The Virtues of the Soul


εὐδαιμονία (Happiness)

"The good composed of all goods; an ability which suffices for living well; perfection in respect of virtue; resources sufficient for a living creature."

eu (good) daimonia (spirit)

ἀρετή (Virtue)

Excellence, Nobility. Same root as Aristocracy.

A Test of the Theory

Let the discovery we made be now applied to the individual---if they agree, we shall be satisfied; or, if there be a difference in the individual, we will come back to the State... The friction of the two when rubbed together may possibly strike a light in which justice will shine forth.


It won't be assumed that the structure of the soul mirrors the structure of the city

Tripartite Soul

Platonic Principle of Non-Contradiction

the same thing cannot act or be acted upon in the same part or in relation to the same thing at the same time, in contrary ways.

Assent and Dissent are our contrary acts.

The First Separation

Principle of Desire, Principle of Reason

One might be thirsty, but not wish to drink.

The Second Separation

Principle of Emotion, Principle of Desire

Anger at war with Desire.

Anger at war with Reason?

Anger, unlike desire, generally submits to reason.

And when we judge ourselves, anger sides with reason.

The Third Separation

Anger, however, can occur in the absence of reason.


Dissecting the Self

Analogy lets us talk about the soul.

G & A's Challenge

Show how Justice is desirable without a view to rewards

Seemed almost impossible.

Solution: Find problems with the idea of "your interests"

Plato's Solution

What's good for you is what's good for you as a whole, and may have little to do with getting what "you" "want".

We should understand benefit not on the model of desire satisfaction, but of health.

Alternative Model

Justice is health of the soul. Injustice is a kind of spiritual disease, or madness.


  1. Analogy with the happy (εὐδαιμονία) city.
  2. Discussion of the alternatives.

Three Waves of Objection
(Book V)

The Waves

  1. It's absurd that women should play the same roles as men.
  2. It's absurd that children be raised by the state.
  3. This city can never be realized.

1,2 are well worth reading.

Possible Reply to 1.

Rules of the game:

We shouldn't give much weight to present custom, or to what currently seems ridiculous.

do not

Weigh the beautiful by any other standard than the good.

Premiliminary Points

  1. Does nature show us that female animals don't hunt, etc?
  1. If women are going to have the same duties as men, they should have the same education.


Men and women have different natures, and are suited for different roles

Response: we need to know how their natures differ.

Follow up: There's almost no pursuit where every woman exceeds every man or vice versa.

Response to 2

Scary eugenic program.

The City is Impossible


  1. This is no objection. We're trying to see what an ideal state would be like, not how to construct such a state.

  2. And, furthermore, we can at least think of conditions under which an ideal state would come to be.

When Philosophers are Kings

Until Philosophers are Kings, or the kings and princes of the world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils... then only will our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day

Is This a Power Grab?

  1. Socrates insists that most people who call themselves philosophers aren't suitable for rule. The right person will have political greatness and genuine wisdom.
  1. Think here of what happened to Socrates.

    Plato's argument feels different when you imagine that he want to put his murdered friend, not himself, on the throne.

How is this Justified?

Let's start from definitions.

What is a philosopher?

Defining the Philosopher

Lovers of Wisdom?

The starting point---those who desire to know.

The Curious?


If curiosity makes a philosopher, you will find many a strange being who will have a title to the name.

Challenge: This definition is not extensionally adequate.

Reply: let's be more specific about "know"

The two faculties


  1. Knowledge is directed towards what is
  2. Ignorance is directed towards what is not
  3. Opinion, knowledge (and ignorance) are different faculties
  4. Different faculties have different subject matters

Therefore, opinion is neither about what is, nor what is not.


The subject of opinion

Opinion concerns what neither altogether is one thing (beautiful, just, good, holy, equal, round, square...) nor altogether not.

Claim: which is pretty much everything.

Against the Curious

The curious are those who love this kind of opinion.

The lovers of wisdom are those who want knowledge of what is: the pure instances, or templates, or forms of various things

Why Philosophers?

Now that we've got a definition, why let them rule?

Two Main Arguments

  1. Mending the world:

those who are verily and indeed wanting in the knowledge of the true being of each thing... [who] are unable as with a painters eye to look at the absolute truth and to that original to repair... and order the laws about beauty, goodness, justice... are not such persons, I ask, simply blind?

  1. From traits: essentially, Philosophers will have many good qualities as a result of their relationship to truth.

The Ship of State

The captain of the mutiny?

Or the pilot?

The Highest Knowledge

Why does the knowledge of the guardians qualify them for rule, and make them analogous to the pilot? They're not technical experts, like the cobbler or the shipbuilder.

What, in more detail, is the sort of thing that the guardians will know?