Sunday, October 30, 2005

why are the many bad?

October 30, 2005
Book VI

According to book six in The Republic of Plato Socrates defines how and what causes and defines the corrupt or bad person, the many. According to Socrates, virtues also shared by the true philosophers such as courage and moderation have an awful affect on the soul, “each one of the elements we praised in that nature has a part in destroying the soul that has them in tearing it away from philosophy. I mean courage, moderation, and everything we went through.” (491 b). In order to rationalize this form of reasoning of seemingly contradiction Socrates adds “goods corrupt it (soul) and tear it away-beauty, wealth, strength of body, relatives who are powerful in a city, and everything akin to these.” (491 c) Meaning, that these virtues of moderation, courage and such are all good things until they become corrupt through this new concept of goods. Thus, this seemingly ambiguous concept of having a set of virtues be the bases of the true philosopher and having them also be the bases of the fake and corrupt person who steals the title of a philosopher makes perfect sense; if moderation and courage are practiced correctly then one is a good being, but if these virtues are skewed or meddled with then one becomes bad, through the corruption of their virtues.

Concerning the meddling of these virtues, the source most sensibly originates from the same place and time period in which the same virtues of true philosophers are obtained and put into practice correctly, one’s upbringing. During this crucial time in one’s life, if one were to receive a bad education they are most likely to do horrible things; evidently through Socrates “if the nature we set down for the philosopher chances on a suitable course of learning, it will necessarily grow and come to every kind of virtue; but if it isn’t sown, planted, and nourished in what’s suitable, it will come to all the opposite…” (492 a) Through this excerpt of dialogue, Socrates brings across the notion of education, parenting, and nourishment; all being closely related with respect to the quality of one’s virtues. It is stated that if the quality is questionable, then the ideal of producing a philosopher has failed miserably because consequently the results from one’s faulted upbringing is the opposite of that of a philosopher.

This brings up the issue of the ideal versus the reality. Concerning any city or state as a whole the ideal can never be holistically achieved, even though some might have come impressively close, but when the scale is brought down to the individual; the ideal is near impossible to be achieved. Thus, there are very few true philosophers in the city, the ideal, because the many have become corrupt along their path to success. These things are plainly evident through Socrates words “look at the corruptions of this nature (true philosopher’s) and see how it is destroyed in many, while a small number escape-just those whom they call not vicious but useless.” (490 e) Logically, through the reasoning of how a small number escape corruption along their journey to being a true philosopher there are few good citizens. Does this mean that everyone else in the city is bad? It depends on the intensity in which you are focusing on in a scale, for of course everyone in the city is not vicious and evil, yet being aside from evilness does not always provide the certificate of being a good citizen.

According to Socrates, not all citizens become evil to the extent of being opposite to a philosopher, fault due to the lack of their education’s influence and nature. Socrates raises an excellent point “a weak nature will never be the cause of great things either good or bad…” (491 e) The point presented here explores the idea that if ones education, upbringing, and nature are weak so they have never fully obtained any strong influencing bases on virtues and such, one has the inability to conduct impressively good or bad deeds. Many have this mediocre style of upbringing as apposed to highly influential ones, but through the eyes of Socrates, these people are still considered ‘bad.’ Thus, the many are bad.

The reason why the many are bad is evidently due to falters in the nature and upbringing of one’s life dealing with concepts such as virtues and values. When one “does not lose the keenness of his passionate love nor cease from it before he grasps the nature itself of each thing which is… knows and lives truly, is nourished…” (490 b) he becomes a true philosopher, something that only rarely is achieved, and thus the many are bad, through the eyes of Socrates.


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