republic (books 6 - 10)
and by reason, and the better desires prevail over them--
either they are wholly banished or they become few and weak;
while in the case of others they are stronger, and there are
more of them.
Which appetites do you mean?
I mean those which are awake when the reasoning and hu-
man and ruling power is asleep; then the wild beast within
us, gorged with meat or drink, starts up and, having shaken
off sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no
conceivable folly or crime--not excepting incest or any other
unnatural union, or parricide, or the eating of forbidden food
--which at such a time, when he has parted company with
all shame and sense, a man may not be ready to commit.
Most true, he said.
But when a man's pulse is healthy and temperate, and when
before going to sleep he has awakened his rational powers, and
fed them on noble thoughts and inquiries, collecting himself
in meditation; after having first indulged his appetites neither
too much nor too little, but just enough to lay them to sleep,
and prevent them and their enjoyments and pains from in-
terfering with the higher principle--which he leaves in the soli-
tude of pure abstraction, free to contemplate and aspire to the
knowledge of the unknown, whether in past, present, or future:
when again he has allayed the passionate element, if he has
a quarrel against anyone--I say, when, after pacifying the
two irrational principles, he rouses up the third, which is rea-
son, before he takes his rest, then, as you know, he attains
truth most nearly, and is least likely to be the sport of fan-
tastic and lawless visions.
I quite agree.
In saying this I have been running into a digression; but
the point which I desire to note is that in all of us, even in
good men, there is a lawless wild-beast nature, which peers
out in sleep. Pray, consider whether I am right, and you
agree with me.
Yes, I agree.
And now remember the character which we attributed to
the democratic man. He was supposed from his youth up-
ward to have been trained under a miserly parent, who en-
couraged the saving appetites in him, but discountenanced the
unnecessary, which aim only at amusement and ornament?
And then he got into the company of a more refined, licen-
tious sort of people, and taking to all their wanton ways
rushed into the opposite extreme from an abhorrence of his
father's meanness. At last, being a better man than his cor-
ruptors, he was drawn in both directions until he halted mid-
way and led a life, not of vulgar and slavish passion, but of
what he deemed moderate indulgence in various pleasures.
After this manner the democrat was generated out of the
Yes, he said; that was our view of him, and is so still.