republic (books 6 - 10)
of controversy, of which the end is opinion and strife, whether
they meet with them in the courts of law or in society.
They are strangers, he said, to the words of which you
And this was what we foresaw, and this was the reason why
truth forced us to admit, not without fear and hesitation, that
neither cities nor States nor individuals will ever attain perfec-
tion until the small class of philosophers whom we termed use-
less but not corrupt are providentially compelled, whether they
will or not, to take care of the State, and until a like necessity
be laid on the State to obey them; or until kings, or if not
kings, the sons of kings or princes, are divinely inspired with
a true love of true philosophy. That either or both of these
alternatives are impossible, I see no reason to affirm: if they
were so, we might indeed be justly ridiculed as dreamers and
visionaries. Am I not right?
If then, in the countless ages of the past, or at the present
hour in some foreign clime which is far away and beyond our
ken, the perfected philosopher is or has been or hereafter shall
be compelled by a superior power to have the charge of the
State, we are ready to assert to the death, that this our consti-
tution has been, and is--yea, and will be whenever the muse of
philosophy is queen. There is no impossibility in all this; that
there is a difficulty, we acknowledge ourselves.
My opinion agrees with yours, he said.
But do you mean to say that this is not the opinion of the
I should imagine not, he replied.
O my friends, I said, do not attack the multitude: they will
change their minds, if, not in an aggressive spirit, but gently
and with the view of soothing them and removing their dislike
of over-education, you show them your philosophers as they
really are and describe as you were just now doing their charac-
ter and profession, and then mankind will see that he of whom
you are speaking is not such as they supposed--if they view
him in this new light, they will surely change their notion of
him, and answer in another strain. Who can be at enmity
with one who loves him, who that is himself gentle and free
from envy will be jealous of one in whom there is no jealousy?
Nay, let me answer for you, that in a few this harsh temper may
be found, but not in the majority of mankind.
I quite agree with you, he said.
And do you not also think, as I do, that the harsh feeling
which the many entertain toward philosophy originates in the
pretenders, who rush in uninvited, and are always abusing
them, and finding fault with them, who make persons instead
of things the theme of their conversation? and nothing can be
more unbecoming in philosophers than this.
It is most unbecoming.
For he, Adeimantus, whose mind is fixed upon true being,
has surely no time to look down upon the affairs of earth, or