PLATO'S "ROYAL LIES":

01/03/2017 11:18

by Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.

 

State Authorized Eugenics, Communism, Utilitarianism, Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide, “Mother Earth” Myth, Day Care Nurseries, Women in the Military, and Population Control

 

I.  INTRODUCTION

 

I was stunned by his naiveté.  "Don't be too harsh on poor ole Plato!", the gentle elderly theologian-statesman cautioned in response to my observation that any Platonic-type "mind/body" split at the theoretical level could be easily transmuted into disastrous "moral theology" -- not to mention eugenic public policies (e.g., human embryo research, cloning, genetic engineering, the use of abortifacients, end of life issues, research with the mentally ill, etc.).  "At least Plato believed in an immaterial transcendent God," he countered reassuringly.

 

At least.  But how does Plato define his "god"?  To what do the transcendentals (the One, the True and the Good) refer?  Just what is Plato's "transcendent realm"?  Didn’t this gentle theologian-statesman know how equivocally all these terms and frames of reference are really used by Plato-the-philosopher – same words, different meanings?  Given the positive elements in Plato’s philosophy, etc., wasn’t he at all aware of the “dark side” of his “theology” and “politics”?  And what possible relevance does an ancient decrepit Greek philosopher have for us today, anyway?  Nobody listens to him any more, right?

 

Far too often scholars uncritically turn to the venerable ancient pagan philosopher Plato for "guidance" and "wisdom" simply because Plato recognized “immateriality” and “god”.  Usually, frankly, it is someone who has never had a decent course in philosophy -- not to mention the history of philosophy (starting with the Pre-Socratics).  Usually they don't realize how strictly philosophical presuppositions (and the errors inherent in them) have paralleled and been integrated into the histories of both theology and politics, even determining the definitions of their own fields’ terms.  One thing is certain: these inherent philosophical errors will prove to be just as destructive within a theological or a political framework as within a purely philosophical one -- if not more so.

 

The purpose of this article is to investigate and document just a few of the problematic conclusions to which Plato’s philosophical errors must necessarily lead in the area of “philosophical anthropology”, “politics and “public policies”.  I leave it to the theologians to examine the impact of Plato’s philosophy on their theological “theories”.

 

II.  PLATO’S COSMOS[1]

 

Very often the ultimate issue involved is “cosmology” – a topic which unfortunately continues to go unacknowledged in academia or the public these days.  There are dozens of different cosmologies – or some thinker’s theory or myth about the origins of the world and universe around us – dating back to the dawn of time.  Depending on the cosmology, many of the perennial terms used in philosophy and related fields are used equivocally -- have different meanings – i.e., same word, different meaning.  Often this is even systematically required, because if a particular cosmology defines “being” differently, then its definitions of “human being” (anthropology) and of “material being” (nature) will necessarily be defined differently as well.  Likewise, if its definition of “human being” is different, then its definition of “ethics” will be different.  If its definition of “material being” is different, then its definition of the various sciences about our natural world will be different (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, etc.)

 

Plato had his own version of “cosmology” – and this explains much of the confusion in terminology we have today about his works.  As philosophers know (or should know), Plato often used the same words, but defined them quite differently than these terms are usually understood in theology.  For example, Plato's "cosmology" is essentially gnostic (as were his own mentors' cosmologies, those of Pythagorus and Parmenides).  Plato, like most ancient Greeks, believed in many "gods", and even his ultimate "god" is not, e.g., the one and only personable Christian God of the Bible who creates the cosmos out of nothing.  Rather, for Plato it is the gnostic Demiurge-god who "creates" the cosmos -- not his "ultimate god".   And the Demiurge does not create it “out of nothing”, but rather out of something -- i.e., out of the FORMS (which “exist” somehow, somewhere in an immaterial “transcendental realm”).  Like most ancient Greeks, Plato believed that form and matter always existed eternally.  Thus there was no need for a "Christian" creator God to create them “out of nothing”.  The “stuff” needed was already there.  So for Plato it is the Demiurge-god that "created" the cosmos, including man, out of Plato’s pre-existing immaterial Forms.

 

Plato's cosmos consists of a "transcendental" realm of immaterial Forms all right, but that realm is, according to Plato, the only true reality, the only things that are “really real”, that are really Being.  Plato's ultimate "god" or "the One" (which some argue is the number one pace his mentors Pythagoras and Parmenides) does not belong to this transcendent realm of Being or Forms, but rather, in Plato’s words, "lies beyond it".  Hence one could conclude that Plato's ultimate "god" is not "really real".  Nor is the material realm "really real" for Plato.  Rather, the material world has “being” (i.e., exists) only by “participation” in the Form of “Non-Being".  Material things were only appearances of the Forms, like dreams, only "copies" or "images" of the "really real" Forms.  Therefore material things were not "really real" per se (a serious problem for anyone trying to do natural science!) 

