republic (books 6 - 10)
And, again, in respect of temperance, courage, magnificence,
and every other virtue, should we not carefully distinguish be-
tween the true son and the bastard? for where there is no dis-
cernment of such qualities, States and individuals uncon-
sciously err; and the State makes a ruler, and the individual a
friend, of one who, being defective in some part of virtue,
is in a figure lame or a bastard.
That is very true, he said.
All these things, then, will have to be carefully considered
by us; and if only those whom we introduce to this vast system
of education and training are sound in body and mind, justice
herself will have nothing to say against us, and we shall be the
saviours of the constitution and of the State; but, if our pupils
are men of another stamp, the reverse will happen, and we
shall pour a still greater flood of ridicule on philosophy than
she has to endure at present.
That would not be creditable.
Certainly not, I said; and yet perhaps, in thus turning jest
into earnest I am equally ridiculous.
In what respect?
I had forgotten, I said, that we were not serious, and spoke
with too much excitement. For when I saw philosophy so
undeservedly trampled under foot of men I could not help feel-
ing a sort of indignation at the authors of her disgrace: and my
anger made me too vehement.
Indeed! I was listening, and did not think so.
But I, who am the speaker, felt that I was. And now let
me remind you that, although in our former selection we chose
old men, we must not do so in this. Solon was under a delu-
sion when he said that a man when he grows old may learn
many things--for he can no more learn much than he can run
much; youth is the time for any extraordinary toil.
And, therefore, calculation and geometry and all the other
elements of instruction, which are a preparation for dialectic,
should be presented to the mind in childhood; not, however,
under any notion of forcing our system of education.
Because a freeman ought not to be a slave in the acquisition
of knowledge of any kind. Bodily exercise, when compulsory,
does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired
under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
Then, my good friend, I said, do not use compulsion, but
let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be
better able to find out the natural bent.
That is a very rational notion, he said.