Summary of the Republic by Effects and Cause

By Jon|December 29, 2016|Authors, My PhD Comprehensive Exam Experiment, Plato, The Republic of Plato|

 

The “visible” plan of the Republic

G158/A81
Introduction : the five challenges
Prologue : the setting
327a-369b (39)
327a-328c ( 1)
G5/A5
     — Cephalus : ambiguity, social justice, fear of Hades 328c-331d ( 3) Cephalus
     — Polemarchus : uncertainty, give each one his due 331d-336a ( 4)  Polemarchus
     — Thrasymachus : duplicity, law of the stronger, justice for others
1st part : Thrasymachus’ definition of justice
336b-354c (18)
336b-340a (4)
Thrasymachus
                  Intervention of Polemarchus and Cleitophon 340a-c (0.5) Polem., Cleit.
         2nd part : why choose justice ? 340c-347a (6.5) Thrasymachus
                  Intervention of Glaucon 347a-348b (1) Glaucon
         3rd part : the fate of the unjust 348b-354c (6) Thrasymachus
     — Glaucon : evading responsibility, justice is a necessary evil, Gyges 357a-362c ( 5) Glaucon
     — Adeimantus : make believe, ambiguity of poets, example of the Gods 362d-367e ( 5) Adeimantus
I. The building of the ideal city
Transition : the city, larger letters for the soul
367e-427c (56)
367e-369b (2)
G23/A31
G., A., others
     — Genesis of the city
1st part : the basic needs
369b-376c ( 7)
369b- 372c (3)
Adeimantus
         2nd part : refinements (Glaucon breaks in afraid of that “city of pigs”) 372c-376c (4) Glaucon
     — Education of the guardians
1st part : “musical” education (1st part : logos – criticism of the poets)
376c-412b (34)
376c-398b (20)
Adeimantus
         2nd part : “musical” education (2nd part : harmony, rythm) – Gymnastic
— Administrators and laws of the city
1st part : choice of leaders – the “noble lie” – community of guardians
398c-412b (14)
412c-427c (13)
412c-417b (5)
Glaucon

Glaucon

         2nd part : organisation of the state (A. breaks in afraid the guardians won’t be happy) 419a-427c (8) Adeimantus
II. Justice in city and soul
— Justice in the city
— The three parts of the soul
— Justice in the soul
427c-445e (18)
427d-434c ( 7)
434d-441c ( 7)
441c-445e ( 4)
G18/A0
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon
Transition : joint efforts of Polemarchus, Adeimantus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon 449a-450c (1) P., A., Th., G.
A. 1st wave : same education for men and women
(Against Cephalus : “phusis” vs. “ousia”)B. 2nd wave : community of women and children
(Against Polemarchus : “all in common” vs. “each one his due”)C. 3rd wave : the philosopher-king
1. The philosopher and the city
(Against Thrasymachus : wisdom vs. strength)
1st part : nature of the philosopher – knowledge and opinion
450c-457c ( 7)
457d-471c (14)
471c-543c (63)
471c-502c (26)471c-487a (11)
G7/A0
GlauconG14/A0
GlauconG44/A19Glaucon
         2nd part : the philosopher and the state
2. The yearning for the good
(Against Glaucon : the cave vs. Gyges)
1st part : the necessity for leaders to know the good
487b-502c (15)
502c-521b (17)502c-506d (4)
Adeimantus

Adeimantus

         2nd part : analogy of the sun – the line – the allegory of the cave
3. The education of the philosopher-king
(Against Adeimantus : dialectic vs. poetry)III. Corruption of city and man
— From timocracy…
506d-521b (13)
521c-543c (20)
543c-580c (35)
543c-548d (5)
Glaucon
Glaucon
G9/A26
Glaucon
     –… and the timocratic man through oligarchy and the oligarchic man,
democracy and the democratic man down to tyranny and the tyrannic…
548d-576b (26) Adeimantus
     — …man and his lifeConclusion : the five answers
— To Polemarchus : each part its due
— To Cephalus : true and false “ousia”
— To Thrasymachus : tamed strength
— To Adeimantus : true and false teachers
— To Glaucon : each one his chosen fate
576b-580c (4)580d-621d (38)
580d-583a ( 3)
583b-588a ( 5)
588b-592b ( 4)
595a-607b (12)
607b-621d (14)
GlauconG38/A0
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon

