The Republic - Book VII
Socrates gave Glaucon a scenario of humans in a dark cave. He said that humans were living under ground, their legs and neck were bound which made it impossible for them to look around them. Behind them there was a path which was raised and behind it a burning fire. The humans would see shadows of different objects that used the path to pass by. They had no information of what those objects were as they associate the sound with the shadows on the wall.
When one of those bound, was released, he would fight against his release, and when he was forced into the sunlight, it hurt his eyes and he would get irritated. He would not be able to comprehend, but with the passage of time he would get used to the new world.
After he got used to the new world, he would think of his fellow prisoners and would go back and try to inform them of all he had seen. But as they were down below and he had no way of getting to them, he would shout to tell them all he had discovered but to their ears the sounds were not comprehensible.
This allegory Plato associated humans with, that they too were bound to this earth, and were limited in their capacity to understand the light of truth, God, in His infinite light of intellectual power.
Socrates stated that those who took on the duty to rule and guide the state should be people who were wealthy in good values. Who desired to better the state and not look for riches for themselves at the expense of the state. They should be ones who loved their duty to serve their state.
He also stated that the youth of the state are the worriers who would go to war, they sould have the knowledge of gymnastics to keep them strong and also know the art of music, because this would teach them to harmonize and have rhythm.
The worriers were also required to possess the knowledge of arithmetic, as it would help in calculation. He said that the knowledge of numbers led to truth and that the military should have knowledge of this subject so that they would know how to arrange the troops at the time of war. It provided reasoning to the individuals, as it is truth.
Another subject he talked about was Geometry, he said that the knowledge of this subject was very important for the military because through this they would be able to allot places to pitch camp and then also to maneuver and change the direction of the army, it would make a great difference if the military leader had knowledge of Geometry.
Astronomy another subject Socrates spoke about, he said that “astronomy compels the soul to look upward and leads us from this world to another”.
Socrates said that all the subjects he had spoken about were interrelated, he had put it in almost a poetic form where he said that the heavenly bodies in the universe are harmonized and were all moving in their own rhythm.
The importance of dialectics too was brought to light as people needed to understand and comprehend and this could be done through dialect in the form of communication between people.
He also saids that if a man was just into gymnastics and worked laboriously and had no intention to learn or discover or question anything then he would be missing out on a lot and vice versa. One had to be educated and informed both in mind and body in order for them to be a wholesome character. He also said that exercise for the body did it no harm to an individual but when a mind was forced to learn or knowledge was forced into it, it would not be retained. A person should be free to acquire knowledge when and if he feels he wants to know something.