — nor in any other than the model-city which we have described.310
306 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 588-589.
307 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 590 B-C.
308 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 591 B.
309 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 591 D-E. καὶ τὸν ὄγκον τοῦ πλήθους οὐκ, ἐκπληττόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ τῶν πολλῶν μακαρισμοῦ, ἄπειρον αὐξήσει, ἀπέραντα κακὰ ἔχων … Ἀλλ’ ἀποβλέπων γε, πρὸς τὴν ἐν αὑτῷ πολιτείαν, καὶ φυλάττων μή τι παρακινῇ αὐτοῦ τῶν ἐκεῖ διὰ πλῆθος οὐσίας ἢ δι’ ὀλιγότητα, οὕτω κυβερνῶν προσθήσει καὶ ἀναλώσει τῆς οὐσίας, καθ’ ὅσον ἂν οἷός τ’ ᾖ.
310 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 592.
Tenth Book — Censure of the poets is renewed — Mischiefs of imitation generally, as deceptive — Imitation from imitation.
The tenth and last book of the Republic commences with an argument of considerable length, repeating and confirming by farther reasons the sentence of expulsion which Plato had already pronounced against the poets in his second and third books.311 The Platonic Sokrates here not only animadverts upon poetry, but extends his disapprobation to other imitative arts, such as painting. He attacks the process of imitation generally, as false and deceptive; pleasing to ignorant people, but perverting their minds by phantasms which they mistake for realities. The work of the imitator is not merely not reality, but is removed from it by two degrees. What is real is the Form or Idea: the one conceived object denoted by each appellative name common to many particulars. There is one Form or Idea, and only one, known by the name of Bed; another by the name of Table.312 When the carpenter constructs a bed or a table, he fixes his contemplation on this Form or Idea, and tries to copy it. What he constructs, however, is not the true, real, existent, table, which alone exists in nature, and may be presumed to be made by the Gods313 — but a something like the real existent table: not true Ens, but only quasi-Ens:314 dim and indistinct, as compared with the truth, and standing far off from the truth. Next to the carpenter comes the painter, who copies not the real existent table, but the copy of that table made by the carpenter. The painter fixes his contemplation upon it, not as it really exists, but simply as it appears: he copies an appearance or phantasm, not a reality. Thus the table will have a different appearance, according as you look at it from near or far — from one side or the other: yet in reality it never 92differs from itself. It is one of these appearances that the painter copies, not the reality itself. He can in like manner paint any thing and every thing, since he hardly touches any thing at all — and nothing whatever except in appearance. He can paint all sorts of craftsmen and their works — carpenters, shoemakers, &c. without knowledge of any one of their arts.315
311 Plato, Republic, x. p. 607 B. The language here used by Plato seems to imply that his opinions adverse to poetry had been attacked and required defence.
312 Plato, Republic, x. p. 596 A-B. Βούλει οὖν ἔνθενδε ἀρξώμεθα ἐπισκοπούντες, ἐκ τῆς εἰωθυίας μεθόδου; εἶδος γάρ πού τι ἓν ἕκαστον εἰώθαμεν τίθεσθαι περὶ ἕκαστα τὰ πολλά, οἷς ταὐτὸν ὄνομα ἐπιφέρομεν … θῶμεν δὴ καὶ νῦν ὅτι βούλει τῶν πολλῶν· οἷον, εἰ θέλεις πολλαί πού εἰσι κλῖναι καὶ τράπεζαι … Ἀλλ’ ἰδέαι γέ που περὶ ταῦτα τὰ σκεύη δύο, μία μὲν κλίνης, μία δὲ τραπέζης.
313 Plato, Republic, x. p. 597 B-D. 597 B: μία μὲν ἡ ἐν τῇ φύσει οὖσα, ἣν φαῖμεν ἄν, ὡς ἐγῷμαι, θεὸν ἐργάσασθαι.
314 Plato, Republic, x. p. 597 A. οὐκ ἂν τὸ ὂν ποιοῖ, ἀλλά τι τοιοῦτον οἷον τὸ ὄν, ὂν δὲ οὔ.
315 Plato, Republic, x. p. 598 B-C.
Censure of Homer — He is falsely extolled as educator of the Hellenic world. He and other poets only deceive their hearers.
The like is true also of the poets. Homer and the tragedians give us talk and affirmations about everything: government, legislation, war, medicine, husbandry, the character and proceedings of the Gods, the habits and training of men, &c. Some persons even extol Homer as the great educator of the Hellenic world, whose poems we ought to learn by heart as guides for education and administration.316 But Homer, Hesiod, and the other poets, had no real knowledge of the multifarious matters which they profess to describe. These poets know nothing except about appearances, and will describe only appearances, to the satisfaction of the ignorant multitude.317 The representations of the painter, reproducing only the appearances to sense, will be constantly fallacious and deceptive, requiring to be corrected by measuring, weighing, counting — which are processes belonging to Reason.318 The lower and the higher parts of the mind are here at variance; and the painter addresses himself to the lower, supplying falsehood as if it were truth. The painter does this through the eye, the poet through the ear.319
316 Plato, Republic, p. 606 E.
317 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 600-601 C. 601 B: τοῦ μὲν ὄντος οὐδὲν ἐπαΐει, τοῦ δὲ φαινομένου. 602 B: οἷον φαίνεται καλὸν εἶναι τοῖς πολλοῖς τε καὶ μηδὲν εἰδόσι, τοῦτο μιμήσεται.
318 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 602-603.
319 Plato, Republic, x. p. 603 B.
The poet chiefly appeals to emotions — Mischiefs of such eloquent appeals, as disturbing the rational government of the mind.
In the various acts and situations of life a man is full of contradictions. He is swayed by manifold impulses, often directly contradicting each other. Hence we have affirmed that there are in his mind two distinct principles, one contradicting the other: the emotional and the rational.320 When a man suffers misfortune, emotion prompts him to indulge in extreme grief, 93and to abandon himself like a child to the momentary tide. Reason, on the contrary, exhorts him to resist, and to exert himself immediately in counsel to rectify or alleviate what has happened, adapting his conduct as well as he can to the actual throw of the dice which has befallen him.321 Now it is these vehement bursts of emotion which lend themselves most effectively to the genius of the poet, and which he must work up to please the multitude in the theatre: the state of rational self-command can hardly be described so as to touch their feelings. We see thus that the poet, like the painter, addresses himself to the lower department of the mind, exalting the emotional into preponderance over the rational — the foolish over the wise — the false over the true.322 He introduces bad government into the mind, giving to pleasure and pain the sceptre over reason. Hence we cannot tolerate the poet, in spite of all his sweets and captivations. We can only permit him to compose hymns for the Gods and encomiums for good men.323
320 Plato, Republic, x. p. 603 D. μυρίων τοιούτων ἐναντιωμάτων ἅμα γιγνομένων ἡ ψυχὴ γέμει ἡμῶν … 604 B: ἐναντίας δὲ ἀγωγῆς γιγνομένης ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ περὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἅμα δύο τινέ φαμεν ἐν αὐτῷ ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι.
321 Plato, Republic, x. p. 604 C. Τῷ βουλεύεσθαι περὶ τὸ γεγονὸς καὶ ὥσπερ ἐν πτώσει κύβων πρὸς τὰ πεπτωκότα τίθεσθαι τὰ αὐτοῦ πράγματα, ὅπῃ ὁ λόγος αἱρεῖ βέλτιστ’ ἂν ἔχειν, ἀλλὰ μὴ προσπταίσαντας, καθάπερ παῖδας, ἐχομένους τοῦ πληγέντος ἐν τῷ βοᾶν διατρίβειν, &c.
322 Plato, Republic, x. p. 605.
323 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 605-606-607. 605 B: τὸν μιμητικὸν ποιητὴν φήσομεν κακὴν πολιτείαν ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστου τῇ ψυχῇ ἐμποιεῖν, τῷ ἀνοήτῳ αὐτής χαριζόμενον … 607 A: εἰ δὲ τὴν ἡδυσμένην μοῦσαν παραδέξει ἐν μέλεσιν ἢ ἔπεσιν, ἡδονή σοι καὶ λύπη βασιλεύσετον ἀντὶ νόμου τε καὶ τοῦ κοινῇ ἀεὶ δόξαντος εἶναι βελτίστου λόγου.
Ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry — Plato fights for philosophy, though his feelings are strongly enlisted for poetry.
This quarrel between philosophy and poetry (continues the Platonic Sokrates) is of ancient date.324 I myself am very sensible to the charms of poetry, especially that of Homer. I should be delighted if a case could be made out to justify me in admitting it into our city. But I cannot betray the cause of what seems to me truth. We must resist our sympathies and preferences, when they are incompatible with the right government of the mind.325
324 Plato, Republic, x. p. 607 B. παλαιά τις διαφορὰ φιλοσοφίᾳ τε καὶ ποιητικῇ.
325 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 607-608.
Immortality of the soul affirmed and sustained by argument — Total number of souls always the same.
To maintain the right government and good condition of the soul or mind, is the first of all considerations: and will be seen yet farther to be such, when we consider that it is immortal and imperishable. Of this Plato proceeds to give a proof,326 concluding with a mythical 94sketch of the destiny of the soul after death. The soul being immortal (he says), the total number of souls is and always has been the same — neither increasing nor diminishing.327
326 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 609-610.
327 Plato, Republic, x. p. 611 A.
Recapitulation — The Just Man will be happy, both from his justice and from its consequences, both here and hereafter.
I have proved (the Platonic Sokrates concludes) in the preceding discourse, that Justice is better, in itself and intrinsically, than Injustice, quite apart from consequences in the way of reward and honour; that a man for the sake of his own happiness, ought to be just, whatever may be thought of him by Gods or men — even though he possessed the magic ring of Gyges. Having proved this, and having made out the intrinsic superiority of justice to injustice, we may now take in the natural consequences and collateral bearings of both. We have hitherto reasoned upon the hypothesis that the just man was mistaken for unjust, and treated accordingly — that the unjust man found means to pass himself off for just, and to attract to himself the esteem and the rewards of justice. But this hypothesis concedes too much, and we must now take back the concession. The just man will be happier than the unjust, not simply from the intrinsic working of justice on his own mind, but also from the exterior consequences of justice.328 He will be favoured and rewarded both by Gods and men. Though he may be in poverty, sickness, or any other apparent state of evil, he may be assured that the Gods will compensate him for it by happiness either in life or after death.329 And men too, though they may for a time be mistaken about the just and the unjust character, will at last come to a right estimation of both. The just man will finally receive honour, reward, and power, from his fellow-citizens: the unjust man will be finally degraded and punished by them.330 And after death, the reward of the just man, as well as the punishment of the unjust, will be far greater than even during life.
328 Plato, Republic, x. p. 612 B-C.
329 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 612-613.
330 Plato, Republic, x. p. 613 C-D.
This latter position is illustrated at some length by the mythe with which the Republic concludes, describing the realm of Hades, with the posthumous condition and treatment of the departed souls.
Summary of the preceding chapter.
The preceding Chapter has described, in concise abstract, that splendid monument of Plato’s genius, which passes under the name of the Πολιτεία or Republic. It is undoubtedly the grandest of all his compositions; including in itself all his different points of excellence. In the first Book, we have a subtle specimen of negative Dialectic, — of the Sokratic cross-examination or Elenchus. In the second Book, we find two examples of continuous or Ciceronian pleading (like that ascribed to Protagoras in the dialogue called by his name), which are surpassed by nothing in ancient literature, for acuteness and ability in the statement of a case. Next, we are introduced to Plato’s most sublime effort of constructive ingenuity, in putting together both the individual man and the collective City: together with more information (imperfect as it is even here) about his Dialectic or Philosophy, than any other dialogue furnishes. The ninth Book exhibits his attempts to make good his own thesis against the case set forth in his own antecedent counter-pleadings. The last Book concludes with a highly poetical mythe, embodying a Νεκυία shaped after his own fancy, — and the outline of cosmical agencies afterwards developed, though with many differences, in the Timæus. The brilliancy of the Republic will appear all the more conspicuous, when we come to compare it with Plato’s two posterior compositions: with the Pythagorean mysticism and theology of the Timæus — or with the severe and dictatorial solemnity of the Treatise De Legibus.
Title of the Republic, of ancient date, but only a partial indication of its contents.
The title borne by this dialogue — the Republic or Polity — 96whether affixed by Plato himself or not, dates at least from his immediate disciples, Aristotle among them.1 This title hardly presents a clear idea either of its proclaimed purpose or of its total contents.
1 See Schleiermacher, Einl. zum Staat, p. 63 seq.; Stallbaum, Proleg. p. lviii. seq.
The larger portion of the treatise is doubtless employed in expounding the generation of a commonwealth generally: from whence the author passes insensibly to the delineation of a Model-Commonwealth — enumerating the conditions of aptitude for its governors and guardian-soldiers, estimating the obstacles which prevent it from appearing in the full type of goodness — and pointing out the steps whereby, even if fully realised, it is likely to be brought to perversion and degeneracy. Nevertheless the avowed purpose of the treatise is, not to depict the ideal of a commonwealth, but to solve the questions, What is Justice? What is Injustice? Does Justice, in itself and by its own intrinsic working, make the just man happy, apart from all consequences, even though he is not known to be just, and is even treated as unjust, either by Gods or men? Does Injustice, under the like hypothesis, (i.e. leaving out all consideration of consequences either from Gods or from men), make the unjust man miserable? The reasonings respecting the best polity, are means to this end — intermediate steps to the settlement of this problem. We must recollect that Plato insists strongly on the parallelism between the individual and the state: he talks of “the polity” or Republic in each man’s mind, as of that in the entire city.2
2 Plato, Repub. ix. p. 591 E. ἀποβλέπων πρὸς τὴν ἐν αὑτῷ πολιτείαν. x. p. 608 B: περὶ τῆς ἐν αὑτῷ πολιτείας δεδιότι, &c.
The Republic, or Commonwealth, is introduced by Plato as being the individual man “writ large,” and therefore more clearly discernible and legible to an observer.3 To illustrate the individual man, he begins by describing (to use Hobbes’s language) the great Leviathan called a “Commonwealth or State, in Latin Civitas, which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defence 97it was intended”.4 He pursues in much detail this parallel between the individual and the commonwealth, as well as between the component parts and forces of the one, and those of the other. The perfection of the commonwealth (he represents) consists in its being One:5 an integer or unit, of which the constituent individuals are merely functions, each having only a fractional, dependent, relative existence. As the commonwealth is an individual on a large scale, so the individual is a commonwealth on a small scale; in which the constituent fractions, Reason, — Energy or Courage, — and many-headed Appetite, — act each for itself and oppose each other. It is the tendency of Plato’s imagination to bestow vivid reality on abstractions, and to reason upon metaphorical analogy as if it were close parallelism. His language exaggerates both the unity of the commonwealth, and the partibility of the individual, in illustrating the one by comparison with the other. The commonwealth is treated as capable of happiness or misery as an entire Person, apart from its component individuals:6 while on the other hand, Reason, Energy, Appetite, are described as distinct and conflicting Persons, packed up in the same wrapper and therefore looking like One from the outside, yet really distinct, each acting and suffering by and for itself: like the charioteer and his two horses, which form the conspicuous metaphor in the Phædrus.7 We are thus told, that though the man is apparently One, he is in reality Many or multipartite: though the perfect Commonwealth is apparently Many, it is in reality One.
3 Plato, Repub. ii. p. 368 D.
“New presbyter is but old priest writ large.” — (Milton.)
4 This is the language of Hobbes. Preface to the Leviathan. In the same treatise (Part ii. ch. 17, pp. 157-158, Molesworth’s edition) Hobbes says:— “The only way to erect such a common power as may be able to defend men from the invasion of foreigners and the injury of one another, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man or one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills by plurality of voices to one will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one man or assembly of men to bear their person. This is more than consent or concord: it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person, made by covenant of every man with every man. This done, the multitude so united in one person, is called a Commonwealth, in Latin Civitas. This is the generation of that great Leviathan,” &c.
5 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 423.
6 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 420-421.
7 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 588, x. p. 604, iv. pp. 436-441. ix. p. 588 E: ὥστε τῷ μὴ δυναμένῳ τὰ ἐντὸς ὁρᾷν, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἔξω μόνον ἔλυτρον ὁρῶντι, ἓν ζῶον φαίνεσθαι, ἄνθρωπον.
Each of them a whole, composed of parts distinct in function and unequal in merit.
Of the parts composing a man, as well as of the parts composing a commonwealth, some are better, others worse. A few are good and excellent; the greater number 98are low and bad; while there are intermediate gradations between the two. The perfection of a commonwealth, and the perfection of an individual man, is attained when each part performs its own appropriate function and no more, — not interfering with the rest. In the commonwealth there are a small number of wise Elders or philosophers, whose appropriate function it is to look out for the good or happiness of the whole; and to controul the ordinary commonplace multitude, with a view to that end. Each of the multitude has his own special duty or aptitude, to which he confines himself, and which he executes in subordination to the wise or governing Few. And to ensure such subordination, there are an intermediate number of trained, or disciplined Guardians; who employ their force under the orders of the ruling Few, to controul the multitude within, as well as to repel enemies without. So too in the perfect man. Reason is the small but excellent organ whose appropriate function is, to controul the multitude of desires and to watch over the good of the whole: the function of Energy or Courage is, while itself obeying the Reason, to assist Reason in maintaining this controul over the Desires: the function of each several desire is to obey, pursuing its own special end in due harmony with the rest.
End proposed by Plato. Happiness of the Commonwealth. Happiness of the individual. Conditions of happiness.
The End to be accomplished, and with reference to which Plato tests the perfection of the means, is, the happiness of the entire commonwealth, — the happiness of the entire individual man. In order to be happy, a commonwealth or an individual man must be at once wise, brave, temperate, just. There is however this difference between the four qualities. Though all four are essential, yet wisdom and bravery belong only to separate fractions of the commonwealth and separate fractions of the individual: while justice and temperance belong equally to all the fractions of the commonwealth and all the fractions of the individual. In the perfect commonwealth, Wisdom or Reason is found only in the One or Few Ruling Elders:— Energy or Courage only in the Soldiers or Guardians: but Elders, Guardians, and the working multitude, alike exhibit Justice and Temperance. All are just, inasmuch as each performs his 99appropriate business: all are temperate, inasmuch as all agree in recognising what is the appropriate business of each fraction — that of the Elders is, to rule — that of the others is, to obey. So too the individual: he is wise only in his Reason, brave only in his Energy or Courage: but he is just and temperate in his Reason, Courage, and Appetites alike — each of these Fractions acting in its own sphere under proper relations to the rest. In fact, according to the definitions given by Plato in the Republic, justice and temperance are scarce at all distinguishable from each other — and must at any rate be inseparable.
Peculiar view of Justice taken by Plato.
Now in regard to the definition here given by Plato of Justice, which is the avowed object of his Treatise, we may first remark that it is altogether peculiar to Plato; and that if we reason about Justice in the Platonic sense, we must take care not to affirm of it predicates which might be true in a more usual acceptation of the word. Next, that even adopting Plato’s own meaning of Justice, it does not answer the purpose for which he produces it — viz.: to provide reply to the objections, and solution for the difficulties, which he had himself placed in the mouths of Glaukon and Adeimantus.
Pleadings of Glaukon and Adeimantus.
These two speakers (in the second Book) have advanced the position (which they affirm to be held by every one, past and present) — That justice is a good thing or a cause of happiness to the just agent — not in itself or separately, since the performance of just acts is more or less onerous and sometimes painful, presenting itself in the aspect of an obligation, but — because of its consequences, as being indispensable to procure for him some ulterior good, such as esteem and just treatment from others. Sokrates on the other hand declares justice to be good, or a cause of happiness, to the just agent, most of all in itself — but also, additionally, in its consequences: and injustice to be bad, or a cause of misery to the unjust agent, on both grounds also.
Suppose (we have seen it urged by Glaukon and Adeimantus) that a man is just, but is mis-esteemed by the society among whom he lives, and believed to be unjust. He will certainly be hated and ill-used by others, and may be ill-used 100to the greatest possible extent — impoverishment, scourging, torture, crucifixion. Again, suppose a man to be unjust, but to be in like manner misconceived, and treated as if he were just. He will receive from others golden opinions, just dealing, and goodwill, producing to him comfortable consequences: and he will obtain, besides, the profits of injustice. Evidently, under these supposed circumstances, the just man will be miserable, in spite of his justice: the unjust man will, to say the least, be the happier of the two.
Moreover (so argues Glaukon), all fathers exhort their sons to be just, and forbid them to be unjust, admitting that justice is a troublesome obligation, but insisting upon it as indispensable to avert evil consequences and procure good. So also poets and teachers. All of them assume that justice is not inviting for itself, but only by reason of its consequences: and that injustice is in itself easy and inviting, were it not for mischievous consequences and penalties more than countervailing the temptation. All of them either anticipate, or seek to provide, penalties to be inflicted in case the agent commits injustice, and not to be inflicted if he continues just: so that the treatment which he receives afterwards shall be favourable, or severe, conditional upon his own conduct. Such treatment may emanate either from Gods or from men: but in either case, it is assumed that the agent shall be known, or shall seem, to be what he really is: that the unjust agent shall seem, or be known, to be unjust — and that the just shall seem also to be what he is.
The arguments which they enforce were not invented by the Sophists, but were the received views anterior to Plato.
It is against this doctrine that the Platonic Sokrates in the Republic professes to contend. To refute it, he sets forth his own explanation, wherein justice consists. How far, or with what qualifications, the Sophists inculcated the doctrine (as various commentators tell us) we do not know. But Plato himself informs us that it was current and received in society, before Protagoras and Prodikus were born: taught by parents to their children, and by poets in their compositions generally circulated.8 Moreover, Sokrates himself (in the Platonic Apology) recommends 101virtue on the ground of its remunerative consequences to the agent in the shape of wealth and other good things.9 Again, the Xenophontic Sokrates, as well as Xenophon himself, agree in the same general doctrine: presenting virtue as laborious and troublesome in itself, but as being fully requited by its remunerative consequences in the form of esteem and honour, to the attainment of which it is indispensable. In the memorable Choice of Heraklês, that youth is represented as choosing a life of toil and painful self-denial, crowned ultimately by the attainment of honourable and beneficial results — in preference to a life of easy and inactive enjoyment.10
8 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 363-364.
9 Plato, Apolog. Sokrat. p. 30 B.
λέγων ὅτι οὐκ ἐκ χρημάτων ἀρετὴ γίγνεται, ἀλλ’ ἐξ ἀρετῆς χρήματα καὶ τἄλλα ἀγαθὰ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἅπαντα καὶ ἰδία καὶ δημοσίᾳ.
Xenophon in the Cyropædia puts the following language into the mouth of the hero Cyrus, in addressing his officers (Cyrop. i. 5, 9). Καίτοι ἔγωγε οἶμαι, οὐδεμίαν ἀρετὴν ἀσκεῖσθαι ὑπ’ ἀνθρώπων, ὡς μηδὲν πλέον ἔχωσιν οἱ ἐσθλοὶ γενόμενοι τῶν πονηρῶν· ἀλλ’ οἵ τε τῶν παραυτίκα ἡδονῶν ἀπεχόμενοι, οὔχ ἵνα μηδέποτε εὐφρανθῶσι, τοῦτο πράττουσιν, ἀλλ’ ὡς διὰ ταύτην τὴν ἐγκράτειαν πολλαπλάσια εἰς τὸν ἔπειτα χρόνον εὐφρανούμενοι, οὕτω παρασκευάζονται, &c.
The love of praise is represented as the prominent motive of Cyrus to the practice of virtue (i. 5, 12, i. 2, 1).
Compare also Xenophon, Cyropæd. ii. 3, 5-15, vii. 5, 82, and Xenophon, Economic. xiv. 5-9; Xenophon, De Venatione, xii. 15-19.
10 Xenophon, Memorab. ii. 1, 19-20, &c. We read in the ‘Works and Days’ of Hesiod, 287:—
Τὴν μέν τοι κακότητα καὶ ἰλαδὸν ἔστιν ἐλέσθαι
Ῥηϊδίως· λείη μὲν ὁδός, μάλα δ’ ἐγγύθι ναίει.
Τῆς δ’ ἀρετῆς ἱδρῶτα θεοὶ προπάροιθεν ἔθηκαν
Ἀθάνατοι· μακρὸς δὲ καὶ ὄρθιος οἶμος ἐπ’ αὐτήν,
Καὶ τρῆχυς τοπρῶτον· ἐπὴν δ’ εἰς ἄκρον ἵκηαι,
Ῥηϊδίη δ’ ἠπειτα πέλει, χαλεπή περ ἐοῦσα.
It is remarkable that while the Xenophontic Sokrates cites these verses from Hesiod as illustrating and enforcing the drift of his exhortation, the Platonic Sokrates cites them as misleading, and as a specimen of the hurtful errors instilled by the poets (Republic, ii. p. 364 D).
We see thus that the doctrine which the Platonic Sokrates impugns in the Republic, is countenanced elsewhere by Sokratic authority. It is, in my judgment, more true than that which he opposes to it. The exhortations and orders of parents to their children, which he condemns — were founded upon views of fact and reality more correct than those which the Sokrates of the Republic would substitute in place of them.
Argument of Sokrates to refute them. Sentiments in which it originates. Panegyric on Justice.
Let us note the sentiment in which Plato’s creed here originates. He desires, above every thing, to stand forward as the champion and panegyrist of justice — as the enemy and denouncer of injustice. To praise justice, not in itself, but for its consequences 102 — and to blame injustice in like manner — appears to him disparaging and insulting to justice.11 He is not satisfied with showing that the just man benefits others by his justice, and that the unjust man hurts others by his injustice: he admits nothing into his calculation, except happiness or misery to the agent himself: and happiness, moreover, inherent in the process of just behaviour — misery inherent in the process of unjust behaviour — whatever be the treatment which the agent may receive from either Gods or men. Justice per se (affirms Plato) is the cause of happiness to the just agent, absolutely and unconditionally: injustice, in like manner, of misery to the unjust — quand même — whatever the consequences may be either from men or Gods. This is the extreme strain of panegyric suggested by Plato’s feeling, and announced as a conclusion substantiated by his reasons. Nothing more thoroughgoing can be advanced in eulogy of justice. “Neither the eastern star nor the western star is so admirable” — to borrow a phrase from Aristotle.12
11 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 368 B-C. δέδοικα γὰρ μὴ οὐδ’ ὅσιον ᾖ παραγενόμενον δικαιοσύνῃ κακηγορουμένῃ ἀπαγορεύειν καὶ μὴ βοηθεῖν, &c.
12 Aristot. Ethic. Nikom. v. 3 (1), 1129, b. 28. οὔθ’ ἕσπερος οὔθ’ ἑῷος οὕτω θαυμαστός.
Plato is here the first proclaimer of the doctrine afterwards so much insisted on by the Stoics — the all-sufficiency of virtue to the happiness of the virtuous agent, whatever may be his fate in other respects — without requiring any farther conditions or adjuncts. It will be seen that Plato maintains this thesis with reference to the terms justice and its opposite injustice; sometimes (though not often) using the general term virtue or wisdom, which was the ordinary term with the Stoics afterwards.
Different senses of justice — wider and narrower sense.
The ambiguous meaning of the word justice is known to Plato himself (as it is also to Aristotle). One professed purpose of the dialogue called the Republic is to remove such ambiguity. Apart from the many other differences of meaning (arising from dissentient sentiments of different men and different ages), there is one duplicity of meaning which Aristotle particularly dwells upon.13 In the stricter and narrower sense, justice comprehends 103only those obligations which each individual agent owes to others, and for the omission of which he becomes punishable as unjust — though the performance of them, under ordinary circumstances, carries little positive merit: in another and a larger sense, justice comprehends these and a great deal more, becoming co-extensive with wise, virtuous, and meritorious character generally. The narrower sense is that which is in more common use; and it is that which Plato assumes provisionally when he puts forward the case of opponents in the speeches of Glaukon and Adeimantus. But when he comes to set forth his own explanation, and to draw up his own case, we see that he uses the term justice in its larger sense, as the condition of a mind perfectly well-balanced and well-regulated: as if a man could not be just, without being at the same time wise, courageous, and temperate. The just man described in the counter-pleadings of Glaukon and Adeimantus, would be a person like the Athenian Aristeides: the unjust man whom they contrast with him, would be one who maltreats, plunders, or deceives others, or usurps power over them. But the just man, when Sokrates replies to them and unfolds his own thesis, is made to include a great deal more: he is a person in whose mind each of the three constituent elements is in proper relation of controul or obedience to the others, so that the whole mind is perfect: a person whose Reason, being illuminated by contemplation of the Universals or self-existent Ideas of Goodness, Justice, Virtue, has become qualified to exercise controul over the two inferior elements: one of which (Energy) is its willing subordinate and auxiliary — while the lowest of the three (Appetite) is kept in regulation by the joint action of the two. The just man, so described, becomes identical with the true philosopher: no man who is not a philosopher 104can be just.14 Aristeides would not at all correspond to the Platonic ideal of justice. He would be a stranger to the pleasure extolled by Plato as the exclusive privilege of the just and virtuous — the pleasure of contemplating universal Ideas and acquiring extended knowledge.15
13 Aristotel. Eth. Nikom. v. 2 (1), 1129, a. 25. ἔοικε δὲ πλεοναχῶς λέγεσθαι ἡ δικαιοσύνη καὶ ἡ ἀδικία.
Also v. 3 (1), 1130, a. 3. διὰ δὲ τὸ αὐτὸ τοῦτο καὶ ἀλλότριον ἀγαθὸν δοκεῖ εἶναι ἡ δικαιοσύνη, μόνη τῶν ἀρετῶν, ὅτι πρὸς ἕτερον ἐστιν· ἄλλῳ γὰρ τὰ συμφέροντα πράττει, ἢ ἄρχοντι ἢ κοινῷ.
This proposition — that justice is ἀλλότριον ἀγαθόν — is the very proposition which Thrasymachus is introduced as affirming and Sokrates as combating, in the first book of the Republic.
Compare also Aristotle’s Ethica Magna, i. 34, p. 1193, b. 19, where the same explanation of justice is given: also p. 1194, a. 7, where the Republic of Plato is cited, and the principle of reciprocity, as laid down at the end of the second book of the Republic, is repeated. We read in a fragment of the lost treatise of Cicero, De Republicâ (iii. 6, 7):— “Justitia foras spectat, et projecta tota est atque eminet. — Quæ virtus, præter cæteras, tota se ad alienas porrigit utilitates atque explicat.”
14 This is the same distinction as that drawn by Epiktetus between the φιλόσοφος and the ἰδιώτης (Arrian, Epiktet. iii. 19). An ἰδιώτης may be just in the ordinary meaning of the word. Aristeides was an ἰδιώτης. The Greek word ἰδιώτης, designating the ordinary average citizen, as distinguished from any special or professional training, is highly convenient.
15 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 582 C. τῆς δὲ τοῦ ὄντος θέας, οἵαν ἡδονὴν ἔχει, ἀδύνατον ἄλλῳ γεγεῦσθαι πλὴν τῷ φιλοσόφῳ.
Plato’s sense of the word Justice or Virtue — self-regarding.
The Platonic conception of justice or Virtue on the one side, and of Injustice or Vice on the other, is self-regarding and prudential. Justice is in the mind a condition analogous to good health and strength in the body — (mens sana in corpore sano) — Injustice is a condition analogous to sickness, corruption, impotence, in the body.16 The body is healthy, when each of its constituent parts performs its appropriate function: it is unhealthy, when there is failure in this respect, either defective working of any part, or interference of one part with the rest. So too in the just mind, each of its tripartite constituents performs its appropriate function — the rational mind directing and controuling, the energetic and appetitive minds obeying such controul. In the unjust mind, the case is opposite: Reason exercises no supremacy: Passion and Appetite, acting each for itself, are disorderly, reckless, exorbitant. To possess a healthy body is desirable for its consequences as a means towards other constituents of happiness; but it is still more desirable in itself, as an essential element of happiness per se, i.e., the negation of sickness, which would of itself make us miserable. On the other hand, an unhealthy or corrupt body is miserable by reason of its consequences, but still more miserable per se, even apart from consequences. In like manner, the just mind blesses the possessor twice: first and chiefly, as bringing to him happiness in itself — next also, as it leads to ulterior happy results:17 the unjust mind is a curse to its possessor in itself, and apart from results — though 105it also leads to ulterior results which render it still more a curse to him.
16 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 591 B, iv. p. 444 E.
17 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 367 C. ἐπειδὴ οὖν ὡμολόγησας τῶν μεγίστων ἀγαθῶν εἶναι δικαιοσύνην, ἃ τῶν τε ἀποβαινόντων ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἕνεκα ἄξια κεκτῆσθαι, πολὺ δὲ μᾶλλον αὐτὰ αὑτῶν, &c.
This theory respecting justice and injustice was first introduced into ethical speculation by Plato. He tells us himself (throughout the speeches ascribed to Glaukon and Adeimantus), that no one before him had announced it: that all with one accord18 — both the poets in addressing an audience, and private citizens in exhorting their children — inculcated a different doctrine, enforcing justice as an onerous duty, and not as a self-recommending process: that he was the first who extolled justice in itself, as conferring happiness on the just agent, apart from all reciprocity or recognition either by men or Gods — and the first who condemned injustice in itself, as inflicting misery on the unjust agent, independent of any recognition by others. Here then we have the first introduction of this theory into ethical speculation. Injustice is an internal taint, corruption of mind, which (like bad bodily health) is in itself misery to the agent, however he may be judged or treated by men or Gods; and justice is (like good bodily health) a state of internal happiness to the agent, independent of all recognition and responsive treatment from others.
18 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 364 A. πάντες ἐξ ἑνὸς στόματος ὑμνοῦσιν, &c. Also p. 366 D.
He represents the motives to it, as arising from the internal happiness of the just agents.
