A singular conception which occurs towards the end of the book is the lie in the soul; this is connected with the Platonic and Socratic doctrine that involuntary ignorance is worse than voluntary. The lie in the soul is a true lie, the corruption of the highest truth, the deception of the highest part of the soul, from which he who is deceived has no power of delivering himself. For example, to represent God as false or immoral, or, according to Plato, as deluding men with appearances or as the author of evil; or again, to affirm with Protagoras that 'knowledge is sensation,' or that 'being is becoming,' or with Thrasymachus 'that might is right,' would have been regarded by Plato as a lie of this hateful sort. The greatest unconsciousness of the greatest untruth, e.g. if, in the language of the Gospels (John), 'he who was blind' were to say 'I see,' is another aspect of the state of mind which Plato is describing. The lie in the soul may be further compared with the sin against the Holy Ghost (Luke), allowing for the difference between Greek and Christian modes of speaking. To this is opposed the lie in words, which is only such a deception as may occur in a play or poem, or allegory or figure of speech, or in any sort of accommodation,—which though useless to the gods may be useful to men in certain cases. Socrates is here answering the question which he had himself raised about the propriety of deceiving a madman; and he is also contrasting the nature of God and man. For God is Truth, but mankind can only be true by appearing sometimes to be partial, or false. Reserving for another place the greater questions of religion or education, we may note further, (1) the approval of the old traditional education of Greece; (2) the preparation which Plato is making for the attack on Homer and the poets; (3) the preparation which he is also making for the use of economies in the State; (4) the contemptuous and at the same time euphemistic manner in which here as below he alludes to the 'Chronique Scandaleuse' of the gods.
BOOK III. There is another motive in purifying religion, which is to banish fear; for no man can be courageous who is afraid of death, or who believes the tales which are repeated by the poets concerning the world below. They must be gently requested not to abuse hell; they may be reminded that their stories are both untrue and discouraging. Nor must they be angry if we expunge obnoxious passages, such as the depressing words of Achilles—'I would rather be a serving-man than rule over all the dead;' and the verses which tell of the squalid mansions, the senseless shadows, the flitting soul mourning over lost strength and youth, the soul with a gibber going beneath the earth like smoke, or the souls of the suitors which flutter about like bats. The terrors and horrors of Cocytus and Styx, ghosts and sapless shades, and the rest of their Tartarean nomenclature, must vanish. Such tales may have their use; but they are not the proper food for soldiers. As little can we admit the sorrows and sympathies of the Homeric heroes:—Achilles, the son of Thetis, in tears, throwing ashes on his head, or pacing up and down the sea-shore in distraction; or Priam, the cousin of the gods, crying aloud, rolling in the mire. A good man is not prostrated at the loss of children or fortune. Neither is death terrible to him; and therefore lamentations over the dead should not be practised by men of note; they should be the concern of inferior persons only, whether women or men. Still worse is the attribution of such weakness to the gods; as when the goddesses say, 'Alas! my travail!' and worst of all, when the king of heaven himself laments his inability to save Hector, or sorrows over the impending doom of his dear Sarpedon. Such a character of God, if not ridiculed by our young men, is likely to be imitated by them. Nor should our citizens be given to excess of laughter—'Such violent delights' are followed by a violent re-action. The description in the Iliad of the gods shaking their sides at the clumsiness of Hephaestus will not be admitted by us. 'Certainly not.'
Truth should have a high place among the virtues, for falsehood, as we were saying, is useless to the gods, and only useful to men as a medicine. But this employment of falsehood must remain a privilege of state; the common man must not in return tell a lie to the ruler; any more than the patient would tell a lie to his physician, or the sailor to his captain.
In the next place our youth must be temperate, and temperance consists in self-control and obedience to authority. That is a lesson which Homer teaches in some places: 'The Achaeans marched on breathing prowess, in silent awe of their leaders;'—but a very different one in other places: 'O heavy with wine, who hast the eyes of a dog, but the heart of a stag.' Language of the latter kind will not impress self-control on the minds of youth. The same may be said about his praises of eating and drinking and his dread of starvation; also about the verses in which he tells of the rapturous loves of Zeus and Here, or of how Hephaestus once detained Ares and Aphrodite in a net on a similar occasion. There is a nobler strain heard in the words:—'Endure, my soul, thou hast endured worse.' Nor must we allow our citizens to receive bribes, or to say, 'Gifts persuade the gods, gifts reverend kings;' or to applaud the ignoble advice of Phoenix to Achilles that he should get money out of the Greeks before he assisted them; or the meanness of Achilles himself in taking gifts from Agamemnon; or his requiring a ransom for the body of Hector; or his cursing of Apollo; or his insolence to the river-god Scamander; or his dedication to the dead Patroclus of his own hair which had been already dedicated to the other river-god Spercheius; or his cruelty in dragging the body of Hector round the walls, and slaying the captives at the pyre: such a combination of meanness and cruelty in Cheiron's pupil is inconceivable. The amatory exploits of Peirithous and Theseus are equally unworthy. Either these so-called sons of gods were not the sons of gods, or they were not such as the poets imagine them, any more than the gods themselves are the authors of evil. The youth who believes that such things are done by those who have the blood of heaven flowing in their veins will be too ready to imitate their example.
Enough of gods and heroes;—what shall we say about men? What the poets and story-tellers say—that the wicked prosper and the righteous are afflicted, or that justice is another's gain? Such misrepresentations cannot be allowed by us. But in this we are anticipating the definition of justice, and had therefore better defer the enquiry.
The subjects of poetry have been sufficiently treated; next follows style. Now all poetry is a narrative of events past, present, or to come; and narrative is of three kinds, the simple, the imitative, and a composition of the two. An instance will make my meaning clear. The first scene in Homer is of the last or mixed kind, being partly description and partly dialogue. But if you throw the dialogue into the 'oratio obliqua,' the passage will run thus: The priest came and prayed Apollo that the Achaeans might take Troy and have a safe return if Agamemnon would only give him back his daughter; and the other Greeks assented, but Agamemnon was wroth, and so on—The whole then becomes descriptive, and the poet is the only speaker left; or, if you omit the narrative, the whole becomes dialogue. These are the three styles—which of them is to be admitted into our State? 'Do you ask whether tragedy and comedy are to be admitted?' Yes, but also something more—Is it not doubtful whether our guardians are to be imitators at all? Or rather, has not the question been already answered, for we have decided that one man cannot in his life play many parts, any more than he can act both tragedy and comedy, or be rhapsodist and actor at once? Human nature is coined into very small pieces, and as our guardians have their own business already, which is the care of freedom, they will have enough to do without imitating. If they imitate they should imitate, not any meanness or baseness, but the good only; for the mask which the actor wears is apt to become his face. We cannot allow men to play the parts of women, quarrelling, weeping, scolding, or boasting against the gods,—least of all when making love or in labour. They must not represent slaves, or bullies, or cowards, drunkards, or madmen, or blacksmiths, or neighing horses, or bellowing bulls, or sounding rivers, or a raging sea. A good or wise man will be willing to perform good and wise actions, but he will be ashamed to play an inferior part which he has never practised; and he will prefer to employ the descriptive style with as little imitation as possible. The man who has no self-respect, on the contrary, will imitate anybody and anything; sounds of nature and cries of animals alike; his whole performance will be imitation of gesture and voice. Now in the descriptive style there are few changes, but in the dramatic there are a great many. Poets and musicians use either, or a compound of both, and this compound is very attractive to youth and their teachers as well as to the vulgar. But our State in which one man plays one part only is not adapted for complexity. And when one of these polyphonous pantomimic gentlemen offers to exhibit himself and his poetry we will show him every observance of respect, but at the same time tell him that there is no room for his kind in our State; we prefer the rough, honest poet, and will not depart from our original models (Laws).