 


According to the above plan, the Republic is made up of three somehow embedded blocks :

  • From the most superficial viewpoint, the Republic is made up of three parts : a main body, the dialogue proper, preceded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion of almost exactly the same size. The introduction presents five challenges to Socrates’ notion of justice, each by a different character, the first three in dialogue form, and the last two mostly in the form of monologues. The conclusion may be viewed as a set of answers to these five challenges, based on what has been said in the dialogue proper, even though they are not directly addressed each to the individual who presented the answered challenge, and are not given in the order the challenges were presented, for reasons that are explained elsewhere.
  • The main body of the dialogue may further be split in two, based on explicit indications given by the author : it begins and ends with a three part “history” of the genesis and corruption of the city, viewed as a mirror image “in large letters” of man’s soul, whose justice the discussion is all about. The first part is totally dedicated to the “rebuilding” “in speech” of the city, presented as a gathering of men attempting to live in society, and leads to an organization in three classes : workers, guardians and rulers. The second part moves from the justice in the city to that in man’s soul, whose structure is depicted in between, in what may thus be viewed as the center of this whole “history”. And the third part explains how the city and man together degenerate over time from the best form of government down to the worst forms of tyranny : in this later parts, man and city are “woven” together to show that they interact in such a way as to make it impossible to say which one explains the troubles in the other.
  • But between the second and third part of this “history”, another discussion takes place, which is explicitly depicted by the author as sort of a foreign body within the surrounding discussion by the use of the image of three succeeding “waves” engulfing it. At the beginning and at the end of this “digression”, as well as at each new “wave” that is brought forth, Socrates wants us to believe that we get once again sidetracked, or at least that we are tackling a topic that might not be fit for the “many”. Yet again, this discussion in the discussion is structured in three parts, three “waves”, each bigger that the previous one (in terms of “volume” measured by the approximate number of pages, the second is about twice as long as the first, and the third four times as long as the second). And the third part, the longest, can itself be further split in three parts in a movement that is the exact opposite of that of the “history” of the city : whereas the “history” starts with the “building” of the city, deciphers in it the structure of man’s soul to get to the principles of justice, and from there falls back towards the corrupted city and man, the discussion in the third “wave” starts with the corrupt city which doesn’t understand the need for true philosophers, and the men who only pretend to be philosophers, to move toward the “forms” which should enlighten men’s lives, chief among them the good beyond being, and build from there the program of education of the true philosopher-kings, that is, the recipe for “building” those men who might “rebuild” the well behaved city.

At all levels of this plan can be found a three-step pattern consonant with the threefold structure of the soul introduced in the middle of the middle section of the “middle” discussion : a desiring, passionate, part (which is actually manifold), the epithumiai, which is the “reflection” in us of nature, phusis, matter, biology and the like ; a reasoning part, the logos, which makes it possible for us to get in touch with the intelligible, with order, with the “forms” outside time and space, with the divine ; and in between, an intermediate part, the thumos, akin to the will, the field of choice, judgment, decision-making and the like.

