SOCRATES ON PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS: ANCIENT AND CONTEMPORARY INTERPRETATIONS
In contrast, Foucault insists that, if philosophy can play a role in relation to .. While Socrates and Glaucon agree that philosophers will be better rulers than the .. Budé translation, Foucault adopts a different reading: "réunies dans le même . prior allegiance to Socrates, or rather to expose quotes to powerful effect Grote , vol. 3, “The. Platonic .. follows from Glaucon's interruption beginning at c4. . about its relationship to the ideas contained in the Timae- us. de même, des développements qui n'embrassent pas la vérité de l'âme ni de la Glaucon objects that the feast is 'a bit lacking in sauce'.4 To which Socrates .. In relation to the first city, then, the argument for the division of the soul will.
If Socrates had used it merely as a wa To that extent it must always be a sick rather than a truly healthy city. So the cleansing is not of the city, just of one sub-group, among the citizens, however important a sub-group it may be. Many modern interpreters have be So Socrates will propose, 21 and Glaucon will agree. But the first city actually starts from a version of this principle. If so, then the puzzle is no longer about the function of the first city in the overall argument, but rather about the function, in that argument, of Callipolis itself: Why, one may ask, should this matter?
We could give everybody else the same sorts of blessings, and make the whole city happy that way. But if those who guard the laws and the city are not what they seem to be, you see for yourself that it spells the complete ruin of any city; equally, excellence in those who guard us is the sole measure of good government and of happiness.
Indeed, as Socrates says, it is considerably less suitable for the military class, when judged in terms of the damage done to the city. But what matters for present purposes is that the passage just cited clearly shows that the producers of Callipolis are expected to stick to their roles as much as the guards and the rulers are expected to stick to theirs, on pain of their ceasing to be proper parts of a city. Given that the whole official purpose of the inquiry is to find an appropriate account of justice in the soul, it would hardly be far-fetched to suppose that the explanation of this move has something to do with the sort of account of justice in the soul that is derivable, by the agreed method of analogy, 40 from that of justice in the city in the two cases; and plainly, the account of justice in the soul that is derivable, and derived, in this way in the case of Callipolis is not so derivable in the case of the first city.
If there is no hierarchy among the inhabitants of the first city, neither can there be any among the parts of the souls of its citizens. But this of course is not the case: And this is what gives rise to the division of the soul into three parts or elements. Or in each of these cases, as we set ourselves in motion, are we acting with the whole soul? There might be other, d This would appear to suggest that a state ruled by philosophers is not humanly realizable.
But what needs to be emphasized now is simply this: Though I cannot possibly hope in this short space to do justice to the differences between Plato and Aristotle on the relation between philosophy and politics, I want to look briefly at texts that might suggest differences to show that these differences are not as great as might at first appear. If we look first at Aristotle's critique of the Republic in book II of the Politics, we must be struck by the fact that in focusing this critique on the second of Socrates' paradoxical proposals, i.
How are we to interpret this silence? Is it a condemning silence, as if to suggest that the proposal of philosopher-kings is too absurd even to merit comment? Yet there is another possibility: The relevant passage here is Politics ba1 where, on some translations, Aristotle, in referring to Socrates' account of the education of the guardians, appears to dismiss it as an extraneous matter: However, as Catherine Zuckert has suggested, Aristotle could be seen here as simply following the lead of Socrates who in the summary he gives of the Republic in the Timaeus 17cb also leaves out the philosopher-kings; the reason Zuckert suggests is that they may have not considered the proposal of philosopher-kings to be part of the regime or constitution itself cf.
Recall that Socrates introduces the philosopher-king as a condition for the ideal city's coming into being, and so arguably as not forming part of the definition of this city. This supports the main point I wish to make: Thus, in summarizing the political proposal in the Timaeus, Socrates can leave out the philosophical training and knowledge of the rulers which, if it is what qualifies the rulers to rule and thus what makes the city possible, still lies outside of the city, just as the distinction between the outside of the Cave and the inside will never be overcome.
