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Why does Plato believe that only Philosophers are fit to rule?

Uploaded by ALAN T on May 08, 2001

Rather than the practical pursuit we are accustomed to, for Plato, Politics is an intellectual faculty. Governance by non-philosophers is to be governed by opinions, beliefs and self-interest; in contrast the philosopher ruler will govern with virtue and justice with no hidden agenda. The philosopher is in love, in love with learning, knowledge and truth. It is important to make a distinction here between the acquisition of knowledge and the acquisition of truth, because knowledge is not necessarily the truth.

With the help of an allegory, Plato explains the sensible world of illusion and belief, the place where most people reside. The philosopher has stepped outside this world, into a world of knowledge and truth. Plato makes use of a cave to explain this; I will use another means. A child believes in the myth of Santa Claus, a child has good reason to suppose this myth is true, it is inculcated when he receives Christmas presents, the media, family and friends consolidate the belief, the child even writes to Santa Claus and receives a reply. On Christmas Day this belief becomes a ‘reality’. Through education and maturity, the child will have doubts as to the truth of this illusion. At some stage during the transition from childhood to adulthood he will acknowledge the illusion, and further, during parenthood the myth really comes home to roost as knowledge and absolute truth. (He now has a choice; he can put an end to the myth or continue the cycle) What is distinctive regarding each stage, is how far they have come out of the cave. Through illusion and belief to knowledge, or from artisan to auxiliary to philosopher.

The fundamental prerequisite to becoming a philosopher ruler is to have knowledge of the forms, therefore knowing the truth. The forms do not exist in the sensible world, they can only be found in the super-sensible world. Platos‘ theory of the forms is partly logical and partly metaphysical. The logical part is, take for example a dog, there will be many types of dog, and general particulars regarding a dog. The form of a dog is universal and eternal it has no position in space or time, it is not born when a dog is born, nor does it die when a dog dies. The metaphysical part of the theory is the form of a dog is a perfect, unique dog, created by God....

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Uploaded by:   ALAN T

Date:   05/08/2001

Category:   Politics

Length:   9 pages (1,960 words)

Views:   3011

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