 

Unfortunately, Plato's cosmology also had another very fatal flaw – what is referred to as his “chorismos” problem (from the Greek term for "separation" or "gap").  That is, there was a gap or separation between the three realms of the One, the Forms, and the material world.  For example, if there is a separation or gap between the realm of the Forms and the realm of the material world, then there is no way to explain or demonstrate any interaction whatsoever between these two separated realms – including any theory of “participation” or “copying”.  Since Plato defined these Forms as “unique”, as “unmovable”, and as “separate from each other”, then there was no way that he could explain any relationship between the “one” Form and the “many” material things in the material world, nor any interactions among the various separated Forms.  This had consequences for Plato’s theory of the “dialect” – the process during which the Guardians of his State would “grasp” the Forms.  Since he defined the “dialectic” as “the blending of the Forms”, and since the Forms were unmovable and separated from each other, then the dialectic would be impossible.

 

III.  PLATO’S PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

 

Necessarily, the chorismos problem in Plato’s cosmos will have quite a problematic rippling effect on the rest of his philosophy – including his anthropology (definition of “a human being”).  It is critical to understand Plato's philosophical anthropology properly, since he bases not only his "ethics" and "virtues” on it, but also his "politics" in his Ideal State (which I will address in more detail below).  That is, since Plato’s politics is nothing more than his extension of his anthropology, we will see exactly the same problematic influence of his chorismos in his Ideal State as well.  The consequences will most likely be startling to many unfamiliar with both the “pros” and the “cons” Plato’s philosophical tenets.

 

For Plato, “matter” is a participation in the Form of “Non-Being”.  Hence, the material body of a human being is not "really real", but just a copy or image of the Form of Non-Being.  A human being also has a soul, which is imprisoned within the material body.  The human soul – or more exactly, that part of rational soul called “nous” -- is really just a participation in the Form of Nous, and of itself does not really exist either.

 

Since the real Forms of Non-Being and of Nous exist separately from each other in their transcendental Realm, so too do their participatory “extensions” in this material world of ours.  Thus the "body" and the "soul" of a human being are two separate things, precisely from whence the "mind/body" split originates.  Aside from the fact that neither the material body nor the immaterial soul of man are "really real", man’s body is also ontologically separated from his soul -- hence a chorismos or gap between these two separate things.  There is also a chorismos or gap between the whole human being on earth and the transendental realm of the Forms in which they merely "participate" -- thus making any interaction between the realm of the Forms and the human being/knower in this earthly realm impossible as well.  And since Plato’s One (or “god”) exists separately from both the realm of the Forms and the material realm, needless to say, Plato’s “man” is doubly-separated from his ultimate “god”.

 

For Plato, man’s immaterial soul is tri-partite (but different from Aristotle's tri-partite soul), consisting of the "rational", the "spirited" (note: not "spiritual"), and the appetitive souls (note: three different souls).  It is not true, for Plato, that the whole soul is immortal;  only the "rational" soul is immortal -- and only the "nous" part of the "rational" soul, because it alone "shares in" or "participates" in the Form of Nous.  Unfortunately, since there is a chorismos or gap between the realm of the Forms and the "nous" part of the human soul, there are no means by which Plato could explain any interactions between the Form of Nous and the human soul, including its “nous”.  And since the human "nous" is only a copy or image of the Form of Nous, it is not "really real", either.  So much for “immortality” of the soul.

 

Hence, after all is said and done, the entire human being of Plato -- body and tripartite soul -- is "unreal", unintelligible, and mute.  Indeed, he leaves us with considerably more than just a "mind/body" split;  he actually leaves us with a nous/tripartite soul/body/cosmos split – none of which can interact with or relate to the other!

 

There are a myriad of other philosophical problems and arguments concerning Plato's cosmology and his anthropology -- far too lengthy to go into detail here.  His philosophy is beneficial to study – not just for what he “got right”, but also for “what he got wrong” -- and thus how thinkers today can avoid the same errors.  At least Plato himself was intellectually honest enough (towards the end of his life) to admit that his Theory of Forms was wrong and wouldn't work (see, e.g., his Parmenides).[2] Nonetheless, Plato remains “revered” throughout the philosophical, theological and political realms even today -- regardless of these and many other inherent, irreconcilable, and fatal errors.

 

One of the most controversial of Plato’s works is one of his famous treatises, The Republic, which is essentially his application of his problematic anthropology to the area of politics.

