Plato and the goodness of the body. Part 4. Human social life and embodiment

III. Human Social Life and Embodiment
Consider further the role that Plato saw for the city in the pursuit of the good.[1] For the guardians to obtain a knowledge of the good they need the right education and that is only possible in the right kind of city. The very institutions of formation that are required to train people to see reality aright require embodied social and political institutions. The city, for Plato, is “the condition of possibility for dissemination of the good. It is precisely under conditions of relationality that the philosopher-guardian can recollect the good, and as the feathers of his soul begin to sprout, he can in turn pass on this beneficial effluence to others.”[2] Remember in the famous cave analogy (Rep. 514a–521b) that the one who sees the sun (representing the philosopher discerning the form of the Good) has a duty to return to the cave (the city) for the good of those in it.

[1] On which see Pickstock, “Justice and Prudence.” Cities come about precisely because humans are not self sufficient (Rep. 369b-c).
[2] Ibid., 272. The image of the feathers on the wings of the soul comes from Phaedrus. On which, see the final section of this series.


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