The following quotations are from:

Plato, Republic

“Education isn’t what some people declare it to be, namely, putting knowledge into souls that lack it, like putting sight into blind eyes.

            They do say that.

            But our present discussion, on the other hand, shows that the power to learn is present in everyone’s soul and that the instrument with which each learns is like an eye that cannot be turned around from darkness to light without turning the whole body. This instrument cannot be turned around from that which is coming into being without turning the whole soul until it is able to study that which is and the brightest thing that is, namely, the one we call the good. Isn’t that right?


            Then education is the craft concerned with doing this very thing, this turning around, and with how the soul can most easily and effectively be made to do it. It isn’t the craft of putting sight into the soul. Education takes for granted that sight is there but that it isn’t turned the right way or looking where it ought to look, and it tries to redirect it appropriately.” 190

“I’ll point out, then, if you can grasp it, that some sense perceptions don’t summon the understanding to look into them, because the judgment of sense perception is itself adequate, while others encourage it in every way to look into them, because sense perception seems to produce no sound result.

            You’re obviously referring to things appearing in the distance and to trompe l’oeil paintings.

            You’re not quite getting my meaning.

            Then what do you mean

            The ones that don’t summon the understanding are all those that don’t go off into opposite perceptions at the same time. But the ones that do go off in that way I call summoners—whenever sense perception doesn’t declare one thing any more than its opposite, no matter whether the object striking the senses is near at hand or far away.” 195

“…some things summon thought, while others don’t. Those that strike the relevant sense a the same time as their opposites I call summoners, those that don’t do this do not awaken understanding.

            Now I understand, and I think you’re right.

            Well, then, to which of them do number and the one belong?

            I don’t know.

            Reason it out from what was said before. If the one is adequately seen itself by itself or is so perceived by any of the other senses, then… it wouldn’t draw the soul towards being. But if something opposite to it is always seen at the same time, so that nothing is apparently any more one than the opposite of one, then something would be needed to judge the matter. The soul would then be puzzled, and would look for an answer, would stir up its understanding, and would ask what the one itself is.” 197

“…whenever someone tries through argument and apart from all sense perceptions to find the being itself of each thing and doesn’t give up until he grasps the good itself with understanding itself, he reaches the end of the intelligible, just as the other reached the end of the visible


            And what about this journey? Don’t you call it dialectic?

            I do.” 204

“At any rate, no one will dispute it when we say that there is no other inquiry that systematically attempts to grasp with respect to each thing itself what the being of it is, for all the other crafts are concerned with human opinions and desires, with growing or construction, or with the care of growing or constructed things. And as for the rest, I mean geometry and the subjects that follow it, we described them as to some extent grasping what is, for we saw that, while they do dream about what is, they are unable to command a waking view of it as long as they make use of hypotheses that they leave untouched and that they cannot give any account of. What mechanism could possibly turn any agreement into knowledge when it begins with something unknwon and puts together the conclusion and the steps in between from what is unknown?


            Therefore, dialectic is the only inquiry that travels this road, doing away with hypotheses and proceeding to the first principle itself, so as to be secure. And when the eye of the soul is really buried in a sort of barbaric bog, dialectic gently pulls it out and leads it upwards, using the crafts we described to help it and cooperate with it in turning the soul around. From force of habit, we’ve often called these crafts sciences or kinds of knowledge, but they need another name, clearer than opinion, darker than knowledge. We called them thought somewhere before.” 205

“… anyone who can achieve a unified vision is dialectical, and anyone who can’t isn’t.

            I agree.

            Well, then, you’ll have to look out for the ones who most of all have this ability in them and who also remain steadfast in their studies, in war, and in the other activities laid down by law. And after they have reached their thirtieth year, you’ll select them in turn from among those chosen earlier and assign them yet greater honors. Then you’ll have to test them by means of the power of dialectic, to discover which of them can relinquish his eyes and other senses, going on with the help of truth to that which by itself is. And this is a task that requires great care.

            What’s the main reason for that?

            Don’t you realize what a great evil comes from dialectic as it is currently practiced?

            What evil is that?

            Those who practice it are filled with lawlessness.

            They certainly are.” 209

“And isn’t it one lasting precaution not to let them taste arguments while they’re young? I don’t suppose that it has escaped your notice that, when young people get their first taste of arguments, they misuse it by treating it as a kind of game of contradiction. They imitate those who’ve refuted them by refuting others themselves, and, like puppies, they enjoy dragging and tearing those around them with their arguments.

            They’re excessively fond of it.

            Then, when they’ve refuted many and been refuted by them in turn, they forcefully and quickly fall into disbelieving what they believed before. And, as a result, they themselves and the whole of philosophy are discredited in the eyes of others.

            That’s very true.        

            But an older person won’t want to take part in such madness. He’ll imitate someone who is willing to engage in discussion in order to look for the truth, rather than someone who plays at contradiction for sport. He’ll be more sensible himself and will bring honor rather than discredit to the philosophical way of life.” 211