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His mind has a soil deep and fertile, out of which spring his prudent counsels.

The whole sentence I don't understand. What does mind have soil deep and fertile mean? Mean stupid? or smart? or idea? what does out of which spring mean here? Does something in his mind, good or bad? so he has to be prudent? From Plato's The Republic, Book II.

Here is what I think it means: unjust people will bury their mind deep like a seed, and then fertile out, unjust people seem to be just because they are careful and wise. Am I mistaken? In modern language, I think hypocrisy is a good word to describe but not the best word.

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    What do you think it means? What part are you stuck on? Have you looked up all the words in the dictionary? – Jim Dec 3 '17 at 20:26
  • the whole sentence i dont understand. What does mind have soil deep and fertile mean? Mean stupid? or smart? or idea? what does out of which spring mean here? Does something in his mind, good or bad? so he has to be prudent? – conan Dec 3 '17 at 20:31
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    I think you’re probably not yet at a level where you’re ready to tackle this book. – Jim Dec 3 '17 at 20:45
  • I figure it myself. If I was not mistaken, unjust people will bury their mind deep like a seed, and then fertile out, unjust people seem to be just because they are careful and wise. In modern language, I think hypocrisy is a good word to describe but not the best word, maybe you can give me the best word. – conan Dec 3 '17 at 21:31
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The description is allegorical. Try this: If I compared his mind to soil, it would be deep soil, and fertile. And, out of that fertile soil, comes forth an excellent harvest of prudent counsels. Do you see how much more concise the original is? Yet this is precisely what it says.

If you were harvesting wheat or corn, you would want a rich soil, so that you got a good yield from your crop, and the harvest was plentiful in quantity, and the grains were fat and full in size. The man has a mind that produces thoughts that would be analagous to such a harvest: pertinent, profound, and wise.

  • Thanks. When I read that excerpt again, base on your explanation, i thought Plato means just man will learn by each experience that he ought to seem and not to be just. – conan Dec 3 '17 at 22:26
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I interpret it as meaning he is wise and his advice is to be taken seriously.

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    OK, but would other people interpret it that way? We're generally looking for answers with more detail than simple one-liners. – David Richerby Dec 3 '17 at 23:13
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Plato is using a metaphor. In effect, he is saying that the mind of a wise person is deep and fertile soil, out of which grows wise advice. In other words, because the wise man's mind is not corrupted by foolishness, clichés, errors, and fallacious thinking, you can trust his counsel.

The wisest man who ever lived took Plato's metaphor and gave it a twist, so to speak. This is what he said,

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air came and ate it up. Some [seed] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, because they had no moisture, and they withered because they had no root.

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times more than was sown.

When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Consider the "seed" in the above parable (which is a conflation of three separate accounts of what the wisest man said) to comprise, for example, timeless truths, noble ideas, consequential concepts, exemplary ethics, and laudable moral principles.

The most basic requirement for good seed is good soil. Without soil which is deep, fertile, free of rocks and weeds, well tilled and not trampled upon, no seed, however good it may be, will do what seed is supposed to do; namely, bear abundant fruit (whether that "fruit" is wheat or corn or apples or tomatoes or any other food crop).

What Plato left out of his metaphor (though I am sure he covered this ground--pun intended--more thoroughly elsewhere in his teaching) is the importance of quality seed. The mind of a man or woman can be highly intelligent, even brilliant, but if it is bereft of noble ideas, timeless truths, and uncorrupted thinking, it will bear neither good fruit nor abundant fruit.

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