On the Philosophic Ascent in Plato’s Republic

[In progress]

   The following is the reworking of an old class paper for an exam question. It attempts to find the study of the soul and man in what is called the “allegorical line,” a reading of the line as an image of the objects considered not in math and all speech, but especially in politics and psychology, or what might if the name were not taken, be called the study of man: “Anthropology.”


It is not only now that these things must be heard,

but they must all be returned to many times in the future

                                                                                  -Glaucon, 532 d 3-4

Bring me to the test, and I the matter will reword…

Hamlet, III, iv, 143-5


Plate 1:Image


Plate 2:Image

Photos by Marti Blackwood

    Philosophy and politics are inseparable in Plato’s Republic. The central idea of the work is that Philosophy and kingship must coincide if the regime described in speech is ever to “come forth from nature insofar as possible and see the light of the sun” (473 c10-e5). It is the idea of the good, or the good itself that is to be used as a pattern for ordering men and cities (484 c1-d4; 500c-501b: 517 a7-c6; 540 a6-b1; 592 b2-5). The best rulers by nature, the philosopher kings, are to rule by virtue of their knowledge of the idea of the good or the good itself. This contemplative sight of the eye of the soul results in or allows access to a “divine pattern,” “in the soul,” (484 c3) or “in heaven perhaps” (592 b2) by which the painters of the regime “produce the image of man, taking hints from exactly that phenomenon in human beings which Homer too called god-like and the image of god” (501 b3-7). [Note 1] It may be for the sake of this pattern that the dialogue of the Republic is undertaken (472 c4). Of the idea of the good, it is said that the man who is going to act prudently in public or private must see it (517 c5-6). The practical wisdom of politics or kingship is thus said to be dependent upon this contemplative sight.

    But after the center of the book announcing that philosophers must rule as kings, Socrates delivers an account of the philosophic education which, as Benardete comments, appears “alien from its own setting,” [Note 2] within the political study of the of the regime which led up to it. It is not clear how the things described: the mathematical beings of geometry and arithmetic; the physical things, things drawn, and visible reflections- are to facilitate an ascent to the contemplative sight on which all rule depends. Stated directly, the question is quite obvious: just when do the philosopher kings study politics? The account of the philosophic education appears to have little to do with the pursuit of self knowledge or the study of the human things, and it is not clear how to place the famous account of the Socratic turn from pre-Socratic philosophy within the the outline of the study. Hence, it is unclear why Plato apparently presents the account of the highest things in a work titled “the Regime,” more accurately translating Politea, in which Socrates is shown founding political philosophy by the construction in speech of the best regime. The account of the education of the philosophers appears to have little to do with the study of the regime, the nature of man, nor is it clear how self knowledge would be especially involved in the ascent. Theoretical and practical wisdom appear to be as distinct as are the theoretical studies of a Thales, Democritus or Anaxagoras from the practice of a Pericles [Note 3], so that we must wonder when Socrates says of the end of this ascent that the one who is to be prudent in public or private must see it, and that without this contemplative ascent there is no practical wisdom. We must wonder, then, how we are to understand the section of the Republic on the education of the philosopher kings, and how this section fits within the whole.

   The account of the education of the philosophers is presented through three images: the child of the good, the divided line and the allegory of the cave. These three are presented in explanation of an earlier famous image, the parable of the ship. The three images are explicitly intended to be drawn together (Plate 1). First, the divided line is drawn directly from the division of the visible and intelligible in the child of the good, and as a further explanation of the analogy (509 d 4-6; Brann, Music, p. 15). Then Socrates states that that the allegory of the cave “must be connected with what was said before” regarding the visible and intelligible in the child of the good (517 a9-c4). The two fundamental levels or kinds of beings, and the four levels of beings and their reflections, ought then, correspond to one another throughout the three images. But the instructions for drawing the images raises difficulties regarding the discernment of the forms or levels described along the way of the ascent, especially going from the line to the cave. While it is obvious that the things inside the cave are to be read allegorically, the divided line appears to be literally about the objects of sense and mathematics. While this literal line is genuinely present, and quite revealing, we will suggest that the diligent attempt to see the images together reveals something like an allegorical line, and going back and forth proves most helpful. The levels of the soul and being presented in accounting for the education of the philosophers is in turn an image, and one which at first sight seems to have no place in the divided line, except as a visible and mathematical object. It is not clear where the philosophers of the beautiful city ever study epistemology or ascend through such images as the allegory of the cave. But that is the question and the account which the present essay will attempt to follow out.

The Fraudulent Account of the Offspring of the Good

   Right from the start, Socrates cautions Glaucon to beware that he does not in some way unwillingly deceive him in the account of the Child of the Good. The offspring and not the parent is presented because the account of the father is beyond their reach. The warning is repeated again before the account of the divided line. Our argument here asserts that the unwilling deception of Glaucon by the fraudulent offspring of the good does occur, and that it involves the replacement of the opinable things, “visible” not by the eye of the body but only by imagination and belief, with the literally visible things- the physical objects. The undoing of this deception is the starting point of a double or allegorical reading of the offspring of the good and the divided line, by which we hope to avoid a literal reading of the allegory of the cave. And so let us go back to this discussion distinguishing the opinable and the knowable, in an attempt to find the true particulars involved in the bondage of humans regarding education and the philosophic ascent.

   The question of the good arises when Socrates undertakes to to reconsider what concerns the rulers “from the beginning” (502c).  He reminds Adeimantus of their earlier discussion of what concerns the rulers, and then recalls the separating out of the three forms in the soul by which they figured out what justice, moderation, courage and wisdom each is,” based upon the corresponding parts and virtues found in the city (in book IV). Socrates recalls that there he had said that the method by which they were proceeding was inadequate, and that in order to get a precise grasp of the forms in the soul, “another longer and further road” would have to be taken (435 c10). But then Socrates was stopped and compelled to take this road (Book V), through the account of the three “waves,” which culminate in the introduction of the philosopher-kings. Once philosophy and the philosophic nature is introduced,  the account of virtue is to be taken up from a new principle. Glaucon and Adeimantus are here told of a study greater than justice and the virtues previously sketched: the study of the idea of the good (505 a).

   The Ethics of Aristotle follows the same pattern as Plato’s Republic in this regard. After describing the justice which preserves the political community as “the practice of complete virtue” and the whole of virtue practiced in relation to others (V,i, 1129 12- 1130 a), there is a new beginning in the discussion of intellectual virtue (VI.3; 1139 b13), and then a new beginning in the discussion of virtue and vice (VII.1, 1145 a15). The philosophic life shows the nature of man, the principle in light of which vulgar virtue is crafted (Republic, 500 d7). The philosophic education addressed in this section of the Republic corresponds to the Aristotelian treatment of intellectual virtue, while the Platonic “vulgar virtue” (518 d)  corresponds to the Aristotelian ethical virtue, according to the same division. [Appendix A].  

   The question of what the good is first appears as the question of what, among the goods pursued, is the good for man. Socrates says that in the opinion of the many, the good is pleasure, although the more refined think it to be prudence (phronesis, as is taken up again in Plato’s Philebus). But these definitions are inadequate. There are bad pleasures, and if one asks the refined few  what sort of prudence, they must finally say, “about the good, as though we knew what was meant when the name of the good is uttered.” Socrates notes that while men are content to appear just or fair, no one is satisfied with things merely opined to be good, but here, everyone “seeks the things that are,” and “despises opinion.” Even the unjust man in Book II seeks his real advantage while using the appearance of justice. The good is what every soul pursues, [Note 4], yet while the soul divines that it is something, the soul is at a loss and unable to grasp just what it is, or even able to attain a “stable trust” about it as is had about “the rest.” But, Socrates divines, “no one will adequately know the just and the fair things until it is known in what way these are good. The Meno teaches that wisdom is virtue because anything other than the good, including wisdom itself in some senses, and the ethical virtues, might be used for good or ill. The just and noble things won’t have a guardian worth much before these things are known, while it will be perfectly ordered if one who knows this oversees. Glaucon and Adeimantus learn, then, of a study greater than justice, the greatest and most fitting study, of the idea of the good (505 a).

   The action which stands as the portico to the presentation of the image of the good is a good example of the importance of the dramatic context in reading the dialogues. Socrates delivers his account not of the good but of the child of the good, as a compromise. He refuses to give an account of the good itself, but when Glaucon persists, saying it doesn’t appear just for Socrates to tell the opinions of others and not his own. Socrates hesitates, answering that it is not just to speak of what one does not know as if one knew. Adeimantus agrees, but says that one ought be willing to state what one supposes (hoimai) as one’s supposition.” Socrates remains hesitant, responding by asking Adeimantus if he has not noticed that all opinions without knowledge are ugly, and at best blind. Nearing this peak, he speaks out of opinion, asking Adeimantus if men who opine something true without intelligence seem to him any different from blind men who travel the right road. Glaucon intervenes, saying he is not about to withdraw when they have arrived “as it were at the end,” But Socrates remains unchanged, saying that he fears suffering the penalty of ridicule for “cutting a graceless figure” in his eagerness. The image called a child of the good is a result of a compromise between this insistent pursuit and the hesitance of Socrates. As Socrates enters into the display of the analogy between the sun and the idea of the good, he tells Glaucon:

…lets leave aside for the time being what the good itself is- for it looks to me as though it’s out of the range of our present thrust to attain the opinions I now hold about it. But I am willing to tell what looks like a child of the good and most similar to it (506e).

Glaucon accepts, saying “another time you’ll pay us what is due on the father’s narrative.” Socrates, taking up the pun in the language of debt, tells Glaucon:

“I could wish …that I were able to pay, and you were able to receive it itself, and not just the interest (or offspring, tokos). Anyhow receive this interest and child of the good itself (ton tokon te kai ekgonon). But be careful that I don’t in some way unwillingly deceive you in rendering the account of the interest (tokos [Note 4] fraudulent.

  We will argue that this unwilling deception does occur, and includes the replacement of the opinable with the visible, and so opinion with vision.  Before entering the account of the divided line, too, Socrates says that he supposes he will leave quite a bit out, but says he will not leave anything out “willingly” (509c; 382 a7-8), so that the warning is repeated again before drawing the divided line.

   Soon this offspring of the good is identified with the visible sun, which the good is said to have begotten in proportion with itself. Using this image, Socrates gives an analogical account of the good according to which the good is to intelligence and things intellected (nooumena) as the sun is to the eye and things seen.

   Before beginning the account of the offspring, Socrates reminds Glaucon of an earlier distinction between (471d-480a) between the many things- as the noble, the good- and the one idea of each kind of things, as the noble itself and the good itself (507b). It is on the basis of this earlier distinction between the many things and the singular ideas- the visible and the intelligible- that the child of the good and the divided line are based. The ideas are what “really is,” (or what is in “being”), and are intellected, while the many things are seen but not intellected. In Book V, these two are called the “knowable” and the “opinable,” but throughout the account of the child of the good, Socrates neglects to remind Glaucon of these names, and what was said about them. He allows the opinable to be equated with the physical, literally visible things and this appears to be the unwilling deception of Glaucon and those hearing. But the deception can be undone in reading the account veiled in the images of the philosophic ascent.

