The Superiority of the Private Life

I would like to share this thought-provoking piece of Allan Bloom’s interpretive essay of Plato’s Republic. And reflect on how it could be understood when compared to the modern understanding of politics or ideal societies in which people try to wrap themselves in the boundaries drawn by ideologies but not one’s own conscious mind.

“The young man who wishes to live well will pray for that city and its way of life. But this ultimately means that he will, in the absence of that regime, desire to live a private life, for that good life is shown to be possible without the regime; it does not depend, as do the other ways of life, on ruling in the city. It is self-sufficient and always available to him who chooses it. Socrates’ political science, paradoxically, is meant to show the superiority of the private life. The most important point made in this section is that while the best city exists only in myth, the best man exists actually.”

Another great point which points towards the superiority of the good and virtuous human life to that sketched by ideologies or any “ism”s. Therefore, regardless of what the state tries to induce to its people, it is still the individual’s own will and desire to pursue the good life. Moreover, if any community is to seek “the perfect society”, it is precisely the individuals who should start smoothing out their own human values. Collective wisdom could only exist when each of us put aside our unnecessary worldly desires and pursue a higher form of life. A life that reflects the divinity of existence and creation.

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