Plato's View on Lying
What is a lie? And when is it appropriate to tell a lie? Are two questions to think about after reading Plato's Republic translated by G.M.A Grube. A lie by definition is a false statement intended to deceive. Most people would agree this is not a "just" thing to do to your friends. In American society today, lying has always been a "bad" thing to do. Trust is very important, parents always tell their kids never to lie or they will loose their trust. Plato disagrees, with what most parents say to their children. He states there are two different kinds of lies, ones that are always improper to tell (True falsehoods). And ones that are suitable to tell against enemies, to prevent something bad happening to a friend, and to make up a story for a point. (Verbal falsehood).
In book I of Plato's Republic, when Socrates (speaking for Plato) is discussing what does, "doing the right thing" mean with Cephalus is when the morality of lying is first brought to discussion. Cephalus stated that justice is, speaking the truth and paying debts. Socrates argues and states that," Everyone would surely agree that if a sane man lends weapons to a friend and then asks for them back when he is out of his mind, the friend shouldn’t return them, and wouldn’t be acting justly if he did. Nor should anyone be willing to tell the whole truth to someone who is out of his mind." Socrates thinks that when you are friends with someone than it is just to tell a verbal lie to protect them, which is what a good friend would do. Plato approved of lying when telling the truth is the wrong thing to do. Plato thinks that it is never right or just to do evil or harm to anyone, and if you have to lie to protect someone then it is a just thing to do.
In book II Socrates begins to describe his ideal state. In his states there are rulers, the auxiliaries, and the craftsmen. The rulers are the most important and must be brought up with a good moral upbringing. Plato believes that it is necessary to tell the rulers falsehoods in their childhood to have them be gentile to their own people and harmful to their enemies. In order to give them a good moral upbringing Plato states that you need to read them stories about the Gods. But because the ruler can only be subjected to good moral ideas, the evil stories will be overlooked. " Aren't there two kinds of story, one true and the other false?" Socrates states," Yes. And mustn't our men be educated in both, but first in false ones?" Plato thinks that children not be confronted with anything evil until its character is already formed, making the children respect honesty and virtue." The young cant distinguish what is allegorical from what isn't, and the opinions they absorb at that age are hard to erase and apt to become unalternatable. For these reasons, then, we should take the utmost care to insure that the first stories they hear about virtue are the best ones for them to hear."
Plato believes that it is...