   The distinction between the knowable and opinable arose just after the assertion that if the best regime is ever to come forth from nature,” and “see the light of the sun,” philosophers must rule as kings. There Socrates attempted to defend himself by distinguishing “whom we mean when we dare to assert that philosophers must rule as kings.” The philosophers are identified as those who desire all of wisdom, loving every kind of learning, rather than those who desire one part and not another. The philosophers, as the “lovers of the sight of the truth,” who “delight in what each thing is itself,” are distinguished for Glaucon from the “lovers of sights” and the lovers of “hearing (475d),” or the “lovers of sights, the arts and the practical men.” (476a). Here Glaucon uses the terms of the bodily senses of sight and hearing to refer to opinable particulars which cannot really be seen with the literal bodily senses. No explicit example of the lovers of sights is given in the recapitulation, but Glaucon identifies the lovers of hearing as those who “run around to every chorus at the Dionysia, missing none in the cities or villages” (475 d). Allan Bloom notes that the Dionysia was a festival held in honor of the god Dionysus each spring at Athens and the villages around Attica [Note 5]. Three days of the festival were devoted to the presentation of comedies and tragedies, and it is to the lovers of the hearing of these choruses that Glaucon refers. The lovers of learning and sights, Socrates says, “delight in fair sounds and colors and all that craft makes from such things, but their thought is unable to see and delight in the nature of the fair (Kalon) itself. These are not connoisseurs of the literally visible objects of bodily sense, nor do men go to see dramas literally for the sounds and colors. Rather, these lovers of sounds are the lovers of the imitations crafted by the dramatic poet. If the lovers of sights, too, are to be distinguished from the lovers of hearing, their identity is not here disclosed. But of these, Socrates says that they can in no way endure it if anyone asserts that that the fair is one, the just is one and so on with the rest (479 a). Those who held that there are many noble/beautiful things, but not that there is the kalon itself, and are unable to follow one who would lead them to the knowledge of it are said to be dreaming, believing the likeness of something to be not a likeness but the thing itself which it is like. Meanwhile those seeing both beauty itself and what participates in it are agreed to be awake (476 d). Along these lines, of those dreaming and those awake, Socrates distinguishes those whose thought (dianoian) is knowledge and those whose is opinion (476 d). Opinion is to be located between knowledge and ignorance, and so the opinable doxaston [Note 6] is sought between what is and what is not, as something which participates in both “to be and not to be.” The opinable is exemplified by the various manys (oi polloi, 476c). or the many fair things, the many just things, etc. (479 a). Socrates says, ” Then we have found, as it seems, that the many beliefs (nomidzma) of the many about what’s fair and about the other things roll around somewhere between not being (me on) and being purely and simply (479 d). Bloom notes that nomidzma, derived from nomos, usually means “the customary or lawful” (Note 41 to Book V 479). Filling out the opinable, the lovers of sights, corresponding to the lovers of hearing as the lovers of dramatic poetry, those who are dreaming and not awake and who cannot endure anyone asserting that the fair itself is one and the just is one and so on are likely to be those attached not to the artifacts of the dramatic poet, but to the beliefs and images that make up the various customs or nomoi to which the peoples are attached. The association with craftsmen suggests politicians, too. In distinguishing the “opinable,” Socrates speaks not of the  singular ideas of every kind of thing, but only of the fair itself, the just itself, etc, ie, especially the parts of virtue and the human things. The opinable, then, looks like it includes the things made by man, the images and the laws made by the poets and legislators, as distinct from what is not made. It probably also includes the things done, the actions, and so the virtues of the practical man. (476 a9) These opinable manys are spoken of before the Child of the Good as visible only playfully.

   Similarly, there is no place in either the telling of the child of the good or the divided line for imagination and belief as distinct from the sight and hearing of physical objects and their reflections. Rather, it looks like Socrates, while presenting a true analogy regarding the sun and sight with the sight of the intellect for the divided line, veils the brightness of the account of the philosophic ascent by replacing, in his fraudulent account of the offspring, the things made by the poets and legislators and the particulars of all the human things with the visible physical things and artifacts. What will not be endured from the philosopher is not that there is a square itself or a diagonal itself, but, nor worse yet, a rock, a car or tree, but that the many beliefs and images to which the peoples are attached, about the most important things, which make up their cosmos, that these are not knowledge or the truth itself. It is for this that Socrates himself was tried and put to death by the Athenians for impiety.

   There are certain perplexities resulting from the account of the opinable and knowable which might be kept in mind: One is the apparent implication, felt by many readers, that the particulars are unknowable, while what is would be un-opinable. For it seems to us that the many things are more immediate and in our experience, and this acquaintance seems to be a kind of knowledge, if only an acquaintance, as we say such a person is “known” to us, while we do not seem to have knowledge of what man in general is. It seems too that we can be mistaken or correct, as when we say that if I drop this ball it will fall, though we might on occasion be surprised, as by helium. Aristotle begins his Physics with reference to this difference between what is first simply and first for us when we set out to inquire into nature. At the same time, it seems that what we have opinion and not knowledge about is especially the eternal or divine and natural things, or specifically regarding “what is” that we have opinion and not knowledge. The Republic itself has proceeded through various opinions of what justice itself is, each partly right though at a point deficient. And as Eva Brann points out, “About the greatest studies, …Socrates himself has, as he repeatedly says, only opinion (506 c4; e2; 509c3; 517 b7, 533 a4; e8; Phaedrus 278d). Not knowing fully what is just or good, it seems we have opinion not only of the many things opined to be just or beautiful in light of the suppositions, but also of what justice is and what the good is.

   Aristotle apparently, identifies the faculty of opinion with logistikon, the calculative faculty by which we apprehend the “things that can be other than they are.” The virtue of this faculty is not  sophia or theoretical wisdom, but practical wisdom (phronesis). Practical wisdom is the virtue of the part of the rational element of the soul that forms opinions, for opinion as well as practical wisdom deals with things that can be other than they are.” (Ethics, VI.7; 1140 b 27-29).

   Aristotle also uses the word for perception (aesthesis) not only in reference to the five senses, but also in reference to an activity of the intellect (nous) in practical wisdom (1143 b5). Perhaps echoing the Socratic account of the opinable of which there is not knowledge, (gnosis), Aristotle (Ostwald Tr.) states that practical wisdom has as its object the “ultimate (final) particular fact,” of which there is perception but no scientific knowledge” (episteme):

This is not the kind of perception with which each of the five senses apprehends its proper object, but the kind with which we perceive that in mathematics the triangle is the ultimate figure, for in this direction, we shall have to reach a stop.

   In this way, the right thing to be done, the sight of the one right thing to be done, which is the end of practical wisdom at which deliberation too stops, is also called a kind of perception.

   A second consideration from Aristotle is the possibility that the “faculty that forms opinion” has a double meaning, referring also to the faculty involved in legislation, forming the opinions of the citizens, selecting the best images and opinions to be cultivated in having the best customs for a particular people. It is the work of practical wisdom to give “a true conviction of the end or what is conducive to the end of action.” Book VI opens with another summary in which Socrates asks Glaucon, “Is it a blind or a sharp-sighted guardian who ought to keep watch over anything” (484c)?

   On the assumption that knowledge and opinion are two different powers, Socrates and Glaucon agree that the opinable and the knowable are different objects of these powers. Opinion is located as lying between knowledge and ignorance, and the opinable is sought between what is and what is not. Strangely, the opinable was called the “wanderer between, seized by the power between” (479 d7)…. The imagination too is sometimes represented as a sea navigable to another shore, and the soul itself in some sense might be the opinable, in the sense of a collective unconscious between the seeker and knowledge. The gods, too, are imagined to be occasionally visible.

   In Socrates’ telling of the offspring of the good, the visible realm and vision is related to the intelligible not as various manys to unifying ideas, but by analogy, as a lavishly crafted image is related to its source. There is no listing of many goods and attempt to identify the one thing by which each are called “good.” The good is not the idea of the particulars sun eye and light and vision. Rather, each level has and equal number of particulars.

   The power of sight and and the things seen are said to be unique among the senses in needing light, a third thing, in order for the color in the visible things to be seen. The third thing is light, said to yoke together the sense of sight and the power of being seen in the objects. This is called a yoke that, “by measure of an idea by no means insignificant, is more honorable than the yoke uniting other teams, if light is not without honor (a-time). Socrates asks Glaucon which of the gods in heaven is “responsible for this,” and Glaucon answers that the question plainly refers to the sun. Socrates then identifies the sun as the offspring of the good which the good begot in proportion with itself, and explicates the analogical proportions of the good, nous, the intelligible and light. The sun is described as a thing begotten, while sight and the visible are said to be crafted or made lavishly according to the proportions. No such distinction appears to be made among the intelligible. And since intelligence and truth were, just after the parable of the ship, said to be begotten (490 b), when the lover of learning grasp nature of each thing that is with the part of the soul fit to grasp a thing of that sort.

…as the good is in the intelligible region with respect to intelligence and what is intellected, so the sun is in the visible region with respect to sight and what is seen.

Glaucon asks for further explanation of the analogy, and so Socrates that as when one turns the eyes to what is illumined by light, one sees, but when it is dark, the eye seems blind…

Think that the soul is characterized in this way: when it fixes itself on that which is illumined by truth and that which is, it intellects, knows and appears to possess intelligence But when it fixes itself on that which is mixed with darkness, on coming to be and passing away, it opines, is dimmed, changing opinions up and down, and seems at such times not to possess intelligence (508 d).

Here, the difference between what Aristotle describes as two faculties or parts of the rational part of the soul, Socrates explains in terms of two different directions in which the soul fixes itself toward either becoming or what is. For an instant, intellect, opinion and vision are all one.

   Next the good is distinguished from both the one who knows and the things known as sight and the eye are distinct from the sun. The idea of the good to be said to be “what provides the truth to the things known and gives the power to the one who knows (508e). Glaucon is told to understand the good to be, as a source of knowledge and truth, a thing known, but yet fairer (kalon) than both of these and worthy of greater honor. Socrates states:

As for knowledge and truth, just as in the other region it is right to hold light and sight sunlike, but to believe them to be the sun is not quite right, so too here, to hold these two to be like the good is right, but to believe that either of them is the good is not right (508e). The condition which characterizes the good must receive still greater honor …

As Allan Bloom points out, the word for sunlike is halio-eides– literally translated “sunformed.” The eye, distinguished from the sun, was said to be the most sun-like” of the organs of the senses (508b), reminding us of that in man which is most god-like and an image of god. Knowledge and truth are, though, here said to be like the good (agatho-eide). The use of the word “truth” as a thing distinct from the things known contains clues as to what is meant by this word- something like the light shining on the things known when the intelligence is seeing them- quite similar to a meaning of the word revelation.

Consider its image still further…I suppose you’ll say the sun not only provides what is seen with the power of being seen but also with generation, growth and nourishment although it itself isn’t generation…

Therefore say that not only being known is present in the things known as a consequence of the good, but also existence and being are in them besides as a result of it, although the good isn’t being but is still beyond being exceeding it in dignity and power.

While the sun-formed eye is due to the lavishness of the craftsman, that in man which is agatho-eide is rather begotten, and we say this is nous, the eye of the soul (490, 508e) Intelligence and truth are said to be things begotten. It may be that the truth is that the sun is created, while the vision of the soul is begotten, opening as it is born as if from under the earth. Intelligence and truth may be the true, rather than the fraudulent offspring of the good. [note 7]. In the next section we will show that its quality as an image of god means that it is the gateway of “metaphysics.

   One reason the account is veiled is that those who do not look to the father think themselves divine if they ever catch a glimpse of the divine within us, having nothing higher than themselves. Megalomania is a common manifestation of a kind of madness, and Nietzsche may be said to have taken this to an extreme. Most humans, being spared the concrete experience of the divine even in romantic love, to see the original of this natural image would be an experience we cannot contain without ascent.

   The cause of megalomania though, and our more common assumption that we know, and that all is to be measured by our own excellence- may indicate that we are indeed a spark of the divine, our “consciousness” or “person-hood” the result not only of participation in and imitation of the Good One Beyond Being. It indeed may be the Socratic service to the God to teach men that we do not know what we think we know, and yet know all sorts of things we don’t know how we know.

   Jacob Klein notes the permanent perplexity of the timeless target of knowledge and the changing mind (On Plato’s Meno, p. 166). As Leo Strauss writes, the fact that the mind which perceives the ideas is radically different from the ideas indicates “That there must be something higher than the ideas: The idea of the good, which is in a sense the cause of all ideas as well as of the mind perceiving them …(517 e 1-5) according to Plato, the highest is beyond the difference between knower and known or is not a thinking being…” (The City and Man, p. 119 [Note X). If intellect and the intelligible are a distinct two coupled in contemplation (490), then neither could be the highest being. If intelligence and truth by which the philosopher knows and lives truly are begotten a higher begetter of intelligence and truth is implied as the cause of both. The Biblical name “Most High,” taught by Melchizedek to Abraham after he came forth from “Ur of the Chaldees,” points in a direction without saying a “what.” And it is true, we try to say that the Christ is the offspring of the Good in this sense, and we begotten sons through Him (John 1:14-17). For the English “All things were made…” is a mistranslation of the more general gignomai in 1:3, have come to be, a term which includes both what is created or made and what begotten. But in scripture, the union refers to the wedding of Christ and the mysterious Bride (Revelation 19:7- 22).

   As Allan Bloom comments, according to the telling of the offspring of the good, “the human good turns out to be philosophy, an overwhelming combination of knowledge and pleasure (Interpretive Essay, p. 402). But this is genuine philosophy, the life of the divine within. Philosophy, the human good, is distinct from and dependent upon the good itself, even, we say, as the geometry of the objects in our world is dependent upon the eternal truths of geometry.


The Divided Line


Socrates presents the divided line in response to the request of Glaucon that he not stop the telling of the child of the good until he has gone through the likeness with the sun, if he is leaving anything out. Socrates says that he leaving much- Bloom translates “a throng of things,” and Glaucon asks him not to leave out even the “smallest (smikron) [Note 10] thing. Socrates tells Glaucon I suppose I will leave out much (polu)…But all the same, insofar as it is possible to present, I’ll not leave anything out- willingly.”

