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will run at you might and main, intending to do heaven knows what; and if you don't prepare an answer, and put yourself in motion, you will be "pared by their fine wits," and no mistake.

You got me into the scrape, I said.



And I was quite right, he said; however, I will do all I can to get you out; but I can only give you wishes and exhortations, and also, perhaps, I may be able to fit answers into your questions better than another—that is all. And now having such an auxiliary, you must do your best to show the unbelievers that you are right.

I ought to try, I said, as I have an offer of such valuable assistance. And I think that, if there is to be a chance of our escaping, we must define who these philosophers are who, as we say, are to rule in the State; then we shall be able to defend ourselves: there will be discovered to be some natures who ought to rule and to study philosophy; and others who are not born to be philosophers, and are meant to be followers rather than leaders.

Then now for a definition, he said.

Follow me, I said, and I hope that I may somehow or other be able to give you a satisfactory explanation.

Proceed, he replied.

[The true philosopher is one who loves all wisdom. He alone distinguishes between the changing world of the senses and the eternal world of absolute truth. In contrast with him, the many have no true knowledge but only the appearance of knowledge which may be called opinion.]

Those who see the many beautiful, and who yet neither see, nor can be taught to see, absolute beauty; who see the many just, and not absolute justice, and the like,-such persons may be said to have opinion but not knowledge?

That is certain.

But those who see the absolute and eternal and immutable may be said to know, and not to have opinion only?

Neither can that be denied.


The one love and embrace the subjects of knowledge, the other those of opinion? The latter are the same, as I dare say you will remember, who listened to sweet sounds and

gazed upon fair colors, but would not tolerate the existence of absolute beauty?

Yes, I remember.

Shall we then be guilty of any impropriety in calling them lovers of opinion rather than lovers of wisdom, and will they be very angry with us for thus describing them?

I shall tell them that they ought not to be angry at a description of themselves which is true.

But those who embrace the absolute are to be called lovers of wisdom and not lovers of opinion?



AND thus, Glaucon, after the argument has gone a weary way, the true and the false philosophers have at length 484 appeared in view.

I do not think, he said, that the way could have been shortened.

I suppose not, I said; and yet I believe that the contrast might be made still more striking if there were not many other questions awaiting us, which he who desires to see in what the life of the just differs from that of the unjust must consider.

And what question is next in order? he asked.

Surely, I said, there can be no doubt about that. Inasmuch as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander in the region of the many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of the two kinds should be the rulers of our State?

And what would be a fair answer to that question ? he said. Ask yourself, I replied, which of the two are better able to guard the laws and institutions of our State; and let them be our guardians.

Very good, he said.

Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian who is to keep anything should have eyes rather than no eyes? There can be no question of that.

And are not those who are deprived of the knowledge of the true being of each thing, and have in their souls no clear pattern,1 and are unable as with a painter's eye to look at the very truth and to that original to repair, and having perfect vision of the other world to order the laws about beauty, goodness, justice in this, and to guard and preserve the order of themare they not, I say, simply blind?

Indeed, he replied, they are much in that condition.

And shall these be our guardians when there are others who, besides being their equals in experience and not inferior to them in any particular of virtue, have also the knowledge of the true being of everything?

1 See Book IX., 592.

There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have this great and preeminent quality, if they do not 485 fail in any other respect.

Suppose then, I said, that we determine how far they can unite this and the other excellences.

By all means.

First of all, as we began by observing, their nature will have to be ascertained; and if we are agreed about that, then, if I am not mistaken, we shall also be agreed that such an union of qualities is possible, and that those in whom they are united, and those only, should be rulers in the State. Let us begin by assuming that philosophical minds always love that sort of knowledge which shows them the eternal nature in which is no variableness from generation and corruption.

Let that be acknowledged.

And further, I said, let us admit that they are lovers of all being; there is no part whether greater or less, or more or less honorable, which they are willing to renounce; that has been already illustrated by the example of the lover and the man of ambition.2


There is another quality which they will also need if they are to be what we were saying.

What quality is that?

Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive falsehood, which is their detestation, and they will love the truth. Yes, he said, that may be affirmed.

"May be," my friend, I replied, that is not the word; say rather, “must be affirmed: " for he whose nature is amorous of anything cannot help loving all that belongs or is akin to the object of his affections.

Right, he said.

And is there anything more akin to wisdom than truth? Impossible, he said.

Or can the same nature be a lover of wisdom and a lover of falsehood?


The true lover of learning then must from his earliest youth, as far as in him lies, desire all truth?


* This refers to a passage in Book V., 474, which has been omitted.

But then again, he whose desires are strong in one direction will have them weaker in others; they will be like a stream which has been drawn off into another channel.


He whose desires are drawn toward knowledge in every form will be absorbed in the pleasures of the soul, and will hardly feel bodily pleasure-I mean, if he be a true philosopher and not a sham one.

That is most certain.

Such an one is sure to be temperate and the reverse of covetous; for the motives which make another man covetous and also profuse in expenditure, are no part of his character. There is another criterion of the philosophical nature which has also to be considered.

What is that?


There should be no secret corner of meanness; for meanness is entirely opposed to a soul that is always longing after the whole of things both divine and human.

Most true, he replied.

Can the soul then, which has magnificence of conception and is the spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human life?

Impossible, he replied.

Or can such an one account death fearful?

No indeed.

Then the cowardly and mean nature has no part in true philosophy?

I should say not.

Or again: can he who is harmoniously constituted, who is not covetous or mean, or a boaster, or a coward-can he, I say, ever be unjust or hard in his dealings?


You will note also whether a man is righteous and gentle, or rude and unsociable; these are the signs which distinguish even in youth the philosophical nature from the unphilosophical. True.

And there is another point which should be remarked.
What is that?

Whether he has or has not a pleasure in learning; for no one will love that which gives him pain, and in which after much toil he makes little progress.

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