republic (books 6 - 10)
helpers in the work of conversion, the sciences which we have
been discussing. Custom terms them sciences, but they ought
to have some other name, implying greater clearness than opin-
ion and less clearness than science: and this, in our previous
sketch, was called understanding. But why should we dispute
about names when we have realities of such importance to con-
Why, indeed, he said, when any name will do which ex-
presses the thought of the mind with clearness?
At any rate, we are satisfied, as before, to have four divisions;
two for intellect and two for opinion, and to call the first divis-
ion science, the second understanding, the third belief, and the
fourth perception of shadows, opinion being concerned with
becoming, and intellect with being; and so to make a propor-
"As being is to becoming, so is pure intellect to opinion.
And as intellect is to opinion, so is science to belief, and understand-
ing to the perception of shadows."
But let us defer the further correlation and subdivision of the
subjects of opinion and of intellect, for it will be a long inquiry,
many times longer than this has been.
As far as I understand, he said, I agree.
And do you also agree, I said, in describing the dialectician
as one who attains a conception of the essence of each thing?
And he who does not possess and is therefore unable to impart
this conception, in whatever degree he fails, may in that degree
also be said to fail in intelligence? Will you admit so much?
Yes, he said; how can I deny it?
And you would say the same of the conception of the good?
Until the person is able to abstract and define rationally the
idea of good, and unless he can run the gauntlet of all objec-
tions, and is ready to disprove them, not by appeals to opinion,
but to absolute truth, never faltering at any step of the argu-
ment--unless he can do all this, you would say that he knows
neither the idea of good nor any other good; he apprehends
only a shadow, if anything at all, which is given by opinion,
and not by science; dreaming and slumbering in this life, before
he is well awake here, he arrives at the world below, and has
his final quietus.
In all that I should most certainly agree with you.
And surely you would not have the children of your ideal
State, whom you are nurturing and educating--if the ideal
ever becomes a reality--you would not allow the future rulers
to be like posts, having no reason in them, and yet to be set in
authority over the highest matters?
Then you will make a law that they shall have such an edu-
cation as will enable them to attain the greatest skill in asking
and answering questions?
Yes, he said, you and I together will make it.