If we turn next to the Ethics, which Aristotle himself calls 'political science' and thus does not sharply distinguish from the Politics, we do appear to find an implicit critique of the idea of philosopher-kings in the explicit critique of the Idea of the Good in book I, chapter six.
Recall that Socrates introduces the Idea of the Good as the object of the 'greatest study' to be undertaken by the philosophical rulers. Furthermore, Aristotle's critique appears to bring into question precisely that movement of descent, that movement of application that is so critical to Socrates' account of the relation between philosophy and politics. It is hard not to hear in the following passage a reference to the account of the Idea of the Good in the Republic: Perhaps, however, some one might think it worthwhile to have knowledge of it [the Idea of the Good] with a view to the goods that are attainable and achievable; for having this as a sort of pattern we shall know better the goods that are goods for us, and if we know them shall attain them.
But politics is not to be found among the examples Aristotle appeals to in his objection. Does politics no more need knowledge of some transcendent good for it is the unattainability of the Good that is at issue in this objection, rather than the universality at issue in the other objections than does medicine?
The City of Pigs: a Key Passage in Plato’s Republic
There is always, therefore, a tension between the two. But Aristotle appears to go further: The knowledge above politics is simply a different kind of knowledge with different objects and thus irrelevant to the knowledge of our own human good. Matters, however, are far from being so simple. If we turn to the account of wisdom in the Metaphysics, it turns out that its highest object, i. And its life is such as the best which we enjoy, and enjoy but for a short time" Met.
Glaucon - Wikipedia
In this case it is hard to see how ethics and political science would not be grounded in first philosophy and metaphysics. To know the first principle of the heavens and the world is to know the good to which we ourselves aspire. In other words, a politician who was not a philosopher could not fully know the good to which human beings aspire and thus could not fully know what constitutes a good state.
That, despite the critique of the Idea of the Good in Ethics I as unattainable and impractical, the ultimate object of ethics turns out for Aristotle to be a transcendent and divine good is made clear not only in the Metaphysics but in book X of the Ethics itself.
Indeed, what Aristotle concludes in this book perfectly mirrors what is said in the Metaphysics, thus showing how ethics and metaphysics are ultimately inseparable for Aristotle. The best human life is concluded to be one lived according to the divine element in us, that is, a life focused not on a distinctively human good, but rather on those higher, divine things that are the objects of wisdom.
The divine element of which Aristotle speaks is indeed 'in' us, but at the same time transcends our 'composite nature'. Indeed, in what appears to be a clear allusion to Socrates' description in the Republic of the transcendence of the Good beyond being "in power and honor" R. Perhaps the best indication that the differences between Plato and Aristotle on the relation between philosophy and politics may not be as great as they seem is that in book X of the Ethics Aristotle is faced with a problem similar to that illustrated by the Cave analogy in the Republic: How is this not a repetition of the dilemma facing the philosopher outside the Cave?
One's existence as a political animal and thus politics demand one thing, while the philosophical knowledge of the highest divine good on which politics itself depends demands something else. Those who best know that good to which humans aspire will at least want to live a distinctly human, political life.
We thus appear to be left with a tense, problematic relationship between politics ethics and philosophy, not so different from that encountered in the Republic. If Plato, in attempting to reconcile politics and philosophy also shows them to be in conflict, Aristotle, in attempting to keep them sharply distinct, also shows them to be implicated in one another.
Therefore, theoretical philosophy represents for Aristotle the highest aim of a politics that aims at the highest human good. This is strikingly evident in book VIII of the Politics with its insistence that what the city should seek to promote above all in its system of education is useless knowledge see especially a Correspondingly, when confronting the debate concerning whether the contemplative or the political life is better, Aristotle chooses the former but only in insisting that it is the most genuinely active: It is in the context of this argument that the Politics must appeal to the Metaphysics: In conclusion, one could perhaps best express the difference between Plato and Aristotle as follows: Heidegger as Philosopher-King In courses from the 's Heidegger credits Aristotle with avoiding the confusion between ethics and ontology supposedly found in Plato's Idea of the Good.
