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Philosophy and the Social Problem by Will Durant

Optimized for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, version 3. Export your saved bookmarks via email. And this I affirm to be natural justice and nobility. But the many cannot do this; and therefore they blame such persons, because they are ashamed of their own inability, which they desire to conceal; and hence they call intemperance base They enslave the nobler natures, and they praise justice only because they are cowards.

This justice is a morality not for men but for foot-men oude gar andros all' andrapodou tinos ; it is a slave-morality, not a hero-morality; the real virtues of a man are courage andreia and intelligence phronesis.

Perhaps this hard "immoralism" reflects the development of imperialism in the foreign policy of Athens, and its ruthless treatment of weaker states. What is justice? How does Socrates -- i. At first he does not meet it at all. He points out that justice is a relation among individuals, depending on social organization; and that in consequence it can be studied better as part of the structure of a community than as a quality of personal conduct. If, he suggests, we can picture a just state, we shall be in a better position to describe a just individual.

Plato excuses himself for this digression on the score that in testing a man's vision we make him read first large type, then smaller; so, he argues, it is easier to analyze justice on a large scale than on the small scale of individual behavior. But we need not be deceived: He wishes not only to discuss the problems of personal morality, but the problems of social and political reconstruction as well.

He has a Utopia up his sleeve, and is resolved to produce it. It is easy to forgive him, for the digression forms the core and value of his book. For a moment he gives his imagination reign: First, then, let us consider what will be their way of life Will they not produce corn, and wine, and clothes, and shoes, and build houses for themselves?

And when they are housed they will work in summer commonly stripped and barefoot, but in winter substantially clothed and shod. They will feed on barley and wheat, baking the wheat and kneading the flour, making noble puddings and loaves; these they will serve up on a mat of reed or clean leaves, themselves reclining the while upon beds of yew or myrtle boughs. And they and their children will feast, drinking of the wine which they have made, wearing garlands on their heads, and having the praises of the gods on their lips, living in sweet society, and having a care that their families do not exceed their means; for they will have an eye to poverty or war Of course they will have a relish -- salt, and olives, and cheese, and onions, and cabbages or other country herbs which are fit for boiling; and we shall give them a dessert of figs, and pulse, and beans, and myrtle-berries, and beechnuts, which they will roast at the fire, drinking in moderation.

And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them Observe here the passing reference to the control of population by infanticide, presumably , to vegetarianism, and to a "return to nature," to the primitive simplicity which Hebrew legend pictures in the Garden of Eden. The whole has the sound of Diogenes the "Cynic," who, as the epithet implied, thought we should "turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self-contained"; and for a moment we are likely to classify Plato with St.

Simon and Fourier and William Morris and Tolstoi. But he is a little more sceptical than these men of kindly faith; he passes quietly on to the question, Why is it that such a simple paradise as he has described never comes?

He answers, because of greed and luxury. Men are not content with a simple life: The result is the encroachment of one group upon the territory of another, the rivalry of groups for the resources of the soil, and then war.

Trade and finance develop, and bring new class-divisions. A mercantile bourgeoisie arises, whose members seek social position through wealth and conspicuous consumption: These changes in the distribution of wealth produce political changes: Then statesmanship, which is the coordination of social forces and the adjustment of policy to growth, is replaced by politics, which is the strategy of party and the lust for the spoils of office.

Aristocracy ruins itself by limiting too narrowly the circle within which power is confined; oligarchy ruins itself by the incautious scramble for immediate wealth. In either case the end is revolution. When revolution comes it may seem to arise from little causes and petty whims; but though it may spring from slight occasions it is the precipitate result of grave and accumulated wrongs; when a body is weakened by neglected ills, the merest exposure may bring serious disease But even democracy ruins itself by excess -- of democracy.

Its basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy. This is at first glance a delightful arrangement; it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses Mob-rule is a rough sea for the ship of state to ride; every wind of oratory stirs up the waters and deflects the course.

The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so loves flattery, it is so "hungry for honey," that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the "protector of the people" rises to supreme power Consider the history of Rome. The more Plato thinks of it, the more astounded he is at the folly of leaving to mob caprice and gullibility the selection of political officials -- not to speak of leaving it to those shady and wealth-serving strategists who pull the oligarchic wires behind the democratic stage.

