An Analysis of Plato’s Republic: Book 6

Hey! Today I am writing on Book 6 of the Republic. I said this at the end of my last post, but just a reminder: For a few weeks, since I am going to a friends house, am going to be primarily writing papers with him. That means no Republic for a few weeks. Anyways, let’s get to it!

Socrates begins with drawing a conclusion which was argued over in Book 5. It is the conclusion that philosophers are lovers of wisdom. In addition to that, they should rule the city, as they can see things clearly and finitely and always make the best decisions based on their knowledge. But Socrates goes on. Not only are these rulers to have knowledge, but also be good at other general practical things associated with leadership. Socrates says that the first attribute, as I just mentioned, is a love for truth and a hatred for falsity. They must love the world and reality as it is and never mispresent it. The third is a complete devotion to the mental state, and none to bodily pleasures. They must be devoutly devoted to the mind. That way, they will not become obsessed with money. The last thing is the person must be open-minded. They must be able to see things as they are. Socrates concludes this by saying that if one follows all of these ideals, they will be perfectly just. I think this definition is a good one to stick by, but I am still not sure whether philosophers make good rulers.

Later Socrates makes an extremely interesting distinction. He thinks that there are two types of people: The vibrant and excessive ones, who, if put in a good environment, do great things, and put in a bad one, terrible things, and then there are those who are mild and weak. But I don’t think humans can be categorized like that. Sometimes people’s actions differ, depending on their personality and mood.

At one point Adeimantus says that it is impossible to spend time with something and admire it with out without wanting to imitate it. I find this to be profoundly wrong. He is making several assumptions: People automatically think what they admire is good, and that people automatically want to do what they find good. If the first was true, people would never be ashamed or feel gluttonous, and if the second was true, people would be literally perfect. I feel this is important…

Now we get to something quite interesting. Socrates decides how they will find their rulers. Socrates says there must be an extremely strict training program, and only the top of the top, a very small number, will be granted the title of the ruling class. And those select few will be the philosophers. Now Socrates once again divides the human soul (or rather the philosophers soul) into two category’s: Active, sudden, random people, and stalwart, inactive, unchanging people. He says they need to have the good traits from both classes, and the bad from neither. But he lists so many traits that I feel one could have traits from both, and fit into neither.

But now Socrates addresses an issue that I have been thinking a lot about these days: Utilitarianism. He says that those who find joy to be good must admit there are bad pleasures, and therefore admit that their good is bad. But I disagree. Pleasure is not ever bad. Just the actions that cause it. So pleasure is perfect. As I said, I have been thinking a lot about utilitarianism. I am not sure whether pleasure is good.

In the end, I chose to write about the more obscure points in this book rather than the main conclusion, which I felt boring, rushed, complicated, and not useful for teaching an atheist like myself. But I found the beginning and middle to be interesting and deep.

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