Criticizing Plato's "Philosopher King" Idea

Criticizing Plato's "Philosopher King" Idea

Although I am yet to have read criticisms on Plato’s idea of the philosopher king, I can come up with my own criticism simply by improvising how Plato’s “utopia” will be if it was to be actualized:

· Plato was a philosopher, and he claimed that philosophers should be in the top of the political structure and government. It makes me wonder if Plato was just or simply wished for more power in hand by abusing the fact that he was a well-known and respected philosopher.

· Plato’s political theory is not democratic. Only philosophers could be in the head of the dynasty. As long as you are not a philosopher you cannot be a statesman or a stateswoman, and if you are a mere soldier or a farmer, chances would be that you shall become one until the end of your life, and so would not be available for your children. Unless, of course, you are a philosopher and only then you may imply to be the leader of the nation.

· Philosophers in the top of the hierarchy could be tempted to use their great power and status for bad and be corrupted. Just because you are a philosopher does not make you immune to the temptation of corruption and injustice.

· Just because you are a philosopher, does not make you excellent in managing an entire country. Philosophy is more than just politics, but about various fields that doesn’t necessarily have something to do with politics. I am myself, as a philosopher, have no interest in politics, and I would probably be an unsuccessful monarch because of my lack of experience. Even children in my opinion can be considered philosophers, however it is unlikely that they shall lead a country.

· One of the temptations a philosopher may have could be the temptation to make a cult out of their ideas. Pythagoras is an example of a Greek philosopher which created what I assume was a cult out of his philosophy, and gain powers in the eyes of others that the philosopher does not necessarily have in possession. Combine this power with political power and you might create an oppressive, undemocratic theocracy, which is a regime that is made mostly out of religion and that religion’s rules. It is dangerous because it may lack the freedom of thought that philosophers generally enjoy, thus leading to a state of deception and blind faith, which is immoral in my opinion.

· Another problem is heritage. As said before, only philosophers can rule in Plato’s “utopia”. When a philosopher king dies, how can one know what philosopher could come into power? That deceased king may have children, but they might not be philosophers at all, and so a power struggle and even a civil war can emerge in that theoretical country; civil wars that can lead to anarchy or to conquest by another nation. When there are few competitors for the throne (which are, of course, philosophers), what are the circumstances for one of them to be worthier to political leadership than the others? If there would be an election, how can we rely on the masses to choose what philosopher is better? What about a candidate that is widely appreciated and wanted to become the next monarch, but the philosopher themselves do not wish to be in power? Do we need to force philosophers to become absolute kings simply because they have a keen interest in philosophy?

That is all I have to criticize about Plato's idea of state, which is far from ideal.


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© 2019 Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosopher