Within shaped completely by education, which fits with

Within this discussion, Socrates
also mentions Musical education and Gymnastic education, both important for an
overall upbringing of a citizen. Plato often refers to this in the Republic
from time to time.

“What is the education? Isn’t
difficult to find a better one that discovered over a great expanse of time? It
is of course, gymnastics for bodies and music for the soul”

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“Yes, it is”

“Won’t we begin educating in
music before Gymnastics?”

“Ofcourse” (Plato,2000).

On the basis of Education in
music, Socrates begins with stating how storytelling and poetry begins in early
childhood as children are more flexible and pliable. Socrates claims, “A
young thing can’t judge what is hidden sense and what is not; but what he takes
into his opinions at that age has a tendency to become hard to eradicate and
unchangeable” (Plato, 2000). Moreover, children are expected to accept
whatever they are told when they are young. The implication of this is that
children can be shaped completely by education, which fits with the earlier
suggestion that guardians are not destined to have a specific moral nature
prior to their education. Moreover, Gymnastics can be seen to serve the general
purpose in obtaining lightness and a grace in one’s movement. This is in regards
to the guardians and their strength that is needed for their success. Plato
mentions how by exercising and partaking in gymnastics, one can achieve
happiness. ‘the soul, and not the body, is the primary object of “gymnastics”
as well as of “music” and appeals to the fact that exclusive devotion to
physical exercise affects the character less markedly than exclusive devotion
literary and aesthetic culture, the “truth is that “music educates, not the
soul, merely, but specifically, the “philosophical part of the soul through the
medium of the eye and ear; while “gymnastic,” through bodily exercise, not only
produces bodily health and strength, but disciplines the psychological element
of “spirit”‘1.
(McClintock,1968; Plato, 2000). 



Furthermore, in regards to the
content of the tales, we see Socrates attack the two poets, Homer and Hesiod,
for creating tales that do not manage to instil virtue. J. Tate comments on the two senses of poetry, the good and the bad that
Plato mentions in his Republic. Plato accepts and ‘indeed welcomes’ imitative
poetry that is to do with ‘imitating the ideal world… using divine paradigm. However,
Plato believes that these poets create an unrealistic expectation and image of
the heroes and gods, by including certain bad lies. “…if I am not mistaken,
we shall have to say that about men poets and story tellers are guilty of
making the gravest misstatements…”(Plato, 2000, Book III). Children may
feel like it is acceptable to perform injustices due to them reading about
unjust gods. Furthermore, the tales should not depict any conflicts between
gods, as this may lead the children into actively believing in violence,
instead they should be told that citizens have never expressed any anger
towards each other. “…when they tell us that wicked men are often happy,
and the good miserable and that injustice is profitable when
undetected….” (Plato, 2000). This way the children will not grow up to
turn against one another, and be able to express a sense of unity. Socrates
discusses in Book III, how, the image of the gods should always be related to
the good, and be presented in a way in which they are incapable of dishonesty
and injustice. Here Plato suggest guidelines for the role that literature and
censorship play in education. Mc Clinton (1968,36) sheds light on the subject
when he says “if they (the ideas) really vital to human life and character he
(the teacher) would have retained them, trusting to the child’s mind to
assimilate what was valuable, the later education to preserve or to rectify its
sense of historical truth.”  Socrates
illustrates how this will increase the distance between God and man’s world,
the latter which is full of deception and dishonesty. Adding distance between
the gods and men, prevents the poetic accounts from being utilized as models
for citizens to follow. Instead they now look upon the guardians and the law
for their guidance. Therefore, in conclusion to this, Socrates stresses how the
balance between music and gymnastics education is vital for the production of
moral guardians. He says ‘The man who makes the finest mixture of gymnastic
with music and brings them to his soul in the most proper measure is the one of
whom we would most correctly say that he is the most perfectly musical and well
harmonized (Plato, 2000, Book IV).’ Although Plato utilizes Socrates as a mouth
piece, one must understand the fact that these are in fact Plato’s own ideas
and thoughts on Education, and how an overall education works as a function
towards helping the receivers ‘grow into sensible men’, the implant of good
constitutions and the improvement of society (Plato, 2000). J.Tate comments on Plato’s
application and treatment of poetry as being ‘really a special application of
his doctrine of the opposition of opinion and knowledge.2


Plato’s second account of
education is through the belief that it is important for philosopher kings to
rule the city. Socrates calls the guardian education as being incomplete, as he
now acknowledges the importance of a ruler with the intellect, to lead.
Consequently, the potential philosopher king must attain an education that will
help him identify and improve his philosophical nature. The dialogue mentions
“”It must also be given gymnastic in many studies to see whether it will
be able to bear the greatest studies, or whether it will turn out to be a
coward” (Plato, 2000). From this we can conclude that education does not
only serve the purpose of making a man a particular way, but it also aids in
identifying those who are proficient enough to philosophize and this in turn,
helps in strengthening the characters of those who are really, truly capable.



Plato adds a cave analogy in the
dialogue, where he shows Socrates explain the process of how enlightenment is
brought about by education. Socrates does this by providing a description of a
cave in which humans, since birth, are chained to a wall.  Behind them there are certain masters,
carrying figurines that cast shadows on to the wall in front of the prisoners.
As the prisoners, do not know anything else, they accept the shadows as their
reality, however they are only able to see and hear a tiny segment of the big
intelligible world. The image of the cave, for the readers, evokes and echoes
the memory of the earlier untruthful tales discussed by Socrates, which shows
that the new education is meant to liberate the prisoners from all the false
convictions, perspectives and opinions that they had to adopt, when they were
chained in the cave. This results in the creation of a powerful image through
which Socrates is able to show Glaucon, all that is good, and how it can be
obtained. What the good actually constitutes of is hard to perceive as it is
beyond reality and therefore, hard to see, but once it is fully comprehended,
then it becomes clear that it “is the cause of all that is right and fair
in everything,” and must be possessed and understood by prudent rulers
(Plato, 2000). Therefore, here Plato depicts how a progressive education can
teach a man to use their existing capacity of knowledge to rule. Socrates
mentions “Education is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be.
They presumably assert that they put into the soul knowledge that isn’t in it,
as though they were putting sight into blind eyes…but the present argument, on
the other hand…indicates that this power is in the soul of each and that the
instrument with which each learns–just as an eye is not able to turn toward
the light from the dark without the whole body–must be turned around from that
which is coming into being together with the whole soul until it is able to
endure looking at that which is and the brightest part of that which is”
(Plato, 2000). In comparison to the account for the first education, the
purpose for this education shows how the nature of the child born matters less
than their education as anyone can become a philosopher with right and suffice
training. This shows, how the purpose of education for these philosopher kinds
is to eventually be able to teach the children exactly how to be able to
distinguish the right from wrong, by presenting them with the whole truth.


McClintock, R. (1968). The theory of education in the republic of Plato. NY:
Teacher College Press. pg.21.

J. Tate,  Plato and ‘Imitation’, The
Classical Quarterly Vol. 26, No. 3/4 (Jul. – Oct., 1932), pp. 161-169


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