The Platonic theory, or something substantially equivalent to it under various forms of words, has been ever since upheld by various ethical theorists, from the time of Plato downward.19 Every one would be glad if it could be made out as true: Glaukon and Adeimantus are already enlisted in its favour, and only demand from Sokrates a decent justification for their belief. Moreover, those who deny its truth incur the reproach of being deficient in love of virtue or in hatred of vice. What is still more remarkable — Plato has been complimented as if his theory had been the first antithesis to what is called the 106“selfish theory of morals” — a compliment which is certainly noway merited: for Plato’s theory is essentially self-regarding.20 He does not indeed lay his main stress on the retribution and punishments which follow injustice, because he represents injustice as being itself a state of misery to the unjust agent: nor upon the rewards attached to justice, because he represents justice itself as a state of intrinsic happiness to the just agent. Nevertheless the motive to performance of justice, and to avoidance of injustice, is derived in his theory (as it is in what is called the selfish theory) entirely from the happiness or misery of the agent himself. The just man is not called upon for any self-denial or self-sacrifice, since by the mere fact of being just, he acquires a large amount of happiness: it is the unjust man who, from ignorance or perversion, sacrifices that happiness which just behaviour would have ensured to him. Thus the Platonic theory is entirely self-regarding; looking to the conduct of each separate agent as it affects his own happiness, not as it affects the happiness of others.
19 It will be found maintained by Shaftesbury and Hutcheson and impugned by Rutherford in his Essay on Virtue: also advocated by Sir James Mackintosh in his Dissertation on Ethical Philosophy, prefixed to the Encyclopædia Britannica; and controverted, or rather reduced to its proper limits, by Mr. James Mill, in his very acute and philosophical volume, Fragment on Mackintosh, published in 1835, see pp. 174-188 seq. Sir James indeed uses the word Benevolence where Plato uses that of Justice: he speaks of “the inherent delights and intrinsic happiness of Benevolence,” &c.
20 Stallbaum, Proleg. ad Plat. Rep. p. lvii. “Quo facto deinceps ad gravissimam totius sermonis partem ita transitur, ut inter colloquentes conveniat, justitiæ vim et naturam eo modo esse investigandam, ut emolumentorum atque commodorum ex eâ redundantium nulla plané ratio habeatur.”
This is not strictly exact, for Plato claims on behalf of justice not only that the performance of it is happy in itself, but also that it entails an independent result of ulterior happiness. But he dwells much less upon the second point; which indeed would be superfluous if the first could be thoroughly established. Compare Cicero, Tusc. Disput. v. 12-34, and the notes on Mr. James Harris’s Three Treatises, p. 351 seq., wherein the Stoical doctrine — Πάντα αὑτοῦ ἕνεκα πράττειν — is explained.
His theory departs more widely from the truth than that which he opposes. Argument of Adeimantus discussed.
So much to explain what the Platonic theory is. But when we ask whether it consists with the main facts of society, or with the ordinary feelings of men living in society, the reply must be in the negative.
“If” (says Plato, putting the words into the counter-pleading of Adeimantus) — “If the Platonic theory were preached by all of you, and impressed upon our belief from childhood, we should not have watched each other to prevent injustice; since each man would have been the best watch upon himself, from fear lest by committing injustice he should take to his bosom the maximum of evil.”21
21 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 367 A. εἰ γὰρ οὕτως ἐλέγετο ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑπὸ πάντων ὑμῶν καὶ ἐκ νέων ἡμᾶς ἐπείθετε, οὐκ ἂν ἀλλήλους ἐφυλάττομεν μὴ ἀδικεῖν, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸς αὑτοῦ ἦν ἕκαστος ἄριστος φύλαξ, δεδιὼς μὴ ἀδικῶν τῷ μεγίστῳ κακῷ ξύνοικος ᾖ.
107These words are remarkable. They admit of two constructions:— 1. If this Platonic theory were true. 2. If the Platonic theory, though not true, were constantly preached and impressed upon every one’s belief from childhood.
Understanding the words in the first of these two constructions, the hypothetical proposition put into the mouth of Adeimantus is a valid argument against the theory afterwards maintained by Sokrates. If the theory were conformable to facts, no precautions would need to be taken by men against the injustice of each other. But such precautions have been universally recognised as indispensable, and universally adopted. Therefore the Sokratic theory is not conformable to facts. It is not true that the performance of duty (considered apart from consequences) is self-inviting and self-remunerative — the contrary path self-deterring and self-punitory — to each individual agent. Plato might perhaps argue that it would be true, if men were properly educated; and that the elaborate education which he provides for his Guardians in the Republic would suffice for this purpose. But even if this were granted, we must recollect that the producing Many of his Republic would receive no such peculiar education.
Understanding the words in the second construction, they would then mean that the doctrine, though not true, ought to be preached and accredited by the lawgiver as an useful fiction: that if every one were told so from his childhood, without ever hearing either doubt or contradiction, it would become an established creed which each man would believe, and each agent would act upon: that the effect in reference to society would therefore be the same as if the doctrine were true. This is in fact expressly affirmed by Plato in another place.22 Now undoubtedly the effect of preaching and teaching, assuming it to be constant and unanimous, is very great in accrediting all kinds of dogmas. Plato believed it to be capable of almost unlimited extension — as we may see by the prescriptions which he gives for the training of the Guardians in his Republic. But to persuade every one that the path of duty and justice was in itself inviting, would be a task overpassing the eloquence even of Plato, since 108every man’s internal sentiment would refute it. You might just as well expect to convince a child, through the declarations and encouragements of his nurse, that the medicine prescribed to him during sickness was very nice. Every child has to learn obedience as a necessity, under the authority and sanction of his parents. You may assure him that what is at first repulsive will become by habit comparatively easy: and that the self-reproach, connected with evasion of duty, will by association become a greater pain than that which is experienced in performing duty. This is to a great degree true, but it is by no means true to the full extent: still less can it be made to appear true before it has been actually realised. You cannot cause a fiction like this to be universally accredited. A child is compelled to practise justice by the fear of displeasure and other painful consequences from those in authority over him: the reason for bringing this artificial motive to bear upon him, is, that it is essential in the first instance for the comfort and security of others: in the second instance for his own. In Plato’s theory, the first consideration is omitted, while not only the whole stress is laid upon the second, but more is promised in regard to the second than the reality warrants.
22 Plato, Legg. ii. pp. 663-664.
The opponents whom the Platonic Sokrates here seeks to confute held — That Justice is an obligation in itself onerous to the agent, but indispensable in order to ensure to him just dealing and estimation from others — That injustice is a path in itself easy and inviting to the agent, but necessary to be avoided, because he forfeits his chance of receiving justice from others, and draws upon himself hatred and other evil consequences. This doctrine (argues Plato) represents the advantages of justice to the just agent as arising, not from his actually being just, but from his seeming to be so, and being reputed by others to be so: in like manner, it represents the misery of injustice to the unjust agent as arising not from his actually being unjust, but from his being reputed to be so by others. The inference which a man will naturally draw from hence (adds Plato) is, That he must aim only at seeming to be just, not at being just in reality: that he must seek to avoid the reputation of injustice, not injustice in reality: that the mode of life most enviable is, to be unjust in reality, but just in seeming — to study the means either 109of deceiving others into a belief that you are just, or of coercing others into submission to your injustice.23 This indeed cannot be done unless you are strong or artful: it you are weak or simple-minded, the best thing which you can do is to be just. The weak alone are gainers by justice: the strong are losers by it, and gainers by injustice.24
23 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 362-367.
24 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 366 C.
These are legitimate corollaries (so Glaukon and Adeimantus are here made to argue) from the doctrine preached by most fathers to their children, that the obligations of justice are in themselves onerous to the just agent, and remunerative only so far as they determine just conduct on the part of others towards him. Plato means, not that fathers, in exhorting their children, actually drew these corollaries: but that if they followed out their own doctrine consistently, they would have drawn them: and that there is no way of escaping them, except by adopting the doctrine of the Platonic Sokrates — That justice is in itself a source of happiness to the just agent, and injustice a source of misery to the unjust agent — however each of them may be esteemed or treated by others.
A Reciprocity of rights and duties between men in social life — different feelings towards one and towards the other.
Now upon this we may observe, that Plato, from anxiety to escape corollaries which are only partially true, and which, in so far as they are true, may be obviated by precautions — has endeavoured to accredit a fiction misrepresenting the constant phenomena and standing conditions of social life. Among those conditions, reciprocity of services is one of the most fundamental. The difference of feeling which attaches to the services which a man renders, called duties or obligations — and the services which he receives from others, called his rights — is alike obvious and undeniable. Each individual has both duties and rights: each is both an agent towards others, and a patient or sentient from others. He is required to be just towards others, they are required to be just towards him: he in his actions must have regard, within certain limits, to their comfort and security — they in their actions must have regard to his. If he has obligations towards them, he has also rights against them; or (which is the same thing) they have 110obligations towards him. If punishment is requisite to deter him from doing wrong to them, it is equally requisite to deter them from doing wrong to him. Whoever theorises upon society, contemplating it as a connected scheme or system including different individual agents, must accept this reciprocity as a fundamental condition. The rights and obligations, of each towards the rest, must form inseparable and correlative parts of the theory. Each agent must be dealt with by others according to his works, and must be able to reckon beforehand on being so dealt with:— on escaping injury or hurt, and receiving justice, from others, if he behaves justly towards them. The theory supposes, that whether just or unjust, he will appear to others what he really is, and will be appreciated accordingly.25
25 Euripid. Herakleid. 425.
Οὐ γὰρ τυραννίδ’, ὥστε βαρβάρων, ἔχω,
Ἀλλ’, ἢν δίκαια δρῶ, δίκαια πείσομαι.
In a remarkable passage of the Laws, Plato sets a far higher value upon correct estimation from others, which in the Republic he depicts under the contemptuous appellation of show or seeming.
Plato, Legg. xii. p. 950 B. Χρὴ δὲ οὔποτε περὶ σμικροῦ ποιεῖσθαι τὸ δοκεῖν ἀγαθοὺς εἶναι τοῖς ἄλλοις ἢ μὴ δοκεῖν· οὐ γὰρ ὅσον οὐσίας ἀρετῆς ἀπεσφαλμένοι τυγχάνουσιν οἱ πολλοί, τοσοῦτον καὶ τοῦ κρίνειν τοὺς ἄλλους οἱ πονηροὶ καὶ ἄχρηστοι, θεῖον δέ τι καὶ εὔστοχόν ἐστι καὶ τοῖς κακοῖς. ὥστε πάμπολλοι καὶ τῶν σφόδρα κακῶν εὖ τοῖς λόγοις καὶ ταῖς δόξαις διαιροῦνται τοὺς ἀμείνους τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ τοὺς χείρους. Διὸ καλὸν ταῖς πολλαῖς πόλεσι τὸ παρακέλευσμά ἐστι, προτιμᾷν τὴν εὐδοξίαν πρὸς τῶν πολλῶν· τὸ μὲν γὰρ ὀρθότατον καὶ μέγιστον, ὄντα ἀγαθὸν ἀληθῶς οὕτω τὸν εὔδοξον βίον θηρεύειν — χωρὶς δὲ μηδαμῶς, τόν γε τέλεον ἄνδρα ἐσόμενον.
The fathers of families, whose doctrine Plato censures, adopted this doctrine of reciprocity, and built upon it their exhortations to their children. “Be just to others: without that condition, you cannot expect that they will be just to you.” Plato objects to their doctrine, on the ground, that it assumed justice to be onerous to the agent, and therefore indirectly encouraged the evading of the onerous preliminary condition, for the purpose of extorting or stealing the valuable consequent without earning it fairly. Persons acting thus unjustly would efface reciprocity by taking away the antecedent. Now Plato, in correcting them, sets up a counter-doctrine which effaces reciprocity by removing the consequent. His counter-doctrine promises me that if I am just towards others, I shall be happy in and through that single circumstance; and that I ought not to care whether they behave justly or unjustly towards me. Reciprocity thus disappears. The authoritative terms right and obligation lose all their specific meaning.
111Plato’s own theory, respecting the genesis of society, is based on reciprocity.
In thus eliminating reciprocity — in affirming that the performance of justice is not an onerous duty, but in itself happiness-giving, to the just agent — Plato contradicts his own theory respecting the genesis and foundation of society. What is the explanation which he himself gives (in this very Republic) of the primary origin of a city? It arises (he says) from the fact, that each individual among us is not self-sufficing, but full of wants. All having many wants, each takes to himself others as partners and auxiliaries to supply them: thus grows up the aggregation called a city.26 Each man gives to another, and receives from another, in the belief that it will be better for him to do so. It is found most advantageous to all, that each man shall devote himself exclusively to one mode of production, and shall exchange his produce with that of others. Such interchange of productions and services is the generating motive which brings about civic communion.27 Justice and injustice will be found in certain modes of carrying on this useful interchange between each man and the rest.28
26 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 369 B-C. γίγνεται πόλις, ἐπειδὴ τυγχάνει ἡμῶν ἕκαστος οὐκ αὐτάρκης ἀλλὰ πολλῶν ἐνδεής … μεταδίδωσι δὴ ἄλλος ἄλλῳ, εἴ τι μεταδίδωσιν, ἢ μεταλαμβάνει, οἰόμενος αὑτῷ ἄμεινον εἶναι … ποιήσει δὲ αὐτὴν (τὴν πόλιν), ὡς ἔοικεν, ἢ ἡμετέρα χρεία.
27 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 371 B. Τί δὲ δή; ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ πόλει πῶς ἀλλήλοις μεταδώσουσιν ὧν ἂν ἕκαστοι ἐργάζωνται; ὧν δὴ ἕνεκα καὶ κοινωνίαν ποιησάμενοι πόλιν ᾠκίσαμεν.
28 Plato, Republ. ii. pp. 371 E-372 A. Ποῦ οὖν ἄν ποτε ἐν αὐτῇ (τῇ πόλει) εἴη ἥ τε δικαιοσύνη καὶ ἡ ἀδικία; … Ἐγὼ οὐκ ἑννοῶ, εἰ μή που ἐν αὐτῶν τούτων χρείᾳ τινὶ τῇ πρὸς ἀλλήλους.
Here Plato expressly declares the principle of reciprocity to be the fundamental cause which generates and sustains the communion called the city. No man suffices to himself: every man has wants which require supply from others: every man can contribute something to supply the wants of others. Justice or injustice have place, according as this reciprocal service is carried out in one manner or another. Each man labours to supply the wants of others as well as his own.
This is the primitive, constant, indispensable, bond whereby society is brought and held together. Doubtless it is not the only bond, nor does Plato say that it is. There are other auxiliary social principles besides, of great value and importance: but they presuppose and are built upon the fundamental 112principle — reciprocity of need and service — which remains when we reduce society to its lowest terms; and which is not the less real as underlying groundwork, though it is seldom enunciated separately, but appears overlaid, disguised, and adorned, by numerous additions and refinements. Plato correctly announces the reciprocity of need and service as one indivisible, though complex fact, when looked at with reference to the social communion. Neither of the two parts of that fact, without the other part, would serve as adequate groundwork. Each man must act, not for himself alone, but for others also: he must keep in view the requirements of others, to a certain extent, as well as his own. In his purposes and scheme of life, the two must be steadily combined.
Antithesis and correlation of obligation and right. Necessity of keeping the two ideas together, as the basis of any theory respecting society.
It is clear that Plato — in thus laying down the principle of reciprocity, or interchange of service, as the ground-work of the social union — recognises the antithesis, and at the same time the correlation, between obligation and right. The service which each man renders to supply the wants of others is in the nature of an onerous duty; the requital for which is furnished to him in the services rendered by others to supply his wants. It is payment against receipt, and is expressly so stated by Plato — which every man conforms to, “believing that he will be better off thereby”. Taking the two together, every man is better off; but no man would be so by the payment alone; nor could any one continue paying out, if he received nothing in return. Justice consists in the proper carrying on of this interchange in its two correlative parts.29
29 We may remark that Plato, though he states the principle of reciprocity very justly, does not state it completely. He brings out the reciprocity of need and service; he does not mention the reciprocal liability of injury. Each man can do hurt to others: each man may receive hurt from others. Abstinence on the part of each from hurting others, and security to each that he shall not be hurt by others, are necessities quite as fundamental as that of production and interchange.
The reciprocal feeling of security, or absence of all fear of ill-usage from others (τὸ καθ’ ἡμέραν ἀδεὲς καὶ ἀνεπιβούλευτον πρὸς ἀλλήλους, to use the phrase of Thucydides iii. 37), is no less essential to social sentiment, than the reciprocal confidence that each man may obtain from others a supply of his wants, on condition of supplying theirs.
We see therefore that Plato contradicts his own fundamental principle, when he denies the doing of justice to be an onerous 113duty, and when he maintains that it is in itself happiness-giving to the just agent, whether other men account him just and do justice to him in return — or not. By this latter doctrine he sets aside that reciprocity of want and service, upon which he had affirmed the social union to rest. The fathers, whom he blames, gave advice in full conformity with his own principle of reciprocity — when they exhorted their sons to the practice of justice, not as self-inviting, but as an onerous service towards others, to be requited by corresponding services and goodwill from others towards them. If (as he urges) such advice operates as an encouragement to crime, because it admits that the successful tyrant or impostor, who gets the services of others for nothing, is better off than the just man who gets them only in exchange for an onerous equivalent — this inference equally flows from that proclaimed reciprocity of need and service, which he himself affirms to be the generating cause of human society. If it be true (as Plato states) that each individual is full of wants, and stands in need of the services of others — then it cannot be true, that payment without receipt, as a systematic practice, is self-inviting and self-satisfying. That there are temptations for strong or cunning men to evade obligation and to usurp wrongful power, is an undeniable fact. We may wish that it were not a fact: but we gain nothing by denying or ignoring it. The more clearly the fact is stated, the better; in order that society may take precaution against such dangers — a task which has always been found necessary and often difficult. In reviewing the Gorgias,30 we found Sokrates declaring, that Archelaus, the energetic and powerful king of Macedonia, who had usurped the throne by means of crime and bloodshed, was thoroughly miserable: far more miserable than he would have been, had he been defeated in his enterprise and suffered cruel punishment. Such a declaration represents the genuine sentiment of Sokrates as to what he himself would feel, and what ought to be (in his conviction) the feeling of every one, after having perpetrated such nefarious acts. But it does not represent the feeling of Archelaus himself, nor that of the large majority 114of bystanders: both to these latter, and to himself, Archelaus appears an object of envy and admiration.31 And it would be a fatal mistake, if the peculiar sentiment of Sokrates were accepted as common to others besides, and as forming a sound presumption to act upon: that is, if, under the belief that no ambitious man will voluntarily bring upon himself so much misery, it were supposed that precautions against his designs were unnecessary. The rational and tutelary purpose of punishment is, to make the proposition true and obvious to all — That the wrong-doer will draw upon himself a large preponderance of mischief by his wrong-doing. But to proclaim the proposition by voice of herald (which Plato here proposes) as if it were already an established fact of human nature, independent of all such precautions — would be only an unhappy delusion.32
31 Xenophon, Cyropæd. iii. 3, 52-53. Cyrus says:—
Ἆρ’ οὐκ, εἰ μέλλουσι τοιαῦται διάνοιαι ἐγγενήσεσθαι ἀνθρώποις καὶ ἔμμονοι ἔσεσθαι, πρῶτον μὲν νόμους ὑπάρξαι δεῖ τοιούτους, δι’ ὧν τοῖς μὲν ἀγαθοῖς ἔντιμος καὶ ἐλευθέριος ὁ βίος παρασκευασθήσεται, τοῖς δὲ κακοῖς ταπεινός τε καὶ ἀλγεινὸς καὶ ἀβίωτος ὁ αἰὼν ἐπανακείσεται; Ἔπειτα δὲ διδασκάλους, οἴμαι, δεῖ καὶ ἄρχοντας ἐπὶ τούτοις γενέσθαι, οἵτινες δείξουσί τε ὀρθῶς καὶ διδάξουσι καὶ ἐθίσουσι ταῦτα δρᾷν, ἔστ’ ἂν ἐγγένηται αὐτοῖς, τοὺς μὲν ἀγαθοὺς καὶ εὐκλεεῖς εὐδαιμονεστάτους τῷ ὄντι νομίζειν, τοὺς δὲ κακοὺς καὶ δυσκλεεῖς ἀθλιωτάτους ἁπάντων ἡγεῖσθαι.
Xenophon here uses language at variance with that of Plato, and consonant to that of the fathers of families whom Plato censures. To create habits of just action, and to repress habits of unjust action, society must meet both the one and the other by a suitable response. Assuming such conditional reciprocity to be realised, you may then persuade each agent that the unjust man, whom society brands with dishonour, is miserable (οἱ κακοὶ καὶ δυσκλεεῖς).
32 Xenophon, Economic. xiii. 11. Ischomachus there declares:—
Πάνυ γάρ μοι δοκεῖ, ὦ Σώκρατες, ἀθυμία ἐγγίγνεσθαι τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς, ὅταν ὁρῶσι τὰ μὲν ἔργα δι’ αὐτῶν καταπραττόμενα, τῶν δὲ ὁμοίων τυγχάνοντας ἑαυτοῖς τοὺς μήτε πονεῖν μήτε κινδυνεύειν ἐθέλοντας, ὅταν δέῃ. — Also xiv. 9-10.
Characteristic feature of the Platonic Commonwealth — specialization of services to that function for which each man is fit — will not apply to one individual separately.
The characteristic feature of the Platonic commonwealth is to specialize the service of each individual in that function for which he is most fit. It is assumed, that each will render due service to the rest, and will receive from them due service in requital. Upon this assumption, Plato pronounces that the community will be happy.
Let us grant for the present that this conclusion follows from his premisses. He proceeds forthwith to apply it by analogy to another and a different 115case — the case of the individual man. He presumes complete analogy between the community and an individual.33 To a certain extent, the analogy is real: but it fails on the main point which Plato’s inference requires as a basis. The community, composed of various and differently endowed members, suffices to itself and its own happiness: “the individual is not sufficient to himself, but stands in need of much aid from others”34 — a grave fact which Plato himself proclaims as the generating cause and basis of society. Though we should admit, therefore, that Plato’s commonwealth is perfectly well-constituted, and that a well-constituted commonwealth will be happy — we cannot from thence infer that an individual, however well-constituted, will be happy. His happiness depends upon others as well as upon himself. He may have in him the three different mental varieties of souls, or three different persons — Reason, Energy, Appetite — well tempered and adjusted; so as to produce a full disposition to just behaviour on his part: but constant injustice on the part of others will nevertheless be effectual in rendering him miserable. From the happiness of a community, all composed of just men — you cannot draw any fair inference to that of one just man in an unjust community.
33 The parallel between the Commonwealth and the individual is perpetually reproduced in Plato’s reasoning. Republic, ii. pp. 368-369, vii. p. 541 B, ix. pp. 577 C-D, 579 E, &c.
34 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 369 B.
Thus much to show that the parallel between the community and the individual, which Plato pursues through the larger portion of the Republic, is fallacious. His affirmation — That the just man is happy in his justice, quand même — in his own mental perfection, whatever supposition may be made as to the community among whom he lives — implies that the just man is self-sufficing: and Plato himself expressly declares that no individual is self-sufficing. Indeed, no author can set forth more powerfully than Plato himself in this very dialogue — the uncomfortable and perilous position of a philosophical individual, when standing singly as a dissenter among a community with fixed habits and sentiments — unphilosophical and anti-philosophical. Such a person (Plato says) is like a man who has fallen into a den of wild beasts: he may think himself116 fortunate, if by careful retirement and absence from public manifestation, he can preserve himself secure and uncorrupted: but his characteristic and superior qualities can obtain no manifestation. The philosopher requires a community suited to his character. Nowhere does any such community (so Plato says) exist at present.35
35 Plato, Repub. vi. pp. 494 E, 496 D, 497 B. ὥσπερ εἰς θηρία ἄνθρωπος ἐμπεσών, &c. Compare also ix. p. 592 A.
Plato has not made good his refutation — the thesis which he impugns is true.
I cannot think, therefore, that the main thesis which Sokrates professes to have established, against the difficulties raised by Glaukon, is either proved or provable. Plato has fallen into error, partly by exaggerating the parallelism between the individual man and the commonwealth: partly by attempting to reason on justice and injustice in abstract isolation, without regard to the natural consequences of either — while yet those consequences cannot be really excluded from consideration, when we come to apply to these terms, predicates either favourable or unfavourable. That justice, taken along with its ordinary and natural consequences, tends materially to the happiness of the just agent — that injustice, looked at in the same manner, tends to destroy or impair the happiness of the unjust — these are propositions true and valuable to be inculcated. But this was the very case embodied in the exhortations of the ordinary moralists and counsellors, whom Plato intends to refute. He is not satisfied to hear them praise justice taken along with its natural consequences: he stands forward to panegyrise justice abstractedly, and without its natural consequences: nay, even if followed by consequences the very reverse of those which are ordinary and natural.36 He insists that justice is eligible and pleasing per se, self-recommending: that among the three varieties of Bona (1. That which we choose for itself and from its own immediate attractions. 2. That which is in itself indifferent or even painful, but which we choose from regard to its ulterior consequences. 3. That which we choose on both grounds, 117both as immediately attractive and as ultimately beneficial), it belongs to the last variety: whereas the opponents whom he impugns referred it to the second.
36 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 367 B. εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἀφαιρήσεις ἑκατέρωθεν (i.e. both from justice and from injustice) τὰς ἀληθεῖς, τὰς δὲ ψευδεῖς προσθήσεις, οὐ τὸ δίκαιον φήσομεν ἐπαινεῖν σε, ἀλλὰ τὸ δοκεῖν, οὐδὲ τὸ ἄδικον εἶναι ψέγειν, ἀλλὰ τὸ δοκεῖν, καὶ παρακελεύεσθαι ἄδικον ὄντα λανθάνειν, &c.
Statement of the real issue between him and his opponents.
Here the point at issue between the two sides is expressly set forth. Both admit that Justice is a Bonum — both of them looking at the case with reference only to the agent himself. But the opponents contend, that it is Bonum (with reference to the agent) only through its secondary effects, and noway Bonum or attractive in its primary working: being thus analogous to medical treatment or gymnastic discipline, which men submit to only for the sake of ulterior benefits. On the contrary, Plato maintained that it is good both in its primary and secondary effects: good by reason of the ulterior benefits which it confers, but still better and more attractive in its direct and primary effect: thus combining the pleasurable and the useful, like a healthy constitution and perfect senses. Both parties agree in recognising justice as a good: but they differ in respect of the grounds on which, and the mode in which, it is good.
He himself misrepresents this issue — he describes his opponents as enemies of justice.
Such is the issue as here announced by Plato himself: and the announcement deserves particular notice because the Platonic Sokrates afterwards, in the course of his argument, widens and misrepresents the issue: ascribing to his opponents the invidious post of enemies who defamed justice and recommended injustice, while he himself undertakes to counterwork the advocates of injustice, and to preserve justice from unfair calumny37 — thus professing to be counsel for Justice versus Injustice. Now this is not a fair statement of the argument against which Sokrates is contending. In that argument, justice was admitted to be a Good, but was declared to be a Good of that sort which is laborious and irksome to the agent in the primary proceedings required from him — though highly beneficial and indispensable to him by reason of its ulterior results: like medicine, gymnastic discipline, industry,38 &c. Whether this doctrine be correct or not, those who hold it cannot be fairly 118described as advocates of injustice and enemies of Justice:39 any more than they are enemies of medicine, gymnastic discipline, industry, &c., which they recommend as good and indispensable, on the same grounds as they recommend justice.
37 Plato, Repub. ii. p. 368 B-C. δέδοικα γὰρ μὴ οὐδ’ ὅσιον ᾖ παραγενόμενον δικαιοσύνῃ κακηγορουμένῃ ἀπαγορεύειν καὶ μὴ βοηθεῖν, ἔτι ἐμπνέοντα καὶ δυνάμενον φθέγγεσθαι.
38 Plato, Republic, ii. pp. 357-358.
39 In the lost treatise De Republicâ of Cicero, Philus, one of the disputants, was introduced as spokesman of the memorable discourse delivered by Karneades at Rome, said to have been against Justice, and in favour of Injustice — “patrocinium injustitiæ”. Lælius replied to him, as “Justitiæ defensor”. The few fragments preserved do not enable us to appreciate the line of argument taken by Karneades: but as far as we can judge, it seems to have been very different from that which is assigned to Glaukon and Adeimantus in the Platonic Republic. See the Fragments of the third book De Republicâ in Orelli’s edition of Cicero, pp. 460-467.
It may suit Plato's purpose, when drawing up an argument which he intends to refute, to give to it the colour of being a panegyric upon injustice: but this is no real or necessary part of the opponent’s case. Nevertheless the commentators on Plato bring it prominently forward. The usual programme affixed to the Republic is — Plato, the defender of Justice, against Thrasymachus and the Sophists, advocates and panegyrists of Injustice. How far the real Thrasymachus may have argued in the slashing and offensive style described in the first book of the Republic, we have no means of deciding. But the Sophists are here brought in as assumed preachers of injustice, without any authority either from Plato or elsewhere: not to mention the impropriety of treating the Sophists as one school with common dogmas. Glaukon (as I have already observed) announces the doctrine against which Sokrates contends, not as a recent corruption broached by the Sophists, but as the generally received view of Justice: held by most persons, repeated by the poets from ancient times downwards, and embodied by fathers in lessons to their children: Sokrates farther declares the doctrine which he himself propounds to be propounded for the first time.40
40 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 358 A. Οὐ τοίνυν δοκεῖ τοῖς πολλοῖς, ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἐπιπόνου εἴδους, &c. 358 C-D: ἀκούων Θρασυμάχου καὶ μυρίων ἄλλων. τὸν δὲ ὑπὲρ τῆς δικαιοσύνης λόγον οὐδενός πω ἀκήκοα ὡς βούλομαι. 362 E-364: λέγουσι δέ που καὶ παρακελεύονται πατέρες τε υἱέσι καὶ πάντες οἵ τινων κηδόμενοι, &c. — τούτοις δὲ πᾶσι τοῖς λόγοις μάρτυρας ποιητὰς ἐπάγονται (p. 364 C). Also p. 366 D.
Farther arguments of Plato in support of his thesis. Comparison of three different characters of men.
Over and above the analogy between the just commonwealth and the just individual, we find two additional and independent arguments, to confirm the proof of the Platonic thesis, respecting the happiness of the just man. Plato distributes mankind into three varieties. 1191. He in whom Reason is preponderant — the philosopher. 2. He in whom Energy or Courage is preponderant — the lover of dominion and superiority — the ambitious man. 3. He in whom Appetite is preponderant — the lover of money. Plato considers the two last as unjust men, contrasting them with the first, who alone is to be regarded as just.
The language of Plato in arguing this point is vague, and requires to be distinguished before we can appreciate the extent to which he has made out his point. At one time, he states his conclusion to the effect — That the man who pursues and enjoys the pleasures of ambition or enrichment, but only under the conditions and limits which reason prescribes, is happier than he who pursues them without any such controul, and who is the slave of violent and ungovernable impulses.41 This is undoubtedly true.
41 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 586-587.
But elsewhere Plato puts his thesis in another way. He compares the pleasures of the philosopher, arising from intellectual contemplation and the acquisition of knowledge — with the pleasures of the ambitious man and the money-lover, in compassing their respective ends, the attainment of power and wealth. If you ask (says Plato) each of these three persons which is the best and most pleasurable mode of life, each will commend his own: each will tell you that the pleasures of his own mode of life are the greatest, and that those of the other two are comparatively worthless.42 But though each thus commends his own, the judgment of the philosopher is decidedly the most trustworthy of the three. For the necessities of life constrain the philosopher to have some experience of the pleasures of the other two, while they two are altogether ignorant of his: moreover, the comparative estimate must be made by reason and intelligent discussion, which is his exclusive prerogative. Therefore, the philosopher is to be taken as the best judge, when he affirms that his pleasures are the greatest, in preference to the other two.43 To establish this same conclusion, Plato even goes a step farther. No pleasures, except those peculiar to the philosopher, are perfectly true and genuine, pure from any alloy or 120mixture of pain. The pleasures of the ambitious man, and of the money-lover, are untrue, spurious, alloyed with pain and for the most part mere riddances from pain — appearing falsely to be pleasures by contrast with the antecedent pains to which they are consequent. The pleasures of the philosophic life are not preceded by any pains. They are mental pleasures, having in them closer affinity with truth and reality than the corporeal: the matter of knowledge, with which the philosophising mind is filled and satisfied, comes from the everlasting and unchangeable Ideas and is thus more akin to true essence and reality, than the perishable substances which relieve bodily hunger and thirst.44
42 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 581 C-D.
43 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 582-583.
44 Plato, Republic, ix. pp. 585-586.
His arguments do not go to the point which he professes to aim at.
It is by these two lines of reasoning, and especially by the last, that Plato intends to confirm and place beyond dispute the triumph of the just man over the unjust.45 He professes to have satisfied the requirement of Glaukon, by proving that the just man is happy by reason of his justice — quand même — however he may be esteemed or dealt with either by Gods or men. But even if we grant the truth of his premisses, no such conclusion can be elicited from them. He appears to be successful only because he changes the terminology, and the state of the question. Assume it to be true, that the philosopher, whose pleasures are derived chiefly from the love of knowledge and of intellectual acquisitions, has a better chance of happiness than the ambitious or the money-loving man. This I believe to be true in the main, subject to many interfering causes — though the manner in which Plato here makes it out is much less satisfactory than the handling of the same point by Aristotle after him.46 But when the point is granted, nothing is proved about the just and the unjust man, except in a sense of those terms peculiar to Plato himself.
