Plato in the Republic argues that either kings should be philosophers or philosophers should be kings. His reasoning is that philosophers possess special knowledge which is needed for successfully running the republic. He was disgruntled by the state of the Athenian republic which was unstable and was shifting from anarchy to tyranny. He believed that this state of affairs was directly related to incompetent leadership that did not have the proper skills and morals to effectively run the republic.
Plato's Republic Summary
His call that philosophers should be the leaders of the Republic was inspired by his perception that politics is an intellectual faculty and not what it has been made up to be in today’s society- the pursuit of power, wealth, and influence. To Plato, to be governed by anyone who is not a philosopher is to be ruled by self-interest, beliefs, and opinions. To be ruled by a philosopher, on the other hand, is to be ruled by virtue and justice with no covert motives. The philosopher is interested in the pursuit of learning, knowledge and the truth.
He explains the world of illusion and belief, where the majority of the masses reside. The philosopher has stepped out of his world and has come into the light of knowledge and truth. To become a philosopher-ruler, one has to be knowledgeable in the truth. Having gathered adequate knowledge and drawn themselves out of the world, the philosopher is able to make the right decisions and rule with justice. Such a leader will not be motivated by the desire to have excesses, free from vices and corrupt tendencies. A leader of Plato’s repute would be free from any vice witnessed in today’s politics, a leader with perfection and justice.
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