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Pages of republic (books 6 - 10)

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republic (books 6 - 10)   

unhesitatingly I declare that States should pursue philosophy,
not as they do now, but in a different spirit.

In what manner?

At present, I said, the students of philosophy are quite young;
beginning when they are hardly past childhood, they devote
only the time saved from money-making and housekeeping to
such pursuits; and even those of them who are reputed to have
most of the philosophic spirit, when they come within sight of
the great difficulty of the subject, I mean dialectic, take them-
selves off. In after life, when invited by someone else, they
may, perhaps, go and hear a lecture, and about this they make
much ado, for philosophy is not considered by them to be their
proper business: at last, when they grow old, in most cases they
are extinguished more truly than Heracleitus's sun, inasmuch
as they never light up again.

But what ought to be their course?

Just the opposite. In childhood and youth their study, and
what philosophy they learn, should be suited to their tender
years: during this period while they are growing up toward
manhood, the chief and special care should be given to their
bodies that they may have them to use in the service of philoso-
phy; as life advances and the intellect begins to mature, let them
increase the gymnastics of the soul; but when the strength of
our citizens fails and is past civil and military duties, then let
them range at will and engage in no serious labor, as we intend
them to live happily here, and to crown this life with a similar
happiness in another.

How truly in earnest you are, Socrates! he said; I am sure
of that; and yet most of your hearers, if I am not mistaken,
are likely to be still more earnest in their opposition to you,
and will never be convinced; Thrasymachus least of all.

Do not make a quarrel, I said, between Thrasymachus and
me, who have recently become friends, although, indeed, we
were never enemies; for I shall go on striving to the utmost
until I either convert him and other men, or do something which
may profit them against the day when they live again, and hold
the like discourse in another state of existence.

You are speaking of a time which is not very near.

Rather, I replied, of a time which is as nothing in comparison
with eternity. Nevertheless, I do not wonder that the many
refuse to believe; for they have never seen that of which we
are now speaking realized; they have seen only a conven-
tional imitation of philosophy, consisting of words artificially
brought together, not like these of ours having a natural unity.
But a human being who in word and work is perfectly moulded,
as far as he can be, into the proportion and likeness of virtue--
such a man ruling in a city which bears the same image, they
have never yet seen, neither one nor many of them--do you
think that they ever did?

No indeed.

No, my friend, and they have seldom, if ever, heard free and
noble sentiments; such as men utter when they are earnestly
and by every means in their power seeking after truth for the
sake of knowledge, while they look coldly on the subtleties

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