In this part of The Republic, Plato suggests that only the philosophers have the capability to know something, since they are the only ones that have access to the world of forms, and because of this ability, they should be the kings (guardians), hence the term philosopher-king. But before going further, Plato describes the difference between a philosopher and a lover of sights and sounds. The lovers of sights and sounds only deal with the particulars that have beauty, while the true philosophers deal with the form of beauty. The true beauty that is eternal. These lovers of sight and sound cannot have true knowledge since they don’t deal with the world of forms, and just hold opinions of the sensible particulars. These people that haven’t seen the sun (the good in the world of forms) and couldn’t escape from the cave can’t rule over men and ...view middle of the document...
This leaves us with the kings becoming philosophers, and this situation might be hard to come by. The idea given is therefore just a theoretical solution, which is what Plato always meant by it. He says we should us it as a scale and see how well our current society fits in with the perfectly just society. We can see that Plato has thought about this and has come up with a logical solution and counterargument to anyone that would oppose this idea. Bottom line, the idea is ingenious but too radical to ever be considered.
The qualities of character that these philosophers should have are very precise. They should have good memory, a readiness to learn, breadth of vision and grace, and be a friend of truth, justice, courage and self-control. Plato mentions that this person, the philosopher-king would be very hard to come by since many of his characteristics would most likely oppose one another. Such as the steady and consistent characters that you can rely on, and who are not moved by fear in war, would be equally unmoved by instruction.
The good is what ultimately separates the philosophers from the rest of mankind. Plato makes it that it is the most powerful form. The way Plato uses the sun to describe the form of the good is very shrewd. Plato claims that the sun gives us light and the light in turn helps our eyes to see. This means that the light and our sense of sight are coming from the sun, but they are not the sun. Plato takes the knowledge and truth as the light and sense of sight in the intangible world of forms, and the sun as the good, still above them.
Overall this part of the book is very interesting, since it explains fully how the guardians will be chosen. If this idea is carried out, it will be interesting to see the amount of people that fit this description, if any. Even though this can’t be carried out, we can still use it as a guide and try to have more characteristics that would normally be held by the guardian.