Next as to the music. A song or ode has three parts,—the subject, the harmony, and the rhythm; of which the two last are dependent upon the first. As we banished strains of lamentation, so we may now banish the mixed Lydian harmonies, which are the harmonies of lamentation; and as our citizens are to be temperate, we may also banish convivial harmonies, such as the Ionian and pure Lydian. Two remain—the Dorian and Phrygian, the first for war, the second for peace; the one expressive of courage, the other of obedience or instruction or religious feeling. And as we reject varieties of harmony, we shall also reject the many-stringed, variously-shaped instruments which give utterance to them, and in particular the flute, which is more complex than any of them. The lyre and the harp may be permitted in the town, and the Pan's-pipe in the fields. Thus we have made a purgation of music, and will now make a purgation of metres. These should be like the harmonies, simple and suitable to the occasion. There are four notes of the tetrachord, and there are three ratios of metre, 3/2, 2/2, 2/1, which have all their characteristics, and the feet have different characteristics as well as the rhythms. But about this you and I must ask Damon, the great musician, who speaks, if I remember rightly, of a martial measure as well as of dactylic, trochaic, and iambic rhythms, which he arranges so as to equalize the syllables with one another, assigning to each the proper quantity. We only venture to affirm the general principle that the style is to conform to the subject and the metre to the style; and that the simplicity and harmony of the soul should be reflected in them all. This principle of simplicity has to be learnt by every one in the days of his youth, and may be gathered anywhere, from the creative and constructive arts, as well as from the forms of plants and animals.
Other artists as well as poets should be warned against meanness or unseemliness. Sculpture and painting equally with music must conform to the law of simplicity. He who violates it cannot be allowed to work in our city, and to corrupt the taste of our citizens. For our guardians must grow up, not amid images of deformity which will gradually poison and corrupt their souls, but in a land of health and beauty where they will drink in from every object sweet and harmonious influences. And of all these influences the greatest is the education given by music, which finds a way into the innermost soul and imparts to it the sense of beauty and of deformity. At first the effect is unconscious; but when reason arrives, then he who has been thus trained welcomes her as the friend whom he always knew. As in learning to read, first we acquire the elements or letters separately, and afterwards their combinations, and cannot recognize reflections of them until we know the letters themselves;—in like manner we must first attain the elements or essential forms of the virtues, and then trace their combinations in life and experience. There is a music of the soul which answers to the harmony of the world; and the fairest object of a musical soul is the fair mind in the fair body. Some defect in the latter may be excused, but not in the former. True love is the daughter of temperance, and temperance is utterly opposed to the madness of bodily pleasure. Enough has been said of music, which makes a fair ending with love.
Next we pass on to gymnastics; about which I would remark, that the soul is related to the body as a cause to an effect, and therefore if we educate the mind we may leave the education of the body in her charge, and need only give a general outline of the course to be pursued. In the first place the guardians must abstain from strong drink, for they should be the last persons to lose their wits. Whether the habits of the palaestra are suitable to them is more doubtful, for the ordinary gymnastic is a sleepy sort of thing, and if left off suddenly is apt to endanger health. But our warrior athletes must be wide-awake dogs, and must also be inured to all changes of food and climate. Hence they will require a simpler kind of gymnastic, akin to their simple music; and for their diet a rule may be found in Homer, who feeds his heroes on roast meat only, and gives them no fish although they are living at the sea-side, nor boiled meats which involve an apparatus of pots and pans; and, if I am not mistaken, he nowhere mentions sweet sauces. Sicilian cookery and Attic confections and Corinthian courtezans, which are to gymnastic what Lydian and Ionian melodies are to music, must be forbidden. Where gluttony and intemperance prevail the town quickly fills with doctors and pleaders; and law and medicine give themselves airs as soon as the freemen of a State take an interest in them. But what can show a more disgraceful state of education than to have to go abroad for justice because you have none of your own at home? And yet there IS a worse stage of the same disease—when men have learned to take a pleasure and pride in the twists and turns of the law; not considering how much better it would be for them so to order their lives as to have no need of a nodding justice. And there is a like disgrace in employing a physician, not for the cure of wounds or epidemic disorders, but because a man has by laziness and luxury contracted diseases which were unknown in the days of Asclepius. How simple is the Homeric practice of medicine. Eurypylus after he has been wounded drinks a posset of Pramnian wine, which is of a heating nature; and yet the sons of Asclepius blame neither the damsel who gives him the drink, nor Patroclus who is attending on him. The truth is that this modern system of nursing diseases was introduced by Herodicus the trainer; who, being of a sickly constitution, by a compound of training and medicine tortured first himself and then a good many other people, and lived a great deal longer than he had any right. But Asclepius would not practise this art, because he knew that the citizens of a well-ordered State have no leisure to be ill, and therefore he adopted the 'kill or cure' method, which artisans and labourers employ. 'They must be at their business,' they say, 'and have no time for coddling: if they recover, well; if they don't, there is an end of them.' Whereas the rich man is supposed to be a gentleman who can afford to be ill. Do you know a maxim of Phocylides—that 'when a man begins to be rich' (or, perhaps, a little sooner) 'he should practise virtue'? But how can excessive care of health be inconsistent with an ordinary occupation, and yet consistent with that practice of virtue which Phocylides inculcates? When a student imagines that philosophy gives him a headache, he never does anything; he is always unwell. This was the reason why Asclepius and his sons practised no such art. They were acting in the interest of the public, and did not wish to preserve useless lives, or raise up a puny offspring to wretched sires. Honest diseases they honestly cured; and if a man was wounded, they applied the proper remedies, and then let him eat and drink what he liked. But they declined to treat intemperate and worthless subjects, even though they might have made large fortunes out of them. As to the story of Pindar, that Asclepius was slain by a thunderbolt for restoring a rich man to life, that is a lie—following our old rule we must say either that he did not take bribes, or that he was not the son of a god.
Glaucon then asks Socrates whether the best physicians and the best judges will not be those who have had severally the greatest experience of diseases and of crimes. Socrates draws a distinction between the two professions. The physician should have had experience of disease in his own body, for he cures with his mind and not with his body. But the judge controls mind by mind; and therefore his mind should not be corrupted by crime. Where then is he to gain experience? How is he to be wise and also innocent? When young a good man is apt to be deceived by evil-doers, because he has no pattern of evil in himself; and therefore the judge should be of a certain age; his youth should have been innocent, and he should have acquired insight into evil not by the practice of it, but by the observation of it in others. This is the ideal of a judge; the criminal turned detective is wonderfully suspicious, but when in company with good men who have experience, he is at fault, for he foolishly imagines that every one is as bad as himself. Vice may be known of virtue, but cannot know virtue. This is the sort of medicine and this the sort of law which will prevail in our State; they will be healing arts to better natures; but the evil body will be left to die by the one, and the evil soul will be put to death by the other. And the need of either will be greatly diminished by good music which will give harmony to the soul, and good gymnastic which will give health to the body. Not that this division of music and gymnastic really corresponds to soul and body; for they are both equally concerned with the soul, which is tamed by the one and aroused and sustained by the other. The two together supply our guardians with their twofold nature. The passionate disposition when it has too much gymnastic is hardened and brutalized, the gentle or philosophic temper which has too much music becomes enervated. While a man is allowing music to pour like water through the funnel of his ears, the edge of his soul gradually wears away, and the passionate or spirited element is melted out of him. Too little spirit is easily exhausted; too much quickly passes into nervous irritability. So, again, the athlete by feeding and training has his courage doubled, but he soon grows stupid; he is like a wild beast, ready to do everything by blows and nothing by counsel or policy. There are two principles in man, reason and passion, and to these, not to the soul and body, the two arts of music and gymnastic correspond. He who mingles them in harmonious concord is the true musician,—he shall be the presiding genius of our State.
The next question is, Who are to be our rulers? First, the elder must rule the younger; and the best of the elders will be the best guardians. Now they will be the best who love their subjects most, and think that they have a common interest with them in the welfare of the state. These we must select; but they must be watched at every epoch of life to see whether they have retained the same opinions and held out against force and enchantment. For time and persuasion and the love of pleasure may enchant a man into a change of purpose, and the force of grief and pain may compel him. And therefore our guardians must be men who have been tried by many tests, like gold in the refiner's fire, and have been passed first through danger, then through pleasure, and at every age have come out of such trials victorious and without stain, in full command of themselves and their principles; having all their faculties in harmonious exercise for their country's good. These shall receive the highest honours both in life and death. (It would perhaps be better to confine the term 'guardians' to this select class: the younger men may be called 'auxiliaries.')