 

IV.  PLATO’S “REPUBLIC”

 

Despite such major errors in his anthropology, Plato patterns his Ideal State after it.  The three "souls" of Plato (appetitive, spirited, rational) will be represented in his Ideal State by the three divisions or classes of citizens.  Corresponding to the lowest level of the "soul", i.e., the "appetitive" soul, is the class of artisans and husbandmen (who have only brass and iron running in their blood).  These artisans receive only the trade-training needed to supply the daily needs (e.g., saddles, weapons, housewares, shoes, food, houses, etc.) of the next two higher classes of citizens.   (The peasants and farmers are not even considered "citizens" at all).

 

Corresponding to the "spirited" soul, the next highest caste of citizens, is the "guardian" or "auxiliary" class (both men and women), in whose veins runs silver.  It is their job to protect the Ideal State from its enemies;  thus they receive special "education" in gymnastics, math, music and several other fields.  In order to make sure that their loyalty is only to the Ideal State, these guardians eat and live in common;  they may not own any private property;  and they may not they have their own families.  Their wives (and husbands) are held in common, as are their children.  The children belong only to the Ideal State, and steps are taken to make sure that the loyalty of the guardians to the Ideal State is not compromised by any loyalty to their spouses and children.

 

Corresponding to the highest level of the "soul", i.e., the "rational soul", are the Philosopher Kings, in whose veins runs gold.  These are drawn from the ranks of the guardians, and they are the elite few who have fully “grasped” the “transcendentals”, i.e., the One, the True and the Good, especially the Form of Nous, and therefore have perfect and full integrated knowledge of all of reality.  This pure knowledge is “grasped” while they are in the process of doing mathematics using the “dialectic”.  Thus they are the only ones who are equipped to rule as Philosopher Kings (not Theologian Kings!) in Plato's Ideal State.

 

Simply on the level of "theory" it is often difficult to see what difference all this makes.  But on the level of "practice" the fatal flaws literally shout out to us -- especially in Plato's application of his Theory of Forms to politics.  Below I will simply quote briefly and directly from Plato's Republic itself (especially Books III, V, and the end of Book VII), in order to demonstrate how in The Republic Plato provides us with his own philosophical foundations for state authorized eugenics, communism, utilitarianism, euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, the Mother Earth myth, day-care nurseries, women in the military, and population control.  It is all orchestrated by Plato’s use of “the Royal Lies”.

 

Upon reading Plato’s own words, I leave it to the reader to decide if Plato’s transcendent “god” and his acknowledgment of “immateriality” are sufficient criteria by which to uncritically use him as one’s guide to wisdom.

 

V.  DIRECT QUOTES FROM PLATO’S “REPUBLIC” [3]

[all emphases added]

 

A.  The Royal Lie I;  Utilitarianism

 

[ Book III, Socrates and Adeimantus, p. 651]

SOCRATES:  Again, truth should be highly valued:  if, as we were saying, a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a “medicine” to men, then the use of such “medicines” should be restricted to “physicians”;  private individuals have no business with them.

 

ADEIMANTUS:  Clearly not.

 

SOCRATES:  Then if any one at all is to have the privilege of lying, the rulers of the State should be the persons;  and they, in their dealings either with enemies or with their own citizens, may be allowed to lie for the public good.  But nobody else should meddle with anything of the kind;  and although the rulers have this privilege, for a private man to lie to them in return is to be deemed a more heinous fault than for the patient or the pupil of a gymnasium not to speak the truth about his own bodily illnesses to the physician or to the trainer, or for a sailor not to tell the captain what is happening  [next page, Book III, p. 652] about the ship and the rest of the crew, and how things are going with himself or his fellow sailors.

 

ADEIMANTUS:  Most true.

 

SOCRATES:  If, then, the ruler catches anybody beside himself lying in the State, "Any of the craftsmen, whether he be priest or physician or carpenter", he will punish him for introducing a practice which is equally subversive and destructive of ship or State.

 

ADEIMANTUS:  Most certainly ... if our idea of the State is ever carried out.

 

SOCRATES:  ... Then we shall approve such language as that of Diomede in Homer, "Friend, sit still and obey my word.", and the verses which follow, "the Greeks marched breathing prowess, ... in silent awe of their leaders,” and other sentiments of the same kind.

 

ADEIMANTUS:  We shall.

