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Kings as Philosophers and Philosophers as Kings

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  1. Introduction
  2. Socrates and the fundamental differences between the true philosophers and 'practical people'
  3. Socrates' reply to Adeimantus' criticism
  4. Adeimantus' acceptance of Socrates' arguments
  5. Criticism of Socrates' statement on philosopher
  6. Book three of the Republic
  7. Plato and the response to knowledge criticism
  8. Conclusion
  9. Works cited

In books 5 and 6 of Plato's Republic, the issue of who should rule society is addressed. Through out the dialogue, the character Socrates makes several arguments for the intelligence, virtue and worth of philosophers as people and as potential rulers. In this paper I will examine his arguments for granting ?philosopher kings? ruler ship of society. I will provide criticisms for these arguments and examine those criticisms by reapplying the ideas of Plato. I will conclude with my arguments for and against the theory of kings as philosophers and philosophers as kings.

Keywords: Glaucon, guardians of the city

[...] This is why many people see philosophers as being bad or vicious, Socrates explains. The philosophical nature will be corrupted easily if it is in the wrong environment. On the other hand, if a philosophic nature receives instruction and is trained properly, it will grow to possess great virtue, (love of truth, good memory, sense of order.) To defend this argument, Socrates describes a man who is well-born with a philosophic nature, good looks and riches. According to Socrates, this man will be filled with high expectations from his society as well from himself. [...]


[...] If the philosophers ruling the city do not accept and discuss each other's differing opinions and those of the other occupants of the city, revolt is inevitable. If the needs of the lower classes are not met and recognized, this is also cause for revolt. It seems impossible for the philosophers at the top to be in touch with each other's thoughts and the needs of the public if they are convinced that there is only one truth and only one form of knowledge. [...]


[...] Education would be strictly monitored and all citizens would be conditioned to accept their lot in life as a result of the kind of metal (gold, silver or bronze) in their souls. Plato would probably argue that revolt would also be prevented through conditioning and education. If each citizen is conditioned from birth to accept his or her nature (the metal in the soul,) people will trust the leaders. They will also receive what they desire according to their nature: The philosopher class desires wisdom and truth, the warrior class desires honor and glory, and the merchant /craftsmen class have the ?necessary desires? of food, drink, sex, etc. [...]

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