As Book IX draws to a close, Socrates offers us “an image of the soul in words.” We are to imagine the appetitive part as “a many-headed beast with a ring of tame and savage heads that it can grow and change at will.” We are to imagine the spirited part as a lion. And we are to imagine the rational part as a human being (reason being a distinctively human capacity). The appetitive part is “much the largest” of the three, while the rational part is the smallest. All are joined together and set within the “image” of a human being (the human body, presumably). Socrates uses this emblem to reiterate the conclusion of the overall argument, that justice is by its very nature beneficial to a person, and to offer some advice: that we should act so as to put the rational part in control of the soul and get the spirited part to serve as its ally; that we should get the rational part to care for the appetitive part “like a farmer, feeding and domesticating the gentler heads and preventing the savage ones from growing;” and that the result should be friendship among the parts of the soul. Socrates goes on to use the emblem to explain how certain conventional vices such as licentiousness, irascibility, laziness, and slavishness have their roots in injustice. In general, “what is fine is what subordinates the beastlike elements in our nature to the human one – or better, perhaps, to the divine, whereas what is shameful is what enslaves the tame element to the savage.”Directions: Respond to the questions bulleted below.*Why does Socrates call the rational part of the soul “divine”? *At 590c-d , Socrates suggests that, in a community, “it is better for everyone to be ruled by a divine and wise ruler – preferably one that is his own and that he has inside himself; otherwise one imposed on him from outside, so that we may all be as alike and as friendly as possible . . .” How much imposition from without would Socrates consider permissible? He says that a person ruled by the appetitive part “should be the slave of that best person who has the divine ruler within himself.” But suppose a city were less than entirely temperate, and the person ruled by the appetitive part were unwilling to subordinate himself in this way. How far would Socrates be willing to go to establish order? He is convinced that value true aristocracy would come to be appreciated in the city, eventually and on balance, if not immediately and universally. But in the meantime, what should be done about misfits or malcontents? Does no one in a just society have a right to anti-social opinions and desires, a right to be wrong? *There are many stories in the science fiction vein that warn about the threat of corrupt rulers bent on using technology to control people for their less-than-wisdom-loving purposes. But imagine a perfectly rational and loving overlord were considering the mass distribution of soul-altering “enlightenment pills,” which would enable imperfectly just people to more readily appreciate the nature and value of wisdom. Would it be wrong to make these pills available, free for the taking? Would it be wrong to administer these pills involuntarily? Would it be wrong for parents not to give them to their children?
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