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POL200Y1Y L5101 1
L6: Republic IV & V
May 28, 2009
•Happiness of Individuals
•Virtues of the City + of the Soul
•Justice as a Virtue
•Knowledge + Opinion
•Plato lacked a conception of respect for individual autonomy and freedom. The right
to live as one likes did not cross his mind and this is a criticism of his against
democracy. He sought to promote what leaders thought as being objectively good. In
this way, Socrates was paternalistic. He advocated deep and profound government
intervention in the interests of the citizen.
oWhy is this paternalism bad? What if the 'father' knew what was objectively
good. The point of political power was to enable citizens to live well, does he not
One must ask whether it is possible to attain this objective
knowledge? This Platonic idea will be questioned later by Hobbes and Locke.
More importantly, ff there is such knowledge, who possesses it? And
how did they come by it?
Are we willing to surrender ourselves to these experts?
Why should we trust them?
•At the end of B III, he takes steps to enable him to enact his city. He tries to
separate rulers and warriors and producers. [412A-B]
oThe rulers will be the best of the warriors and they will possess philosophical
knowledge which they will have for the benefit of the city. The requisite
knowledge they possess will enable the city to live well and they will be tasked
with guarding the city. They will be older
Their responsibilities will go way beyond regular policemen. It is their
job to inform and guard with a noble purpose. They will possess intellectual
qualities over the other 2 qualities
oThe warriors [414B] will be the lesser and younger warriors.
•The Noble Lie
oWill teach citizens they were all born from the same earth and hence
brothers and sisters
oThis is an ideological belief which will help to promote the common good
•He didn’t respect the dignity of the city he founded because he was lying to the
people for what he believed was their own good
POL200Y1Y L5101 2
oMyth of 'metals' is nothing more than an explanatory narrative
oThis metal hierarchy (gold - bronze) provides an avenue to meritocracy
oIn the myth, the earth has left it unclear which citizens are deserving of
power. There is no way to tell this except for observing their merit.
•In Plato's city, all that matters is what is cultivated in the child, not what his
parents/ancestors have accomplished
oHence it leads to meritocracy. And this social idea is revolutionary
•Plato is attempting to set up a city with property in common. Following that, he
purges the city of religious temptations. He purges most of the citizens of private
property, except for some unique exceptions. The producer (lower class) will have some
private property but not enough to make them indulgent. While the warriors and
rulers probably would have none as they may corrupt them.
•Birth matters not in this metal city. Mobility is possible in both directions. (CQ)
oYet what happens if there are not enough of one metal?
oSocrates will not answer such a practical question. But he is merely
attempting a though experiment and showing us what humans can achieve in his
•He wants to avoid a city (like the cities of his time) where the highest education was
pursued so as to give these excellent beings a life of idle luxury.
Happiness of Individuals
•[Book IV Beginning]
•Property in common provision is objected by Adeimantus
oHe says that the warriors and rulers would not be happy. They would not be
happy by the materialistic standards of the world he knows. How can this city be
the most healthy and just if the constituents are not themselves very happy?
oThis is an important objection: it would not make sense to praise the city if
its citizens were unhealthy and unhappy. Will they be happy now that we have
communism of property?
oDr. Balot says that they go against human nature. Material wealth is usually
thought of as good and it has been taken away.
o[420B] Socrates answer to this
He says it would not be surprising if these people are happiest just as
they are. (first point)
This is a hint that the citizens of this city are as happy as it is possible
for individuals. Socrates is therefore indicating that all of these people are as
happy as they humanly can. Yet, we do not have the epistemological sources
Socrates names the city Kallipolis - the fine city
Now we must make the city happy, not an individual group in it.