Plato on the Nature of Talent

Plato argued that talent was distributed non-genetically and found in children born to all classes. Implied, Plato believed that talent is inherently a function of the human physique. Now, because talents are born into the person, it must be developed by the state. Talents itself, are useless without the guidance of the state. In The Republic, Plato insisted that those suitably gifted are to be trained by the state so that they may be qualified to assume the role of a ruling class.  Suffice it to say, Plato believed that mere possession of talent is not enough to qualify as a member of the ruling class. One must be trained in the arts of philosophy, diplomacy, and even warfare. The talented person must also pass a personality test  that is, his actions must be both moderate and rational. This test would ensure that the selected members of the ruling class would not abuse power or in many cases, rob the state of its wealth. Plato made it clear that formalizing the educational system serves to the benefit of the state.

For Plato, talents, if it were to be sustained, must be developed by experience. Being born with talent is a privilege. Plato recognized this fact. Thus, he insisted that talented children from all classes be given formal education. Education, whether formal or informal, is a form of experience. As the person matures, he acquires more skills to augment his deficiencies and increase his strengths. This is the principle of rational education. Persons born with talents should be developed by experience to ensure maximum potentiality.


Post a Comment