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The Philosopher King

August 11th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I just read Allan Bloom’s “Response to Hall”
Political Theory, Vol. 5, No. 3, (Aug., 1977), pp. 315-330
http://www.jstor.org/stable/190644 . It’s a great article which expands on his introductory essay in his translation Plato’s Republic. Here is the main argument:

Socrates never precisely shows Glaucon that justice as
Glaucon conceives it is good. Rather, in the course of founding a city
and, thus, learning the nature of justice, Socrates introduces, as a
political necessity, the philosophers. Glaucon learns that to be a ruler
in the city he has founded he must be a philosopher. Then, when he
is shown what philosophy is, he learns that it is the best life and is
essentially independent of political life. From the point of view of
philosophy-which Glaucon had not considered and, thus, had not
considered as a good thing-the city looks like a cave or a prison.

I perhaps should write up a different argument, extending Bloom’s: that Plato is showing not only that thinking is the highest activity rather than doing, but that philosophers become ridiculous when they become kings. The philosopher-king is *not* really the ideal, since the ideal state he comes up with is silly.

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