Plato's argument pertains to education. More accurately, to the purpose of education in an organized society, the manner in which education takes place, and which subjects are appropriate to be deemed compulsory for citizens to study in said society.
Plato begins his argument with a story about people in a cave that teaches the lesson of how knowledge is constructed and what the true nature and role of knowledge is in our lives. After this is established Plato begins to discern the difference between education that leads to being and education that leads to becoming. This difference is crucial in Plato's eye, in determining whether or not a means of education is valuable. The goal, then, of education, is to promote the understanding and contemplation of becoming, and this is accomplished through the study of subjects that promote though about becoming. The subjects that do this are subjects that help develop citizens fit to lead. A person fit to lead is skilled in war, but also a philosopher. As such the subjects that will be chosen for education are math(numbers), geometry,astronomy, music and poetry and philosophy, and physical fitness.
Two other parts of this article I found rather interesting as well. First, the way that Plato breaks up the steps of education. "It will therefore be enough to call the first section knowledge, the second thought, the third belief, and the fourth imagining...The last two together we call opinion, the other two, intellect." This paints an accurate picture of the process of education according to Plato.
The second part of this article that I found thought-provoking is his opinions concerning how and when they are to teach the skills and idea of argument. The idea that argument is a dangerous thing in the hands of those too young or too unstable to exercise is correctly was enlightening and rings true in my life. "...when young people get their first taste of arguments, they misuse it by treating it as a kind of game of contradiction...Then when they've refuted many and been refuted by them in turn, they forcefully and quickly fall into disbelieving what the believed before." This is interesting to me because I have met many people, who are given a taste of philosophy and the process of arguing, who are all too willing to impress with their powers of contradiction and spend more time disputing than in meaningful discussion, or as Plato puts it, "dialect."
This whole article attempts to paint a picture of the process of educating citizens for a ruling class. The picture, on the while, in my opinion, does not seem feasible. The process does not seem like it would actually function in the real world or even be fair at all in the selection process of individuals to learn. However, the ideas laid out in it are novel and have many are indeed practiced today. On paper, his idea does seem to be a perfect one though.
1 year ago