44 pages 1 hour read


The Republic

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | BCE

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Chapters 11-12Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 11 Summary: “Warped Minds, Warped Societies”

Socrates looks again at whether morality makes one happy. To do this he examines four types of political systems, other than the ideal already described, and where they go wrong. He will use these as analogues for types of person, determining “whether or not the best person is also the happiest person” (278). Socrates starts with “timarchy.” This is a system, practiced in Ancient Sparta, where there is rule by people interested in status and military values. Socrates describes how his ideal community, which he defines as an aristocracy, meaning rule by the best, degenerates into timarchy. This occurs when people start to have children at the wrong times and with non-ideal partners. This causes the quality of the next generation of guardians to worsen. Over time this creates conflict as the guardian class is diluted with more people of “copper” rather than true “silver” quality. The guardians start owning property and gold, and there is a loss of respect for philosophers. As such, “there’ll be reluctance to choose men of knowledge for political office” (282) Such a society has an excessive respect for martial values. The character type corresponding to it is competitive, ambitious, and dominated by the passionate part of their mind.