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republic (books 6 - 10)   

BOOK VI
THE PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT


(SOCRATES, GLAUCON.)

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

I do not think, he said, that the way could have been short-
ened.

I suppose not, I said; and yet I believe that we might have
had a better view of both of them if the discussion could have
been confined to this one subject and if there were not many
other questions awaiting us, which he who desires to see in
what respect the life of the just differs from that of the unjust
must consider.

And what is the next question? he asked.

Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inas-
much as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and un-
changeable, and those who wander in the region of the many
and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of the
two classes should be the rulers of our State?

And how can we rightly answer that question?

Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and
institutions of our State--let them be our guardians.

Very good.

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 verily and indeed wanting in the
knowledge of the true being of each thing, and who have in
their souls no clear pattern, and are unable as with a painter's
eye to look at the absolute 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, if not already ordered,
and to guard and preserve the order of them--are not such
persons, I ask, simply blind?

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

And shall they be our guardians when there are others who,
besides being their equals in experience and falling short of
them in no particular of virtue, also know the very truth of
each thing?

There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have
this greatest of all great qualities; they must always have the
first place unless they fail in some other respect.
Suppose, then, I said, that we determine how far they can
unite this and the other excellences.

By all means.

In the first place, as we began by observing, the nature of

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