45 Plato, Republic, ix. p. 583 B. Ταῦτα μὲν τοίνυν οὔτω δύ’ ἐφεξῆς ἂν εἴη καὶ δὶς νενικηκὼς ὁ δίκαιος τὸν ἄδικον· τὸ δὲ τρίτον … τοῦτ’ ἂν εἴη μέγιστόν τε καὶ κυριώτατον τῶν πτωμάτων.
46 Aristot. Ethic. Nikom. i. 5, p. 1095 b, 1096 a, x. 6-9, pp. 1176-1179.
Nor indeed is Plato’s conclusion proved, even in his own sense of the words. He identifies the just man with the philosopher or man of reason — the unjust man with the pursuer of power or wealth. Now, even in this Platonic meaning, the just man or 121philosopher cannot be called happy quand même: he requires, as one condition of his happiness, a certain amount of service, forbearance, and estimation, on the part of his fellows. He is not completely self-sufficing, nor can any human being be so.
Exaggerated parallelism between the Commonwealth and the individual man.
The confusion, into which Plato has here fallen, arises mainly from his exaggerated application of the analogy between the Commonwealth and the Individual: from his anxiety to find in the individual something like what he notes as justice in the Commonwealth: from his assimilating the mental attributes of each individual, divisible only in logical abstraction, — to the really distinct individual citizens whose association forms the Commonwealth.47 It is only by a poetical or rhetorical metaphor that you can speak of the several departments of a man’s mind, as if they were distinct persons, capable of behaving well or ill towards each other. A single man, considered without any reference to others, cannot be either just or unjust. “The just man” (observes Aristotle, in another line of argument), “requires others, towards whom and with whom he may behave justly.”48 Even when we talk by metaphor of a man being just towards himself, reference to others is always implied, as a standard with which comparison is taken.
47 Plato, Republic, i. pp. 351 C, 352 C. οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἀπείχοντο ἀλλήλων κομιδῇ ὄντες ἄδικοι, ἀλλὰ δῆλον ὅτι ἐνῆν τις αὐτοῖς δικαιοσύνη, ἣ αὐτοὺς ἐποίει μή τοι καὶ ἀλλήλους γε καὶ ἐφ’ οὓς ᾔεσαν ἅμα ἀδικεῖν, δι’ ἣν ἔπραξαν ἃ ἔπραξαν, ὥρμησαν δὲ ἐπὶ τὰ ἄδικα ἀδικίᾳ ἡμιμόχθηροι ὄντες, &c.
We find the same sentiment in the Opera et Dies of Hesiod, 275, contrasting human society with animal life:—
ἴχθυσι μὲν καὶ θηρσὶ καὶ οἰωνοῖς πετεήνοις
ἔσθειν ἀλλήλους, ἐπεὶ οὐ δίκη ἐστὶν ἐν αὐτοῖς·
ἀνθρώποισι δ’ ἔδωκε (Ζεὺς) δίκην, ἣ πολλὸν ἀρίστη
48 Aristotel. Ethic. Nikomach. x. 7. ὁ δίκαιος δεῖται πρὸς οὓς δικαιοπραγήσει, καὶ μεθ’ ὧν.
Second Argument of Plato to prove the happiness of the just man — He now recalls his previous concession, and assumes that the just man will receive just treatment and esteem from others.
In the main purpose of the Republic, therefore — to prove that the just man is happy in his justice, and the unjust miserable in his injustice, whatever supposition may be made as to consequent esteem or treatment from Gods or men — we cannot pronounce Plato to have succeeded. He himself indeed speaks with triumphant confidence of his own demonstration. Yet we find him at the close of the dialogue admitting that he had undertaken the defence of a position unnecessarily122 difficult. “I conceded to you” (he says) “for argument’s sake that the just man should be accounted unjust, by Gods as well as men, and that the unjust man should be accounted just. But this is a concession which I am not called upon to make; for the real fact will be otherwise. I now compare the happiness of each, assuming that each has the reputation and the treatment which he merits from others. Under this supposition, the superior happiness of the just man over the unjust, is still more manifest and undeniable.”49
49 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 612-613.
Plato then proceeds to argue the case upon this hypothesis, which he affirms to be conformable to the reality. The just man will be well-esteemed and well-treated by men: he will also be favoured and protected by the Gods, both in this life and after this life. The unjust man, on the contrary, will be ill-esteemed and ill-treated by men: he will farther be disapproved and punished by the Gods, both while he lives and after his death. Perhaps for a time the just man may seem to be hardly dealt with and miserable the unjust man to be prosperous and popular but in the end, all this will be reversed.50
50 Plato, Republic, x. p. 613.
The second line of argument is essentially different from the first. Plato dispatches it very succinctly, in two pages: while in trying to prove the first, and in working out the very peculiar comparison on which his proof rests, he had occupied the larger portion of this very long treatise.
In the first line of argument, justice was recommended as implicated with happiness per se or absolutely — quand même — to the agent: injustice was discouraged, as implicated with misery. In the second line, justice is recommended by reason of its happy ulterior consequences to the agent: injustice is dissuaded on corresponding grounds, by reason of its miserable ulterior consequences to the agent.
It will be recollected that this second line of argument is the same as that which Glaukon described as adopted by parents and by other monitors, in discourse with pupils. Plato therefore here admits that their exhortations were founded on solid grounds; though he blames them for denying or omitting the 123announcement, that just behaviour conferred happiness upon the agent by its own efficacy, apart from all consequences. He regards the happiness attained by the just man, through the consequent treatment by men and Gods, as real indeed, — but as only supplemental and secondary, inferior in value to the happiness involved in the just behaviour per se.
In this part of the argument, too, as well as in the former, we are forced to lament the equivocal meaning of the word justice: and to recollect the observation of Plato at the close of the first book, that those who do not know what justice is, can never determine what is to be truly predicated of it, and what is not.51 If by the just man he means the philosopher, and by the unjust man the person who is not a philosopher, — he has himself told us before, that in societies as actually constituted, the philosopher enjoys the minimum of social advantages, and is even condemned to a life of insecurity; while the unphilosophical men (at least a certain variety of them) obtain sympathy, esteem, and promotion.52
51 Plato, Republic, i. p. 354 B.
52 Plato, Republic, vi. pp. 492-494-495-497.
Now in this second line of argument, Plato holds a totally different language respecting the way in which the just man is treated by society. He even exaggerates, beyond what can be reasonably expected, the rewards accruing to the just man: who (Plato tells us), when he has become advanced in life and thoroughly known, acquires command in his own city if he chooses it, and has his choice among the citizens for the best matrimonial alliances: while the unjust man ends in failure and ignominy, incurring the hatred of every one and suffering punishment.53 This is noway consistent with Plato’s previous description of the position of the philosopher in actual society: yet nevertheless his argument identifies the just man with the philosopher.
53 Plato, Republic, x. p. 613 D-E.
Dependence of the happiness of the individual on the society in which he is placed.
Plato appears so anxious to make out a triumphant case in favour of justice and against injustice, that he forgets not only the reality of things, but the main drift of his own previous reasonings. Nothing can stand out more strikingly, throughout this long and eloquent treatise, than the difference between one society and another: the necessary dependence of every one’s lot, 124partly indeed upon his own character, but also most materially upon the society to which he belongs: the impossibility of affirming any thing generally respecting the result of such and such dispositions in the individual, until you know the society of which he is a member, as well as his place therein. Hence arises the motive for Plato’s own elaborate construction — a new society upon philosophical principles. This essentially relative point of view pervades the greater part of his premisses, and constitutes the most valuable part of them.
Whether the commonwealth as a whole, assuming it to be once erected, would work as he expects, we will not here enquire. But it is certain that the commonwealth and the individuals are essential correlates of each other; and that the condition of each individual must be criticised in reference to the commonwealth in which he is embraced. Take any member of the Platonic Commonwealth, and place him in any other form of government, at Athens, Syracuse, Sparta, &c. — immediately his condition, both active and passive, is changed. Thus the philosophers, for whom Plato assumes unqualified ascendancy as the cardinal principle in his system, become, when transferred to other systems, divested of influence, hated by the people, and thankful if they can obtain even security. “The philosopher (says Plato) must have a community suited to him and docile to his guidance: in communities such as now exist, he not only has no influence as philosopher, but generally becomes himself corrupted by the contagion and pressure of opinions around him: this is the natural course of events, and it would be wonderful if the fact were otherwise.”54
54 Plato, Republic, vi. pp. 487-488-489 B, 497 B-C. 492 C: καὶ φήσειν τὰ αὐτὰ τούτοις καλὰ καὶ αἰσχρὰ εἶναι, καὶ ἐπιτηδεύσειν ἅπερ ἂν οὗτοι, καὶ ἔσεσθαι τοιοῦτον; Compare also ix. pp. 592 A, 494 A: τοὺς φιλοσοφοῦντας ἄρα ἀνάγκη ψέγεσθαι ὑπ’ αὐτῶν (τοῦ πλήθους). And vii. p. 517 A.
Inconsistency of affirming general positions respecting the happiness of the just man, in all societies without distinction.
After thus forcibly insisting upon the necessary correlation between the individual and the society, as well as upon the variability and uncertainty of justice and injustice in different existing societies55 — Plato is inconsistent with himself in affirming, as an universal position, that the just man receives the favour and good treatment of society, the unjust man, hatred and 125punishment.56 You cannot decide this until you know in what society the just man is placed. In order to make him comfortable, Plato is obliged to construct an imaginary society suited to him: which would have been unnecessary, if you can affirm that he is sure to be well treated in every society.
55 Plato, Republic, v. p. 479, vi. p. 493 C.
56 Plato, Republic, x. p. 613.
Qualified sense in which only this can be done.
There is a sense indeed (different from what Plato intended), in which the proposition is both true, and consistent with his own doctrine about the correlation between the individual and the society. When Plato speaks of the just or the unjust man, to whose judgment does he make appeal? To his own judgment? or to which of the numerous other dissentient judgments? For that there were numerous dissentient opinions on this point, Plato himself testifies: a person regarded as just or unjust in one community, would not be so regarded in another. All this ethical and intellectual discord is fully recognised as a fact, by Plato himself: who moreover keenly felt it, when comparing his own judgment with that of the Athenians his countrymen. Such being the ambiguity of the terms, we can affirm nothing respecting the just or the unjust man absolutely and generally — respecting justice or injustice in the abstract: We cannot affirm any thing respecting the happiness or misery of either, except with reference to the sentiments of the community wherein each is placed. Assuming their sentiments to be known, we may pronounce that any individual citizen who is unjust relatively to them (i.e., who behaves in a manner which they account unjust), will be punished by their superior force, and rendered miserable: while any one who abstains from such behaviour, and conducts himself in a manner which they account just, will receive from them just dealing, with a certain measure of trust, and esteem: Taken in this relative sense, we may truly say of the unjust man, that he will be unhappy; because displeasure, hatred, and punitory infliction from his countrymen will be quite sufficient to make him so, without any other causes of unhappiness. Respecting the just man, we can only say that he will be happy, so far as exemption from this cause of misery is concerned: but we cannot 126make sure that he will be happy on the whole, because happiness is a product to which many different conditions, positive and negative, must concur — while the serious causes of misery are efficacious, each taken singly, in producing their result.
Question — Whether the just man is orthodox or dissenter in his society? — important in discussing whether he is happy.
Moreover, in estimating the probable happiness either of the just (especially taking this word sensu Platonico as equivalent to the philosophers) or the unjust, another element must be included: which an illustrious self-thinking reasoner like Plato ought not to have omitted. Does the internal reason and sentiment of the agent coincide with that of his countrymen, as to what is just and unjust? Is he essentially homogeneous with his countrymen (to use the language of Plato in the Gorgias57), a chip of the same block? Or has he the earnest conviction that the commandments and prohibitions which they enforce upon him, on the plea of preventing injustice, are themselves unjust? Is he (like the philosopher described by Plato among societies actually constituted, or like Sokrates at Athens58) a conscientious dissenter from the orthodox creed — political, ethical, or æsthetical — received among his fellow-citizens generally? Does he (like Sokrates) believe himself to be inculcating useful and excellent lessons, while his countrymen blame and silence him as a corruptor of youth, and as a libeller of the elders?59 Does he, in those actions which he performs either under legal restraint or under peremptory unofficial custom, submit merely to what he regards as civium ardor prava jubentium, or as vultus instantis tyranni?
57 Plato, Gorgias, p. 513 B. αὐτοφυῶς ὅμοιος τῇ πολιτείᾳ, &c.
58 Plato, Republic, vi. pp. 496-497. Plato, Gorgias, p. 521 D.
59 Plato, Gorgias, p. 522 B. ἐάν τέ τίς με ἢ νεωτέρους φῇ διαφθείρειν ἀπορεῖν ποιοῦντα, ἢ τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους κακηγορεῖν λέγοντα πικροὺς λόγους ἢ ἰδίᾳ ἢ δημοσίᾳ, οὔτε τὸ ἀληθὲς ἕξω εἰπεῖν, ὅτι Δικαίως πάντα ταῦτα ἐγὼ λέγω καὶ πράττω τὸ ὑμέτερον δὴ τοῦτο, ὦ ἄνδρες δικασταί, οὔτε ἄλλο οὐδέν· ὥστε ἴσως, ὅ, τι ἂν τύχω, τοῦτο πείσομαι.
Comparison of the position of Sokrates at Athens, with that of his accusers.
This is a question essentially necessary to be answered, when we are called upon to affirm the general principle — “That the just man is happy, and that the unjust man is unhappy”. Antipathy and ill-treatment will be the lot of any citizen who challenges opinions which his society cherish as consecrated, or professes such as they dislike. Such was the fate of Sokrates 127himself at Athens. He was indicted as unjust and criminal (Ἀδικεῖ Σωκράτης), while his accusers, Anytus and Melêtus, carried away the esteem and sympathy of their fellow-citizens generally, as not simply just men, but zealous champions of justice — as resisting the assailants of morality and religion, of the political constitution, and of parental authority. How vehement was the odium and reprobation which Sokrates incurred from the majority of his fellow-citizens, we are assured by his own Apology60 before the Dikasts. Now it is to every one a serious and powerful cause of unhappiness, to feel himself the object of such a sentiment. Most men dread it so much, like the Platonic Euthyphron, that they refrain from uttering, or at least are most reserved in communicating, opinions which are accounted heretical among their countrymen or companions.61 The resolute and free-spoken Sokrates braved that odium; which, aggravated by particular circumstances, as well as by the character of his own defence, attained at last such a height as to bring about his condemnation to death. That he was sustained in this unthankful task by native force of character, conscientious persuasion, and belief in the approbation of the Gods — is a fact which we should believe, even if he himself had not expressly told us so. But to call him happy, would be a misapplication of the term, which no one would agree with Plato in making — least of all the friends of Sokrates in the last months of his life. Besides, if we are to call Sokrates happy on these grounds, his accusers would be still happier: for they had the same conscientious conviction, and the same belief in the approbation of the Gods: while they enjoyed besides the sympathy of their country men as champions of religion and morality.
60 Plato, Apolog. Sokr. pp. 28 A. 37 D.
πολλή μοι ἀπεχθεία γέγονε καὶ πρὸς πολλούς, &c.
61 Plato, Euthyphron, p. 3 C-D. Ἀθηναίοις γάρ τοι οὐ σφόδρα μέλει, ἄν τινα δεινὸν οἴωνται εἶναι, μὴ μέντοι διδασκαλικὸν τῆς αὑτοῦ σοφίας· ὃν δ’ ἂν καὶ ἄλλους οἴωνται ποιεῖν τοιούτους, θυμοῦνται, εἴτ’ οὖν φθόνῳ, εἴτε δι’ ἄλλο τι.
Euthyphr. Τούτου μὲν πέρι ὅπως ποτὲ πρὸς ἐμὲ ἔχουσιν, οὐ πάνυ ἐπιθυμῶ πειραθῆναι.
Sokrat. Ἴσως γὰρ σὺ μὲν δοκεῖς σπάνιον σεαυτὸν παρέχειν, καὶ διδάσκειν οὐκ ἐθέλειν τὴν σεαυτοῦ σοφίαν, &c.
Imperfect ethical basis on which Plato has conducted the discussion in the Republic.
In spite of all the charm and eloquence, therefore, which abounds in the Republic, we are compelled to declare that the Platonic Sokrates has not furnished the solution required from him by Glaukon and Adeimantus:128 and that neither the first point (ix. p. 580 D) nor the second point of his conclusion (x. p. 613) is adequately made out. The very grave ethical problem, respecting the connexion between individual just behaviour and individual happiness, is discussed in a manner too exclusively self-regarding, and inconsistent with that reciprocity which Plato himself sets forth as the fundamental, generating, sustaining, principle of human society. If that principle of reciprocity is to be taken as the starting-point, you cannot discuss the behaviour of any individual towards society, considered in reference to his own happiness, without at the same time including the behaviour of society towards him. Now Plato, in the conditions that he expressly prescribes for the discussion,62 insists on keeping the two apart; and on establishing a positive conclusion about the first, without at all including the second. He rejects peremptorily the doctrine — “That just behaviour is performed for the good of others, apart from the agent”. Yet if society be, in the last analysis (as Plato says that it is), an exchange of services, rendered indispensable by the need which every one has of others — the services which each man renders are rendered for the good of others, as the services which they render to him are rendered for his good. The just dealing of each man is, in the first instance, beneficial to others: in its secondary results, it is for the most part beneficial to himself.63 His unjust dealing, in like manner, is, in the first instance, injurious to others: in its secondary results, it is for the most part injurious to himself. Particular acts of injustice may, under certain circumstances, be not injurious, nay even beneficial, to the unjust agent: but they are certain 129to be hurtful to others: were it not so, they would not deserve to be branded as injustice. I am required to pay a debt, for the benefit of my creditor, and for the maintenance of a feeling of security among other creditors though the payment may impose upon myself severe privation: indirectly, indeed, I am benefited, because the same law which compels me, compels others also to perform their contracts towards me. The law (to use a phrase of Aristotle) guarantees just dealing by and towards each.64 The Platonic Thrasymachus, therefore, is right in so far as he affirms — That injustice is Malum Alienum, and justice Bonum Alienum,65 meaning that such is the direct and primary characteristic of each. The unjust man is one who does wrong to others, or omits to render to others a service which they have a right to exact, with a view to some undue profit or escape of inconvenience for himself: the just man is one who abstains from wrong to others, and renders to others the full service which they have a right to require, whatever hardship it may impose upon himself. A man is called just or unjust, according to his conduct towards others.
62 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 367.
63 See the instructive chapter on the Moral Sense, in Mr. James Mill’s Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, ch. xxiii. vol. ii. p. 280.
“The actions from which men derive advantage have all been classed under four titles — Prudence, Fortitude, Justice, Beneficence… When those names are applied to our own acts, the first two, Prudent and Brave, express acts which are useful to ourselves, in the first instance: the latter two, Just and Beneficent, express acts which are useful to others, in the first instance… It is further to be remarked, that those acts of ours which are primarily useful to ourselves, are secondarily useful to others; and those which are primarily useful to others, are secondarily useful to ourselves. Thus, it is by our own prudence and fortitude that we are best enabled to do acts of justice and beneficence to others. And it is by acts of justice and beneficence to others, that we best dispose them to do similar acts to us.”
64 Aristot. Polit. iii. 9, 1280, b. 10, ὁ νόμος συνθήκη, καὶ καθάπερ ἔφη Λυκόφρων ὁ σοφιστής, ἐγγυητὴς ἀλλήλοις τῶν δικαίων. Chrysippus also, writing against Plato, maintained that ἀδικία was essentially πρὸς ἕτερον, οὐ πρὸς ἑαυτόν (Plutarch, Stoic. Repugnant. c. 16, p. 1041 D).
65 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 367 C. καὶ ὁμολογεῖν Θρασυμάχῳ ὅτι τὸ μὲν δίκαιον, ἀλλότριον ἀγαθόν, ξυμφέρον τοῦ κρείττονος· τὸ δὲ ἄδικον, αὐτῷ μὲν ξυμφέρον καὶ λυσιτελοῦν, τῷ δὲ ἥττονι, ἀξύμφορον.
Plato in Republic is preacher, inculcating useful beliefs — not philosopher, establishing scientific theory. State of Just and Unjust Man in the Platonic Commonwealth.
In considering the main thesis of the Republic, we must look upon Plato as preacher — inculcating a belief which he thinks useful to be diffused; rather than as philosopher, announcing general truths of human nature, and laying down a consistent, scientific, theory of Ethics. There are occasions on which even he himself seems to accept this character. “If the fable of Kadmus and the dragon’s teeth” (he maintains) “with a great many other stories equally improbable, can be made matters of established faith, surely a doctrine so plausible as mine, about justice and injustice, can be easily taught and accredited.”66 To ensure unanimous acquiescence, Plato would constrain all poets to proclaim 130and illustrate his thesis — and would prohibit them from uttering anything inconsistent with it.67 But these or similar official prohibitions may be employed for the upholding of any creed, whatever it be: and have been always employed, more or less, in every society, for the upholding of the prevalent creed. Even in the best society conceivable under the conditions of human life, assuming an ideal commonwealth in which the sentiments of just and unjust have received the most systematic, beneficent, and rational embodiments, and have become engraven on all the leading minds — even then Plato’s first assertion — That the just man is happy quand même — could not be admitted without numerous reserves and qualifications. Justice must still be done by each agent, not as a self-inviting process, but as an obligation entailing more or less of sacrifice made by him to the security and comfort of others. Plato’s second assertion — That the unjust man is miserable — would be more near the truth; because the ideal commonwealth is assumed to be one in which the governing body has both the disposition and the power to punish injustice — and the discriminating equanimity, or absence of antipathies, which secures them against punishing anything else. The power of society to inflict misery is far more extensive than its power of imparting happiness. But even thus, we have to recollect that the misery of the unjust person arises not from his in justice per se, but from consequent treatment at the hands of others.
66 See Plato, Legg. ii. pp. 663-664.
Good and simple people, in the earlier times (says Plato) believed every thing that was told them. They were more virtuous and just then than they are now (Legg. iii. p. 679 C-E).
67 Plato, Legg. ii. pp. 661-662. Illustrated in the rigid and detailed censorship which he imposes on the poets in the Republic, in the second and third books.
In the Legg., however, Plato puts his thesis in a manner less untenable than in the Republic:— “Neither to do wrong to others, nor to suffer wrong from others; this is the happiest condition” (Legg. ii. p. 663 A). This is a very different proposition from that which is defended in the Republic; where we are called upon to believe, that the man who acts justly will be happy, whatever may be the conduct of others towards him.
Epikurus laid down, as one of the doctrines in his Κύριαι Δόξαι (see Diog. Laert. x. 150): Τὸ τῆς φύσεως δίκαιον ἐστὶ σύμβολον τοῦ συμφέροντος, εἰς τὸ μὴ βλάπτειν ἀλλήλους μηδὲ βλάπτεσθαι. Ὅσα τῶν ζῴων μὴ ἠδύνατο συνθήκας ποιεῖσθαι τὰς ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ βλάπτειν ἄλληλα μηδὲ βλάπτεσθαι, πρὸς ταῦτα οὐθέν ἐστιν οὐδὲ δίκαιον οὔδὲ ἄδικον. Ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν ὅσα μὴ ἠδύνατο, ἢ μὴ ἐβούλετο, τὰς συνθήκας ποιεῖσθαι τὰς ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ βλάπτειν ἀλλήλους μηδὲ βλάπτεσθαι, &c.
Lucretius expresses the same — v. 1020:—
“Tunc et amicitiam cœperunt jungere aventes
“Finitimi inter se nec lædere nec violari,” &c.
Comparative happiness of the two in actual communities. Plato is dissatisfied with it — This is his motive for recasting society on his own principles.
Thus much for the Platonic or ideal commonwealth. But when we pass from that hypothesis into the actual world, the case becomes far stronger against the 131truth of both Plato’s assertions. Of actual societies, even the best have many imperfections — the less good, many attributes worse than imperfections:— “ob virtutes certissimum exitium”. The dissenter for the better, is liable to be crucified alongside of the dissenter for the worse: King Nomos will tolerate neither.
Confusion between the preacher and the philosopher in the Platonic Republic.
Plato as a preacher holds one language: as a philosopher and analyst, another. When he is exhorting youth to justice, or dissuading them from injustice, he thinks himself entitled to depict the lot of the just man in the most fascinating colours, that of the unjust man as the darkest contrast against it, — without any careful observance of the line between truth and fiction: the fiction, if such there be, becomes in his eyes a pia fraus, excused or even ennobled by its salutary tendency. But when he drops this practical purpose, and comes to philosophise on the principles of society, he then proclaims explicitly how great is the difference between society as it now stands, and society as it ought to be: how much worse is the condition of the just, how much less bad that of the unjust (in every sense of the words, but especially in the Platonic sense) than a perfect commonwealth would provide. Between the exhortations of Plato the preacher, and the social analysis of Plato the philosopher, there is a practical contradiction, which is all the more inconvenient because he passes backwards and forwards almost unconsciously, from one character to the other. The splendid treatise called the Republic is composed of both, in portions not easy to separate.
Remarks on the contrast between ethical theory and ethical precepts.
The difference between the two functions just mentioned — the preceptor, and the theorizing philosopher — deserves careful attention, especially in regard to Ethics. If I lay down a theory of social philosophy, I am bound to take in all the conditions and circumstances of the problem: to consider the whole position of each individual in society, as an agent affecting the security and comfort of others, and also as a person acted on by others, and having his security and comfort affected by their behaviour: as subject to obligations or duties, in the first of the two characters — and as 132enjoying rights (i.e., having others under obligation to him) in the second. This reciprocity of service and need — of obligation and right — is the basis of social theory: its two parts are in indivisible correlation: alike integrant and co-essential. But when a preceptor delivers exhortations on conduct, it is not necessary that he should insist equally on each of the two parts. As a general fact of human nature, it is known that men are disposed proprio motu to claim their rights, but not so constantly or equally disposed to perform their obligations: accordingly, the preceptor insists upon this second part of the case, which requires extraneous support and enforcement — leaving untouched the first part, which requires none. But the very reason why the second part needs such support, is, because the performance of the obligation is seldom self-inviting, and often the very reverse: that is, because the Platonic doctrine misrepresents the reality. The preceptor ought not to indulge in such misrepresentation: he may lay stress especially upon one part of the entire social theory, but he ought not to employ fictions which deny the necessary correlation of the other omitted part. Many preceptors have insisted on the performance of obligation, in language which seemed to imply that they considered a man to exist only for the performance of obligation, and to have no rights at all. Plato in another way undermines equally the integrity of the social theory, when he contends, that the performance of obligations alone, without any rights, is delightful per se, and suffices to ensure happiness to the performer. Herein we can recognise only a well-intentioned preceptor, narrowing and perverting the social theory for the purpose of edification to his hearers.
Double purpose of the Platonic Republic — ethical and political.
In my last Chapter, I discussed the manner in which Plato had endeavoured to solve the ethical problem urged upon him by Glaukon and Adeimantus. But this is not the entire purpose of the Republic. Plato, drawing the closest parallel between the Commonwealth and the individual, seeks solution of the problem first in the former; because it is there (he says) written in larger and clearer letters. He sketches the picture of a perfect Commonwealth — shows wherein its justice consists — and proves, to his own satisfaction, that it will be happy in and through its justice — per se. This picture of a Commonwealth is unquestionably one of the main purposes of the dialogue; serving as commencement — or more properly as intermediate stage — to the Timæus and Kritias. Most critics have treated it as if it were the dominant and almost exclusive purpose. Aristotle, the earliest of all critics, adverts to it in this spirit; numbering Plato or the Platonic Sokrates among those who, not being practical politicians, framed schemes for ideal commonwealths, like Phaleas or Hippodamus. I shall now make some remarks on the political provisions of the Platonic Commonwealth: but first I shall notice the very peculiar manner in which Plato discovers therein the notions of Justice and Injustice.
Plato recognises the generating principle of human society — reciprocity of need and service. Particular direction which he gives to this principle.
The Platonic Sokrates (as I remarked above) lays down as the fundamental, generating, principle of human society, the reciprocity of need and service, essentially belonging to human beings: exchange of services is indispensable, because each man has many wants more 134than he can himself supply, and thus needs the services of others: while each also can contribute something to supply the wants of others. To this general principle Plato gives a peculiar direction. He apportions the services among the various citizens; and he provides that each man shall be specialised for the service to which he is peculiarly adapted, and confined to that alone. No double man1 is tolerated. How such specialisation is to be applied in detail among the multitude of cultivators and other producers, Plato does not tell us. Each is to have his own employment: we know no more. But in regard to the two highest functions, he gives more information: first, the small cabinet of philosophical Elders,2 Chiefs, or Rulers — artists in the craft of governing, who supply professionally that necessity of the Commonwealth, and from whom all orders emanate: next, the body of Guardians, Soldiers, Policemen, who execute the orders of this cabinet, and defend the territory against all enemies. Respecting both of these, Plato carefully prescribes both the education which they are to receive, and the circumstances under which they are to live. They are to be of both sexes intermingled, but to know neither family nor property: they live together in barrack, and with common mess, receiving subsistence and the means of decent comfort, but no more, from the producers: respecting sexual relations and births, I shall say more presently.
1 Plato, Rep. iii. p. 397 E.
2 The principle laid down in the Protagoras will be remembered — εἷς ἔχων τέχνην πολλοῖς ἱκανὸς ἰδιώταις (Protag. p. 322 D).
The four cardinal virtues are assumed as constituting the whole of Good or Virtue, where each of these virtues resides.
When Plato has provided thus much, he treats his city as already planted and brought to consummation. He thinks himself farther entitled to proclaim it as perfectly good, and therefore as including the four constituent elements of Good: that is, as being wise, brave, temperate, just.3 He then looks to find wherein each of these four elements resides: wisdom resides specially in the cabinet of Rulers — courage specially in the Guardians — temperance and justice, 135in these two, but in the producing multitude also. The two last virtues are universal in the Commonwealth. Temperance consists in the harmony of opinion between the multitude and the two higher classes as to obedience: the Guardians are as ready to obey as the Chiefs to command: the multitude are also for the most part ready to obey — but should they ever fail in obedience, the Guardians are prepared to lend their constraining force to the authority of the Chiefs. Having thus settled three out of the four elements of Good, which enumeration he assumes to be exhaustive — Plato assumes that what remains must be Justice. This remainder he declares to be — That each of the three portions of the Commonwealth performs its own work and nothing else: and this is Justice. Justice and Temperance are thus common to all the three portions of the Commonwealth: while Wisdom and Prudence belong entirely to the Chiefs, and Courage entirely to the Guardians.
3 Plato, Repub. iv. pp. 427 D-428 A. ᾠκισμένη μὲν τοίνυν, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, ἤδη ἄν σοι εἴη, ὦ παῖ Ἀρίστωνος, ἡ πόλις … Οἶμαι ἡμῖν τὴν πόλιν, εἴπερ ὀρθῶς γε ᾤκισται, τέλεως ἀγαθὴν εἶναι. Ἀνάγκη, ἔφη. Δῆλον δή, ὅτι σοφή τ’ ἐστὶ καὶ ἀνδρεία καὶ σώφρων καὶ δικαία. Δῆλον. Οὐκοῦν, ὅ, τι ἂν αὐτῶν εὕρωμεν ἐν αὐτῇ, τὸ ὑπόλοιπον ἔσται τὸ οὐχ εὑρημένον; &c.
First mention of these, as an exhaustive classification, in ethical theory. Plato effaces the distinction between Temperance and Justice.
Here, for the first time in Ethical Theory, Prudence, Courage, Temperance, Justice, are assumed as an exhaustive enumeration of virtues: each distinct from the other three, but all together including the whole of Virtue.4 Through Cicero and others, these four have come down as the cardinal virtues. From whom Plato derived it, I do not know: not certainly from the historical Sokrates, who resolved the last three into the first.5 Nor is it indeed in harmony with Plato’s own view: for temperance and justice are substantially coincident, in his explanation of them (since he does not recognise the characteristic feature of Justice, as directly tending to the good of a person other than the agent): and the line, by which he endeavours to part them, is obscure as well as unimportant. Schleiermacher — who admits that the distinction drawn here between Temperance and Justice is altogether forced136 — supposes that Plato took up this quadruple classification, because he found it already established in the common, non-theorising, consciousness.6 If this be true, the real distinction between Justice (as directly bearing on the rights of another person) and Temperance (as directly concerning only the future happiness of the agent himself), which is one of the most important distinctions in Ethics — must have been already felt, without being formulated, in the common mind: and Plato, by retaining the two words, but effacing the distinction between the two, and giving a new meaning to Justice — took a step in the wrong direction. He himself however tells us, that the definition, here given of Justice, is not his own; but that he had heard it enunciated by many others before him.7 What makes this more remarkable is, That the same definition (to do your own business and not to meddle with other people’s business) is what we read in the Charmidês as delivered respecting Temperance, by Charmides and Kritias:8 delivered by them, and afterwards pulled to pieces in cross-examination by Sokrates. Herein we see farther proof how little distinction Plato drew between Justice and Temperance.
4 Plat. Rep. iv. p. 432 B. τὸ δὲ δὴ λοιπὸν εἶδος, δι’ ὃ ἂν ἔτι ἀρετῆς μετέχοι πόλις, τί ποτ’ ἂν εἴη; δῆλον γὰρ ὅτι τοῦτό ἐστιν ἡ δικαιοσύνη.
Compare p. 444 D, where he defines Ἀρετή — Ἀρετὴ μὲν ἄρα, ὡς ἔοικεν, ὑγίεια τέ τις ἂν εἴη καὶ κάλλος καὶ εὐεξία ψυχῆς· κακία δὲ, νόσος τε καὶ αἶσχος καὶ ἀσθένεια.
5 Xenoph. Mem. iii. 9, 4-5. σοφίαν δὲ καὶ σωφροσύνην οὐ διώριζεν, &c.
Compare the discussion of σωφροσύνη, iv. 5, 9-11, where Sokrates enforces the practice of it on the ground that it ensured to a man both more pleasures and greater pleasures, of which he would deprive himself if he were foolish enough to be intemperate.
