Monday, November 8, 2021

The Republic Book 1 Section 1

I'm reading a summary because

Accordingly we went with Polemarchus to his house; and there we found his brothers Lysias and Euthydemus, and with them Thrasymachus the Chalcedonian, Charmantides the Paeanian, and Cleitophon the son of Aristonymus. There too was Cephalus the father of Polemarchus, whom I had not seen for a long time, and I thought him very much aged. He was seated on a cushioned chair, and had a garland on his head, for he had been sacrificing in the court; and there were some other chairs in the room arranged in a semicircle, upon which we sat down by him. He saluted me eagerly, and then he said: --

fuck that noise. 

"He was just about to get to the point! He said...?"


You don't come to see me, Socrates, as often as you ought: If I were still able to go and see you I would not ask you to come to me. But at my age I can hardly get to the city, and therefore you should come oftener to the Piraeus. For let me tell you, that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation. Do not then deny my request, but make our house your resort and keep company with these young men; we are old friends, and you will be quite at home with us.

You, uh, want to try that one again? We'll go back a few moves and play them over...

In theory I should make this offer: if, for your sins, you have directly read some of the translation of the Republic and have something to add, by all means bring it up and I'll also read the relevant passages. In practice this is only spends characters to no benefit, since nobody will take the offer. I can claim I offered, though right? Nope, not if I know in advance it will incur no actual debt. Free things are worth what's spent on them at most.

Plato can stay on topic, at least for a time. I know he manages it sometime after introducing timocracy in Book 9. However, it is not even remotely worthwhile to wade through 9 books of this drivel to find it. I found it by chance and even then I may have overpaid. 


Ironically (or perhaps not ironically at all) Plato gets esteemed because he doesn't get examined. Plato has respect because his assumptions are unquestioned. Although Aristotle tried to downplay the judgment and condemnation, having seen much virtue in Plato,* Aristotle believed the Academy was a failure, incapable of supporting scholarship. Aristotle was right, and it was no coincidence. From its founding, the Academy deserved to fail. 

*Much more virtue than you can find in any modern, for example. TFW ancient φαγγωτs were manlier than modern chads. Virgin living chad vs. chad ancient sodomite; and I frequently mean virgin literally. Plato was a genuine tragic figure. Much genetic wisdom, ultimately ruined by a fatal biological flaw.

Based on modern patterns and based on the fact narcissists never stop, the Academy was a dating service. Plato apparently had a thing for smart boys. Aristotle, sadly for Plato, was resolutely straight. "Sorry chap, I like pussy. And facts. Facts and pussy."

Of course today they've let girls into the Academy so you can get pussy there if you swing that way.


"During Plato's time, Greek thinkers had already established the idea that the good man possesses four cardinal virtues: courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom."

In reality there is one virtue: prudence. Courage is prudent; if it isn't, it's recklessness. Temperance is prudent; otherwise it's mere timidity. Justice is prudent. Wisdom is straight-up a synonym of prudence. Cowardice isn't prudent, or we would simply call it prudence. Intemperance sometimes is prudent, so there's that. I am extreme about having true, harmonious beliefs, for example. Every time I get more extreme I profit. Similarly, there is no virtue in being temperate about crime suppression. The only correct amount of unsuppressed suppressible crime is [none].
Prudence is the virtue of achieving your goals, rather than failing them.

Well shit that got way less profound in a hurry, didn't it? Prudence is: not getting buggered by Gnon. The virtue is: don't be a moron.

Though from non-moron's perspective, it's fine if they are. Gnon will solve the problem himself, sooner or later. (Poor guy is overworked. Maybe that's why there's so many delays?) Morons fail by definition and in particular fail when they try to make non-morons act stupid, so there's rarely any need to hurry the process along. 

This prosaic fact wrapped up and pretending to be profund is a hallmark of both Athenian culture and Plato in particular. 

They do this because narcissists must reject the profound, and one way to do this is to distract. Set up a decoy and have everyone chase it away from the genuine article.


"in that one's denial of the passions (one of which is boundless sexual appetite)"

Boundless sexual appetite is one of the symptoms of being a pervert. If you cure the perversion, the appetite becomes reasonable. 


"Ought one to remind a friend who is in a crazed state that he is mad, and ought one to return a sword to a crazy person? The answer is plain: No."

The concept behind the phrase [the answer is plain] has received tremendous levels of commentary and remains an evergreen topic. Unfortunately it deserves little of this.

If you're not currently engineering a society, you don't need to know the exact details of justice. An unexamined (life) impulse is generally going to be good enough. Over a decade of childhood is not a short time, and adults can be expected to know enough even if they don't study anything on purpose. Of course!

On the other hand, if you are responsible for engineering or even maintaining a society, then a precise definition of justice is indeed critical. What is it? Why must it be upheld? These questions must be answered, just as a car engineer needs to understand what cam shafts are and why they shouldn't break. 

Division of labour is good actually. Everyone needs to be 'educated' in philosophy no more than everyone needs to be 'educated' in plumbing. (Though ironically I do wish I knew more about plumbing. Not the installation et cetera per se, but at least how it works. I saw an introduction to valves once and it was great.) Most can drive a car (shouldn't, but can) but no driver needs to know how to design and craft their own carburetor. 

[Everyone needs to be exactly like me] is pure narcissism, now isn't it?

Regular folk really don't need all this high-falutin nonsense.
They certainly don't need to copy some ancient narcissistic butt-bandit.

Further, they would likely be unable to remember enough of the details anyway. Occasionally you see prole solecisms which you might wish could be corrected by their betters, but in practice they're the result of cognitive resource limits which are inherent to being prole. At best you can swap one highly imperfect approximation for a different highly imperfect approximation that's less dissonant with their current environment. Maybe exploit your cognitive abundance to simplify their oversimplification even further so they can fit more prudence into the practice without running out of memory or whatever.


Socrates is in fact committing heresy. The priests of Athens don't want justice. What they want is obedience; justice is a locally useful excuse to legitimize these demands. Everyone already knows this, including Socrates himself, which is why he went around asking the question. Cephalus excuses himself because he realizes any definition of justice won't amount to obedience. At least, not without being childishly obvious about the counterfeit. The attempt at definition is a trap which will imprudently put him at odds with the priests; Cephalus is far too savvy to fall for such a simplistic trap, and thus he 'recuses' himself from the discussion. He *taps temple* has his thinker cap on.

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