The aim of education for the guardians is ultimately to create and preserve a standard or system of conservatism.

We will first assess Socrates’ formulation of this system through his discussion of poetry and its place within the education of the guardian. From there we will see how Socrates applies his system to other aspects of the curriculum. Next, we will demonstrate how the system permeates an individual’s soul along with that of the city in order to preserve itself. With these arguments constructed we will be able to grasp the role of this conservative system in maintaining the kallipolis. The "patterns” (398b) presented by Socrates in regard to poetic style establish the conservative system that this paper aims to grasp. Socrates’ chief concern is in preserving the principle of one man: one occupation. Without this principle all his efforts to find and demonstrate ‘justice itself’ within the city would be in vain. Such a principle can only be preserved through a very strategic system of conservatism. Socrates argues on the very basis of this principle that it would be best if the guardians would not imitate anything at all (395c). According to Socrates, imitation could be a catalyst which would corrupt the very nature of the youth into parting from that principle; ultimately destroying the kallipolis. Because of this threat, any deviation from the principle of one man: one occupation must be avoided altogether. The mindset of the guardians would ideally be in tune with the second law which denies the shapeshifting of gods. This law follows the reasoning that “the best things are least liable to...change” (380e). However, if the guardians must imitate then they must adhere to a strict standard. Such a standard basically requires that imitation should be limited, leaving narration to occupy the majority of a story (396e). Along with the specific roles the guardians would be permitted to imitate, Socrates asserts that any imitation must involve as little variation as possible (397b). These sentiments are clearly conservative in nature. According to Socrates, the ideal city would do away with any style of imitation altogether. If that isn’t possible, then imitation should only be permitted in its most moderate form. These constraints on imitation lay the foundation of the


aforementioned conservative system which Socrates will build upon and ultimately use as a vital support of the kallipolis. With the permittance of poetry now addressed, Socrates continues on to develop his allusion to the “something more” (394d) mentioned earlier. This ‘something more’ includes the regulation of music. Song lyrics will conform to the same patterns established for poetry while the actual mode and rhythm of the music must also be moderated (398d). Even the types of instruments permitted fall in line with Socrates’ conservative system. Polyharmonic or multistringed instruments—instruments that play a variety of notes—are conservatively banned in favour of the lyre and cithara (399d). At this point Socrates and Glaucon recognize and dub this conservative formulation of the education system as “purifying the city” (399e). This purification or moderation of the city extends to meter (400a), painting, weaving, embroidery and architecture (401a). In each case the system of conservatism reigns supreme and deviation from the patterns of any sort is not permitted. Given this, Socrates has finished purifying or applying his conservatism to the guardians’ system of education in music and poetry (403c). Socrates’ formulation and application of this conservative system to the curriculum of the guardians has now been demonstrated. So far, Socrates has given some insight into the reasoning behind such a system. Without it thepeople will deviate from the founding principle of the city of one man: one occupation. However, the reasoning behind such a system has yet to be demonstrated on the level of the individual. To use Socrates’ own metaphor, now that we can see more clearly the big letters we now ought to look at the small ones (368d). Socrates argues that such an education in music and poetry will permeate the soul, guaranteeing that the individual will become graceful (401e). In becoming graceful, the guardian will receive more fine things into his soul, becoming nurtured in them and thus becoming good. As well, the guardian will reject evil things, maintaining his or her integrity. Through such


education in music and poetry a good soul is created. However, the guardians are also meant to protect the city and so they must have adequate physical training. Socrates establishes some general patterns for physical training which adhere to the system of conservatism previously established (403e). The regimen of the guardians serves in rendering them as unchangeable as possible. For starters, they are to keep their minds rigid by abstaining from drunkenness. As well, they need to be “able to see and hear as keenly as possible and to endure frequent changes of water and food...without faltering” (404b). The conservative implications in this are evident as the guardians must be capable of maintaining their state of mind in the most adverse of conditions. Such physical training not only protects the city materially, but mentally as well. If the guardians were subject to alcoholism, laziness or other indulgences of the body, their minds would surely falter and deviate from the established system. However, the argument continues to blow towards something more than this. Socrates argues that there is something even deeper than that of the body and mind. He believes that physical training and music were not created for the sake of the body and mind but ultimately for the sake of the soul. He subsequently uncovers two natures of the soul: the spirited and the philosophic (410d). To avoid licentiousness and ultimately deviation from the constitution, Socrates gives an equal importance to the moderation of both natures (410e). Through the moderation of the spirited and philosophical parts of the soul, the individual will become moderate—that is to say—conservative entirely. It is now evident that Socrates’ system of conservatism has managed to permeate into the individual soul of the guardian through education. Now that this system of conservatism has permeated the very soul of the guardian, the extent of our ability to grasp the role of this system has greatly improved. Previously, we were able to see the conservative system almost as a wall; protecting the kallipolis’ sacred principle of


one man: one occupation. Without moderation of the spirited and philosophic parts of the soul such a principle would surely disintegrate, taking the theoretical kallipolis with it. What would be left is exactly what Socrates is trying to get away from: the modern polis. As with every wall there is a cornerstone, and again we come to see that there certainly is “something more” (394d). The person who best moderates his soul through his education of music and physical training is the person who Socrates believes should be the ruler of the city (412a). The cornerstone of this system is indeed the ruler, for he or she would be the “best of the guardians” (412c). The best of the guardians are those who “most eagerly pursue what is advantageous to the city” (412d). To determine which of the guardians best exhibits that principle, Socrates begins to put forward criterion for making that decision. Such criterion seems to expand much deeper than anticipated into the Republic. However, all of it still seems to rest on this system of conservatism. These conservative sentiments are found in the fact that Socrates plans to test a guardian’s ability to resist change to their beliefs (412e). Whether it is through persuasion, compulsion or magic, the guardian most apt to rule is the one who can best resist change. Only those “with stable characters, who don’t change easily” (503d) can become what Plato will call philosopher-kings. The philosopher-king is thus the embodiment of Socrates’ system of conservatism. This system of conservatism has certainly become something more from its roots in the regulation of poetic style. We have watched it grow and infiltrate from the system of education to the individual’s mind and body and again into the very soul of the philosopher-king. By becoming so interwoven within the very fabric of the kallipolis, this conservatism has indeed secured its own preservation. Reform, diversity, novelty and ultimately change have become enemies of the kallipolis. This concept seems so foreign, so different from our modern mindset that it is almost inconceivable that such a system could ever work. However, the vitality of such


a system to Socrates’ kallipolis has now become more apparent than ever. With such ingrained conservatism, one cannot help but question our modern sentiments and wonder about what life in such a city would be like. W.D. Jay Matheson B00493718