A History of Western Political Thought by J. S. McClelland

By J. S. McClelland

It is a nice booklet to achieve a greater realizing of a few of the thoughts of western politcal thought...its sparknotes for any poli sci significant, yet on an highbrow level...its a superb publication.

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This second-best Guardian would thus show his timarchic character, fit to be a member of the military Auxiliary class and promoted beyond his competence. Real Guardians, unlike pretend Guardians and all other ruling groups or individuals, have to be persuaded to rule. In all other regimes the ruling part obviously gets something out of ruling: wealth, fame, ease or anything else that men call good. Guardians, on the other hand, get none of the things men normally call good from the exercise of their function; indeed, most of the things that men do call good are excluded from their lives.

The answer is probably age. The theory of justice which Socrates will eventually offer in the Republic is a theory of self-control. Cephalus is a man with all passion spent. One of the advantages of old age that Cephalus mentions to Socrates is the freedom from the tyranny of desire. That is what makes Cephalus unteachable; there is nothing left to be controlled. Thrasymachus is still vigorous. We are to assume that there is still something there worth controlling, and the whipping-in of Thrasymachus is meant to tell us that it is controllable.

This is the moment when Socrates begins to duff Thrasymachus up. On Thrasymachus’ own account of it, ruling is a skill like other skills. Socrates has no trouble in showing that skills like medicine are practised for the good of the patient, not for the good of the practitioner. The relationship between doctor and patient is one between superior and inferior (doctor’s orders), but the doctor has the good of the patient’s health at heart and not his own. It follows from this that all skills are practised for the good of their object; ruling is a skill, therefore its purpose is the good of the ruled, not the ruler.

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