Plato complains that whereas in simpler matters -- like shoe-making -- we think only a specially-trained person will serve our purpose, in politics we presume that every one who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state.

When we are ill we call for a trained physician, whose degree is a guarantee of specific preparation and technical competence -- we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one; well then, when the whole state is ill should we not look for the service and guidance of the wisest and the best?

To devise a method of barring incompetence and knavery from public office, and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good -- that is the problem of political philosophy.

Therefore we need not expect to have better states until we have better men; till then all changes will leave every essential thing unchanged. Are they not as good as a play, trying their hand at legislation, and imagining that by reforms they will make an end to the dishonesties and rascalities of mankind -- not knowing that in reality they are cutting away at the heads of a hydra? Let us examine for a moment the human material with which political philosophy must deal.

Human behavior, says Plato, flows from three main sources: Desire, appetite, impulse, instinct -- these are one; emotion, spirit, ambition, courage -- these are one; knowledge, thought, intellect, reason -- these are one.

Desire has its seat in the loins; it is a bursting reservoir of energy, fundamentally sexual. Emotion has its seat in the heart, in the flow and force of the blood; it is the organic resonance of experience and desire. Knowledge has its seat in the head; it is the eye of desire, and can become the pilot of the soul. These powers and qualities are all in all men, but in divers degrees. Some men are but the embodiment of desire; restless and acquisitive souls, who are absorbed in material quests and quarrels, who burn with lust of luxuries and show, and who rate their gains always as naught compared with their ever-receding goals: But there are others who are temples of feeling and courage, who care not so much what they fight for, as for victory "in and for itself"; they are pugnacious rather than acquisitive; their pride is in power rather than in possession, their joy is on the battle-field rather than in the mart: And last are the few whose delight is in meditation and understanding; who yearn not for goods, nor for victory, but for knowledge; who leave both market and battle-field to lose themselves in the quiet clarity of secluded thought; whose will is a light rather than a fire, whose haven is not power but truth: Now just as effective individual action implies that desire, though warmed with emotion, is guided by knowledge; so in the perfect state the industrial forces would produce but they would not rule; the military forces would protect but they would not rule; the forces of knowledge and science and philosophy would be nourished and protected, and they would rule.

Unguided by knowledge, the people are a multitude without order, like desires in disarray; the people need the guidance of philosophers as desires need the enlightenment of knowledge. The producer is at his best in the economic field, the warrior is at his best in battle; they are both at their worst in public office; and in their crude hands politics submerges statesmanship. For statesmanship is a science and an art; one must have lived for it and been long prepared. Only a philosopher-king is fit to guide a nation.

This is the key-stone of the arch of Plato's thought. We must begin by "sending out into the country all the inhabitants of the city who are more than ten years old, and by taking possession of the children, who will thus be protected from the habits of their parents" We cannot build Utopia with young people corrupted at every turn by the example of their elders.

We must start, so far as we can, with a clean slate.

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It is quite possible that some enlightened ruler will empower us to make such a beginning with some part or colony of his realm. One ruler did, as we shall see. In any case we must give to every child, and from the outset, full equality of educational opportunity; there is no telling where the light of talent or genius will break out; we must seek it impartially everywhere, in every rank and race.

The first turn on our road is universal education. For the first ten years of life, education shall be predominantly physical; every school is to have a gymnasium and a playground; play and sport are to be the entire curriculum; and in this first decade such health will be stored up as will make all medicine unnecessary. Our present system of medicine may be said to educate diseases," to draw them out into a long existence, rather than to cure them.

But this is an absurdity of the idle rich. And if anyone tells him that he must go through a course of dietetics, and swathe and swaddle his head, and all that sort of thing, he replies at once that he has no time to be ill, and that he sees no good in a life that is spent in nursing his disease to the neglect of his ordinary calling; and therefore, saying good-bye to this sort of physicians, he resumes his customary diet, and either gets well and lives and does his business, or, if his constitution fails, he dies and has done with it" We cannot afford to have a nation of malingerers and invalids; Utopia must begin in the body of man.

But mere athletics and gymnastics would make a man too one-sided. We do not want a nation of prize-fighters and weight-lifters. Perhaps music will solve our problem: Is not this, Glaucon, why musical training is so powerful, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the secret places of the soul, bearing grace in their movements and making the soul graceful? Music moulds character, and therefore shares in determining social and political issues.