6 Schleiermacher, Einl. zum Staat, pp. 25-26. “Dieser Tadel trifft höchstens die Aufstellung jener vier zusammengehörigen Tugenden; welche Platon offenbar genug nur mit richtigem praktischen Sinne aus Ehrfurcht für das Bestehende aufgenommen hat: wie sie denn schon auf dieselbe Weise aus dem gemeinen Gebrauch in die Lehrweise des Sokrates übergegangen sind.”
7 Plato, Repub. iv. p. 433 A. καὶ μὴν ὅτι γε τὸ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττειν καὶ μὴ πολυπραγμονεῖν δικαιοσύνη ἐστί, καὶ τοῦτο ἄλλων τε πολλῶν ἀκηκόαμεν, καὶ αὐτοὶ πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν. Compare iii. p. 406 E.
8 See Charmidês, pp. 161-162. Heindorf observes in his note on this passage:— “A sophistis ergo vulgata hæc σωφροσύνης definitio: ad justitiam quoque ab iisdem ut videtur, translata. Republ. iv. p. 433 (the passage cited in note preceding). Quo pertinent illa Ciceronis, De Officiis, i. 9, 2. Item ad prudentiam, Aristot. Eth. Nicom. vi. 8, Philosopho vero hoc tribuit Sokrates, Gorgias, p. 526).”
The definition given in the Charmidês appears plainly ascribed to Kritias as its author (p. 162 D). The affirmation that it was “a sophistis vulgata,” and afterwards transferred by these same to Justice, is made without any authority produced; and is expressed in the language usual with the Platonic commentators, who treat the Sophists as a philosophical sect or school.
From whomsoever Plato may have derived this ethical classification — Virtue as a whole, distributed into four varieties — 1. Prudence or Knowledge — 2. Courage or Energy — 3. Temperance — 4. Justice — we find it here placed in the foreground of his doctrine, respecting both the collective Commonwealth and the 137individual man.9 He professes to understand and explain what they are — to reason upon them all with confidence — and to apply them to very important conclusions.
9 In some of the Platonic Dialogues these four varieties are not understood as exhausting the sum total of Virtue: ἡ ὁσιότης is included also; see Lachês, p. 199 D, Protagoras, p. 329 D, Euthyphron, pp. 5-6. Plato does not advert to τὸ ὅσιον in the Republic as a separate constituent, seemingly because on matters of piety he enjoins direct reference to Apollo and the Delphian oracle (Rep. iv. p. 427 B).
All the four are here assumed as certain and determinate, though in former dialogues they appear indeterminate and full of unsolved difficulties.
But let us pause for a moment to ask, how these professions harmonise with the dialogues reviewed in my preceding volumes. No reader will have forgotten the doubts and difficulties, exposed by the Sokratic Elenchus throughout the Dialogues of Search: the confessed inability of Sokrates himself to elucidate them, while at the same time his contempt for the false persuasion of knowledge — for those who talk confidently about matters which they can neither explain nor defend — is expressed without reserve. Now, when we turn to the Hippias Major, we find Sokrates declaring, that no man can affirm, and that a man ought to be ashamed to pretend to affirm, what particular matters are beautiful (fine, honourable) or ugly (mean, base), unless he knows and can explain what Beauty is.10 A similar declaration appears in the Menon, where Sokrates treats it as absurd to affirm or deny any predicate respecting a Subject, until you have satisfied yourself that you know what the Subject itself is: and where he farther proclaims, that as to Virtue, he does not know what it is, and that he has never yet found any one who did know.11 Such ignorance is stated at the end of the dialogue not less emphatically than at the beginning. Again, respecting the four varieties or parts of Virtue. The first of the four, Prudence — (Wisdom — Knowledge) — has been investigated in the Theætêtus — one of the most elaborate of all the Platonic dialogues: several different explanations of it are proposed by Theætêtus, and each is shown by Sokrates to be untenable; the problem remains unsolved at last. As to Courage and Temperance, we have not been more fortunate. The Lachês and Charmidês exhibit nothing but a fruitless search both for one and for the other. And here the case is more remarkable; because in the Lachês, one of the 138several definitions of Courage, tendered to Sokrates and refuted by him, is, the very definition of Courage delivered by him in the Republic as complete and satisfactory: while in the Charmidês, one of the definitions of Temperance, refuted, and even treated as scarcely intelligible, by Sokrates (τὸ πράττειν τὰ ἑαυτοῦ) is the same as that which Sokrates in the Republic relies on as a valid definition of Justice.12 Lastly, every one who has read the Parmenidês, will remember the acute objections there urged against the Platonic hypothesis of substantive Ideas, participated in by particulars: of which objections no notice is taken in the Republic, though so much is said therein about these Ideas, in regard to the training of the philosophical Chiefs.
10 Plat. Hipp. Maj. pp. 286 D, 304 C.
11 Plato, Menon, pp. 71 B-C, 86 B, 100 B.
12 See Lachês p. 195 A. τὴν τῶν δεινῶν καὶ θαῤῥαλέων ἐπιστήμην, pp. 196 C-199 A-E — in the cross-examination of Nikias by Sokrates: and the question in the cross-examination of Lachês (who has defined Courage to be ἡ φρόνιμος καρτερία) put by Sokrates — ἡ εἰς τί φρόνιμος; compared with Republic, iv. pp. 429 C, 430 B, 433 C. See also Charmidês, pp. 161 B, 162 B-C, compared with Republic, iv. p. 433 B-D.
Difficulties left unsolved, but overleaped by Plato.
If we revert to these passages (and many others which might be produced) of past dialogues, we shall find no means provided of harmonising them with the Republic. The logical and ethical difficulties still exist: they have never been elucidated: the Republic does not pretend to elucidate them, but overlooks or overleaps them. In composing it, Plato has his mind full of a different point of view, to which he seeks to give full effect. While his spokesman Sokrates was leader of opposition, Plato delighted to arm him with the maximum of negative cross-examining acuteness: but here Sokrates has passed over to the ministerial benches, and has undertaken the difficult task of making out a case in reply to the challenge of Glaukon and Adeimantus. No new leader of opposition is allowed to replace him. The splendid constructive effort of the Republic would have been spoiled, if exposed to such an analytical cross-examination as that which we read in Menon, Lachês, or Charmidês.
Ethical and political theory combined by Plato, treated apart by Aristotle.
In remarking upon the Platonic Republic as a political scheme only, we pass from the Platonic point of view to the Aristotelian: that is, to the discussion of Ethics and Politics as separate subjects, though adjoining and partially overlapping each other. Plato conceives 139the two in intimate union, and even employs violent metaphors to exaggerate the intimacy. Xenophon also conceives them in close conjunction. Aristotle goes farther in separating the two: a great improvement in regard to the speculative dealing with both of them.13
13 The concluding chapter of the Nikomachean Ethics contains some striking remarks upon this separation.
Platonic Commonwealth — only an outline — partially filled up.
If, following the example of Aristotle, we criticise the Platonic Republic as a scheme of political constitution, we find that on most points which other theorists handle at considerable length, Plato is intentionally silent. His project is an outline and nothing more. He delineates fully the brain and heart of the great Leviathan, but leaves the rest in very faint outline. He announces explicitly the purpose of all his arrangements, to obtain happiness for the whole city: by which he means, not happiness for the greatest number of individuals, but for the abstract unity called the City, supposed to be capable of happiness or misery, apart from any individuals, many or few, composing it.14 Each individual is to do the work for which he is best fitted, contributory to the happiness of the whole — and to do nothing else. Each must be content with such happiness as consists with his own exclusive employment.15
14 Plato, Republic, iv. pp. 420-421. The objection that the Guardians will have no happiness, is put by Plato into the mouth of Adeimantus, but is denied by Sokrates; who, however, says that even if it were true he could not admit it as applicable, since what he wishes is that the entire commonwealth shall be happy. Aristotle (Politic. ii. 5, 1264, 6-15) repeats the objection of Adeimantus, and declares that collective happiness (not enjoyed by some individuals) is impossible.
See the valuable chapter on Ideal Models in Politics (vol. ii. ch. xxii. p. 236 seq.) in Sir George Cornewall Lewis’s Treatise on the methods of Observation and Reasoning in Politics. The different ideal models framed by theorists ancient and modern, Plato among the number, are there collected, with judicious remarks in comparing and appreciating them.
15 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 421 C.
He lays down this minute sub-division and speciality of aptitude in individuals as a fundamental property of human nature. Repub. iii. p. 395 B, καὶ ἔτι γε τούτων φαίνεταί μοι εἰς σμικρότερα κατακεκερματίσθαι ἡ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου φύσις, &c.
Compare Xenophon, Cyropæd. ii. 1, 21, where the same principle is laid down. Another passage in the same treatise (Cyropæd. viii. 2, 5) is also interesting. Xenophon there contrasts the smaller towns, where many trades were combined in the same hand and none of the works well performed, with the larger towns, where there was a minuter subdivision of labour, each man doing one work only, and doing it well.
Absolute rule of a few philosophers — Careful and peculiar training of the Guardians.
The Chiefs or Rulers are assumed to be both specially qualified and specially trained for the business of governing. Their authority is unlimited: they represent that 140One Infallible Wise Man, whom Plato frequently appeals to (in the Politikus, Kriton, Gorgias, and other dialogues), but never names. They are a very small number, perhaps only one: the persons naturally qualified being very few, and even they requiring the severest preparatory training. The Guardians, all of them educated up to a considerable point, both obey themselves the orders of these few Chiefs, and enforce obedience upon the productive multitude. Of this last-mentioned multitude, constituting numerically almost the whole city, we hear little or nothing: except that the division of labour is strictly kept up among them, and that neither wealth nor poverty is allowed to grow up.16 How this is to be accomplished, Plato does not point out: nor does he indicate how the mischievous working (i.e., mischievous, in his point of view, and as he declares it) of the proprietary and the family relations is to be obviated. His scheme tacitly assumes that separate property and family are to subsist among the great mass of the community, but not among the Guardians: he proclaims explicitly, that if the proprietary relations or the family relations were permitted among the Guardians, entire corruption of their character would ensue.17 Among the Demos or multitude, he postulates nothing except unlimited submission to the orders of the Rulers enforced through the Guardians. The regulative powers of the Rulers are assumed to be of omnipotent efficacy against every cause of mischief, subject only to one condition — That the purity of the golden breed, together with the Platonic training and discipline, are to be maintained among them unimpaired.
16 Plato, Republic, iv. p. 421.
17 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 417.
Everything in the Platonic Republic turns upon this elaborate training of the superior class: most of all, the Chiefs or Rulers — next, the Soldiers or Guardians. Besides this training, they are required to be placed in circumstances which will prevent them from feeling any private or separate interest of their own, apart from or adverse to that of the multitude. “Every man” (says Plato) “will best love those whose advantage he believes to coincide with his own, and when he is most convinced that if they do well, he himself will do well also: if not,141 not.”18 “The Rulers must be wise, powerful, and affectionately solicitous for the city.”
18 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 412 D.
Καὶ μὲν τοῦτό γ’ ἂν μάλιστα φιλοῖ, ᾧ ξυμφέρειν ἡγοῖτο τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ἑαυτῷ, καὶ ὅταν μάλιστα ἐκείνου μὲν εὖ πράττοντος οἴηται ξυμβαίνειν καὶ ἑαυτῷ εὖ πράττειν, μὴ δέ, τοὐναντίον.
Compare v. pp. 463-464.
These then are the two circumstances which Plato works out: The Education of the Rulers and Guardians: Their position and circumstances in regard to each other and to the remaining multitude. He does not himself prescribe, or at least he prescribes but rarely, what is to be enacted or ordered. He creates the generals and the soldiers; he relies upon the former for ordering, upon the latter for enforcing, aright.
Comparison of Plato with Xenophon — Cyropædia — Œconomicus.
On this point we may usefully compare him with his contemporary Xenophon. He, like Plato, presents himself to mankind as a preceptor or schoolmaster, rather than as a lawgiver. Most Grecian cities (he remarks) left the education of youth in the hands of parents, and permitted adults to choose their own mode of life, subject only to the necessity of obeying the laws: that is, of abstaining from certain defined offences, and of performing certain defined obligations — under penalties if such obedience were not rendered. From this mode of proceeding Xenophon dissents, and commends the Spartan Lawgiver Lykurgus for departing from it.19 To regulate public matters, without regulating the private life of the citizens, appeared to him impossible.20 At Sparta, the citizen was subject to authoritative regulation, from childhood to old age. In the public education, or in the public drill, he was constantly under supervision, going through prescribed exercises. This produced, according to Xenophon, “a city of pre-eminent happiness”. He proclaims and follows out the same peculiar principle, in his ideal scheme of society called the Persian laws. He embodies in the Cyropædia the biography of a model chief, trained up from his youth in (what Xenophon calls) the Persian system, and applying the virtues acquired therein to military exploits and to the government of mankind. The Persian polity, in which the hero Cyrus receives his training, is described. Instead of leaving individuals142 to their own free will, except as to certain acts or abstinences specifically enjoined, this polity placed every one under a regimental training: which both shaped his character beforehand, so as to make sure that he should have no disposition to commit offences21 — and subjected him to perpetual supervision afterwards, commencing with boyhood and continued to old age, through the four successive stages of boys, youths, mature men, and elders.
19 Xenophon, Rep. Lacedæm. i. 2. Λυκοῦργος, οὐ μιμησάμενος τὰς ἄλλας πόλεις, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐναντία γνοὺς ταῖς πλείσταις, προέχουσαν εὐδαιμονίᾳ τὴν πατρίδα ἀπέδειξεν.
20 Compare Plato, Legg. vi. p. 780 A.
21 Xenophon, Cyrop. i. 2, 2-6. Οὗτοι δὲ δοκοῦσιν οἱ νόμοι ἄρχεσθαι τοῦ κοινοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἐπιμελούμενοι οὐκ ἔνθεν ὅθενπερ ἐν ταῖς πλείσταις πόλεσιν ἄρχονται. Αἱ μὲν γὰρ πλεῖσται πόλεις, ἀφεῖσαι παιδεύειν ὅπως τις ἐθέλει τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ παῖδας καὶ αὐτοὺς τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους ὅπως ἐθέλουσι διάγειν, ἔπειτα προστάττουσιν αὐτοὺς μὴ κλέπτειν.… Οἱ δὲ Περσικοὶ νόμοι προλαβόντες ἐπιμέλονται ὅπως τὴν ἀρχὴν μὴ τοιοῦτοι ἔσονται οἱ πολῖται, οἷοι πονηροῦ τινος ἢ αἰσχροῦ ἔργου ἐφίεσθαι. Ἐπιμέλονται δὲ δὴ ὧδε.
Both of them combine polity with education — temporal with spiritual.
This general principle of combining polity with education, is fundamental both with Plato and Xenophon: to a great degree, it is retained also by Aristotle. The lawgiver exercises a spiritual as well as a temporal function. He does not content himself with prohibitions and punishments, but provides for fashioning every man’s character to a predetermined model, through systematic discipline begun in childhood and never discontinued. This was the general scheme, realised at Sparta in a certain manner and degree, and idealised both by Plato and Xenophon. The full application of the scheme, however, is restricted, in all the three, to a select body of qualified citizens; who are assumed to exercise dominion or headship over the remaining community.22
22 In Xenophon all Persians are supposed to be legally admissible to the public training; but in practice, none can frequent it constantly except those whose families can maintain them without labour; nor can any be received into the advanced stages, except those who have passed through the lower. Hence none go really through the training except the Homotimoi.
Differences between them — Character of Cyrus.
Thus far the general conception of Xenophon and Plato is similar: yet there are material differences between them. In Xenophon, the ultimate purpose is, to set forth the personal qualities of Cyrus: to which purpose the description of the general training of the citizens is preparatory, occupying only a small portion of the Cyropædia, and serving to explain the system out of which Cyrus sprang. And the character of Cyrus is looked at in reference to the government of mankind. Xenophon had seen 143governments, of all sorts, resisted and overthrown — despotisms, oligarchies, democracies. His first inference from these facts is, that man is a very difficult animal to govern:— much more difficult than sheep or oxen. But on farther reflection he recognises that the problem is noway insoluble: that a ruler may make sure of ruling mankind with their own consent, and of obtaining hearty obedience — provided that he goes to work in an intelligent manner.23 Such a ruler is described in Cyrus; who both conquered many distant and unconnected nations, — and governed them, when conquered, skilfully, so as to ensure complete obedience without any active discontent. The abilities and exploits of Cyrus thus step far beyond the range of the systematic Persian discipline, though that discipline is represented as having first formed both his character and that of his immediate companions. He is a despot responsible to no one, but acting with so much sagacity, justice, and benevolence, that his subjects obey him willingly. His military orders are arranged with the utmost prudence and calculation of consequences. He promotes the friends who have gone through the same discipline with himself, to be satraps of the conquered provinces, exacting from them submission, and tribute-collection for himself, together with just dealing towards the subjects. Each satrap is required to maintain his ministers, officers, and soldiers around him under constant personal inspection, with habits of temperance and constant exercise in hunting.24 These men and the Persians generally, constitute the privileged class and the military force of the empire:25 the other mass of subjects are not only kept disarmed, but governed as “gens tailleables et corvéables”. Moreover, besides combining justice and personal activity with generosity and winning manners, Cyrus does not neglect such ceremonial artifices and pomp as may impose on the imagination of spectators.26 He keeps up designedly not merely competition144 but mutual jealousy and ill-will among those around him. And he is careful that the most faithful among them shall be placed on his left hand at the banquet, because that side is the most exposed to treachery.27
23 Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 1, 3. ἤν τις ἐπισταμένως τοῦτο πράττῃ.
Compare Xenoph. Economic. c. xxi. where τὸ ἐθελόντων ἄρχειν is declared to be a superhuman good, while τὸ ἀκόντων τυραννεῖν is reckoned as a curse equivalent to that of Tantalus.
24 Xenophon, Cyropæd. viii. 6, 1-10.
25 Xenoph. Cyrop. viii. 1, 43-45, viii. 6, 13, vii. 5, 79. viii. 5, 24: εἰ δὲ σύ, ὦ Κῦρε, ἐπαρθεὶς ταῖς παρούσαις τύχαις, ἐπιχειρήσεις καὶ Περσῶν ἄρχειν ἐπὶ πλεονεξίᾳ, ὥσπερ τῶν ἄλλων, &c.
26 Xenoph. Cyrop. viii. 1, 40. ἀλλὰ καὶ καταγοητεύειν ᾤετο χρῆναι αὐτούς. Also viii. 3, 1.
27 Xenoph. Cyrop. viii. 2, viii. 4, 3.
Xenophontic genius for command — Practical training — Sokratic principles applied in Persian training.
What is chiefly present to the mind of Xenophon is, a select fraction of citizens passing their whole lives in a regimental training like that of Lacedæmon: uniformity of habits, exact obedience, the strongest bodily exercise combined with the simplest nutritive diet, perfect command of the physical appetites and necessities, so that no such thing as spitting or blowing the nose is seen.28 The grand purpose of the system, as at Sparta,29 is warlike efficiency: war being regarded as the natural state of man. The younger citizens learn the use of the bow and javelin, the older that of the sword and shield. As war requires not merely perfectly trained soldiers, but also the initiative of a superior individual chief, so Xenophon assumes in the chief of these men (like Agesilaus at Sparta) an unrivalled genius for command. The Xenophontic Cyrus is altogether a practical man. We are not told that he learnt anything except in common with the rest. Neither he nor they receive any musical or literary training. The course which they go through is altogether ethical, gymnastical, and military. Their boyhood is passed in learning justice and temperance,30 which are made express subjects of teaching by Xenophon and under express masters: Xenophon thus supplies the deficiency so often lamented by the Platonic Sokrates, who remarks that neither at Athens nor elsewhere can he find either teaching or teacher of justice. Cyrus learns justice and temperance along with the rest,31 but he does not learn more than the rest: nor does Xenophon perform 145his promise of explaining by what education such extraordinary genius for command is brought about.32 The superior character of Cyrus is assumed and described, but noway accounted for: indeed his rank and position at the court of Astyages (in which he stands distinguished from the other Persians) present nothing but temptations to indulgence, partially countervailed by wise counsel from his father Kambyses. We must therefore consider Cyrus to be a king by nature, like the chief bee in each hive33 — an untaught or self-taught genius, in his excellence as general and emperor. He obtains only one adventitious aid peculiar to himself. Being of divine progeny, he receives the special favour and revelations of the Gods, who, in doubtful emergencies, communicate to him by signs, omens, dreams, and sacrifices, what he ought to do and what he ought to leave undone.34 Such privileged communications are represented as indispensable to the success of a leader: for though it was his duty to learn all that could be learnt, yet even after he had done this, so much uncertainty remained behind, that his decisions were little better than a lottery.35 The Gods arranged the sequences of events partly in a regular and decypherable manner, so that a man by diligent study might come to understand them: but they reserved many important events for their own free-will, so as not to be intelligible by any amount of human study. Here the wisest man was at fault no less than the most ignorant: nor could he obtain the knowledge of them except by special revelation solicited or obtained. The Gods communicated such peculiar knowledge to their favourites, but not to every one indiscriminately: for they were under no necessity to take care of men towards whom they felt no inclination.36 Cyrus was one of the men thus specially privileged: but he was diligent in cultivating 146the favour of the Gods by constant worship, not merely at times when he stood in need of their revelations, but at other times also: just as in regard to human friends or patrons, assiduous attentions were requisite to keep up their goodwill.37
28 Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 2, 16, viii. 1, 42, viii. 8, 8. He insists repeatedly upon this point. Compare a curious passage in the Meditations of Marcus Antoninus, vi. 30.
29 Plato, Legg. i. p. 626. Plutarch, Lykurg. 25. Compare Lykurg. and Num. c. 4.
30 Xenophon, Cyrop. i. 2, 6-8.
The boys are appointed to adjudicate, under the supervision of the teacher, in disputes which occur among their fellows. As an instance of this practice, we find the well-known adjudication by young Cyrus, between the great boy and the little boy, in regard to the two coats; and a very instructive illustration it is, of the principle of property (Cyrop. i. 3, 17).
31 Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 3, 16, iii. 3, 35. Cyrus is indeed represented as having taken lessons from a paid teacher in the art τοῦ στρατηγεῖν: but these lessons were meagre, comprising nothing beyond τὰ τακτικά, i. 6, 12-15.
32 Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 1, 6. ποίᾳ τινὶ παιδείᾳ παιδευθεὶς τοσοῦτον διήνεγκεν εἰς τὸ ἄρχειν ἀνθρώπων.
33 Xenoph. Cyrop. v. 1, 24. The queen-bee is masculine in Xenophon’s conception.
34 Xenoph. Cyrop. viii. 7, 3, iv. 2, 15, iv. 1, 24. Compare Xenoph. Economic. v. 19-20.
35 Xenophon, Cyrop. i. 6, 46. Οὕτως ἥ γε ἀνθρωπίνη σοφία οὐδὲν μᾶλλον οἶδε τὸ ἄριστον αἰρεῖσθαι, ἢ εἰ κληρούμενος ὅ, τι λάχοι τοῦτό τις πράττοι. Θεοὶ δὲ ἀεὶ ὄντες πάντα ἴσασι τά τε γεγενημένα καὶ τὰ ὄντα, καὶ ὅ, τι ἐξ ἑκάστου αὐτῶν ἀποβήσεται· καὶ τῶν συμβουλευομένων ἀνθρώπων οἷς ἂν ἰλέῳ ὦσι, προσημαίνουσιν ἅ τε χρὴ ποιεῖν καὶ ἅ οὐ χρή. Εἰ δὲ μὴ πᾶσιν ἐθέλουσι συμβουλεύειν, οὐδὲν θαυμαστόν· οὐ γὰρ ἀνάγκη αὐτοῖς ἐστιν, ὧν ἂν μὴ θέλωσιν, ἐπιμελεῖσθαι.
Compare i. 6, 6-23, also the Memorab. i. 1, 8, where the same doctrine is ascribed to Sokrates.
36 Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 6, 46 ad fin.
37 Xenoph. Cyrop. i. 6, 3-5.
When it is desired to realise an ideal improvement of society (says Plato),38 the easiest postulate is to assume a despot, young, clever, brave, thoughtful, temperate, and aspiring, belonging to that superhuman breed which reigned under the presidency of Kronus. Such a postulate is assumed by Xenophon in his hero Cyrus. The Xenophontic scheme, though presupposing a collective training, resolves itself ultimately into the will of an individual, enforcing good regulations, and full of tact in dealing with subordinates. What Cyrus is in campaign and empire, Ischomachus (see the Economica of Xenophon) is in the household: but everything depends on the life of this distinguished individual. Xenophon leads us at once into practice, laying only a scanty basis of theory.
38 Plato, Legg. iv. pp. 709 E, 710-713.
Plato does not build upon an individual hero. Platonic training compared with Xenophontic.
In Plato’s Republic, on the contrary, the theory predominates. He does not build upon any individual hero: he constructs a social and educational system, capable of self-perpetuation at least for a considerable time.39 He describes the generating and sustaining principles of his system, but he does not exhibit it in action, by any pseudo-historical narrative: we learn indeed, that he had intended to subjoin such a narrative, in the dialogue called Kritias, of which only the commencement was ever written.40 He aims at forming a certain type of character, common to all the Guardians: superadding new features 147so as to form a still more exalted type, peculiar to those few Elders selected from among them to exercise the directorial function. He not only lays down the process of training in greater detail than Xenophon, but he also gives explanatory reasons for most of his recommendations.
39 Plato pronounces Cyrus to have been a good general and a patriot, but not to have received any right education, and especially to have provided no good education for his children, who in consequence became corrupt and degenerate (Legg. iii. 694). Upon this remark some commentators of antiquity founded the supposition of grudge or quarrel between Plato and Xenophon. We have no evidence to prove such a state of unfriendly feeling between the two, yet it is no way unlikely: and I think it highly probable that the remark just cited from Plato may have had direct reference to the Xenophontic Cyropædia. When we read the elaborate intellectual training which Plato prescribes for the rulers in his Republic, we may easily understand that, in his view, the Xenophontic Cyrus had received no right education at all. His remark moreover brings to view the defect of all schemes built upon a perfect despot — that they depend upon an individual life.
40 Plato, Timæus, pp. 20-26. Plato, Kritias, p. 108.
One prominent difference between the two deserves to be noticed. In the Xenophontic training, the ethical, gymnastic, and military, exigencies are carefully provided for: but the musical and intellectual exigencies are left out. The Xenophontic Persians are not affirmed either to learn letters, or to hear and repeat poetry, or to acquire the knowledge of any musical instrument. Nor does it appear, even in the case of the historical Spartans, that letters made any part of their public training. But the Platonic training includes music and gymnastics as co-ordinate and equally indispensable. Words or intellectual exercises, come in under the head of music.41 Indeed, in Plato’s view, even gymnastics, though bearing immediately on the health and force of the body, have for their ultimate purpose a certain action upon the mind; being essential to the due development of courage, energy, endurance, and self-assertion.42 Gymnastics without music produce a hard and savage character, insensible to persuasive agencies, hating discourse or discussion,43 ungraceful as well as stupid. Music without gymnastics generates a susceptible temperament, soft, tender, and yielding to difficulties, with quick but transient impulses. Each of the two, music and gymnastic, is indispensable as a supplement and corrective to the other.
41 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 376 E.
42 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 410 B. πρὸς τὸ θυμοειδὲς τῆς φύσεως βλέπων κἀκεῖνο ἐγείρων πονήσει μᾶλλον ἢ πρὸς ἰσχύν, οὐχ ὥσπερ οἱ ἄλλοι ἀθληταὶ ῥώμης ἕνεκα.
43 Plato, Republ. iii. pp. 410-411. 411 D-E: Μισόλογος δή, οἶμαι, ὁ τοιοῦτος γίγνεται καὶ ἄμουσος, καὶ πειθοῖ μὲν διὰ λόγων οὐδὲν ἔτι χρῆται, βίᾳ δὲ καὶ ἀγριότητι ὥσπερ θηρίον πρὸς πάντα διαπράττεται, καὶ ἐν ἀμαθίᾳ καὶ σκαιότητι μετὰ ἀῤῥυθμίας τε καὶ ἀχαριστίας ζῇ.
Platonic type of character compared with Xenophontic, is like the Athenian compared with the Spartan.
The type of character here contemplated by Plato deserves particular notice, as contrasted with that of Xenophon. It is the Athenian type against the Spartan. Periklês in his funeral oration, delivered at Athens in the first year of the Peloponnesian war, boasts that the Athenians had already reached a type similar to 148this — and that too, without any special individual discipline, legally enforced: that they combined courage, ready energy, and combined action — with developed intelligence, the love of discourse, accessibility to persuasion, and taste for the Beautiful. That which Plato aims at accomplishing in his Guardians, by means of a state-education at once musical and gymnastical — Periklês declares to have been already realised at Athens without any state-education, through the spontaneous tendencies of individuals called forth and seconded by the general working of the political system.44 He compliments his countrymen as having accomplished this object without the unnecessary rigour of a positive state-discipline, and without any other restraints than the special injunctions and prohibitions of a known law. It is this absence of state-discipline to which both Xenophon and Plato are opposed. Both of them follow Lykurgus in proclaiming the insufficiency of mere prohibitions; and in demanding a positive routine of duty to be prescribed by authority, and enforced upon individuals through life. In regard to end, Plato is more in harmony with Periklês: in regard to means, with Xenophon.
44 Thucyd. ii. 38-39-40.
The comparison between this speech and the third book of Plato’s Republic (pp. 401-402-410-411), is very interesting. The words of Perikles, φιλοκαλοῦμεν γὰρ μετ’ εὐτελείας καὶ φιλοσοφοῦμεν ἄνευ μαλακίας, taken along with the chapter preceding, mark that concurrent development of τὸ φιλόσοφον and τὸ θυμοειδὲς which Plato provides, and the avoidance of those defects which spring from the separate and exclusive cultivation of either.
Plato’s views respecting special laws and criminal procedure generally are remarkable. He not only manifests that repugnance towards the Dikastery — which is common to Sokrates, Xenophon, Isokrates, and Aristophanes — but he excludes it almost entirely from his system, as being superseded by the constant public discipline of the Guardians.
Professional soldiers are the proper modern standard of comparison with the regulations of Plato and Xenophon.
It is to be remembered that these propositions of Plato have reference, not to an entire and miscellaneous community, but to a select body called the Guardians, required to possess the bodily and mental attributes of soldiers, policemen, and superintendents. The standard of comparison in modern times, for the Lykurgean, Xenophontic or Platonic, training, is to 149be sought in the stringent discipline of professional soldiers; not in the general liberty, subject only to definite restrictions, enjoyed by non-military persons. In regard to soldiers, the Platonic principle is now usually admitted — that it is not sufficient to enact articles of war, defining what a soldier ought to do, and threatening him with punishment in case of infraction — but that, besides this, it is indispensable to exact from him a continued routine of positive performances, under constant professional supervision. Without this preparation, few now expect that soldiers should behave effectively when the moment of action arrives. This is the doctrine applied by Plato and Xenophon to the whole life of the citizen.
Music and Gymnastic — multifarious and varied effects of music.
Music and Gymnastic are regarded by Plato mainly as they bear upon and influence the emotional character of his citizens. Each of them is the antithesis, and at the same time the supplement, to the other. Gymnastic tends to develop exclusively the courageous and energetic emotions:— anger and the feeling of power — but no others. Whereas music (understood in the Platonic sense) has a far more multifarious and varied agency: it may develop either those, or the gentle and tender emotions, according to circumstances.45 In the hands of Tyrtæus and Æschylus, it generates vehement and fearless combatants: in the hands of Euripides and other pathetic poets, it produces tender, amatory, effeminate natures, ingenious in talk but impotent for action.46
45 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 376 B-C. If we examine Plato’s tripartite classification of the varieties of soul or mind, as it is given both in the Republic and in the Timæus (1. Reason, in the cranium. 2. Energy, θυμός, in the thoracic region. 3. Appetite, in the abdominal region) — we shall see that it assigns no place to the gentle, the tender, or the æsthetical emotions. These cannot be properly ranked either with energy (θυμὸς) or with appetite (ἐπιθυμία). Plato can find no root for them except in reason or knowledge, from which he presents them as being collateral derivatives — a singular origin. He illustrates his opinion by the equally singular analogy of the dog, who is gentle towards persons whom he knows, fierce towards those whom he does not know; so that gentleness is the product of knowledge.
46 See the argument between Æschylus and Euripides in the Ranæ of Aristophanes, 1043-1061-1068.
Great influence of the poets and their works on education.
In the age of Plato, Homer and other poets were extolled as the teachers of mankind, and as themselves possessing universal knowledge. They enjoyed a religious respect, being supposed to speak under divine inspiration,150 and to be the privileged reporters or diviners of a forgotten past.47 They furnished the most interesting portion of that floating mass of traditional narrative respecting Gods, Heroes, and ancestors, which found easy credence both as matter of religion and as matter of history: being in full harmony with the emotional preconceptions, and uncritical curiosity, of the hearers. They furnished likewise exhortation and reproof, rules and maxims, so expressed as to live in the memory — impressive utterance for all the strong feelings of the human bosom. Poetry was for a long time the only form of literature. It was not until the fifth century B.C. that prose compositions either began to be multiplied, or were carried to such perfection as to possess a charm of their own calculated to rival the poets, who had long enjoyed a monopoly as purveyors for æsthetical sentiment and fancy. Rhetors, Sophists, Philosophers, then became their competitors; opening new veins of intellectual activity,48 and sharing, to a certain extent, the pædagogic influence of the poets — yet never displacing them from their traditional function of teachers, narrators, and guides to the intelligence, as well as improving ministers to the sentiments, emotions, and imagination, of youth. Indeed, many Sophists and Rhetors presented themselves not as superseding,49 but as expounding and illustrating, the poets. Sokrates also did this occasionally, though not upon system.50
47 Aristoph. Ranæ, 1053. Æschylus is made to say:—
Ἀλλ’ ἀποκρύπτειν χρὴ τὸ πονηρὸν τόν γε ποιητήν,
καὶ μὴ παράγειν μηδὲ διδάσκειν· τοῖς μὲν γὰρ παιδαρίοισιν
ἐστὶ διδάσκαλος ὅστις φράζει, τοῖσιν δ’ ἡβῶσι ποιηταί.