   Socrates has Glaucon draw the divided line directly from this analogy in the Child of the good between the sun and the idea of the good. He tells Glaucon to:

…conceive that as we say, these two are, and that the one is king of the intelligible class and region, while the other is king of the visible…Now, do you have these two forms, visible and intelligible?”

“I do”

“Then, take a line cut in two unequal segments, one for the class that is seen the other for the class that is intellected. And go on and cut each segment in the same proportion” (509d). [Note 9]

   The line thus divided yields four divisions of two fundamental forms, two sections for each realm of the two kings. Socrates proceeds to give an account of each of these four levels of being, and then identifies four powers or faculties of the soul with regard to each. As the account proceeds, there is a progressive unfolding of increased complexity. A good question to keep in mind when reading the line is is the self-reflective one: How does the activity of reading the line fit into the account of the soul and the levels of being which the line presents? Taken literally, there is no place in the account for an image such as the line itself, unless it too is taken literally as a a geometrical proof. But if we did only this in reading the image, we would lose what it has to say about the faculties of the soul, and the levels of being.

   From the bottom, the first section of the visible part stands for the images of visible objects,…

…first shadows, then appearances produced in water and in all close grained, smooth bright things, and everything of that sort (509 d8- 510 a12).

Next proceeding upward , in the upper section of the visible, Socrates tells Glaucon to …

…put that of which the first is a likeness- the animals around us and everything that grows, and the whole class of artifacts” (510 a4-6).

He then states for Glaucon the following proportion:

As the opinable is distinguished from the knowable, so the likeness is distinguished from that of which it is a likeness. (Plate 1: II:I::d:c).

The image and the visible objects together are to the knowable as a visible image is to a visible original. The whole of the visible, called the “opinable,” is as a reflection of the whole of the knowable. The two faculties which correspond to the two parts of the visible are later named imagination (eikasia) and trust (pistis). “Opinion,” consists of both imagination and belief together. Its objects, images and artifacts, are, though mere reflections, in turn images of the intelligible things reached in what will be called “thought” and “intellection,” as the faculties of the two highest segments will be named. The visible world is hence “such stuff as dreams are made on.” And it is no wonder that the visible particulars can by analogy be enlisted to communicate intelligible things: “Lift up your eyes. Already the fields are white for harvest.” The question is whether it is in the nature of these particulars to be related in this way to the higher analogues, or only a reason in nature common between the lower and higher which makes something about that higher thing more clear to thought. A similar question arises regarding things countable, whether, as with feet or fingers, being two or five is something inherent to their own nature, or whether it is randomly applied by those doing the counting. But again, Socrates and Glaucon assume that the whole of the visible is related to the intelligible as an offspring begotten in proportion.

   Socrates next tells Glaucon to consider “how the intelligible section should be cut. Here he speaks not in terms of the objects, but rather of the faculties of the soul involved, saying:

In one part of it (b) a soul, using as images the things that were previously imitated, is compelled to investigate on the basis of hypotheses; starting out from hypotheses and makes its way not to a beginning but to an end; while in the other part it makes its way to a beginning that is free from hypotheses; starting out from hypothesis and without the images used in the other part, it makes its inquiry through them (510b)

Without reference to objects as examples, the statement is not sufficiently clear, and so Socrates gives Glaucon an introduction. The example for the lower section of the intelligible (I b), as geometers reason from Axioms, such as “the odd and the even, the figures, three forms of angles, and from other things akin top these in each kind of inquiry These things are treated as known, and made hypotheses, used as beginnings from which to reason down to a conclusion. In doing so, the geometers use the visible forms (oromenos eiesi) which they mold and draw, from the visible section (II  in order to make arguments about the “square itself” and the “diagonal itself.” Socrates summarizes:

These things themselves that they mold and draw, of which there are shadows and images in water, they now use as images, seeking to see those things themselves that one can see in no way other than with thought (510 e).

   By the highest segment of the intelligible, Socrates refers to “that which argument itself grasps with the power of dialectic.” “Dialectic” is the attempt by discussion to attain each thing that is and intellection of the good itself (532 a; 533 c). In dialectic the hypotheses are used not as in “thought,” as though these were beginnings, from which to reason down to a conclusion or end, but rather as “steppingstones and springboards in order to reach what is free from hypotheses at the beginning of the whole.” If the divided line is an explication of the child of the good, that which is free from hypotheses at the beginning of the whole would be the good itself, Beyond Being., the singular first principle beyond form on which the principles as forms, and thus all knowledge, would depend. Describing a descent from this beginning, Socrates continues:

When it has grasped this, argument now depends on that which depends on this beginning, and in such fashion goes back down again to an end; Making no use of anything sensed in any way, but using forms themselves, going through forms to forms, it ends in forms too (511 b6-c2).

   Argument, in descent depends upon that which depends upon the ‘beginning of the whole, rather than on hypothesis, in its downward motion, apparently concluding within the intelligible at forms, whether in thought or intellection. A literal example might be the reasoning, say, that courage and moderation are both together only in justice, if such a thing were true, remaining in “forms,” though no such example is given. In a summary which Socrates calls adequate, Glaucon understands…

   …that you wish to distinguish that part of what is and is intelligible contemplated by the knowledge of dialectic as being clearer than that part contemplated by what are called the arts. The beginnings in the arts are hypotheses, and although those who behold their objects are compelled top do so with the thought, and not the senses, these men- because they don’t consider them by going up to a beginning, but rather on the basis of hypotheses- these men, in my opinion, don’t possess intelligence with respect to the objects, even though they are, given a beginning, intelligible; and you seem to me to call the habit of the geometers and their likes thought and not intelligence, indicating that thought is something between opinion and intelligence (511 c-d)

   Book VI concludes with the naming of the four “affections,” (pathemata), dispositions or faculties arising in the soul in relation to the four segments., intellection, thought, trust sand imagination. And just as the wing occurs because there is the element of air, so each of these and all the faculties, would be likely to be shaped by the character of the realms of being.

   In what Allan Bloom identifies as the best commentary on the divided line, Jacob Klein goes through the literal levels of the account, regarding visible object, reflections, mathematical things, and the “uncountable eide.” The lexicon definition of eikasia includes both what is imagined and what is conjectural, as in English, but may not include Klein’s seeing through an image, or “seeing an image as an image.” This may involve perception and thought, or even perception and intelligence, but is not what we usually think of by imagination, though we do not usually confuse the objects of fiction myth or imagination with the real world. Klein focuses on the faculty called eikasia or imagination, a dianoteic extension of eikasia and then two higher repetitions of the same pattern which he finds regarding the lowest level of the line. Throughout the body of his discussion (pp. 114-124), Klein treats the line as if there were no allegorical reading, so that if it were not for statements surrounding the body of his discussion (pp. 115 and 125), his account would appear likely not to support the allegorical reading of the line. On p. 113, Klein indicates first that Socrates’ use of the line is “wholly ungeometrical.” He then states that the image of the cave gives us an opportunity to exercise our fundamental power of eikasia, and at the same time our faculty of dianoetic eikasia makes us understand that this real cave images our natural and civic life within the familiar world around us. “The prisoners in the cave…do not manifest any eikasia before they are able to turn their heads” (p. 115). Though knowable, our natural and civic life is not a countable or mathematical object at all.

   Klein warns of the temptation to overlook the crucial importance of eikasia in thew account of Socrates because it is assigned the lowest level of the line. Understood as the looking from image to object, Klein states: The pattern of eikasia on the lowest level anticipates patterns on higher levels of the line. Throughout his discussion, Klein identifies two higher repetitions regarding what he calls dianoetic eikasi, using the visible things as images, and then a higher, unnamed kind looking from hypotheses to eide.

   Regarding eikasia, Jacob Klein writes:

“We do not as a rule confuse an image with an “original.” On the contrary, we are able to see, and do see, images as images. It is this pathema of the soul, this faculty of ours to see an image as an image that Socrates calls eikasia (loc. cit, p. 114).

Klein notes that eikasia supposes the trustworthy objects of perception, because we see through the image to its “original.” This “seeing through” an image” is a kind of double seeing…image is uniquely that which is not what it is (Ibid, p. 115). We do not usually confuse visible images with their objects, but this is not usually true regarding opinion. Everywhere and at all times it is in a way true for almost all mankind that, as Herodotus has Darius assert, “custom is king. Inquiries, III. 38). In drawing the divided line, the method of Socrates is similar to that in Plato’s Meno. In showing the slave boy’s capacity for recollection in geometry, Socrates drops the demonstration down one level to something familiar and analogous, attempting by this to lead Meno up to the unfamiliar question of the nature of virtue by analogy.

“Our dianoia, therefore, cannot help interpreting all that is visible as having the character if an image Its work indeed appears to be based on dianoetic eikasia (p. 119).

   Before discussing dianoetic eikasia, Klein recalls a passage from Book VII (523a-525a) in which the “natural” and “simple” work of our thinking is described. When seeking those things which naturally lead to intellection, and discussing calculation and number, Socrates explains certain perceptions at the same time go over to their opposite,” so that “sensation doesn’t reveal one thing any more than its opposite” (523c). There follows the somewhat strange example of the three fingers, “the smallest, the second and the middle. Each looks equally like a finger, so that “in all those things the soul of the many is not compelled to ask the intellect what a finger is.” Sight does not indicate to the soul that each both is and is not a finger (523 d). But regarding whether each is big or little sensation does not reveal any one thing more than another, and so such questions are said to summon the intellect. Sight, Socrates says, “saw big and little not separated but mixed up together,” and ” in order to clear this up, the intellect was compelled to see big and little as distinguished, doing the opposite of what sight did” (524 c).

   Klein identifies the using of the visible things as images as a second kind of eikasia, which he dubbs “dianoetic eikasia.” He explains that the technai or “arts,” established by continued reflection on counting, supply us with precise knowledge of all things numerable insofar as they are numerable, and of their properties as well as their relations, which are rooted in their numerability. These “objects of thought” of intelligible objects (noeta) “cast light on the obscurity of visible things, an obscurity which the rays of the sun cannot remove. They present themselves, in their clarity, as models or originals of the visible things (p. 118)The using of these visible things as images is again identified by as dianoetic eicasia. He explains that the downward path of the various arts, and especially the mathematical technai, tend of necessity to transform the suppositions (hypo-thesis) into sources (archai). These hypotheses, the intelligible entities from which our dianoia derives its demonstrations, are themselves in want of greater clarity. But since these are turned toward the “barbaric bog or jumbled jungle, following the ordinary path of our usual concerns in thought, these arts are incapable of dealing with the obscurity of their own beginnings” (p. 123). In a summary of the divided line presented later (VII, 533-534), Socrates explains that all the arts other than dialectic …”are directed to human opinions and desires, or to generation and composition, or to care of what is grown or put together.” In these, as we say, reason as calculation is used as a means to end, mostly those of the body, which we have from the beginning or by nature. Opining what is good by custom, fashion, common sense, desire or need, reason does not rule in the the souls of most men, but follows these as a servant. Socrates says there in Book VII that, although, as the other arts, geometry does grasp something of what is as long as geometry and the arts reason down from hypotheses, of which they are unable to give an account, they “do dream about what is, but havn’t the capacity to see it in full wakefulness.

   Regarding the highest section, of that which “argument itself grasps with the power of dialectic, Klein states that the mathematical things and geometrical axioms (b), of which visible things are images, are themselves in turn images or “noetic shadows” of the invisible and uncountable eide (p. 123-124). Klein writes that “The difference between the two subsections of the intelligible, then does not simply lie in the directions which the dianoia takes The difference is rather again- and this time defying our common experience- one between “original” and “image. [Note 10] Klein identifies this reversing of direction with the turning of the soul discussed in Book VII. [Note 11] Klein (p. 124) writes:

…In its surge upwards, the faculty of dianoetic eikasia, which our natural dianoia exercises with regard to the visible world, is changed into the power of dialectical insight. This change is a radical one, involving a total conversion (periagoge 518 c 8-9, d4; 521 c6; metastrophe 518 d5; 525 c5; 532 b7) of the entire soul (suv holon te psyche 518 c*) It marks the beginning of a new life, a life of philosophia (c.f. 521 c6-8; 527 b10, tolerable only to a few (494 a 4-7).

“Image and original are related to each other in the same way in which what is merely conjectural is related to what is actually cognized.”

” Our dianoia, therefore cannot help interpreting all that is visible as having the character of an image.”

