The Education of the Third Class in The Republic: Plato and the Locus Classicus of Formative Justice
by Avi I. Mintz — 2016
Background/Context: In one of the classics of educational philosophy, a key issue is remains unsettled. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates makes a case for the importance of a comprehensive education. Socrates is unclear, however, about whether the producer class is eligible for this comprehensive education.
Purpose/Objective: Previous scholars have attempted to settle this question either on the side of exclusion or inclusion of the third class in the program of education in Plato’s Republic. I ask whether Plato may have intentionally crafted this ambiguity.
Research Design: A philosophical analysis of Plato’s Republic with reference to its historical context.
Conclusions/Recommendations: I offer an alternative interpretation of the eligibility of the third class for the program of education in The Republic. I endorse neither the position that Socrates designs the education for the guardian class alone nor, on the other hand, that Socrates’ call for class transfers logically requires the children of all classes to be educated together. Instead, I suggest that Plato’s conflicting and confusing treatment of the third class’s education in The Republic is a provocation for his readers—that is, there is reason to believe that Plato may have intentionally drawn readers into an inquiry about participation in common education in a just society.
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