In books 6 through 10 of Plato's Republic, we see many different discussions on the subject of justice, philosophy, and goodness. The philosopher Socrates has now defined what a philosopher is. His next task is to show that a philosopher is best qualified to be the ruler of a state. A good ruler must surely know what Justice and Goodness are, for he must administer Justice and always act for the good of the community. But a philosopher, as we have seen, has knowledge of the Forms, so from this point of view at least, he is best qualified to be a ruler. A good ruler must have a good character as well as a good mind; he must always be truthful, high-minded, and disciplined, and never mean, petty, or cowardly. A philosopher will satisfy these requirements too, Socrates argues. Since the philosopher loves truth, he will always be honest and forthright.
Socrates is being much too idealistic here. The idea that a philosopher should be the ruler of a state is just an idle dream. Politicians should be practical and experienced. However philosophers have wisdom and goodness. Next Socrates is asked, "What is Goodness?" Socrates tries to answer this question in the form of an analogy. The Analogy of the Sun, as this is called, can be represented in a diagram:
The Sun Goodness
Is the source of is the source of
And so makes objects and so makes the Forms
Visible, and allows the intelligible, and allows
Eye to see. The mind to know.
This analogy does not tell us what Goodness is; it only gives us some idea of the relation in which Goodness stands to other intelligible or knowable things. He also tells about the Allegory of the Cave, which contains a number of important and interesting messages. For one thing, it illustrates Plato's belief that all knowledge is connected in the knowledge of Goodness... [continues]
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