Notes on The Republic Themes

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The Republic Topic Tracking: The Good

The Good 1: Socrates claims that knowledge of the good is greater than justice, and yet justice is one of the greatest things of all. He then goes on to say that the "good" is a very ambiguous term and can be interpreted many ways. He attempts to use the analogy of seeing and sunlight in the following manner in order to define the good: even though things are visible, they cannot be seen unless there is sunlight; also, if there is moonlight, our eyes will adjust to allow for the difference. He then tells his audience to think of it as the same with the eye of the soul. "When it rests on the place lit by truth and what is, it perceives it and knows it and seems to have intelligence. But in the place mingled with darkness, the region of becoming and passing away it darkens and conjectures, changes its opinions up and down and now appears to have no intelligence." Book 6, pg.170, line 508d

The Good 2: As a result, he concludes that, just as light and seeing should not be regarded as the sun,but as sun-like, knowledge and truth should not be regarded as good, but as good-like. Also, higher honors must be reserved for the state of the good.

The Good 3: Furthermore, the good is not only in knowable things, but also in existence and being; thus, the good is beyond being.

The Good 4: The shape of the good is finally, and with difficulty, seen in the intelligible realm. When it is seen, it must be recognized for what it is, and thus the gods will be recognized and people will feel that it is a man's obligation to act rationally for himself and his community. However, not all people will want to tend to human concerns, as they may keep their new education of the good to themselves.

The Good 5: Also, dialecticians are able to grasp and explain the essence of things, and are able to define the good. This is why it is important for the guardians to study dialectics, because they will understand what the good is, and they must then share it with the rest of the citizens.

The Good 6: After the story of Er, it is concluded that all lives are tolerable, and that it depends on the judgment of the chooser and his knowledge of the good and the bad what the life he chooses will become. Thus, it is important for people to study the good, and realize what it is in their lives, so that they may make a better judgment when choosing their next life.

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