And now for one magnificent lie, in the belief of which, Oh that we could train our rulers!—at any rate let us make the attempt with the rest of the world. What I am going to tell is only another version of the legend of Cadmus; but our unbelieving generation will be slow to accept such a story. The tale must be imparted, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, lastly to the people. We will inform them that their youth was a dream, and that during the time when they seemed to be undergoing their education they were really being fashioned in the earth, who sent them up when they were ready; and that they must protect and cherish her whose children they are, and regard each other as brothers and sisters. 'I do not wonder at your being ashamed to propound such a fiction.' There is more behind. These brothers and sisters have different natures, and some of them God framed to rule, whom he fashioned of gold; others he made of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again to be husbandmen and craftsmen, and these were formed by him of brass and iron. But as they are all sprung from a common stock, a golden parent may have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son, and then there must be a change of rank; the son of the rich must descend, and the child of the artisan rise, in the social scale; for an oracle says 'that the State will come to an end if governed by a man of brass or iron.' Will our citizens ever believe all this? 'Not in the present generation, but in the next, perhaps, Yes.'
Now let the earthborn men go forth under the command of their rulers, and look about and pitch their camp in a high place, which will be safe against enemies from without, and likewise against insurrections from within. There let them sacrifice and set up their tents; for soldiers they are to be and not shopkeepers, the watchdogs and guardians of the sheep; and luxury and avarice will turn them into wolves and tyrants. Their habits and their dwellings should correspond to their education. They should have no property; their pay should only meet their expenses; and they should have common meals. Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from God, and this divine gift in their souls they must not alloy with that earthly dross which passes under the name of gold. They only of the citizens may not touch it, or be under the same roof with it, or drink from it; it is the accursed thing. Should they ever acquire houses or lands or money of their own, they will become householders and tradesmen instead of guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of helpers, and the hour of ruin, both to themselves and the rest of the State, will be at hand.
The religious and ethical aspect of Plato's education will hereafter be considered under a separate head. Some lesser points may be more conveniently noticed in this place.
1. The constant appeal to the authority of Homer, whom, with grave irony, Plato, after the manner of his age, summons as a witness about ethics and psychology, as well as about diet and medicine; attempting to distinguish the better lesson from the worse, sometimes altering the text from design; more than once quoting or alluding to Homer inaccurately, after the manner of the early logographers turning the Iliad into prose, and delighting to draw far-fetched inferences from his words, or to make ludicrous applications of them. He does not, like Heracleitus, get into a rage with Homer and Archilochus (Heracl.), but uses their words and expressions as vehicles of a higher truth; not on a system like Theagenes of Rhegium or Metrodorus, or in later times the Stoics, but as fancy may dictate. And the conclusions drawn from them are sound, although the premises are fictitious. These fanciful appeals to Homer add a charm to Plato's style, and at the same time they have the effect of a satire on the follies of Homeric interpretation. To us (and probably to himself), although they take the form of arguments, they are really figures of speech. They may be compared with modern citations from Scripture, which have often a great rhetorical power even when the original meaning of the words is entirely lost sight of. The real, like the Platonic Socrates, as we gather from the Memorabilia of Xenophon, was fond of making similar adaptations. Great in all ages and countries, in religion as well as in law and literature, has been the art of interpretation.
2. 'The style is to conform to the subject and the metre to the style.' Notwithstanding the fascination which the word 'classical' exercises over us, we can hardly maintain that this rule is observed in all the Greek poetry which has come down to us. We cannot deny that the thought often exceeds the power of lucid expression in Aeschylus and Pindar; or that rhetoric gets the better of the thought in the Sophist-poet Euripides. Only perhaps in Sophocles is there a perfect harmony of the two; in him alone do we find a grace of language like the beauty of a Greek statue, in which there is nothing to add or to take away; at least this is true of single plays or of large portions of them. The connection in the Tragic Choruses and in the Greek lyric poets is not unfrequently a tangled thread which in an age before logic the poet was unable to draw out. Many thoughts and feelings mingled in his mind, and he had no power of disengaging or arranging them. For there is a subtle influence of logic which requires to be transferred from prose to poetry, just as the music and perfection of language are infused by poetry into prose. In all ages the poet has been a bad judge of his own meaning (Apol.); for he does not see that the word which is full of associations to his own mind is difficult and unmeaning to that of another; or that the sequence which is clear to himself is puzzling to others. There are many passages in some of our greatest modern poets which are far too obscure; in which there is no proportion between style and subject, in which any half-expressed figure, any harsh construction, any distorted collocation of words, any remote sequence of ideas is admitted; and there is no voice 'coming sweetly from nature,' or music adding the expression of feeling to thought. As if there could be poetry without beauty, or beauty without ease and clearness. The obscurities of early Greek poets arose necessarily out of the state of language and logic which existed in their age. They are not examples to be followed by us; for the use of language ought in every generation to become clearer and clearer. Like Shakespere, they were great in spite, not in consequence, of their imperfections of expression. But there is no reason for returning to the necessary obscurity which prevailed in the infancy of literature. The English poets of the last century were certainly not obscure; and we have no excuse for losing what they had gained, or for going back to the earlier or transitional age which preceded them. The thought of our own times has not out-stripped language; a want of Plato's 'art of measuring' is the rule cause of the disproportion between them.
3. In the third book of the Republic a nearer approach is made to a theory of art than anywhere else in Plato. His views may be summed up as follows:—True art is not fanciful and imitative, but simple and ideal,—the expression of the highest moral energy, whether in action or repose. To live among works of plastic art which are of this noble and simple character, or to listen to such strains, is the best of influences,—the true Greek atmosphere, in which youth should be brought up. That is the way to create in them a natural good taste, which will have a feeling of truth and beauty in all things. For though the poets are to be expelled, still art is recognized as another aspect of reason—like love in the Symposium, extending over the same sphere, but confined to the preliminary education, and acting through the power of habit; and this conception of art is not limited to strains of music or the forms of plastic art, but pervades all nature and has a wide kindred in the world. The Republic of Plato, like the Athens of Pericles, has an artistic as well as a political side.
There is hardly any mention in Plato of the creative arts; only in two or three passages does he even allude to them (Rep.; Soph.). He is not lost in rapture at the great works of Phidias, the Parthenon, the Propylea, the statues of Zeus or Athene. He would probably have regarded any abstract truth of number or figure as higher than the greatest of them. Yet it is hard to suppose that some influence, such as he hopes to inspire in youth, did not pass into his own mind from the works of art which he saw around him. We are living upon the fragments of them, and find in a few broken stones the standard of truth and beauty. But in Plato this feeling has no expression; he nowhere says that beauty is the object of art; he seems to deny that wisdom can take an external form (Phaedrus); he does not distinguish the fine from the mechanical arts. Whether or no, like some writers, he felt more than he expressed, it is at any rate remarkable that the greatest perfection of the fine arts should coincide with an almost entire silence about them. In one very striking passage he tells us that a work of art, like the State, is a whole; and this conception of a whole and the love of the newly-born mathematical sciences may be regarded, if not as the inspiring, at any rate as the regulating principles of Greek art (Xen. Mem.; and Sophist).
4. Plato makes the true and subtle remark that the physician had better not be in robust health; and should have known what illness is in his own person. But the judge ought to have had no similar experience of evil; he is to be a good man who, having passed his youth in innocence, became acquainted late in life with the vices of others. And therefore, according to Plato, a judge should not be young, just as a young man according to Aristotle is not fit to be a hearer of moral philosophy. The bad, on the other hand, have a knowledge of vice, but no knowledge of virtue. It may be doubted, however, whether this train of reflection is well founded. In a remarkable passage of the Laws it is acknowledged that the evil may form a correct estimate of the good. The union of gentleness and courage in Book ii. at first seemed to be a paradox, yet was afterwards ascertained to be a truth. And Plato might also have found that the intuition of evil may be consistent with the abhorrence of it. There is a directness of aim in virtue which gives an insight into vice. And the knowledge of character is in some degree a natural sense independent of any special experience of good or evil.
