Essay on Plato's Concept of Philosopher-kings

2004 Words 9 Pages
"Society originates because the individual is not self-sufficient and no two of us is born exactly alike." How do those two assumptions/principles lead to Plato's ideal society being ruled by philosophers? Are you convinced by his claim that Philosophers should rule?

A good starting point will be to consider what Plato means by these two assumptions. The first assumption states that the individual not self-sufficient (369b). This is the basis by which cities form; communities of human beings are created because every man has needs that he cannot cater for by his own means, which ensues in the association of the needy. Plato believes that humans are social beings, or natural cooperators.

The second assumption states that "no two are
…show more content…
To see how Plato came to the conclusion that the philosophers should monopolise the positions of rulers, we have to examine Plato's city-soul analogy and his concept of justice.

Plato described the society to be analogous to the human soul in its tripartite nature. In our psyche exist three elements: the reason, the spirit and the appetitive. Reason is the logical, ethical element that is most inclined to look after the welfare of the entire person. The spirit encompasses complex emotions that are perhaps not rational, e.g. ambition, competitiveness or even moral emotions such as indignation. They entail a judgment over and above simplistic emotions such as anger. Finally, the appetite is the base, impulsive, more carnal instincts that are programmed into our bodies. To achieve justice, these three elements must co-exist in harmony, with reason in control.

Similarly, in the human society there are three classes of people: the philosophers representing reason, the military caste or the auxiliaries representing the spirit, and finally the materialism-driven producer class which represent the appetitive. Plato argues that for justice to be present in the soul, reason has to reign supreme. Similarly in the human society, the philosophers should be allowed sovereign control over all the other classes of people if justice were to exist.

Who are these philosophers that Plato speaks of? Since they are placed in high esteem and

Related Documents