 

B.  Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide:

 

[Book III, Socrates and Glaucon, p. 670]

SOCRATES:  ... I do not believe that there were any such diseases in the days of Asclepius;  and this I infer from the circumstance that the hero Eurypylus, after he has been wounded in Homer, drinks a posset of Pramnian wine well besprinkled with barley-meal and grated cheese, which are certainly inflammatory, and yet the sons of Asclepius who were at the Trojan war do not blame the damsel who gives him the drink, or rebuke Patroclus, who is treating his case.

 

GLAUCON:  Well, ... that was surely an extraordinary drink to be given to a person in his condition.

 

SOCRATES:  Not so extraordinary, ... if you bear in mind that in former days, as is commonly said, before the time of Herodicus, the guild of Asclepius did not practise our present system of medicine which may be said to educate diseases.  But Herodicus, being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by a combination of training and doctoring found out a way of torturing first and chiefly himself, and secondly the rest of the world.

 

GLAUCON:  How was that?

 

SOCRATES:  By the invention of lingering death;  for he had a mortal disease which he perpetually tended, and as recovery was out of the question, he passed his entire life as a valetudinarian;  he could do nothing but attend upon himself, and he was in constant torment whenever he departed in anything from his usual regimen, and so dying hard, by the help of science he struggled on to old age.

 

GLAUCON:  A rare reward of his skill!

 

SOCRATES:  Yes ... a reward which a man might fairly expect who never understood that, if Asclepius did not instruct his descendants in valetudinarian arts [euthanasia], the omission arose, not from ignorance or inexperience of such a branch of medicine, but because he knew that in all well-ordered states every individual has an occupation to which he must attend, and has therefore no leisure to spend in continually being ill.

 

(p. 671) ...  When a carpenter is ill he asks the physician for a rough and ready cure;  an emetic or a purge or a cautery or the knife, -- these are his remedies.  And if some one prescribes for him a course of dietetics, and tells him that he must swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life which is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his customary employment;  and therefore bidding good-bye to this sort of physician, he resumes his ordinary habits, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution fails, he dies and has no more trouble.

 

GLAUCON:  Yes ... and a man in his condition of life ought to use the art of medicine thus far only.

 

SOCRATES:  Has he not ... an occupation;  and what profit would there be in his life if he were deprived of his occupation?

 

GLAUCON:  Quite true. ...

 

SOCRATES:  ... Is the practice of virtue obligatory on the rich man, or can he live without it?  And if obligatory on him, then let us raise a further question, whether this dieting of disorders, which is an impediment to the application of the mind in carpentering and the mechanical arts, does not equally stand in the way of the sentiment of Phocylides [the rich should practice virtue]?

 

GLAUCON:  Of that ... there can be no doubt;  such excessive care of the body, when carried beyond the rules of gymnastic, is most inimical to the practice of virtue.

 

SOCRATES:  Yes, indeed ... and equally incompatible with the management of a house, an army, or an office of state ...

 

(Book III, p. 672)  And therefore our politic Asclepius may be supposed to have exhibited the power of his art only to persons who, being generally of healthy constitution and habits of life, had a definite ailment;  ... but bodies which disease had penetrated through and through he would not have attempted to cure by gradual processes of evacuation and infusion:  he did not want to lengthen out good-for-nothing lives, or to have weak fathers begetting weaker sons;  -- if a man was not able to live in the ordinary way he had no business to cure him;  for such a cure would have been of no use either to himself, or to the State.

 

GLAUCON:  Then ... you regard Asclepius as a statesman.

 

SOCRATES:  Clearly ... the remedies, as they conceived, were enough to heal any man who before he was wounded was healthy and regular in his habits;  and even though he did happen to drink a posset of Pramnian wine, he might get well all the same.  But they would have nothing to do with unhealthy and intemperate subjects, whose lives were of no use either to themselves or others;  the art of medicine was not designed for their good, and though they were as rich as Midas, the sons of Asclepius would have declined to attend them.

 

GLAUCON:  They were very acute persons, those sons of Asclepius.

 

SOCRATES:  Naturally so ...

 

GLAUCON:  ... but I should like to put a question to you:  Ought there not to be good physicians in a State, and are [next page, Book III, p. 673]  not the best those who have treated the greatest number of constitutions good and bad? ...

 

SOCRATES:  (Book III, p. 674) ... This is the sort of “medicine”, and this is the sort of law, which you will sanction in your state.  They will minister to better natures, giving health both of soul and of body;  but those who are diseased in their bodies they will leave to die, and the corrupt and incurable souls they will put an end to themselves.  That is clearly the best thing both for the patients and for the State.

 

C.  The Royal Lie II:

 

[Book III, Socrates and Glaucon, p. 679]

SOCRATES:  And perhaps the word "guardian" in the fullest sense ought to be applied to this higher class only who preserve us against foreign enemies and maintain peace among our citizens at home, that the one may not have the will, or the others the power, to harm us.  The young men whom we before called guardians may be more properly designated auxiliaries and supporters of the principles of the rulers.