5. One of the most remarkable conceptions of Plato, because un-Greek and also very different from anything which existed at all in his age of the world, is the transposition of ranks. In the Spartan state there had been enfranchisement of Helots and degradation of citizens under special circumstances. And in the ancient Greek aristocracies, merit was certainly recognized as one of the elements on which government was based. The founders of states were supposed to be their benefactors, who were raised by their great actions above the ordinary level of humanity; at a later period, the services of warriors and legislators were held to entitle them and their descendants to the privileges of citizenship and to the first rank in the state. And although the existence of an ideal aristocracy is slenderly proven from the remains of early Greek history, and we have a difficulty in ascribing such a character, however the idea may be defined, to any actual Hellenic state—or indeed to any state which has ever existed in the world—still the rule of the best was certainly the aspiration of philosophers, who probably accommodated a good deal their views of primitive history to their own notions of good government. Plato further insists on applying to the guardians of his state a series of tests by which all those who fell short of a fixed standard were either removed from the governing body, or not admitted to it; and this 'academic' discipline did to a certain extent prevail in Greek states, especially in Sparta. He also indicates that the system of caste, which existed in a great part of the ancient, and is by no means extinct in the modern European world, should be set aside from time to time in favour of merit. He is aware how deeply the greater part of mankind resent any interference with the order of society, and therefore he proposes his novel idea in the form of what he himself calls a 'monstrous fiction.' (Compare the ceremony of preparation for the two 'great waves' in Book v.) Two principles are indicated by him: first, that there is a distinction of ranks dependent on circumstances prior to the individual: second, that this distinction is and ought to be broken through by personal qualities. He adapts mythology like the Homeric poems to the wants of the state, making 'the Phoenician tale' the vehicle of his ideas. Every Greek state had a myth respecting its own origin; the Platonic republic may also have a tale of earthborn men. The gravity and verisimilitude with which the tale is told, and the analogy of Greek tradition, are a sufficient verification of the 'monstrous falsehood.' Ancient poetry had spoken of a gold and silver and brass and iron age succeeding one another, but Plato supposes these differences in the natures of men to exist together in a single state. Mythology supplies a figure under which the lesson may be taught (as Protagoras says, 'the myth is more interesting'), and also enables Plato to touch lightly on new principles without going into details. In this passage he shadows forth a general truth, but he does not tell us by what steps the transposition of ranks is to be effected. Indeed throughout the Republic he allows the lower ranks to fade into the distance. We do not know whether they are to carry arms, and whether in the fifth book they are or are not included in the communistic regulations respecting property and marriage. Nor is there any use in arguing strictly either from a few chance words, or from the silence of Plato, or in drawing inferences which were beyond his vision. Aristotle, in his criticism on the position of the lower classes, does not perceive that the poetical creation is 'like the air, invulnerable,' and cannot be penetrated by the shafts of his logic (Pol.).
6. Two paradoxes which strike the modern reader as in the highest degree fanciful and ideal, and which suggest to him many reflections, are to be found in the third book of the Republic: first, the great power of music, so much beyond any influence which is experienced by us in modern times, when the art or science has been far more developed, and has found the secret of harmony, as well as of melody; secondly, the indefinite and almost absolute control which the soul is supposed to exercise over the body.
In the first we suspect some degree of exaggeration, such as we may also observe among certain masters of the art, not unknown to us, at the present day. With this natural enthusiasm, which is felt by a few only, there seems to mingle in Plato a sort of Pythagorean reverence for numbers and numerical proportion to which Aristotle is a stranger. Intervals of sound and number are to him sacred things which have a law of their own, not dependent on the variations of sense. They rise above sense, and become a connecting link with the world of ideas. But it is evident that Plato is describing what to him appears to be also a fact. The power of a simple and characteristic melody on the impressible mind of the Greek is more than we can easily appreciate. The effect of national airs may bear some comparison with it. And, besides all this, there is a confusion between the harmony of musical notes and the harmony of soul and body, which is so potently inspired by them.
The second paradox leads up to some curious and interesting questions—How far can the mind control the body? Is the relation between them one of mutual antagonism or of mutual harmony? Are they two or one, and is either of them the cause of the other? May we not at times drop the opposition between them, and the mode of describing them, which is so familiar to us, and yet hardly conveys any precise meaning, and try to view this composite creature, man, in a more simple manner? Must we not at any rate admit that there is in human nature a higher and a lower principle, divided by no distinct line, which at times break asunder and take up arms against one another? Or again, they are reconciled and move together, either unconsciously in the ordinary work of life, or consciously in the pursuit of some noble aim, to be attained not without an effort, and for which every thought and nerve are strained. And then the body becomes the good friend or ally, or servant or instrument of the mind. And the mind has often a wonderful and almost superhuman power of banishing disease and weakness and calling out a hidden strength. Reason and the desires, the intellect and the senses are brought into harmony and obedience so as to form a single human being. They are ever parting, ever meeting; and the identity or diversity of their tendencies or operations is for the most part unnoticed by us. When the mind touches the body through the appetites, we acknowledge the responsibility of the one to the other. There is a tendency in us which says 'Drink.' There is another which says, 'Do not drink; it is not good for you.' And we all of us know which is the rightful superior. We are also responsible for our health, although into this sphere there enter some elements of necessity which may be beyond our control. Still even in the management of health, care and thought, continued over many years, may make us almost free agents, if we do not exact too much of ourselves, and if we acknowledge that all human freedom is limited by the laws of nature and of mind.
We are disappointed to find that Plato, in the general condemnation which he passes on the practice of medicine prevailing in his own day, depreciates the effects of diet. He would like to have diseases of a definite character and capable of receiving a definite treatment. He is afraid of invalidism interfering with the business of life. He does not recognize that time is the great healer both of mental and bodily disorders; and that remedies which are gradual and proceed little by little are safer than those which produce a sudden catastrophe. Neither does he see that there is no way in which the mind can more surely influence the body than by the control of eating and drinking; or any other action or occasion of human life on which the higher freedom of the will can be more simple or truly asserted.
7. Lesser matters of style may be remarked.
(1) The affected ignorance of music, which is Plato's way of expressing that he is passing lightly over the subject.
(2) The tentative manner in which here, as in the second book, he proceeds with the construction of the State.
(3) The description of the State sometimes as a reality, and then again as a work of imagination only; these are the arts by which he sustains the reader's interest.
(4) Connecting links, or the preparation for the entire expulsion of the poets in Book X.
(5) The companion pictures of the lover of litigation and the valetudinarian, the satirical jest about the maxim of Phocylides, the manner in which the image of the gold and silver citizens is taken up into the subject, and the argument from the practice of Asclepius, should not escape notice.
BOOK IV. Adeimantus said: 'Suppose a person to argue, Socrates, that you make your citizens miserable, and this by their own free-will; they are the lords of the city, and yet instead of having, like other men, lands and houses and money of their own, they live as mercenaries and are always mounting guard.' You may add, I replied, that they receive no pay but only their food, and have no money to spend on a journey or a mistress. 'Well, and what answer do you give?' My answer is, that our guardians may or may not be the happiest of men,—I should not be surprised to find in the long-run that they were,—but this is not the aim of our constitution, which was designed for the good of the whole and not of any one part. If I went to a sculptor and blamed him for having painted the eye, which is the noblest feature of the face, not purple but black, he would reply: 'The eye must be an eye, and you should look at the statue as a whole.' 'Now I can well imagine a fool's paradise, in which everybody is eating and drinking, clothed in purple and fine linen, and potters lie on sofas and have their wheel at hand, that they may work a little when they please; and cobblers and all the other classes of a State lose their distinctive character. And a State may get on without cobblers; but when the guardians degenerate into boon companions, then the ruin is complete. Remember that we are not talking of peasants keeping holiday, but of a State in which every man is expected to do his own work. The happiness resides not in this or that class, but in the State as a whole. I have another remark to make:—A middle condition is best for artisans; they should have money enough to buy tools, and not enough to be independent of business. And will not the same condition be best for our citizens? If they are poor, they will be mean; if rich, luxurious and lazy; and in neither case contented. 'But then how will our poor city be able to go to war against an enemy who has money?' There may be a difficulty in fighting against one enemy; against two there will be none. In the first place, the contest will be carried on by trained warriors against well-to-do citizens: and is not a regular athlete an easy match for two stout opponents at least? Suppose also, that before engaging we send ambassadors to one of the two cities, saying, 'Silver and gold we have not; do you help us and take our share of the spoil;'—who would fight against the lean, wiry dogs, when they might join with them in preying upon the fatted sheep? 'But if many states join their resources, shall we not be in danger?' I am amused to hear you use the word 'state' of any but our own State. They are 'states,' but not 'a state'—many in one. For in every state there are two hostile nations, rich and poor, which you may set one against the other. But our State, while she remains true to her principles, will be in very deed the mightiest of Hellenic states.
