Sun, Line and Cave

  • R. C. Cross
  • A. D. Woozley


At the end of Book V, arising out of Plato’s statement at 473d–e that philosophers must be rulers, the philosopher has been distinguished from the non-philosopher. The latter is, to use Plato’s words at the beginning of Book VI, “lost in the maze of multiplicity and change”, while the former is “able to grasp the eternal and unchanging”, i.e. the Forms. Thus the philosopher alone has knowledge of Justice itself (the Form of Justice), and so with the other virtues. Plato in Book VI, in the passage running 484ad–502c, is first (484ad–487a) concerned to show that the philosophic nature also involves the other characteristics requisite in a ruler, and these are conveniently summed up at 487a: the philosopher requires to have a good memory, he is quick to learn, magnanimous, gracious, a friend and kinsman of truth, courage, justice and temperance. In fact, in all respects, philosophers are the only completely suitable persons to whom to entrust the state. Secondly (487bd–497a), Adeimantus objects that the facts are at variance with this conclusion: as things are, even the best of the philosophers are regarded as useless and most of them are thoroughly vicious; and Plato argues that this arises, not through the fault of philosophy, but because of the corrupt societies in which philosophers have to live.


True Belief Visible World Greek Word Real Thing Philosophic Nature 
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Copyright information

© R. C. Cross and A. D. Woozley 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. C. Cross
    • 1
  • A. D. Woozley
    • 2
  1. 1.University of AberdeenUK
  2. 2.University of VirginiaUSA

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