The Republic



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LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Republic, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


Socrates believes that the good of the city outweighs the good of the individual. Consequently, the object of his educational system is to produce citizens who are loyal to the city and who best fill the city's needs. The city's educational system identifies particularly talented individuals so they may be trained as auxiliaries (warriors), guardians, or even philosopher-kings. All children are educated identically until the age of eighteen when those destined to be producers (laborers…

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Socrates' purpose in the Republic is to determine the nature of justice, or "right behavior." Socrates examines the nature of justice in both the individual and in the city. Socrates associates justice with structures in the human soul and social structures in the city. Justice in the individual is a state in which the rational soul controls both the spirit (the emotions) and the appetitive soul (the part associated with desires and appetites)…

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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…

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Since only a philosopher can truly know the Forms, the ideal abstracts of objects and ideas, only the philosopher has true knowledge. All other knowledge is based on the physical and impermanent. For instance, we can see particular beauty in the physical world, but it is subject to change. The ideal Form of Beauty, in the world of Ideas, is abstract and never changes. The philosopher, because he understands the Forms, understands truth and true…

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The soul is immortal, and has three parts. The appetitive soul is driven by lusts and appetites (for food, for wealth, for sex), the rational soul is able to think, measure, and calculate, and the spirit or will is the emotional aspect of the soul. In a just man the rational part dominates, moderating and controlling the other two parts. If either the appetite or the spirit dominate, then the man is neither just nor…

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Truth is a core virtue of the city and of the philosopher-king. Literature that shows gods and men behaving untruthfully is forbidden. Deceit is forbidden, except for the guardians who may tell falsehoods for the good of the city. True knowledge, and true philosophy, says Socrates, require an understanding of the Forms, since everything else is simply a shadowy reflection of the Forms. For instance, the Form of Beauty is the abstract, ideal, perfect…

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