To the size of the state there is no limit but the necessity of unity; it must be neither too large nor too small to be one. This is a matter of secondary importance, like the principle of transposition which was intimated in the parable of the earthborn men. The meaning there implied was that every man should do that for which he was fitted, and be at one with himself, and then the whole city would be united. But all these things are secondary, if education, which is the great matter, be duly regarded. When the wheel has once been set in motion, the speed is always increasing; and each generation improves upon the preceding, both in physical and moral qualities. The care of the governors should be directed to preserve music and gymnastic from innovation; alter the songs of a country, Damon says, and you will soon end by altering its laws. The change appears innocent at first, and begins in play; but the evil soon becomes serious, working secretly upon the characters of individuals, then upon social and commercial relations, and lastly upon the institutions of a state; and there is ruin and confusion everywhere. But if education remains in the established form, there will be no danger. A restorative process will be always going on; the spirit of law and order will raise up what has fallen down. Nor will any regulations be needed for the lesser matters of life—rules of deportment or fashions of dress. Like invites like for good or for evil. Education will correct deficiencies and supply the power of self-government. Far be it from us to enter into the particulars of legislation; let the guardians take care of education, and education will take care of all other things.
But without education they may patch and mend as they please; they will make no progress, any more than a patient who thinks to cure himself by some favourite remedy and will not give up his luxurious mode of living. If you tell such persons that they must first alter their habits, then they grow angry; they are charming people. 'Charming,—nay, the very reverse.' Evidently these gentlemen are not in your good graces, nor the state which is like them. And such states there are which first ordain under penalty of death that no one shall alter the constitution, and then suffer themselves to be flattered into and out of anything; and he who indulges them and fawns upon them, is their leader and saviour. 'Yes, the men are as bad as the states.' But do you not admire their cleverness? 'Nay, some of them are stupid enough to believe what the people tell them.' And when all the world is telling a man that he is six feet high, and he has no measure, how can he believe anything else? But don't get into a passion: to see our statesmen trying their nostrums, and fancying that they can cut off at a blow the Hydra-like rogueries of mankind, is as good as a play. Minute enactments are superfluous in good states, and are useless in bad ones.
And now what remains of the work of legislation? Nothing for us; but to Apollo the god of Delphi we leave the ordering of the greatest of all things—that is to say, religion. Only our ancestral deity sitting upon the centre and navel of the earth will be trusted by us if we have any sense, in an affair of such magnitude. No foreign god shall be supreme in our realms...
Here, as Socrates would say, let us 'reflect on' (Greek) what has preceded: thus far we have spoken not of the happiness of the citizens, but only of the well-being of the State. They may be the happiest of men, but our principal aim in founding the State was not to make them happy. They were to be guardians, not holiday-makers. In this pleasant manner is presented to us the famous question both of ancient and modern philosophy, touching the relation of duty to happiness, of right to utility.
First duty, then happiness, is the natural order of our moral ideas. The utilitarian principle is valuable as a corrective of error, and shows to us a side of ethics which is apt to be neglected. It may be admitted further that right and utility are co-extensive, and that he who makes the happiness of mankind his object has one of the highest and noblest motives of human action. But utility is not the historical basis of morality; nor the aspect in which moral and religious ideas commonly occur to the mind. The greatest happiness of all is, as we believe, the far-off result of the divine government of the universe. The greatest happiness of the individual is certainly to be found in a life of virtue and goodness. But we seem to be more assured of a law of right than we can be of a divine purpose, that 'all mankind should be saved;' and we infer the one from the other. And the greatest happiness of the individual may be the reverse of the greatest happiness in the ordinary sense of the term, and may be realised in a life of pain, or in a voluntary death. Further, the word 'happiness' has several ambiguities; it may mean either pleasure or an ideal life, happiness subjective or objective, in this world or in another, of ourselves only or of our neighbours and of all men everywhere. By the modern founder of Utilitarianism the self-regarding and disinterested motives of action are included under the same term, although they are commonly opposed by us as benevolence and self-love. The word happiness has not the definiteness or the sacredness of 'truth' and 'right'; it does not equally appeal to our higher nature, and has not sunk into the conscience of mankind. It is associated too much with the comforts and conveniences of life; too little with 'the goods of the soul which we desire for their own sake.' In a great trial, or danger, or temptation, or in any great and heroic action, it is scarcely thought of. For these reasons 'the greatest happiness' principle is not the true foundation of ethics. But though not the first principle, it is the second, which is like unto it, and is often of easier application. For the larger part of human actions are neither right nor wrong, except in so far as they tend to the happiness of mankind (Introd. to Gorgias and Philebus).
The same question reappears in politics, where the useful or expedient seems to claim a larger sphere and to have a greater authority. For concerning political measures, we chiefly ask: How will they affect the happiness of mankind? Yet here too we may observe that what we term expediency is merely the law of right limited by the conditions of human society. Right and truth are the highest aims of government as well as of individuals; and we ought not to lose sight of them because we cannot directly enforce them. They appeal to the better mind of nations; and sometimes they are too much for merely temporal interests to resist. They are the watchwords which all men use in matters of public policy, as well as in their private dealings; the peace of Europe may be said to depend upon them. In the most commercial and utilitarian states of society the power of ideas remains. And all the higher class of statesmen have in them something of that idealism which Pericles is said to have gathered from the teaching of Anaxagoras. They recognise that the true leader of men must be above the motives of ambition, and that national character is of greater value than material comfort and prosperity. And this is the order of thought in Plato; first, he expects his citizens to do their duty, and then under favourable circumstances, that is to say, in a well-ordered State, their happiness is assured. That he was far from excluding the modern principle of utility in politics is sufficiently evident from other passages; in which 'the most beneficial is affirmed to be the most honourable', and also 'the most sacred'.
We may note
(1) The manner in which the objection of Adeimantus here, is designed to draw out and deepen the argument of Socrates.
(2) The conception of a whole as lying at the foundation both of politics and of art, in the latter supplying the only principle of criticism, which, under the various names of harmony, symmetry, measure, proportion, unity, the Greek seems to have applied to works of art.
(3) The requirement that the State should be limited in size, after the traditional model of a Greek state; as in the Politics of Aristotle, the fact that the cities of Hellas were small is converted into a principle.
(4) The humorous pictures of the lean dogs and the fatted sheep, of the light active boxer upsetting two stout gentlemen at least, of the 'charming' patients who are always making themselves worse; or again, the playful assumption that there is no State but our own; or the grave irony with which the statesman is excused who believes that he is six feet high because he is told so, and having nothing to measure with is to be pardoned for his ignorance—he is too amusing for us to be seriously angry with him.
(5) The light and superficial manner in which religion is passed over when provision has been made for two great principles,—first, that religion shall be based on the highest conception of the gods, secondly, that the true national or Hellenic type shall be maintained...
Socrates proceeds: But where amid all this is justice? Son of Ariston, tell me where. Light a candle and search the city, and get your brother and the rest of our friends to help in seeking for her. 'That won't do,' replied Glaucon, 'you yourself promised to make the search and talked about the impiety of deserting justice.' Well, I said, I will lead the way, but do you follow. My notion is, that our State being perfect will contain all the four virtues—wisdom, courage, temperance, justice. If we eliminate the three first, the unknown remainder will be justice.