The Allegorical line and the Allegory of the Cave


Allan Bloom drops certain clues or keys to reading the Platonic Allegory, such as when he says, “Only by constant reference back to the divided line can one understand the the cave.” Bloom asks

But who regularly believes that images are real; things; who mistakes reflections for what is reflected? Why does Socrates insist that our situation is that of who mistake images for realities? It would seem to be more sensible to say that we take objects too seriously, that we do not recognize the importance and superior reality of the causes or first principles. How can it be said that we are bound to the lowest level of of the line? The answer seems to be that the cave is the city and that our attachment to the city binds us to certain authoritative opinions about things We do not see men as they are but as they are represented to us by legislators and poets (404).

Reading the line allegorically, Bloom (p. 398) writes:

The poetic images are to be used as geometers use representations of circles- to understand something of which the particular circle is only an image. Poetry characteristically causes men to forget that its images are only images, that is, like the circle drawn in the sand which is not the circle;…”

   According to the allegorical line, the two levels inside the cave are as they are named, belief and imagination, described by analogy with visible object, mirror images and geometry. Two different readings of the allegory result according to whether one reads that the ascent is by means of the human things, or the Socratic turn, and virtue. Socrates retained the appeal to nature of the natural philosophers, but applied this to the study and pursuit of virtue. Virtue, we say, (following the de Alvarez reading of Theseus up from the Daedalus’ labyrinth) is the golden thread. The ascent is more akin to penance, the humiliating apprenticeship in which contact with the justice sought by nature or in truth and one learns how he has overestimated himself, etc, according to the shadows with which most men live out their lives. By contrast, the turn from physical objects to geometry is not a painful ascent, nor is it likely that Socrates means that every High School student has ascended the cave in doing arithmetic, geometery and astronomy, as would be the implication of the literal line transposed to the allegory of the cave. The question might be set in these terms: Is the city the cave itself, or is it only “in” the cave, which is a bit more extensive? Ascent would require not only becoming unchained from viewing the shadows of artifacts, or thought alone, but a turning of the whole soul. By contrast, thought and speech alone, as well as the unchaining from the images and beliefs that make up opinion involved in sophistry and natural philosophy. Bloom explains: “Our love of our own ties us to the cave” (p. 405), as our attachment to the earth at the navel. This means more than the forgetfullness of oneself in contemplation of the eternal truths, and is likely especially a knowledge of oneself in many senses. Socrates by contrast returned to the study of the human things and through these [Note 13], through not every kind of ideas but especially the what is questions pertaining to the human things and virtue, but seeking these by nature as distinct from by custom. As Benardete indicates, there are no artifacts, or things made by man at all outside the cave.

   Having begun to explicate the allegorical line or the double reading, correcting the unwilling deception, what remains is the attempt to read the allegory of the cave in light of the double reading. The conclusion of the previous section can be connected to a reading of the Republic itself as a whole, making more sense of why the account of the highest things are presented in a work on the regime. In this way we hope to return where we began, showing the inseparability of philosophy and politics.

   The Allegory of the cave is an image of “our nature in its education and want of education” (514a1). Every detail is significant, as Socrates tells Glaucon:

   …See human beings as though they were in an underground cavelike dwelling with its entrance a long one open to the light across the whole width of the cave. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a road above, along which see a wall built like the partitions puppet handlers set in fronnt of the human beings and over which they show the puppets.”

I see, he said.

 “Then also see along this wall human beings carrying all sorts of artifacts, which project above the wall, and statues of men and other animals wrought from stone, wood, and every kind of material; as is to be expected, some of the carriers utter sounds while others are silent.”

   Regarding education, humans are like prisoners in an underground cave, bound from childhood to viewing and believing truth to be none other than the shadows of artificial things (515 c; II d). In this, the prisoners are bound are bound to the lowest level regarding knowledge of what is, unable to turn their necks. One might think this to be the usual materialism and attachment to the visible goods of the body and appearances, except that the shadows include those projected from the puppet show above and behind them. (II c) Behind a wall, along a “road above” between the prisoners and the higher and deeper cave fire, there are other humans who carry the objects, artifacts, the statues of men and other animals wrought in stone, wood, and every kind of material. The prisoners have seen no more of themselves and one another than the shadows of these artifacts cast by the fire in the cave. If they discuss things with one another, they name the shadows as though these were the real things, and take the shadows to be the real things, the originals of the artifacts which, as we will see, are outside the cave. If the prison has an echo and one of those carrying the artifacts utters a sound, the prisoners think that one of the passing shadows has uttered the sound.

   Shadows, or the things which pass by on the wall of the cave, appear in particular examples soon given. These are first political events, as it is said that prizes are given in the cave for one who is “sharpest at making out the things that go by,’and whom, by remembering the order in which the shadows pass is therefore able to divine what is going to come” (516 c9- d1). Second, it is said that “shadows of the just and the representations of which they are shadows” are disputed in the courtrooms by those who have “never seen justice itself” (517 e). Lawyers generally lack interest in Plato’s Republic.

   Socrates next has Glaucon consider “what their release and healing from these bonds and folly would be like if something of this sort were by nature to happen to them.” The release occurs by nature,” and is not the action of philosophers:

   …Take a man who is released and suddenly compelled to stand up to turn his neck around, to walk and look up toward the light; and who, moreover, in doing all this is in pain and because he is dazzled, is unable to make out those things whose shadows he saw before…

If someone were to tell him that now he sees more truly, the man would not believe him If shown the things that pass by, the man would be “at a loss,” and, Socrates says, believe that what he saw before was truer. “A-poros,” to be “at a loss” also means “without a passage,” and occurs again when Socrates describes the sensations likely to summon intellection. It is not mentioned that men might climb the puppet theater, and that those men holding up the images must have arrived there somehow.

   Two notable points: The philosopher does not release prisoners, but might drag those released already, by nature compelled to turn their necks around. Socrates may not yet admit to an “art of this turning.” 2) the opinion of these on political events and the shadows of justice are not worth much more for their release, and they cannot see or rather comprehend things much more clearly yet. And Glaucon agrees that if someone dragged the prisoners away from there along tyhe “rough, steep upward path,” they would be distressed and annoyed at being dragged. The ascent in the Republic is presented as occurring by compulsion., although the Republic too is the source of the maxim that “no forced study abides in any soul” ( ).

   The prisoners are dazzled not by the cave fire but by the light. Bloom comments that speech is our glimmering light within the cave.

The rulers of the city come into being when they are led up to the light, in the ascent that is philosophy, “just as some men are said to have gone from Hades up to the gods (521 c” The ascent is presented as compelled, in keeping, as is said, with the abstraction from eros that characterizes the Republic Socrates says that if someone dragged the prisoner by force up the rough, steep upward path, he would be distressed and annoyed at being dragged, “and with his eyes full of the light’s beam, he would be unable to see even one of the things now said to be true.”

   Once outside the cave the freed prisoners continued ascent is a growing accustomed to the brightness Socrates presents a list of things that would then be seen, all allegorical:

…At first, he’s most easily make out the shadows, and after that the phantoms of the human beings and the other things in water; and later, the things themselves; and from these, he could turn to beholding the things in and heaven itself, most easily at night, looking at the light of the stars and moon, than by day, looking at the sun and sunlight

   The pattern of the divided line, of visible things and their reflections, is repeated outside the cave, but then where thought would be, there are the things in the sky at night and then the things in daylight corresponding to intellection.

We will be following out the use throughout the Republic of the words “shadow” and “phantom,” trying to show a precise allegorical meaning. Note the repetition of the pattern of the lower half of the divided line, with shadows and phantoms seen in water, just as regarding the visible, which we argue is the fraudulent account of the true child of the good, and the “opinable.” It is the images and the laws that are seen again outside the cave, but here in better light. These are later called “divine images in water,” and these are natural reflections in “the soul,” in a collective sense, of the men and other natural beings, much as Carl Jung hypothesized “archetypes,” the common sources of the myths and symbols produced by the human soul. Recollection seems to be possible because there is knowledge in the soul, and this too would be the sources of dream images and myths, the knowledge of the inspired poets and divine legislators. We say too of psychology that knowledge of the soul is “in” the soul itself, or in the soul of each, awaiting recollection. Klein addresses the recollection theory in light of the Republic, (On Platos Meno, indicating an allusion at 518). But the water or pool is quite mysterious. If the imagination is that in which we at first see opinions of justice, as though lit by a cave fire, the water would be something like the ground of the imagination, “beneath” the more common sense, even as our “dream screen” is distinct from our vision of the inside of our eyelids, visual hallucination the colors from the firing of rods and cones.

   In the thought of Jung, the archetypes as faculties, as knowledges and as knowledges of the soul and faculties are often indistinct: Anima and wise man and child” are both functions and universal themes in symbol and literature. This would be expected if the soul contains within each knowledge of itself, which can be recollected because all nature is akin and the soul intended by nature to know. Jung barely emerges from subjectivism, usually unable to distinguish between the objective psyche or collective unconscious and being itself, which must of course be different if the psyche can be objectively known. Throughout his career, he defends his psychology from an accusation of being “unscientific,” and he argues for the study of the phenomenon of belief, or phenomenology, as distinct from the positions of a credo. “Science” seems paradoxically to have required a subjectivism of him regarding the human things. We argue that if “wholeness” is the health of the soul, there is an objective ethics. “Being” goes with the good and just, evil is not an equal opposite in some whole that is beyond good and evil, if it is beyond conventional morality. If Socrates is correct, justice, properly understood, may be or be essential to the health of the soul by nature. If so, psychiatry is compelled to assume an objective ethics. The less it realizes this, its own ethical and political assumptions- the more it may be compelled to impose its own new ethic.

   The whole of the outside of the cave is repeated at 532, after setting out arithmetic, geometry astronomy and stereometry as the studies best for turning the souls toward being:

Then, I said, ” The release from bonds and the turning around from the shadows to the phantoms and, the way up from the cave to the sun; and, once there, the persisting inability to look at the animals and plants in the sun’s light, and looking instead at the divine appearances in water and at shadows of the things that are, rather than as before at shadows of phantoms cast by a light that, when judged in comparison with the sun, also has the quality of the shadow of a phantom, all this activity of the arts, which we went through, has the power to release and leads what is best in the soul up to the contemplation of what is best in the things that are, just as previously what is clearest in the body was led to the contemplation of what is brightest in the region of the bodily and the visible.

Shadow and phantom repeated outside the cave replaces phantoms with “divine appearances in water.

   The cave fire- what it is that casts the light in which the shadows appear- is described as the shadow of a phantom of the sun outside the cave. It is the source of the light in which we see images and opinions. If the sun outside the cave is the good, what is the phantom of which the cave sun is the shadow?

    The remedy of the human condition regarding education is not the switching of certain objects of belief. It is rather a transformation of the soul described as a turning and ascent.


The Allegorical Cave

   Bloom writes that the discussion of poetry in Book X Elaborates the problem of the reflections in poetry “and reveals the essential character of the cave.” (“Interpretive Essay,” (p. 428 note). The conclusion of the discussion there of Homer and tragedy is that the maker of tragedies  “is naturally third from a king and the truth,” (597 a7) and “third from the truth about virtue,” (599 a1) a craftsman of a phantom. “A king and the truth” “about virtue” is, then, the original of the shadows and phantoms, the legislated characters and their reflections in imagination and belief, literally making up opinion. The royal nature or complete virtue, the conjunction of theoretical and practical of the philosopher-king, is then the “man,” or the being reflected in the shadows and phantoms of the things that are, though there is no mirror or artificial reflector outside the cave. The nearest particular examples we have are Shakespeare’s Prospero and Plato’s Socrates.

   In the discussion of the Republic, Socrates is in competition with the poets, especially Homer, and replaces the images of the poets with the images of Socratic political philosophy. These would correspond to the shadows on the wall of the cave that lead to the ascent according not to to the fraudulent but true account, beginning with the shadows of justice. The Socratic study of the city and regime replaces the Homeric cosmos, as the “bigger,” while the artifact of the legislated virtues and the character formation of the education of the guardians would be the smaller, where the attempt is made from the bigger to show justice in the soul.

   Hence, a reading of the Republic itself can be inserted into the divided line and cave, culminating in this vision of the conjunction of theoretical and practical wisdom that is the fullest articulation of the principle of the health of the soul, or the first principle of psychology. Socrates replaces the shadows on the wall of the cave with the description of the best regime. The three part study of the city and soul shows the same in the bigger and littler, and is closely related to the Aristotelian study of the three and six forms of regime, based upon whether the one, few or many rule aiming at the common good or rather at the private advantage of the ruling element. We would draw these parts of the city and soul as an egg shaped figure divided into three, and this, apparently based upon an archetype and knowable, first shows the study of the soul. It is by going between the two and three part accounts of the soul that many things, and a development, comes to light. There is also a three part depiction of the imagination of the cosmos, and it nay be that the way one imagines the cosmos- heaven earth and the things in between- is inseparable from the way one imagines the hierarchy of the parts of the human soul, where reason” ought govern the things of the heart, eros and spiritedness, and these together govern the appetites. In Book V, though, as it seems, the regime is no longer able to reflect the soul, as the character formation ending in love matters that concern the beautiful” lead to the conjunction of the male and female classes of guardians- so that the focus is on the complementary, two part union in the soul from which the offspring, intellect, might be born. This birth of intellect in the soul (490) we equate with something like baptism or perhaps an Elysian or Orphic mystery, (even surviving from Noah) and the emergence of the prisoner from the cave- from the “visible” into the intelligible.

