The Republic

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Specialization Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Education Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Specialization Theme Icon
Philosopher-King Theme Icon
Soul Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Republic, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Specialization Theme Icon

One of the founding principles of the ideal city is that each person should specialize in an occupation that he is specifically suited for. Education encourages specialization and determines each individual's natural aptitudes. Those with talents suitable for a specific craft specialize in that craft. Those with an ability for warfare become warriors, those with the gifts needed to rule are educated as guardians. The very best of the guardians are selected to become philosopher-kings. Each citizen engages only in the occupation he is suited for by nature and training. Plato's emphasis on specialization extends even to the human soul, whose three parts specialize in terms of appetites, emotions, and reason. Since only warriors and guardians are taught to use arms, specialization makes armed rebellion on the part of producers unlikely. Since the guardians are not allowed to own property, they are less likely to become greedy.

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Specialization ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Specialization appears in each section of The Republic. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Specialization Quotes in The Republic

Below you will find the important quotes in The Republic related to the theme of Specialization.
Book 2 Quotes
And if so, we must infer that all things are produced more plentifully and easily and of a better quality when one man does one thing which is natural to him, and does it at the right time, and leaves other things.
Related Characters: Socrates (speaker)
Related Symbols: The City
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

Socrates continues to spell out the conditions for his ideal city. He explains that each citizen should be tasked with a specific duty based on his or her inherent aptitude.

This passage corroborates the way that Socrates envisions a highly authoritarian state. Instead of allowing people to pursue their interests or passions, he focuses on what will maximize utility: what will allow “better quality” in society produced at faster rates and “more easily.” His model does not allow for the presence of human free will, but rather slots each citizen into a specific, almost mechanical, positions to optimize the larger entity.

His model also posits the existence of inherent aptitude for each person. To assume there is a single thing “which is natural to him” is to presume that each person possesses this natural affiliation for a certain form of work. Indeed, such assumptions are typical of Socrates’ philosophy, which tends to rely on essential virtues and essential qualities in people. Here, the model is that each person has such an essence that when manifested perfectly will result in the optimal functioning of the self and the city. Thus Socrates defines his model of justice as combination of inherent skill and a rigid social system that would maximize that skill.


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