There are some diseases which can be treated only through the mind Charmides, The unconscious sources of human thought are touched and soothed by such methods; and it is in these substrata of behavior and feeling that genius sinks its roots. Plato passes on to a remarkable anticipation of "psychoanalysis. Dreams may give us a clue to some of the subtle and more elusive of these dispositions.

Certain of the unnecessary pleasures and instincts are deemed to be unlawful; every man appears to have them, but in some persons they are subjected to the control of law and reason ["sublimated"], and the better desires prevailing over them, they are either wholly suppressed, or reduced in strength and number; while in other persons these desires are stronger and more abundant. But when a man's pulse is healthy and temperate, and he goes to sleep cool and rational, In all of us, even in good men, there is such a latent wild beast nature, which peers out in sleep Music and measure lend grace and health to the soul and to the body; but again, too much music is as dangerous as too much athletics.

To be merely an athlete is to be nearly a savage; and to be merely a musician is to be "melted and softened beyond what is good" The two must be combined; and after sixteen the individual practice of music must be abandoned, though choral singing, like communal games, will go on throughout life.

Nor is music to be merely music; it must be used to provide attractive forms for the sometimes unappetizing contents of mathematics, history and science; there is no reason why for the young these difficult studies should not be smoothed into verse and beautified with song. Even then these studies are not to be forced upon an unwilling mind; within limits a libertarian spirit must prevail.

The elements of instruction Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be rather a sort of amusement; this will better enable you to find out the natural bent of the child With minds so freely growing, and bodies made strong by sport and outdoor life of every kind, our ideal state would have a firm psychological and physiological base broad enough for every possibility and every development.

But a moral basis must be provided as well; the members of the community must make a unity; they must learn that they are members of one another; that they owe to one another certain amenities and obligations.

Now since men are by nature acquisitive, jealous, combative, and erotic, how shall we persuade them to behave themselves? By the policeman's omnipresent club? It is a brutal method, costly and irritating.

There is a better way, and that is by lending to the moral requirements of the community the sanction of supernatural authority. We must have a religion. Plato believes that a nation cannot be strong unless it believes in God. But a living God can do all this, and can stir or frighten the self-seeking individualist into some moderation of his greed, some control of his passion.

All the more so if to belief in God is added belief in personal immortality: Granted that none of the beliefs can be demonstrated; that God may be after all only the personified ideal of our love and our hope, and that the soul is like the music of the lyre, and dies with the instrument that gave it form: For we are likely to have trouble with these children of ours if we undertake to explain and justify everything to their simple minds.

We shall have an especially hard time when they arrive at the age of twenty, and face the first scrutiny and test of what they have learned in all their years of equal education. Then will come a ruthless weeding out; the Great Elimination, we might call it. That test will be no mere academic examination; it will be practical as well as theoretical: Every kind of ability will have a chance to show itself, and every sort of stupidity will be hunted out into the light.

Those who fail will be assigned to the economic work of the nation; they will be business men, and clerks, and factory workers, and farmers. The test will be impartial and impersonal; whether one is to be a farmer or a philosopher will be determined not by monopolized opportunity or nepotic favoritism; the selection will be more democratic than democracy. Those who pass this first test will receive ten more years of education and training, in body and mind and character.

And then they will face a second test, far severer than the first. Those who fail will become the auxiliaries, or executive aides and military officers of the state. Now it is just in these great eliminations that we shall need every resource of persuasion to get the eliminated to accept their fate with urbanity and peace. For what is to prevent that great unselected majority, in the first test, and that lesser but more vigorous and capable second group of Eliminees, from shouldering arms and smashing this Utopia of ours into a mouldering reminiscence?

Then religion and faith will be our only salvation: We shall tell them the myth of the metals: Some of you have the power of command; and these he has made of gold, wherefore they have the greatest honor; others of silver, to be auxiliaries; others again, who are to be husbandmen and craftsmen, he has made of brass and iron; and the species will generally be preserved in the children.

