Philosopher king  

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"Plato's The Republic presents a critical view of democracy through the narration of Socrates: "Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike." In his work, Plato lists 5 forms of government from best to worst. Assuming that the Republic was intended to be a serious critique of the political thought in Athens, Plato argues that only Callipolis, an aristocracy led by the unwilling philosopher kings (the wisest men), is a just form of government. The contrast between Plato's theory of philosopher-kings, arresting change, and Aristotle's embrace of change, is the historical tension espoused by Karl Popper in his WWII treatise, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1943)." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Philosopher kings are the rulers of Plato's Utopian Kallipolis. If his ideal city-state is to ever come into being, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" (The Republic, 5.473d).

Contents

In Book VI of The Republic

Plato defined a philosopher firstly as its eponymous occupation – wisdom-lover. He then distinguishes between one who loves true knowledge as opposed to simple sights or education by saying that the philosopher is the only person who has access to Ideas – the archetypal entities that exist behind all representations of the form (such as Beauty itself as opposed to any one particular instance of beauty). It is next and in support of the idea that philosophers are the best rulers that Plato fashions the ship of state metaphor, one of his most often cited ideas (along with his allegory of the cave). "[A] true pilot must of necessity pay attention to the seasons, the heavens, the stars, the winds, and everything proper to the craft if he is really to rule a ship" (The Republic, 6.488d).

Hungarian emulation

Matthias Corvinus (1443–1490), who was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458, was influenced by the Italian Renaissance and strongly endeavored to follow in practice the model and ideas of the philosopher-king as described in "The Republic".

Criticism

Karl Popper blamed Plato for the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century, seeing Plato's philosopher kings, with their dreams of 'social engineering' and 'idealism', as leading directly to Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler (via Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx).

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Philosopher king" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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