The Divided Line Essay

The Divided Line Essay

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The Divided Line


The Divided Line (The Republic , Book VI)
Socrates
You have to imagine, then, that there are two ruling powers, and that one of them is set over the intellectual world, the other over the visible. I do not say heaven, lest you should fancy that I am playing upon the name. May I suppose that you have this distinction of the visible and intelligible fixed in your mind?
Glaucon
I have.
Socrates
Now take a line which has been cut into two unequal parts and divide each of them again in the same proportion, and suppose the two main divisions to answer, one to the visible and the other to the intelligible, and then compare the subdivisions in respect of their clearness and want of clearness, and you will find that the first section in the sphere of the visible consists of images. And by images I mean, in the first place, shadows, and in the second place, reflections in water and in solid, smooth and polished bodies and the like: Do you understand?
Glaucon
Yes, I understand.
Socrates
Imagine, now, the other section, of which this is only the resemblance, to include the animals which we see, and everything that grows or is made.
Glaucon
Very good.
Socrates
Would you not admit that both the sections of this division have different degrees of truth, and that the copy is to the original as the sphere of opinion is to the sphere of knowledge? 1
Glaucon
Most undoubtedly.
Socrates
Next proceed to consider the manner in which the sphere of the intellectual is to be divided.
Glaucon
In what manner?
Socrates
Thus: There are two subdivisions, in the lower of which the soul uses the figures given by thw former division as images; the enquiry can only be hypothetic...


... middle of paper ...


...Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after their own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.
Glaucon
Most true, he replied.
Socrates
And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?
Glaucon
Indeed, I do not, he said.
Socrates
And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.
Glaucon
No question.
Socrates
Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will be the men who are wisest about affairs of the state.

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