Socrates's Argument with His Student, Glaucon, about the Nature of the Sexes
Glaucon assures Socrates that no one will hold him responsible if the But the real problem, he says, is not so much that there is contradiction, but that they he thinks the guardians will need to establish a ritual of marriage so that they can . After the challenge Glaucon and Adeimantus present, Socrates might not be so .. The problem is not that the question is about justice as it is ordinarily they will see what is necessary, including the fact that “marriage, the. Not only does Socrates (Plato's mouthpiece in the dialogue) posit two differing .. When Socrates describes the good, Glaucon has trouble understanding its . us to have our own interrogative and dialectic relationship with the dialogue.
Those of us living in imperfect cities, looking to the Republic for a model of how to live cf. Nevertheless, so far as this argument shows, the success or happiness of appropriately ruled non-philosophers is just as real as that of philosophers. Judged exclusively by the capacity to do what one wants and the presence or absence of regret, frustration, and fear, philosophers are not better off than very fortunate non-philosophers.
The non-philosophers have to be so fortunate that they do not even recognize any risk to their good fortune.
Otherwise, they would fear a change in their luck. See also Kenny and Kraut Socrates needs further argument in any case if he wants to convince those of us in imperfect circumstances like Glaucon and Adeimantus to pursue the philosophical life of perfect justice. The first argument tries to show that anyone who wants to satisfy her desires perfectly should cultivate certain kinds of desires rather than others. We can reject this argument in either of two ways, by taking issue with his analysis of which desires are regularly satisfiable and which are not, or by explaining why a person should not want to satisfy her desires perfectly.
The first response calls for a quasi-empirical investigation of a difficult sort, but the second seems easy.
We can just argue that a good human life must be subject to regret and loss. Of course, it is not enough to say that the human condition is in fact marked by regret and loss. There is no inconsistency in maintaining that one should aim at a secure life in order to live the best possible human life while also realizing that the best possible human life will be marked by insecurity.
In this way, we move beyond a discussion of which desires are satisfiable, and we tackle the question about the value of what is desired and the value of the desiring itself. To address this possible objection, Socrates needs to give us a different argument. After all, the geometer does not need to offer multiple proofs of his theorem.
What might seem worse, the additional proofs concern pleasure, and thereby introduce—seemingly at the eleventh hour—a heap of new considerations for the ethics of the Republic.
But as the considerations at the end of the previous section show, these pleasure proofs are crucial. Plato merely dramatizes these considerations.
Socrates has offered not merely to demonstrate that it is always better to be just than unjust but to persuade Glaucon and Adeimantus but especially Glaucon: Insofar as Glaucon shows sympathy for spirited attitudes d with the discussion in section 4.
The additional proofs serve a second purpose, as well. At the end of Book Five, Socrates says that faculties at least psychological faculties are distinguished by their results their rate of success and by their objects what they concern c—d. So far, he has discussed only the success-rates of various kinds of psychological attitudes. He needs to discuss the objects of various kinds of psychological attitudes in order to complete his account.
The two arguments that Socrates proceeds to make are frustratingly difficult see Gosling and TaylorNussbaumRussellMossWarrenShaw First, Socrates suggests that just as each part of the soul has its own characteristic desires and pleasures, so persons have characteristic desires and pleasures depending upon which part of their soul rules them. The characteristic pleasure of philosophers is learning. The characteristic pleasure of honor-lovers is being honored.
The characteristic pleasure of money-lovers is making money. Next, Socrates suggests that each of these three different kinds of person would say that her own pleasure is best. Finally, Socrates argues that the philosopher is better than the honor-lover and the money-lover in reason, experience, and argument.
It is sometimes thought that the philosopher cannot be better off in experience, for the philosopher has never lived as an adult who is fully committed to the pleasures of the money-lover. The first establishes that pleasure and pain are not exhaustive contradictories but opposites, separated by a calm middle that is neither pain nor pleasure.
This may sometimes seem false. The removal of pain can seem to be pleasant, and the removal of a pleasure can seem to be painful. But Socrates argues that these appearances are deceptive.
