The Republic HTML version
And thus, Glaucon, after the argument has gone a weary way, the true and the false
philosophers have at length appeared in view.
I do not think, he said, that the way could have been shortened.
I suppose not, I said; and yet I believe that we might have had a better view of both of
them if the discussion could have been confined to this one subject and if there were not
many other questions awaiting us, which he who desires to see in what respect the life of
the just differs from that of the unjust must consider.
And what is the next question? he asked.
Surely, I said, the one which follows next in order. Inasmuch as philosophers only are
able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander in the region of the
many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of the two classes should
be the rulers of our State?
And how can we rightly answer that question?
Whichever of the two are best able to guard the laws and institutions of our State--let
them be our guardians.
Neither, I said, can there be any question that the guardian who is to keep anything
should have eyes rather than no eyes?
There can be no question of that.
And are not those who are verily and indeed wanting in the knowledge of the true being
of each thing, and who have in their souls no clear pattern, and are unable as with a
painter's eye to look at the absolute truth and to that original to repair, and having perfect
vision of the other world to order the laws about beauty, goodness, justice in this, if not
already ordered, and to guard and preserve the order of them--are not such persons, I ask,
Truly, he replied, they are much in that condition.
And shall they be our guardians when there are others who, besides being their equals in
experience and falling short of them in no particular of virtue, also know the very truth of
There can be no reason, he said, for rejecting those who have this greatest of all great
qualities; they must always have the first place unless they fail in some other respect.