The Banishment Of Virtue In Plato's Republic

In Plato’s Republic, the main argument is concluded after Book IX which was to prove why a just man is happier than an unjust man. Yet a tenth book is included in which another argument is made by Socrates as to what kinds of poetry about human beings would be permitted in the kallipolis they had created. The return to this topic which was previously and briefly stated in Book III, making the end of the novel feel slightly anticlimactic or confusing as to why it was included in the first place. So what point did Socrates want to establish in Book X that made it so important to include as a final chapter in the Republic? To identify this, another question must be asked first: what is the relationship between the metaphysical and ethical charges against poetry that corrupts the soul? To do so, I will walk through the argument Plato proposes in Book X to identify what kind of poetry is not admitted in the city. Then I will explain the relation between the metaphysical and ethical charges to provide a greater understanding of the purpose of the argument of Book X. In the process, there will be a few examples that point to the distinctions between appearances and reality to show how Plato’s banishment of poetry is connected to his metaphysical and ethical views.
To begin it is important to identify that Plato does not condemn all poetry, but rather only “any that is imitative” (595a). To justify the ethical charge, a metaphysical charge against these works of poetry is made: that they are
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It shows that the greatest charge Plato has against imitative poetry is that it has the power to imitate ethical appearances, making it an “apparent evil” (613a). This kind of poetry caters to the appearance-responsive and irrational part of the soul whereas other forms of art, like paintings of realistic proportions, don’t have the same power as imitative poetry to present things as they appear, engaging that part of the soul that has such

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