  • The first three steps of the introduction “stage”, through three succeeding dialogues, the “external” dialogue of one “soul” with another : the first “soul” has Socrates as his “logos” (reason), Adeimantus as his “thumos” (will) and Glaucon as his “epithumiai” (passions) ; the second one has Cephalus (the “head” in Greek) as his (empty) “logos“, Polemarchus (“principle of fight” in Greek) as his “thumos” and Thrasymachus (“bold fighter” in Greek) as his “epithumiai“. Forced into the discussion by the “will” of the other soul (Polemarchus, see the prologue), the first soul lets its “logos” (Socrates) do the talking while the other soul shortly answers with its own “logos” (Cephalus) only to let its will (Polemarchus) take over for a while before being itself silenced by its unbridled desires (Thrasymachus).
    The last two “challenges” depict the result of this discussion on the lower parts of the soul of which Socrates is the “logos” : it is the “internal” dialogue of a soul with itself (hence the monologue form of these last two parts), the doubts of the desiring part (Glaucon) and the will (Adeimantus) leading them to ask the reason (Socrates) to restate its case. And the rest of the discussion is that “dialogue” of the soul with itself, depicting how reason should behave with will and passions to bring harmony, that is justice, within oneself as a condition of its harmony and justice with the outer world, and primarily with its fellow men.
  • The “history” of the genesis and corruption of the city unfolds in three parts : the genesis (1st part) deals with the “material” side, the “phusis” (nature) of the city, its “visible” organization ; the second part centers on the principles of intelligibility of city and man, the “form” of justice that is to be achieved in them ; while the third part shows the various ways of solving the conflict between the different parts of both man and city, and the interactions of one with the other, depending on the choices of the individual and collective “wills”.
  • In this perspective, the inner section, the “three waves”, is but a long development of the middle part of the “history” section, the one that explores the principles of intelligibility. But before explaining that, there remains to show how each one of the three parts of this “genetic” view of the city, or at least the first two, is itself structured into three subsections according to the same principles.
    • The first part, the building of the city, moves from a description of the genesis of the city through its “bodily” needs, and those of its “building blocks”, the citizens, seen in their worldly “physical” needs, to a lengthy description of the education of its “guardians”, those counterpart of the will in the soul, and eventually to considerations on the upper body of government and the laws that give “reason” to the city.
    • Then, the second part, the one that investigates the “forms” behind the story just told, and transposes them into principles of understanding of man, starts with the “form” of justice in the city, that is, justice seen in the many, in the visible, external, realm of human activity ; to continue with the structure of the soul, that intermediary between the visible and intelligible “worlds”, between the sphere of becoming and the sphere of “ideas” outside space and time ; and end with the definition of justice, the ultimate “form” of man, the one which reconciles reason, will and desires, brings internal and external harmony and unity into the man to be.
    • Only in the latter part does the threefold scheme give way to a dualistic structure better fitted to the intermediate level of conflict, choice and the like : here, the intertwining of the various degenerative constitutions of city and man is meant to show that it’s no use trying to separate one from the other as it is no use trying to deny one or another part of man, either his reason or his material side, his bodily needs.
      Yet, one can still find some link with the different levels of the soul in the different constitutions succeeding one another : having set aside the reign of “logos“, Socrates moves downward to the reign of a will (in the city, the “analog” of the intermediate level of the soul is the reign of the few, intermediate between the one and the many), first looking upward (timocracy looks for honor, which is a “form”), then downward (oligarchy seeks material wealth), and ultimately to the government of the passions, again first looking “upward” (there is some sort of “reason” in the democracy seeking the majority rule) then looking “downward” with the complete irrationality of passions (or tyrant) taking over the government of man or the city. Two parts of two “beings”, the soul, that is the one private man, (will and desires) and the city, that is the many political men, (the few or the many, the tyrant being nothing more than the king of the many), capable of looking in two directions (upward toward some kinds of “forms”, fainter and fainter as we move downward, or downward toward matter) lead to two times two times two constitutions of the private or political man.

    Back to the “three waves” : each one must be read at two levels, at the “political” level (the “obvious” or “first degree” meaning) and at the “inner” level of the soul (remember that the city is large letters for the soul). And if nobody has any problem “reading” the third wave, the one about the philosopher-king, as meaning that, at the level of the soul, the logos should be king, very little time has been spent trying to “decipher” the first two waves along the same lines. Yet, it can be done and it sheds new light on Plato’s intent. In effect, each section developing the first two “waves” hold at its center the “key” for this task, a methodological subsection which gives the keyword of the whole section. For the first wave, this keyword is “phusis” (nature, see 453e-454e), while for the second it is “koinônia” (community, see 464b) ; and phusis is what most relates to the lower part of the soul while koinônia, harmony, getting along, is the key to the task expected from the middle part in managing the potential conflict between passions and reason. More precisely :

