I am interested to hear our take on the meaning of “education” as framed in The Republic.
The question cannot be addressed without specifying whose education it is. There is no discussion of any education for the majority of people, except perhaps, the “myth of metals”, the “noble lie”. The early education of the auxiliaries and guardians is designed to strengthen the body and temper the spirit - gymnastics and music. As they mature academic studies are added. Philosophy is reserved for the mature.
There is also the education of the reader of the Republic. Here we find a salutary public teaching that moves from justice to truth and the good. But underlying this is the education of the philosopher. The philosopher is not content with images of the truth and stories of transcendence. The philosopher sees this as the art of philosophical poesis, the making of salutary myths.
It is clearly derived from the Muses.
One of his criticisms against the poets is that they do not know what they are talking about. They cannot give an account or defense of what they say. They are only the mouthpiece, the conduit, of the Muses.
I do find it strange to hear you pull away from the politcal effect of religions/traditions learnt through narratives - as Plato makes about as explicit as anyone could in his talk of the “bad” ethos projected by Homer and others in how they represent the gods/heroes as flawed.
I don’t know what you mean by my pulling away from the political effect of religions/traditions. They are the images on the cave wall that shape opinion. Plato attempts to reshape them. What he did is similar to what Nietzsche did when he declared that God is dead. It is not something he decided on his own. The old system was already broken.
Given too that the work is in pursuit of an “ideal” state/education/ruler …
This is an assumption that should be questioned. What does ideal mean? How does the ideal relate to the actual and the practicable? The city in speech, the Republic, is heuristic, not a model of the best city for human beings.
… I don’t really see why you’d be inclined to pull back from a clear definition of “justice” and the terms in use surrounding it?
Because it is not a matter of definition. There is no rule book for what is and is not just. Socrates does give a definition of justice but it is deeply ironic and comical. It is a response to the Aristophanes, a defense of the philosophical way of life. Justice, Socrates says, is minding your own business.
Keep in mind that the general “education” of citizens in ancient Greece included being able to “recite” Homer (to act it out, to express with vigor and emotion) not to merely commit the words and phrases to memory.
Yes, but both Plato and Xenophon point out just how empty this is. Being able to repeat what Homer said is different than being able to explain and defend the truth of what Homer said.
… at least that is how it is framed in the opening remarks on “education”.
What opening remarks? What is said and where?
It is a journey of the individual set out along rigidly defined lines with an intellectual pretense of “good” over an artistic pretense of “good”.
We may be somewhat in agreement regarding the pretense. According to the allegory of the cave, once one has left the cave one sees things as they are by the power of his own sight:
"Then, if this is true," I said, "we must hold the following about these things: education is not what the professions of certain men assert
it to be. They presumably assert that they put into the soul knowledge that isn't in it, as though they were putting sight into blind eyes." "Yes," he said, "they do indeed assert that."
"But the present argument, on the other hand," I said, "indicates that this power is in the soul of each, and that the instrument with
which each learns—just as an eye is not able to turn toward the light from the dark without the whole body—must be turned around from
that which is coming into being together with the whole soul until it is able to endure looking at that which is and the brightest part of that which is. And we affirm that this is the good, don't we?" (518b-c)
Despite what he says about education he is putting something into the soul, an image of the good. But one cannot say what the good is or even what it looks like based on this image. It is a turning of the soul toward the question of the good. And this is a question the philosopher must pursue. He is not given an answer. There are no rigidly defined lines to follow, only a direction to guide further inquiry.