republic (books 6 - 10)
And from being a keeper of the law he is converted into a
breaker of it?
Now all this is very natural in students of philosophy such
as I have described, and also, as I was just now saying, most
Yes, he said; and, I may add, pitiable.
Therefore, that your feelings may not be moved to pity about
our citizens who are now thirty years of age, every care must
be taken in introducing them to dialectic.
There is a danger lest they should taste the dear delight too
early; for youngsters, as you may have observed, when they
first get the taste in their mouths, argue for amusement, and
are always contradicting and refuting others in imitation of
those who refute them; like puppy-dogs, they rejoice in pull-
ing and tearing at all who come near them.
Yes, he said, there is nothing which they like better.
And when they have made many conquests and received de-
feats at the hands of many, they violently and speedily get into
a way of not believing anything which they believed before,
and hence, not only they, but philosophy and all that relates to
it is apt to have a bad name with the rest of the world.
Too true, he said.
But when a man begins to get older, he will no longer be
guilty of such insanity; he will imitate the dialectician who is
seeking for truth, and not the eristic, who is contradicting for
the sake of amusement; and the greater moderation of his char-
acter will increase instead of diminishing the honor of the pur-
Very true, he said.
And did we not make special provision for this, when we
said that the disciples of philosophy were to be orderly and
steadfast, not, as now, any chance aspirant or intruder?
Suppose, I said, the study of philosophy to take the place of
gymnastics and to be continued diligently and earnestly and
exclusively for twice the number of years which were passed
in bodily exercise--will that be enough?
Would you say six or four years? he asked.
Say five years, I replied; at the end of the time they must
be sent down again into the den and compelled to hold any mil-
itary or other office which young men are qualified to hold: in
this way they will get their experience of life, and there will be
an opportunity of trying whether, when they are drawn all
manner of ways by temptation, they will stand firm or flinch.