Greece Project (Part II) – Plato’s Republic Socratic SeminarMerry ZebroMrs. LabbsPre-Ap History1. Who are the Guardians and their Auxiliaries, according to Socrates and his students? What kind of lives should these Guardians lead? When guidelines should they follow? The Guardians are those who are chosen fit to rule the commonwealth, or what may be known as the kingdom, based on traits they must possess. Auxiliaries are those who enforce rules that Guardians set forth using means necessary. In more simpler terms, Socrates has divided the society into three classes: Guardians, Auxiliaries, and farmers and craftsmen. Socrates discusses how those Guardians must live and be housed.
He explains, “First, none of them must possess any private property beyond the barest necessaries. Next, no one is to have any dwelling or store-house that is not open for all to enter at will.” He then goes on to explain how they must live like soldiers in a camp, dining together, living together, and must work to earn their meals rather than monetary value. He condemns them from touching metals such as gold or silver. Next, he addresses those go against these rules to give up their guardianship and become tyrants living in fear of their enemies.The Guardians themselves must also possess distinct qualities that allow them to rule. A Guardian must have the interests of the commonwealth at hand. He should hold his beliefs true and must resist any efforts made to tamper with his beliefs.
Socrates states, “We shall have to watch them from earliest childhood and set them tasks in which they would be most likely to forget or to be beguiled out of this duty. We shall then choose only those whose memory holds firm and who are proof against delusion.” He explains that a true guardian must resist theft of his beliefs, violence and pain intent on ridding him of his beliefs, and bewitchment set on bribing one. Essentially, they must all be incorruptible and impervious to bribes.2. How do Socrates and his students plan to convince people that their ideal government is both acceptable and even preferable to any other system? Is their thinking on this subject ethical? Why or why not?In order to convince people that Socrates and his student’s ideal government is acceptable, Socrates proposes that the community is told a “something like an Eastern tale of what, according to the poets, has happened before now in more than one part of the world.
” He develops a story in which man has been brought to earth with a mixture of metals inside each and every man. Socrates explains that god has instilled a quality that deems those fit to rule in those who are composed of gold. He describes those made of silver as Auxiliaries and those made of iron and brass as farmers and craftsmen. “If a child of their own in born with an alloy of iron or brass, they must, without the smallest pity, assign him in the station proper to his nature and thrust him out among the craftsmen or the farmers.
If, on the contrary, these classes produce a child with gold or silver in his composition, they will promote him, according to his value, to be a Guardian or an Auxiliary. They will appeal to a prophecy that ruin will come upon the state when it passes into the keeping of a man of iron or brass.” Although Socrates and his student, Glaucon, discuss the faults within his plan, they are hopeful that the story will ensure the people’s loyalty to the community and their social classes.It is morally incorrect if the foundation of a society is based on lies. Although Socrates’ true intention is to maintain peace in his ideal government, history has taught us time and time again that there are those who question society and its foundations.
There will be rebellions throughout the society he has created and if enough people participate in the rebellion, there will little to no actions that the Auxiliaries may take to stop the rebellion. The foundation of a society must be developed by several people who compromise or agree on a system of ruling rather than one man’s lie.3. What are the potential positive and/or negative aspects of this particular conception of an ideal government? Consider the author’s ultimate aim and his attitude toward power and leadership. Consider also how this system may have appeared in other forms and/or theories of government in history.Socrates and his student’s ideal government has both positive and negative aspects. The trials that Guardians must survive ensure that all rulers contain a moral sense of what is right and wrong.
These rulers are given supreme authority in the state and everything done is done for the good of the state. However, Socrates also suggests that rulers must be philosophers. But, leaders should not be limited to philosophers, and by doing so limits the whole society. Rulers or leaders should take advice from philosophers, but should be chosen based on traits of leadership and morality.
Despite of this disadvantage, Socrates does offer other advantages. He mentions, “There is none that needs to be so carefully watched as the mixture of metals in the souls of the children.” This ideal allows children that display potential and excel more opportunities to develop these abilities and become successful in the future.Socrates emphasizes specialization which benefits the community in that workers develop an expertise over time in their chosen tasks. As workers become better at their jobs, they perform more efficiently and the quality of items produced will increase.
Additionally, he says, “They will serve for their food only without getting a mercenary’s pay, so that they will not be able to travel on their own account or to make presents to a mistress or to spend as they please in other ways…men who make only a vain show of being guardians of the laws and of the commonwealth bring the whole state to utter ruin.” Socrates tells his students that banning currency among the rulers protects the state from vain, or greedy guardians that are not devoted to the good of the state but rather to their state of wealth. The simplistic lifestyle that Socrates desires for the Rulers and Auxiliaries removes personal interests from them. He believes that the Guardians and Auxiliaries will find happiness in serving for the good of the community.
However, there are faults in this belief in that one cannot be confident that Guardians will be content with this lifestyle considering their status in the society. Some Guardians might insist on more and begin a rebellion within the society.The ideal government Socrates suggests can be compared to Confucianism in its core values. Respect for elders, filial piety, is considered the most fundamental of the Confucian values. This value can also be seen in Socrates’ ideal society. In his discussion with his students he declares, “…it is obvious that the elder must have authority over the young, and that the ruler must be the best,” which suggests respect for elders. Socrates highlights education as a trait that is crucial to leadership. Similarly, Confucianism also indicates that educated peoples were to be held at a higher respect and were given more opportunities than those who had not been educated.
Government workers in governments that followed Confucianism were to pass a difficult civil service examination to earn the right of being able to work for the government. Both theories indicated the role of the ruler and state as a guarantor of the people’s welfare.4.
What is the central point/theme of Plato’s “cave analogy”?In Plato’s theory, there are several different aspects that represent various ideas and themes. In the cave, he places people who are led to believe that knowledge comes from what we see and hear in the world. He displays shadows are meant to convey real objects. However, this interpretation of reality shows that what we see cannot be taken as the truth, and that those who believe knowledge stems from what is seen and heard in the world are only seeing a ‘shadow’ of the truth. Plato indicates that those who can make sense of the world they see are rewarded and seen as ‘masters’. However, he demonstrates that these ‘masters’ should not be admired because they do not actually know any truth. The prisoner that escapes the cave and seeks outside knowledge is similar to a philosopher.
He experiences a journey similar to that of a philosopher’s journey to find truth and wisdom. When he returns from his journey, the other prisoners are doubtful and distrustful of his findings. This doubt and distrust seen in the prisoner’s reactions accentuates a central theme in which people are scared of knowing the truth or accepting truths they cannot see and experience.