He distinguishes between pleasures that fill a lack and thereby replace a pain these are not genuine pleasures and those that do not fill a lack and thereby replace a pain these are genuine pleasures. The second step in the argument is to establish that most bodily pleasures—and the most intense of these—fill a painful lack and are not genuine pleasures. The pleasure proofs tempt some readers to suppose that Socrates must have a hedonistic conception of happiness.
After all, he claims to have shown that the just person is happier than the unjust a—cand he says that his pleasure arguments are proofs of the same claim c—d, b. But these arguments can work just as the first proof works: Socrates can suppose that happiness, whatever it is, is marked by pleasure just as it is marked by the absence of regret, frustration, and fear.
Pleasure is a misleading guide see c—d and cand there are many false, self-undermining routes to pleasure and fearlessness. Anyone inclined to doubt that one should always be just would be inclined to doubt that justice is happiness.
So Socrates has to appeal to characteristics of happiness that do not, in his view, capture what happiness is, in the hope that the skeptics might agree that happiness correlates with the absence of regret, frustration, and fear and the presence of pleasure.
That would be enough for the proofs. Their beliefs and desires have been stained too deeply by a world filled with mistakes, especially by the misleading tales of the poets. To turn Glaucon and Adeimantus more fully toward virtue, Socrates needs to undercut their respect for the poets, and he needs to begin to stain their souls anew.
The work that remains to be done—especially the sketch of a soul at the end of Book Nine and the myth of an afterlife in Book Ten—should deepen without transforming our appreciation for the psychological ethics of the Republic. The Ideal Constitution 4.
So the Republic contributes to political philosophy in two main ways. To sketch a good city, Socrates does not take a currently or previously extant city as his model and offer adjustments see e, and cf.
He insists on starting from scratch, reasoning from the causes that would bring a city into being a—b. This makes his picture of a good city an ideal, a utopia. The ideal city is conceivable, but humans are psychologically unable to create and sustain such a city. To consider the objection, we first need to distinguish two apparently ideal cities that Socrates describes.
It contains no provision for war, and no distinction among classes. At c—d, Glaucon suggests that one might find a third city, as well, by distinguishing between the three-class city whose rulers are not explicitly philosophers and the three-class city whose rulers are, but a three-class city whose rulers are not philosophers cannot be an ideal city, according to Socrates b—e.
It is better to see Books Five through Seven as clarifications of the same three-class city first developed without full explicitness in Books Two through Four cf.
This city resembles a basic economic model since Socrates uses it in theorizing how a set of people could efficiently satisfy their necessary appetitive desires Schofield At the center of his model is a principle of specialization: It is a nowhere-utopia, and thus not an ideal-utopia.
This is not to say that the first city is a mistake. Socrates introduces the first city not as a free-standing ideal but as the beginning of his account of the ideal, and his way of starting highlights two features that make the eventual ideal an ideal. One is the principle of specialization. With it Socrates sketches how people might harmoniously satisfy their appetitive attitudes.
If reason could secure a society of such people, then they would be happy, and reason does secure a society of such people in the third class of the ideal city. So the model turns out to be a picture of the producers in Kallipolis. But the principle can also explain how a single person could flourish, for a version of it explains the optimal satisfaction of all psychological attitudes d—a with b—c.
He objects that it lacks couches, tables, relishes, and the other things required for a symposium, which is the cornerstone of civilized human life as he understands it Burnyeat Glaucon is not calling for satisfaction of unnecessary appetitive attitudes, for the relishes he insists on are later recognized to be among the objects of necessary appetitive attitudes b.
Rather, he is expressing spirited indignation, motivated by a sense of what is honorable and fitting for a human being. He insists that there is more to a good human life than the satisfaction of appetitive attitudes.
This begins to turn Glaucon away from appetitive considerations against being just. Some readers would have Plato welcome the charge.
Glaucon - Wikipedia
As they understand the Republic, Socrates sketches the second city not as an ideal for us to strive for but as a warning against political utopianism or as an unimportant analogue to the good person.
There are a couple of passages to support this approach. At b—b, Socrates says that the point of his ideal is to allow us to judge actual cities and persons based on how well they approximate it. And at a—b, he says that the ideal city can serve as a model paradeigma were it ever to come into existence or not.