And indeed in a course entitled Grundfragen der Philosophie, 10 Heidegger describes the making of philosophers into kings in the Republic as "the essential degradation [Herabsetzung] of philosophy. Yet when Heidegger four years earlier assumes the Rectorship of Freiburg University and joins the National Socialist Party, he sings a very different tune. Delivering a course entitled The Essence of Truth [Vom Wesen der Wahrheit], 11 the first part of which is devoted to an interpretation of the Cave Analogy, Heidegger seeks in the ideal of philosopher-kings justification for his own political involvement.
However, it becomes clear from what Heidegger says that for him the idea of philosopher-kings does not mean any kind of actual involvement in concrete politics on the part of philosophers of any type. What he does say, after having characterized the Idea as the rule Herrschaft and the origin Ursprung for beings, is that "the rule of the being-with-one-another of human beings in the state must be essentially determined" through philosophical men and philosophical knowledge id.
But what does this mean, if it does not mean philosophers actually ruling the state? The following sentence provides the answer: Plato posed the question of the essence of knowledge [Wissen], not because it belongs to a school-concept [Schulbegriff] of the theory of knowledge, but because knowledge [das Wissen] forms the innermost enduring substance of political being [den innersten Bestand des staatlichen Seins], insofar as the state is a free one, that is, at the same time a force that binds a people.
Here we see at its clearest the complete identification of philosophy and politics or, more precisely, the complete absorption of politics into philosophy: If the philosopher must return to the Cave, this is not a demand of justice, but only an illustration of the fact that truth is never fully separable from untruth cf.
And if Socrates describes the philosopher who returns to the Cave as in danger of being killed, this for Heidegger does not not a tension between philosophy and politics but only the philosopher's being misunderstood cf. On Heidegger's reading, in short, there is no descent from philosophy to politics, no struggle and danger in the philosopher's attempt to become politically effective.
The philosopher is in himself and as such king; the people must come to him. Heidegger affirms the philosopher-king ideal to the extent that politics can simply be identified with philosophy; to the extent, however, that politics proves to be something quite different and much more "messy," as it no doubt did during Heidegger's Rektorat, Heidegger dismisses any association between philosophy and politics as a degradation of the former.
Whether Heidegger brings politics out of the Cave or dismisses it as a descent and debasement, in either case he remains outside the Cave. What he describes still in the late 's as the "inner truth and greatness" of National Socialism 13 is all he ever saw in the movement; what changed was only his assessment of the extent to which the National Socialist party and its members lived up to this "inner truth and greatness".
The failure of Heidegger's Rektorat, and even the catastrophe of World War II, was inessential because it represented nothing but the failure of those within the Cave to open their eyes to what is essential. To criticize Heidegger for his failure as a political leader, or to demand that philosophers become political leaders in the ordinary sense, is to miss what is essential and degrade philosophy.
The politics Heidegger identified with philosophy remained untouched by the travails and upheavals of "real" politics. When Heidegger reports having been accused of a "Privatnationalsozialismus" after his Rektoratsrede ibid.
As for how one can have a "private politics", that is of course precisely the problem. Foucault on Politics and the Courage of Truth In conclusion, Heidegger 'solves' the problem of the relation between politics and philosophy by simply collapsing the former into the latter: In contrast, Michel Foucault's reading of the Republic in his course, Le Gouvernement de Soi et des Autres, insists that the philosopher-king proposal, in claiming only that the same person should practice philosophy and politics, keeps the two completely distinct.
Thus Foucault develops his own view that, if philosophy can play a role in relation to politics by transforming the subject who lives politically, it plays no role within politics. Foucault insists that the idea of philosopher-kings in the Republic is only the idea that those who practice philosophy should be those who exercise political power and not a conflation of philosophical discourse and knowledge with political practice cf.
If he were told that what he is seeing is real instead of the other version of reality he sees on the wall, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he is accustomed to that is, the shadows of the carried objects. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually, he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself a.
Plato concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave a. The cave represents the superficial world for the prisoners. The chains that prevent the prisoners from leaving the cave represent ignorance, meaning the chains are stopping them from learning the truth.
The shadows that cast on the walls of the cave represent the superficial truth, which is an illusion that the prisoners see in the cave.