πάνυ δὴ δεῖ χρηστὰ λέγειν ἡμᾶς.
Compare the words of Pluto which conclude the Ranæ, 1497.
Plato, Repub. x. p. 598 D-E. ἐπειδή τινων ἀκούομεν ὅτι οὗτοι (Homer and the poets) πάσας μὲν τέχνας ἐπίσανται, πάντα δὲ τἀνθρώπεια τὰ πρὸς ἀρετὴν καὶ κακίαν, καὶ τά γε θεῖα, &c. Also Plato, Legg. vii. pp. 810-811; Ion, pp. 536 A, 541 B: Xenoph. Memor. iv. 2, 10; and Sympos. iii. 6, where we learn that Nikeratus could repeat by heart the whole Iliad and Odyssey.
48 Plato, Legg. vii. p. 810. ὅλους ποιητὰς ἐκμανθάνοντας, &c.
49 It was to gain this facility that Kritias and Alkibiades, as Xenophon tells us, frequented the society of Sokrates, who (as Xenophon also tells us) “handled persons conversing with him just as he pleased” (Memor. i. 2, 14-18.)
A speaker in one of the Orations of Lysias (Orat. viii. Κακολογιῶν, s. 12) considers this power of arguing a disputed case as one of the manifestations τοῦ φιλοσοφεῖν — Καὶ ἐγὼ μὲν ᾤμην φιλοσοφοῦντας αὐτοὺς περὶ τοῦ πράγματος ἀντιλέγειν τὸν ἐναντίον λόγον· οἱ δ’ ἄρα οὐκ ἀντέλεγον ἀλλ’ ἀντέπραττον.
Compare the curious oration of Demosthenes against Lakritus, where the speaker imputes to Lakritus this abuse of argumentative power, as having been purchased by him at a large price from the teaching of Isokrates the Sophist, pp. 928-937-938.
50 Xenoph. Memorab. i. 2, 57-60.
151Plato’s idea of the purpose which poetry and music ought to serve in education.
It is this educational practice — common to a certain extent among Greeks, but more developed at Athens than elsewhere51 — which Plato has in his mind, when he draws up the outline of a musical education for his youthful Guardians. He does not intend it as a scheme for fostering the highest intellectual powers, or for exalting men into philosophers — which he reserves as an ulterior improvement, to be communicated at a later period of life, and only to a chosen few — the large majority being supposed incapable of appropriating it. His musical training (co-operating with the gymnastical) is intended to form the character of the general body of Guardians: to implant in them from early childhood a peculiar vein of sentiments, habits, emotions and emotional beliefs, ethical esteem and disesteem, love and hatred, &c., to inspire them (in his own phrase) with love of the beautiful or honourable.
51 The language of Plato is remarkable on this point. Republic, ii. p. 376 E. Τίς οὖν ἡ παιδεία; ἣ χαλεπὸν εὑρεῖν βελτίω τῆς ὑπὸ τοῦ πολλοῦ χρόνου εὑρημένης; ἐστὶ δέ που ἡ μὲν ἐπὶ σώμασι γυμναστική, ἡ δ’ ἐπὶ ψυχῇ μουσική — and a striking passage in the Kriton (p. 50 D), where education in μουσικὴ and γυμναστικὴ is represented as a positive duty on the part of fathers towards their sons.
About the multifarious and indefinite province of the Muses, comprehending all παιδεία and λόγος, see Plutarch, Sympos. Problem. ix. 14, 2-3, p. 908-909. Also Plutarch, De Audiendis Poetis, p. 31 F, about the many diverse interpretations of Homer; especially those by Chrysippus and Kleanthes.
The last half of the eighth Book of Aristotle’s Politica contains remarkable reflections on the educational effects of music, showing the refined distinctions which philosophical men of that day drew respecting the varieties of melody and rhythm. Aristotle adverts to music as an agency not merely for παιδεία but also for κάθαρσις (viii. 7, 1341, b. 38); to which last Plato does not advert. Aristotle also notices various animadversions by musical critics upon some of the dicta on musical subjects in the Platonic Republic (καλῶς ἐπιτιμῶσι καὶ τοῦτο Σωκράτει τῶν περὶ τὴν μουσικήν τινες, 1342, b. 23) — perhaps Aristoxenus: also 1342, a. 32. That the established character and habits of music could not be changed without leading to a revolution, ethical and political, in the minds of the citizens — is a principle affirmed by Plato, not as his own, but as having been laid down previously by Damon the celebrated musical instructor (Repub. iii. p. 424 C).
The following passage about Luther is remarkable:—
“Après avoir essayé de la théologie, Luther fut décidé par les conseils de ses amis, à embrasser l’étude du droit; qui conduisait alors aux postes les plus lucratifs de l’État et de l’Église. Mais il ne semble pas s’y être jamais livré avec goût. Il aimait bien mieux la belle littérature, et surtout la musique. C’était son art de prédilection. Il la cultiva toute sa vie et l’enseigna à ses enfans. Il n’hésite pas à déclarer que la musique lui semble le premier des arts, après la théologie. La musique (dit il) est l’art des prophètes: c’est le seul qui, comme la théologie, puisse calmer les troubles de l’ame et mettre le diable en fuite. Il touchait du luth, jouait de la flûte.” (Michelet, Mémoires de Luther, écrits par lui-même, pp. 4-5, Paris, 1835.)
He declares war against most of the traditional and consecrated poetry, as mischievous.
It is in this spirit that he deals with the traditional, popular, 152almost consecrated, poetical literature which prevailed around him. He undertakes to revise and recast the whole of it. Repudiating avowedly the purpose of the authors, he sets up a different point of view by which they are to be judged. The contest of principle, into which he now enters, subsisted (he tells us) long before his time: a standing discord between the philosophers and the poets.52 The poet is an artist53 whose aim is to give immediate pleasure and satisfaction: appealing to æsthetical sentiment, feeding imagination and belief, and finding embodiment for emotions, religious or patriotic, which he shares with his hearers: the philosopher is a critic, who lays down authoritatively deeper and more distant ends which he considers that poetry ought to serve, judging the poets according as they promote, neglect, or frustrate those ends. Plato declares the end which he requires poetry to serve in the training of his Guardians. It must contribute to form the ethical character which he approves: in so far as it thus contributes, he will tolerate it, but no farther. The charm and interest especially, belonging to beautiful poems, is not only no reason for admitting them, but is rather a reason (in his view) for excluding them.54 The more 153beautiful a poem is, the more effectively does it awaken, stimulate, and amplify, the emotional forces of the mind: the stronger is its efficacy in giving empire to pleasure and pain, and in resisting or overpowering the rightful authority of Reason. It thus directly contravenes the purpose of the Platonic education — the formation of characters wherein Reason shall effectively controul all the emotions and desires.55 Hence he excludes all the varieties of imitative poetry:— that is, narrative, descriptive, or dramatic poetry. He admits only hymns to the Gods and panegyrics upon good citizens:— probably also didactic, gnomic, or hortative, poetry of approved tone. Imitative poetry is declared objectionable farther, not only as it exaggerates the emotions, but on another ground — that it fills the mind with false and unreal representations; being composed by men who have no real knowledge of their subject, though they pretend to a sort of fallacious omniscience, and talk boldly about every thing.56
52 Plato, Republ. x. p. 607 B. παλαιὰ μέν τις διαφορὰ φιλοσοφίᾳ τε καὶ ποιητικῇ, &c.
53 Plato, Republ. x. p. 607 A-C. τὴν ἡδυσμένην Μοῦσαν … ἡ πρὸς ἡδονὴν ποιητικὴ καὶ ἡ μίμησις, &c.
Compare also Leges ii. p. 655 D seq., about the μουσικῆς ὀρθότης.
54 It is interesting to read in the first book of Strabo (pp. 15-19-25-27, &c.) the controversy which he carries on with Eratosthenes, as to the function of poets generally, and as to the purpose of Homer in particular. Eratosthenes considered Homer, and the other poets also, as having composed verses to please and interest, not to teach — ψυχαγωγίας χάριν, οὐ διδασκαλίας. Strabo (following the astronomer Hipparchus) controverts this opinion; affirming that poets had been the earliest philosophers and teachers of mankind, and that they must always continue to be the teachers of the multitude, who were unable to profit by history and philosophy. Strabo has the strongest admiration for Homer, not merely as a poet but as a moralising teacher. While Plato banishes Homer from his commonwealth, on the ground of pernicious ethical influence, Strabo claims for Homer the very opposite merit, and extols him as the best of all popular teachers — ἡ δὲ ποιητικὴ δημωφελεστέρα καὶ θέατρα πληροῦν δυναμένη· ἡ δὲ δὴ τοῦ Ὁμηροῦ ὑπερβαλλόντως … Ἄτε δὴ πρὸς τὸ παιδευτικὸν εἶδος τοὺς μύθους ἀναφέρων ὁ ποιητὴς ἐφρόντισε πολὺ μέρος τἀληθοῦς (Strabo, i. p. 20). The contradiction between Plato and Strabo is remarkable. Compare the beginning of Horace’s Epistle, i. 2. In the time of Strabo (more than three centuries after Plato’s death) there existed an abundant prose literature on matters of erudition, history, science, philosophy. The work of instruction was thus taken out of the poet’s hands; yet Strabo cannot bear to admit this. In the age of Plato the prose literature was comparatively small. Alexandria and its school did not exist: the poets covered a far larger portion of the entire ground of instruction.
As a striking illustration of the continued and unquestioning faith in the ancient legends, we may cite Galen: who, in a medical argument against Erasistratus, cites the cure of the daughters of Prœtus by Melampus as an incontestable authentic fact in medical evidence; putting to shame Erasistratus, who had not attended to it in his reasoning (Galen, De Atrâ Bile, T. v. p. 132, Kühn).
55 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 606-607, iii. p. 387 B.
56 Plato, Republic, x. pp. 598-599. When Plato attacks the poets so severely on the ground of their departure from truth and reality, and their false representations of human life — the poets might have retorted, that Plato departed no less from truth and reality in many parts of his Republic, and especially in his panegyric upon Justice; not to mention the various mythes which we read in Republic, Phædon, Phædrus, Politikus, &c.
Plato’s fictions are indeed ethical, intended to serve a pedagogic purpose; Homer's fictions are æsthetical, addressed to the fancy and emotions.
But it is not fair in Plato, the avowed champion of useful fiction, to censure the poets on the ground of their departing from truth.
Strict limits imposed by Plato on poets.
Even hymns to the Gods, however, may be composed in many different strains, according to the conception which the poet entertains of their character and attributes. The Homeric Hymns which we now possess could not be acceptable to Plato. While denouncing much of the current theological poetry, he assumes a censorial authority, in his joint character of Lykurgus and Sokrates,57 to dictate what sort of poetical compositions shall be tolerated among his Guardians. He pronounces many of the tales in Homer and Hesiod to be 154not merely fictions, but mischievous fictions: not fit to be circulated, even if they had been true.
57 Plutarch, Sympos. Quæst. viii. 2, 2, p. 719.
Ὁ Πλάτων, ἅτε δὴ τῷ Σωκράτει τὸν Λυκοῦργον ἀναμιγνύς, &c.
His view of the purposes of fiction — little distinction between fiction and truth. His censures upon Homer and the tragedians.
Plato admits fiction, indeed, along with truth as an instrument for forming the character. Nay, he draws little distinction between the two, as regards particular narratives. But the point upon which he specially insists, is, that all the narratives in circulation, true or false, respecting Gods and Heroes, shall ascribe to them none but qualities ethically estimable and venerable. He condemns Homer and Hesiod as having misrepresented the Gods and Heroes, and as having attributed to them acts inconsistent with their true character, like a painter painting a portrait unlike to the original.58 He rejects in this manner various tales told in these poems respecting Zeus, Hêrê, Hephæstus — the fraudulent rupture of the treaty between the Greeks and Trojans by Pandarus, at the instigation of Zeus and Athênê — the final battle of the Gods, in the Iliad59 — the transformations of Proteus and Thetis, and the general declaration in the Odyssey that the Gods under the likeness of various strangers visit human cities as inspectors of good and bad behaviour60 — the dream sent by Zeus to deceive Agamemnon (in the second book of the Iliad), and the charge made by Thetis in Æschylus against Apollo, of having deceived her and killed her son Achilles61 — the violent amorous impulse of Zeus, in the fourteenth book of the Iliad — the immoderate laughter among the Gods, when they saw the lame Hephæstus busying himself in the service of the banquet. Plato will not permit the realm of Hades to be described as odious and full of terrors, because the Guardians will thereby learn to fear death.62 Nor will he tolerate the Homeric pictures of heroes or semi-divine persons, like Priam or Achilles, plunged in violent sorrow 155for the death of friends and relatives:— since a thoroughly right-minded man, while he regards death as no serious evil to the deceased, is at the same time most self-sufficing in character, and least in need of extraneous sympathy.63
58 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 377 E.
59 Plato, Repub. ii. pp. 378-379. Plutarch observes about Chrysippus — ὅτι τῷ θεῷ καλὰς μὲν ἐπικλήσεις καὶ φιλανθρώπους ἀεί, ἄγρια δ’ ἔργα καὶ βάρβαρα καὶ Γαλακτικὰ προστίθησιν (De Stoic. Repugnant. c. 32, p. 1049 B).
60 Plato, Republ. ii. p. 380 B. Plato in the beginning of his Sophistês treats this doctrine of the appearances of the Gods with greater respect. Lucretius argues that the Gods, being in a state of perfect happiness and exempt from all want, cannot change; Lucret. v. 170, compared with Plato, Rep. ii. p. 381 B.
61 Plato, Republ. ii. pp. 380-381-383.
62 Plato, Republ. iii. p. 386 C. Maximus Tyrius (Diss. xxiv. c. 5) remarks, that upon the principles here laid down by Plato, much of what occurs in the Platonic dialogues respecting the erotic vehemence and enthusiasm of Sokrates ought to be excluded from education.
63 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 387 D-E. ὁ ἐπιεικὴς ἀνὴρ τῷ ἐπιεικεῖ, οὗπερ καὶ ἑταῖρός ἐστι, τὸ τεθνάναι οὐ δεινὸν ἡγήσεται … Οὐκ ἄρα ὑπέρ γε ἐκείνου ὡς δεινόν τι πεπονθότος ὀδύροιτ’ ἄν … Ἀλλὰ μὴν … ὁ τοιοῦτος μάλιστα αὐτὸς αὑτῷ αὐτάρχης πρὸς τὸ εὖ ζῇν καὶ διαφερόντως τῶν ἄλλων ἥκιστα ἑτέρου προσδεῖται … Ἥκιστ’ ἄρα αὐτῷ δεινὸν στερηθῆναι υἱέος, ἢ ἀδέλφου, ἢ χρημάτων, ἢ ἄλλου του τῶν τοιούτων &c.
The doctrine of Epikurus, as laid down by Lucretius (iii. 844-920), coincides here with that of Plato:—
Tu quidem ut es leto sopitus, sic eris ævi
Quod superest, cunctis privatu’ doloribus ægris;
At nos horrifico cinefactum te propé busto
Insatiabiliter deflebimus, æternumque
Nulla dies nobis mœrorem e pectore demet.
Illud ab hoc igitur quærendum est, quid sit amari
Tantopere, ad somnum si res redit atque quietem
Cur quisquam æterno possit tabescere luctu?
Plato insists, not less strenuously than Lucretius, upon preserving the minds of his Guardians from the frightful pictures of Hades, which terrify all hearers — φρίττειν δὴ ποιεῖ ὡς οἷόν τε πάντας τοὺς ἀκούοντας (Repub. iii. p. 387 C). Lucret. iii. 37:
“metus ille foras præceps Acheruntis agendus
Funditus, humanam qui vitam turbat ab imo”.
Type of character prescribed by Plato, to which all poets must conform, in tales about Gods and Heroes.
These and other condemnations are passed by Plato upon the current histories respecting Gods, and respecting heroes the sons or immediate descendants of Gods. He entirely forbids such histories, as suggesting bad examples to his Guardians. He prohibits all poetical composition, except under his own censorial supervision. He lays down, as a general doctrine, that the Gods are good; and he will tolerate no narrative which is not in full harmony with this predetermined type. Without giving any specimens of approved narratives — which he declares to be the business not of the lawgiver, but of the poet — he insists only that all poets shall conform in their compositions to his general standard of orthodoxy.64
64 Compare also Plato de Legg. x. p. 886 C, xii. p. 941 B.
Applying such a principle of criticism, Plato had little difficulty in finding portions of the current mythology offensive to his ideal type of goodness. Indeed he might have found many others, yet more offensive to it than some of those which he has selected.65 But the extent of his variance with the current views 156reveals itself still more emphatically, when he says that the Gods are not to be represented as the cause of evil things to us, but only of good things. Most persons (he says) consider the Gods as causes of all things, evil as well as good: but this is untrue:66 the Gods dispense only the good things, not the evil; and the good things are few in number compared with the evil. Plato therefore requires the poet to ascribe all good things to the Gods and to no one else; but to find other causes, apart from the Gods, for sufferings and evils. But if the poet chooses to describe sufferings as inflicted by the Gods, he must at the same time represent these sufferings as a healing penalty or real benefit to the sufferers.67
65 As one example, Plato cites the story in the Iliad, that Achilles cut off his hair as an offering to the deceased Patroklus, after his hair had been consecrated by vow to the river Spercheius (Rep. iii. p. 391). If we look at the Iliad (xxiii. 150), we find that the vow to the Spercheius had been originally made by Peleus, conditionally upon the return of Achilles to his native land. Now Achilles had been already forewarned that he would never return thither, consequently the vow to Spercheius was void, and the execution of it impracticable.
Plato does not disbelieve the legend of Hippolytus; the cruel death of an innocent youth, brought on by the Gods in consequence of the curse of his father Theseus (Legg. xi. p. 931 B).
66 Plato, Republ. ii. p. 379 C. Οὐδ’ ἄρα ὁ θεός, ἐπειδὴ ἀγαθός, πάντων ἂν εἴη αἴτιος, ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ λέγουσιν, ἀλλ’ ὀλίγων μὲν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις αἴτιος, πολλῶν δὲ ἀναίτιος· πολὺ γὰρ ἐλάττω τἀγαθὰ τῶν κακῶν ἡμῖν. Καὶ τῶν μὲν ἀγαθῶν οὐδένα ἄλλον αἰτιατέον, τῶν δὲ κακῶν ἄλλ’ ἄττα δεῖ ζητεῖν τὰ αἴτια, ἀλλ’ οὐ τὸν θεόν.
67 Plato, Rep, ii. p. 380 B. Plutarch, Consolat. ad Apollonium (107 C, 115 E), citation from Pindar — ἓν παρ’ ἐσθλὸν πήματα σύνδυο δαίονται βροτοῖς Ἀθάνατοι — πολλῷ γὰρ πλείονα τὰ κακά· καὶ τὰ μὲν (sc. ἀγαθὰ) μόγις καὶ διὰ πολλῶν φροντίδων κτώμεθα, τὰ δὲ κακά, πάνυ ῥᾳδίως.
In the Sept. cont. Thebas of Æschylus, Eteokles complains of this doctrine as a hardship and unfairness to the chief. If (says he) we defend the city successfully, our success will be ascribed to the Gods; if, on the contrary, we fail, Eteokles alone will be the person blamed for it by all the citizens:—
Εἰ μὲν γὰρ εὖ πράξαιμεν, αἰτία θεοῦ·
Εἰ δ’ αὖθ’, ὃ μὴ γένοιτο, συμφορὰ τύχοι,
Ἐτεοκλέης ἂν εἷς πολὺς κατὰ πτόλιν
Ὑμνοῖθ’ ὑπ’ ἀστῶν φροιμίοις πολυῤῥόθοις
Οἰμώγμασιν θ’ — (v. 4).
The principle involved in these criticisms of Plato deserves notice, in more than one point of view.
Position of Plato as an innovator on the received faith and traditions. Fictions indispensable to the Platonic Commonwealth.
That which he proposes for his commonwealth is hardly less than a new religious creed, retaining merely old names of the Gods and old ceremonies. He intends it to consist of a body of premeditated fictitious stories, prepared by poets under his inspection and controul. He does not set up any pretence of historical truth for these stories, when first promulgated: he claims no traditionary evidence, no divine inspiration, such as were associated more or less with the received legends, in the minds both of those who recited and of those who heard them. He rejects these legends, because 157they are inconsistent with his belief and sentiment as to the character of the Gods. Such rejection we can understand:— but he goes a step farther, and directs the coinage of a new body of legends, which have no other title to credence, except that they are to be in harmony with his belief about the general character of the Gods, and that they will produce a salutary ethical effect upon the minds of his Guardians. They are deliberate fictions, the difference between fact and fiction being altogether neglected: they are pious frauds, constructed upon an authoritative type, and intended for an orthodox purpose. The exclusive monopoly of coining and circulating fictions is a privilege which Plato exacts for himself as founder, and for the Rulers, after his commonwealth is founded.68 All the narrative matter circulating in his community is to be prepared with reference to his views, and stamped at his mint. He considers it not merely a privilege, but a duty of the Rulers, to provide and circulate fictions for the benefit of the community, like physicians administering wholesome medicines.69 This is a part of the machinery essential to his purpose. He remarks that it had already been often worked successfully by others, for the establishment of cities present or past. There had been no recent example of it, indeed, nor will he guarantee the practicability of it among his own contemporaries. Yet, unless certain fundamental fictions can be accredited among his citizens, the scheme of his commonwealth must fail. They must be made to believe that they are all earthborn and all brethren; that the earth which they inhabit is also their mother: but that there is this difference among them — the 158Rulers have gold mingled with their constitution, the other Guardians have silver, the remaining citizens have brass or iron. This bold fiction must be planted as a fundamental dogma, as an article of unquestioned faith, in the minds of all the citizens, in order that they may be animated with the proper sentiments of reverence towards the local soil as their common mother — of universal mutual affection among themselves as brothers — and of deference, on the part of the iron and brazen variety, towards the gold and silver. At least such must be the established creed of all the other citizens except the few Rulers. It ought also to be imparted, if possible, to the Rulers themselves; but they might be more difficult to persuade.70
68 Plato, Republ. iii. p. 389 B; compare ii. p. 382 C.
Dähne (Darstellung der Jüdisch-Alexandrin. Religions-Philosophie, i. pp. 48-56) sets forth the motives which determined the new interpretations of the Pentateuch by the Alexandrine Jews, from the translators of the Septuagint down to Philo. In the view of Philo there was a double meaning: the literal meaning, for the vulgar: but also besides this, there was an allegorical, the real and true meaning, discoverable only by sagacious judges. Moses (he said) gave the literal meaning, though not true, πρὸς τὴν τῶν πολλῶν διδασκαλίαν. Μανθανέτωσαν οὖν πάντες οἱ τοιοῦτοι τᾶ ψευδῆ, δι’ ὧν ὠφεληθήσονται, εἰ μὴ δύνανται δι’ ἀληθείας σωφρονίζεσθαι (Philo, Quæst. in Genesin, ap. Dähne, p. 50). Compare also Philo, on the κανόνες καὶ νόμοι τῆς ἀλληγορίας, Dähne, pp. 60-68.
Herakleitus (Allegoriæ Homericæ ed. Mehler, 1851) defends Homer warmly against the censorial condemnation of Plato. Herakleitus contends for an allegorical interpretation, and admits that it is necessary to find one. He inveighs against Plato in violent terms. Ἐῤῥίφθω δὲ καὶ Πλάτων ὁ κόλαξ, &c.
Isokrates (Orat. Panathen. s. 22-28) complains much of the obloquy which he incurred, because some opponents alleged that he depreciated the poets, especially Homer and Hesiod.
69 Plato, Repub. iii. pp. 389 B, 414 C.
70 Plato, Repub. iii. p. 414 B-C. Τίς ἂν οὖν ἡμῖν μηχανὴ γένοιτο τῶν ψευδῶν τῶν ἐν δέοντι γιγνομένων, ὧν νῦν δὴ ἐλέγομεν, γενναῖόν τι ἓν ψευδομένους πεῖσαι, μάλιστα μὲν καὶ αὐτοὺς τοὺς ἄρχοντας, εἰ δὲ μή, τὴν ἄλλην πόλιν; Ποῖον τι; Μηδὲν καινόν, ἀλλὰ Φοινικικόν τι, πρότερον μὲν ἤδη πολλαχοῦ γεγονός, ὡς φασιν οἱ ποιηταὶ καὶ πεπείκασιν, ἐφ’ ἡμῶν δὲ οὐ γεγονὸς οὐδ’ οἶδα εἰ γενόμενον ἄν, πεῖσαι δὲ συχνῆς πειθοῦς. Compare De Legg. pp. 663-664.
Difficulty of procuring first admission for fictions. Ease with which they perpetuate themselves after having been once admitted.
Plato fully admits the extreme difficulty of procuring a first introduction and establishment for this new article of faith, which nevertheless is indispensable to set his commonwealth afloat. But if it can be once established, there will be no difficulty at all in continuing and perpetuating it.71 Even as to the first commencement, difficulty is not to be confounded with impossibility: for the attempt has already been made with success in many different places, though there happens to be no recent instance.
71 Plato, Repub. iii. p. 415 C-D. Τοῦτον οὖν τὸν μῦθον ὅπως ἂν πεισθεῖεν, ἔχεις τινὰ μηχανήν; Οὐδαμῶς, ὅπως γ’ ἂν αὐτοὶ οὗτοι· ὅπως μέντ’ ἂν οἱ τούτων υἱεῖς καὶ οἱ ἔπειτα οἵ τ’ ἄλλοι ἄνθρωποι οἱ ὕστερον.
We learn hence to appreciate the estimate which Plato formed of the ethical and religious faith, prevalent in the various societies around him. He regards as fictions the accredited stories respecting Gods and Heroes, which constituted the matter of religious belief among his contemporaries; being familiarised to all through the works of poets, painters, and sculptors, as well as through votive offerings, such as the robe annually worked by the women of Athens for the Goddess Athênê. These fictions he supposes to have originally obtained credence either through the charm of poets and narrators, or through the deliberate coinage 159of an authoritative lawgiver; presupposing in the community a vague emotional belief in the Gods — invisible, quasi-human agents, of whom they knew nothing distinct — and an entire ignorance of recorded history, past as well as present. Once received into the general belief, which is much more an act of emotion than of reason, such narratives retain their hold both by positive teaching and by the self-operating transmission of this emotional faith to each new member of the community, as well as by the almost entire absence of criticism: especially in earlier days, when men were less intelligent but more virtuous than they are now (in Plato’s time) — when among their other virtues, that of unsuspecting faith stood conspicuous, no one having yet become clever enough to suspect falsehood.72 This is what Plato assumes as the natural mental condition of society, to which he adapts his improvements. He disapproves of the received fictions, not because they are fictions, but because they tend to produce a mischievous ethical effect, from the acts which they ascribe to the Gods and Heroes. These acts were such, that many of them (he says), even if they had been true, ought never to be promulgated. Plato does not pretend to substitute truth in place of fiction; but to furnish a better class of fictions in place of a worse.73 The religion of the Commonwealth, in his view, is to furnish fictions and sanctions to assist the moral and political views of the lawgiver, whose duty it is to employ religion for this purpose.74
72 Plato, Legg. iii. p. 679 C-E. ἀγαθοὶ μὲν δὴ διὰ ταῦτά τε ἦσαν καὶ διὰ τὴν λεγομένην εὐήθειαν· ἃ γὰρ ἤκουον καλὰ καὶ αἰσχρά, εὐήθεις ὄντες ἡγοῦντο ἀληθέστατα λέγεσθαι καὶ ἐπείθοντο· ψεῦδος γὰρ ὑπονοεῖν οὐδεὶς ἠπίστατο διὰ σοφίαν, ὥσπερ τὰ νῦν, ἀλλὰ περὶ θεῶν τε καὶ ἀνθρώπων τὰ λεγόμενα ἀληθῆ νομίζοντες ἔζων κατὰ ταῦτα … τῶν νῦν ἀτεχνότεροι μὲν καὶ ἀμαθέστεροι … εὐηθέστεροι δὲ καὶ ἀνδρειότεροι καὶ ἅμα σωφρονέστεροι καὶ ξύμπαντα δικαιότεροι.
73 Plato, Legg. ii. p. 663 E.
This carelessness about historical matter of fact, as such — is not uncommon with ancient moralists and rhetoricians. Both of them were apt to treat history not as a series of true matters of fact, exemplifying the laws of human nature and society, and enlarging our knowledge of them for future inference — but as if it were a branch of fiction, to be handled so as to please our taste or improve our morality. Dionysius of Halikarnassus, blaming Thucydides for the choice of his subject, goes so far as to say “that the Peloponnesian war, a period of ruinous discord in Greece, ought to have been left in oblivion, and never to have passed into history” (Dion. Hal. ad Cn. Pomp. de Præc. Histor. Judic. p. 768 Reiske).
See a note at the beginning of chap. 38 of my “History of Greece”.
74 Sext. Empiric. adv. Mathematicos, ix. 54, p. 562. Compare Polybius, vi. 56; Dion. Hal. ii. 13; Strabo, i. p. 19.
These three, like Plato, consider the matters of religious belief to be fictions prescribed by the lawgiver for the purpose of governing those minds which are of too low a character to listen to truth and reason. Strabo states, more clearly than the other two, the employment of μῦθοι by the lawgiver for purposes of education and government; he extends this doctrine to πᾶσα θεολογία ἀρχαϊκὴ … πρὸς τοὺς νηπιόφρονας (p. 19).
Views entertained by Kritias and others, that the religious doctrines generally believed had originated with law-givers, for useful purposes.
We read in a poetical fragment of Kritias (the contemporary 160of Plato, though somewhat older) an opinion advanced — that even the belief in the existence of the Gods sprang originally from the deliberate promulgation of lawgivers, for useful purposes. The opinion of Plato is not exactly the same, but it is very analogous: for he holds that all which the community believe, respecting the attributes and acts of the Gods, must consist of fictions, and that accordingly it is essential for the lawgiver to determine what the accredited fictions in his own community shall be: he must therefore cause to be invented and circulated such as conduce to the ethical and political results which he himself approves. Private citizens are forbidden to tell falsehood; but the lawgiver is to administer falsehood, on suitable occasions, as a wholesome medicine.75
75 Plato, Republic, iii. p. 389 B. ἐν φαρμάκου εἴδει. Compare De Legg. ii. p. 663 D.
Eusebius enumerates this as one of the points of conformity between Plato and the Hebrew records: in which, Eusebius says, you may find numberless similar fictions (μυρία τοιαῦτα), such as the statements of God being jealous or angry or affected by other human passions, which are fictions recounted for the benefit of those who require such treatment (Euseb. Præpar. Evan. xii. 31).
Plato lays down his own individual preconception respecting the characters of the Gods, as orthodoxy for his Republic: directing that the poets shall provide new narratives conformable to that type. What is more, he establishes a peremptory censorship to prevent the circulation of any narratives dissenting from it. As to truth or falsehood, all that he himself claims is that his general preconception of the character of the Gods is true, and worthy of their dignity; while those entertained by his contemporaries are false; the particular narratives are alike fictitious in both cases. Fictitious as they are, however, Plato has fair reason for his confident assertion, that if they could once be imprinted on the minds of his citizens, as portions of an established creed, they would maintain themselves for a long time in unimpaired force and credit. He guards them by the artificial protection of a censorship, stricter than any real Grecian city 161exhibited: over and above the self-supporting efficacy, usually sufficient without farther aid, which inheres in every established religious creed.
Main points of dissent between Plato and his countrymen, in respect to religious doctrine.
The points upon which Plato here chiefly takes issue with his countrymen, are — the general character of the Gods — and the extent to which the Gods determine the lot of human beings. He distinctly repudiates as untrue, that which he declares to be the generally received faith: though in other parts of his writings, we find him eulogising the merit of uninquiring faith — of that age of honest simplicity when every one believed what was told him from his childhood, and when no man was yet clever enough to suspect falsehood.76
76 Plato, Legg. iii. p. 679; compare x. p. 887 C, xi. p. 913 C.
So again in the Timæus (p. 40 E), he accepts the received genealogy of the Gods, upon the authority of the sons and early descendants of the Gods. These sons must have known their own fathers; we ought therefore “to follow the law and believe them” (ἐπομένους τῷ νόμῳ πιστευτέον) though they spoke without either probable or demonstrative proof (ἀδύνατον οὖν θεῶν παισὶν ἀπιστεῖν, καίπερ ἄνευ τε εἰκότων καὶ ἀναγκαίων ἀποδείξεων λέγουσιν).
That which Plato here enjoins to be believed is the genealogy of Hesiod and other poets, though he does not expressly name the poets. Julian in his remark on the passage (Orat. vii. p. 237) understands the poets to be meant, and their credibility to be upheld, by Plato — καὶ τοιαῦτα ἕτερα ἐν Τιμαίῳ· πιστεύειν γὰρ ἁπλῶς ἀξιοῖ καὶ χωρὶς ἀποδείξεως λεγομένοις, ὅσα ὑπὲρ τῶν θεῶν φασὶν οἱ ποιηταί. See Lindau’s note on this passage in his edition of the Timæus, p. 62.
Theology of Plato compared with that of Epikurus — Neither of them satisfied the exigencies of a believing religious mind of that day.