But these passages have to be squared with the many in which Socrates insists that the ideal city could in fact come into existence just a few: His considered view is that although the ideal city is meaningful to us even if it does not exist, it could exist. Of course, realizing the ideal city is highly unlikely.
The widespread disrepute of philosophy and the corruptibility of the philosophical nature conspire to make it extremely difficult for philosophers to gain power and for rulers to become philosophers a—c.
Nevertheless, according to what Socrates explicitly says, the ideal city is supposed to be realizable. The Laws imagines an impossible ideal, in which all the citizens are fully virtuous and share everything a— with Plato: Griswold and Marshall I consider this possibility in section 6 below. This is not clear. It is difficult to show that the ideal city is inconsistent with human nature as the Republic understands it. Socrates supposes that almost all of its citizens—not quite all d—e —have to reach their fullest psychological potential, but it is not clear that anyone has to do more than this.
This version of the criticism is sometimes advanced in very sweeping terms: In these general terms, the criticism is false. Socrates builds his theory on acute awareness of how dangerous and selfish appetitive attitudes are, and indeed of how self-centered the pursuit of wisdom is, as well.
A hard-nosed political scientist might have this sort of response. But this sounds like nothing more than opposition to political theory proposing ideals that are difficult to achieve, and it is not clear what supports this opposition.
It is not as though political theorizing must propose ideas ready for implementation in order to propose ideas relevant to implementation. But it can also work in more specific terms: Of course, even if it is not nowhere-utopian, it might fail to be attractively ideal-utopian. We need to turn to other features of the second city that have led readers to praise and blame it. On the one hand, Aristotle at Politics a11—22 and others have expressed uncertainty about the extent of communism in the ideal city.
On the other, they have argued that communism of any extent has no place in an ideal political community. There should be no confusion about private property. When Socrates describes the living situation of the guardian classes in the ideal city d—bhe is clear that private property will be sharply limited, and when he discusses the kinds of regulations the rulers need to have in place for the whole city c ff.
But confusion about the scope of communal living arrangements is possible, due to the casual way in which Socrates introduces this controversial proposal. The abolition of private families enters as an afterthought. It is not immediately clear whether this governance should extend over the whole city or just the guardian classes. Still, when he is pressed to defend the communal arrangements c ff. To what extent the communism of the ideal city is problematic is a more complicated question.
The critics claim that communism is either undesirable or impossible. This criticism fails if there is clear evidence of people who live communally.
But the critic can fall back on the charge of undesirability. Here the critic needs to identify what is lost by giving up on private property and private families, and the critic needs to show that this is more valuable than any unity and extended sense of family the communal arrangements offer. It is not clear how this debate should go. The exact relation between the proposals is contestable Okin Is Socrates proposing the abolition of families in order to free up women to do the work of ruling?
Or is Socrates putting the women to work since they will not have the job of family-caregiver anymore? But perhaps neither is prior to the other. Each of the proposals can be supported independently, and their dovetailing effects can be claimed as a happy convergence. Other readers disagree AnnasBuchan First, Socrates suggests that the distinction between male and female is as relevant as the distinction between having long hair and having short hair for the purposes of deciding who should be active guardians: The second plausibly feminist commitment in the Republic involves the abolition of private families.
But as Socrates clarifies what he means, both free love and male possessiveness turn out to be beside the point. Plato is clearly aware that an account of how the polis should be arranged must give special attention to how families are arranged.
Relatedly, he is clearly aware that an account of the ideal citizens must explain how sexual desire, a paradigmatic appetitive attitude, should fit into the good human life.3b Glaucon on happiness and being morally good
All the more might this awareness seem feminist when we relate it back to the first plausibly feminist commitment, for Plato wants the economy of desire and reproduction to be organized in such a way that women are free for education and employment alongside men, in the guardian classes, at any rate. Second, some have said that feminism requires attention to what actual women want.
Since Plato shows no interest in what actual women want, he would seem on this view of feminism to be anti-feminist. But the limitations of this criticism are apparent as soon as we realize that Plato shows no interest in what actual men want. Plato focuses instead on what women and men should want, what they would want if they were in the best possible psychological condition. Third, some have insisted that feminism requires attention to and concern for the particular interests and needs of women as distinct from the particular interests and needs of men.
