Long live the philosopher
'All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.'
Once Ambrose Bierce's 'The Devil's Dictionary' delivered this momentous insight, I totally acknowledge to be true. You probably wonder in how far this quotation is relevant for the present issue and how I can agree on a statement undermining the human's ratio-the quality we are so incredibly proud of, the quality that seems to tell the difference between us humans and animals? You will have your answer at the end of the following essay.
In order to investigate Plato’s assertion that an ideal society needs to be run by a council of philosopher-kings, it is important to identify the major difference between philosophers and ordinary people. Which ability makes philosophers superior and legitimates Plato’s claim for to the throne? Some of their essential merits are their analytic abilities, their inquisitiveness, their strive for wisdom and their continuous criticism. Philosophers want to discover the nature of beauty, the nature of our moral standards, the reasons for our existence and so many other things, the preponderance of people does not care about. But in how far do these achievements make a philosopher a better king? Well, let me solidify Plato's assumption by seizing Bierce's quotation:
Everyone of us is a lunatic. Incontrovertibly. I believe that a certain amount of insanity is a part of human nature. History proves it if we look back at all the wars we waged.'Ordinary' humans have always been convinced that property and influence -of course only achievable by means of continuous expansion, annexations and violence- are necessary to become lucky and satisfied. If we asked Aristotle for his opinion, he would say that we only can attain eudemonia -the most perfect and desirous state- , if we we exhaust all the intellectual potential and all the virtues we are innately capable of, and not by accumulating money or annexing land. He would also say: 'Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit', and 'Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal'. As you can see wars, tyrannical oppressions and inhuman behavior would be impossible if Aristotle would have been a politician. If people concentrated on his values they would live temperately, generously and considerately.
Nonetheless I have to admit that human insanity is not only a vice of the past. Present proves our madness by an abundance of paradox believes we have. The death penalty, for instance, is still not entirely abolished and degrading human rights -we all agree on- to a privilege that we give people who behave adequately and which we deprive from people who have committed a crime. The fact that we murder people who have murdered in order to show that murdering is an atrocity testifies of an incredible illogicality which would not be possible if a philosopher would had political and judicial power. How I can be so convinced that there would not be any crimes of humanity -such as the death penalty?. Well, imagine that someone has murdered an innocent person. What would the family or the friends of the victims like to do? If the were given the possibility, they would probably like to murder the perpetrator in the same cruel way he or she has committed the crime. This is indeed a totally human reaction. It is legitimate to have the desire to take revenge , but it would be inexcusable to realize it. Since the majority of the states has abolished the death penalty, we can conclude that law is in many cases determined by reason- the ability philosophers scintillate with. So, since good working law is only as good as it is because of it's philosophical spirit, then why should a state not be entirely ruled by philosophers? If we had laws adjusting to to ordinary people's feelings, we would probably extinct the human race or at least create unbearable conditions of existence. Probably there are several people who disagree saying that there is nothing wrong about my example. They would probably postulate that atrocities need to be punished in an appropriate way, and that lynching a murder -or executing him with the death penalty ( the legalized version of lynching) is necessary in some cases. In contrast to the abundance of people who still think to have indisputable evidence for the legitimacy the death penalty, a philosopher would say that murder is never justice. He would rather say:"Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders." (Albert Camus, French philosopher).
- Quote paper
- Autarkia Klass (Author), 2012, Long live the philosopher Plato, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/233479
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