PLATO Republic

PLATO Republic


Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Indianapolis/ Cambridge

Copyright © 2004 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Plato. [Republic. English) Republic / translated from the new standard Greek text, with introduction, by

C.D.C. Reeve. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN 0-87220-737-4 (hardcover) — ISBN 0-87220-736-6 (pbk.) 1. Political science–Early works to 1800. 2. Utopias. I. Reeve, C. D. C.,

1948- II. Title. JC71.P513 2004 321′.07–dc22


The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of Ameri- can National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI 239.48-1984.

Book 7


SOCRATES: Next, then, compare the effect of education and that of the 514a lack of it on our nature to an experience like this. Imagine human beings

living in an underground, cavelike dwelling, with an entrance a long way up that is open to the light and as wide as the cave itself. They have been

s there since childhood, with their necks and legs fettered, so that they are fixed in the same place, able to see only in front of them, because their fet-

b ter prevents them from turning their heads around. Light is provided by a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the prisoners and the fire, there is an elevated road stretching. Imagine that along this road a low wall has been built-like the screen in front of people that is provided by pup- peteers, and above which they show their puppets.

GLAUCON: l am imagining it.

SOCRATES: Also imagine, then, that there are people alongside the wall c carrying multifarious artifacts that project above it-statues of people and

515a other animals, made of stone, wood, and every material. And as you would expect, some of the carriers are talking and some are silent.

GLAUCON: It is a strange image you are describing, and strange prisoners.

s SOCRATES: They are like us. I mean, in the first place, do you think these prisoners have ever seen anything of themselves and one another besides the shadows that the fire casts on the wall of the cave in front of them?

GLAUCON: How could they, if they have to keep their heads motionless b throughout life?

SOCRATES: What about the things carried along the wall? Isn’t the same true where they are concerned?

GLAUCON: Of course.

SOCRATES: And if they could engage in discussion with one another, don’t you think they would assume that the words they used applied to the things they see passing in front of them?

GLAUCON: They would have to.

SOCRATES: What if their prison also had an echo from the wall facing them? When one of the carriers passing along the wall spoke, do you think


they would believe that anything other than the shadow passing in front of them was speaking?

GLAUCON: I do not, by Zeus.