The following is an assigned essay which was completed for a grade. Unfortunately, some formatting has been lost in the transition to LJ.
Eric J. Herboso
02 March, 2004
The Republic: Book VII: The Dialectic of Plato & Socrates
In Book VII of Plato’s Republic, Socrates talks about the myth of the cave. The analogy is one of everyday people living in a cave, unable to turn their heads and only being allowed to see shadows upon the wall. The point of this diversion is for Socrates to make clear to Glaucon et al. that the Philosopher King (Aristotle’s Pombosileia) should in fact rule. It is, Socrates says, the duty (for the good of the city; i.e., in order to make the city more just) of those philosophers who see past the shadows into what reality truly is to come back into the darkness of the cave, in order to help those left behind to see what truly is what.
But while Socrates is engaging in this dialogue, Plato himself is also engaging in a dialectic, though it is one that must be read in-between the lines. In Leo Strauss’ On A Forgotten Kind Of Writing, it becomes clear that writers like Plato are truly engaging in a dialogue with the reader himself; and it is this dialogue that truly makes it a dialectic. While Socrates is busy explaining the myth of the cave, Plato is trying to get across the idea of questioning the very method that Socrates is using – just as Socrates talks of first seeing shadows, and then seeing reality, Plato is bringing up the idea of something more than that: a form of forms.
Plato writes in this manner continuously in his Republic, and it is interesting seeing as to how Socrates’ argument continues book by book at the same time as Plato’s argument continues book by book. I look forward to seeing how things will change in the upcoming books.
Bloom, Allan. The Republic of Plato. Au. Plato.
Basic Books: United States of America, 1968
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