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"Society originates because the individual is not self sufficient and no two of us are born exactly alike". How does Plato get from that claim to the view that philosophers should rule? Are you convinced by his claims that philosophers should rule?

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Introduction

"Society originates because the individual is not self sufficient and no two of us are born exactly alike". How does Plato get from that claim to the view that philosophers should rule? Are you convinced by his claims that philosophers should rule? It is in Plato's Republic that we first get a discussion of his ideal state and the components needed for its proper function. Plato's model, known as Kallipolis, is introduced by Socrates during his dialogues with his friends and it is throughout Books I-VIII that this state is built up through three distinct stages until Plato concludes that only philosopher kings should rule. Socrates starts with what Plato labels the "first principals of social organization"1, namely the basics which are needed for an "economically self sufficient city"2; in the second stage he goes on to develop this idea. He adds luxury to the state necessitating the presence of armed forces which in turn become the governing class from which come the philosopher kings, selected by the process of the education system that Plato set up to discern those best qualified to rule. The first stage is primitive at best and simply contains the key elements needed to fulfil the "underlying principles of any society"3. ...read more.

Middle

So the city now consists not of economic equals but of people pursuing their economic function. They co-operate with each other to make life pleasant for others preparing each to subordinate his own interests to those of others. Kallipolis now has three classes, the producers, the Guardians and the Philosopher-Kings and "each member will perform that function, and only that function, for which he is destined by nature"30. To distinguish between these classes and discover to which class each person belongs Plato brings in education and also his theory of a tripartite soul. Through this education process which is a "concern of the state"31 , all people reach their full potential and thereby acknowledge their social position. To understand the nature of the philosopher kings we examine Plato's theory of the soul. There are three types of desire in the "tripartite soul" which "correspond to the three parts of the state"32; appetitive desires (base ones for things such as food, money and sex), spirited desires (for honour, victory and reputation) and rational desires (for knowledge and truth). In each person one of the three desires rules, thereby determining their class and values. ...read more.

Conclusion

The taking away of the family from the philosopher class would also in my opinion make him a worse ruler, less in touch with society and less developed as a character. Also from a secular viewpoint it is not right to put only educated rulers from one strata of society in power when those from a less education background could be more in touch with society and its needs. Also the prospect of a state education system selecting the leaders of the city is a matter of concern as the "relevant knowledge" which Plato advocates is purely a matter of opinion and therefore may be biased. Also these rational desires, that the philosopher king is supposed to have, are not I believe the monopoly of the educated. They can be found at all levels of society. Also Plato denies personal advancement in his city, especially once a person has been graded. In reality however once people have met their basic needs there is a desire for more. Also it is not natural for people to forgo private property even if they are a ruler. Therefore I would conclude that Plato's view, that the philosopher kings should rule, is incorrect and unrealistic in terms of any real society and its values. ...read more.

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