First then, of wisdom: the State which we have called into being will be wise because politic. And policy is one among many kinds of skill,—not the skill of the carpenter, or of the worker in metal, or of the husbandman, but the skill of him who advises about the interests of the whole State. Of such a kind is the skill of the guardians, who are a small class in number, far smaller than the blacksmiths; but in them is concentrated the wisdom of the State. And if this small ruling class have wisdom, then the whole State will be wise.
Our second virtue is courage, which we have no difficulty in finding in another class—that of soldiers. Courage may be defined as a sort of salvation—the never-failing salvation of the opinions which law and education have prescribed concerning dangers. You know the way in which dyers first prepare the white ground and then lay on the dye of purple or of any other colour. Colours dyed in this way become fixed, and no soap or lye will ever wash them out. Now the ground is education, and the laws are the colours; and if the ground is properly laid, neither the soap of pleasure nor the lye of pain or fear will ever wash them out. This power which preserves right opinion about danger I would ask you to call 'courage,' adding the epithet 'political' or 'civilized' in order to distinguish it from mere animal courage and from a higher courage which may hereafter be discussed.
Two virtues remain; temperance and justice. More than the preceding virtues temperance suggests the idea of harmony. Some light is thrown upon the nature of this virtue by the popular description of a man as 'master of himself'—which has an absurd sound, because the master is also the servant. The expression really means that the better principle in a man masters the worse. There are in cities whole classes—women, slaves and the like—who correspond to the worse, and a few only to the better; and in our State the former class are held under control by the latter. Now to which of these classes does temperance belong? 'To both of them.' And our State if any will be the abode of temperance; and we were right in describing this virtue as a harmony which is diffused through the whole, making the dwellers in the city to be of one mind, and attuning the upper and middle and lower classes like the strings of an instrument, whether you suppose them to differ in wisdom, strength or wealth.
And now we are near the spot; let us draw in and surround the cover and watch with all our eyes, lest justice should slip away and escape. Tell me, if you see the thicket move first. 'Nay, I would have you lead.' Well then, offer up a prayer and follow. The way is dark and difficult; but we must push on. I begin to see a track. 'Good news.' Why, Glaucon, our dulness of scent is quite ludicrous! While we are straining our eyes into the distance, justice is tumbling out at our feet. We are as bad as people looking for a thing which they have in their hands. Have you forgotten our old principle of the division of labour, or of every man doing his own business, concerning which we spoke at the foundation of the State—what but this was justice? Is there any other virtue remaining which can compete with wisdom and temperance and courage in the scale of political virtue? For 'every one having his own' is the great object of government; and the great object of trade is that every man should do his own business. Not that there is much harm in a carpenter trying to be a cobbler, or a cobbler transforming himself into a carpenter; but great evil may arise from the cobbler leaving his last and turning into a guardian or legislator, or when a single individual is trainer, warrior, legislator, all in one. And this evil is injustice, or every man doing another's business. I do not say that as yet we are in a condition to arrive at a final conclusion. For the definition which we believe to hold good in states has still to be tested by the individual. Having read the large letters we will now come back to the small. From the two together a brilliant light may be struck out...
Socrates proceeds to discover the nature of justice by a method of residues. Each of the first three virtues corresponds to one of the three parts of the soul and one of the three classes in the State, although the third, temperance, has more of the nature of a harmony than the first two. If there be a fourth virtue, that can only be sought for in the relation of the three parts in the soul or classes in the State to one another. It is obvious and simple, and for that very reason has not been found out. The modern logician will be inclined to object that ideas cannot be separated like chemical substances, but that they run into one another and may be only different aspects or names of the same thing, and such in this instance appears to be the case. For the definition here given of justice is verbally the same as one of the definitions of temperance given by Socrates in the Charmides, which however is only provisional, and is afterwards rejected. And so far from justice remaining over when the other virtues are eliminated, the justice and temperance of the Republic can with difficulty be distinguished. Temperance appears to be the virtue of a part only, and one of three, whereas justice is a universal virtue of the whole soul. Yet on the other hand temperance is also described as a sort of harmony, and in this respect is akin to justice. Justice seems to differ from temperance in degree rather than in kind; whereas temperance is the harmony of discordant elements, justice is the perfect order by which all natures and classes do their own business, the right man in the right place, the division and co-operation of all the citizens. Justice, again, is a more abstract notion than the other virtues, and therefore, from Plato's point of view, the foundation of them, to which they are referred and which in idea precedes them. The proposal to omit temperance is a mere trick of style intended to avoid monotony.
There is a famous question discussed in one of the earlier Dialogues of Plato (Protagoras; Arist. Nic. Ethics), 'Whether the virtues are one or many?' This receives an answer which is to the effect that there are four cardinal virtues (now for the first time brought together in ethical philosophy), and one supreme over the rest, which is not like Aristotle's conception of universal justice, virtue relative to others, but the whole of virtue relative to the parts. To this universal conception of justice or order in the first education and in the moral nature of man, the still more universal conception of the good in the second education and in the sphere of speculative knowledge seems to succeed. Both might be equally described by the terms 'law,' 'order,' 'harmony;' but while the idea of good embraces 'all time and all existence,' the conception of justice is not extended beyond man.
...Socrates is now going to identify the individual and the State. But first he must prove that there are three parts of the individual soul. His argument is as follows:—Quantity makes no difference in quality. The word 'just,' whether applied to the individual or to the State, has the same meaning. And the term 'justice' implied that the same three principles in the State and in the individual were doing their own business. But are they really three or one? The question is difficult, and one which can hardly be solved by the methods which we are now using; but the truer and longer way would take up too much of our time. 'The shorter will satisfy me.' Well then, you would admit that the qualities of states mean the qualities of the individuals who compose them? The Scythians and Thracians are passionate, our own race intellectual, and the Egyptians and Phoenicians covetous, because the individual members of each have such and such a character; the difficulty is to determine whether the several principles are one or three; whether, that is to say, we reason with one part of our nature, desire with another, are angry with another, or whether the whole soul comes into play in each sort of action. This enquiry, however, requires a very exact definition of terms. The same thing in the same relation cannot be affected in two opposite ways. But there is no impossibility in a man standing still, yet moving his arms, or in a top which is fixed on one spot going round upon its axis. There is no necessity to mention all the possible exceptions; let us provisionally assume that opposites cannot do or be or suffer opposites in the same relation. And to the class of opposites belong assent and dissent, desire and avoidance. And one form of desire is thirst and hunger: and here arises a new point—thirst is thirst of drink, hunger is hunger of food; not of warm drink or of a particular kind of food, with the single exception of course that the very fact of our desiring anything implies that it is good. When relative terms have no attributes, their correlatives have no attributes; when they have attributes, their correlatives also have them. For example, the term 'greater' is simply relative to 'less,' and knowledge refers to a subject of knowledge. But on the other hand, a particular knowledge is of a particular subject. Again, every science has a distinct character, which is defined by an object; medicine, for example, is the science of health, although not to be confounded with health. Having cleared our ideas thus far, let us return to the original instance of thirst, which has a definite object—drink. Now the thirsty soul may feel two distinct impulses; the animal one saying 'Drink;' the rational one, which says 'Do not drink.' The two impulses are contradictory; and therefore we may assume that they spring from distinct principles in the soul. But is passion a third principle, or akin to desire? There is a story of a certain Leontius which throws some light on this question. He was coming up from the Piraeus outside the north wall, and he passed a spot where there were dead bodies lying by the executioner. He felt a longing desire to see them and also an abhorrence of them; at first he turned away and shut his eyes, then, suddenly tearing them open, he said,—'Take your fill, ye wretches, of the fair sight.' Now is there not here a third principle which is often found to come to the assistance of reason against desire, but never of desire against reason? This is passion or spirit, of the separate existence of which we may further convince ourselves by putting the following case:—When a man suffers justly, if he be of a generous nature he is not indignant at the hardships which he undergoes: but when he suffers unjustly, his indignation is his great support; hunger and thirst cannot tame him; the spirit within him must do or die, until the voice of the shepherd, that is, of reason, bidding his dog bark no more, is heard within. This shows that passion is the ally of reason. Is passion then the same with reason? No, for the former exists in children and brutes; and Homer affords a proof of the distinction between them when he says, 'He smote his breast, and thus rebuked his soul.'