   We should then, in this section, follow out the use of certain words in the text, bigger and little and then shadow and phantom, and perhaps “painting” as well, trying to see what is reflected in the pool through what is reflected in the mirror of the dialogue.

   Replacing then the visible with the products of the legislators and the poets in the true rather than fraudulent account of the divided line and child of the good,The replacement allows us to relate the city in speech of the Republic to the account in images of the ascent of philosophy or philosophic education. Let us then pick up the presentation of these “visible” objects from the founding of the city in speech up to the account of “the fairest sight for him that can see” (402 d).

   Socrates brings philosophy to the defense of justice when it is being spoke of badly,” as Greek philosophy undermined tradition and released the sophist and those upholding tyranny in theory. He suggested the founding of the city in speech when he was called to the defense of justice before Adeimantus and Glaucon, after the account presented by Thrasymachus, in which in which what men call justice is only the interest of the stronger. This principle is the same as that of the distinguishing factor of the bad sorts of regime in Aristotle, the ruling element seeking its own interest rather than the good of the city. Thrasymachus, and the worst of the sophists, present injustice as the true advantage or good of man, while justice is a sort of simple-minded folly invented by the weak to keep the the real men from seizing their own advantage. In addition, the customary praise of justice as reported by Adeimantus presents justice as a sort of drudgery practiced only for the sake of its consequences, such as the reputation and benefits said to be conferred by the gods on just men. Socrates then is called upon to show that justice is good by nature, even apart from its consequences or usual rewards. The reason is that the true ends of our nature are not the original hierarchy of the ends of the body. Justice appears first as conventional;, or even as a chimera of custom which has all along hidden what is in truth good for man.

    In order to show that justice is advantageous, Socrates must show what is truly advantageous for man. He must show that the original opinion of our own advantage is not right, and that justice is necessary in a life in the life of the true good for man.

   Leo Strauss (The City and Man, p. 91-92) indicates that a procedure is forced of Socrates by Glaucon, first to show justice by the coming into being of a city, and second as belonging to the first of the three kinds of goods, while Socrates himself has said explicitly that it belongs to the that in his opinion, justice belongs to the second kind.

   The demonstration includes something like the discovery of a the specifically human nature beyond the additions of custom, in addition to the principle of the body and the interests of the body. The mind is a higher principle with ends of its own (and hence there is a natural eros regarding reason.)

   In setting out to examine justice, Socrates compares their situation to that of men who do not see sharply (368c; 484 c) being ordered to read small letters from far off. It would appear to them as a godsend if they were able to to consider the smaller letters after having read bigger letters in a bigger place, “if, of course, they do happen to be the same. (368 c).

   Adeimantus agrees that there is, as we say, the justice of one man and also the justice of a whole city. He then agrees that a city is “bigger” than one man. So Socrates proposes that they first examine what justice is like in the cities. “Then,” he says…

We’ll also go on to consider it in individuals, considering the likeness of the bigger in the idea of the littler.

   It is for this reason that the city in speech is set out, and on this principle that the regime is founded, in order to see justice in the soul. The bigger (city) and the littler (soul) may be tentatively inserted into Plate II as visible objects on the two lowest levels of the fourfold division.

   The founding principle of the city in speech reveals the difference between the starting point of Socratic philosophy and that of those who “discourse on gods.” as well as those who discoursed on the nature or the whole cosmos without regard for the things of man. But when, like men telling tales within a tale, the founders undertake to educate the men in speech (375 d) they themselves discourse on gods. Here, the bigger and the smaller are discussed regarding poetry.

   Socrates states that speeches have a “double form,” the “true and the false (479 b). Those to be educated are to be given both, but first the false. Socrates tells Adeimantus:

Don’t you understand…that first we tell tales to children? And surely they are, on the whole false, though there are true things in them too (377 a)

Then, in the discussion of the supervising of those who make tales, this opposition of true and false becomes the opposition between the “greater” and the “smaller” tales. Socrates says:

In the greater tales we’ll also see the smaller ones…Both the greater and the smaller must be taken from the same model and have the same power (377 c)

These greater tales are…

…the ones Homer and Hesiod told us, and the other poets, too. They surely composed false tales for human beings and used to tell them, and still do tell them…

If the greater and smaller in the founding principle, referring to city and soul, corresponds to the greater and lesser (ellaton), or the false and true things in the tales, then the smaller regarding the tales would appear to refer to that part of the soul where justice is sought, tended by the legislator toward the virtues of character. In both the poetry or music used to shape character and in the articulation of the best regime, the greater and the smaller are taken from “the same model” with “the same power “( 377c5-9; 368 d4, 7). The model is distinct from either the greater and the smaller. The model for the virtues of character is the nature of man, here as shown in the philosopher or intellectual virtue. But in this way, the smaller can be seen in the larger, and the recognition of both belongs to the same art and discipline (402 b5-7, c).

   Here too we see the difference between Socratic philosophy and the art of the poets regarding the human things [Note 14]. When Socrates returns philosophy to the consideration of the human things, he brings from natural philosophy the appeal from custom to nature, and from hearsay to seeing for oneself with regard not to any chance report, but the most important things (392 b1) or the fundamental questions. Socratic philosophy begins from opinion, even from the customary beliefs and images as well as the characters formed by these, in an attempt to ascend from opinion to knowledge of the truth of these very things, especially how we should live. One distinction, then, between Socratic political philosophy and the poetry of those who discourse on gods is seen in that Socratic philosophy replaces the greater tales of the poets with the articulation of the best regime as that in which the smaller, the soul, is reflected [Note 15].

   Socrates does not blame the poets for their tales being false, that is, lies, but rather for their lies being ignoble lies. An ignoble lie is:

…when a man in speech makes a bad representation of what gods and heroes are like, just as a painter who paints something that doesn’t resemble the things whose likeness he wishes to paint (377 e).

While it is the task of the legislators of the laws of the city to know the “models according to which the poets must tell their tales,” and Socrates himself discusses these models in his purification of “theology.” Socratic philosophy, by which these models are found, proceeds through the painting of the city in speech (420 c-d; 484c) rather than the paintings of gods and heroes as done by Homer. For the lie in speeches is found to be an imitation which refers to a part of the soul for its original. Socrates states:

…for the lie in speeches is an imitation of the affection of the soul, a phantom of it that comes into being after it, and not quite an unadulterated lie (382 b-c).

  The Homeric depiction of the gods is an imitation of the soul that leads back to the soul as its source. There may be an allusion to the adulteries and hence the human characteristic of the Greek gods. Socrates addresses the model of the greater and the smaller again, using the analogy with the reading of letters (from 368), in discussing “the fairest sight for him who is able to see (402 a7- d3),” that is, the most noble or beautiful sight within the visible. This sight refers to the peak of the visible section, and hence ought be the artifact which best represents the original of which it is a reflection. Establishing the second part of the analogy from letters, Socrates states that we will never be musical…

…before we recognize the forms of moderation and courage liberality and magnificence, and all their kin, and again their opposites, everywhere they turn up, and notice that they are in whatever they are in, both themselves and their images, despising them in neither little nor big things, but believing that they all belong to the same art and discipline.

With the mention of opposites, a dimension of the study is here added according to which larger and smaller are reflected in water or mirrors, and then the images and opposites of the forms of the virtues must be recognized. The reversal of images in mirrors is most evident regarding letters, since we write from one side to the other, and depend especially on direction and left and right to read the letters, is itself a difficult study, good for orientation. The kinds of regimes reflect the kinds of character directly, without reversal, while the vices might each in some sense be intelligible as reversals of the shapes of the virtues. This would follow if the same faculties developed in the soul whether these are turned toward good or ill. The villain is not an ordinary man, but the equal in size of the hero, art least in one sense.

   The virtues of character are here to their forms as the writings, big or small, are to their forms. The forms of the virtues must of course be placed in the upper (I a and b) section of the line (above d and c). There is some question as to whether the plural virtues are reflections of a singular virtue, as a prism reflects a single beam into the seven colors. The fairest sight, according to Socrates, would be:

…if the noble dispositions that are in the soul and those in the form should coincide in anyone, with both partaking of the same model, wouldn’t that be the fairest sight for him who is able to see? (402d)

The relation here between the singular “model” and the plural “forms” appears similar to the relation between the singular “model” and the plural “models” of poetry (377d; 378 e). The important thing for us here is to note that the plural forms and the virtue in a character partake of the same model just as bigger and smaller partake of the same.

   There is some question whether this coincidence refers to the completion of character described in the harmonizing of the three parts of the soul and city (443 c-e; 435a) or whether it refers to the royal aspect of the philosopher kings, whose phronesis or practical wisdom would be the standard of the mean (Aristotle Ethics, III, X). For while the education of the guardians in the noble concludes in “love matters that concern the noble” or beautiful, the city- and hence the soul which it is like- has yet to be completed by the addition of the female drama, the account of the marriage laws by which the city is bound in to a unity like the unity of body and soul together under the ruler within (462 c 10), and the introduction of the philosopher kings.

   We ought go through the instances of the words “shadow,” phantom” and “painting,” in tying down the argument we are trying to remember. Shadow enters the dialogue with painting, when the unjust man concludes that since virtue is illusory, or appearance overpowers the truth, one must draw “a shadow painting of virtue” all around himself (365c). The second is the Homer quotation regarding Tiresias, that he alone in Hades had intelligence, while the others were like flittering Shadows (386d). Then at 432, hunting for justice, Socrates tells Glaucon “the p[lace really appears to be hard going, and steeped in shadows.” There follow the nine or ten instances of shadows in the line and cave (509e, 510e 515 a-c, 516a, 516 e, 517d, 520 c, 523 b and 532b-c). The prisoners have seen no more of themselves and one another than the shadows cast on the wall of the cave, and think that the passing shadows are the ones speaking. The prisoners compete with one another in forming judgments about the shadows (516 e) and they contest in the courts and elsewhere about the shadows of the just. The many cities nowadays are “governed by men who fight over shadows with one another and form factions for the sake of ruling.” (520 c). Glaucon guesses that Socrates means shadow paintings” by his example of the three fingers, but Socrates says he does not have the meaning (523 b). The turning around “from shadows to phantoms and the light” is mentioned in the summary at 532b, and the sun is said to be a shadow of a phantom, again as II d: c :: II: I.  The pleasure of other men is said to be a “shadow painting” to the genuine pleasures of the prudent man, (583 b) and the pleasures of the many to be “mere phantoms and shadow paintings of true pleasure” (586b) over which the many fight since they are insatiable, “for they are not filling the part of themselves that is, or can contain the things that are.” Finally, at 602d, the poets “take advantage of this affection in our nature that shadow painting and puppeteering” also use to deceive us amounting to wizardry.

   Carl Jung addresses the projection of the shadow,” when we are at faction with the flaws or injustice of our fellows because we are at faction within. That the mind seeks to know itself by nature seems to be the cause, of what he calls the “projection” of the shadow, as though we would be compelled to face our defects one way or the other. Jesus teaches a parable of the “beam and splinter, asking why we seek to remove the splinter from our brothers eye despite the log in our own (Matthew 7:3-5; 6:22-23). Hence the Socratic addressing of shadows in the Republic slides neatly into at least one manifestation of Twentieth Century Psychiatry, though even the selection of the particular word is of an independent source.

   We often suspect that by reference to “paradigms, Plato has in mind something most similar to the archetypes of Jung, the common sources in man that account for the similar patterns and meanings in human myth and symbol. The symbols are produced by the soul from these same knowledges within each of us. From this it can be seen how the symptoms of madness can be read and compared to the integrated knowledges in the right functioning of this level of the soul and mind. In this light, there are parables similar to the allegory of the cave in both the Quran and the prophets, as in Isaiah 9. These things can be located with reference to the allegorical cave.