But as you are of the same original family, a golden parent will sometimes have a silver son, or a silver parent a golden son. And God proclaims For an oracle says that when a man of brass or iron guards the state, it will be destroyed" Perhaps with this "royal fable" we shall secure a fairly general consent to the furtherance of our plan. But now what of the lucky remnant that ride these successive waves of selection? They are taught philosophy. They have now reached the age of thirty; it would not have been wise to let them "taste the dear delight too early; This dear delight, philosophy, means two things chiefly: First then, our young Elite must learn to think clearly.

For that purpose they shall study the doctrine of Ideas. But this famous doctrine of Ideas, embellished and obscured by the fancy and poetry of Plato, is a discouraging maze to the modern student, and must have offered another severe test to the survivors of many siftings.

The Idea of a thing might be the "general idea" of the class to which it belongs the Idea of John, or Dick, or Harry, is Man ; or it might be the law or laws according to which the thing operates the Idea of John would be the reduction of all his behavior to "natural laws" ; or it might be the perfect purpose and ideal towards which the thing and its class may develop the Idea of John is the John of Utopia. Very probably the Idea is all of these -- idea, law and ideal. Behind the surface phenomena and particulars which greet our senses, are generalizations, regularities, and directions of development, unperceived by sensation but conceived by reason and thought.

These ideas, laws and ideals are more permanent -- and therefore more "real" -- than the sense-perceived particular things through which we conceive and deduce them: Man is more permanent than Tom, or Dick, or Harry; this circle is born with the movement of my pencil and dies under the attrition of my eraser, but the conception Circle goes on forever.

This tree stands, and that tree falls; but the laws which determine what bodies shall fall, and when, and how, were without beginning, are now, and ever shall be, without end. There is, as the gentle Spinoza would say, a world of things perceived by sense, and a world of laws inferred by thought; we do not see the law of inverse squares but it is there, and everywhere; it was before anything began, and will survive when all the world of things is a finished tale.

Here is a bridge: Aristotle hints something of this when he says that by Ideas Plato meant what Pythagoras meant by "number" when he taught that this is a world of numbers meaning presumably that the world is ruled by mathematical constancies and regularities. Plutarch tells us that according to Plato "God always geometrizes"; or, as Spinoza puts the same thought, God and the universal laws of structure and operation are one and the same reality.

To Plato, as to Bertrand Russell, mathematics is therefore the indispensable prelude to philosophy, and its highest form; over the doors of his Academy Plato placed, Dantesquely, these words, "Let no man ignorant of geometry enter here.

Or the world without Ideas would be a heap of book-titles fallen haphazard out of the catalogue, as compared to the same titles arranged in order according to their classes, their sequences and their purposes; it would be the shadows in a cave as compared with the sunlit realities without, which cast those fantastic and deceptive shadows within Therefore the essence of a higher education is the search for Ideas: Well, after five years of training in this recondite doctrine of Ideas, this art of perceiving significant forms and causal sequences and ideal potentialities amid the welter and hazard of sensation; after five years of training in the application of this principle to the behavior of men and the conduct of states; after this long preparation from childhood through youth and into the maturity of thirty-five; surely now these perfect products are ready to assume the royal purple and the highest functions of public life?

The Story of Philosophy

Their education is still unfinished. For after all it has been, in the main, a theoretical education: Let these Ph. And this last and sharpest test shall go on ruthlessly for fifteen long years. Some of our perfect products will break under the pressure, and be submerged by this last great wave of elimination.

Democracy means perfect equality of opportunity, especially in education; not the rotation of every Tom, Dick and Harry in public office. Every man shall have an equal chance to make himself fit for the complex tasks of administration; but only those who have proved their mettle or, in our myth, their metal , and have emerged from all tests with the insignia of skill, shall be eligible to rule. Public officials shall be chosen not by votes, nor by secret cliques pulling the unseen wires of democratic pretense, but by their own ability as demonstrated in the fundamental democracy of an equal race.

Nor shall any man hold office without specific training, nor hold high office till he has first filled a lower office well Gorgias, Is this aristocracy? Well, we need not be afraid of the word, if the reality is good which it betokens: We want to be ruled by the best, which is what aristocracy means; have we not, Carlyle-like, yearned and prayed to be ruled by the best? But we have come to think of aristocracies as hereditary: For the people, instead of blindly electing the lesser of two evils presented to them as candidates by nominating cliques, will here be themselves, every one of them, the candidates; and will receive an equal chance of educational election to public office.

