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By J. S. McClelland

This can be a nice booklet to realize a greater knowing of many of the thoughts of western politcal thought...its sparknotes for any poli sci significant, yet on an highbrow level...its a very good booklet.

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Perhaps Plato means this to be a test of whether those who make it through the Guardians’ training really are fit to be Guardians. The account in Book IX of the Republic of the process by which the Ideal State could degenerate shows that Plato thinks that the most likely cause is a mistake in the training programme for rulers. Guardians only have their knowledge to distinguish them from non-Guardians. That knowledge is the product of a certain inner condition of the soul and there is always the possibility of a fake.

Being a master also requires its own forms of in-service training, because a master is only a master in so far as he actually practises his craft. Skills can become rusty; fitness for anything means keeping fit; practice does not always make perfect, but lack of practice always leads to degeneration. Socrates may have thought that goodness was a kind of skill, being good at doing good. Goodness always had an active quality about it for the ancient Greeks. Goodness was not a passive condition of the soul, like innocence; nor was it simply to be well- A history of western political thought 20 intentioned.

There is also a subordinate virtue associated with the appetites. By appetites Plato means desires directed towards things which are neither true nor good in themselves. That definition is negative but it is not meant to be evasive. Plato deliberately refuses to give a list of the appetites beyond the most obvious—food, drink and sex—because he thinks that the desires multiply, and the more they multiply the more difficult they are to satisfy and the worse they become. A taste for this leads to a taste for that, until the man dominated by his appetites finds himself in a state of siege, surrounded by clamouring desires each yelling out to be satisfied.

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