Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Plato Quote

When the few … [who] have glimpsed the joy and happiness to be found in mastering philosophy and have gained a clear enough impression of the madness of the masses; when they have realized that more or less every political action is pernicious and that if someone tries to assist morality there will be no one to back him up and see that he comes out unscathed, but it would be like an encounter between a human being and a wild beast; since he isn’t prepared to join others in their immorality and isn’t capable all alone, of standing up to all those ferocious beasts, but would die before doing his community or friends any good, and so would be useless to himself and to everyone else – once he has grasped all this with his rational mind, he lies low and does only what he’s meant to do. It’s as if he’s taken shelter under a wall during a storm … lawlessness infects everyone else he sees, so he is content if he can find a way to live his life here on earth without becoming tainted by immoral or unjust deeds, and to depart from life confidently, and without anger and bitterness.

Republic, trans. Robin Waterfield, 496c-e