Compulsion to Rule in Plato’s Republic

Apeiron 46 (1):63-84 (2013)
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Abstract
Three problems threaten any account of philosophical rule in the Republic. First, Socrates is supposed to show that acting justly is always beneficial, but instead he extols the benefits of having a just soul. He leaves little reason to believe practical justice and psychic justice are connected and thus to believe that philosophers will act justly. In response to this problem, I show that just acts produce just souls. Since philosophers want to have just souls, they will act justly. Second, Socrates’ alleged aim is to demonstrate that justice is beneficial, but philosophers, who have to give up a life of philosophy to rule, actually appear to be harmed by ruling. I explain that, since the founders of the city justly command them to rule, philosophers cannot, in fact, obtain a better life, and so ruling does not harm them. Third, it seems incongruous that philosophers, who should, as just people, jump at the opportunity to rule Kallipolis, must be compelled to rule. I show that Plato carefully constructs an educational system that produces rulers who do not want to rule, since such rulers alone will rule best.
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Archival date: 2020-06-11
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