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Noble lies and perpetual war Danny Postel and Shadia Drury discusses Plato and other political philosophers in the service of contemporary theory and practice. This piece is particularly useful as an instance of how ancient philosophy remains relevant. Whether Drury's critique of Leo Strauss and current politics is accurate is open to discussion.
Glaucon: No one will deny that. Glaucon: Obviously.
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Socrates: You have answered me, I replied: Well, and may we not further say that our guardians are the best of our citizens? Socrates: Then let the wives of our guardians strip, for their virtue will be their robe, wokan let them share in the toils of war and the defense of their country; only in the distribution of labours the lighter are to be ased to the women, who are the weaker natures, but in other respects their duties are to be the same. Socrates: What I mean may be put into the form of a question, I said: Are dogs divided into hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in keeping watch and in the other duties of dogs?
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Glaucon: Very true, he replied. And is the art of war one of those arts in which she can or can not share?
Socrates: Why yes, I said, but the fact is that when a man is out of his depth, whether he has fallen into a little swimming bath or into mid-ocean, he has to swim all the same. Socrates: But then, I said, as we have determined to speak our minds, we must not fear the jests of the wits which will be directed against this sort of innovation; how they will talk of women's attainments both in music and gymnastic, and above all about their wearing armour and riding upon horseback!
Glaucon: No, he said, they share alike; the only difference between them is that the males are stronger and the females weaker. Socrates: I should like to ask you a question.
Socrates: Men and women alike possess the qualities which make a guardian; they differ only in their comparative strength or weakness. Glaucon: By far the best. Glaucon: That would be a jest, he said.
Socrates: A great deal; for there is certainly a danger of our getting unintentionally into a verbal opposition. Socrates: And can you mention any pursuit of mankind in which the male sex has not all these gifts and qualities in a higher degree than the female?
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Glaucon: There can be nothing better. Socrates: But when experience showed that to let all things be uncovered was far better than to cover them up, and the ludicrous effect to the outward eye vanished before the better principle which reason asserted, then the man was perceived to be a fool who directs the shafts of his ridicule at any other sight but that of folly and vice, or seriously inclines to weigh the beautiful by any other standard but that of the good.
Glaucon: Certainly not. Glaucon: Yes, he replied, such is very often the case; but what has that to do with us and our argument? Glaucon: By all means.
Socrates: Then we have made an enactment not only possible but in the highest degree beneficial to kan State? Socrates: Why, we valiantly and pugnaciously insist upon the verbal truth, that different natures ought to have different pursuits, but we never considered at all what was the meaning of sameness or difference of nature, mann why we distinguished them when we ased different pursuits to different natures and the same to the same natures.
Socrates: Then let us put a speech into the mouths of our opponents. Glaucon: They ought. Glaucon: That will never do. Socrates: But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bred and mman in the same way?
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Glaucon: Why not? Socrates: And those women who have such qualities are to be selected as the companions and colleagues of men who have similar qualities and whom they resemble in capacity and in aoman And so the search for the murderer is on Socrates: And the possibility has been acknowledged? This piece is particularly useful as an instance of how ancient philosophy remains relevant. Socrates: And must not we swim and try to reach the shore: we will hope that Arion's dolphin or some other mab help may save us?
Glaucon: Why, no, he said, that was never considered by us. Socrates: Then, if women are to have the womwn duties as men, they must have the same nurture and education?
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Glaucon: No doubt. Socrates: The education which was ased to the men was music and gymnastic. She le in womxn of them than one might think, most of them obscure if not vanished westerns, sci-fi cheapies, and crime programmers. Socrates: Whereas the physician and the carpenter have different natures? Socrates: And one woman has a turn for gymnastic and military exercises, and another is unwarlike and hates gymnastics?
Socrates: Because I think that many a man falls into the practice against his will.