   The word Bloom translates as “phantom” is eidolon, related both to eidos and idol. The lie in speeches is a kind of imitation of the affection in the soul, a phantom of it that comes into being after it (382 b-c). The poets images of the gods are in a sense made in their own image, an imitation of the affection in the human soul, if mixed with intimation. Then at 386, to go with Tiresias, there is “Both soul and eidolon or phantom, but no mind at all” (Iliad XXIII, 103-104). At 443 c, “minding one’s own business” in the external sense is called a phantom of justice. The truer sense is setting one’s own house in order, not letting “each part in him mind other people’s business,” as occurs when men in faction fight over shadows of justice (586 e). There are then the instances of phantom in the line and cave section, 516 a, 520 c, 532 c-d and 534c, including the mention that the released prisoners do turn from the shadows to the phantoms. The phantoms are “of the human beings and the other things in water (516 a). Having seen the truth about  noble, just and good things, those returning who become habituated and see ten thousand times better than the men there will know what each of the phantoms is, and of what each is a phantom” (520 b). At 532, the phantoms outside the cave are replaced with “divine appearances in water.” These are what is seen upon ascent, as though a veil were lifted and the intelligibility of the images appears. The cave fire is also said to be as the shadow of a phantom, and this is the light in which the opinions and images appear to those in the cave. We say that it is as a shadow of the intelligence or mind of the men outside, as intellect is the imago Dei, in turn an image of the good.

   At 586, the many seek mere phantoms of pleasure, “like the phantom of Helen that Stesichorus says the men at Troy fought over out of ignorance of the truth.” The image of the beautiful seen especially by men in love with a particular woman is notoriously THE illusion, whether only for us or also for the Greeks. Jung addresses this as the projection of the “anima” or feminine unconscious of a man, with its less potent corollary in the illusions of love for women. Aphrodite casts illusions as onto Paris that make the beloved appear to us far more beautiful than they are objectively, as one can see when the projection is withdrawn. But we say that the male and female together is the image of God in man, and so love can awaken the sleeping intelligence or mind, as well as being by itself an entry or re-entry into the harmony of wholeness.

   The tyrant seeks a phantom 9 times removed from true pleasure (587c-d), as has been the goal of the argument. At 598 b., the phantom made by the poets lays hold of a part of what is, and 599 a if Homer were able to perform actions or legislate, he would have done so, rather than make imitations. Plato’s Republic may deny Homer his role as “father of the Greeks.” But Homer is “a craftsman of a phantom (599d), and the poets “imitators of phantoms of virtue, who understand not what is, but what looks like it is”(601b). These phantoms produce then a bad regime in the soul of each (605 c).

   One conclusion that we draw is that the quadrivium, while a serious part of both High school and liberal studies, is not the true curriculum of the philosopher, which much more resembles our curriculum, where, in addition too to rhetoric, logic and grammar, or the languages, we have added not only chemistry and biology, archaeology and other sciences, but also the study of both the poets and the laws, in literature and government or politics, then psychology- if that is possible, and philosophy, and then the sacred texts. There is too, a muse of history, so that that might be a department. Once the point is made, the argument that these studies rather than the quadrivium provide the particulars for philosophy should be apparent. The professions- of law, teaching and medicine- each depend upon the purely liberal studies in different ways in any case. In this way the Republic appears first among all human books, and easily among the top ten in the courses of our universities, and pre-requisite for the study of the soul. The whole too might be considered to be political philosophy.

   A particular curriculum, too, might be indicated as follows: Scripture presents a teaching of more authority than Socrates, as for example in teaching to love one another, rather than to harm no one or do no injustice while feeding the intellect and soul. Socrates would be the principle or guide in philosophy, together with the Socratic philosophers and some others, while Shakespeare would be the principle in drama and imagination or literature. Philosophic drama, as practiced by Plato and Shakespeare, is one possible allegorical interpretation of stereometry, with the anomaly that Plato is describing his own art within a product of that art, which shows the souls alive and speaking to one another. Jefferson and Lincoln, with Franklin and Madison, are guides in practical politics. Legislation in the West is a difficult question, but these four principles govern realms or departments of the academy corresponding roughly but directly to the four section of the divided line with the cave.

   Outside the cave, there are the living things, the animate things, studied, again, in biology, and man or the men themselves, if they can now see more of themselves and one another. Seeing these reflected is- hypothetically- the same as the study of images of the poets, the actions of the political men and the laws, yet now in light of their source. Hence we do not think that emergence from the cave is the completion, but the beginning of genuine philosophy, not the recollection of all things at once, but something like what occurs in the myth of recollection, when Persephone receives requital for the ancient doom, and the souls to become kings and heroes are restored to the surface above.

   By turning to the human things, and through these, especially, humans have access to a reflection of being, a natural image, the same as the reason for the first of the laws pertaining to men, the law of Noah against murder, “for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6; 1:26)). The law both regarding the moderation of the passions and of anger are based on the same: we do not make images, because man is the image. So Socrates founded political philosophy proper, and a new way in the study of all things in which form or intelligibility, and hence reason, takes precedence over body and material causes. By asking the “What is” question, especially of the human things, Socrates introduces a development beyond either the poets or the natural philosophers.

  From the city and the poets, or the philomythoi, philosophy takes the concern with the human, but from science or natural philosophy, the appeal to nature and truth regarding the natures of the human things. As Leo Strauss reads, in sentences that again, seem crucial to us about the Socratic turn, Socrates

“realized that nature is primarily “form” or “idea,” and that he “originated a new kind of the study of the natural things– a kind of study in which, for example, the nature and idea of justice, or natural right, and surely the nature of the soul or man, is more important than, for example, the nature of the sun (Leo Strauss, The History of Political Philosophy, p. 5). The human things turn out to be “the key to understanding all things,” (Thoughts on Machiavelli, p. 19; 78)

The human things are the key to understanding all things because it is through the image that is man that we see the divine and natural things in reflection, though not yet directly. Justice or the right way becomes no longer something assumed or taken as known, nor something assumed not to exist, but the object of a quest. The Socratic turn, from pre-Socratic philosophy, is a turn from material and efficient causes to formal and final causes, or the discovery of the forms as causes (Phaedo 99). 

   No one has ever given a sufficient account of this teaching of the forms to account for the intelligibility of things. We are guided by certain elements- such as the difference between “good doctor” and “doctor,” appearing as a ratio, just city and city, etc. and that the two are one in each form. The different kinds of forms are to be considered, and what it means that it is said to be by both imitation and participation that the many examples are related to each form. If a chair could know itself, would it then understand that its shape and form were an imitation of the best chair? And this chair akin to the very best chair, even the throne of God, of which the earth is said to be his footstool?Perhaps. But consider the elementary paragraphs of an account, say, of nature and convention regarding justice, or that forms are also parts of a whole in the natural articulation of things, which does seem to be a cosmos, the demarcations of the sciences, the difference between places, which are something, and substances, which always seem to be in a “realm,” and it is clear that the account of the forms is of simplified elements. Yet still, let it be granted that every city is defective regarding justice, still, when a city becomes “better,” where does that good come from? If nothing comes from nothing, there must then be a fullness.

   The name “Good One” can be extrapolated from what Jesus says at Luke 18:3: One there is who is good.” But that it is our good and the source of good does not mean that it is essentially either of these. Trinity, too, is extrapolated rather than being a teaching of scripture, because there is more to the story. Having the three in doctrine may not give us full or non-contradictory knowledge of the name given to Moses… That at the creation, God saw that it was good means a few things, including that good is not created. “Good,” though, may pre-suppose a creation or multiplicity. That this is not said on the second day nor of the creation man may mean that heaven is to completed with man, and so the whole is yet called “good.”

   The account of the image of God in man is in terms of imitation rather than participation, or rather, by imitation as well as participation. As is the teaching in the Parmenides of Plato, the forms are patterns fixed in the nature of things. The knowledge of these, innate within the true self and the human soul, is the reason that the unjust are harmed by their own injustice, as this is contrary to their true nature, regardless of what they wish or think, or of the inflation of their own bodies. The other things are made in the image and are likenesses of the patterns (Parmenides 132 d). The natural articulation of things becomes quite manifold when one adds to the account of visible objects and their intelligibility, the question of a corresponding source. For as geometry is to objects, so there is an intelligible source regarding life, self motion and the choice unique to man, off what Strauss calls “ways” as well as “courses,” as are chosen even by animals (On Genesis; Jerusalem and Athens). Hence, we see that there is something too in what completes morality in both Athens and Jerusalem- this image of God in man that is nous so that the priority of justice or righteousness in each is not surprising. The invisible and even trans-intelligible being of the Good beyond being would be shown in the intelligence that proceeds from it, even if the forms are analogous to the patters of frost that appear on winter windows, revealing something implicit in the nature of water, glass, crystalline things and accident. The study of politics and man by nature unfolds as the colors of an ornate fan, or refractions in dewdrops of a prism of light. Participation is nothing other than their being made in their image.

   Hence, from the Christian view of Athens and Jerusalem, we respond to Strauss that these have something in common regarding what completes morality, namely the imago Dei- and this is mutually confirming.

   These four things would seem to have to fit together in an account of the intelligibility and our world: Part and whole, comprehensive vision, the principles demarcating the sciences and the eidae as definitions. Consider the “forms” required, for an example, in a comprehensive discussion of economics and politics in light of the distinction between nature and convention. Yet all these intelligibles in some sense are. “Space” and “Time” are, and the beings unfold in new dimensions not wholly explicable in terms of the preceding dimensions. Places or realms seem too to “be,” yet not to “be” in the way that beings are. The days of the creation are noteworthy, where first places come to be, and then the beings that inhabit the places. Life introduces the first subject-object distinction of separate beings, then those that move themselves, and then, as Strauss writes, those that direct themselves. Living things are all alive in the same sense, on or off, whether animal or plant. So the rational beings are self moving as are the animals, but something more is added in a new dimension not wholly comprehensible from the prior dimension, and this is that studied in man. Plato notoriously understood the beings from the faculties: There are obviously intelligible objects if there are intelligences, just as sight implies that there really are visible objects. So from the soul itself, we have access to what is above it. The truth of baptism or the emergence from the cave of kings and heros, may well indicate or evince the truth of the Messiah.



On the imagination: On Poetry in Plato’s Republic, or

What Imitation in General Is.

[The notes remain to be transferred from the page in the psychology section]

   Prior to attempting to write on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Colin Still writes an essay on the imagination, explaining how great poetry sees the universal human meaning reflected as in a mirror. His work, printed in 1936, is much like Jung, seeking the common or collective knowledge embodied in the particulars of the products of the imagination. Still assumes a refreshing objectivism, arguing that a great work of art is a reflection seen as through a mirror: “…it could not exist at all without the reality of which it is a mirrored reflection.” p. 4 “Every genuine work of imaginative art is thus a visible reflection of invisible realities, seen through the mirror of the artist’s psyche.” It is, though not his peculiar consciousness, but “a reflection of realities existing in the universal consciousness” (p. 6). Still refers to St. Paul, who writes that now we see “as in a glass, darkly,” but then “face to face” (I Cor. 13:12), and Still writes:

“The magical periscope of imaginative genius is the glass in which we may see an enigmatical reflection of ultimate reality– or, as St. Paul puts it in religious terms, the glass in which we may behold the glory of the Lord

(P. 12, II Cor. 3:18).

“As in a glass, we are seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, and are being transformed into that image,” says Paul. The key Greek words are “es-optou” and “Kat-optridzomenoi,” we see obscurely, or in an enigma (eis ainigmati),” but “as in a mirror.” Still also writes that the word mystery is derived from muo, to shut, because the artist perceives inwardly. A mystic,” as a noun, is “one initiated.”

   Still writes: “Every genuine work of art is thus a reflection of something contemplated by the artist, and there is no such thing as a work of art which is a reflection of nothing at all, (p. 17)” though “The degree of conscious purpose in a work of imaginative art can never be accurately determined, even by the artist himself, and perhaps by him least of all, since his work may quite well express ideas of which he is not definitely aware of possessing.” So Socrates in the Apology, when he questioned the poets, found that almost anyone present could comment on their works more clearly than they (22b-c).  A work of art can even teach the author, if it is a process of bringing to contemplation knowledge or thoughts from within the soul.

   Socrates, in a reconsideration of the expulsion of the poets from the best regime, takes up with Glaucon a study of “What imitation in general is.” He undertakes, by means of an image, to examine the relation between poetic imitations and the originals of which these are the imitations. After the discussion, Socrates reaffirms the expulsion of the poets, because, the discussion claims to show, the poets do not make their poems from knowledge, or even right opinion, and produce a bad regime “in the souls of each private man” by making “phantoms that are very far removed from the truth and by gratifying the soul’s foolish part” (605b) or “by watering the passions when they ought to be dried up” and “setting them up as rulers in us when they ought be ruled (606d). It is here that, after the discussion, Socrates says that if poetry has any argument to give which shows that it should be in a city with good laws, we should be delighted to receive them back from exile.” It has been argued, as by Barbara Tovey,

that Shakespeare considered his plays, especially The Tempest, to answer this Socratic challenge, set here in the tenth book of the Republic.

