Statue of Socrates
Moreover, they propose to travel to its very source - the Cave in which the god (Zeus) delivered the laws of Crete.
Two topics one never discusses must be confronted:
Such challenges are
usually not well received and can result in ingesting harmful
The travelers will rest from time to time in the shade of trees, for the bright light of inquiry constantly peering into the dark places of convention and accepted belief can be overwhelming.
They must also be
encouraged to continue their wearisome journey; the Athenian rallies
them to the cause and keeps them moving forward.
This process involves
delicate questioning and the use of various images to lead them
beyond strict conformance to the conventions of their own regimes.
in the ancient Greek city of Lebadeia
by Joseph Gandy, 1819
The Athenian evades one
attempt to involve him in the new colony by suggesting that it is
not his responsibility (Book VI).
They have now reached the Cave and will compel the Athenian to go in.
Like the famous image in
the Republic, this Cave represents the realm of convention
and obfuscation from which the philosopher has already escaped.
The Athenian does not answer them. Apparently, he does not wish to go in...
His silence is an
indication that, while the philosopher's wisdom is necessary to
guide the city, he does not himself wish to engage in politics. His
quest for wisdom requires that he maintain the freedom to pursue his
inquiries without directly engaging in political rule.
They have grasped the importance of philosophy, but they have not grasped philosophy itself or come to appreciate its need for independence.
They are concerned with
the health of their city; thus, they remain willing and able to use
compulsion, the means available to political men, to force wisdom to
meet the practical needs of politics.
He knows well how keep
political men talking, convincing them that philosophy is not
useless to political life. But he does so by descending to the
particulars of founding a city that will inevitably require a pious
traditionalism of its own.
The very nature of his investigations necessarily puts him in contact with purely political men.
He will not have
convinced them of the desirability of philosophical wisdom as such,
but only of its usefulness, and in so doing will have
destroyed the freedom necessary for pursuing the very wisdom he