The Society and its People

Socrates seems to have quite a bit of work ahead of him if he plans to make this thing work. An argument could be made that after years and years of vigilant weeding-out of the quirks and flaws of how humans behave, (including murder, rape, crime in general, darkness in general) a society could be constructed without the fault of individuals acting out or acting ill upon themselves. Personally, this seems very impossible to me, and the ability of humans to exist without our fundamental flaws just seems ridiculous. Besides, if the philosopher kings were ruling in the guidelines of the forms, then they would understand that the form of human cannot exist. It seems to me that Socrates wishes that his society would eventually come down to citizens and rulers that were as close to the form of the human as possible, whatever that form could be.

This involves the complexity of narrowing down what the form of the human is, and involves a great amount of subjectivity to whoever the current philosopher king is. We could imagine this as a sort of extension of God creating all of us in his image, so that God is the form of human, and all of his creation is a pale imitation of God himself. The philosopher king would have to assume the role of God then, and determine what exactly is the mostt worthy image to assume in the context of readying a society to be as perfect, efficient, and philosophical as possible. Were the philosopher king to be a true philosopher king, trained by the previous philosopher king’s methodology of forming the ideal philosopher king with all of the true knowledge of the form of the good, there would still be non-philosopher king in him. He would know this, being the true philosopher king, however with time and with enough erosion of concept and truth, would he? What if, through years and years of repetition and practice and effort to eliminate non-g00d in society, the training becomes less rigorous, and change begins to happen slowly? Surely this won’t happen in a perfectly thought out society built off of human ideas with human actions to carryout human beliefs. In an effort to chase the form of the good and learn as much of it as one can, I imagine that given human error, even a great philosopher king would lose sight for a bit and begin to assume the role of God in his mind, to the point where the structure of this great society would start to crumble. The failure of this idea and concept would not be because of the ideas and philosophy behind the plan of the society, but it would be because of humankind’s failure to withhold and understand their own design, a design that contains flaws. These flaws are what make the fluctuations in time and history happen, its what makes great civilizations fall and even just in one single persons life, its what makes a good year from a bad year. Not direct action on an individuals behalf, but their own inability to see and comprehend the flow and pattern of an imperfect life. While constantly striving towards one’s own perfection and one’s own pursuit of the form of the good, the things that form the form of human are what fundamentally destroy our dreams of perfection. Were the human design different, the forms wouldn’t be unobtainable, they would be difficult and tricky, but doable. I see and understand Socrates’ society as his own conception of the form of society, and within every principal and definition of what he considers to be a form, this society is also completely and totally impossible, regardless of the rigorous training of the guardians and the challenges the philosopher kings are put through. People as a species have characteristics that make them totally unable to create perfection, and the closer one’s endeavor gets to perfection, the more of a lie that thing or action becomes.


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