 

GLAUCON:  I agree with you ...

 

SOCRATES:  How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we lately spoke -- just one royal lie, which may deceive the rulers, if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the city?

 

GLAUCON:  What sort of lie ... ?

 

SOCRATES:  Nothing new ... :  only an old Phoenician tale of what has often occurred before now in other places [ref. = Plato's Laws, 663E] .. though not in our time, and I do not know whether such an event could ever happen again, or could now even be made probable, if it did.

 

GLAUCON:  How your words seem to hesitate on your lips!

 

SOCRATES:  You will not wonder ...  at my hesitation when you have heard.

 

GLAUCON:  Speak ...  and fear not.

 

SOCRATES:  Well then, I will speak, although I really know not how to look you in the face, or in what words to utter the audacious fiction, which I propose to communicate gradually, first to the rulers, then to the soldiers, and lastly to the people.  They are to be told that their youth was a dream, and the education and training which they received from us, an appearance only;  in reality during all that time they were being formed and fed in the womb of the earth, where they themselves and their arms and appurtenances were manufactured;  when they were completed, the earth, their mother, sent them up;  and so, their country being their mother and also their nurse, they are bound to advise for her good, and to defend her against attacks, and her citizens they are to regard as children of the earth and their own brothers.

 

GLAUCON:  You had good reason ... to be ashamed of the lie which you were going to tell.

 

SOCRATES:  True ... but there is more coming;  I have only told you half.  Citizens, you shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently.  Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honor;  others he has made of silver, to be auxiliaries;  others again who are to be husbandmen [next page, Book III, p. 680] and craftsmen he has composed of brass and iron;  and the species will generally be preserved in the children.  But all are of the same original stock;  a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a gold son.  And God proclaims as a first principle to the rulers, and above all else, that there is nothing which they should so anxiously guard, or which they are to be such good guardians, as of the purity of the race.  They should observe what elements mingle in their offspring;  for if the son of a golden or silver parent has an admixture of brass and iron, then nature orders a transposition of ranks, and the eye of the ruler must not be pitiful towards the child because he has to descend in the scale and become a husbandman or artisan, just as there may be sons of artisans who having an admixture of gold or silver in them are raised to honour, and become guardians or auxiliaries.  For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the State, it will be destroyed.  Such is the tale;  is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it?

 

GLAUCON:  Not in the present generation, he replied;  there is no way of accomplishing this;  but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them.

 

SOCRATES:  I see the difficulty ... ;  yet the fostering of such a belief will make them care more for the city and for one another.  Enough, however, of the fiction, which may now fly abroad upon the wings of rumour, while we arm our earth-born heroes, and lead them forth under the command of their rulers. ...

 

D. Plato's Communism; the Elite

 

[Book III, Socrates and Glaucon, p. 681]

SOCRATES:  And not only their [guardians] education, but their habitations, and all that belongs to them, should be such as will neither impair their virtue as guardians, nor tempt them to prey upon the other citizens.  Any man of sense must acknowledge that.

 

GLAUCON:  He must.

 

SOCRATES:  Then let us consider what will be their way of life, if they are to realize our idea of them.  In the first place, none of them should have any property of his own beyond what is absolutely necessary;  neither should they have a private house or store closed against any one who has a mind to enter;  their provisions should be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are men of temperance and courage;  they should agree to receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of the year and no more;  and they will go to mess and live together like soldiers in a camp.  Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from Godthe diviner metal is within them, and they have therefore no need of the dross which is current among men, and ought not to pollute the divine by any such earthly admixture;  for that commoner metal has been the source of many unholy deeds, but their own is undefiled.  And they alone of all the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be under the same roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them.  And this will be their salvation, and they will be the saviours of the State.  But should they ever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they will become housekeepers and husbandmen in stead of guardians, enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the other citizens;  hating and being hated, plotting and being pitted against, they will pass their whole life in much greater terror of internal than of external enemies, and the hour of ruin, both to themselves and to the rest of the State, will be at hand.  For all which reasons may we not say that thus shall our State be ordered, and [next page, 682] that these shall be the regulations appointed by us for our guardians concerning their houses and all other matters?

 

 

 

E.  Women in the Military

 

[Book V, Socrates, Adimantus, and Glaucon, p. 711]

ADEIMANTUS:  We have been long expecting that you would tell us something about the family life of your citizens -- how they will bring children into the world, and rear them when they have arrived, and in general, what is the nature of this community of women and children -- for we are of opinion that the right or wrong management of such matters will have a great and paramount influence on the State for good or for evil. ...

