The philosopher prince: A critique

Much is discussed of power, and its relationship to the good. We must subject power to the good, through balance; and this, so it is said, is true politics. But how is this abstract category manifested in the concrete flow of time? For Plato, states need a philosopher king. But in their youth, such an individual is not a king, but a prince; an heir to the throne. What a ridiculous idea.

Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver and model for Plato’s ‘philosopher king’, as depicted in the House of Representatives of the United States of America.

The problems with this idea seem to have no end. To balance between power and the good, in the context of youthful passion, is impossible. The erudition of adulthood is incompatible with the determination and drive required by political power. The power of youth and the philosophy of age are, it seems, alien to one another. When they are combined, one is parasitic on the other — like wise elders who rely on the muscle of their youthful soldiers. The prince is no philosopher, and the philosopher is no prince.

And yet, this critique must be met not with mere nihilism, but with construction. From the ashes, a phoenix must rise. Because otherwise, the pillars of power and goodness will forever remain alien to one another, and the truth of balance will never prevail over the imbalance of fiction. How, you may ask, can this balance arise? This problem cannot be solved through thought, which forever remains pessimistic about the possibilities of unreflective deeds, and unrestrained feelings. To fashion the physical world in the light of conceptual ideas is no mean feet. But as with many problems, the solution lies with education, training, and dedication to the task at hand. Let us begin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s