Within this discussion, Socratesalso mentions Musical education and Gymnastic education, both important for anoverall upbringing of a citizen. Plato often refers to this in the Republicfrom time to time. “What is the education? Isn’tdifficult to find a better one that discovered over a great expanse of time? Itis of course, gymnastics for bodies and music for the soul””Yes, it is””Won’t we begin educating inmusic before Gymnastics?””Ofcourse” (Plato,2000).On the basis of Education inmusic, Socrates begins with stating how storytelling and poetry begins in earlychildhood as children are more flexible and pliable. Socrates claims, “Ayoung thing can’t judge what is hidden sense and what is not; but what he takesinto his opinions at that age has a tendency to become hard to eradicate andunchangeable” (Plato, 2000). Moreover, children are expected to acceptwhatever they are told when they are young.
The implication of this is thatchildren can be shaped completely by education, which fits with the earliersuggestion that guardians are not destined to have a specific moral natureprior to their education. Moreover, Gymnastics can be seen to serve the generalpurpose in obtaining lightness and a grace in one’s movement. This is in regardsto the guardians and their strength that is needed for their success. Platomentions how by exercising and partaking in gymnastics, one can achievehappiness. ‘the soul, and not the body, is the primary object of “gymnastics”as well as of “music” and appeals to the fact that exclusive devotion tophysical exercise affects the character less markedly than exclusive devotionliterary and aesthetic culture, the “truth is that “music educates, not thesoul, merely, but specifically, the “philosophical part of the soul through themedium of the eye and ear; while “gymnastic,” through bodily exercise, not onlyproduces bodily health and strength, but disciplines the psychological elementof “spirit”‘1.(McClintock,1968; Plato, 2000). Furthermore, in regards to thecontent of the tales, we see Socrates attack the two poets, Homer and Hesiod,for creating tales that do not manage to instil virtue.
J. Tate comments on the two senses of poetry, the good and the bad thatPlato mentions in his Republic. Plato accepts and ‘indeed welcomes’ imitativepoetry that is to do with ‘imitating the ideal world… using divine paradigm. However,Plato believes that these poets create an unrealistic expectation and image ofthe heroes and gods, by including certain bad lies. “.
..if I am not mistaken,we shall have to say that about men poets and story tellers are guilty ofmaking the gravest misstatements.
..”(Plato, 2000, Book III).
Children mayfeel like it is acceptable to perform injustices due to them reading aboutunjust gods. Furthermore, the tales should not depict any conflicts betweengods, as this may lead the children into actively believing in violence,instead they should be told that citizens have never expressed any angertowards each other. “…when they tell us that wicked men are often happy,and the good miserable and that injustice is profitable whenundetected.
…” (Plato, 2000). This way the children will not grow up toturn against one another, and be able to express a sense of unity.
Socratesdiscusses in Book III, how, the image of the gods should always be related tothe good, and be presented in a way in which they are incapable of dishonestyand injustice. Here Plato suggest guidelines for the role that literature andcensorship play in education. Mc Clinton (1968,36) sheds light on the subjectwhen he says “if they (the ideas) really vital to human life and character he(the teacher) would have retained them, trusting to the child’s mind toassimilate what was valuable, the later education to preserve or to rectify itssense of historical truth.” Socratesillustrates how this will increase the distance between God and man’s world,the latter which is full of deception and dishonesty. Adding distance betweenthe gods and men, prevents the poetic accounts from being utilized as modelsfor citizens to follow. Instead they now look upon the guardians and the lawfor their guidance. Therefore, in conclusion to this, Socrates stresses how thebalance between music and gymnastics education is vital for the production ofmoral guardians. He says ‘The man who makes the finest mixture of gymnasticwith music and brings them to his soul in the most proper measure is the one ofwhom we would most correctly say that he is the most perfectly musical and wellharmonized (Plato, 2000, Book IV).
‘ Although Plato utilizes Socrates as a mouthpiece, one must understand the fact that these are in fact Plato’s own ideasand thoughts on Education, and how an overall education works as a functiontowards helping the receivers ‘grow into sensible men’, the implant of goodconstitutions and the improvement of society (Plato, 2000). J.Tate comments on Plato’sapplication and treatment of poetry as being ‘really a special application ofhis doctrine of the opposition of opinion and knowledge.2 Plato’s second account ofeducation is through the belief that it is important for philosopher kings torule the city. Socrates calls the guardian education as being incomplete, as henow acknowledges the importance of a ruler with the intellect, to lead.Consequently, the potential philosopher king must attain an education that willhelp him identify and improve his philosophical nature. The dialogue mentions””It must also be given gymnastic in many studies to see whether it willbe able to bear the greatest studies, or whether it will turn out to be acoward” (Plato, 2000). From this we can conclude that education does notonly serve the purpose of making a man a particular way, but it also aids inidentifying those who are proficient enough to philosophize and this in turn,helps in strengthening the characters of those who are really, truly capable.
Plato adds a cave analogy in thedialogue, where he shows Socrates explain the process of how enlightenment isbrought about by education. Socrates does this by providing a description of acave in which humans, since birth, are chained to a wall. Behind them there are certain masters,carrying figurines that cast shadows on to the wall in front of the prisoners.
As the prisoners, do not know anything else, they accept the shadows as theirreality, however they are only able to see and hear a tiny segment of the bigintelligible world. The image of the cave, for the readers, evokes and echoesthe memory of the earlier untruthful tales discussed by Socrates, which showsthat the new education is meant to liberate the prisoners from all the falseconvictions, perspectives and opinions that they had to adopt, when they werechained in the cave. This results in the creation of a powerful image throughwhich Socrates is able to show Glaucon, all that is good, and how it can beobtained. What the good actually constitutes of is hard to perceive as it isbeyond reality and therefore, hard to see, but once it is fully comprehended,then it becomes clear that it “is the cause of all that is right and fairin everything,” and must be possessed and understood by prudent rulers(Plato, 2000).
Therefore, here Plato depicts how a progressive education canteach a man to use their existing capacity of knowledge to rule. Socratesmentions “Education is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be.They presumably assert that they put into the soul knowledge that isn’t in it,as though they were putting sight into blind eyes…but the present argument, onthe other hand…indicates that this power is in the soul of each and that theinstrument with which each learns–just as an eye is not able to turn towardthe light from the dark without the whole body–must be turned around from thatwhich is coming into being together with the whole soul until it is able toendure looking at that which is and the brightest part of that which is”(Plato, 2000). In comparison to the account for the first education, thepurpose for this education shows how the nature of the child born matters lessthan their education as anyone can become a philosopher with right and sufficetraining. This shows, how the purpose of education for these philosopher kindsis to eventually be able to teach the children exactly how to be able todistinguish the right from wrong, by presenting them with the whole truth. 1McClintock, R. (1968).
The theory of education in the republic of Plato. NY:Teacher College Press. pg.
21.2J. Tate, Plato and ‘Imitation’, TheClassical Quarterly Vol. 26, No. 3/4 (Jul. – Oct.
, 1932), pp. 161-169