And now, at last, we have reached firm ground, and are able to infer that the virtues of the State and of the individual are the same. For wisdom and courage and justice in the State are severally the wisdom and courage and justice in the individuals who form the State. Each of the three classes will do the work of its own class in the State, and each part in the individual soul; reason, the superior, and passion, the inferior, will be harmonized by the influence of music and gymnastic. The counsellor and the warrior, the head and the arm, will act together in the town of Mansoul, and keep the desires in proper subjection. The courage of the warrior is that quality which preserves a right opinion about dangers in spite of pleasures and pains. The wisdom of the counsellor is that small part of the soul which has authority and reason. The virtue of temperance is the friendship of the ruling and the subject principles, both in the State and in the individual. Of justice we have already spoken; and the notion already given of it may be confirmed by common instances. Will the just state or the just individual steal, lie, commit adultery, or be guilty of impiety to gods and men? 'No.' And is not the reason of this that the several principles, whether in the state or in the individual, do their own business? And justice is the quality which makes just men and just states. Moreover, our old division of labour, which required that there should be one man for one use, was a dream or anticipation of what was to follow; and that dream has now been realized in justice, which begins by binding together the three chords of the soul, and then acts harmoniously in every relation of life. And injustice, which is the insubordination and disobedience of the inferior elements in the soul, is the opposite of justice, and is inharmonious and unnatural, being to the soul what disease is to the body; for in the soul as well as in the body, good or bad actions produce good or bad habits. And virtue is the health and beauty and well-being of the soul, and vice is the disease and weakness and deformity of the soul.
Again the old question returns upon us: Is justice or injustice the more profitable? The question has become ridiculous. For injustice, like mortal disease, makes life not worth having. Come up with me to the hill which overhangs the city and look down upon the single form of virtue, and the infinite forms of vice, among which are four special ones, characteristic both of states and of individuals. And the state which corresponds to the single form of virtue is that which we have been describing, wherein reason rules under one of two names—monarchy and aristocracy. Thus there are five forms in all, both of states and of souls...
In attempting to prove that the soul has three separate faculties, Plato takes occasion to discuss what makes difference of faculties. And the criterion which he proposes is difference in the working of the faculties. The same faculty cannot produce contradictory effects. But the path of early reasoners is beset by thorny entanglements, and he will not proceed a step without first clearing the ground. This leads him into a tiresome digression, which is intended to explain the nature of contradiction. First, the contradiction must be at the same time and in the same relation. Secondly, no extraneous word must be introduced into either of the terms in which the contradictory proposition is expressed: for example, thirst is of drink, not of warm drink. He implies, what he does not say, that if, by the advice of reason, or by the impulse of anger, a man is restrained from drinking, this proves that thirst, or desire under which thirst is included, is distinct from anger and reason. But suppose that we allow the term 'thirst' or 'desire' to be modified, and say an 'angry thirst,' or a 'revengeful desire,' then the two spheres of desire and anger overlap and become confused. This case therefore has to be excluded. And still there remains an exception to the rule in the use of the term 'good,' which is always implied in the object of desire. These are the discussions of an age before logic; and any one who is wearied by them should remember that they are necessary to the clearing up of ideas in the first development of the human faculties.
The psychology of Plato extends no further than the division of the soul into the rational, irascible, and concupiscent elements, which, as far as we know, was first made by him, and has been retained by Aristotle and succeeding ethical writers. The chief difficulty in this early analysis of the mind is to define exactly the place of the irascible faculty (Greek), which may be variously described under the terms righteous indignation, spirit, passion. It is the foundation of courage, which includes in Plato moral courage, the courage of enduring pain, and of surmounting intellectual difficulties, as well as of meeting dangers in war. Though irrational, it inclines to side with the rational: it cannot be aroused by punishment when justly inflicted: it sometimes takes the form of an enthusiasm which sustains a man in the performance of great actions. It is the 'lion heart' with which the reason makes a treaty. On the other hand it is negative rather than positive; it is indignant at wrong or falsehood, but does not, like Love in the Symposium and Phaedrus, aspire to the vision of Truth or Good. It is the peremptory military spirit which prevails in the government of honour. It differs from anger (Greek), this latter term having no accessory notion of righteous indignation. Although Aristotle has retained the word, yet we may observe that 'passion' (Greek) has with him lost its affinity to the rational and has become indistinguishable from 'anger' (Greek). And to this vernacular use Plato himself in the Laws seems to revert, though not always. By modern philosophy too, as well as in our ordinary conversation, the words anger or passion are employed almost exclusively in a bad sense; there is no connotation of a just or reasonable cause by which they are aroused. The feeling of 'righteous indignation' is too partial and accidental to admit of our regarding it as a separate virtue or habit. We are tempted also to doubt whether Plato is right in supposing that an offender, however justly condemned, could be expected to acknowledge the justice of his sentence; this is the spirit of a philosopher or martyr rather than of a criminal.
We may observe how nearly Plato approaches Aristotle's famous thesis, that 'good actions produce good habits.' The words 'as healthy practices (Greek) produce health, so do just practices produce justice,' have a sound very like the Nicomachean Ethics. But we note also that an incidental remark in Plato has become a far-reaching principle in Aristotle, and an inseparable part of a great Ethical system.
There is a difficulty in understanding what Plato meant by 'the longer way': he seems to intimate some metaphysic of the future which will not be satisfied with arguing from the principle of contradiction. In the sixth and seventh books (compare Sophist and Parmenides) he has given us a sketch of such a metaphysic; but when Glaucon asks for the final revelation of the idea of good, he is put off with the declaration that he has not yet studied the preliminary sciences. How he would have filled up the sketch, or argued about such questions from a higher point of view, we can only conjecture. Perhaps he hoped to find some a priori method of developing the parts out of the whole; or he might have asked which of the ideas contains the other ideas, and possibly have stumbled on the Hegelian identity of the 'ego' and the 'universal.' Or he may have imagined that ideas might be constructed in some manner analogous to the construction of figures and numbers in the mathematical sciences. The most certain and necessary truth was to Plato the universal; and to this he was always seeking to refer all knowledge or opinion, just as in modern times we seek to rest them on the opposite pole of induction and experience. The aspirations of metaphysicians have always tended to pass beyond the limits of human thought and language: they seem to have reached a height at which they are 'moving about in worlds unrealized,' and their conceptions, although profoundly affecting their own minds, become invisible or unintelligible to others. We are not therefore surprized to find that Plato himself has nowhere clearly explained his doctrine of ideas; or that his school in a later generation, like his contemporaries Glaucon and Adeimantus, were unable to follow him in this region of speculation. In the Sophist, where he is refuting the scepticism which maintained either that there was no such thing as predication, or that all might be predicated of all, he arrives at the conclusion that some ideas combine with some, but not all with all. But he makes only one or two steps forward on this path; he nowhere attains to any connected system of ideas, or even to a knowledge of the most elementary relations of the sciences to one another.
BOOK V. I was going to enumerate the four forms of vice or decline in states, when Polemarchus—he was sitting a little farther from me than Adeimantus—taking him by the coat and leaning towards him, said something in an undertone, of which I only caught the words, 'Shall we let him off?' 'Certainly not,' said Adeimantus, raising his voice. Whom, I said, are you not going to let off? 'You,' he said. Why? 'Because we think that you are not dealing fairly with us in omitting women and children, of whom you have slily disposed under the general formula that friends have all things in common.' And was I not right? 'Yes,' he replied, 'but there are many sorts of communism or community, and we want to know which of them is right. The company, as you have just heard, are resolved to have a further explanation.' Thrasymachus said, 'Do you think that we have come hither to dig for gold, or to hear you discourse?' Yes, I said; but the discourse should be of a reasonable length. Glaucon added, 'Yes, Socrates, and there is reason in spending the whole of life in such discussions; but pray, without more ado, tell us how this community is to be carried out, and how the interval between birth and education is to be filled up.' Well, I said, the subject has several difficulties—What is possible? is the first question. What is desirable? is the second. 'Fear not,' he replied, 'for you are speaking among friends.' That, I replied, is a sorry consolation; I shall destroy my friends as well as myself. Not that I mind a little innocent laughter; but he who kills the truth is a murderer. 'Then,' said Glaucon, laughing, 'in case you should murder us we will acquit you beforehand, and you shall be held free from the guilt of deceiving us.'
