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BOOK IV by PLATO

Book IV begins with a question posed by Adeimantus: what happiness is there for the
guardians? Socrates' quick rebuff directs Adeimantus to the original premise; their State is
utilitarian, and does not serve the good of one class to the detriment of another. Moreover,
the guardians would count duty to the State among their highest virtues.

Adeimantus interrupts Socrates to point out that being a ruler sounds unpleasant. Since the
ruler has no private wealth, he can never take a trip, keep a mistress, or do the things that
people think make them happy. Socrates responds by reminding his friends that their goal
in building this city is not to make any one group happy at the expense of any other group,
but to make the city as a whole as happy as it can be. We cannot provide the guardians with
the sort of happiness that would make them something other than guardians. He compares
this case to the building of a statue. The most beautiful color in the world, he states matter-
of-factly, is purple. So if our intention were to make the statues eyes as beautiful as
possible, we would paint them purple. Since no human being actually has purple eyes this
would detract from the beauty of the statue as a whole, so we do not paint the eyes purple.
On the statue, as in the city, we must deal with each part appropriately, in order to make the
situation best for the whole.

Adeimantus says the guardians' simple lifestyle won't make them happy, given the luxuries
enjoyed by rulers elsewhere. Socrates says despite Thrasymachus's view, the goal of
the city is not to make one group happy at the expense of another.

Since the goal is happiness for the city as a whole, the guardians must ensure that the
residents of the city live neither in extreme wealth nor in poverty. Wealth leads to laziness,
and poverty to rebellion. The guardians must protect the education system since it
determines the quality of the citizens and the city. Wives and children of guardians are held
in common. With properly educated citizens, and the guardians to make decisions, the city
won't need many laws. Religion may be left to Apollo. Having established
the city, Socrates turns to the question of virtue. Since it is the best city possible, it contains
all the virtues. Wisdom is the virtue of the guardians because of their education, courage is
the virtue of the warriors who fight for the city, and the virtue of moderation is in each
residents' happiness with his occupation. Justice lies in each person performing his own
role properly, and noHaving now in theory founded the ideal state, Socrates proceeds to try
to determine the essential virtues that may be said to characterize it (the Four Cardinal
Virtues): wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. (See Analysis, Book I, Section One)
Socrates first seeks to identify wisdom in the state.t interfering with others performing
theirs. Injustice is the opposite, people interfering with others' ability to perform their role.
Wisdom in the state must be said to reside in the class of rulers, for, by definition, they rule
by counseling the other classes and themselves. They are the best of the Guardians, having
all their lives been nurtured and educated to assume their place as rulers, and they are the
most experienced and oldest of the citizens. It is they who judge their fellow citizens and
themselves. The wisdom of the state is found in their counsels.

The second virtue, courage, may best be found in that class which has specifically been
inculcated with courage during the entire career of the members of that class: These are the
auxiliaries, who in their capacity as soldiers have become, to reflect Socrates' comparison,
"dyed in the wool" carriers of courage. The courage of the state is reflected in their very
being.

The third virtue, temperance (discipline) is a bit more difficult of analysis because it seems
to permeate the other virtues. Temperance is found in the ordering or controlling
(tempering) of certain pleasures or desires in the individual; the temperate man is said to be
master of himself. If we extend this to the state, in order for it to regulate itself, we see that
the state has to run harmoniously. Every class in the state has to cooperate with the other
classes; the classes agree with and actively endorse the functions of all classes in the state.
Thus the state may be said to be master of itself, in that the three classes will function
smoothly as a whole (the state) because of concord and harmony among the classes. The
class of rulers, wherein the virtue of wisdom in counsel is to be found, agrees to rule in the
service of the other classes and of itself; the ruled classes agree to serve and to be ruled
wisely. Thus the virtue of temperance in the state is attained.

Having determined three of the four virtues, only the fourth virtue, justice, remains. We
recall that the responsibility of each member of each class is that he attend strictly to the
business of that class, that each member fulfill the job assigned him. Since we have
determined that each citizen is rewarded within the confines of his class by the very virtue
of his patriotically performing his class duty, it follows that no other citizen may by force
deprive him of the rewards guaranteed him by his class. When we protect a member of a
given class by upholding his "rights" as a matter of course, or we protect him by securing
his "rights" in the event that someone attempts, by whatever means, to deprive him of his
"rights," then we have effected justice and may recognize it as justice in the state.

In Socrates' further instancing the existence of justice in the state, he argues that a choice
example of injustice would ensue if members of a given class, or classes, should
by force attempt to seize the "rights" of some other class. However and for whatever cause
this forcible violation of class rights might be achieved, if it were to go unreproved,
dissension and disharmony would fragment the state. In reproving the evil that is
occasioned by the doing of violence to another's rights, justice is attained.

If each member of a given class attends strictly to his own job, and if he recognizes that his
rights as a citizen cease when they encroach upon the rights of another citizen, we call this
state of affairs a just state.

As we noticed quite early in our attempt to define what constitutes the dialogue in hand, or
any Socratic dialogue, the method of argument adopted is very like that of a debate. It is
symptomatic of a person engaged in systematic thought that he or she perceives that the
point under discussion is so general that it would be useful to divide the point of the
discussion into more manageable particulars, the better to arrive at logical conclusions
about the point of the discussion. In formal discussions having to do with questions brought
before legislative bodies of citizens, this method of seeking knowledge about particulars is
known as dividing the question, or dividing the motion under debate. This is the method
Socrates employs in his discussion of the cardinal virtues. In other words, Socrates' method
of thinking, here and earlier, is to divide the discussion of the virtues generally and to seek
to define each virtue singly. In so doing, Socrates employs a process of elimination: Having
discovered and defined three of the four virtues, it follows logically that the fourth virtue is
the one remaining.

At this point in the discussion of the ideal state, we should recognize that Plato perceives
the state not simply as a random collection of human beings; rather, Plato thinks of the state
as comprising a sort of being, a kind of entity in and of itself we may say a kind of
organism. The ideal state, comprised of its various parts (classes), itself possesses the
several virtues we have thus far discussed. And we might anticipate, now, that having
divided the ideal state into its several parts (in pursuit of the virtues), Socrates may seek the
same division in the individual citizen.

Socrates has at last provided a definition of justice. This definition bears strong
resemblance to the two definitions of justice put forward in Book I. Cephalus ventured that
justice was the honoring of legal obligations, while his son Polemarchus suggested that
justice amounts to helping ones friends and harming ones enemies. These two definitions
are linked by the imperative of rendering what is due, or giving to each what is appropriate.
This same imperative finds variant expression in Platos definition of justicejustice as a
political arrangement in which each person plays the appropriate role. What is due to each
person is rendered all at once. Each is assigned the role in society that best suits their nature
and that best serves society as a whole.