The answer is: Much less than we think. This is an unapologetically
deflationary reading of the end ofRepublic Book V. The passage, which is of undisputed importance, has been taken to offer a definition of philosophy, an account of its cognitive accomplishments, the final
distinction between the philosopher’s epistēmē and the doxa of “the
sighlovers, "and a defense of the claim of philosophers to have the expertise to rule the ideal city that the work is in the process of
describing. My argument is that, as readers of Plato, we are no longer
struck by the astonishing nature of his proposal that philosophers should govern the city and we have ignored the rhetorical circumspection and the methodical, systematic manner in which he introduces his proposal, which takes much, much longer to develop—it is in fact not completed until the end of Book VII, in which the argument that only begins at the end of Book V, gradually and finally culminates. The end of Book V remains crucial to Plato’s argument but represents only the first step of his long and complex argument.