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Sean McAleer

Published On


Page Range

pp. 131-150

Print Length

19 pages

7. Questions about the Ideal Polis

The Three Waves, Book V

  • Sean McAleer (author)
Chapter of: Plato's 'Republic': An Introduction(pp. 131–150)
In Chapter Seven, ‘Questions about the Ideal Polis: The Three Waves’, we see Polemarchus and Adeimantus begin Book V by putting the brakes on Socrates’ attempt to immediately begin answering the Republic’s second question, whether living a morally good life is good for the person living it. They raise questions about and objections to the ideal polis, known as ‘the Three Waves’, which is an apt metaphor for a sea-faring culture. The First Wave concerns the question of whether women can be guardian-rulers in the ideal city. Socrates’ affirmative answer—surprising to his companions and to many readers alike (though for different reasons)—raises the question of whether Plato is a feminist. The Second Wave concerns the ideal city’s communal living arrangements, especially child-rearing. Socrates argues that not only is the abolition of the traditional family possible, it is beneficial. The Third Wave is the subject of the next chapter.


Sean McAleer