Lecture 5: Republic Books V, VI, VII
Outline of the Lecture
1. Review of Last Lecture: The tripartite division of the soul and the city-soul
analogy. Does it work?
2. Book V: The community of women and children; the abolition of the family
3. Book VI: Socrates and the interlocutors turn away from the city towards
philosophy (talking about justice in the soul)
a) The necessity of the rule of the philosopher-kings
b) The theory of the Forms (or Ideas)
c) Why do philosophers make the best rulers? What concerns are expressed by
4. The metaphor of the ship and the allegory of the cave both are designed the
necessity of philosopher-kings. But might the lesson be the impossibility of the
rule of philosophy?
Review of Book IV
• Whether the city soul analogy works, and why not?
The City-Soul Parallel
The City: AHamonious Hierarchy
Reason/Wisdom Spiritedness/Courage Appetitivness/Desire
The Soul: Messy and Complex
Reason/Wisdom Spiritedness/Courage Appetivness/Desire
An Eros of knowledge Reason/ Wisdom
o Reason and Spiritedness are allies in the attempt to control desire
o Wisdom as a form of desire- an Eros for knowledge, and Eros for the
truth. So, insofar as spiritedness opposes. Desire, it opposes reason too.
The lesson? That the soul can’t be nearly compartmentalized in the same
way as the city.Also, the spiritedness against oneself – shame, self-
directed anger – is another impediment to curiosity tot eh desire to know
ex. The Leontius story
• Justice in the city is precisely the harmony of all three classes. The most needful
thing is the willingness of each citizen to mind his or her own business and do the
job to which they are naturally suited
• If you’re having doubts about the just city; you’re not alone. Socrates also has his
doubts when you take a look at the philosophers and the philosophy itself
• No beginning to the republic
• Polemarchus and Adeimantus arrest Socrates
• Woman and children are a kind of snare for men that ultimately must be
abolished. This is seen in the noble lie. It is an attempt to make the city as much like a family as possible. It obscures the fact our mothers give birth to us not the
earth, and that we do have families.
• Socrates notices that our most powerful attachments are to our families
• Half the human race cannot be ignored; we need to think about how the city will
The Community of Women and Children (451c-471c)
• Women should have the same life open to them as men
• Women should receive the same education as men
• Women, in general, ought to be treated equally
Socrates’opinions on woman strike the interlocutors are deeply radical. Why is Plato
trying to show us here?Are the interlocutors’hesitations rational or irrational? Are they
merely the expression of custom and prejudice? What does Socrates overlook?
• The interlocutors are slaves to convention. Shame and habit can make certain
things, like equality of sexes, is impossible for them to accept. Socrates is forcing
the interlocutors to face their prejudices. For Socrates, equality of sexes is
possible because it is natural. Its proved to be natural that the difference between
men and women is no different than bald men, and men with hair.All that matters
is aptitude. Your nature is your nature. If you’re fit for guardianship, sex is
irrelevant. Nothing else matters except for aptitude. Soles in order to truly know
themselves have to strip away conventions that cover their nature. Socrates is
showing that convention, habits are impediments to understanding our nature.
They obscure those women also have an aptitude for being guardians.
• Socrates seems to suggest that habit, or social convention, are irrational prejudices
that obscure nature (the natural). Their may be some rational not prejudicial
reason not to let men and woman share locker rooms. Its not just convention that
prohibits naked men and women, nakedness is forbidden because men need to be
able to control their sexual appetites. There are rational reasons for certain
Athenian practices. Socrates is completely forgetting that the body has control,
and thinks citizens are all the soul. Our bodies ask things of us and ignore that
woman and men are different. Woman must bare children, which will have an
affect on them engaging in war activities.
To be effective, Socrates believes, communism must apply not only to property; it must
also apply to women and children: the abolition of private property is thus accompanied
by the abolition of the nuclear family. Why? Because like property, the family is the
domain of the private: it validates, and exacerbates the sense of mine and thine, and thus
dilutes one’s love for, and commitment to, the city.Attraction and love are threats to
community the body is what stands in the way of devotion of the common good; it is the
source of the desire and the need for privacy.
• Marriage is seen as something for temporary sexual relations, nothing personal.
Love and desire are regarded as threats towards the city. The body is a threat to
the well being of the city. • The model for the life of the guardians is the life of a dog. The guardian’s master
is the city and in order to have the best guardian class, you must breed for one.
The children produced from these practices are regarded as the property of the
city. Every child will be raised in a sense of an orphanage. Parents are denied
knowing their children, children are denied knowing their parents. Sex is treated
as wholly public activity that serves no purpose except serving the class of the
guardians. Socrates elaborates a regime that no citizen has a family and no one
can act in reason of their family.
• In this city, every citizen is both a family member and a possible sexual partner.
We have to overcome the horror of incest. Socrates wants us to think of the city as
one big family. He demands that we engage in sexual relations with anyone we
can produce the best possible off spring. Rulers are in charge of determining who
has sex with you. Eros only exists in the sense that it extends the good of the city.
• Socrates exposes himself in Book V as temporarily insane. Their isn’t a limit that
he is willing to leave alone.
• How much credit do we want to give Socrates? Does he know his proposals to be
preposterous? We give him the benefit of the doubt. He must know they are
preposterous. He expects to provoke laughter and rage of his interlocutors. He
knows himself to be morally suspected. He provokes us to make it clear that the
regime he describes will not simply be just. Justice exists more in speech than in
deed.After all of this effort, the supposedly just regime is deemed to be
unlovable. It’s an imitation of justice. The just city may not acquire all of our
attention, and perhaps it be sought elsewhere.
The Rule of the Philosopher- Kings
“Until philosophers rule as kings in cities or those who are now called kinds and leading
men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy
coincide, while the many nature who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly
prevented from doing so, cities sill have no rest form evils.” (473c-e)
• Glacuon’s response is in 474a
• Plato is the one who made philosophy mainstream. Before him philosophy is a
danger to the city. He is the one who makes it acceptable to the cities. If Socrates
proposals strike us as not shocking, Plato cannot take our reaction for granted.
Socrates was executed precisely for practicing philosophy in the city and calling