Socrates proceeds:—The guardians of our state are to be watch-dogs, as we have already said. Now dogs are not divided into hes and shes—we do not take the masculine gender out to hunt and leave the females at home to look after their puppies. They have the same employments—the only difference between them is that the one sex is stronger and the other weaker. But if women are to have the same employments as men, they must have the same education—they must be taught music and gymnastics, and the art of war. I know that a great joke will be made of their riding on horseback and carrying weapons; the sight of the naked old wrinkled women showing their agility in the palaestra will certainly not be a vision of beauty, and may be expected to become a famous jest. But we must not mind the wits; there was a time when they might have laughed at our present gymnastics. All is habit: people have at last found out that the exposure is better than the concealment of the person, and now they laugh no more. Evil only should be the subject of ridicule.
The first question is, whether women are able either wholly or partially to share in the employments of men. And here we may be charged with inconsistency in making the proposal at all. For we started originally with the division of labour; and the diversity of employments was based on the difference of natures. But is there no difference between men and women? Nay, are they not wholly different? THERE was the difficulty, Glaucon, which made me unwilling to speak of family relations. However, when a man is out of his depth, whether in a pool or in an ocean, he can only swim for his life; and we must try to find a way of escape, if we can.
The argument is, that different natures have different uses, and the natures of men and women are said to differ. But this is only a verbal opposition. We do not consider that the difference may be purely nominal and accidental; for example, a bald man and a hairy man are opposed in a single point of view, but you cannot infer that because a bald man is a cobbler a hairy man ought not to be a cobbler. Now why is such an inference erroneous? Simply because the opposition between them is partial only, like the difference between a male physician and a female physician, not running through the whole nature, like the difference between a physician and a carpenter. And if the difference of the sexes is only that the one beget and the other bear children, this does not prove that they ought to have distinct educations. Admitting that women differ from men in capacity, do not men equally differ from one another? Has not nature scattered all the qualities which our citizens require indifferently up and down among the two sexes? and even in their peculiar pursuits, are not women often, though in some cases superior to men, ridiculously enough surpassed by them? Women are the same in kind as men, and have the same aptitude or want of aptitude for medicine or gymnastic or war, but in a less degree. One woman will be a good guardian, another not; and the good must be chosen to be the colleagues of our guardians. If however their natures are the same, the inference is that their education must also be the same; there is no longer anything unnatural or impossible in a woman learning music and gymnastic. And the education which we give them will be the very best, far superior to that of cobblers, and will train up the very best women, and nothing can be more advantageous to the State than this. Therefore let them strip, clothed in their chastity, and share in the toils of war and in the defence of their country; he who laughs at them is a fool for his pains.
The first wave is past, and the argument is compelled to admit that men and women have common duties and pursuits. A second and greater wave is rolling in—community of wives and children; is this either expedient or possible? The expediency I do not doubt; I am not so sure of the possibility. 'Nay, I think that a considerable doubt will be entertained on both points.' I meant to have escaped the trouble of proving the first, but as you have detected the little stratagem I must even submit. Only allow me to feed my fancy like the solitary in his walks, with a dream of what might be, and then I will return to the question of what can be.
In the first place our rulers will enforce the laws and make new ones where they are wanted, and their allies or ministers will obey. You, as legislator, have already selected the men; and now you shall select the women. After the selection has been made, they will dwell in common houses and have their meals in common, and will be brought together by a necessity more certain than that of mathematics. But they cannot be allowed to live in licentiousness; that is an unholy thing, which the rulers are determined to prevent. For the avoidance of this, holy marriage festivals will be instituted, and their holiness will be in proportion to their usefulness. And here, Glaucon, I should like to ask (as I know that you are a breeder of birds and animals), Do you not take the greatest care in the mating? 'Certainly.' And there is no reason to suppose that less care is required in the marriage of human beings. But then our rulers must be skilful physicians of the State, for they will often need a strong dose of falsehood in order to bring about desirable unions between their subjects. The good must be paired with the good, and the bad with the bad, and the offspring of the one must be reared, and of the other destroyed; in this way the flock will be preserved in prime condition. Hymeneal festivals will be celebrated at times fixed with an eye to population, and the brides and bridegrooms will meet at them; and by an ingenious system of lots the rulers will contrive that the brave and the fair come together, and that those of inferior breed are paired with inferiors—the latter will ascribe to chance what is really the invention of the rulers. And when children are born, the offspring of the brave and fair will be carried to an enclosure in a certain part of the city, and there attended by suitable nurses; the rest will be hurried away to places unknown. The mothers will be brought to the fold and will suckle the children; care however must be taken that none of them recognise their own offspring; and if necessary other nurses may also be hired. The trouble of watching and getting up at night will be transferred to attendants. 'Then the wives of our guardians will have a fine easy time when they are having children.' And quite right too, I said, that they should.
The parents ought to be in the prime of life, which for a man may be reckoned at thirty years—from twenty-five, when he has 'passed the point at which the speed of life is greatest,' to fifty-five; and at twenty years for a woman—from twenty to forty. Any one above or below those ages who partakes in the hymeneals shall be guilty of impiety; also every one who forms a marriage connexion at other times without the consent of the rulers. This latter regulation applies to those who are within the specified ages, after which they may range at will, provided they avoid the prohibited degrees of parents and children, or of brothers and sisters, which last, however, are not absolutely prohibited, if a dispensation be procured. 'But how shall we know the degrees of affinity, when all things are common?' The answer is, that brothers and sisters are all such as are born seven or nine months after the espousals, and their parents those who are then espoused, and every one will have many children and every child many parents.
Socrates proceeds: I have now to prove that this scheme is advantageous and also consistent with our entire polity. The greatest good of a State is unity; the greatest evil, discord and distraction. And there will be unity where there are no private pleasures or pains or interests—where if one member suffers all the members suffer, if one citizen is touched all are quickly sensitive; and the least hurt to the little finger of the State runs through the whole body and vibrates to the soul. For the true State, like an individual, is injured as a whole when any part is affected. Every State has subjects and rulers, who in a democracy are called rulers, and in other States masters: but in our State they are called saviours and allies; and the subjects who in other States are termed slaves, are by us termed nurturers and paymasters, and those who are termed comrades and colleagues in other places, are by us called fathers and brothers. And whereas in other States members of the same government regard one of their colleagues as a friend and another as an enemy, in our State no man is a stranger to another; for every citizen is connected with every other by ties of blood, and these names and this way of speaking will have a corresponding reality—brother, father, sister, mother, repeated from infancy in the ears of children, will not be mere words. Then again the citizens will have all things in common, in having common property they will have common pleasures and pains.
Can there be strife and contention among those who are of one mind; or lawsuits about property when men have nothing but their bodies which they call their own; or suits about violence when every one is bound to defend himself? The permission to strike when insulted will be an 'antidote' to the knife and will prevent disturbances in the State. But no younger man will strike an elder; reverence will prevent him from laying hands on his kindred, and he will fear that the rest of the family may retaliate. Moreover, our citizens will be rid of the lesser evils of life; there will be no flattery of the rich, no sordid household cares, no borrowing and not paying. Compared with the citizens of other States, ours will be Olympic victors, and crowned with blessings greater still—they and their children having a better maintenance during life, and after death an honourable burial. Nor has the happiness of the individual been sacrificed to the happiness of the State; our Olympic victor has not been turned into a cobbler, but he has a happiness beyond that of any cobbler. At the same time, if any conceited youth begins to dream of appropriating the State to himself, he must be reminded that 'half is better than the whole.' 'I should certainly advise him to stay where he is when he has the promise of such a brave life.'