The Republic: Book 4

Overview of the State

Class Structure

Three classes:

  1. Workers
  2. Auxiliaries
  3. Guardians

Social Mobility

Children are to be raised in common, by the state, and sorted according to aptitude.

No discrimination on the basis of gender.

Extensive, highly controlled, education.

The Royal Lie

This sorting is based on the metal in your soul

You're encouraged to think of the state as your parent

Life for Non-Workers

  1. Forbidden to handle money
  2. Live in common
  3. Watchdogs, not wolves

Similarities to Sparta

  1. No Money
  2. Family unit is the Mess hall
  3. Treatment of women


  1. Role does not require heredity
  2. Workers are not serfs

The Happiness of The State


Additive Quality or Structural Property?

To be Resolved

The Virtues of the State

The Method of Residues


Resides in the knowledge of "of the whole"---how the activities that the rest of the kinds of knowledge deal with are to be coordinated.

Hence, in the guardians


Resides in the Auxiliaries, since their courage determines the conduct of the state at war---more specifically, their ability to adhere to the laws of the State in any circumstances


Self-Mastery: a puzzle.

Solution: Multiple principles in one person.

Temperance consists in the rule of the better part over the worse. Doesn't reside in one part.


Each person doing their own work and not being a busybody


Well, more specifically, each of the castes doing their jobs

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.

But let's focus on 3.

The City is Impossible

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

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