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6.5: Putting Knowledge of the Forms to Use

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    See 497a-504a, also 484c-d. Non-philosophers lack a “clear model” of each thing in their souls, and so they “cannot look away, like painters, to what is most true, and cannot, by making constant reference to it and by studying it as exactly as possible, establish here on earth conventional views about beautiful, just, or good things when they need to be established, or guard and preserve those that have been established.” Philosophers, because they know the forms, are different. They can look to “what is in its nature just, beautiful, temperate, and all the rest,” and adjust the city in imitation of “the divine model.” Socrates is convinced that the benefits of being ruled wisely would be so apparent that true philosophers would have no trouble winning the loyalty of their fellow citizens.

    • In university departments of teacher education nowadays, much time is spent teaching students how to teach, but very little on the proper aims of education, on the sort of a person education ought to be cultivating. How well do teachers understand the goals of their profession?

    • What is an excellent human being? Is it basically the same thing at all times and places or does it vary from culture to culture and time to time?

    • If you were serious about inquiring into the nature of human excellence, how would you proceed? Would you conduct an empirical study? If so, what would serve as your data? Would you begin with an examination of flourishing lives? If so, how would you determine which lives are or are not flourishing? What would serve as your standard?

    This page titled 6.5: Putting Knowledge of the Forms to Use is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Douglas Drabkin.

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