12:00 – 1:15
11 November 2012
Philosophers as Rulers
The ‘ideal state’ of the perfect way of life has always been on the forefront of philosophy. Whether this ideal state is described as a utopia where everything is perfect or a place where there are equal rights for all, thoughts on the issue have differed widely. When Plato’s Republic was first published and Plato’s ideals were established, it was a monumental change in the ideology of the times. During this time, philosophers were regarded by many as great tutors and men full of knowledge, but by some as dangerous and unneeded. Therefore, many philosophers refrained from fully expressing their thoughts in fear of objection and punishment. Plato was not afraid to voice his beliefs, however, even if they sounded completely hysterical to others, because he truly believed in his teachings. Plato’s Republic is the ideal state, as demonstrated through his emphasis on the role of knowledge and how this leads to the philosophers’ being the best choice of rulers.
Within the Republic, Plato describes a hierarchical system of the four stages of cognition, in which there are “these four stages of mind: intelligence for the highest, thinking for the second, belief for the third, and for the last imagining” (Plato 226). This system is paralleled with the realm of ‘Objects’, which consists of the Forms, mathematical objects, visible things, and images. These categories fall within two divisions, that of the intelligible world and that of the world of appearances. The world of appearances is seen as inferior to the intelligible world, and here reside images and visible things, as well as imagining and belief. It consists of what people see every day, and is regarded as below the intelligible world, which consists of the Forms. The Forms are absolute entities and the objects of knowledge. They are the reasons that people see things, for everything comes from a certain Form. An example of...