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1. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world ...; the point, however, is to change it."(Marx, Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach). How adequate is Marx's characterization of "the philosophers" to Plato? To Machiavelli, Hobbes, or Locke? (Discuss Plato and any ONE of these three modern thinkers.) Plato: the philosophers have interpreted the world, but they cannot change it; society will always remain trapped in the cave because philosophy is the preserve of the few. Machiavelli: critique of religion; trying to mobilize people to overthrow the church; doesnt see this as the role of the philosopher per say but whoever can understand the subversive undertones in his writing Hobbes: point isnt to achieve the possible best (and change the world) but to avoid the known worst; arguments about the good can be productive of the worst evils (as religious wars in Hobbes time demonstrate) o should be satisfied with avoiding the state of nature Locke: everyone should be able to find out good in their own way o allowing individual freedoms to flourish would be his answer to changing the world; however, such change cannot and should not be instituted by the state; it should remain minimally involved in the lives of citizens o each can be a philosopher how he/she sees fit
Introduction Socrates city in speech can be realized only if philosophers rule as kings. However, through the metaphors of the cave and the ship, Socrates shows that this is very unlikely to happen. Society will always remain in a cave full of illusions, and the best that the philosopher can hope to do is to lead those who he can to philosophy. This is the most significant benefit one human being can perform for another. Only few can engage in philosophy, and no society can every society will always remain a cave. The Platonic project is to help those few who can be receptive to philosophy without harming anyone. vs modern thinkers who look to transform society as a whole; they have an eye to effectual truth, as opposed to imaginary principalities modern thinkers seek to change society, because reason and freedom (that were privy to few in the Republic) are universal to the modern thinkers The rule of the philosophers depends on the existence of the regime; the existence of the (ideal) regime depends on the rule of the philosophers. That they depend on each other means that both are impossible in reality. What is a philosopher? In cities as we know them, philosophers are very far from rule; the philosopher is lucky if he is not crushed by society. delights in wisdom for its own sake, unbounded mental curiosity, never satisfied with what they know would never be content with authority; compelled to question the opinions that the city holds sacred and assumes to be true the philosopher, while passionate for the truth, is dispassionate for everything else, which are mere imperfect representations; his eye is always on the city in thought, which, existing only in thought, does not need to be fed philosopher is only concerned to know why and know the truth; does not leave things alone that the city commands be left alone
calls into question founding dogmas of the regime this is precisely what philosophy does and it tends to upset a lot of people Philosophers see far more clearly than we do the imperfections of all things. We cling to the belief that our regime is just; that certain things are beautiful and good. We cling to our opinions and the way of life that these opinions support; our way of life depends on it. But the philosopher, passionate to the truth, is dispassionate to everything else (because it is imperfect versions of truth). how could he care so little for and be so critical of what we care for so much? philosopher is not simply contemptuous of our opinion; if the philosopher never fully accepts the opinions he encounters in other, he never wholly rejects them each opinion is a waystation to a more adequate understanding; interested only in so far as it contributes to progress (up the ladder) the philosopher says that nothing that can pass as beautiful, just, or good for human beings is fully so; nothing that passes for anything is fully that thing doesnt delight in good things (like everyone else), but the good itself would never be content with authority; compelled to question the opinions that the city holds sacred and assumes to be true philosopher is only concerned to know why and know the truth does not leave things alone that the city commands be left alone calls into question founding dogmas of the regime this is precisely what philosophy does and it tends to upset a lot of people in politics, it is always the particular (regime, way of life) that demands devotion or sacrifice only the philosopher says that nothing can be perfectly just and beautiful; they only come to life in thought and speech the things that matter most in life can never be possessed in their fullness; they can only be thought in their fullness (THAT is the fundamental insight on which the philosophic life depends) the beautiful can be held and cradled, but the beautiful as such can only be discussed the philosopher is emphatically different from all human types; his concern is with the being of things, their character and their whatness Soc believes that most human beings live in the realm of opinion; since they cannot distinguish b/w imperfect images of beauty and justice and beauty and justice themselves; thus they do not live in the realm of knowledge philosopher is not the person who thinks he knows the answer to this question; does not claim to possess the answers, he desires to know them though; he delights in wisdom so he seeks it, but he doesnt claim to possess it Philosopher is the rare human type that not only can but must challenge the opinions of those of his time. Thereby exposing that this is all these are: the opinions of that time and place. All such opinions are partly true partly false, partly just/unjust. They are inadequate guides of human life. The philosopher isnt simply a contrarian (simply taking the opposite view) because then his mind and opinions would be predetermined. But every society holds that he who is not with it is against it; thus every society experiences the philosopher as an enemy, just as the Athenians did to Socrates.
Arguments in favour of rule of philosopher: Philosopher will see more quickly; he looks away from the particular, changeable, transient things, and looks at the permanent, universal things; he alone is competent guardian of city b/c he can guide the city in the light of the truth; this is one argument for philosopher kings. Only they know what is important to guide the city in the right path. Philosophers are the most just of human beings in the ordinary sense (i.e. keeping your hands off of the property of others, minding ones business). It is not that they are selfless or restrain themselves as other people dont from pursuing what they see as truly good. If philosopher thought that gold was the best thing, or rule of the city was the best thing, he would take it. But he is indifferent to those things, he realizes they are of little value compared to the pursuit of truth. Above all, he is indifferent to the pleasures of the body and thus to all the temptations of injustice. He is not indifferent to pleasure; concerned with the pleasures of the upper part of the soul, not with base human desires. Adeimantus objects (p. 167) Philosophizing is an act of someone who doesnt have the answers. We might say that the philosopher cares about the city as the doctor cares about a cadaver, as examining it advances his medical knowledge. For the philosopher, everything is a means to understanding the category to which it belongs. His eye is never on our city and its concerns/fears/enemies; his eye is always on the city as such, which existing only in thought requires not to be policed, fed, maintained, or defended. Is this the sort of person we would want to rule the city? philosopher only cares for the universal and permanent; this is everywhere, but at the same time nowhere the philosopher seems at the opposite pole from a person who gets things done 485d-e: Socrates describes the philosopher not as the man possessing learning, but the one who experiences an erotic desire for learning, which means that he lacks it (we dont desire what we already have). Adeimantus: of those who take up philosophy in a serious way, most become ambitious vicious, and those few that remain decent, suffer the punishment of becoming useless to the cities; would get nothing done; Soc recognizes that this is a powerful objection How can philosophers who we agree to be useless be said to run the city? Socrates invokes a range of images to counteract Ads skepticism. The Ship: true philosophers are useless because the city refuses to make use of them. Includes the owner of the ship, the sailors on the ship, the stargazer or true pilot. the shipowner is the people; the people are good natured but shortsighted, i.e. incapable of effective oversight on their own behalf the sailors fight for control over the helm even though they dont care about the actual result, they care only about reaching the helm and staying there; these are politicians; they practice image politics (each trying to present himself to the people in a light that they will find appealing, claiming to know the art of navigation when they do not) this is a critique of all known regimes (all regimes that are not governed by philosophers) stargazer: the philosopher; the only one competent to plot the ships course, but neither the owner or the sailor will ask him to do so the owner is ignorant, and cannot distinguish among politicians who is competent and who is not; sailors will not ask stargazer to take the helm, b/c they are preoccupied with the squabble among themselves (each of them want to helm) stargazer is too p