republic (books 6 - 10)
And therefore to acknowledge that bad and good are the
There can be no doubt about the numerous difficulties in
which this question is involved.
There can be none.
Further, do we not see that many are willing to do or to
have or to seem to be what is just and honorable without the
reality; but no one is satisfied with the appearance of good--
the reality is what they seek; in the case of the good, appear-
ance is despised by everyone.
Very true, he said.
Of this then, which every soul of man pursues and makes
the end of all his actions, having a presentiment that there is
such an end, and yet hesitating because neither knowing the
nature nor having the same assurance of this as of other things,
and therefore losing whatever good there is in other things--
of a principle such and so great as this ought the best men in
our State, to whom everything is intrusted, to be in the dark-
ness of ignorance?
Certainly not, he said.
I am sure, I said, that he who does not know how the beauti-
ful and the just are likewise good will be but a sorry guardian
of them; and I suspect that no one who is ignorant of the good
will have a true knowledge of them.
That, he said, is a shrewd suspicion of yours.
And if we only have a guardian who has this knowledge, our
State will be perfectly ordered?
Of course, he replied; but I wish that you would tell me
whether you conceive this supreme principle of the good to be
knowledge or pleasure, or different from either?
Aye, I said, I knew all along that a fastidious gentleman
like you would not be contented with the thoughts of other
people about these matters.
True, Socrates; but I must say that one who like you has
passed a lifetime in the study of philosophy should not be al-
ways repeating the opinions of others, and never telling his
Well, but has anyone a right to say positively what he does
Not, he said, with the assurance of positive certainty; he has
no right to do that: but he may say what he thinks, as a matter
And do you not know, I said, that all mere opinions are bad,
and the best of them blind? You would not deny that those
who have any true notion without intelligence are only like
blind men who feel their way along the road?