“There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers” Plato
This is a quote from the Republic, a famous book/dialog between Plato and Socrates. I let this quote speak for itself and don’t go into the details.
What is a modern definition of a philosopher: “a person who offers views or theories on profound questions in ethics, metaphysics, logic, and other related fields.” Or “a person who is rationally or sensibly calm, especially under trying circumstances.” According to dictionary.com I like this one from the Urban dictionary: “The kind of person that looks at the world in a way that very few people can. This person looks at all the angles of any given situation and judges dispassionately. This person is never understood, mainly because they think about things that could potentially break the spirit of those around them. Many people do not like the philosopher.” Read more
Philosophers like to think about problems that most people don’t want to think about or just don’t have the time or ability for. The world that Plato lived in was different. In his time the supposed king ruled over relative view people, if you look at the communication lines between the ruler, the people and adversaries, it could take days for the news to reach you and days to respond. There was probably more time to contemplate and les to manage on an hourly basis.
A philosopher could probably be a king or leader of some sort in the modern world, but there would be no time to contemplate, study, read 6 books, discuss and theorize over every decision that must be made. A ruler can be a philosophers but he cannot rule as a philosopher.
Luckily, we have now (2017) someone as president of the USA who says about himself the following: “I don’t even consider myself ambitious.” — “60 Minutes”, 1985 and “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault” — Twitter and this one “I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there — it’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam era. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” — on sleeping with women who could have STDs, “The Howard Stern Show”
Obviously, he comes close to a philosopher king, he doesn’t do it because he’s ambitious, he is really smart and brave. Let’s see how some of his idea’s stack up to his fellow philosophers from the past.
Trump about making money, “I made a lot of money and I made it too easily, to the point of boredom.” — Vanity Fair, 1990 It’s not much of a philosophy but he might say that the capitalistic system is easily misused, like other philosophers also did.
Other philosophers: “Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate”. Bertrand Russell
“The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all … The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands – the ownership and control of their livelihoods – are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.” Helen Keller,
“There is often talk of human rights, but it is also necessary to talk of the rights of humanity. Why should some people walk barefoot, so that others can travel in luxurious cars? Why should some live for thirty-five years, so that others can live for seventy years? Why should some be miserably poor, so that others can be hugely rich? I speak on behalf of the children in the world who do not have a piece of bread. I speak on the behalf of the sick who have no medicine, of those whose rights to life and human dignity have been denied.” Fidel Castro
“The decadent international but individualistic capitalism in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war is not a success. It is not intelligent. It is not beautiful. It is not just. It is not virtuous. And it doesn’t deliver the goods.” John Maynard Keynes
In this next quote Trump obviously points out that a lack of education is bad for democracy. “We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.” –Donald Trump on his performance with poorly educated voters who helped him win the Nevada Caucus, Feb. 23, 2016
Franklin D. Roosevelt is so honored with his new colleague that he turned around in his grave, to have a better look, or something. He also had something to say about education, something a lot of poor people have problems getting enough off. “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education”.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education”. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Benjamin Franklin
The stereotypical philosopher would probably be a bad “King” but some critical thinking would not be bad. Sadly we live in a world where everybody is telling the emperor that he has no cloth on and it doesn’t matter.