The discord on this important point between Plato and the religious faith of his countrymen, deserves notice the rather, because the doctrines in the Republic are all put into the mouth of Sokrates, and are even criticised by Aristotle under the name of Sokrates.77 Most people, and among them the historical Sokrates, believed in the universal agency of the Gods.78 No — (affirms Plato) the Gods are good beings, whose nature is inconsistent with the production of evil: we must therefore divide the course of events into two portions, referring the good only to the Gods and the evil to other causes. Moreover — since the evil in the world is not merely considerable, but so considerable as greatly to preponderate over good, we must pronounce that most things are produced by these other 162causes (not farther particularised by Plato) and comparatively few things by the Gods. Now Epikurus (and some contemporaries79 of Plato even before Epikurus) adopted these same premisses as to the preponderance of evil — but drew a different inference. They inferred that the Gods did not interfere at all in the management of the universe. Epikurus conceived the Gods as immortal beings living in eternal tranquillity and happiness; he thought it repugnant to their nature to exchange this state for any other — above all, to exchange it for the task of administering the universe, which would impose upon them endless vexation without any assignable benefit. Lastly, the preponderant evil, visibly manifested in the universe, afforded to his mind a positive proof that it was not administered by them.80
77 Aristotel. Politic. ii. 1, &c. Compare the second of the Platonic Epistles, p. 314.
78 Ζεὺς παναίτιος, πανεργέτας, &c. Æschyl. Agamem. 1453. Xenophon, Memorab. i. 1, 8-9.
79 Plato, Legg. x. pp. 899 D, 888 C. He intimates that there were no inconsiderable number of persons who then held the doctrine, compare p. 891 B.
80 Lucretius, ii. 180:
Nequaquam nobis divinitus esse creatam
Naturam mundi, quæ tantâ ‘st prædita culpâ —
Nam — pro sancta Deûm tranquillâ pectora pace,
Quæ placidum degunt ævum, vitamque serenam —
Quis regere immensi summam, quis habere profundi
Indu manu validas potis est moderanter habenas?
Compare v. 167-196, vi. 68.
Comparing the two doctrines, we see that Plato, though he did not reject altogether, as Epikurus did, the agency of the Gods in the universe, — restricted it here nevertheless so as to suit the ethical exigencies of his own mind. He thus discarded so large a portion of it, as to place himself, or rather his spokesman Sokrates, in marked hostility with the received religious faith. If Melêtus and Anytus lived to read the Platonic Republic (we may add, also the dialogue called Euthyphron), they would probably have felt increased persuasion that their indictment against Sokrates was well-grounded:81 since he stood proclaimed by the most eminent of his companions as an innovator in matters of 163religion, and as disbelieving a very large portion of what was commonly received by pious Athenians. With many persons, it was considered a species of sacrilege to disbelieve any narrative which had once been impressed upon them respecting the Gods or the divine agency: the later Pythagoreans laid it down as a canon, that this was never to be done.82
81 Xenoph. Memorab. i. 1. Ἀδικεῖ Σωκράτης, οὓς μὲν ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων, ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρων· ἀδικεῖ δὲ καὶ τοὺς νέους διαφθείρων.
This was the form of the indictment against Sokrates. The Republic of Plato certainly shows ground for the first part of it. Sokrates did not introduce new names and persons of Gods, but he preached new views about their characters and agency, and (what probably would cause the greatest offence) he emphatically blames the received views. The Republic of Plato here embodies what we read in the Platonist Maximus Tyrius (ix. 8) as the counter-indictment of Sokrates against the Athenian people — ἡ δὲ Σωκράτους κατὰ Ἀθηναίων γραφή· Ἀδικεῖ ὁ Ἀθηναίων δῆμος, οὓς μὲν Σωκράτης νομίζει θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων, ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια ἐπεισφέρων … Ἀδικεῖ δὲ ὁ δῆμος καὶ τοὺς νέους διαφθείρων.
82 Jamblichus, Vit. Pythag. c. 138-148. Adhortatio ad Philosophiam, p. 324, ed. Kiessling. See chap. xxxvii. of my “History of Greece,” p. 345, last edit.
Plato conceives the Gods according to the exigencies of his own mind — complete discord with those of the popular mind.
Now the Gods, as here conceived by Plato conformably to his own ethical exigencies, are representatives of abstract goodness, or of what he considers as such83 — but they are nothing else. They have no other human emotions: they are invoked for the purposes of the schoolmaster and the lawgiver, to distribute prizes, and inflict chastisements, on occasions which Plato thinks suitable. But Gods with these restricted functions were hardly less at variance with the current religious belief than the contemplative, theorising, Gods of Aristotle — or the perfectly tranquil and happy Gods of Epikurus. The Gods of the popular faith were not thus specialised types, embodiments of one abstract, ethical, idea. They were concrete personalities, many-sided and many-coloured, endowed with great variety of dispositions and emotions: having sympathies and antipathies, preferences and dislikes, to persons, places, and objects: sensitive on the score of attention paid to themselves, and of offerings tendered by men, jealous of any person who appeared to make light of them, or to put himself upon a footing of independence or rivalry: connected with particular men and cities by ties of family and residence.84 They corresponded164 with all the feelings of the believer; with his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows, his pride or his shame, his love or preference towards some persons or institutions, his hatred and contempt for others. They were sometimes benevolent, sometimes displeased and unpropitious, according to circumstances. They were indeed believed to interfere for the protection of what the believer accounted innocence or merit, and for the avenging of what he called wrong. But this was only one of many occasions on which they interfered. They dispensed alternately evil and good, out of the two casks mentioned in that Homeric verse85 which Plato so emphatically censures. Nay, it was as much a necessity of the believer’s imagination to impute marked and serious suffering to the envy or jealousy of the Gods, as good fortune and prosperity to their kindness. Such a turn of thought is not less visible in Herodotus, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Lykurgus, &c., than in Homer and the other poets whom Plato rebukes. Moreover it is frequently expressed or implied in the answers or admonitions delivered from oracles.86
83 Plato, Republic, ii. p. 379.
In the sixteenth chapter of my “History of Greece” (see p. 504 seq.) I have given many remarks on the ancient Grecian legends, and on the varying views entertained in ancient times respecting them, considered chiefly in reference to the standard of historical belief. I here regard them more as matters of religious belief and emotion.
84 Nowhere is the relation between men and the Gods, and the all-covering variety of divine agency, in ancient Grecian belief, more instructively illustrated than in the Hippolytus of Euripides. Hippolytus, a youth priding himself on piety and still more upon inexorable continence (1140-1365), is not merely the constant worshipper of the goddess Artemis, but also her companion; she sits with him, hunts with him; he hears her voice and converses with her; he knows her presence by the divine odour, though he does not see her (σύνθακε, συγκύναγε, 1093-1391-87). But he disdains to address a respectful word to Aphrodité, or to yield in any way to her influence, though he continually passes by her statue which stands at his gates; he even speaks of her in disparaging terms (13-101). Aphrodité becomes deeply indignant with him, not because he is devoted to Artemis, but because he neglects and despises herself (20): for the Gods take offence when they are treated with disrespect, just as men do (6-94). His faithful attendant laments this misguided self-sufficiency, and endeavours in vain to reason his master out of it (see the curious dialogue 87-120, also 445). Aphrodité accordingly resolves to punish Hippolytus for this neglect by inspiring Phædra, his step-mother, with an irresistible passion for him: she foresees that this will prove the destruction of Phædra as well as of Hippolytus, but no such consideration can be allowed to countervail the necessity of punishing her enemies. She accordingly smites Phædra with love-sickness, which, since Phædra will not reveal the cause, the chorus ascribes to the displeasure and visitation of some unknown divinity, Pan, Hekatê, Kybelê, &c. (142-238). The course of this beautiful drama is well known: Aphrodité proves herself a goddess and something more (359): Phædra and Hippolytus both perish; Theseus is struck down with grief and remorse (1402); while Artemis, who appears at the end to console the dying Hippolytus and reprove Theseus, laments that it was not in her power, according to the established etiquette among the Gods, to interpose for the protection of Hippolytus against the anger of Aphrodité, but promises to avenge him by killing with her unerring arrows some marked favourite of Aphrodité (1327-1421). “Non esse curæ Diis securitatem nostram, esse ultionem.” — Tacitus.
85 Homer, Iliad xxiv. 527.
86 The opinion is memorable, which Herodotus puts into the mouth of the wisest and best man of his age — Solon. Ὦ Κροῖσε, ἐπιστάμενόν με τὸ θεῖον πᾶν ἐὸν φθονερόν τε καὶ ταραχῶδες, ἐπειρωτᾶς ἀνθρωπηΐων πραγμάτων περί; (Herod. i. 32). Krœsus was overtaken by a terrible divine judgment because he thought himself the happiest of men (i. 34). The Gods strike at persons of high rank and position: they do not suffer any one except themselves to indulge in self-exaltation (vii. 10). Herodotus ascribes the like sentiment to another man distinguished for prudence — Amasis king of Egypt (iii. 40-44-125). Compare Pausanias, ii. 33, and Æschyl. Pers. 93, Supplices, 388, Hermann. Herodotus and Pausanias proclaim the envy and jealousy of the Gods more explicitly than other writers. About the usual disposition to regard the jealousy of the Gods as causing misfortunes and suffering, see Thucyd. ii. 54, vii. 77; especially when a man by rash speech or act brings grave misfortune on himself, he is supposed to be under a misguiding influence by the Gods, expressed by Herodotus in the remarkable word θεοβλαβής (Herodot. i. 127, viii. 137; Xenoph. Hellen. vi. 4, 3; Soph. Œd. Kol. 371). The poverty in which Xenophon found himself when he quitted the Cyreian army, is ascribed by himself, at the suggestion of the prophet Eukleides, to his having omitted to sacrifice to Zeus Meilichius during the whole course of the expedition and retreat. The next day Xenophon offered an ample sacrifice to this God, and good fortune came upon him immediately afterwards; he captured Asidates the Persian, receiving a large ransom, with an ample booty, and thus enriched himself (Xenoph. Anab. vii. 8, 4-23). Compare about θεῶν φθόνος, Pindar, Pyth. x. 20-44; Demosthenes cont. Timokratem, p. 738; Nägelsbach, Die Nach-Homerische Theologie der Griechen, pp. 330-355.
165Repugnance of ordinary Athenians in regard to the criticism of Sokrates on the religious legends.
When therefore the Platonic Sokrates in this treatise affirms authoritatively, — and affirms without any proof — his restricted version of the agency of the Gods, calling upon his countrymen to reject all that large portion of their religious belief, which rested upon the assumption of a wider agency, as being unworthy of the real attributes of the Gods, — he would confirm, in the minds of ordinary Athenians, the charge of culpable innovation in religion, preferred against him by his accusers. To set up à priori a certain type (either Platonic or Epikurean) of what the Gods must be, different from what they were commonly believed to be, — and then to disallow, as unworthy and incredible, all that was inconsistent with this type, including a full half of the narratives consecrated in the emotional belief of the public — all this could not but appear as “impious rationalism,” on the part of “the Sophist Sokrates”.87 It would be not less repugnant to the feelings of ordinary Greeks, and would appear not more conclusive to their reason, than the arguments of rationalising critics upon many narratives of the Old Testament appear to orthodox readers of modern times — when these critics disallow as untrue many acts therein ascribed to God, on the ground that such acts are unworthy of a just and good being.
87 Æschines cont. Timarch. Σωκράτη τὸν σοφιστήν.
Lucretius, i. 80.
Illud in his rebus vereor, ne forté rearis
Impia te rationis inire elementa, viamque
Indugredi sceleris —
Plato, in Leges, v. 738 B, recognises the danger of disturbing the established and accredited religious φῆμαι, as well as the rites and ceremonies.
Aristophanes connects the idea of immorality with the freethinkers and their wicked misinterpretations.
Though the Platonic Sokrates, repudiating most of the narratives166 believed respecting Gods and Heroes, as being immoral and suggesting bad examples to the hearers, proposes to construct a body of new fictions in place of them — yet, if we turn to the Clouds of Aristophanes, we shall find that the old-fashioned and unphilosophical Athenian took quite the opposite view. He connected immoral conduct with the new teaching, not with the old: he regarded the narratives respecting the Gods as realities of an unrecorded past, not as fictions for the purposes of the training-school: he did not imagine that the conduct of Zeus, in chaining up his father Kronus, was a proper model to be copied by himself or any other man: nay, he denounced all such disposition to copy, and to seek excuse for human misconduct in the example of the Gods, as abuse and profanation introduced by the sophistry of the freethinkers.88 167In his eyes, the religious traditions were part and parcel of the established faith, customs and laws of the state; and Sokrates, 168in discrediting the traditions, set himself up as a thinker above the laws. As to this feature, the Aristophanic Sokrates in the Clouds, and the Platonic Sokrates in the Republic, perfectly agree — however much they differ in other respects.
88 Aristophan. Nubes, 358: λεπτοτάτων λήρων ἱερεῦ. 885: γνώμας καινὰς ἐξευρίσκων.
ὡς ἡδὺ καινοῖς πράγμασιν καὶ δεξιοῖς ὁμιλεῖν,
καὶ τῶν καθεστώτων νόμων ὑπερφρονεῖν δύνασθαι.
(Ἄδικος Λόγος.) —
Πῶς δῆτα δίκης οὔσης, ὁ Ζεὺς
οὐκ ἀπόλωλεν, τὸν πατέρ’ αὑτοῦ
(Δίκ. Λόγος) αἰβοῖ, τουτὶ καὶ δὴ
χωρεῖ τὸ κακόν· δότε μοι λεκάνην.
μοιχὸς γὰρ ἢν τύχῃς ἁλούς, τάδ’ ἀντερεῖς πρὸς αὐτόν,
ὡς οὐδὲν ἠδίκηκας· εἶτ’ ἐς τὸν Δί’ ἐπανενεγκεῖν·
κἀκεῖνος ὡς ἥττων ἔρωτός ἐστι καὶ γυναικῶν.
While Aristophanes introduces the freethinker as justifying unlawful acts by the example of Zeus, Plato (in the dialogue called Euthyphron) represents Euthyphron as indicting his father for murder, and justifying himself by the analogy of Zeus; Euthyphron being a very religious man, who believed all the divine matters commonly received and more besides (p. 6). This exhibits the opposition between the Platonic and the Aristophanic point of view. In the Eumenides of Æschylus (632), these Goddesses reproach Zeus with inconsistency, after chaining up his old father Kronus, in estimating so highly the necessity of avenging Agamemnon’s death, as to authorise Orestes to kill Klytæmnestra.
An extract from Butler’s Analogy, in reply to the objections offered by Deists against the Old Testament, will serve to illustrate the view which pious Athenians took of those ancient narratives which Plato censures. Butler says: “It is the province of Reason to judge of the morality of the Scripture; i.e. not whether it contains things different from what we should have expected from a wise, just, and good Being, . . . but whether it contains things plainly contradictory to Wisdom, Justice, or Goodness; to what the light of Nature teaches us of God. And I know nothing of this sort objected against Scripture, excepting such objections as are formed upon suppositions which would equally conclude that the constitution of Nature is contradictory to wisdom, justice, or goodness; which most certainly it is not. Indeed, there are some particular precepts in Scripture, given to particular persons, requiring actions which would be immoral and vicious, were it not for such precepts. But it is easy to see that all these are of such a kind, as that the precept changes the whole nature of the case and of the action, and both constitutes and shows that not to be unjust or immoral which, prior to the precept, must have appeared and really been so; which may well be, since none of these precepts are contrary to immutable morality. If it were commanded to cultivate the principles, and act from the spirit, of treachery, ingratitude, cruelty; the command would not alter the nature of the case or of the action, in any of these instances. But it is quite otherwise in precepts which require only the doing an external action; for instance, taking away the property or life of any. For men have no right to either life or property, but what arises solely from the grant of God; when this grant is revoked, they cease to have any right at all in either; and when this revocation is made known, as surely it is possible it may be, it must cease to be unjust to deprive them of either. And though a course of external acts which, without command, would be immoral, must make an immoral habit; yet a few detached commands have no such natural tendency.
“I thought proper to say thus much of the few Scripture precepts which require, not vicious actions, but actions which would have been vicious had it not been for such precepts; because they are sometimes weakly urged as immoral, and great weight is laid upon objections drawn from them. But to me there seems no difficulty at all in these precepts, but what arises from their being offences — i.e. from their being liable to be perverted, as indeed they are, by wicked designing men, to serve the most horrid purposes, and perhaps to mislead the weak and enthusiastic. And objections from this head are not objections against Revelation, but against the whole notion of Religion as a trial, and against the whole constitution of Nature.” (Butler’s Analogy, Part. ii. ch. 3.)
I do not here propose to examine the soundness of this argument (which has been acutely discussed in a good pamphlet by Miss Hennell — ‘Essay on the Sceptical Tendency of Butler’s Analogy,’ p. 15, John Chapman, 1859). It appeared satisfactory to an able reasoner like Butler: and believers at Athens would have found satisfaction in similar arguments, when the narratives in which they believed were pronounced by Sokrates mischievous and incredible, as imputing to the Gods unworthy acts. For example — Zeus and Athêne instigate Pandarus to break the sworn truce between the Greeks and Trojans: Zeus sends Oneirus, or the Dream-God, to deceive Agamemnon (Plat. Rep. ii. pp. 379-383). Here are acts (the orthodox reasoner would say) which would be immoral if it were not for the special command: but Agamemnon and the Greeks had no right to life or property, much less to any other comforts or advantages, except what arose from the gift of the Gods. Now the Gods, on this particular occasion, thought fit to revoke the right which they had granted, making known such revocation to Pandarus; who, accordingly, in that particular case, committed no injustice in trying to kill Menelaus, and in actually wounding him. The Gods did not give any general command “to cultivate the spirit and act upon the principles” of perjury and faithlessness: they merely licensed the special act of Pandarus — hic et nunc — by making known to him that they had revoked the right of the Greeks to have faith observed with them, at that particular moment. When any man argues — “Pandarus was instigated by Zeus to break faith: therefore faithlessness is innocent and authorised: therefore I may break faith” — this is “a perversion by wicked and designing men for a horrid purpose, and can mislead only the weak and enthusiastic”.
Farther, If the Gods may by special mandates cause the murder or impoverishment of particular men by other men to be innocent acts, without sanctioning any inference by analogy — much more may the same be said respecting the acts of the Gods among themselves, which Sokrates censures, viz. their quarrels, violent manifestations by word and deed, amorous gusts, hearty laughter, &c. These too are particular acts, not intended to lead to consequences in the way of example. The Gods have not issued any general command. “Be quarrelsome, be violent,” &c. If they are quarrelsome themselves on particular occasions, they have a right to be so; just as they have a right to take away any man’s life or property whenever they choose: but you are not to follow their example, and none but wicked men will advise you to do so.
To those believers who denounced Sokrates as a freethinker (Plat. Euthyp. p. 6 A) such arguments would probably appear satisfactory. “Sunt Superis sua jura” is a general principle, flexible and wide in its application. Of arguments analogous to those of Butler, really used in ancient times by advocates who defended the poets against censures like those of Plato, we find an illustrative specimen in the Scholia on Sophokles. At the beginning of the Elektra (35-50), Orestes comes back with his old attendant or tutor to Argos, bent on avenging the death of his father. He has been stimulated to that enterprise by the Gods (70), having consulted Apollo at Delphi, and having been directed by him to accomplish it not by armed force but by deceits (δόλοισι κλέψαι, 36). Keeping himself concealed, he sends the old attendant into the house of Ægisthus, with orders to communicate a false narrative that he (Orestes) is dead, having perished by an accident in the Pythian chariot-race: and he directs the attendant to certify this falsehood by oath (ἄγγελλε δ’ ὄρκῳ προστιθείς, 47). Upon which last words the Scholiast observes as follows:— “We must not take captious exception to the poet, as if he were here exhorting men to perjure themselves. For Orestes is bound to obey the God, who commands him to accomplish the whole by deceit; so that while he appears to be impious by swearing a false oath, he by that very act shows his piety, since he does it in obedience to the God” — μὴ σμικρολόγως τις ἐπιλάβηται, ὡς κελεύοντος ἐπιορκεῖν τοῦ ποιητοῦ· δεῖ γὰρ αὐτὸν πείθεσθαι τῷ θεῷ, τὸ πᾶν δόλῳ πράσσειν παρακελευομένῳ· ὥστε ἐν οἷς δοκεῖ ἐπιορκῶν δυσσεβεῖν, διὰ τούτων εὐσεβεῖ, πειθόμενος τῷ θεῷ.
Heresies ascribed to Sokrates by his own friends — Unpopularity of his name from this circumstance.
In reviewing the Platonic Republic, I have thought it necessary to appreciate the theological and pædagogic doctrines, not merely with reference to mankind in the abstract, but also as they appeared to the contemporaries among whom they were promulgated.
Restrictions imposed by Plato upon musical modes and reciters.
To all the above mentioned restrictions imposed by Plato upon the manifestation of the poet, both as to thoughts, words, and manner of recital — we must add those which he provides for music in its limited sense: the musical modes and instruments, the varieties of rhythm. He allows only the lyre and the harp, with the panspipe for shepherds tending their flocks. He forbids both the flute and all complicated stringed instruments. Interdicting the lugubrious, passionate, soft, and convivial, modes of music, he tolerates none but the Dorian and Phrygian, suitable to a sober, resolute, courageous, frame of mind: to which also all the rhythm and movement of the body is to be adapted.89 Each particular manifestation of speech, music, poetry, and painting, having a natural affinity with some particular emotional and volitional state — emanating 169from it in the mind of the author and suggesting it in other minds — nothing is to be tolerated except what exhibits goodness and temperance of disposition, — grace, proportion, and decency of external form.90 Artisans are to observe the like rules in their constructions: presenting to the eye nothing but what is symmetrical. The youthful Guardians, brought up among such representations, will have their minds imbued with correct æsthetical sentiment; they will learn even in their youngest years, before they are competent to give reasons, to love what is beautiful and honourable to hate what is ugly and mean.91
89 Plato, Repub. iii. pp. 399-400.
90 Plato, Repub. iii. pp. 400 D-401 B. ὁ τρόπος τῆς λέξεως — τῷ τῆς ψυχῆς ἤθει ἕπεται — προσαναγκαστέον τὴν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ εἰκόνα ἤθους ἐμποιεῖν.
91 Plato, Repub. iii. pp. 401-402 A.
All these restrictions intended for the emotional training of the Guardians.
All these enactments and prohibitions have for their purpose the ethical and æsthetical training of the Guardians: to establish and keep up in each individual Guardian, a good state of the emotions, and a proper internal government — that is, a due subordination of energy and appetite to Reason.92 Their bodies will also be trained by a good and healthy scheme of gymnastics, which will at the same time not only impart to them strength but inspire them with courage. The body is here considered, not (like what we read in Phædon and Philêbus) as an inconvenient and depraving companion to the mind: but as an indispensable co-operator, only requiring to be duly reined.
92 Plato, Repub. x. p. 608 B. περὶ τῆς ἐν αὑτῷ πολιτείας δεδιότι — μέγας ὁ ἀγών, μέγας, οὐχ ὅσος δοκεῖ, τὸ χρηστὸν ἢ κακὸν γενέσθαι.
Regulations for the life of the Guardians, especially the prohibition of separate property and family.
The Guardians, of both sexes, thus educated and disciplined, are intended to pass their whole lives in the discharge of their duties as Guardians; implicitly obeying the orders of the Few Philosophical chiefs, and quartered in barracks under strict regulations. Among these regulations, there are two in particular which have always provoked more surprise and comment than any other features in the commonwealth; first, the prohibition of separate property — next, the prohibition of separate family — including the respective position of the two sexes.
Purpose of Plato in these regulations.
The directions of Plato on these two points not only hang 170together, but are founded on the same reason and considerations. He is resolved to prevent the growth of any separate interest, affections, or aspirations, in the mind of any individual Guardian. Each Guardian is to perform his military and civil duties to the Commonwealth, and to do nothing else. He must find his happiness in the performance of his duty: no double functions or occupations are tolerated. This principle, important in Plato’s view as regards every one, is of supreme importance as applying to the Guardians,93 in whom resides the whole armed force of the Commonwealth and by whom the orders of the Chiefs or Elders are enforced. If the Guardians aspire to private ends of their own, and employ their force for the attainment of such ends, nothing but oppression and ruin of the remaining community can ensue. A man having land of his own to cultivate, or a wife and family of his own to provide with comforts, may be a good economist, but he will never be a tolerable Guardian.94 To be competent for this latter function, he must neither covet wealth nor be exposed to the fear of poverty: he must desire neither enjoyments nor power, except what are common to his entire regiment. He must indulge neither private sympathies nor private antipathies: he must be inaccessible to all motives which could lead him to despoil or hurt his fellow-citizens the producers. Accordingly the hopes and fears involved in self-maintenance — the feelings of buyer, seller, donor, or receiver — the ideas of separate property, house, wife, or family — must never be allowed to enter into his mind. The Guardians will receive from the productive part of the community a constant provision, sufficient, but not more than sufficient, for their reasonable maintenance. Their residence will be in public barracks and their meals at a common mess: they must be taught to regard it as a disgrace to meddle in any way with gold and silver.95 Men and women will live all together, or distributed in a few fractional companies, but always in companionship, and under perpetual drill; beginning from the earliest years with both sexes. Boys and girls will be placed from the beginning under the same superintendence;171 and will receive the same training, as well in gymnastic as in music. The characters of both will be exposed to the same influences and formed in the same mould. Upon the maintenance of such early, equal, and collective training, especially in music, under the orders of the Elders, — Plato declares the stability of the Commonwealth to depend.96
93 Plato, Repub. iv. pp. 421-A 423 D.
94 Plato, Repub. iii. p. 417 A-B.
95 Plato, Repub. iii. pp. 416-417.
96 Plato, Repub. iv. pp. 423-424 D-425 A-C.
Common life, education, drill, collective life, and duties, for Guardians of both sexes. Views of Plato respecting the female character and aptitudes.
The purpose being, to form good and competent Guardians the same training which will be best for the boys will also be best for the girls. But is it true that women are competent to the function of Guardians? Is the female nature endued with the same aptitudes for such duties as the male? Men will ridicule the suggestion (says Plato) and will maintain the negative. They will say that there are some functions for which men are more competent, others for which women are more competent than men: and that women are unfit for any such duty as that of Guardians. Plato dissents from this opinion altogether. There is no point on which he speaks in terms of more decided conviction. Men and women (he says) can perform this duty conjointly, just as dogs of both sexes take part in guarding the flock. It is not true that the female, by reason of the characteristic properties of sex — parturition and suckling — is disqualified for out-door occupations and restricted to the interior of the house.97 As in the remaining animals generally, so also in the human race. There is no fundamental difference between the two sexes, other than that of the sexual attributes themselves. From that difference no consequences flow, in respect to aptitude for some occupations, inaptitude for others. There are great individual differences between one woman and another, as there are between one man and another: this woman is peculiarly fit for one task, that woman for something else. But speaking of women generally and collectively, there is not a single profession for which they are peculiarly fit, or more fit than men. Men are superior to women in every thing; in one occupation as well as in another. Yet among both sexes, there are serious individual differences, so that 172many women, individually estimated, will be superior to many men; no women will equal the best men, but the best women will equal the second-best men, and will be superior to the men below them.98 Accordingly, in order to obtain the best Guardians, selection must be made from both sexes indiscriminately. For ordinary duties, both will be found equally fit: but the heaviest and most difficult duties, those which require the maximum of competence to perform, will usually devolve upon men.99
97 Plato, Repub. v. p. 451 D.
98 See this remarkable argument — Republic, v. pp. 453-456 — γυναῖκες μέντοι πολλαὶ πολλῶν ἀνδρῶν βελτίους εἰς πολλά· τὸ δὲ ὅλον ἔχει ὡς σὺ λέγεις. Οὐδὲν ἄρα ἐστὶν ἐπιτήδευμα τῶν πόλιν διοικούντων γυναικὸς διότι γυνή, οὔδ’ ἀνδρὸς διότι ἀνήρ, ἀλλ’ ὁμοίως διεσπαρμέναι αἱ φύσεις ἐν ἀμφοῖν τοῖν ζώοιν, καὶ πάντων μὲν μετέχει γυνὴ ἐπιτηδευμάτων κατὰ φύσιν, πάντων δὲ ἀνήρ· ἐπὶ πᾶσι δὲ ἀσθενέστερον γυνὴ ἀνδρός (p. 455 D). It would appear (from p. 455 C) that those who maintained the special fitness of women for certain occupations and their special unfitness for others, cited, as examples of occupations in which women surpassed men, weaving and cookery. But Plato denies this emphatically as a matter of fact; pronouncing that women were inferior to men (i.e. the best women to the best men) in weaving and cookery no less than in other things. We should have been glad to know what facts were present to his mind as bearing out such an assertion, and what observations were open to him of weaving as performed by males. In Greece, weaving was the occupation of women very generally, whether exclusively or not we can hardly say; in Phœnicia, during the Homeric times, the finest robes are woven by Sidonian women (Iliad vi. 289): in Egypt, on the contrary, it was habitually performed by men, and Herodotus enumerates this as one of the points in which the Egyptians differed from other countries (Herodot. ii. 35; Soph. Œd. Kol. 340, with the Scholia, and the curious citation contained therein from the Βαρβαρικὰ of Nymphodorus). The process of weaving was also conducted in a different manner by the Egyptians. Whether Plato had seen finer webs in Egypt than in Greece we cannot say.
99 Plato, Repub. v. p. 457 A.
His arguments against the ordinary doctrine.
Those who maintain (continues Plato) that because women are different from men, therefore the occupations of the two ought to be different — argue like vexatious disputants who mistake verbal distinctions for real: who do not enquire what is the formal or specific distinction indicated by a name, or whether it has any essential bearing on the matter under discussion.100 Long-haired men are different from bald-heads: but shall we conclude, that if the former are fit to make shoes, the latter are unfit? Certainly not: for when we inquire into the formal distinction 173connoted by these words, we find that it has no bearing upon such handicraft processes. So again the formal distinction implied by the terms male, female, in the human race as in other animals, lies altogether in the functions of sex and procreation.101 Now this has no essential bearing on the occupations of the adult; nor does it confer on the male fitness for one set of occupations — on the female, fitness for another. Each sex is fit for all, but the male is most fit for all: in each sex there are individuals better and worse, and differing one from another in special aptitudes. Men are competent for the duties of Guardians, only on condition of having gone through a complete musical and gymnastical education. Women are competent also, under the like condition; and are equally capable of profiting by the complete education. Moreover, the chiefs must select for those duties the best natural subjects. The total number of such is very limited: and they must select the best that both sexes afford.102
100 Plato, Republic, v. p. 454 A. διὰ τὸ μὴ δύνασται κατ’ εἴδη διαιρούμενοι τὸ λεγόμεον ἐπισκοπεῖν, ἀλλὰ κατ’ αὐτὸ τὸ ὄνομα διώκειν τοῦ λεχθέντος τὴν ἐναντίωσιν, ἔριδι, οὐ διαλέκτῳ, πρὸς ἀλλήλους χρώμενοι. 454 B: ἐπεσκεψάμεθα δὲ οὐδ’ ὁπῃοῦν, τί εἶδος τὸ τῆς ἑτέρας τε καὶ τῆς αὐτῆς φύσεως, καὶ πρὸς τί τεῖνον ὡριζόμεθα τότε, ὅτε τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα ἄλλῃ φύσει ἄλλα, τῇ δὲ αὐτῇ τὰ αὐτά, ἀπεδίδομεν. Xenophon is entirely opposed to Plato on this point. He maintains emphatically the distinct special aptitudes of man and woman. Œconom. vii. 20-38; compare Euripid. Electra, 74.
101 Plato, Repub. v. p. 455 C-D.
102 Plato, Repub. v. p. 456.
Opponents appealed to nature as an authority against Plato. He invokes Nature on his own side against them.
The strong objections, generally entertained against thus assigning to women equal participation in the education and functions of the Guardians, were enforced by saying — That it was a proceeding contrary to Nature. But Plato not only denies the validity of this argument: he even retorts it upon the objectors, and affirms that the existing separation of functions between the two sexes is contrary to Nature, and that his proposition alone is conformable thereunto.103 He has shown that the specific or formal distinction of the two has no essential bearing on the question, and therefore that no argument can be founded upon it. The specific or formal characteristic, in the case of males, is doubtless superior, taken abstractedly: yet in particular men it is embodied or manifested with various degrees of perfection, from very good to very bad. In the case of females, though inferior abstractedly, it is in its best particular embodiments equal to all except the best males, and superior to all such as are inferior to the best. Accordingly, the 174true dictate of Nature is, not merely that females may be taken, but that they ought to be taken, conjointly with males, under the selection of the Rulers, to fulfil the most important duties in the Commonwealth. The select females must go through the same musical and gymnastic training as the males. He who ridicules them for such bodily exercises, prosecuted with a view to the best objects, does not know what he is laughing at. “For this is the most valuable maxim which is now, or ever has been, proclaimed — What is useful, is honourable. What is hurtful, is base.”104
103 Plato, Repub. v. p. 456 C. Οὐκ ἄρα ἀδύνατά γε, οὐδὲ εὐχαῖς ὅμοια, ἐνομοθετοῦμεν, ἐπείπερ κατὰ φύσιν ἐτίθεμεν τὸν νόμον· ἀλλὰ τὰ νῦν παρὰ ταῦτα γιγνόμενα παρὰ φύσιν μᾶλλον, ὡς ἔοικε, γίγνεται.