There should be no doubt that there are conceptions of feminism according to which the Republic is anti-feminist. But this does not undercut the point that the Republic advances a couple of plausibly feminist concerns. Socrates consistently emphasizes concern for the welfare of the whole city, but not for women themselves esp.
After all, what greater concern could Socrates show for the women than to insist that they be fully educated and allowed to hold the highest offices? Socrates goes on to argue that the philosopher-rulers of the city, including the female philosopher-rulers, are as happy as human beings can be. But it is not clear that these distinctions will remove all of the tension, especially when Socrates and Glaucon are saying that men are stronger or better than women in just about every endeavor c.
Final judgment on this question is difficult see also SaxonhouseLevinE. The disparaging remarks have to be taken one-by-one, as it is doubtful that all can be understood in exactly the same way. Moreover, it is of the utmost importance to determine whether each remark says something about the way all women are by nature or essentially.
But that little attempt is detected, and therefore you will please to give a defence of both. Well, I said, I submit to my fate. Yet grant me a little favour: Now I myself am beginning to lose heart, and I should like, with your permission, to pass over the question of possibility at present. Assuming therefore the possibility of the proposal, I shall now proceed to enquire how the rulers will carry out these arrangements, and I shall demonstrate that our plan, if executed, will be of the greatest benefit to the State and to the guardians.
First of all, then, if you have no objection, I will endeavour with your help to consider the advantages of the measure; and hereafter the question of possibility. I have no objection; proceed. First, I think that if our rulers and their auxiliaries are to be worthy of the name which they bear, there must be willingness to obey in the one and the power of command in the other; the guardians must themselves obey the laws, and they must also imitate the spirit of them in any details which are entrusted to their care.
That is right, he said. You, I said, who are their legislator, having selected the men, will now select the women and give them to them; — they must be as far as possible of like natures with them; and they must live in common houses and meet at common meals, None of them will have anything specially his or her own; they will be together, and will be brought up together, and will associate at gymnastic exercises.
And so they will be drawn by a necessity of their natures to have intercourse with each other — necessity is not too strong a word, I think? Yes, he said; — necessity, not geometrical, but another sort of necessity which lovers know, and which is far more convincing and constraining to the mass of mankind. True, I said; and this, Glaucon, like all the rest, must proceed after an orderly fashion; in a city of the blessed, licentiousness is an unholy thing which the rulers will forbid.
Yes, he said, and it ought not to be permitted. Then clearly the next thing will be to make matrimony sacred in the highest degree, and what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred? And how can marriages be made most beneficial? Now, I beseech you, do tell me, have you ever attended to their pairing and breeding?
Why, in the first place, although they are all of a good sort, are not some better than others? And do you breed from them all indifferently, or do you take care to breed from the best only? And do you take the oldest or the youngest, or only those of ripe age? I choose only those of ripe age. And if care was not taken in the breeding, your dogs and birds would greatly deteriorate? And the same of horses and animals in general? Certainly, the same principle holds; but why does this involve any particular skill?
Because, I said, our rulers will often have to practise upon the body corporate with medicines. Now you know that when patients do not require medicines, but have only to be put under a regimen, the inferior sort of practitioner is deemed to be good enough; but when medicine has to be given, then the doctor should be more of a man.
That is quite true, he said; but to what are you alluding? I mean, I replied, that our rulers will find a considerable dose of falsehood and deceit necessary for the good of their subjects: And we were very right. And this lawful use of them seems likely to be often needed in the regulations of marriages and births. Why, I said, the principle has been already laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior, as seldom as possible; and that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition.
Now these goings on must be a secret which the rulers only know, or there will be a further danger of our herd, as the guardians may be termed, breaking out into rebellion. Had we not better appoint certain festivals at which we will bring together the brides and bridegrooms, and sacrifices will be offered and suitable hymeneal songs composed by our poets: There are many other things which they will have to consider, such as the effects of wars and diseases and any similar agencies, in order as far as this is possible to prevent the State from becoming either too large or too small.
We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers. To be sure, he said. And I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them; their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible.
And the proper officers, whether male or female or both, for offices are to be held by women as well as by men — Yes — The proper officers will take the offspring of the good parents to the pen or fold, and there they will deposit them with certain nurses who dwell in a separate quarter; but the offspring of the inferior, or of the better when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.