   Socrates asks Glaucon: “Can you tell me what imitation in general is? For I myself can scarcely comprehend what it intends (Bouletai) to be” (Republic, 595c). Glaucon defers to the sharper sight of Socrates, In order to examine the work and products of tragedy and its leader Homer,” Socrates presents a three tired image of a painter, a craftsman and “the god,” who each make a picture of a couch, a couch, and the “idea” of a couch., according to their customary procedure of setting down one “some one particular form for each of the particular “manys” to which we apply the same name.” Like the painter of a couch, the poet is “third from what is” (599e1). But this is not third from the idea, as of a couch, the ideas that are the causes of the literally visible objects and invented artifacts, but, in the analogy, third from “A king and the truth,” a “craftsman of a phantom.” The poets are “imitators of phantoms of virtue,” (601e5) not of literally visible things. The analogy should be pictured and drawn out,[xlviii] as there are two different sets of three levels:

The god  [xlix]             The idea of a couch           “A King and Virtue”

The craftsman       a couch                           Legislator         Ethical virtue

The painter           a picture of a couch         Poet                  images and actions

Bloom writes that in the discussion of poetry in Book X, Socrates “elaborates the problem of the prisoners ascending toward truth, and reveals the essential character of the cave.” (Int. Essay, p. 428). The three on the left correspond to the lower levels of the divided line, those on the right to the Allegory of the Cave, which, we say, contains a secret account we call the allegorical line. (Bloom p. 398) writes:

The poetic images should be used as the geometers use representations of circles, to understand something of which the particular circle is only an image. Poetry characteristically causes men to forget that its images are only images.

Bloom (p. 404) asks,

…”who regularly believes that images are real things; who mistakes reflections for what is reflected? …The answer seems to be that the cave is the city …we do not see men as they are but as they are represented to us by the legislators and poets.

   Second from a king and virtue, as the couch of the craftsman is second from the idea, is the one who is “able to recognize what sort of practices make human beings better or worse in public and private,” thanks to whom one of the cities is better governed, as Sparta was thanks to Lycurgus (599d). The legislator, in his concern for deeds, is the craftsman of ethical virtue and the cause of noble actions. These actions and dispositions are what is imitated by the poet, since poetry is the imitation of actions (603 c3-4); Aristotle, Poetics, II.1; IV.2, .5; VIII.4). As Bloom shows, what Socrates means by treating the poet as an imitator of artifacts is that while in one sense, man is a natural being, in another sense he is a product of nomos, law or convention. “Civil men, dwellers in the cave, are in the decisive sense the artifacts of the legislator. Their opinions are formed by them” (Interpretive Essay, p. 432). Opinions are a combination of beliefs and images, the objects of trust and imagination (511 e1-2; 533 e- 534a). These are the artifacts reflected in the light of the cave fire in shadows onto the wall of the cave. The poet’s imitations are the phantoms of virtue, which are the opinions, characters and actions produced by the craft of the legislator. The original, of both the products of the legislator and the poet, is “a king and the truth” (597a), about “what is” (599a), “the truth about virtue” (599e; 600e). Poetry as an imitation of actions thus refers to an original beyond the products of the legislator since the original of both the poem and the action is the nature of man. This would be shown in or exemplified by the men outside the cave. The nature of man would even be shown most fully by showing the philosopher king ruling in the best regime.

   Taken literally, the divided line has no place for the images of the poets and the artifacts of the legislators. Or are we to say that the images of poetry are reflections of literally visible objects? The tree and the watering can, the pen and paper? It is interesting that drama does convert poetry, images and thought into literally physical spectacles, though it is not mathematics or Pythagorean arithmetic metaphysics that takes us to the originals in the soul of man and what this is like. Though there be a one, a dyad, a trinity and a fourth, the numbers themselves are limited as images. Socrates compares the poet to one who “makes” all the things that the craftsman makes, and natural objects too, by carrying around a mirror. Bloom writes:

The difference between the mirror held to nature and the product of the imitative Sophist is parallel to the difference between the lowest level of the divided line– where things are seen reflected in water or on smooth surfaces– and the wall of the cave– where prisoners see the reflections of artifacts– only some of which have natural models” (428). “Only by constant reference back to the divided line can one understand the cave” (403).

   Hence, sense can be made of why the lowest two sections of the divided line are called “imagination” and “trust:” The line refers by analogy to a true account of which the common reading is an image. The images of the poet and the beliefs of the law refer to intelligibles, but not those of mathematics and traditional metaphysics, but originals that appear only to the mind that ascends from the cave. Otherwise, as Benardete noted, there is no place for political philosophy in the divided line at all. And transcendence of the cave is no more than trying to read Euclid. But all men have access to the intelligibles of mathematics, and to concepts or thought, such as “Being.” Nor is transcendence of the cave only a matter of rejecting ethical tradition and becoming a materialist: that is what happens when one is released from the chains but does not ascend. The meaning of myth becomes most apparent, and the one who ascends will be thought mad. There is an allegorical line. The account of philosophy as based upon the mathematics and universals of literally visible objects is based upon what Socrates calls the “fraudulent” account of the offspring of the good. “Be careful I do not somehow unwilling deceive you, in rendering the account of the interest fraudulent (Republic, VI, 507a).” The true account leads, just as does the Bible, to the image of God in man, and this in turn is our access to true “metaphysics,” the contemplation of the things known by “God.” In modernity, it is much more common for the account to end up with people saying that man IS God, taking support from the Indian thought regarding the Atman and Brahman, etc. And it may be partly true, or true in a way, if our consciousness and personhood, for example, are “sparks of the divine.” And the “Bride” may be what these accounts intend. But it is even said in our “philosophy” that the individual so possessed is what the image is of- an error enshrined in our emerging diabolic age by Nietzsche.

   Two places where reflections or mirrors appear in the Republic, in addition to 596 in Book X, are 402b (where images of writings appear in water or mirrors) and 516a, where the entire pattern of the divided line is repeated outside the cave. As Seth Benardete indicates, there are no artificial things outside the cave, and so only the natural mirror. The “shadows” and “phantoms” seen outside the cave are distinct from those seen inside the cave, and both refer for their originals to the human beings and other things outside the cave. Outside the cave there would appear “the divine appearances in water” (532).

   Hamlet, famously, reverses the mirror image of Plato to explain the true purpose of Drama. Beginning from or digressing upon what is wrong with excessive, or histrionic actors, Hamlet tells:

…for anything so o’erdone is from the purpose of playing,

whose end, both at the first and now,

was and is to hold a mirror up to nature;

to show virtue her own feature, scorn

her own image, and the very age and body of the time

his form and pressure.

   Elsewhere, we have argued, for example, that Hamlet is a reflection upon the Reformation, and Lear about the fall of the orders in the Renaissance repetition of the ancient Greek discovery of nature. Hamlet produces a play, and comments on the purpose of drama, in a way hard to distinguish from auto biographical. The answer of Shakespeare for drama, on a Socratic basis, is true and astonishing, and so we will have drama!

   According to Socrates, “it is necessary that the good poet, if he is going to make fair poems about the things his poetry concerns, be in possession of knowledge when he makes his poems, or not be able to make them” (598d). What the poet must know in order to make poems in the best regime is “the truth about virtue.” But the imitator “understands nothing of what is, but rather what looks like it is (601a). In illustrating how the imitators, including the craftsmen, do not have knowledge, and indicating what such knowledge would be,  Socrates again enters into the lower three tiered image, based on the arts, but this time with a different example, more suited to analogy with the legislator, of the bridle of a horse. While a painter might paint reins and a bit, and the smith, leather worker or shoemaker will join each part, only the horseman– the user of the implement–will have knowledge of how the reins and bit must be. Of the three arts, those of the imitator, the maker and the user, only one who uses each thing is said to have knowledge of how it must be. This is because “the virtue, beauty and rightness of each implement, animal and action” are related to nothing but the use for which each was made or grow naturally” (601d). Thus the user, who knows, reports to the maker, who then has right opinion, while the imitator will have neither knowledge nor right opinion. He will imitate “whatever looks fair to the many who don’t know anything” (601e-602b). Bloom explains: The user’s art is political science or Socratic political philosophy which aims to know the soul and man. The knowledge of the function or work for which man was intended by nature is the knowledge of the principle in light of which the human passions ought be bridled, by the legislators.

   The attempt to ascend from opinion to knowledge turns out to be the following out of the intention of the law, because law “wishes to be the finding out of what is.” (Minos, 315 a 2). Indeed, the messiah comes to fulfill the law, and corrects Mosaic teaching in the sermon on the Mount on 5 important points. Indeed, it may not be the intention of God that we sacrifice animals or stone the adulteress. The attempt to read the New Testament as a book of law rather than its fulfillment leads to absurdity. Jesus is not a legislator, but the savior.

   It is most revealing to follow the larger and smaller, the greater and smaller, and shadow and phantom throughout the Republic. It would appear as a godsend to be able to read small letters in larger ones (Book III) as they set out to study the soul in the city. Tales are in two forms, the “greater” and “lesser,” but it is for the legislators or founders to know the models of the tales. The Republic itself can be read in terms of the line and cave. The city in speech is Socrates’ replacement of the cosmos of Homer with the Allegory of the cave.

   The way in which ethical or legislated virtue is an artifact of “a king and virtue” may be seen from the description of the philosophic legislator at 499c- 501b. The philosopher, “keeping company with the orderly and divine, becomes orderly and divine to the extent that it is possible for a human being” (500d).” It is repeated that the many will not be harsh or distrust them when they say “that a city could never be happy otherwise than by having its outlines drawn by the painters who use the divine pattern.” The philosophic legislator would take both the city and the characters of humans, wipe them clean like a tablet, and outline the shape of the regime. After that, like the Theseus’ “poet’s eye in fine frenzy rolling,” …:

…Filling out their work they would look frequently in both directions, toward the just, fair and moderate by nature and everything of the sort, and again what is in human beings; and thus, mixing and blending the practices as ingredients, they would produce the image of man, taking hints from exactly that phenomenon in human beings which Homer too called godlike and the image of God (Theoeides te kai theoeikelon).

   This divine pattern from which the image of man is produced in either city or soul is itself “in the soul” (484c, “or perhaps in heaven” (592b2). It is related to the knowledge of what each thing is (484c) or is the same as “intelligence and truth (nous kai alethes), the part “akin” to what each thing is, that is fit to grasp a thing of that sort. That in man which is godlike and an image of god may be intelligence and truth begotten when the erotic lover of learning is coupled with what is. As that in man from which the image of man is produced is called theoeides, nous and gnosis are called “agathoeiges,” “good-like, even as the eye is called the most “sun-formed” (ilio-eides-taton) of the senses.

   Thus it would appear that where the sun is the light of the visible world, in the fraudulent account of the offspring of the good (506e- 507a), nous is the true offspring begot in proportion with the Father (508b-c). The use of the good itself as a pattern by which the philosophers govern, those who are over 50 and see the good itself, in ordering the city and private men and themselves, and educating other like men (540 a5-b5; 497 c 6-9). Hence, the light by which the images and beliefs appear in opinion is itself the shadow of a phantom. (519).

   An example of the image of God in man as the basis of legislation is evident in Moses. Both the law concerning murder or anger and the law regarding marriage, or love are based upon the image of God in man (Genesis 1:26; 9:6). The reason for the law against murder is: “for God made man in his own image.” The image of God in man is the cause of the laws.

   By showing what might happen, drama, which is an imitation of an action, is able to embody wise action, a combination of theoretical and practical wisdom. Aristotle explains that by universal here, he means “how a person of a certain type will on occasion speak or act,” as is sometimes embodied or suggested by the names of the characters. And here, in explaining that the universals are kinds of men, he echoes an earlier passage of the Poetics which addresses the pleasure of learning, found most fully in the contemplation of the things imitated. There Aristotle explains:

The reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, “Ah, that is he.” For if you happen not to have seen the original, the pleasure will be due, not to the imitation as such, but to the execution, coloring, etc.

“The original,” we say, refers to the thought embodied in the particulars, and not the historical action imitated. Aristotle praises Homer for showing, in his Iliad, not the history of the Trojan war, but the unity of the action of the anger or wrath of Achilles. Poetry, then, can select particulars which show the meaning of an action. The thought embodied is of course regarding the soul of man, and, hopefully, the most important concerns of man.

   Aristotle, in his Poetics (IX), reflecting on Herodotus and the difference between poetry and history, famously writes:

…one relates what has happened, the other what may happen. Poetry, therefore, is a thing more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to show the universal, history the particular.

