The White Lie

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The White Lie

People are always talking about the white lie and how this kind of lying doesn't hurt other people. Other people feel that any lie is one that should not be made. No matter what individuals have to say about lies, Socrates feels that it is necessary to create a noble lie so that his vision of the just state, or kallipolis, can be created. The Myth of the Metals, Socrates myth, in no way contradicts his definition of justice in The Republic.

The so-called noble lie that Socrates puts together is called the Myth of the Metals. This is created to explain to those in the city the reason for their class position. It is brought about when Socrates is talking to Glaucon and they are arguing the manner in which the warriors, or guardian, class should be raised. They conclude that guardians should not obtain or own any possessions' as it will make each other jealous. In order to calm the guardians urge to obtain gold, the Myth of Metals will be told to them. In the Myth, it is said the upbringing that the guardians had received, had only been a dream, and they were actually made in the center of the earth, the mother of them all. Everything that they owned including weapons and craftsman's tools were also created in the same manner. When the time was right, their mother delivered them to the surface so that they could protect her at all costs (414d). This part of the myth describes why the citizens of the kallipolis will defend their land. It still does not satisfy the guardian's urge to obtain wealth.

The second part of the noble lie will further explains how the jealousy will be controlled. Socrates will say that "the god who made you mixed some gold into those who are adequately equipped to rule, becau...

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... something less good. The example given is a musician. Can a musician, through tutoring or teaching a pupil, make that pupil a lesser musician (335c)? The same question can be restated, can someone who creates music that is kind to the ear, be non-musical? Of course not. It is the same with the myth. Can a lie that is meant to create justice, be unjust? The answer remains no.

In order for Socrates to create, to his satisfaction, justice in the kallipolis, he devised the Myth of the Metals. This would make everyone content in being in their place in society so that they would not intertwine with the other classes. After creating this, he discovers what civic justice is and later converts this to justice in the human. It is evidently clear that in no way does the Myth of the Metals contradict the definition of justice that Socrates gives in The Republic.
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