 

GLAUCON:  What sort of community of women and children is this which is to prevail among our guardians?  and how shall we manage the period between birth and education, which seems to require the greatest care?  Tell us how these things will be. ...

 

(Book V, p. 712)

SOCRATES:  Well ... I suppose that I must retrace my steps and say what I perhaps ought to have said before in the proper place.  The part of the men has been played out, and now properly enough comes the turn of the women.  Of them I will proceed to speak, and the more readily since I am invited by you.

 

For men born and educated like our citizens, the only way, in my opinion, of arriving at a right conclusion about the possession and use of women and children is to follow the path on which we originally started, when we said that the men were to be the guardians and watchdogs of the herd.   Let us further suppose the birth and education of our women to be subject to similar or nearly similar regulations;  then we shall see whether the result accords with our design.

 

GLAUCON:  What do you mean?

 

SOCRATES:  What I mean may be put into the form of a question. ... Are dogs divided into hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in keeping watch and in the other duties of dogs? or do we entrust to the males the entire and exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under the idea that the bearing and suckling their puppies is labour enough for them?

 

(Book V, p. 713)

GLAUCON:  No ... they share alike;  the only difference between them is that the males are stronger and the females weaker.

 

SOCRATES:  But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bred and fed in the same way?

 

GLAUCON:  You cannot.

 

SOCRATES:  Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they must have the same nurture and education?

 

GLAUCON:  Yes.

 

SOCRATES:  The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic. 

 

GLAUCON:  Yes.

 

SOCRATES:  Then the women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war, which they must practice like the men?

 

GLAUCON:  That is the inference, I suppose.

 

SOCRATES:  ...  And the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked in the palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no longer young;  they certainly will not be a vision of beauty ... But,...we must not fear the jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of innovation;  how they will talk of women's attainments both in music and gymnastic, and above all about their wearing armour and riding upon horseback!

 

GLAUCON:  Very true ...

 

(Book V, p. 717)

SOCRATES:  Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian;  they differ only in their comparative strength or weakness. ... and those women who have such qualities are to be selected as the companions and colleagues of men who have similar qualities and whom they resemble in capacity and in character. ... Then, as we were saying before, there is nothing unnatural in assigning music and gymnastic to the wives of the guardians.

 

GLAUCON:  Certainly not.

 

(Book V, p. 718)

SOCRATES:  ...  May we not further say that our guardians are the best of our citizens? 

 

GLAUCON:  By far the best.

 

SOCRATES:  And will not their wives be the best women?

 

GLAUCON:  Yes, by far the best.

 

SOCRATES:  And can there be anything better for the interests of the State than that the men and women of a State should be as good as possible?

 

GLAUCON:  There can be nothing better.

 

SOCRATES:  And this is what the arts of music and gymnastic, when present in such manner as we have described, will accomplish?

 

GLAUCON:  Certainly.

 

SOCRATES:  Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in the highest degree beneficial to the State?

 

GLAUCON:  True.

 

SOCRATES:  Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their robe, and let them share in the toils of war and the defense of their country;  only in the distribution of labours the lighter are to be assigned to the women, who are the weaker nature, but in other respects their duties are to be the same.  And as for the man who [next page, Book V, p. 719] laughs at naked women exercising their bodies from the best of motives, in his laughter he is plucking "A fruit of unripe wisdom", and he himself is ignorant of what he is laughing at;  for that is, and ever will be, the best of sayings, "That the useful is the noble and the hurtful is the base." [Epicurean/utilitarian]

 

GLAUCON:  Very true. ...

 

SOCRATES:  The law, I said, which is the sequel of this and of all that has preceded, is to the following effect, -- "that the wives of our guardians are to be common, and their children are to be common, and no parent is to know his own child, nor any child his parent."

 

(Book V, p. 720)

SOCRATES:  I shall now proceed to enquire how the rulers will carry out these arrangements, and I shall demonstrate that our plan, if executed, will be of the greatest benefit to the State and to the guardians.

 

F.  Plato's Eugenics, Population Control, Day Care Nurseries

 

[Book V, Socrates and Glaucon, p. 720]

SOCRATES:  You ... who are their legislator, having selected the men, will now select the women and give them to [the men];  -- they must be as far as possible of like nature with them;  and they must live in common houses and meet at common meals.  None of them will have anything specially his or her own.  They will be together, and will be brought up together, and will associate at gymnastic exercises.  And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their natures to have intercourse with each other -- necessity is not too strong a word, I think?

