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Topics - LtMedTB

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Martial Arts Topics / Virtues of the Dog
« on: July 28, 2008, 06:53:05 PM »
I've been called a dog by various women throughout my life. I always considered it a compliment, although I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant to be one. I usually say, "Thank you." After all, is anything more loyal than a dog? My sister told me once she thought my spirit animal was the dog because I'm very protective of all members of my extended family. I think that's why I like this except from Plato's Republic. After watching The Gathering of the Pack on YouTube, I can't think of a better forum in which to share it, especially knowing that some psychologists like Dr. Michael Addis disapprove of male spiritedness.


A conversation between Socrates and Glaucon in The Republic of Plato

“Do you suppose,” I said, “that for guarding, there is any difference between the nature of a noble puppy and that of a well-born young man?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, surely both of them need sharp senses, speed to catch what they perceive, and, finally, strength if they have to fight it out with what they have caught.”

“Yes, indeed,” he said, “both need all these things.”

“To say nothing of courage, if they are to fight well.”

“Of course.”

“Then will horse or dog – or any other animal whatsoever – be willing to be courageous if it is not spirited? Haven’t you noticed how irresistible and unbeatable spirit is, so that its presence makes every soul fearless and invincible in the face of everything?”

“Yes, I have noticed it.”

“As for the body’s characteristics, it’s plain how the guardian must be.”


“And for the soul’s – that he must be spirited.”

“That, too.”

“Glaucon,” I said, “with such natures, how will they not be savage to one another and the rest of the citizens?”

“By Zeus,” he said, “it won’t be easy.”

“Yet, they must be gentle to their own and cruel to enemies. If not, they’ll not wait for others to destroy them, but they’ll do it themselves beforehand.”

“True,” he said.

“What will we do?” I said. “Where will we find a disposition at the same time gentle and great-spirited? Surely a gentle nature is opposed to a spirited one.”

“It looks like it.”

“Yet, if a man lacks either of them, he can’t become a good guardian. But these conditions resemble impossibilities, and so it follows that a good guardian is impossible.”

“I’m afraid so.”

I, too, was at a loss, and looking back over what had gone before, I said, “It is just, my friend, that we are at a loss. For we’ve abandoned the image we proposed.” 

“How do you mean?”

“We didn’t notice that there are, after all, natures such as we thought impossible, possessing these opposites.”

“Where, then?”

“One could see it in other animals too, especially, however, in the one we compared to the guardian. You know, of course, that by nature the disposition of noble dogs is to be as gentle as can be with their familiars and people they know and the opposite with people they don’t know.”

“I do know that.”

“Then,” I said, “it is possible, after all; and what we’re seeking in the guardian isn’t against nature.”

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