Remember the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” when they travel through time to collect some of history’s greats for a school report? Remember when they came along a philosopher named Socrates (pronounced Saw-cra-tees, not So-crates)? Well, he was a great philosopher. He came up with the qualities of a philosopher, some of them are that they devote themselves to be constant learners, they don’t desire money or power, they don’t fear death, they are temperate, and they are lovers of truth (R. Silver: The Qualities of the Philosopher). Plato was also a philosopher and a student of Socrates. He wrote the book, The Republic back in 360 B.C.E. In Book VI of The Republic, he writes about Socrates explaining the difference between philosophers and citizens, and why philosophers would be better rulers. A philosopher’s rule would be better than democracy because the voters are not educated enough to choose the correct leader and democracy consists of mob rule.
America today is being ruled by a man that does not hold most of the qualities of a philosopher. He shows his desire for money by what he has done for the oil industry. He started a war in a country partially because of the oil that that country had. He also is not a lover of truth, for where are those Weapons of Mass Destruction? He told the American people that we were going to Iraq because Iraq had WMD. He doesn’t devote himself to learning. Our President can’t read a sentence that is grammatically correct even though the grammatically correct sentence is in front of him. If a philosopher were to govern our country, I believe there would be more peace in this nation for the philosopher would have a passion for knowledge. They would look at a situation from all angles to see what the best route is. The philosopher would be fair and look towards what is better for all and not just better for some. The philosopher would also not desire money, so the philosopher would not be bought to choose a side. Plato wrote about men who contain the qualities of a philosopher that “when perfected by years and education, and to these only you will entrust the State” (The Republic, p4). George Bush graduated from college with mostly C’s.
Democracy allows the people to choose their leader. As Plato says in The Republic (by using a ship as a metaphor), the people are drugged by politicians. Politicians will tell people what they want to hear and promise the people what they want. The public tends to look at its own limited self-interests and the politicians cater to those interests. They are able to persuade voters easily by not going into depth to explain what is necessary. For example, Bush can tell us that we need to spend more money for the War in Iraq, but will not explain the necessity of raising taxes to pay for it or how other things the people want will not be paid for by the government, like housing or health care. The philosopher who is well educated and understands how to run things smoothly will not get voted for, for the philosopher does not try to drug the people into believing falsehoods (R. Silver: Democracy and Plato’s Parable of the Ship). If the philosopher explains the need for raising taxes to support a popular idea, the people will resist because they only think of their self-interests and will not vote for the person (philosopher) who speaks the truth.
Philosopher rule would work for many reasons but it would take time for it to not be argued by the mob. Having a philosopher ruling the country would allow for more positive outcomes for the people. Businesses would not be allowed to buy their control from the government because the philosopher does not desire money. Our planet would benefit because the philosopher would work towards making the Earth more habitable by decreasing the bad gasses that get released into the atmosphere, maybe even get electric cars back into production for consumers. The philosopher ruler would also make peace, not just at home but with other nations. The philosopher is always reaching for truth and for something uncorrupt (R. Silver: The Qualities of the Philosopher), allowing the philosopher ruler to be fair and just with all things.
Philosophers would make better rulers for all the reasons that they are philosophers. They do not desire power and money, they see and understand things well, they are lovers of truth, they are fair and decent people, and they crave knowledge. Democracy is destroyed by politicians and mob rule. Politicians say what the people want to hear but change their story when they get into office. Politicians get bought. Bush chose Dick Chaney, who is the former CEO of Halliburton, Condoleezza Rice who used to be on the Board of Directors for Chevron, and Andrew Card, Jr., who is the former VP of General Motors (Movie: “Who Killed the Electric Car?”). Bush works for the oil industry which a leader of a government should not do. The leader of a country should work for its people. Therefore, the best way to rule a country would be to have a philosopher as the leader.
(Plato and Aristotle)
The Republic by Plato. Translated by Benjamin Jowett.
Who Killed the Electric Car?: Movie. Directed by Chris Paine.
Ramona Silver's handout. The Quality of the Philosopher.
Ramonda Silver's handout:. Democracy and Plato's Parable of the Ship.