There is no caste here; no inheritance of position or privilege; no stoppage of talent impecuniously born; the son of a ruler begins on the same level, and receives the same treatment and opportunity, as the son of a boot-black; if the ruler's son is a dolt he falls at the first shearing; if the boot-black's son is a man of ability the way is clear for him to become a guardian of the state Career will be open to talent wherever it is born.

This is a democracy of the schools -- a hundredfold more honest and more effective than a democracy of the polls.

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And so, "setting aside every other business, the guardians will dedicate themselves wholly to the maintenance of freedom in the state, making this their craft and engaging in no work which does not bear upon this end" , They shall be legislature and executive and court in one; even the laws shall not bind them to a dogma in the face of altered circumstance; the rule of the guardians shall be a flexible intelligence unbound by precedent.

But how can men of fifty have a flexible intelligence? Will they not be mentally plaster-casted by routine? Adeimantus echoing, no doubt, some hot brotherly debate in Plato's home objects that philosophers are dolts or rogues, who would rule either foolishly, or selfishly, or both. This is a fair enough description of some bespectacled modern philosophers; but Plato answers that he has guarded against this difficulty by giving his philosophers the training of life as well as the erudition of the schools; that they will in consequence be men of action rather than merely men of thought -- men seasoned to high purposes and noble temper by long experience and trial.

By philosophy Plato means an active culture, wisdom that mixes with the concrete busyness of life; he does not mean a closeted and impractical metaphysician; Plato "is the man who least resembles Kant, which is with all respect a considerable merit. In the first place none of them should have any property beyond what is absolutely necessary; neither should they have a private house, with bars and bolts, closed against any one who has a mind to enter; their provisions should be only such as are required by trained warriors, who are men of temperance and courage; their agreement is to receive from the citizens a fixed rate of pay, enough to meet the expenses of the year, and no more; and they will have common meals and live together, like soldiers in a camp.

Gold and silver we will tell them that they have from God; the diviner metal is within them, and they have therefore no need of that earthly dross which passes under the name of gold, and ought not to pollute the divine by earthly admixture, for that commoner metal has been the source of many unholy deeds; but their own is undefiled.

And they alone of all the citizens may not touch or handle silver or gold, or be under the same roof with them, or wear them, or drink from them. And this will be their salvation, and the salvation of the State. But should they ever acquire homes or lands or moneys of their own, they will become housekeepers and husbandmen instead of guardians; enemies and tyrants instead of allies of the other citizens; hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted against, they will pass through life in much greater terror of internal than of external enemies; and the hour of ruin, both to themselves and to the rest of the State, will be at hand This arrangement will make it unprofitable, as well as dangerous, for the guardians to rule as a clique seeking the good of their class rather than that of the community as a whole.

For they will be protected from want; the necessities and modest luxuries of a noble life will be theirs in regular provision, without the searing and wrinkling care of economic worry.

But by the same token they will be precluded from cupidity and sordid ambitions; they will always have just so much of the world's goods, and no more; they will be like physicians establishing, and themselves accepting, a dietary for a nation.

They will eat together, like consecrated men; they will sleep together in single barracks, like soldiers sworn to simplicity. So the authority of the guardians will be sterilized, and their power made poisonless; their sole reward will be honor and the sense of service to the group. And they will be such men as from the beginning have deliberately consented to so materially limited a career; and such men as at the end of their stern training will have learned to value the high repute of the statesman above the crass emoluments of the office-seeking politicians or the "economic man.

But what will their wives say to all this? Will they be content to forego the luxuries of life and the conspicuous consumption of goods? The guardians will have no wives. Their communism is to be of women as well as of goods.

They are to be freed not only from the egoism of self, but from the egoism of family; they are not to be narrowed to the anxious acquisitiveness of the prodded husband; they are to be devoted not to a woman but to the community. Even their children shall not be specifically or distinguishably theirs; all children of guardians shall be taken from their mothers at birth and brought up in common; their particular parentage will be lost in the scuffle All the guardian-mothers will care for all the guardian-children; the brotherhood of man, within these limits, will graduate from phrase to fact; every boy will be a brother to every other boy, every girl a sister, every man a father, and every woman a mother.

But whence will these women come? Some, no doubt, the guardians will woo out of the industrial or military classes; others will have become, by their own right, members of the guardian class.

For there is to be no sex barrier of any kind in this community; least of all in education -- the girl shall have the same intellectual opportunities as the boy, the same chance to rise to the highest positions in the state. When Glaucon objects f that this admission of woman to any office, provided she has passed the tests, violates the principle of the division of labor, he receives the sharp reply that division of labor must be by aptitude and ability, not by sex; if a woman shows herself capable of political administration, let her rule; if a man shows himself to be capable only of washing dishes, let him fulfil the function to which Providence has assigned him.

Community of wives does not mean indiscriminate mating; rather there is to be strict eugenic supervision of all reproductive relations. The argument from the breeding of animals here starts its wandering career: For it is not enough to educate the child properly; he must be properly born, of select and healthy ancestry; "education should begin before birth" Laws, Therefore no man or woman shall procreate unless in perfect health; a health certificate is to be required of every bride and groom Laws, Men may reproduce only when they are above thirty and under forty-five; women only when they are above twenty and under forty.

Men unmarried by thirty-five are to be taxed into felicity Laws, Offspring born of unlicensed matings, or deformed, are to be exposed and left to die. Before and after the ages specified for procreation, mating is to be free, on condition that the foetus be aborted.

The marriage of relatives is prohibited, as inducing degeneration Our braver and better youth, beside their other honors and rewards, are to be permitted a greater variety of mates; for such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible" But our eugenic society must be protected not only from disease and deterioration within, but from enemies without.

It must be ready, if need be, to wage successful war.

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Our model community would of course be pacific, for it would restrict population within the means of subsistence; but neighboring states not so managed might well look upon the orderly prosperity of our Utopia as an invitation to raid and rapine. Hence, while deploring the necessity, we shall have, in our intermediate class, a sufficient number of well-trained soldiers, living a hard and simple life like the guardians, on a stated modicum of goods supplied by their "maintainers and fore-fathers," the people.

At the same time every precaution must be taken to avoid the occasions of war. The primary occasion is overpopulation ; the second is foreign trade, with the inevitable disputes that interrupt it. Indeed, competitive trade is really a form of war; "peace is only a name" Laws, It will be well then to situate our ideal state considerably inland, so that it shall be shut out from any high development of foreign commerce.

Foreign trade requires a large navy to protect it; and navalism is as bad as militarism. The most frequent wars are precisely the vilest -- civil wars, wars of Greek against Greek; let the Greeks form a pan-Hellenic league of nations, uniting lest "the whole Greek race some day fall under the yoke of barbarian peoples" So our political structure will be topped with a small class of guardians; it will be protected by a large class of soldiers and "auxiliaries"; and it will rest on the broad base of a commercial, industrial, and agricultural population.

This last or economic class will retain private property, private mates, and private families. But trade and industry will be regulated by the guardians to prevent excessive individual wealth or poverty; any one acquiring more than four times the average possession of the citizens must relinquish the excess to the state Laws, f.

Perhaps interest will be forbidden, and profits limited Laws, The communism of the guardians is impracticable for the economic class; the distinguishing characteristics of this class are powerful instincts of acquisition and competition; some noble souls among them will be free from this fever of combative possession, but the majority of men are consumed with it; they hunger and thirst not after righteousness, nor after honor, but after possessions endlessly multiplied.

Now men engrossed in the pursuit of money are unfit to rule a state; and our entire plan rests on the hope that if the guardians rule well and live simply, the economic man will be willing to let them monopolize administration if they permit him to monopolize luxury. That would be a just state. There are only three things worth while in this world -- justice, beauty and truth; and perhaps none of them can be defined. Four hundred years after Plato a Roman procurator of Judea asked, helplessly, "What is truth?

But for justice Plato ventures a definition. This has a disappointing sound; after so much delay we expected an infallible revelation. What does the definition mean? Simply that each man shall receive the equivalent of what he produces, and shall perform the function for which he is best fit. A just man is a man in just the right place, doing his best, and giving the full equivalent of what he receives. A society of just men would be therefore a highly harmonious and efficient group; for every element would be in its place, fulfilling its appropriate function like the pieces in a perfect orchestra.

