The Noble Lie
In Bloom's second edition of "The Republic of Plato," there are many troubling issues. The one that strikes me the most, however, is the idea of the "noble lie." I find this completely disturbing for a number of reasons. It is immoral and wrong to deliberately deceive someone. This idea also completely contradicts Socrates' argument that it is beneficial to be just.
In the discussion between Socrates and Glaucon that involved how to create an ideal city, they divided the people into three classes: rulers, auxiliaries, and craftsmen. In this city each class has a certain role. The rulers are the highest of rank in the city. They are older, wise men who govern the state ...view middle of the document...
Each class is made of a different metal. The rulers were gold, for they have the greatest honor. The auxiliaries were silver, and the craftsmen were brass and iron. After they have been created, they lead normal human lives and they are able to have children. Unfortunately, sometimes parents from one line will have children from another. God states above all else, the races should be kept separate and pure. So if a gold parent for example, has a silver or iron son, this son would have to leave the gold world that his parents come from and take his place in the silver or iron world being an auxiliary or craftsman. The situation could work in reverse also. A silver parent could give birth to a gold son. In this case, the son would leave the parent and take his place in higher rank. Socrates says it is best to tell the people that the races must be kept pure because the prophets have spoken, and the city will be destroyed if the rule is not observed and followed.
Socrates regretfully doubts that the people will actually believe the noble lie to be literally true at first, but that eventually the lie will spread down to the later generations. He wants the lie to teach a valuable lesson that will increase loyalty to the city.
When he delivers the theory of the noble lie to Glaucon, Socrates seems to be hesitant. When Glaucon asks why, Socrates replies that he will understand after the idea is expressed. After Socrates explains the noble lie, Glaucon then understands why Socrates was so hesitant. Glaucon expresses to Socrates that he should be ashamed of concocting such a scheme. Glaucon agrees with Socrates that if the citizens may not believe the myth at first, the children of later generations who have been raised with the idea would believe it. So at first, Glaucon couldn't believe that Socrates, supposedly "Mr. Right," would create this lie and approve of it for the good of the city. By the end of the argument, Glaucon is on board with Socrates and believes that it could possibly work.
I find a few troubling issues that concern this myth. As a result of my frustrations dealing with this concept, I decided to visit the Dictionary.com web site. I researched the definitions of a few words that pertain to this idea of the noble lie.
The first word I looked up is "lie". A lie is an untrue statement with intent to deceive; something misleading or deceiving. I find it very difficult to believe, but more importantly immoral-- that anyone would want the foundation of an entire city based upon a lie. If this myth is targeted towards increasing loyalty to the city; yes, it could very well increase the loyalty, but I have to question the fact that the people are only being loyal because of a myth. How strong is loyalty that is built upon a lie? How...