Summary of Plato’s Republic, Book VII


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The Philosopher Kings

Who should rule and why?  The wisest make decisions using reason. According to Plato, there are three parts of the soul and three corresponding roles to play in the state:

  • The Rational Ruler (rational motivation, disinterested, seeking wisdom)
  • The Spirited Soldier (emotional motivation, seeking honor, bravery, courage)
  • The Appetitive Worker (pleasure motive, seeking food, drink, sex)
  • Justice in the soul and in the state is balance of all three with reason at the helm.


Plato’s Republic, Book VII – Philosopher Rulers

  1. The Ideal and the Actual
  2. Definition of the Philosopher
    1. Two Orders of RealityIgnorance is belief of of what is not and is grasped by the blind, Knowledge is belief of what is and is grasped by the Philosopher, and Opinion is of neither what is or is not.
    2. Character of a Potential Philosopher Ruler:  One who loves truth, has a great mind, a good memory, is ready to learn and learns easily, has broad vision, is graceful, self-controlled, just, and civilized, educated, and mature. Is NOT mean, nor quick to anger, nor petty, nor boastful, nor cowardly.
  3. Prejudice against Philosophy
    1. True philosophers strive for reality, intelligence, knowledge and true fulfillment, while false philosophers are useless members of society.
    2. Ship Analogy of the True Philosophers. Blame not the true philosopher, but those who fail to take advantage of their wisdom.
  4. The Philosopher Ruler
  5. The Good as the Ultimate Object of Knowledge  – and the Simile of the Sun
  6. The Divided Line – between the visible world and the intelligible world
  7. The Simile or Allegory of the Cave


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