A genuine quote by Plato

Another quotation that I have come across is the following, attributed to Plato:

Who are the true philosophers? Those whose passion is to see the truth.

or:

Who are the true philosophers? Those whose passion is to love the truth.

It sounds a bit cute, doesn’t it?  We have so many bogus quotes online.  But it turns out that this one really does represent Plato’s views, even if the words are a summary.  This commentary (online here) gives these exact words, as a summary of Republic, book 5, 475e.[1]  Looking at the old online Loeb, vol. 1 of the Republic, translated by Shorey, I see the sentiment is at the start of book 5, chapter 20, p.517.

XX, ” Whom do you mean, then, by the true philosophers? ” “Those for whom the truth is the spectacle of which they are enamoured,” said I.

Somewhat annoyingly I find that I have disposed of my copy of Sir Desmond Lee’s translation of the Republic in the Penguin series.  (I remember writing him a fan letter, to which he very courteously responded).  So here instead are the same lines in another modern translation:

“Who do you say are the true ones?” [philosophers] he said.
“The lovers of the sight of the truth,” I said.

More or less the same.  We may allow the “quote”.

  1. [1]R C Cross, A D Woozley, Plato’s Republic: A Philosophical Commentary, Springer (1979), p.139.

5 thoughts on “A genuine quote by Plato

  1. Yet another – F.M. Cornford, The Republic of Plato (OUP, 1981 reprint of 1941 ed.):

    And whom do you mean by the genuine philosophers?

    Those whose passion it is to see the truth.

  2. “Philosophers are teachers of men who receive the truth with pleasure.” Sounds like a bastardisation of that interpolation in Josephus which refers to Christ.

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