104 Plato, Repub. v. p. 457 B. Ὁ δὲ γελῶν ἀνὴρ ἐπὶ γυμναῖς γυναιξί, τοῦ βελτίστου ἕνεκα γυμναζομέναις, ἀτελῆ τοῦ γελοίου σοφίας δρέπων καρπόν, οὐδὲν οἶδεν, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἐφ’ ᾧ γελᾷ οὐδ’ ὅ, τι πράττει· κάλλιστα γὰρ δὴ τοῦτο καὶ λέγεται καὶ λελέξεται, ὅτι τὸ μὲν ὠφέλιμον, καλόν — τὸ δὲ βλαβερόν, αἰσχρόν.
Collective family relations and denominations among the Guardians.
Plato now proceeds to unfold the relations of the sexes as intended to prevail among the mature Guardians, after all have undergone the public and common training from their earliest infancy. He conceives them as one thousand in total number, composed of both sexes in nearly equal proportion: since they are to be the best individuals of both sexes, the male sex, superior in formal characteristic, will probably furnish rather a greater number than the female. It has already been stated that they are all required to live together in barracks, dining at a common mess-table, with clothing and furniture alike for all. There is no individual property or separate house among them: the collective expense, in a comfortable but moderate way, is defrayed by contributions from the producing class. Separate families are unknown: all the Guardians, male and female, form one family, and one only: the older are fathers and mothers of all the younger, the younger are sons and daughters of all the older: those of the same age are all alike brothers and sisters of each other: those who, besides being of the same age, are within the limits of the nuptial age and of different sexes, are all alike husbands and wives of each other.105 It is the principle of the Platonic Commonwealth that the affections implied in these family-words, instead of being confined to one or a few exclusively,175 shall be expanded so as to embrace all of appropriate age.
105 Plato, Republic, v. p. 457 C-D. τὰς γυναῖκας ταύτας τῶν ἀνδρῶν τούτων πάντων πάσας εἶναι κοινάς, ἰδίᾳ δὲ μηδενὶ μηδεμίαν συνοικεῖν· καὶ τοὺς παῖδας αὖ κοινούς, καὶ μήτε γονέα ἔκγονον εἰδέναι τὸν αὐτοῦ μήτε παῖδα γονέα.
Restrictions upon sexual intercourse — Purposes of such restrictions.
But Plato does not at all intend that sexual intercourse shall take place between these men and women promiscuously, or at the pleasure of individuals. On the contrary, he expressly denounces and interdicts it.106 A philosopher who has so much general disdain for individual impulse or choice, was not likely to sanction it in this particular case. Indeed it is the special purpose of his polity to bring impulse absolutely under the controul of reason, or of that which he assumes as such. This purpose is followed out in a remarkable manner as to procreation. What he seeks as lawgiver is, to keep the numbers of the Guardians nearly stationary, with no diminution and scarcely any increase:107 and to maintain the breed pure, so that the children born shall be as highly endowed by nature as possible. To these two objects the liberty of sexual intercourse is made subservient. The breeding is regulated like that of noble horses or dogs by an intelligent proprietor: the best animals of both sexes being brought together, and the limits of age fixed beforehand.108 Plato prescribes, as the limits of age, from twenty to forty for females — from thirty to fifty-five for males — when the powers of body and mind are at the maximum in both. All who are younger as well as all who are older, are expressly forbidden to meddle in the procreation for the city: this being a public function.109 Between the ages above named, couples will be invited to marry in such numbers as the Rulers may consider expedient for ensuring a supply of offspring sufficient and not more than sufficient — having regard to wars, distempers, or any other recent causes of mortality.110
106 Plato, Repub. v. p. 458 E. ἀτάκτως μὲν μίγνυσθαι ἀλλήλοις ἢ ἄλλο ὁτιοῦν ποιεῖν οὔτε ὅσιον ἐν εὐδαιμόνων πόλει οὔτ’ ἐάσουσιν οἱ ἄρχοντες.
107 Plato, Republic, v. p. 460 A. τὸ δὲ πλῆθος τῶν γάμων ἐπὶ τοῖς ἄρχουσι ποιήσομεν, ἵν’ ὡς μάλιστα διασώζωσι τὸν αὐτὸν ἀριθμὸν τῶν ἀνδρῶν, πρὸς πολέμους τε καὶ νόσους καὶ πάντα τὰ τοιαῦτα ἀποσκοποῦντες, καὶ μήτε μεγάλη ἡμῖν ἡ πόλις κατὰ τὸ δυνατὸν μήτε σμικρὰ γίγνηται.
108 Plato, Repub. v. p. 459.
109 This is his phrase, repeated more than once — τίκτειν τῇ πόλει, γεννᾷν τῇ πόλει — τῶν εἰς τὸ κοινὸν γεννήσεων (pp. 460-461).
What Lucan (ii. 387) observes about Cato of Utica, is applicable to the Guardians of the Platonic Republic:—
“Venerisque huic maximus usus
Progenies. Urbi pater est, Urbique maritus.”
110 Plato, Repub. v. p. 460 A.
176Regulations about marriages and family.
There is no part of the Platonic system in which individual choice is more decidedly eliminated, and the intervention of the Rulers made more constantly paramount, than this respecting the marriages: and Plato declares it to be among the greatest difficulties which they will have to surmount. They will establish festivals, in which they bring together the brides and bridegrooms, with hymns, prayer, and sacrifices, to the Gods: they will determine by lot what couples shall be joined, so as to make up the number settled as appropriate: but they will arrange the sortition themselves so cleverly, that what appears chance to others will be a result to them predetermined. The best men will thus always be assorted with the best women, the inferior with the inferior: but this will appear to every one, except themselves, the result of chance.111 Any young man (of thirty and upwards) distinguished for bravery or excellence will be allowed to have more than one wife; since it is good not merely to recompense his merit, but also to multiply his breed.112
111 Plato, Repub. v. p. 460.
112 Plato, Repub. v. pp. 460 B, 468 C. In the latter passage it even appears that he is allowed to make a choice.
In the seventh month, or in the tenth month, after the ceremonial day, offspring will be born, from these unions. But the children, immediately on being born, will be taken away from their mothers, and confided to nurses in an appropriate lodgment. The mothers will be admitted to suckle them, and wet-nurses will also be provided, as far as necessary: but the period for the mother to suckle will be abridged as much as possible, and all other trouble required for the care of infancy will be undertaken, not by her, but by the nurses. Moreover the greatest precautions will be taken that no mother shall know her own child: which is considered to be practicable, since many children will be born at nearly the same time.113 The children in infancy will be examined by the Rulers and other good judges, who will determine how many of them are sufficiently well constituted to promise fitness for the duties of Guardians. The children of the good and vigorous couples, except in any case of bodily deformity, will be brought up and placed under the public training for Guardians: the unpromising children, and 177those of the inferior couples, being regarded as not fit subjects for the public training, will be secretly got rid of, or placed among the producing class of the Commonwealth.114
113 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 460 D, 461 D.
114 Compare Republic, v. pp. 459 D, 460 C, 461 C, with Timæus, p. 19 A. In Timæus, where the leading doctrines of the Republic are briefly recapitulated, Plato directs that the children considered as unworthy shall be secretly distributed among the remaining community, i.e. not among the Guardians: in the Republic itself, his language, though not clear, seems to imply that they shall be exposed and got rid of.
Procreative powers of individual Guardians required to be held at the disposal of the rulers, for purity of breed.
What Plato here understands by marriage, is a special, solemn, consecrated, coupling for the occasion, with a view to breed for the public. It constitutes no permanent bond between the two persons coupled: who are brought together by the authorities under a delusive sortition, but who may perhaps never be brought together at any future sortition, unless it shall please the same authorities. The case resembles that of a breeding stud of horses and mares, to which Plato compares it: nothing else is wanted but the finest progeny attainable. But this, in Plato’s judgment, is the most important of all purposes: his commonwealth cannot maintain itself except under a superior breed of Guardians. Accordingly, he invests his marriages with the greatest possible sanctity. The religious solemnities accompanying them are essential to furnish security for the goodness of the offspring. Any proceeding, either of man or woman, which contravenes the provisions of the rulers on this point, is peremptorily forbidden: and any child, born from unauthorised intercourse without the requisite prayers and sacrifices, is considered as an outcast. Within the limits of the connubial age, all persons of both sexes hold their procreative powers exclusively at the disposition of the lawgiver. But after that age is past, both men and women may indulge in intercourse with whomsoever they please, since they are no longer in condition to procreate for the public. They are subject only to this one condition: not to produce any children, or, if perchance they do, not to bring them up.115 There is moreover one restriction upon the personal liberty of intercourse, after the connubial limits of age. No intercourse is permitted between father and daughter, or between mother and son. But how can such restriction be enforced, since no individual paternity or maternity is recognised 178in the Commonwealth? Plato answers by admitting a collective paternity and maternity. Every child born in the seventh month or in the tenth month after a couple have been solemnly wedded will be considered by them as their son or daughter, and will consider himself as such.116
115 Plato, Repub. v. p. 461 C.
116 Plato, Repub. v. p. 461 D.
Besides all these direct provisions for the purity of the breed of Guardians, which will succeed (so Plato anticipates) in a large majority of cases — the Rulers will keep up an effective supervision of detail, so as to exclude any unworthy exception, and even to admit into the Guardians any youth of very rare and exceptional promise who may be born among the remaining community. For Plato admits that there may be accidental births both ways: brass and iron may by occasional accident give birth to gold or silver — and vice versâ.
Purpose to create an intimate and equal sympathy among all the Guardians, but to prevent exclusive sympathy of particular members.
It is in this manner that Plato constitutes his body of Guardians; one thousand adult persons of both sexes,117 in nearly equal numbers, together with a small proportion of children — the proportion of these latter must be very small since the total number is not allowed to increase. His end here is to create an intimate and equal sympathy among them all, like that between all the members of the same bodily organism: to abolish all independent and exclusive sympathies of particular parts: to make the city One and Indivisible — a single organism, instead of many distinct conterminous organisms: to provide that the causes of pleasure and pain shall be the same to all, so that a man shall have no feeling of mine or thine, except in reference to his own body and that of another, which Plato notes as the greatest good — instead of each individual struggling apart for his own objects and rejoicing on occasions when his neighbour sorrows, which Plato regards as the greatest evil.118 All standing causes of disagreement or antipathy among the Guardians are assumed to be thus removed. But if any two hot-179headed youths get into a quarrel, they must fight it out on the spot. This will serve as a lesson in gymnastics:— subject however to the interference of any old man as by-stander, whom they as well as all other young men are bound implicitly to obey.119 Moreover all the miseries, privations, anxiety, and dependence, inseparable from the life of a poor man under the system of private property, will disappear entirely.120
117 This number of 1000 appears stated by Aristotle (Politic. ii. 6, p. 1265, a. 9), and is probably derived from Republic, iv. p. 423 A; though that passage appears scarcely sufficient to prove that Plato meant to declare the number 1000 as peremptory. However the understanding of Aristotle himself on the point is one material evidence to make us believe that this is the real construction intended by Plato.
118 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 462-463-464 D. διὰ τὸ μηδένα ἴδιον ἐκτῆσθαι πλὴν τὸ σῶμα, τὰ δὲ ἄλλα κοινά. Compare Plato, Legg. v. p. 739 C.
119 Plato, Republic, v. pp. 464-465.
120 Plato, Republic, v. p. 465 C.
Such are the main features of Plato’s Republic, in reference to his Guardians. They afford a memorable example of that philosophical analysis, applied to the circumstances of man and society, which the Greek mind was the first to conceive and follow out. Plato lays down his ends with great distinctness, as well as the means whereby he proposes to attain them. Granting his ends, the means proposed are almost always suitable and appropriate, whether practicable or otherwise.
Platonic scheme — partial communism.
The Platonic scheme is communism, so far as concerns the Guardians: but not communism in reference to the entire Commonwealth. In this it falls short of his own ideal, and is only a second best: the best of all would be, in his view, a communion that should pervade all persons and all acts and sentiments, effacing altogether the separate self.121 Not venturing to soar so high, he confined his perfect communion to the Guardians. Moreover his communism differs from modern theories in this. They contemplate individual producers and labourers, handing over the produce to be distributed among themselves by official authority; they contemplate also a regulation not merely of distribution, but of reserved capital and productive agency, under the same authority. But the Platonic Guardians are not producers at all. Everything which they consume is found for them. They are in the nature of paid functionaries, exempted from all cares and anxiety of self-maintenance, either present or future. They are all comfortably provided, without hopes of wealth or fear of poverty: moreover they are all equally comfortable, so that no sentiment can grow up among them, arising from comparison of each other’s possessions or enjoyments. Among such men and 180women, brought up from infancy as Plato directs, the sentiment of property, with all the multifarious associations derived from it, would be unknown. No man’s self-esteem, no man’s esteem of others, would turn upon it.
121 See Plato, De Legibus, v. p. 739 D. The Republic is second best; that which appears sketched in the treatise De Legibus is third best.
In this respect, the remaining members of the city, apart from the Guardians, and furnishing all the subsistence of the Guardians, are differently circumstanced. They are engaged in different modes of production, each exclusively in one mode. They exchange, buy, and sell, with each other: there exist therefore among them gradations of strength, skill, perseverance, frugality, and good luck — together with the consequent gradations of wealth and poverty. The substance or capital of the Commonwealth is maintained altogether by the portion of it which is extraneous to the Guardians; and among that portion there is no communism. The maintenance of the Guardians is a tax which these men have to pay: but after paying it, they apply or enjoy the rest of their produce as they please, subject to the requirements of the Rulers for public service.122
122 Aristotle, in his comments upon the Platonic Republic (Politic. ii. 5. p. 1262, b. 42 seq.), advances arguments just in themselves, in favour of individual property, and against community of property. But these arguments have little application to the Republic.
Nevertheless we are obliged to divine what Plato means about the condition of the producing classes in his Commonwealth. He himself tells us little or nothing about them; though they must constitute the large numerical majority. And this defect is in him the less excusable, since he reckons them as component members of his Commonwealth; while Aristotle, in his ideal Commonwealth, does not reckon them as component members or citizens, but merely as indispensable adjuncts, in the same manner as slaves. All that we know about the producers in the Platonic Commonwealth is, that each man is to have only one business — that for which he is most fit:— and that all are to be under the administration of the Rulers through the Guardians.
Soldiership as a separate profession has acquired greater development in modern times.
The enlistment of soldiers, apart from civilians, and the holding of them under distinct laws and stricter discipline, is a practice familiar to modern ideas, though it had little place among the Greeks of Plato’s day. There prevailed also in Egypt123 and in parts of Eastern181 Asia, from time immemorial, a distinction of castes: one caste being soldiers, invested with the defence of the country, and enjoying certain lands by the tenure of such military service: but in other respects, private proprietors like the rest — and receiving no special discipline, training, or education. In Grecian Ideas, military duties were a part, but only a part, of the duties of a citizen. This was the case even at Sparta. Though in practice, the discipline of that city tended in a preponderant degree towards military aptitude, yet the Spartan was still a citizen, not exclusively a soldier.
123 Aristot. Politic. vii. 10. Herodot. ii. 164. Plato alludes (Timæ. 24 A) to the analogy of Egyptian castes.
Spartan institutions — great impression which they produced upon speculative Greek minds.
It was from the Spartan institutions (and the Kretan, in many respects analogous) that the speculative political philosophers in Greece usually took the point of departure for their theories. Not only Plato did so, but Xenophon and Aristotle likewise. The most material fact which they saw before them at Sparta was, a public discipline both strict and continued, which directed the movements of the citizens, and guided their thoughts and feelings, from infancy to old age. To this supreme controul the private feelings, both of family and property, though not wholly suppressed, were made to bend: and occasionally in a way quite as remarkable as any restrictions proposed by either Plato or Xenophon.124 Moreover, the Spartan institutions were of immemorial antiquity; believed to have been suggested or sanctioned originally by Apollo and the Delphian oracle, as the Kretan institutions were by Zeus.125 They had lasted longer than other Hellenic institutions without forcible subversion: they obtained universal notice, admiration, and deference, throughout Greece. It was this conspicuous fact which emboldened the Grecian theorists to postulate for the lawgiver that unbounded controul, over the life and habits of citizens, which we read not merely in the Republic of Plato but in the Cyropædia of Xenophon, and to a great degree even in the Politica of Aristotle. To an objector, who asked them how they could possibly expect that individuals would submit to such 182unlimited interference, they would have replied — “Look at Sparta. You see there interference, as constant and rigorous as that which I propose, endured by the citizens not only without resistance, but with a tenacity and long continuance such as is not found among other communities with more lax regulations. The habits and sentiments of the Spartan citizen are fashioned to these institutions. Far from being anxious to shake them off, he accounts them a necessity as well as an honour.” This reply would have appeared valid and reasonable, in the fourth century before the Christian era. And it explains — what, after all, is the most surprising circumstance to a modern reader — the extreme boldness of speculation, the ideal omnipotence, assumed by the leading Grecian political theorists: much even by Aristotle, though his aspirations were more limited and practical — far more by Xenophon — most of all by Plato. Any theorist, proceeding avowedly κατ’ εὐχὴν, considered himself within bounds when he assumed to himself no greater influence than had actually been exercised by Lykurgus.
124 See Xenophon, Hellenic. vi. 4, 16, the account of what passed at Sparta after the battle of Leuktra, related also in my “History of Greece,” chap. 78, vol. x. p. 253.
125 Plato, Legg. i. pp. 632 D, 634 A.
Plans of these speculative minds compared with Spartan — Different types of character contemplated.
Assuming such influence, however, he intended to employ it for ends approved by himself: agreeing with Lykurgus in the general principle of forming the citizen’s character by public and compulsory discipline, but not agreeing with him in the type of character proper to be aimed at. Xenophon departs least from the Spartan type: Aristotle and Plato greatly more, though in different directions. Each of them applies to a certain extent the process of abstraction and analysis both to the individual and to the community: considering both of them as made up of component elements working simultaneously either in co-operation or conflict. But in Plato the abstraction is carried farthest: the wholeness of the individual Guardian is completely effaced, so that each constitutes a small fraction or wheel of the real Platonic whole — the commonwealth. The fundamental Platonic principle is, that each man shall have one function, and one only: an extreme application of that which political economists call the division of labour. Among these many different functions, one, and doubtless the most difficult as well as important, is that of directing, administering, and defending the community: which is done by the Guardians and 183Rulers. It is to this one function that all Plato’s treatise is devoted: he tells us how such persons are to be trained and circumstanced. What he describes, therefore, is not properly citizens administering their own affairs, but commanders and officers watching over the interests of others: a sort of military bureaucracy, with chiefs at its head, directing as well as guarding a multitude beneath them. And what mainly distinguishes the Platonic system, is the extreme abstraction with which this public and official character is conceived: the degree to which the whole man is merged in the performance of his official duties: the entire extinction within him of the old individual Adam — of all private feelings and interests.
Plato carries abstraction farther than Xenophon or Aristotle.
Both in Xenophon and in Aristotle, as well as at Sparta, the citizen is subjected to a public compulsory training, severe as well as continuous: but he is still a citizen as well as a functionary. He has private interests as well as public duties:— a separate home, property, wife, and family. Plato, on the contrary, contends that the two are absolutely irreconcileable: that if the Guardian has private anxieties for his own maintenance, private house and lands to manage, private sympathies and antipathies to gratify — he will become unfaithful to his duties as Guardian, and will oppress instead of protecting the people.126 You must choose between the two (he says): you cannot have the self-caring citizen and the public-minded Guardian in one.127
126 Plato, Republic, iii. pp. 416-417.
127 See the contrary opinion asserted by Nikias in his speech at Athens, Thucyd. vi. 9.
Anxiety shown by Plato for the good treatment of the Demos, greater than that shown by Xenophon and Aristotle.
Looking to ideal perfection, I think Plato is right. If the Rulers and Guardians have private interests of their own, those interests will corrupt more or less the discharge of their public duties. The evil may be mitigated, by forms of government (representative and other arrangements), which make the continuance of power dependent upon popular estimation of the functionaries: but it cannot be abolished. Neither Xenophon, nor Aristotle, nor the Spartan system, provided any remedy for this difficulty. They scarcely even recognise the difficulty as real. In all the three, the proportion of trained citizens to the rest of the people, would be about the 184same (so far as we can judge) as the proportion of the Platonic Guardians to the Demos or rest of the people. But when we look to see what security either of the three systems provide for good behaviour on the part of citizens towards non-citizens, we find no satisfaction; nor do they make it, as Plato does, one prominent object of their public training. Plato shows extreme anxiety for the object: as is proved by his sacrificing, in order to ensure it, all the private sources of pleasure to his Guardians. Aristotle reproaches him with doing this, so as to reduce the happiness of his Guardians to nothing: but Plato, from his own point of view, would not admit the justice of such reproach, since he considers happiness to be derived from, and proportional to, the performance of duty.
In Aristotle’s theory, the Demos are not considered as members of the Commonwealth, but as adjuncts.
This last point must be perpetually kept in mind, in following Plato’s reasoning. But though he does not consider himself as sacrificing the happiness of his Guardians to their duty, we must give him credit for anxiety, greater than either Aristotle or Xenophon has shown, to ensure a faithful discharge of duty on the part of the Guardians towards the rest of the people. In Aristotle’s theory,128 the rest of the people are set aside as not members of the Commonwealth, thus counting as a secondary and inferior object in his estimation; while the citizens, who alone are members, are trained to practise virtue for its own sake and for their own happiness. In Plato’s theory, the rest of the people are not only proclaimed as members of the Commonwealth,129 but are the ultimate and capital objects of all his solicitude. It is in protecting, governing, and administering them, that the lives of the Rulers and Guardians are passed. Though they (the remaining people) receive no public training, yet Plato intends them to reap all the benefit of the laborious training bestowed on the Guardians. This is a larger and more generous conception of the purpose of political institutions, than we find either in Aristotle or in Xenophon.
128 Aristotle, Politic. vii. 9, p. 1328, b. 40, p. 1329, a. 25.
129 Aristot. Politic. ii. 5, p. 1264, a. 12-26, respecting the Platonic Commonwealth, καίτοι σχεδὸν τόγε πλῆθος τῆς πόλεως τὸ τῶν ἄλλων πολιτῶν γίνεται πλῆθος, &c. …
Ποιεῖ γὰρ (Plato) τοὺς μὲν φύλακας οἷον φρουρούς, τοὺς δὲ γεωργοὺς καὶ τοὺς τεχνίτας καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους, πολίτας.
Objection urged by Aristotle against the Platonic Republic, that it will be two cities. Spiritual pride of the Guardians, contempt for the Demos.
There is however another objection, which seems grave and 185well founded, advanced by Aristotle against the Platonic Republic. He remarks that it will be not one city, but two cities, with tendencies more or less adverse to each other:130 that the Guardians, educated under the very peculiar training and placed under the peculiar relations prescribed to them, will form one city — while the remaining people, who have no part either in the one or the other, but are private proprietors with separate families — will form another city. I do not see what reply the Platonic Republic furnishes to this objection. Granting full success to Plato in his endeavours to make the Guardians One among themselves, we find nothing to make them One with the remaining people, nor to make the remaining people One with them.131 On the contrary, we observe such an extreme divergence of sentiment, character, pursuit, and education, as to render mutual sympathy very difficult, and to open fatal probabilities of mutual alienation: probabilities hardly less, than if separate proprietary interests had been left to subsist among the Guardians. This is a source of mischief which Plato has not taken into his account. The entire body of Guardians cannot fail to carry in their bosoms a sense of extreme pride in their own training, and a proportionally mean estimate of the untrained multitude alongside of them. The sentiment of the gold and silver men, towards the brass and iron men, will have in it too much of contempt to be consistent with civic fraternity: like the pride of the Twice-Born Hindoo Brahmin, when comparing himself with the lower Hindoo castes: or like that of the Pythagorean brotherhood, who “regarded the brethren as equal to the blessed Gods, but held all the rest to be unworthy of any account”.132 The Spartan training appears to have produced a similar effect upon the minds of the citizens who went through it. And indeed such 186an effect appears scarcely avoidable, under the circumstances assumed by Plato. He himself is proud of his own ideal training, so as to ascribe to those who receive it a sentiment akin to that of the Olympic victors: while he employs degrading analogies to signify the pursuits and enjoyments of the untrained multitude, who are assimilated to the appetite or lower element in the organism, existing only as a mutinous crew necessary to be kept down.133 That spiritual pride, coupled with spiritual contempt, should be felt by the Guardians, is the natural result; as it is indeed the essential reimbursement to their feelings, for the life of drill and self-denial which Plato imposes upon them. And how, under such a sentiment, the two constituent elements in his system are to be competent to work out his promised result of mutual happiness, he has not shown.134
130 Aristotel. Politic. ii. 5, p. 1264, a. 24. ἐν μιᾷ γὰρ πόλει δύο πόλεις, ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι, καὶ ταύτας ὑπεναντίας ἀλλήλαις.
The most forcible of the objections urged by Aristotle against the Platonic Republic, are those contained in this chapter respecting the relations between the Guardians and the rest of the community.
131 The oneness, which Plato proclaims as belonging to his whole city, belongs in reality only to the body of Guardians; of whom he sometimes speaks as if they were the whole city, which however is not his real intention; see Republic, v. p. 462-463 A.
Τοὺς μὲν ἑταίρους ἦγεν ἴσους μακάρεσσι θεοῖσιν,
Τοὺς δ’ ἄλλους ἡγεῖτ’ οὔτ’ ἐν λόγῳ οὔτ’ ἐν ἀριθμῷ.
133 Plato, Republ. v. 465 D.
Aristotle says (in the Nikom. Ethics, i. 5) when discussing the various ideas entertained about happiness — Οἱ μὲν οὖν πολλοὶ παντελῶς ἀνδραποδώδεις φαίνονται βοσκημάτων βίον προαιρούμενοι. This is much the estimation which the Platonic Guardians would be apt to form respecting the Demos.
134 The foregoing remarks are an expansion, and a sequel, of Aristotle’s objection against the Platonic Republic — That it is not One City, but two discordant cities in that which is nominally One. I must however add that the same objection may be urged against the Xenophontic constitution of a city; and also, in substance, even against the proposition of Aristotle himself for the same purpose. Xenophon, in his Cyropædia, proposes a severe, life-long drill and discipline, like that of the Spartans: from which indeed he does not formally exclude any citizens, but which he announces to be actually attended only by the wealthy, since they alone can afford to attend continuously and habitually, the poorer men being engaged in the cares of maintenance. All the functions of the state, civil and military, are performed exclusively by those who go through the public discipline. We have here the two cities in One, which Aristotle objects to in Plato; with the consequent loss of civic fraternity between them. And when we look to that which Aristotle himself suggests, we find him evading the objection by a formal sanction of the very mischief upon which the objection is founded. He puts the husbandmen and artisans altogether out of the pale of his city, which is made to include the disciplined citizens or Guardians alone. His city may thus be called One, inasmuch as it admits only homogeneous elements, and throws out all such as are heterogeneous; but he thus avowedly renounces as insoluble the problem which Plato and Xenophon try, though unsuccessfully, to solve. If there be discord and alienation among the constituent members of the Platonic and Xenophontic city — there will subsist the like feelings, in Aristotle’s proposition, between the members of the city and the outlying, though indispensable, adjuncts. There will be the same mischief in kind, and probably exaggerated in amount: since the abolition of the very name and idea of fellow-citizen tends to suppress altogether an influence of tutelary character, however insufficient as to its force.
Plato’s scheme fails, mainly because he provides no training for the Demos.
In explanation of the foregoing remarks, I will add that Plato fails in his purpose not from the goodness of the training which he provides for his select Few, but from leaving the rest of his people without any training187 — without even so much as would enable them properly to appreciate superior training in the few who obtain it — without any powers of self-defence or self-helpfulness. His fundamental postulate — That every man shall do only one thing — when applied to the Guardians, realises itself in something great and considerable: but when applied to the ordinary pursuits of life, reduces every man to a special machine, unfit for any other purpose than its own. Though it is reasonable that a man should get his living by one trade, and should therefore qualify himself peculiarly and effectively for that trade — it is not reasonable that he should be altogether impotent as to every thing else: nor that his happiness should consist, as Plato declares that it ought, exclusively in the performance of this one service to the commonwealth. In the Platonic Republic, the body of the people are represented not only as without training, but as machines rather than individual men. They exist partly as producers to maintain, partly as governable matter to obey, the Guardians; and to be cared for by them.
Principle of Aristotle — That every citizen belongs to the city, not to himself — applied by Plato to women.
Aristotle, when speaking about the citizens of his own ideal commonwealth (his citizens form nearly the same numerical proportion of the whole population, as the Platonic Guardians), tells us — “Since the End for which the entire City exists is One, it is obviously necessary that the education of all the citizens should be one and the same, and that the care of such education should be a public duty — not left in private hands as it is now, for a man to teach his children what he thinks fit. Public exigencies must be provided for by public training. Moreover, we ought not to regard any of the citizens as belonging to himself, but all of them as belonging to the city: for each is a part of the city: and nature prescribes that the care of each part shall be regulated with a view to the care of the whole.”135
135 Aristotel. Politic. viii. 1, p. 1337, Ἐπεὶ δ’ ἓν τὸ τέλος τῇ πόλει πάσῃ, φανερὸν ὅτι καὶ τὴν παιδείαν μίαν καὶ τὴν αὐτὴν ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι πάντων, καὶ ταύτης τὴν ἐπιμέλειαν εἶναι κοινὴν καὶ μὴ κατ’ ἰδίαν· ὃν τρόπον νῦν ἕκαστος ἐπιμελεῖται τῶν αὐτοῦ τέκνων ἰδία τε καὶ μάθησιν ἰδίαν, ἣν ἂν δόξῃ, διδάσκων … Ἅμα δὲ οὐδὲ χρὴ νομίζειν αὐτὸν αὑτοῦ τινὰ εἶναι τῶν πολιτῶν, ἀλλὰ πάντας τῆς πόλεως … ἡ δ’ ἐπιμέλειας πέφυκεν ἑκάστου μορίου βλέπειν πρὸς τὴν τοῦ ὅλου ἐπιμέλειαν.
The broad principle thus laid down by Aristotle is common to 188him with Plato, and lies at the bottom of the schemes of polity imagined by both. Each has his own way of applying it.
Plato clearly perceives that it cannot be applied with consistency and effect, unless women are brought under its application as well as men. And to a great extent, Aristotle holds the same opinion too. While commending the Spartan principle, that the character of the citizen must be formed and upheld by continued public training and discipline — Aristotle blames Lykurgus for leaving the women (that is, a numerical half of the city) without training or discipline; which omission produced (he says) very mischievous effects, especially in corrupting the character of the men. He pronounces this to be a serious fault, making the constitution inconsistent and self-contradictory, and indeed contrary to the intentions of Lykurgus himself; who had tried to bring the women under public discipline as well as the men, but was forced to desist by their strenuous opposition.136 Such remarks from Aristotle are the more remarkable, since it appears as matter of history, that the maidens at Sparta (though not the married women) did to a great extent go through gymnastic exercises along with the young men.137 These exercises, 189though almost a singular exception in Greece, must have appeared to Aristotle very insufficient. What amount or kind of regulation he himself would propose for women, he has not defined. In his own ideal commonwealth, he lays it down as alike essential for men and women to have their bodies trained and exercised so as to be adequate to the active duties of free persons (as contrasted with the harder preparation requisite for the athletic contests, which he disapproves), but he does not go into farther particulars.138 The regulations which he proposes, too, with reference to marriage generally and to the maintenance of a vigorous breed of citizens, show, that he considered it an important part of the lawgiver’s duty to keep up by positive interference the physical condition both of males and females.139
136 Aristotel. Politic. ii. 9, p. 1269, b. 12. Ἔτι δ’ ἡ περὶ τὰς γυναῖκας ἄνεσις καὶ πρὸς τὴν προαίρεσιν τῆς πολιτείας βλαβερὰ καὶ πρὸς εὐδαιμονίαν πόλεως … Ὡστ’ ἐν ὅσαις πολιτείαις φαύλως ἔχει τὸ περὶ τὰς γυναῖκας, τὸ ἥμισυ τῆς πόλεως εἶναι δεῖ νομίζειν ἀνομοθέτητον. Ὅπερ ἐκεῖ (at Sparta) συμβέβηκεν· ὅλην γὰρ τὴν πόλιν ὁ νομοθέτης εἶναι βουλόμενος καρτερικήν, κατὰ μὲν τοὺς ἄνδρας φανερός ἐστι τοιοῦτος ὤν, ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν γυναικῶν ἐξημέληκεν, &c. … Τὰ δὲ περὶ τὰς γυναῖκας ἔχοντα μὴ καλῶς ἔοικεν οὐ μόνον ἀπρέπειάν τινα ποιεῖν τῆς πόλεως αὐτῆς καθ’ αὑτήν, ἀλλὰ συμβάλλεσθαί τι πρὸς τὴν φιλοχρηματίαν.
Plato has a similar remark, Legg. vi. pp. 780-781.
137 Stallbaum (in his note on Plato, Legg. i. p. 637 C, τὴν τῶν γυναικῶν παρ’ ὑμῖν ἄνεσιν) observes — “Lacænarum licentiam, quum ex aliis institutis patriis, tum ex gymnicarum exercitationum usu repetendam, Plato carpit etiam infrà,” &c. This is a mistake. Plato does not blame the gymnastic exercises of the Spartan maidens: the four passages to which Stallbaum refers do not prove his assertion. They even countenance the reverse of that assertion. Plato approves of gymnastic and military exercises for maidens in the Laws, and for all the female Guardians in the Republic.
Stallbaum also refers to Aristotle as disapproving the gymnastic exercises of the Spartan maidens. I cannot think that this is correct. Aristotle does indeed blame the arrangements for women at Sparta, but not, as I understand him, because the women were subjected to gymnastic exercise; his blame is founded on the circumstance that the women were not regulated, but left to do as they pleased, while the men were under the strictest drill. This I conceive to be the meaning of γυναικῶν ἄνεσις. Euripides indeed has a very bitter passage condemning the exercises of the Spartan maidens; but neither Plato nor Aristotle shared this view.