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Justice in a society would be like that harmony of relationships whereby the planets are held together in their orderly or, as Pythagoras would have said, their musical movement. So organized, a society is fit for survival; and justice receives a kind of Darwinian sanction.

Justice is effective coordination. Every individual is a cosmos or a chaos of desires, emotions and ideas; let these fall into harmony, and the individual survives and succeeds; let them lose their proper place and function, let emotion try to become the light of action as well as its heat as in the fanatic , or let thought try to become the heat of action as well as its light as in the intellectual -- and disintegration of personality begins, failure advances like the inevitable night.

Justice is a taxis kai kosmos -- an order and beauty -- of the parts of the soul; it is to the soul as health is to the body. All evil is disharmony: So Plato replies to Thrasymachus and Callicles, and to all Nietzscheans forever: Justice is not mere strength, but harmonious strength -- desires and men falling into that order which constitutes intelligence and organization; justice is not the right of the stronger, but the effective harmony of the whole.

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It is true that the individual who gets out of the place to which his nature and talents adapt him may for a time seize some profit and advantage; but an inescapable Nemesis pursues him -- as Anaxagoras spoke of the Furies pursuing any planet that should wander out of its orbit; the terrible baton of the Nature of Things drives the refractory instrument back to its place and its pitch and its natural note. The Corsican lieutenant may try to rule Europe with a ceremonious despotism fitted better to an ancient monarchy than to a dynasty born overnight; but he ends on a prison-rock in the sea, ruefully recognizing that he is "the slave of the Nature of Things.

There is nothing bizarrely new in this conception; and indeed we shall do well to suspect, in philosophy, any doctrine which plumes itself on novelty.

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Truth changes her garments frequently like every seemly lady , but under the new habit she remains always the same. In morals we need not expect startling innovations: Morality begins with association and interdependence and organization; life in society requires the concession of some part of the individual's sovereignty to the common order; and ultimately the norm of conduct becomes the welfare of the group. This is the goal of organization which every society must seek, if it would have life.

Morality, said Jesus, is kindness to the weak; morality, said Nietzsche, is the bravery of the strong; morality, says Plato, is the effective harmony of the whole. Probably all three doctrines must be combined to find a perfect ethic; but can we doubt which of the elements is fundamental?

Is it feasible? And if not, has it any practicable features which we could turn to contemporary use? Has it ever in any place or measure been realized? At least the last question must be answered in Plato's favor. For a thousand years Europe was ruled by an order of guardians considerably like that which was visioned by our philosopher. During the Middle Ages it was customary to classify the population of Christendom into laboratores workers , bellatores soldiers , and oratores clergy.

The last group, though small in number, monopolized the instruments and opportunities of culture, and ruled with almost unlimited sway half of the most powerful continent on the globe.

The clergy, like Plato's guardians, were placed in authority not by the suffrages of the people, but by their talent as shown in ecclesiastical studies and administration, by their disposition to a life of meditation and simplicity, and perhaps it should be added by the influence of their relatives with the powers of state and church.

In the latter half of the period in which they ruled, the clergy were as free from family cares as even Plato could desire; and in some cases, it would seem, they enjoyed no little of the reproductive freedom accorded to the guardians. Celibacy was part of the psychological structure of the power of the clergy; for on the one hand they were unimpeded by the narrowing egoism of the family, and on the other their apparent superiority to the call of the flesh added to the awe in which lay sinners held them, and to the readiness of these sinners to bare their lives in the confessional.

Much of the politics of Catholicism was derived from Plato's "royal lies," or influenced by them: With this body of doctrine the people of Europe were ruled with hardly any resort to force; and they accepted this rule so readily that for a thousand years they contributed plentiful material support to their rulers, and asked no voice in the government.

Nor was this acquiescence confined to the general population; merchants and soldiers, feudal chieftains and civil powers all bent the knee to Rome. It was an aristocracy of no mean political sagacity; it built probably the most marvelous and powerful organization which the world has ever known. The Jesuits who for a time ruled Paraguay were semi-Platonic guardians, a clerical oligarchy empowered by the possession of knowledge and skill in the midst of a barbarian population.

And for a time the Communist Party which ruled Russia after the revolution of November, , took a form strangely reminiscent of the Republic.