    • What is at stakes in the discussion about the common education of men and women, read at the “second degree”, is the problem of man’s nature : male stands for form and female for matter, the way it was supposed to be in that time in the generation process. And what Plato is telling us is that it is no use denying either the material or the “spiritual” side or our “nature”, to try and limit man, and the whole of being, to more or less complex bundles of matter, or to attempt to raise him at the level of some kind of immaterial “form” separate from matter ; rather, man should first acknowledge his true nature, accept himself as he is, that is, as both a material and a spiritual being, both male and female, each side of his nature put in its proper place, and contributing its share in the development of his being.
    • Then, the discussion on community of women and children, read at that same “second degree”, has to do with activity : children stand for the “product” of the combined action of from and matter, that is, acts. And what we are told is that an individual is in trouble so long as he sees each of his acts as satisfying one part of his being against another ; rather he should tend to determine all his acts as coming from the whole of himself, and act only in so far as each part finds something acceptable in his behavior (which doesn’t mean that each part will find an equal satisfaction in all acts : eating is more of a satisfaction for the appetite than for the mind, but it is a “rational” thing to do so long as you are hungry and don’t fall into gluttony).
    • And now, we are ready to better understand the third wave. The domination of reason is not pure rationalism, technocracy or the like, but the mere acknowledgment that the upper part of our soul is the best fit to lead, not to “overcome” the other two parts, not as a tyrant ignoring them, but as a true leader, acting for the better of the whole, mind and matter, body and soul, with the consent of the will.

    But then, why is it Plato disguised his thoughts in such a way as to make even the “first degree” reading almost untenable ? Why is it that he took the risk of being seen as a kind of Fascist or totalitarian communist ? We must first recognize that he was well aware of the risk : the whole business about the three waves, the remarks of Socrates at each new step, are ample proofs of it. This being said, the point is that, as always, Plato doesn’t want to give us answers, but to make us think by ourselves, and find our own answers along the path he is leading us into : he is only trying to unlock our chains, and to lead us outside the cave, but we must stand, walk, climb and see by ourselves…
    And yet, even the “social” side of his three waves may be read, not at the grossly exaggerated level he is presenting them to force us to react and look deeper in the subject matter, but at a more palatable level which should not surprise us : aren’t we nowadays stressing the fact that, if women are somewhat different from men, at least in their biological constitution, different doesn’t mean inferior, and should not prevent them from engaging in most the same activities as men ? And is Plato saying anything different in the discussion of the first wave ? And haven’t we been brought up with the idea that, even if all men aren’t biological brethren, they should behave as if they were ?…

Having said all this about this plan, we must realize that, though based on obvious divisions in the subject matter and explicit indications in the text (hence the title “visible” plan), it is somewhat “off balance” and “one-sided”. It stresses ruptures rather than continuity, and doesn’t respect the symmetry and proportion of parts (in terms of approximate number of Stephanus pages) that can so often be found in Plato’s dialogues. And it is all built upon the analogy with the tripartite structure of the soul, which is only one side of the story.

A closer look at the dialogue reveals another way of arranging the same “building blocks”, which erases the discontinuities and brings perfect symmetry to the plan, introducing the analogy of the line, an image of the doubly dual structure of the whole, as a counterweight to the tripartite structure of the soul. This other way of looking at the same “matter”, with the eyes of the mind and not only the eyes and ears of the body, is presented below under the title of “intelligible” plan of the Republic. By so playing with the “form” of his dialogue, piling multiple structures on top of one another, Plato talks to us as much as through words, “staging” the distinctions he talks about between visible and intelligible “worlds”, and the tripartite structure of the soul, except that he talks to our mind and requires our active participation in the deciphering of the dialogue. And it shows us that there are not two distinct “worlds” but two different ways of understanding a unique world both visible and intelligible. There are visible and audible words, and there are “forms” behind those words, that give logos (meaning) to these logoi (speeches).