 

GLAUCON:  Yes .. – necessity, not geometrical, but another sort of necessity which lovers know, and which is far more convincing and constraining to the mass of mankind.

 

SOCRATES:  True ...;  and this Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed after an orderly fashion;  in a city of the blessed, licentiousness is an unholy thing which the rulers will forbid.’’

 

GLAUCON:  Yes ... and it ought not to be permitted.

 

SOCRATES:  Then clearly the next thing will be to make matrimony sacred in the highest degree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred?

 

GLAUCON:  Exactly.

 

SOCRATES:  And how can marriages be most beneficial? -- that is a question which I put to you, because I see in your house dogs for hunting, and of the nobler sort of birds not a few.  Now, I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever attended to their pairing and breeding?

 

(Book V, p. 721)

GLAUCON:  In what particulars?

 

SOCRATES:  Why, in the first place, although they are all of a good sort, are not some better than others?

 

GLAUCON:  True.

 

SOCRATES:  And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care to breed from the best only?

 

GLAUCON:  From the best.

 

SOCRATES:  And do you take the oldest or the youngest, or only those of ripe age?

 

GLAUCON:  I choose only those of ripe age.

 

SOCRATES:  And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds would greatly deteriorate?

 

GLAUCON:  Certainly.

 

SOCRATES:  And the same of horses and animals in general?

 

GLAUCON:  Undoubtedly.

 

SOCRATES:  Good heavens! my dear friend ... what consummate skill will our rulers need if the same principle holds of the human species!

 

GLAUCON:  Certainly, the same principle holds;  but why does this involve any particular skill?

 

SOCRATES:  Because ... our rulers will often have to practice upon the body corporate with “medicines”.  Now you know that when patients do not require medicines, but have only to be put under a regimen, the inferior sort of practitioner is deemed to be good enough;  but when medicine has to be given, the doctor should be more of a man ... Our rulers will find a considerable dose of falsehood and deceit necessary for the good of their subjects;  we were saying that the use of all these things regarded as “medicines” might be of advantage. ... And this lawful use of them seems likely to be often needed in the regulations of marriages and births.

 

GLAUCON:  How so?

 

SOCRATES:  ... the principle has been already laid down that the best of ether sex should be united with the best often, and the inferior with the inferior, as seldom as possible;  and that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition.  Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion.

 

(Book V, p. 722)

SOCRATES:  Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered, and suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets:  the number of weddings is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the rulers, whose aim will be to preserve the average of population.  There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.

 

GLAUCON:  Certainly.

 

SOCRATES:  We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers.

 

GLAUCON:  To be sure.

 

SOCRATES:  And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them;  their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible. ...And the proper officers, whether male or female or both, for offices are to be held by women as well as by men. ... The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter;  but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.

 

GLAUCON:  Yes ... that must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure

 

SOCRATES:  They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the fold when they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no mother recognizes her own child;  and other wet-nurses may be engaged if more are required.  Care will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not be protracted too long;  and the mothers will have no getting up at night or other trouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the nurses and attendants.

 

[Jowett's summary of Plato’s population control in column, Book V, p. 723]:  A woman is to bear children from 20 to 40;  a man to beget them from 25 - 55.  After the prescribed age has been passed, more license is allowed:  but all who were born after certain hymeneal festivals at which their parents or grandparents came together must be kept separate.

 

(Book V, p. 724)

SOCRATES:  Such is the scheme, Glaucon, according to which the guardians of our State are to have their wives and families in common.

 

G.  Starting the Ideal State for real with the children

 

[Book VII, Socrates and Glaucon, p. 800]

SOCRATES:  Well, I said, and you would agree ... that what has been said about the State and the government is not a mere dream, and although difficult not impossible, but only possible in the way which has been supposed;  that is to say, when the true philosopher kings are born in a State, one or more of them, despising the honours of this present world which they deem mean and worthless, esteeming above all things right and the honour that springs from right, and regarding justice as the greatest and most necessary of all things, whose ministers they are, and whose principles will be exalted by them when they set in order their own city.

 

GLAUCON:  How will they proceed?

 

SOCRATES:  They will begin by sending out into the country all the inhabitants of the city who are more than ten years old, and will take possession of their children, who will be unaffected by the habits of their parents;  these they will train in their own habits and laws, I mean in the laws which we have given them:  and in this way the State and constitution of which we were speaking will soonest and most easily attain happiness, and the nation which has such a constitution will gain most.

 

GLAUCON:  Yes, that will be the best way.  And I think, Socrates, that you have very well described how, if ever, such a constitution might come into being.

