Imagination for Philosophical Exercise in Plato’s Republic: The Story of Gyges’ Ring and the Simile of the Sun

  • Noburu NotomiEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 139)


In order to re-examine what role Plato gives to images in the Republic, this chapter argues against modern commentators’ views and demonstrates that for Plato, images represent reality in special ways and that the simile is not simply a didactic method of explaining familiar objects, but is an effective method of inquiry to reveal a reality unknown to us. First it shows that Plato ascribes to images a special role of transforming our souls, by examining the famous story of Gyges’ ring; second, by analysing the simile of the Sun, it shows that images are real in the sense that they reveal to us the world beyond sensible things. These two examples represent two important aspects, namely, a psychological exercise for changing ourselves and an ontological possibility for such images. In order to rehabilitate our conception of the image, the chapter considers views on images by Japanese philosophers, Megumi Sakabe and Toshihiko Izutsu.


Plato Republic Image Simile Shadow Imagination Reality Japanese philosophy Megumi Sakabe Toshihiko Izutsu Gyges’ ring The Form of the Good Sun Sight Intellect Transformation Transcendence 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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