The Republic HTML version
Last of all comes the tyrannical man; about whom we have once more to ask, how is he
formed out of the democratical? and how does he live, in happiness or in misery?
Yes, he said, he is the only one remaining.
There is, however, I said, a previous question which remains unanswered.
I do not think that we have adequately determined the nature and number of the appetites,
and until this is accomplished the enquiry will always be confused.
Well, he said, it is not too late to supply the omission.
Very true, I said; and observe the point which I want to understand: Certain of the
unnecessary pleasures and appetites I conceive to be unlawful; every one appears to have
them, but in some persons they are controlled by the laws and by reason, and the better
desires prevail over them--either they are wholly banished or they become few and weak;
while in the case of others they are stronger, and there are more of them.
Which appetites do you mean?
I mean those which are awake when the reasoning and human and ruling power is asleep;
then the wild beast within us, gorged with meat or drink, starts up and having shaken off
sleep, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly or crime--not
excepting incest or any other unnatural union, or parricide, or the eating of forbidden
food--which at such a time, when he has parted company with all shame and sense, a man
may not be ready to commit.
Most true, he said.
But when a man's pulse is healthy and temperate, and when before going to sleep he has
awakened his rational powers, and fed them on noble thoughts and enquiries, collecting
himself in meditation; after having first indulged his appetites neither too much nor too
little, but just enough to lay them to sleep, and prevent them and their enjoyments and
pains from interfering with the higher principle--which he leaves in the solitude of pure
abstraction, free to contemplate and aspire to the knowledge of the unknown, whether in
past, present, or future: when again he has allayed the passionate element, if he has a
quarrel against any one--I say, when, after pacifying the two irrational principles, he
rouses up the third, which is reason, before he takes his rest, then, as you know, he attains
truth most nearly, and is least likely to be the sport of fantastic and lawless visions.
I quite agree.