 

[[See also:  Irving, "'Gnostic Soup'": Pagan fertility gods, IVF, Hollywood, cloning/genetic engineering, bioethics, transhumanism, libertarians, drugs, eugenics, etc." (Nov. 7, 2005), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_108gnosticsoup.html;  Irving, "Historic roots of human genetic engineering: REASON, Duke, and parahuman reproduction - 1972" (July 11, 2004), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irvi/irvi_34winstonduke.html;  Irving, "GNOSTICISM, the Heretical Gnostic Writings, and 'Judas'", (April 9, 2006), at:  http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_121gnosticism1.html ]] 

 

 

REFERENCES

[1] For documentation of the following comments, see various articles on “Plato” in the following standard classic philosophical reference texts:  Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy (New York:  Image Books, 1962, reprinted through 1994), Vols. 1-14;   Paul Edwards (ed.),  The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York:  Macmillan Publishing Co., 1967), Vols. 1-10;   Leonard J. Eslick, "The material substrate in Plato", in Ernan McMullin (ed.), The Concept of Matter in Greek and Medieval Philosophy (Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1963);   Etienne Gilson,  Being and Some Philosophers (Toronto:  Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1949).

 

[2] See “Parmenides”, in B. Jowett (trans.), The Dialogues of Plato (New York:  Random House, 1937;  Vol. 2.

 

[3] I use Plato’s “The Republic”, in  B. Jowett (trans.), The Dialogues of Plato (New York:  Random House, 1937;  Vol. 1).  The dialogues are between Socrates and his disciples Adeimantus and Glaucon.  All emphases are mine, used to help those unfamiliar with the philosophy.


 


[Note:  More and more transhumanists/futurists/posthumanists (i.e., the current manifestation of ancient Gnosticism) are very busy doing their “deconstructions” in the field of philosophy -- for various and sundry reasons.  Rather than study philosophy in order to understand the real world, they do so in order to find a “hero” that they can exploit for their own political purposes.  The history of philosophy is actually a history of concepts of SPLITS of a whole being [most successfully defined academically as (FORM and MATTER and ESSE)], where different schools of philosophy identify one of the resulting “pieces” of the split as the whole itself.  This philosophical history ranges from “rationalized Gnosticism”, to just “MATTER”, to just “FORM (which is called matter!)” to “FORM (which is imaterial)”, to “FORM and MATTER”, to “FORM and Matter and rationalized Gnosticism”, to pure “MATTER”, to pure “FORM”, to two separated substances “MIND” and “BODY”,  to pure “EXISTENCE”, to pure “PROCESS”, etc.  Each piece or SPLIT in such philosophical theories had/has profound consequences, contradict each other, and are loaded with internal contradictions and other intellectual fallacies (“cons”) that others from different philosophical traditions know how to exploit and render senseless.  There is a reason why the current transhumanists/futurists/posthumanists are seeking out the bits and pieces of any academic philosophy they can find that will support their own transhumanist “theories”, or that they can exploit by deconstructing and redefining a philosophical tradition to make it say what they want it to say.  It used to be that the sign of a truly educated person was that they had academically matriculated through the entire history of philosophy.  Indeed, for centuries it was mandatory of all students in the Ivy League schools and most other colleges and universities to do the entire history of philosophy (or even the Great Books Program) in academic course work, regardless of their “major”.  With the advent of “bioethics” that changed;  now one can get a Ph.D. degree in philosophy by only studying one out of the (now) five historical fields of philosophy -- even just modern or just contemporary or just post-modern  philosophy.  But that means that these new “philosophers” don’t know that these recent philosophical traditions contain devastating fallacies that were fully identified in the earlier schools of philosophy going back centuries to even the ancients!  That is what is going on in transhumanism’s current deconstruction of philosophy for their own political/Gnostic agendas.  Too long to go into in a “note”, but I will be sending out examples of such philosophical deconstructions, which are academically at least insupportable and indefensible, with the hope that people today won’t be fooled.  Where are our brilliant academic real philosophers when we really need them? :-)  Below, please find my critique of Plato and his ancient philosophical school of Idealism (what is "really real" are IDEAS that subsist in some transcendent realm) as depicted in his treatise, The Republic.  Believe it or not, ancient Plato is now being dragged out of the historical dump today by some transhumanists and even required reading in fields across the academy (including business schools) -- with no evaluation, and no analysis of the “cons”.  Plato’s Republic is also required for some militaries to carry in their pockets -- although huge sections of those copies of The Republic are missing whole sections that are in the original treatise (and mostly those missing section are included in the article below).  The article is also attached to this email.  Later I will send out other examples (e.g., Hume, Descartes, etc.) -- DNI]