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Pages of republic (books 6 - 10)



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republic (books 6 - 10)   


One principle prevails in the souls of one class of men, an-
other in others, as may happen?

Yes.

Then we may begin by assuming that there are three classes
of men--lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, lovers of gain?

Exactly.

And there are three kinds of pleasure, which are their sev-
eral objects?

Very true.

Now, if you examine the three classes of men, and ask of
them in turn which of their lives is pleasantest, each will be
found praising his own and depreciating that of others: the
money-maker will contrast the vanity of honor or of learning
if they bring no money with the solid advantages of gold
and silver?

True, he said.

And the lover of honor--what will be his opinion? Will
he not think that the pleasure of riches is vulgar, while the
pleasure of learning, if it brings no distinction, is all smoke
and nonsense to him?

Very true.

And are we to suppose, I said, that the philosopher sets
any value on other pleasures in comparison with the pleasure
of knowing the truth, and in that pursuit abiding, ever learn-
ing, not so far indeed from the heaven of pleasure? Does
he not call the other pleasures necessary, under the idea that
if there were no necessity for them, he would rather not have
them?

There can be no doubt of that, he replied.

Since, then, the pleasures of each class and the life of each
are in dispute, and the question is not which life is more or
less honorable, or better or worse, but which is the more
pleasant or painless--how shall we know who speaks truly?

I cannot myself tell, he said.

Well, but what ought to be the criterion? Is any better
than experience, and wisdom, and reason?

There cannot be a better, he said.

Then, I said, reflect. Of the three individuals, which has
the greatest experience of all the pleasures which we enumer-
ated? Has the lover of gain, in learning the nature of essen-
tial truth, greater experience of the pleasure of knowledge
than the philosopher has of the pleasure of gain?

The philosopher, he replied, has greatly the advantage; for
he has of necessity always known the taste of the other pleas-
ures from his childhood upward: but the lover of gain in all
his experience has not of necessity tasted--or, I should rather
say, even had he desired, could hardly have tasted--the sweet-

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