   What has happened is history, and usually tragic. What may happen includes the best, and so the statement of Aristotle points toward Shakespearean “comedy-” a new sort dependent upon wise rule, or the principle of the philosopher-king. The Aristotelian statement of the reflection of the universal in the particulars of poetry raises the question of the relation to Aristotle’s discussion of the perception of the particular in prudent action, in his Ethics The “ultimate” particulars are the actions to be performed (1142 a 25), i.e., the one right thing to be done in each situation. This is seen, though, not by the deliberative faculty (logistikon, or reason), but is perceived by the eye of the soul, It is this which sees, both the first principles in theoretical wisdom and the ultimate particulars in deliberation or practical wisdom: philosopher and king (1142 a 35-b5).

   Poetry shows what may happen, history what has happened and so, as Shakespeare perhaps discovered, poetry is capable of showing wise rule, if not of showing the best circumstance. We will consider a place where Shakespeare may directly address his new comedy, in the preface to the second of his Greek plays, Troilus and Cressida.

   In considering Athens and Jerusalem, too, the Aristotelian account in which both theoretical and practical virtue are dependent upon nous for the seeing of first principles is interesting because particulars can be intelligible, and the good seen in the circumstance, i.e., the divine can be incarnate in this sense, for nous sees only the intelligible. The particular of the Christ- If it is true- would then be that- the gospel which awakens the image of God in man, and attachment to this particular would in that sense lead to salvation. Indeed, the Bible is not a matter of will, obedience and belief without reason until, after 300, Christianity becomes an artifact in the cave as the religion of the Roman Empire. The word “will” does not even occur in Genesis.

   Poetry or drama might even be the sort of three dimensional geometry sought by Socrates as a study capable of lifting the mind out of the barbaric bog (Republic, 528b-c). It is especially the human things, including those imitated in dramatic poetry, that are the matter of the philosophic ascent. The plots of Shakespeare are without exception political plots, showing kings and dukes ruling in various polities in difficult circumstances. Each difficulty concerns the rulers or the city. Each solution, found or missed, is a political solution. Socratic political philosophy is distinct from pre-Socratic philosophy in that it attempts to see what is through the human or political things, using poetry as geometers use circles drawn to see things about the circle. The human things are the key to understanding “all things,” just as one would expect if it were true that the soul is an image of God. Intelligence,[l] Aristotle notes, is not active at every stage of life, but is acquired at a certain stage, which means that nature is the cause (1143 b 6-10). Nous may be understood to be rare, though common in the sense that all men participate in seeing and doing the good. Its emergence is said to bring into completion the dispositions toward virtue that we have by nature. There is no practical wisdom in the full sense without Nous, the sight of the eye of the mind, and all intellectual virtue depends upon this. And here we find a connection between this principle and tragedy, as Aristotle states:

…As in the case of a mighty body which, when it moves without vision, comes down with a mighty fall because it cannot see, so it is in the matter under discussion. [If a man acts blindly, i.e., using his natural character alone, he will fail;] but once he acquires intelligence, it makes a great difference in his action At that point, the natural characteristic will become that virtue in the full sense (kurios arete) which it previously resembled.

                                                         (Ethics, Book VI, 1144b 10-15)

Hence it is said that in every tragedy, there is one right thing that ought to have been done, unseen or unchosen due to the tragic blindness that is the Achilles’ heel of the tragic hero. Priam ought have returned Helen, assuming that she was in Troy (Aristotle, Ethics, II.9, 1109b 10-11), as the Trojan elders advised. The sight of the particular depends upon a comprehensive knowledge. Oedipus suffers a tragic blindness, and in anger kills the man on the road who turns out to be his father. Humans suffer an inner faction, especially if education does not cultivate their souls. The relation of the “lordly virtue” to the lordly knowledge, kurios episteme, is of course the big question, especially complicated because humans do not have divine knowledge. But the question is whether there can be practical wisdom without theoretical wisdom, and if so, how? But these are the questions of the crown of the philosopher-king, and we have seen Oberon and Theseus rule in Athens.

   The Socratic statement misinterpreted by Aristotle or his readers may be “Through pity purging fear,” rather than purging pity and fear, as read by the compassion-less Stoics. Classical tragedy does not make us pitiless, but by sym-pathe,” suffering along with the hero” (605 d) or protagonist, drama does make us fearless, as the consequences of doing the one right thing evident. Socrates does speak of the tragic poet inflaming sorrows and the comic a buffoonery, indicating a vicarious enjoyment of our own repressed passions in drama, passions that ought be repressed, and in general fostering and watering all the desires, “when they ought be dried up, and sets them up as rulers in the us when they ought be ruled, so that we may become better and happier instead of worse and more wretched.” What is purged would be not compassion, but sorrow. Whether Sophocles and Aeschylus (not to mention Homer) are simply guilty as charged, the account makes sense especially in considering a Socratic critique of Euripides.

   In the old quarrel between philosophy and poetry, (607b), Socrates culminates the argument of philosophy when he says that the poets, not knowing the nature of man, make imitations which produce a bad regime in the soul. Mentioning Euripides by name (568a), Socrates expels the poets for “making hymns to tyranny” (568b). In the Socratic argument, the disagreement of the philosophers, who always appealed to the nature of things that is always, has in common with the poets the concern with the human things, and points to a basis in nature from which human justice can be defended. The culmination of Greek poetry is in Euripides. Euripides characteristically takes the side of the repressed appetites, as in his Bacchae and his Hippolytus, where Aphrodite has her revenge for her repression upon a follower of Dianna. In opposition, the Socratic poetry of Shakespeare demonstrates the justice of its return from banishment in the Republic, if not the city in speech, at least in the Republic of letters and education.



Note 1: The word is theo-eides te kai theo eikelov, “divine of form” and “god-like.” Most sun formed is halio-eidestatoi, at 508b. The reference is apparently to the Homeric epithet as this is used for example of Achilles by Agamemnon (Iliad, I, 131) and of Odysseus Thrasymedes and Telemachos Odyssey,  III, 398, 414, 416). In Homer, the word is unlikely to have the significance of the image of God in man by which the legislator produces the the image of man. The legislator (at 500c-501b) uses the image of god in man as the philosopher-kings are later said to use the good itself (540 a9-b1) as a pattern in ruling all that that they rule.

Note 2: Benardete, Seth “Sun, Line and Cave,” p. 327. Benardete continues that the account in the Republic “appears to be prior to and is posterior to the discovery of political philosophy.” In, Socrates’ Second Sailing: On Plato’s Republic, (p. 161) Benardete writes:

…The ascent from the cave is made without any use of the ascent of the Republic. Although the ascent of the Republic alone made it possible for there to be a representation of its ascent, sun ,line and cave are blind to what made themselves possible. At the center of the Republic stands an account that is alien from its own setting. It pretends to be prior and is posterior to the discovery of political philosophy. It is the second sailing in the guise of a first sailing.

What we show is that political philosophy is hidden in the account by analogy revealed to the soul that studies the human things and ascends not in thought alone, but in virtue.

Note 3: Aristotle, Ethics VI, 12140 b8 and 1141 b4. Aristotle’s examples of natural philosophers and non-philosophic politicians leads one to wonder about the distinction of Socratic wisdom from these kinds of theoretical and practical wisdom.

Note 4: Tokos means both interest and offspring Usury, lending at interest- is considered suspect because unlike profit from the natural reproduction a herd of sheep or cattle, interest is the “unnatural breed of barren metal.” (Yet lending capital might itself generate value.) Matthew 11:20 reads: “Yet wisdom is justified by her offspring,” where tokos is translated “deeds.” Our ancient thesis is that these are the same, and nous is begotten, not made. The paradox is the same as well, since the Christ is said by John to be the light that enlightens men (1: 9, 12).

Note 5: Allan Bloom, Interpretive Essay,   .

Note 6: Jacob Klein notes that there is an “ironic ambiguity” in the term doxaston, because in addition to the opinable” it can also mean “what is held in honor,” as at 511 a8 dedoxamenois). See also Aristotle’s Ethics I.12. “The Glory” in scripture is similarly the Doxan, and an illumination around the Presence.

Note 7: There is a similarity to Baptism, which may also be experienced as the lifting of a veil. The birth of intellect is more general than Christianity of Plato. While some think this shows that the Christian mysteries have an earthly source, it may also be that the truth of the Christ is written on and witnessed by the nature of the soul. The mystery of Baptism is one symbolic referent of the story of the flood of Noah (1 Peter 3:20-22). The chapter of the Gilgamesh Epic concerning the flood occurs after Noah leans over to whisper the true secret of “eternal life.”

Note 8. Strauss addresses the ideas” on pp. 119-121 of The City and Man. “No one has ever succeeded in giving a satisfactory or clear account of this doctrine of ideas…This is not to deny that there is a profound difference between the gods as understood in the theology of the Republic and the ides. It is merely to assert that those who have come to accept that theology are best prepared for accepting the doctrine of the ideas…”

Note 9: Greater length probably corresponds to greater clarity. From 511 a7 and c5 we know that the higher parts of the line are called clearer (Klein, p. 113 At 534 a5, Socrates proposes that they let go of the account of the proportions of the line because of the length of the arguments involved. Jacob Klein has found the proof in Greek Mathematics on which the divisions of the line are apparently based. (p. 119 n. 27). The conclusion is: c=b! (p. 119, n. 27). Replacing the equal proportions of the four segments in Plate 1 above, the line probably looks, from bottom to top, something like this: (1:2:2:4- with the upper part then twice the lower, making the segments 1/3 and 2/3 rds. and the two parts, visible and intelligible, 3:6.).

Note 10: Smikron and makron, smaller and larger or little and bigger, should be followed throughout the text, as these have a certain significance distinct from the mere example of an abstract contrary, at least in the Republic. From the beginning of the project to found a city in speech, the purpose was to see the same form in the “bigger” thing, the city, in order to catch sight of justice in the smaller, the soul. We suggest that “bigger” and “smaller” retain the significance of this allusion throughout. Hence, here, we say Socrates alludes to his leaving out the whole throng of political things and the soul.

Note 11: This is so if b:a::c:d. This in turn follows from the statement a:c::b:d (534a).

Note 12: This point is especially difficult because there are two turns in the allegory, the turning of the head (514 b1; 515 c6), and the turning from things themselves to things in the heavens (516 a 8).

Note 13 Strauss, “The History of Political Philosophy,” Introduction, p. 5; Aristotle, Metaphysics, I.5, 1087b 2-4. Political philosophy, and indeed psychology properly pursued, turn out to be the gateway of metaphysics, as the account of things after the visible. Socrates discovered a new kind of the study of all things, in which the nature of the soul and man is more important than the nature of the sun.

Note 14: Strauss, Natural Right and History, IV; The History of Political Philosophy, Introduction, pp. 3-5. In Republic, Socrates may be shown founding political philosophy. Though people had of course considered man before, and even according to nature, we mean that true political philosophy and indeed true psychology are founded here in the Republic if anywhere.

Note 15: One wonders if this does not imply that the city in speech- the order that best reflects the smaller and the model- is not like a false tale. There may be limitations to the extent to which city and soul “do happen to be the same” (388 d 7-8). The equality of women, the communism regarding the family among the small guardian class, and the philosopher kings might contain something like a a mime of the transformation of the philosophic soul.

Appendix notes:

[xlvii] Shakespeare’s Argument for Imitative Poetry, pp. 278-280, etc.

[xlviii] The drawing out of the line and cave is essential to a reading of the account of political philosophy and psychology contained in the line and cave images. Jacob Klein follows the division and then division of the line in unequal segments, and notes that it is not clear which of the unequal segments is larger, though they are not equal (On Plato’s Meno, p.  ) From the analogy in Book X, the work begins to move revealing what is like a ladder  for ascending and descending contemplation. Among many astonishing features, there is a repetition of the whole divided line in the segment outside the cave.

[xlix] The inventor is at least the passive cause of artificial things, such as the wheel, the screw and couch, though the wing was invented by nature and copied. Strangely, the god is called “phuto-ergon” or nature-begetter, gardener of the ideas. Inventions are a problem for the usual equation of the eternal forms with linguistic universals or categories.

[l] Our words reason and intuition are not sufficient to comprehend the Greek Nous and Noasis, intellect and “intellection.”


Benardete, Seth “Sun Line and cave.”

Bloom, Alan. Interpretive Essay. in The Republic of Plato. New York: Basic Books, 1968.

Brann, Eva. The Music of the Republic. Anapolis, Md: The Collegian Press, St. John’s College. No date.

Klein, Jacob . On Plato’s Meno.

Strauss, Leo. The City and Man. The University of Chicago Press, 1978.