Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

October 18, 2015

Response Paper 3

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 3:26 pm

The Philosopher King


The Philosopher King makes Kallipolis a utopian society because he seeks true knowledge and rules for the benefit of the city rather than himself.  A philosopher’s soul desires to seek the truth above all else.  This enables him to be the best ruler for the happiness of the city as a whole.  Socrates’ ship analogy explains how a philosopher is better suited to lead than other members of society because a philosopher would not lead to fulfil his own desires.  He refers to a ship captain who is clearly not competent for his position.  Each crew member plots a way to become the captain themselves by the use of force, trickery or persuasion.  Consequently, the new captain is not the one who is most fit to navigate the ship but it is the one who was able to overthrow or convince the old captain.  Naturally, the captain should be the one who is most knowledgeable on navigation and running a ship.  In terms of a city, it is the one who is most knowledgeable on what is truly right and wrong who should rule: a philosopher. This makes it utopian because the ruler is not in charge of the city for personal benefit.  In most societies rulers come to power because they are wealthy, persuasive or powerful.  However, none of these traits make a good ruler.  In fact, these traits tend to be associated with people who are selfish and greedy.  For example, in Plato’s time, the democracy was dominated by those who had wealth and could convince citizens to accept their ideas. Someone who is wealthy can use money to get their way, which can lead to an unjust law.  A philosopher will never make a decision for personal gain like many rulers do.  Additionally, he will not make decisions to gain honor and praise, but he will make decisions to be benefit the entire community.  The knowledgeable part of his soul, which overpowers the other two parts, makes him just and thus fit to rule a utopian society.

And important component of the Philosopher King is their unwillingness to rule which makes them the best fit to be the leader.  One of Socrates subjects notes that the Philosopher King will be unhappy and reluctant to rule after being properly educated.  Socrates responds by saying that they will have a sense of duty to pay back the city for their upbringing.  One who rules out of duty rather than for personal gain will be a better ruler.  They are chosen and rule for the benefit of the entire city, which will also erase conflict over who shall rule.  It is utopian because no one part of society benefits at the expense of another.  Each member of the society does their part by sacrificing some of their freedom.  The Philosopher King, for example, would rather not rule, but he does because it is his duty.  This is utopian because the happiness of the city as a whole is prioritized over the happiness of individuals.  A philosopher would rather not associate themselves with people of less intelligence, however, by ruling he will benefit the entire community.  Many ideologies seek to create a better means of government such as communism and democracy.  But in both of these societies the wealthy and powerful benefit at the expense of everyone else.  But Plato offers a truly Utopian society with a just and wise ruler fit to be King.


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