republic (books 6 - 10)
virtue of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine ele-
ment which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered
useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless.
Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the
keen eye of a clever rogue--how eager he is, how clearly his
paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind,
but his keen eyesight is forced into the service of evil, and he
is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness?
Very true, he said.
But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures
in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from
those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like
leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which
drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the
things that are below--if, I say, they had been released from
these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very
same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as
they see what their eyes are turned to now.
Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely, or
rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that
neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet
those who never make an end of their education, will be able
ministers of the State; not the former, because they have no
single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private
as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act
at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already
dwelling apart in the islands of the blessed.
Very true, he replied.
Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the
State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge
which we have already shown to be the greatest of all--they
must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when
they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them
to do as they do now.
What do you mean?
I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must
not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among
the prisoners in the den, and partake of their labors and honors,
whether they are worth having or not.
But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse
life, when they might have a better?
You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention
of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in
the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the
whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion
and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and there-
fore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them,
not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding
up the State.
True, he said, I had forgotten.
Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compel-