Republic "Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention"
by Plato

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"Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Homer speaks about his mother wit as solution to his many problems, but perhaps the first statement of necessity fostering invention comes from Socrates, who argues for the perfect state. In the first book of the Republic Plato records that his master allows the argument on justice to run an illogical course since no definition is put forth. In the next book he suggests that justice can be administered only through the state, hence the discussion of the ideal state. The phrase in the quotation below is otherwise translated as "its real creator, as it appears, will be our needs," and "apparently it will be the outcome of our necessity." Five centuries later Persius says, "Hunger is the teacher of the arts and the bestower of invention," while two thousand years after Plato, Wycherly shortens the form to "Necessity, mother of invention." Franck in 1694 combines this with another pat phrase in "Art imitates Nature, and necessity is the mother of invention," whereas Sheridan in 1779 states "Sheer necessity,–the proper parent of an art so nearly allied to invention." A modern addition is "Necessity is the mother of invention, and peril is the father."

Then, I said, let us begin and create in idea a state; and yet the true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention. . . .