 

The “intelligible” plan of the Republic

G158/A81
Introduction : the five challenges
Prologue : the setting
327a-369b (39)
327a-328c ( 1)
G5/A5
     — Cephalus : ambiguity, social justice, fear of Hades 328c-331d ( 3) Cephalus
     — Polemarchus : uncertainty, give each one his due 331d-336a ( 4)  Polemarchus
     — Thrasymachus : duplicity, law of the stronger, justice for others
1st part : Thrasymachus’ definition of justice
336b-354c (18)
336b-340a (4)
Thrasymachus
                  Intervention of Polemarchus and Cleitophon 340a-c (0.5) Polem., Cleit.
         2nd part : why choose justice ? 340c-347a (6.5) Thrasymachus
                  Intervention of Glaucon 347a-348b (1) Glaucon
         3rd part : the fate of the unjust 348b-354c (6) Thrasymachus
     — Glaucon : evading responsibility, justice is a necessary evil, Gyges 357a-362c ( 5) Glaucon
     — Adeimantus : make believe, ambiguity of poets, example of the Gods 362d-367e ( 5) Adeimantus
I. The building of the ideal city
Transition : the city, larger letters for the soul
367e-427c (56)
367e-369b (2)
G23/A31
G., A., others
     — Genesis of the city
1st part : the basic needs
369b-376c ( 7)
369b- 372c (3)
Adeimantus
         2nd part : refinements (Glaucon breaks in afraid of that “city of pigs”) 372c-376c (4) Glaucon
     — Education of the guardians
1st part : “musical” education (1st part : logos – criticism of the poets)
376c-412b (34)
376c-398b (20)
Adeimantus
         2nd part : “musical” education (2nd part : harmony, rythm) – Gymnastic
— Administrators and laws of the city
1st part : choice of leaders – the “noble lie” – community of guardians
398c-412b (14)
412c-427c (13)
412c-417b (5)
Glaucon

Glaucon

         2nd part : organisation of the state (A. breaks in afraid the guardians won’t be happy) 419a-427c (8) Adeimantus
II. Justice in city and soul
— Justice in the city
— The three parts of the soul
— Justice in the soul
427c-445e (18)
427d-434c ( 7)
434d-441c ( 7)
441c-445e ( 4)
G18/A0
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon
Transition : joint efforts of Polemarchus, Adeimantus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon 449a-450c (1) P., A., Th., G.
     The conditions of feasibility
People won’t deem what I say feasible” (450c)
1. ” Phusis” : same education for men and women
2. “Koinônia” : community of women and children
The paradigm : the philosopher-king
Won’t by nature action have a lesser share with truth than speech? ” (473a)
3. ” Dunamis” : knowledge vs. opinion, philosopher vs. friends of opinion
4. “Theou moira” : the philosopher and the crowd
1st part : nature of the philosopher – knowledge and opinion
450c-502c (48)

450c-457c ( 7)
457d-471c (14)
471c-474c ( 3)

474d-480a ( 6)
484a-502c (18)
484a-487a ( 3)

G33/A15

Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon

Glaucon

Glaucon

         2nd part : the philosopher and the state
Our model of legislation, if feasible, is the best one,
and, though hard to implement, yet is not impossible
” (502c)III. The yearning for the good
— The image of the good
1st part : the necessity for leaders to know the good
487b-502c (15)

502c-521b (17)
502c-509b ( 7)
502c-506d (4)

Adeimantus

G12/A4

Adeimantus

         2nd part : analogy of the sun
— The analogy of the line : visible and intelligible worlds
— The cave : the paradigm of educationIV. The becoming of city and man
— Education of the philosopher-king (monarchy)
— From timocracy…
506d-509c (3)
509c-511e ( 2)
514a-521b (7)521c-580c (55)
521c-543c (20)
543c-548d (5)
Glaucon
Glaucon
GlauconG29/A26
Glaucon
Glaucon
        … and the timocratic man through oligarchy and the oligarchic man,
— democracy and the democratic man, down to tyranny and the tyrannic…
548d-576b (26) Adeimantus
        …man and his lifeConclusion : the five answers
— To Polemarchus : each part its due
— To Cephalus : true and false “ousia”
— To Thrasymachus : tamed strength
— To Adeimantus : true and false teachers
— To Glaucon : each one his chosen fate
576b-580c (4)580d-621d (38)
580d-583a ( 3)
583b-588a ( 5)
588b-592b ( 4)
595a-607b (12)
607b-621d (14)
GlauconG38/A0
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon
Glaucon

