October 3, 2023
The Role of Philosophers in Government: A Call for Intellectual Leadership

The Role of Philosophers in Government: A Call for Intellectual Leadership

The concept of incorporating philosophy into government is a timeless argument, with roots traced back to Plato, one of the original western philosophers. In Plato’s Republic, he explores the ideal government regime for the state and its citizens. The list includes tyranny, democracy, oligarchy, timocracy, and aristocracy.

Tyranny, driven by base desires and passions, ranks at the bottom. Surprisingly, democracy follows, with leaders guided by passion and skilled in rhetoric. Plato argues that democratic elections often rely on foolish decisions. Oligarchy, where the wealthy control the government, and timocracy, ruled by the military, come next, both driven by more than mere desires.

Aristocracy is Plato’s preferred form of government. However, it’s not about wealthy elites but rather “philosopher kings” and “philosophy queens.” These leaders are not elected through campaigns but are born into their roles and undergo rigorous moral and intellectual training. They have no interest in political power or personal desires, making them best suited to rule.

While Plato’s literal vision may be impractical, identifying individuals with philosophical attributes can lead to good governance. Professional philosophers, well-versed in critical thinking and holistic perspectives, can contribute to well-thought-out policies. If philosophy were taught early in life, politicians would have a foundation in its values and principles. Until then, professional philosophers should have a seat at the government table, ensuring a more thoughtful approach to decision-making.