Me: Sorry, After your time. Automata. Does that work for you?
Plato: I never said they were.
Me: But I find your psychology deficient. I know you haven't read Freud but the poets you affect to despise could have taught you a thing or two about the bloody-mindedness of human nature.
Plato: I know my Homer. By heart. I propose to edit him.
Me: O God, yes. That's awful. You want to take out all the truly human stuff- all the juice...
Plato: To give the children heroes they can truly look up to, gods worthy of veneration.
Me: That's censorship
Plato: You think it's right that children should be taught that Achilles was a big crybaby? That Zeus was a womaniser?
Me: Why not? If those stories reflect reality.
Plato: Ah, Reality....
Me: All right I know what's coming next. I rather like your parable of the cave. I think it's true. In theory. But meanwhile we have to cope with the world as it is.
Plato: The philosphers have interpreted the world in various ways. The point is to change it.
Me: And look what happens when you do. There have been attempts to create ruling cadres like your guardians. If you've the time I'd like to tell you about Himmler and the SS.
Plato: Himmler. That's a barbarian name.
Me: You're telling me.
Plato: So did this Himmler person have his guardians study mathematics, geometry, astronomy?
Me: Erm, probably not.
Plato. Then he wasn't following my programme. The only person who is fit to rule is the person who- through study of ultimate realities- has learned to despise the strategems and rewards of office.
Me: You think it's really possible to create a caste of philosopher kings?
Plato: Has it ever been tried?
Me: I'm not sure it has. But we're back to my first point. It's just not practicable, people aren't that malleable....
Plato: Come back to me when it has.