This plan is no longer built solely on the odd number three (the number of the soul), but also on the even numbers two and four (the numbers of the line). It doesn’t change the view on the “outer core” (introduction and conclusion), but rather rearranges the two blocs that make up the dialogue proper without getting “derailed” by the wave business that was used as a guide in the first plan. It unfolds in a perfect symmetry on either sides of the “material” center of the dialogue, where can be found the central message of the dialogue, which is also the central message of the whole set of the dialogues (the Republic is the central dialogue of the central trilogy, that is, the logical center of the whole work) : “unless either philosophers become kings in the cities, or those who are now called kings and rulers sincerely and adequately get to philosophize, and there can be found in the same person both political power and philosophy, the crowd of those who are nowadays driven by their nature toward either one exclusive of the other having been forcibly set aside, there can be no end, dear Glaucon, to the evils in cities, nor, methinks, to those of humankind.” (473c-d)

Most of the reordering results from a closer analysis of the lengthy section on the philosopher-king, the “third wave”, which is only befitting, as this section is supposed, by our earlier analyses, which are no more rendered obsolete by the second plan than the visible world is denied by the intelligible one, to provide the logos of the logos of the discussion : the three wave section as a whole, far from being a foreign body, stands to the rest of the dialogue as the logos to the rest of the soul, and, within this section, the third wave deals with the logos and its role in soul and society. We have already seen in the previous analyses that the discussion making up the third wave could be split in three parts. There remains to be seen how the first part relates to what comes before, and the third to what follows, to reach the new ordering of the topics.

  • The first subsection, the one called “the philosopher and the city” in the first plan, can be further split into two parts that somehow “answer” the sections constituting the first two waves, only in reverse order. In fact, it is the whole second half of the dialogue which “answers” the first half in reverse order : the first half of the dialogue is a slow ascent from the genetic analysis of the city of men toward the guiding principle that should lead men and cities alike ; while the second half takes us back from the principle down to its consequences in our world, and those of not following it. The sections we are now considering are the beginning of that trip back. And, as was the case with the last two steps of the climb, each one of these first two steps down holds in its center the buzz word that explains its purpose.
    • For the first one, dealing with the difference between knowledge and opinion, between the true philosopher, friend of truth, and the mere philodoxer, that is, the friend of opinion, the buzz word is dunamis, that is power, driving force, ability, of which a definition is given by Socrates at 477d (the exact middle of the subsection), when he states that a dunamis is defined solely by what it drives at. While the first part of the dialogue got started by looking at the explanatory power of phusis, the origin, to understand the city, and, through it, man whose work it is, the second part starts by investigating the explanatory power of the end, of the “form”, looking for the dunamis within man that will bring koinônia, that harmony in his social life as a consequence of harmony within, which was sought in the last step of the ascent.
    • For the second step, dealing with the relationship between the philosopher (true and false) and the crowd, the buzz word, once again found at the exact middle of the section, is theou moira, divine share : in the midst of a discussion where Socrates explains how the best natures get corrupted by the surrounding crowd to become the worst when applying their gifts to wrong ends (and it is impossible to read these lines without thinking of Alcibiades with whom we started the whole journey through the dialogues, especially at 494c), or else end up in courts thanks to the sophists, where they risk to be put to death, like Socrates himself (492d), he states at the turn of a phrase that “whoever happens to be saved and becomes what he should be in such a political context, you will say nothing wrong in declaring that a divine share saves him” (492e-493a). That divine share is the god-given logos in us, which enables us to reach out toward the eternal “forms”, toward that ideal outside us which alone can get us moving so as to become what we are meant to be.

