Plato*s Republic Books VI & VII

Senior Seminar Civitella & Verguldi-Scott
Books V & VI summaries
In Book V, marriage and procreation for the
Guardians is described:
Men and women are made husband and wife at
Your mate is chosen for you by lot
The marriage lasts only long enough for you to have
sex at the festival
Those Guardians with the best qualities may have
marriages and then sex with four or five spouses in
one festival
Books V & VI summaries
The children that are produced from the festivals are
taken from their parents and raised together so that no
one knows which children belong to which parents
No Guardian may have sex at any other time of the
The understanding is that if they do and a child is
produced, the child must be killed
To avoid incest, all adults are to consider each child as
their child and each of the children is to consider each
other child as their brother and sister
Books V & VI summaries
Socrates believes that this is necessary so that each
citizen considers each other citizen family and does
what is best for the city as a whole- patriotism
When asked how will you get the Guardians to
agree to live like this, Socrates states that it will be
acceptable to the Guardians if their ruler is a
A philosopher is defined as someone who
understands truth
Only a philosopher understands knowledge
Books V & VI summaries
Socrates states that the philosopher loves truth so
the rational part of his soul rules his soul and is best
to rule the city as a whole
Adeimantus disagrees based on the philosophers
that he knows and finds useless
Socrates says that these philosophers have been
corrupted by their families and others to use their
wisdom to benefit their own family and are not true
Books V & VI summaries
Philosophers raised in the manner described for the
Guardian class would be pure philosophers “lovers of
wisdom” for the good of the city
To select the philosopher-king from the Guardians, the
rulers must determine which best understand the “form
of the good”
The form of the good is not good behavior
Socrates describes the form of the good is an
understanding of all existence and what is responsible
for knowledge, truth, and human existence
Book VII- The Allegory of the Cave
Considered the most important metaphor in
Western Philosophy
Meant to show the effects of education on the soul
It is through education that the philosopher is moved
to know the form of the good
The Allegory of the Cave
a group of people have lived in a deep cave since
birth, never seeing the light of day
These people are bound so that they cannot look to
either side or behind them, but only straight ahead
Behind them is a fire, and behind the fire is a
partial wall
There are statues on the wall which are
manipulated by another group of people who are
out of sight behind the partial wall
The Allegory of the Cave
The prisoners watch the stories that these shadows play out, and
because these shadows are all they ever get to see, they believe
them to be the most real things in the world (this stage is called
A prisoner is then freed and forced to look at the fire and the
statues themselves
After pain and confusion because of direct exposure to the light
of the fire, the prisoner realizes that what he sees now are things
more real than the shadows he has always taken as reality
He sees how the fire and the statues cause the shadows and
realizes that the shadows are copies of the real things
The prisoner then accepts the statues and the fire as the most real
things in the world. (this stage represents belief)
The Allegory of the Cave
Next the prisoner is dragged out of the cave into
the world
He is pained and confused by the light of the sun
At first he can only bear to look at the shadows,
then reflections, and finally real objects
He sees then that the trees and flowers are even
more real that the statues were and that the statues
were only copies of these real images
This stage represents reason or thought
Allegory of the Cave
Finally, the man’s eyes have fully adjusted to the
light and he is able to look up at the sun
 He understands that the sun is the cause of
everything he sees around him (the flowers, the
trees, ect.)
 The man has reached the stage of understanding or
(read from book VII)
Study Questions for book VII
1. Describe the Allegory of the Cave.
2. What is the goal of education?
To drag everyman as far out of the cave as possible.
Education should not aim at putting knowledge into
the soul, but at turning the soul toward right
desires (truth & wisdom)
Study Questions for book VII
3. Does everyone in the city make it out of the cave?
No, education is the struggle to move as far out of the
cave as your intellect will allow.
Some people cannot make it all of the way out.
This is why some people will be producers, guardians,
and the man who makes it all of the way out has
the intellect and wisdom to do what is best for the
whole, he is the philosopher-king.
Study Questions for book VII
4. Why must the philosophers return to the cave on
To see and empathize with others.
If you stay outside of the cave, you can not contribute
to the city as a whole. (a professional student)
Study Questions for book VII
5. What is the ultimate goal of the city?
To educate those with the right natures, so that they can
turn their minds toward whatever it is that they can
contribute to the city.
Producers- goods & services
Guardians- protection and training for the ruling class
Rulers- prudence (wise decisions before action) &
This is why Socrates definition of justice is centered around
Questions for discussion
Would our leaders be considered philosopher-kings
according to Socrates definition?
How do they fit this definition?
How do they not fit this definition?
How do we as Americans value education differently
than Socrates and Plato?

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