Yes, he said, that must be done if the breed of the guardians is to be kept pure. They will provide for their nurture, and will bring the mothers to the fold when they are full of milk, taking the greatest possible care that no mother recognizes her own child; and other wet-nurses may be engaged if more are required. Care will also be taken that the process of suckling shall not be protracted too long; and the mothers will have no getting up at night or other trouble, but will hand over all this sort of thing to the nurses and attendants.
You suppose the wives of our guardians to have a fine easy time of it when they are having children. Why, said I, and so they ought. Let us, however, proceed with our scheme. We were saying that the parents should be in the prime of life? And what is the prime of life? May it not be defined as a period of about twenty years in a woman's life, and thirty in a man's?
Which years do you mean to include?
A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to the State, and continue to bear them until forty; a man may begin at five-and-twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beats quickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five. Certainly, he said, both in men and women those years are the prime of physical as well as of intellectual vigour.
Any one above or below the prescribed ages who takes part in the public hymeneals shall be said to have done an unholy and unrighteous thing; the child of which he is the father, if it steals into life, will have been conceived under auspices very unlike the sacrifices and prayers, which at each hymeneal priestesses and priest and the whole city will offer, that the new generation may be better and more useful than their good and useful parents, whereas his child will be the offspring of darkness and strange lust.
And the same law will apply to any one of those within the prescribed age who forms a connection with any woman in the prime of life without the sanction of the rulers; for we shall say that he is raising up a bastard to the State, uncertified and unconsecrated. This applies, however, only to those who are within the specified age: And we grant all this, accompanying the permission with strict orders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the light; and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand that the offspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange accordingly.
That also, he said, is a reasonable proposition. But how will they know who are fathers and daughters, and so on? They will never know. The way will be this: All who were begotten at the time when their fathers and mothers came together will be called their brothers and sisters, and these, as I was saying, will be forbidden to inter-marry.
This, however, is not to be understood as an absolute prohibition of the marriage of brothers and sisters; if the lot favours them, and they receive the sanction of the Pythian oracle, the law will allow them.
Quite right, he replied. Such is the scheme, Glaucon, according to which the guardians of our State are to have their wives and families in common. Certainly he would not; for every one whom they meet will be regarded by them either as a brother or sister, or father or mother, or son or daughter, or as the child or parent of those who are thus connected with him.
Capital, I said; but let me ask you once more: Shall they be a family in name only; or shall they in all their actions be true to the name? For example, in the use of the word "father," would the care of a father be implied and the filial reverence and duty and obedience to him which the law commands; and is the violator of these duties to be regarded as an impious and unrighteous person who is not likely to receive much good either at the hands of God or of man?
Are these to be or not to be the strains which the children will hear repeated in their ears by all the citizens about those who are intimated to them to be their parents and the rest of their kinsfolk? These, he said, and none other; for what can be more ridiculous than for them to utter the names of family ties with the lips only and not to act in the spirit of them?
Then in our city the language of harmony and concord will be more often heard than in any other. As I was describing before, when any one is well or ill, the universal word will be with me it is well" or "it is ill. And agreeably to this mode of thinking and speaking, were we not saying that they will have their pleasures and pains in common?
Yes, and so they will. In RepublicSocrates is quoted as saying to Glaucon: The context is a conversation about loving someone despite their having a physical flaw. Information on Glaucon after the death of Socrates BC is unknown. As Plato's dialogues of Socrates do not refer to Glaucon's passing, he most likely died in or around Athens after Socrates.
Parmenides[ edit ] Glaucon is referenced briefly in the opening lines of this dialogue, along with his brother Adeimantus. They are visiting the agora of Athens, when they greet Cephalus, who is searching for their half-brother Antiphon because he supposedly memorised the conversation between Socrates, Zenoand Parmenidesyears before.
Glaucon had heard a previous account, and the two talk about the event to "pass the time" on their way to Athens. Thrasymachus claims that the authoritative element in each city makes the laws, called "just".
Glaucon revives Thrasymachus' account and attempts to give it the strongest explication he can because he wants to give Socrates a clear and forceful exposition of the claim that justice is valued only for its consequences and not in its own right.