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why the founder of the city 
must be a philosopher. But this does not fully justify the demand 
, then there would be no need for the educational 
the permanent sovereignty of the philosopher. It only explains 
why the philosopher must be the first lawgiver, but not why he is 
needed as the permanent ruler, especially since none of the later 
rulers must introduce any change. For a full justification of the 
demand that the philosophers should rule, we must therefore 
proceed to analyse the tasks connected with the city’s preservation. 
We know from Plato’s sociological theories that the state, once 
established, will continue to be stable as long as there is no split in 
the unity of the master class. The bringing up of that class is, 
therefore, the great preserving function of the sovereign, and a 
function which must continue as long as the state exists. How far 
does it justify the demand that a philosopher must rule? To answer 
this question, we distinguish again, within this function, between 
two different activities: the supervision of education, and the 
supervision of eugenic breeding. 
Why should the director of education be a philosopher? Why is 
it not sufficient, once the state and its educational system are 
established, to put an experienced general, a soldier-king, in charge 
of it? The answer that the educational system must provide not 
only soldiers but philosophers, and therefore needs philosophers as 
well as soldiers as supervisors, is obviously unsatisfactory; for if 
no philosophers were needed as directors of education and as 
permanent rulers
tem to produce new ones. The requirements of the educational 
system cannot as such justify the need for philosophers in Plato’s 
state, or the postulate that the rulers must be philosophers. This 
would be different, of course, if Plato’s education had an 
individualistic aim, apart from its aim to serve the interest of the 
state; for example, the aim to develop philosophical faculties for 
their own sake. But when we see, as we did in the preceding 
chapter, how frightened Plato was of permitting anything like 
independent thought33; and when we now see that the ultimate 
theoretical aim of this philosophic education was merely a 
ood’ which is incapable of giving 
rticulate account of this Idea, then we begin to realize that this 
 need for increasing to the 
dropped even before 
 analogous question of the 
‘Knowledge of the Idea of the G
an a
not be the explanation. And this impression is strengthened if 
we remember chapter 4, where we have seen that Plato also 
demanded restrictions in the Athenian ‘musical’ education. The 
great importance which Plato attaches to a philosophical education 
of the rulers must be explained by other reasons—by reasons 
which must be purely political. 
The main reason I can see is the
ost the authority of the rulers. If the education of the auxiliaries 
functions properly, there will be plenty of good soldiers. 
Outstanding military faculties may therefore be insufficient to 
establish an unchallenged and unchallengeable authority. This 
must be based on higher claims. Plato bases it upon the claims of 
supernatural, mystical powers which he develops in his leaders. 
They are not like other men. They belong to another world, they 
communicate with the divine. Thus the philosopher king seems to 
be, partly, a copy of a tribal priest-king, an institution which we 
have mentioned in connection with Heraclitus. (The institution of 
tribal priest-kings or medicine-men or shamans seems also to have 
influenced the old Pythagorean sect, with their surprisingly naive 
tribal taboos. Apparently, most of these were 
to. But the claim of the Pythagoreans to a supernatural basis of 
their authority remained.) Thus Plato’s philosophical education has 
a definite political function. It puts a mark on the rulers, and it 
establishes a barrier between the rulers and the ruled. (This has 
remained a major function of ‘higher’ education down to our own 
time.) Platonic wisdom is acquired largely for the sake of 
establishing a permanent political class rule. It can be described as 
political ‘medicine’, giving mystic powers to its possessors, the 
But this cannot be the full answer to our question of the 
functions of the philosopher in the state. It means, rather, that the 
question why a philosopher is needed has only been shifted, and 
that we would have now to raise the
ctical political functions of the shaman or the medicine man. 
Plato must have had some definite aim when he devised his 
specialized philosophic training. We must look for a permanent 
function of the ruler, analogous to the temporary function of the 
lawgiver. The only hope of discovering such a function seems to 
be in the field of breeding the master race. 
The best way to find out why a philosopher is needed as a 
permanent ruler is to ask the question: What happens, according to 
Plato, to a state which is not permanently ruled by a philosopher? 
Plato has given a clear answer to this question. If the guardians of 
the state, even of a very perfect one, are unaware of Pythagorean 
lore and of the Platonic Number, then the race of the guardians, 
and with it the state, must degenerate. 
Racialism thus takes up a more central part in Plato’s political 
programme than one would expect at first sight. Just as the 
Platonic racial or nuptial Number provides the setting for his 
descriptive sociology, ‘the setting in which Plato’s Philosophy of 
History is framed’ (as Adam puts it), so it also provides the setting 
of Plato’s political demand for the sovereignty of the philosophers. 
After what has been said in chapter 4 about the graziers’ or cattle 
breeders’ background of Plato’s state, we are perhaps not quite 
unprepared to find that his king is a breeder king. But it may still 
surprise some that his philosopher turns out to be a philosophic 
breeder. The need for scientific, for mathematico-dialectical and 
philosophical breeding is not the least of the arguments behind the 
claim for the sovereignty of the philosophers. 
It has been shown in chapter 4 how the problem of obtaining a 
pure breed of human watch-dogs is emphasized and elaborated in 
the earlier parts of the Republic. But so far we have not met with 
any plausible reason why only a genuine and fully qualified 
philosopher should be a proficient and successful political breeder. 
And yet, as every breeder of dogs or horses or birds knows, 
rational breeding is impossible without a pattern, an aim to guide 
him in his efforts, an ideal which he may try to approach by the 
methods of mating and of selecting. Without such a standard, he 
could never decide which offspring is ‘good enough’; he could 
never speak of the difference between ‘good offspring’ and ‘bad 
offspring’. But this standard corresponds exactly to a Platonic Idea 
of the race which he intends to breed. 
Just as only the true philosopher, the dialectician, can see, 
according to Plato, the divine original of the city, so it is only the 
dialectician who can see that other divine original—the Form or 
Idea of Man. Only he is capable of copying this model, of calling it 
down from Heaven to Earth35, and of realizing it here. It is a kingly 
Idea, this Idea of Man. It does not, as some have thought, represent 
what is common to all men; it is not the universal concept ‘man’. It 
is, rather, the godlike original of man, an unchanging superman; it 
is a super-Greek, and a super-master. The philosopher must try to 
realize on earth what Plato describes as the race of ‘the most 
constant, the most virile, and, within the limits of possibilities, the 
most beautifully formed men ..: nobly born, and of awe-inspiring 
character’36. It is to be a race of men and women who are ‘godlike