    Thus, the inner section of the second plan taken as a whole, whose purpose is to investigate the conditions of feasibility of justice in us and in the city, starts by telling us that we should accept the whole of our nature (phusis), both individual and social, and bring harmony (koinônia) within and without, not by waiting for some kind of self-developing “germ” to do the job, but by turning all our faculties (dunamis), under the leadership of the god-given logos (theou moira), toward the godly ideal of true justice, which alone will make us men.

  • At the other end of the philosopher-king section, the subsection on the education of the philosopher-king can be viewed as the first part of a section that describes all the possible constitution for man and city, this one being the “monarchical”, that is, the ideal one. Here again, this section is symmetrical of the first section on the building of the ideal city : This first part on the education of the philosopher-king echoes the last part of the first section on the rulers and laws of the city, while the middle part on timocracy and oligarchy shows what happens when the “guardians” overstep their rights and the last part on democracy and tyranny describes the city where everybody wants to have a share in everything rather than minding his own business, or chooses as a “king” some unfit person, which is the exact opposite of what made the city possible in the first place.
  • We are thus left with the middle section, including the comparison between the sun and the good, the image of the line and the allegory of the cave, and we can see that it is the exact symmetric of the section describing the justice in city and man and the structure of the soul in between, both “physically” (size and distance from the center of the dialogue) and logically. And whereas the section in the first part of the dialogue was moving from the principles behind the building process of the “external” city to the inner justice in man through the description of its inner structure, the corresponding section in the second part of the dialogue moves from an image of the light behind the justice to be built to the principles of the building process within man, education, through a description of the whole of being. And, as has already been said, the central section of each of these two symmetric parts provides the two structuring principles of the dialogues : the internal tripartite structure of man and the external quadripartite structure of the whole.

We may now see how these two principles combine in this plan of the Republic. Each half of the dialogue proceeds in three “waves” in opposite directions, but not the “waves” Socrates points at :

  • In the first half we start with facts in the introduction : the various ways most people understand justice. Then we climb one stair toward intelligibility to reach some understanding of what justice is, both in the city and in man, using the image of the city, the big letters, to read the finer print of justice in us. This phase of the discussion proceeds in two parts, the first one, the building of the ideal city, in the realm of the visible world, the second one, justice in city and soul, in the sphere of forms. But each one of these two parts is itself structured in three subsections according to the structure of the soul, as was shown earlier. Eventually, we must climb one more stair toward a deeper intelligence of the principles behind the newly found justice. And here again, we proceed in two parts, one in the realm of “nature”, the other at the level of forms (“koinônia“). A closer analysis of these two subsections would show that they too are further subdivided in three, along the same lines as the previous ones.
  • Once the ultimate principle of justice, the leadership of logos, has been stated, the second half of the dialogue takes us back to ground floor through similar steps. The first half of the dialogue got us to “static” principles : what are the parts of the soul, what is justice within such a structure. The second half of the dialogue brings movement, dynamics, in the picture : how to get there, what is there outside of us that we should strive at to reach this justice that we depicted earlier. Thus we start with the principles of dynamics, again in two parts : in the realm of forms, truth and opinion as possible objects of philia ; then in the sphere of the visible world, when we are shown the relationship between the philosopher and the crowd (and here again, each subsection could be shown to further split in three parts). One floor down, we find the description of the various paths man and city can follow either toward or away from the principle of justice : first in the sphere of the intelligible, with the allegory of the cave as a paradigm of education ; then in the visible world with the description of the educational program of the rulers and of the various deviations not following it leads to (and here again, each of these two parts follows a three steps progression). Eventually, the conclusion corrects the false views expounded in the introduction in the light of the uncovered principles.

(Another version of these plans is available, showing the distribution of roles between Adeimantus, Glaucon and the other speakers)

 

About Jon

Jon connects leaders and organizations to Catholic philosophical resources to battle for the soul of the western world.