Respecting the Spartan maidens and their exercises, see Xenophon, Republ. Laced. i. 4; Plutarch, Lykurg. c. 14.
138 Aristotel. Politic. vii. 16, p. 1335, b. 8. Πεπονημένην μὲν οὖν ἔχειν δεῖ τὴν ἕξιν, πεπονημένην δὲ πόνοις μὴ βιαίοις, μηδὲ πρὸς ἕνα μόνον, ὥσπερ ἡ τῶν ἀθλητῶν ἕξις, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς τῶν ἐλευθερίων πράξεις. Ὁμοίως δὲ δεῖ ταῦτα ὑπάρχειν ἀνδράσι καὶ γυναιξί. Compare also i. 8, near the end of the first book.
139 Aristotel. Politic. vii. 16, p. 1335, a. 20, b. 15.
In principle, therefore, Aristotle agrees with Plato,140 as to the propriety of comprehending women as well as men under public training and discipline: but he does not follow out the principle with the same consistency. He maintains the Platonic Commonwealth to be impossible.141
140 If we take the sentence from Aristotle’s Politics, cited in a note immediately preceding, to the effect that all the citizens belonged to the city, and that each was a part of the city (viii. 1, p. 1337, a. 28) in conjunction with another passage in the Politics (i. 3, p. 1254, a. 10) — Τό τε γὰρ μόριον, οὐ μόνον ἄλλου ἐστὶ μόριον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅλως ἄλλου — it is difficult to see how he can, consistently with these principles, assign to his citizens any individual self-regarding agency. Plato denies all such to his Guardians, and in so doing he makes deductions consistent with the principles of Aristotle, who lays down his principles too absolutely for the use which he afterwards makes of them.
141 Aristotel. Politic. ii. 5, p. 1263, b. 29. φαίνεται δ’ εἶναι πάμπαν ἀδύνατος ὁ βίος.
Aristotle declares the Platonic Commonwealth impossible — In what sense this is true.
If we go through the separate objections which Aristotle advances as justifying his verdict, we shall find them altogether inadequate for the purpose. He shows certain inconveniences and difficulties as belonging to it, — which are by no means all real, but which, even conceding them in full force, would have to be set against the objections admitted by himself to bear against other actual societies before we can determine whether they are sufficiently weighty to render the scheme to which they belong impossible. The Platonic commonwealth,190 and the Aristotelian commonwealth, are both of them impossible, in my judgment, for the same reason: that all the various communities of mankind exist under established customs, beliefs, and sentiments, in complete discordance with them: and that we cannot understand from whence the force is to come, tending and competent to generate either of these two new systematic projects. Both of them require a simultaneous production of many reciprocally adapted elements: both therefore require an express initiative force, exceptional and belonging to some peculiar crisis — something analogous to Zeus in Krete, and to Apollo at Sparta. This is alike true of both: though the Platonic Republic, departing more widely from received principles and sentiments than the Aristotelian, would of course require a more potent initiative.142 In the treatises of the two philosophers, each explains and vindicates the principles of his system, without including in the hypothesis any specification of a probable source from whence it was to acquire its first start. Where is the motive, operative, demiurgic force, ready to translate such an idea into reality?143 But if we assume that either of them had once begun, there is no reason why it might not have continued. The causes which 191first brought about the Spartan constitution and discipline must have been very peculiar, though we have no historical account what they were. At any rate they never occurred a second time; for no second Sparta was ever formed, in spite of the admiration inspired by the first. If Sparta had never been actually established, and if Aristotle had read a description of it as a mere project, he would probably have pronounced it impracticable:144 though when once brought into reality, it proved eminently durable. In like manner, the laws, customs, beliefs, and feelings, prevalent in Egypt, — which astonished so vehemently Herodotus and other observing Greeks — would have been declared to be impossible, if described simply in project: yet, when once established, they were found to last longer without change than those of other nations.
142 Plato indeed in one place tells us that a single despot, becoming by inspiration or accident a philosopher, and having an obedient city, would accomplish the primary construction of his commonwealth (Republic, vi. p. 502 B). That despot (Plato supposes) will send away all the population of his city above ten years old, and will train up the children in the Platonic principles (vii. pp. 540-541).
This is little better than an εὐχή, whatever Plato may say to deprecate the charge of uttering εὐχάς, p. 540 D.
143 Aristotel. Metaphys. A. p. 991, a. 22. Τί γάρ ἐστι τὸ ἐργαζόμενον, πρὸς τὰς ἰδέας ἀποβλέπον;
We find Aristotle arguing, in the course of his remarks on the Platonic Republic, that it is useless now to promulgate any such novelties; a long time has elapsed, and such things would already have been found established if they had been good (Politic. ii. 5, p. 1264, a. 2). This would have applied (somewhat less in degree, yet with quite sufficient force) to the ideal commonwealth of Aristotle himself, as well as to that of Plato.
Because such institutions have never yet been established anywhere as those proposed by Plato or Aristotle, you cannot fairly argue that they would not be good, or that they would not stand if established. What you may fairly argue is, that they are not at all likely to be established; no originating force will be forthcoming adequate to the first creation of them. Existing societies have fixed modes of thinking and feeling on social and political matters; each moves in its own groove, and the direction in which it will henceforward move will be a consequence and continuance of the direction in which it is already moving, by virtue of powerful causes now in operation. New originating force is a very rare phenomenon. Overwhelming enemies or physical calamities may destroy what exists, but they will not produce any such innovations as those under discussion.
144 Plato himself makes this very remark in the Treatise De Legibus (viii. p. 839 D) in defending the practicability of some of the ordinances therein recommended.
The real impossibility of the Platonic Commonwealth, arises from the fact that discordant sentiments are already established.
The Platonic project is submitted, however, not to impartial judges comparing different views on matters yet undetermined, but to hearers with a canon of criticism already fixed and anti-Platonic “animis consuetudine imbutis”. It appears impossible, because it contradicts sentiments conceived as fundamental and consecrated, respecting the sexual and family relations. The supposed impossibility is the mode of expressing strong disapprobation and repugnance: like that which Herodotus describes as manifested by the Greeks on one side and by the Indians on the other — when Darius, having asked each of them at what price they would consent to adopt the practice of the other respecting the mode of treating the bodies of deceased parents, was answered by a loud cry of horror at the mere proposition.145 The reasons offered to prove the Platonic project impossible, are principally founded upon the very sentiment above adverted to, and derive all their force from being associated with it. Such is the character of many among the Aristotelian objections.146 The real, and the truly 192forcible, objection consists in the sentiment itself. If that be deeply rooted in the mind, it is decisive. To those who feel thus, the Platonic project would be both intolerable and impossible.
145 Herodot. iii. 38. οἱ δέ, ἀμβώσαντες μέγα, εὐφημέειν μιν ἐκέλευον.
Plato in a remarkable passage of the Leges (i. 638 B), deprecates and complains of this instantaneous condemnation without impartial hearing of argument on both sides.
146 See the arguments urged by Aristotle, Politic. ii. 4, p. 1262, a. 25 et seq. His remarks upon the fictions which Plato requires to be impressed on the belief of his Guardians are extremely just. There are, however, several objections urged by him which turn more upon the Platonic language than upon the Platonic vein of thought, and which, if judged by Plato from his own point of view, would have appeared admissions in his favour rather than objections. In reply to Plato, whose aim it is that all or many of the Guardians shall say mine in reference to the same persons or the same things, and not in reference to different persons and different things, Aristotle contends that the word mine will not then designate any such strong affection as it does now, when it is special, exclusive, and concentrated on a few persons or things; that each Guardian, having many persons whom he called brother and many persons whom he called father, would not feel towards them as persons now feel towards brothers and fathers; that the affection by being disseminated would be weakened, and would become nothing more than a “diluted friendship” — φιλία ὑδαρής. See Aristot. Politic. ii. 3, p. 1261, b. 22; ii. 4, p. 1262, b. 15.
Plato, if called upon for an answer to this reasoning, would probably have allowed it to be just; but would have said that the “diluted friendship” pervading all the Guardians was apt and sufficient for his purpose, as bringing the whole number most nearly into the condition of one organism. Strong exclusive affections, upon whatever founded, between individuals, he wishes to discourage: the hateful or unfriendly sentiments he is bent on rooting out. What he desires to see preponderant, in each Guardian, is a sense of duty to the public: subordinate to that, he approves moderate and kindly affections, embracing all the Guardians; towards the elders as fathers, towards those of the same age as brothers. Aristotle’s expression — φιλία ὑδαρής — describes such a sentiment fairly enough. See Republic, v. pp. 462-463. It must be conceded, however, that Plato’s language is open to Aristotle’s objection.
Plato has strong feelings of right and wrong about sexual intercourse, but referring to different objects.
But we must recollect that it is these very sentiments which Plato impugns and declares to be inapplicable to his Guardians: so that an opponent who, not breaking off at once with the cry of horror uttered by the Indians to Darius, begins to discuss the question with him, is bound to forego objections and repugnances springing as corollaries from a basis avowedly denied. Plato has earnest feelings of right and wrong, in regard both to the functions of women and to the sexual intercourse: but his feelings dissent entirely from those of readers generally. That is right, in his opinion, which tends to keep up the excellence of the breed and the proper number of Guardians, as well as to ensure the exact and constant fulfilment of their mission: that is wrong, which tends to defeat or abridge such fulfilment, or to impair the breed, or to multiply the number beyond its proper limit. Of these ends the Rulers are the proper judges, not the individual 193person. All the Guardians are enjoined to leave the sexual power absolutely unexercised until the age of thirty for men, of twenty for women — and then only to exercise it under express sanction and authorisation, according as the Rulers may consider that children are needed to keep up the legitimate number.
Marriage is regarded as holy, and celebrated under solemn rites — all the more because both the ceremony is originated, and the couples selected, by the magistrates, for the most important public purpose: which being fulfilled, the marriage ceases and determines. It is not celebrated with a view to the couple themselves, still less with a view to establish any permanent exclusive attachment between them: which object Plato not only does not contemplate, but positively discountenances: on the same general principle as the Catholic Church forbids marriage to priests: because he believes that it will create within them motives and sentiments inconsistent with the due discharge of their public mission.
Different sentiment which would grow up in the Platonic Commonwealth respecting the sexual relations.
It is clear that among such a regiment as that which Plato describes in his Guardians, a sentiment would grow up, respecting the intercourse of the sexes, totally different from that which prevailed elsewhere around him. The Platonic restriction upon that intercourse up in the (until the ulterior limits of age) would be far more severe: but it would be applied with reference to different objects. Instead of being applied to enforce the exclusive consecration of one woman to one man, choosing each other or chosen by fathers, without any limit on the multiplication of children, — and without any attention to the maintenance or deterioration of the breed — it would be directed to the obtaining of the most perfect breed and of the appropriate number, leaving the Guardians, female as well as male, free from all permanent distracting influences to interfere with the discharge of their public duties. In appreciating the details of the Platonic community, we must look at it with reference to this form of sexual morality; which would generate in the Guardians an appreciation of details consistent with itself both as to the women and as to the children. The sentiment of obligation, of right and wrong, respecting the relations of the 194sexes, is everywhere very strong; but it does not everywhere attach to the same acts or objects. The important obligation for a woman never to show her face in public, which is held sacred through so large a portion of the Oriental world, is noway recognised in the Occidental: and in Plato’s time, when mankind were more disseminated among small independent communities, the divergence was yet greater than it is now. The Spartans were not induced, by the censures or mockery of persons in other Grecian cities,147 to suppress the gymnastic exercises practised by their maidens in conjunction with the young men: nor is Plato deterred by the ridicule or blame which others may express, from proclaiming his conviction, that the virtue of his female Guardians is the same as that of the male — consisting in the faithful performance of their duty as Guardians, after going through all the requisite training, gymnastic and musical. And he follows this up by the general declaration, one of the most emphatic in all his writings, “The best thing which is now said or ever has been said, is, that what is profitable is honourable — and what is hurtful, is base”.148
147 Eurip. Androm. 598.
The criticisms of Xenophon in the first chapter of his treatise, De Laced. Republ., exhibit a point of view on many points analogous to that of Plato respecting the female sex, and differing from that which he puts into the mouth of Ischomachus in his Œkonomicus. See above, p. 172, note 3. Among the lost treatises of Kleanthes, successor of Zeno as Scholarch of the Stoic School, one was composed expressly to show Ὅτι ἡ αὐτὴ ἀρετὴ καὶ ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικός. (Diog. Laert. vii. 175.)
148 Plato, Repub. v. p. 457 A-B. Ἀποδυτέον δὴ ταῖς τῶν φυλάκων γυναιξίν, ἐπείπερ ἀρετὴν ἀντὶ ἱματίων ἀμφιέσονται, καὶ κοινωνητέον πολέμου τε καὶ τῆς ἄλλης φυλακῆς τῆς περὶ τὴν πόλιν, καὶ οὐκ ἄλλα πρακτέον· τούτων δ’ αὐτῶν τὰ ἐλαφρότερα ταῖς γυναιξὶν ἢ τοῖς ἀνδράσι δοτέον, διὰ τὴν τοῦ γένους ἀσθένειαν. Ὁ δὲ γελῶν ἀνὴρ ἐπὶ γυμναῖς γυναιξί, τοῦ βελτίστου ἕνεκα γυμναζομέναις, ἀτελῆ τοῦ γελοίου σοφίας δρέπων καρπόν, οὐδὲν οἶδεν, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἐφ’ ᾧ γελᾷ οὐδ’ ὅ, τι πράττει. Κάλλιστα γὰρ δὴ τοῦτο καὶ λέγεται καὶ λελέξεται, ὅτι τὸ μὲν ὠφέλιμον, καλόν — τὸ δὲ βλαβερόν, αἰσχρόν.
What Nature prescribes in regard to the relations of the two sexes — Direct contradiction between Plato and Aristotle.
Plato in truth reduces the distinction between the two sexes to its lowest terms: to the physical difference in regard to procreation — and to the general fact, that the female is every way weaker and inferior to the male; while yet, individually taken, many women are superior to many men, and both sexes are alike improvable by training. He maintains that this similarity of training and function is the real order of Nature, and that 195the opposite practice, which insists on a separation of life and functions between the sexes, is unnatural:149 which doctrine he partly enforces by the analogy of the two sexes in other animals.150 Aristotle disputes this reasoning altogether: declaring that Nature prescribes a separation of life and functions between the two sexes — that the relation of man to woman is that of superiority and command on one side, inferiority and obedience on the other, like the relation between father and child, master and slave, though with a difference less in degree — that virtue in a man, and virtue in a woman, are quite different, imposing diverse obligations.151 It shows how little stress can be laid on arguments based on the word Nature, when we see two such distinguished thinkers completely at issue as to the question, what Nature indicates, in this important case. Each of them decorates by that name the rule which he himself approves; whether actually realised anywhere, or merely recommended as a reform of something really existing. In this controversy, Aristotle had in his favour the actualities around him, against Plato: but Aristotle himself is far from always recognising experience and practice as authoritative interpreters of the dictates of Nature, as we may see by his own ideal commonwealth.
149 Plato, Republic, v. p. 456 C. τὰ νῦν παρὰ ταῦτα γιγνόμενα παρὰ φύσιν μᾶλλον, &c. Also p. 466 D.
150 Compare a similar appeal to the analogy of animals, as proving the ἔρωτας ἀῤῥένων to be unnatural, Plato, Legg. viii. p. 836 C.
151 Aristotel. Politic. i. 13, p. 1260 a. 20-30.
Opinion of Plato respecting the capacities of women, and the training proper for women, are maintained in the Leges, as well as in the Republic. Ancient legends harmonising with this opinion.
How strongly Plato was attached to his doctrines about the capacity of women — how unchanged his opinion continued about the mischief of separating the training and functions of the two sexes, and of confining women to indoor occupations, or to what he calls “a life of darkness and fear”152 — may be seen farther by his Treatise De Legibus. Although in that treatise he recedes (perforce and without retracting) from the principles of his Republic, so far as to admit separate properties and families for all his citizens — yet he still continues to enjoin public gymnastic and military training, for women and men alike: and he still 196opens, to both sexes alike, superintending social functions to a great extent, as well as the privilege of being honoured by public hymns after death, in case of distinguished merit.153 Respecting military matters, he speaks with peculiar earnestness. That women are perfectly capable of efficient military service, if properly trained, he proves not only by the ancient legends, but also by facts actual and contemporary, the known valour of the Scythian and Sarmatian women. Whatever doubts persons may have hitherto cherished (says Plato), this is now established matter of fact:154 the cowardice and impotence of women is not less disgraceful in itself than detrimental to the city, as robbing it of one-half of its possible force.155 He complains bitterly of the repugnance felt even to the discussion of this proposition.156 Most undoubtedly, there were ancient legends which tended much to countenance his opinion. The warlike Amazons, daughters of Arês, were among the most formidable forces that had ever appeared on earth; they had shown their power once by invading Attica and bringing such peril on Athens, that it required all the energy of the great Athenian hero Theseus to repel them. We must remember that these stories were not only familiarised to the public eye in conspicuous painting and sculpture, but were also fully believed as 197matters of past history.157 Moreover the Goddess Athênê, patroness of Athens, was the very impersonation of intelligent terror-striking might — constraining and subduing Arês158 himself: the Goddess Enŷo presided over war, no less than the God Arês:159 lastly Artemis, though making war only on wild beasts, was hardly less formidable in her way — indefatigable as well as rapid in her movements and unerring with her bow, as Athênê was irresistible with her spear. Here were abundant examples in Grecian legend, to embolden Plato in his affirmations respecting the capacity of the female sex for warlike enterprise and laborious endurance.
152 Plato, Legg. vi. p. 781 C. εἰθισμένον γὰρ δεδοικὸς καὶ σκοτεινὸν ζῆν, &c.
153 Plato, Legg. vii. pp. 795 C, 796 C, 802 A.
154 Plat. Legg. vii. pp. 804-805-806. 804 E: ἀκούων μὲν γὰρ δὴ μύθους παλαιοῦς πέπεισμαι, τὰ δὲ νῦν, ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, οἶδα ὅτι μυριάδες ἀναρίθμητοι γυναικῶν εἰσὶ τῶν περὶ τὸν Πόντον, ἃς Σαυροματίδας καλοῦσιν, αἷς οὐχ ἵππων μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ τόξων καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ὅπλων κοινωνία καὶ τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἴση προστεταγμένη ἴσως ἀσκεῖται. We may doubt whether Plato knew anything of the brave and skilful Artemisia, queen of Halikarnassus, who so greatly distinguished herself in the expedition of Xerxes against Greece (Herod. vii. 99, viii. 87), and, indeed, whether he had ever read the history of Herodotus. His argument might have been strengthened by another equally pertinent example, if he could have quoted the original letter addressed by the Emperor Aurelian to the Roman Senate, attesting the courage, vigour, and prudence, of Zenobia, queen of Palmyra. Trebellius Pollio, Vitæ Triginta Tyrannorum in Histor. August. p. 198 (De Zenobia, xxix.: cap. xxx.): “Audio, Patres Conscripti, mihi objici, quod non virile munus impleverim, Zenobiam triumphando. Næ, illi qui me reprehendunt, satis laudarent, si scirent qualis illa est mulier, quam prudens in consiliis, quam constans in dispositionibus, quam erga milites gravis, quam larga cum necessitas postulet, quam tristis cum severitas poscat. Possum dicere illius esse quod Odenatus Persas vicit, ac fugato Sapore Ctesiphontem usque pervenit. Possum asserere, tanto apud Orientales et Ægyptiorum populos timori mulierem fuisse, ut se non Arabes, non Saraceni, non Armenii, commoverent. Nec ego illi vitam conservassem, nisi eam scissem multum Romanæ Reipublicæ profuisse, cum sibi vel liberis suis Orientis servaret imperium.
155 Plato, Legg. vii. pp. 813-814.
156 Plato, Legg. vi. p. 781 D.
157 Plutarch, Theseus, c. 27; Æschylus, Eumenid. 682; Isokrates, Panegyr. ss. 76-78. How popular a subject the Amazons were for sculptors, we learn from the statement of Pliny (xxxiv. 8, 19) that all the most distinguished sculptors executed Amazons; and that this subject was the only one upon which a direct comparison could be made between them.
158 Homer, Iliad, xv. 123.
159 Homer, Iliad, v. 333-592.
In a Commonwealth like the Platonic, the influence of Aphroditê would probably have been reduced to a minimum.
The two Goddesses, Athênê and Artemis, were among the few altogether insensible to amorous influences and to the inspirations of Aphroditê: who is the object of contemptuous sarcasm on the part of Athênê, and of repulsive antipathy on the part of Artemis.160 This may supply an illustration for the Republic of Plato. As far as one can guess what the effect of his institutions would have been, it is probable that the influence of Aphroditê would have been at its minimum among his Guardians of both sexes: as it was presented in the warlike dramas of Æschylus.161 There would have been everything to deaden it, with an entire absence of all provocatives. The muscular development, but rough and unadorned bodies, of females —
Sabina qualis, aut perusta solibus
Pernicis uxor Apuli — (HOR. Epod. ii. 41-42).
the indiscriminate companionship, with perfect identity of treatment and manners, between the two sexes from the earliest infancy — the training of both together for the same public duties, 198the constant occupation of both throughout life in the performance of those duties, under unceasing official supervision — the strict regulation of exercise and diet, together with the monastic censorship on all poetry and literature — the self-restraint, equal and universal, enforced as the characteristic feature and pride of the regiment, and seconded by the jealous espionage of all over all, the more potent because privacy was unknown — such an assemblage of circumstances would do as much as circumstances could do to starve the sexual appetite, to prevent it from becoming the root of emotional or imaginative associations, and to place it under the full controul of the lawgiver for purposes altogether public. Such was probably Plato’s intention: since he more generally regards the appetites as enemies to be combated and extirpated so far as practicable — rather than as sources of pleasure, yet liable to accompaniments of pain, requiring to be regulated so as to exclude the latter and retain the former.
160 Homer, Hymn. ad Venerem, 10; Iliad, v. 425; Euripid. Hippolyt. 1400-1420.
Athênê combined the attributes of φιλοπόλεμος and φιλόσοφος. Plato, Timæus, p. 24 D; compare Kritias, p. 109 D.
161 See Aristophan. Ranæ, 1042.
Eurip. Μὰ Δί’ οὐδὲ γὰρ ἦν τῆς Ἀφροδίτης οὐδέν σοι.
Æschyl. Μηδέ γ’ ἐπείη. Ἀλλ’ ἐπί σοί τοι καὶ τοῖς σοῖσιν πολλὴ πολλοῦ ’πικαθῆτο.
Other purposes of Plato — limitation of number of Guardians — common to Aristotle also.
The public purposes, with a view to which Plato sought to controul the sexual appetite in his Guardians, were three, as I have already stated. 1. To obtain from each of them individually, faithful performance of the public duties, and observance of the limits, prescribed by his system. 2. To ensure the best and purest breed. 3. To maintain unaltered the same total number, without excess or deficiency.
Law of population expounded by Malthus — Three distinct checks to population — alternative open between preventive and positive.
The first of these three purposes is peculiar to the Platonic system. The two last are not peculiar to it. Aristotle recognises them162 as ends, no less than Plato, though he does not approve Plato’s means for attaining them. In reference to the limitation of number, Aristotle is even more pronounced than Plato. The great evil of over-population forced itself upon these philosophers; living as both of them did among small communities, each with its narrow area hedged in by others — each liable to intestine dispute, sometimes caused, always aggravated, by the presence of large families and numerous poor freemen — and each importing bought slaves as labourers. To obtain for their community the quickest possible 199increase in aggregate wealth and population, was an end which they did not account either desirable or commendable. The stationary state, far from appearing repulsive or discouraging, was what they looked upon as the best arrangement163 of things. A mixed number of lots of land, indivisible and inalienable, is the first principle of the Platonic community in the treatise De Legibus. Not to encourage wealth, but to avert, as far as possible, the evils of poverty and dependence, and to restrain within narrow limits the proportion of the population which suffered those evils — was considered by Plato and Aristotle to be among the gravest problems for the solution of the statesman.164 Consistent with these conditions, essential to security and tranquillity, whatever the form of government might be, there was only room for the free population then existing: not always for that (seeing that the proportion of poor citizens was often uncomfortably great), and never for any sensible increase above that. If all the children were born and brought up, that it was possible for adult couples to produce, a fearful aggravation of poverty, with all its accompanying public troubles and sufferings, would have been inevitable.165 Accordingly both Plato (for the Guardians in the Republic) and Aristotle agree in opinion that a limit must be fixed upon the number of children which each couple is permitted to introduce. If any objector had argued that each couple, by going through the solemnity of marriage, acquired a natural right to produce as many children as they could, and that others were under a natural obligation to support those children — both philosophers would have denied the plea altogether. But they went even further. They considered procreation as a duty 200which each citizen owed to the public, in order that the total of citizens might not fall below the proper minimum — yet as a duty which required controul, in order that the total might not rise above the proper maximum.166 Hence they did not even admit the right of each couple to produce as many children as their private means could support. They thought it necessary to impose a limit on the number of children in every family, binding equally on rich and poor: the number prescribed might be varied from time to time, as circumstances indicated. As the community could not safely admit more than a certain aggregate of births, these philosophers commanded all couples indiscriminately, the rich not excepted, to shape their conduct with a view to that imperative necessity.
162 Aristotel. Politic. vii. 16.
163 Compare the view (not unlike though founded on different reasons) of the stationary state taken by Mr. John Stuart Mill, in a valuable chapter of his Principles of Political Economy, Book iv. chap. 6. He says (s. 2):— “The best state for human nature is that in which, while no one is poor, no one desires to be richer, nor has any reason to fear being thrust back by the efforts of others to push themselves forward”. This would come near to the views of Plato and Aristotle.
164 See a striking passage in Plato, Legg. v. pp. 742-743. He speaks of rich men as they are spoken of in some verses of the Gospels — a very rich man can hardly be a good man. Wealth and poverty are both of them evils, p. 744 D. Repub. iv. p. 421.
Pheidon the Corinthian, an ancient lawgiver (we do not know when or where), prescribed an unchangeable number both of lots (of land) and of citizens, but the lots were not to be all equal. Aristotel. Politic. ii. 6, p. 1265, b. 14.
165 Aristot. Politic. ii. 6, p. 1265, b. 10. Τὸ δ’ ἀφεῖσθαι (τὴν τεκνοποιΐαν ἀόριστον), καθάπερ ἐν ταῖς πλείσταις πόλεσιν, πενίας ἀναγκαῖον αἴτιον γίνεσθαι τοῖς πολίταις· ἡ δὲ πενία στάσιν ἐμποιεῖ καὶ κακουργίαν. Compare ibid. ii. 7, p. 1266, b. 8.
166 Aristotel. Politic. vii. 16, p. 1335, b. 28-38. λειτουργεῖν πρὸς τεκνοποιΐαν … ἀφεῖσθαι δεῖ τῆς εἰς τὸ φανερὸν γεννήσεως.
Plato, Republic, v. pp. 460-461. τίκτειν τῇ πόλει — γεννᾷν τῇ πόλει — τῶν εἰς τὸ κοινὸν γεννήσεων.
Plato in his Republic (as I have already mentioned) assumes for his Archons the privilege of selecting (by a pretended sortition) the couples through whom the legitimate amount of breeding shall be accomplished: in the semi-Platonic commonwealth (De Legibus), he leaves the choice free, but prescribes the limits of age, rendering marriage a peremptory duty between twenty and thirty-five years of age, and adding some emphatic exhortations, though not peremptory enactments, respecting the principles which ought to guide individual choice.167 In the same manner too he deals with procreation: recognising the necessity of imposing a limit on individual discretion, yet not naming that limit by law, but leaving it to be enforced according to circumstances by the magistrates: who (he says), by advice, praise, and censure, can apply either effective restraints on procreation, or encouragements if the case requires.168 Aristotle blames this 201guarantee as insufficient: he feels so strongly the necessity of limiting procreation, that he is not satisfied unless a proper limit be imposed by positive law. Unless such a result be made thoroughly sure (he says), all other measures of lawgivers for equalising properties, or averting poverty and the discontents growing out of it — must fail in effect.169 Aristotle also lays it down as a part of the duty of the lawgiver to take care that the bodies of the children brought up shall be as good as possible: hence he prescribes the ages proper for marriage, and the age after which no parents are to produce any more children.170
167 Plato, Legg. vi. pp. 772-773-774. The wording is characteristic of the view taken by these philosophers, and of the extent to which they subordinated individual sentiment to public considerations. κατὰ παντὸς εἷς ἔστω μῦθος γάμου· τὸν γὰρ τῇ πόλει δεῖ ξυμφέροντα μνηστεύειν γάμον ἕκαστον, ἀλλ’ οὐ τὸν ἥδιστον αὑτῷ. φέρεται δέ πως πᾶς ἀεὶ κατὰ φύσιν πρὸς τὸν ὁμοιότατον αὑτῷ, &c. (p. 773 B). In marriage (he says) the natural tendency is that like seeks like; but it is good for the city that like should be coupled to unlike, rich to poor, hasty tempers with sober tempers, &c., in order that the specialties may be blended together and mitigated. He does not pretend to embody this in a written law, but directs the authorities to obtain it as far as they can by exhortation. P. 733 E. Compare the Politikus, p. 311.
168 Plato, Legg. v. p. 740 D. ποριζέτω μηχανὴν ὅτι μάλιστα, ὅπως αἱ πεντακισχίλιαι καὶ τετταράκοντα οἰκήσεις ἀεὶ μόνον ἔσονται· καὶ γὰρ ἐπισχέσεις γενέσεως, οἷς ἂν εὔρους εἴη γένεσις, καὶ τοὐναντίον ἐπιμέλειαι καὶ σπουδαὶ πλήθους γεννημάτων εἰσὶν, &c.
169 Aristotel. Politic. ii. 6, p. 1264, a. 38; ii. 7, p. 1266, b. 10; vii. 16.
Aristotle has not fully considered all that Plato says, when he blames him for inconsistency in proposing to keep properties equal, without taking pains to impose and maintain a constant limit on offspring in families. Ἄτοπον δὲ καὶ τὸ τὰς κτήσεις ἰσάζοντα (Plato) τὸ περὶ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν πολιτῶν μὴ κατασκευάζειν, ἀλλ’ ἀφεῖναι τὴν τεκνοποιΐαν ἀόριστον, &c. (Aristot. Polit. ii. 6, p. 1265, a. fin.)
What Plato really directs is stated in my text and in my note immediately preceding.
170 Aristotel. Politic. vii. 16, p. 1334, b. 39. εἴπερ οὖν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς τὸν νομοθέτην ὁρᾷν δεῖ, ὅπως βέλτιστα τὰ σώματα γένηται τῶν τρεφομένων, πρῶτον μὲν ἐπιμελητέον περὶ τὴν σύζευξιν, πότε καὶ ποίους τινὰς ὄντας χρὴ ποιεῖσθοι πρὸς ἀλλήλους τὴν γαμικὴν ὁμιλίαν, &c. He names thirty-seven as the age proper for a man, eighteen for a woman, to marry. At the age of fifty-five a man becomes unfit to procreate for the public, and none of his children are to appear (ἀφεῖσθαι τῆς εἰς τὸ φανερὸν γεννήσεως, vii. 16, p. 1335, b. 36).
The paramount necessity of limiting the number of children born in each family, here enforced by Plato and Aristotle, rests upon that great social fact which Malthus so instructively expounded at the close of the last century. Malthus, enquiring specially into the law of population, showed upon what conditions the increase of population depends, and what were the causes constantly at work to hold it back — checks to population. He ranged these causes under three different heads, though the two last are multiform in detail. 1. Moral or prudential restraint — the preventive check. 2. Vice, and 3. Misery — the two positive checks. He farther showed that though the aggregate repressive effect of these three causes is infallible and inevitable, determined by the circumstances of each given society — yet that mankind might exercise an option through which of the three the check should be applied: that the effect of the two last causes was in inverse proportion to that of the first — in other words, that the less there was of prudential202 restraint limiting the number of births, the more there must be of vice or misery, under some of their thousand forms, to shorten the lives of many of the children born — and é converso, the more there was of prudential restraint, the less would be the operation of the other checks tending to shorten life.
Plato and Aristotle saw the same law as Malthus, but arranged the facts under a different point of view.
Three distinct facts — preventive restraint, vice, and misery — having nothing else in common, are arranged under one general head by Malthus, in consequence of the one single common property which they possess — that of operating as checks to population. To him, that one common property was the most important of all, and the most fit to be singled out as the groundwork of classification, having reference to the subject of his enquiry. But Plato and Aristotle looked at the subject in a different point of view. They had present to their minds the same three facts, and the tendency of the first to avert or abate the second and third: but as they were not investigating the law of population, they had nothing to call their attention to the one common property of the three. They did not regard vice and misery as causes tending to keep down population, but as being in themselves evils; enemies among the worst which the lawgiver had to encounter, in his efforts to establish a good political and social condition — and enemies which he could never successfully encounter, without regulating the number of births. Such regulation they considered as an essential tutelary measure to keep out disastrous poverty. The inverse proportion, between regulated or unregulated number of births on the one hand, and diminution or increase of poverty on the other, was seen as clearly by Aristotle and Plato as by Malthus.
Regulations of Plato and Aristotle as to number of births and newborn children.
But these two Greek philosophers ordain something yet more remarkable. Having prescribed both the age of marriage and the number of permitted births, so as to ensure both vigorous citizens and a total compatible with the absence of corrupting poverty — they direct what shall be done if the result does not correspond to their orders. Plato in his Republic (as I have already stated) commands that all the children born to his wedded couples shall be immediately consigned to the care of public 203nurses — that the offspring of the well-constituted parents shall be brought up, that of the ill-constituted parents not brought up — an