Forcing Goodness in Plato's "Republic"

Social Philosophy and Policy 24 (2):21-39 (2007)
Christopher Shields
University of Notre Dame
Among the instances of apparent illiberality in Plato's Republic, one stands out as especially curious. Long before making a forced return to the cave, and irrespective of the kinds of compulsion operative in such a homecoming, the philosopher-king has been compelled to apprehend the Good (Rep. VII.519c5-d2, 540a3-7). Why should compulsion be necessary or appropriate in this situation? Schooled intensively through the decades for an eventual grasping of the Good, beginning already with precognitive training in music and art calculated to equip the guardian with a natural affinity towards the good and beautiful (Rep. III.401d3-402a4), the fully mature guardian might be expected to leap towards the Good when it is first opportune. For the Good is, according to Plato, the greatest thing to be learned (megiston mathêma; Rep. VI.504e4-5, 505a2). Reflection on these questions permits us to develop a richer appreciation of the forms of necessitation and compulsion Plato envisages for his guardians, which turn out to be primarily merely hypothetical instances of nomic necessitation. It follows that many of Plato's appeals to compulsion are neither coercive nor objectionably authoritarian.
Keywords Plato's Authoritarianism?  Obedience
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DOI 10.1017/S026505250707015X
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Early Education in Plato's Republic.Michelle Jenkins - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (5):843-863.

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