Why Do the Philosopher Kings Rule?


According to the Republic, written by Plato, this philosopher\'s definition of justice and


morality in a community involves "each of its three constituent classes doing its own job." The


classes consist of the workers, soldiers and protectors, and the rulers. They are all set up in a


social hierarchy where the philosopher kings rule over the rest of the classes. The reason the philosophers are the highest social class and are the ones who decide how the society is run is often questioned. Relatively, very few people ultimately become philosopher kings and rulers in Plato\'s just community. Philosophers are the ruling class because of their natural born characteristics of wisdom and the psychological transcendence that only they can experience.


One of the main reasons philosopher kings are the reigning class is because of the rare and obscure characteristics sought after in finding a true philosopher. In Plato’s writings there is a tripartite division of characteristics in the human mind. Plato believes that in human nature, each person possesses a characteristic that defines your entire being and the occupation nature has best equipped you to pursue. In his ideal society each individual belongs to a class because of their dominant characteristic. In philosopher kings, that characteristic is wisdom. This special characteristic gives them a strong understanding of philosophy, which is very necessary in producing and keeping peace and harmony in a community. Plato states "Unless communities have philosophers as kings or the people who are currently called kings and rulers practice philosophy with enough integrity, there can be no end to political troubles.” This implies that the philosophers\' special wisdom is needed in ruling a society, therefore putting a call on philosophers to rule, in order to have and keep the peace and have a just community.


The other thing that permits only philosopher kings to be in the highest social class and rule over the society is a certain mental transcendence. This transcendence is described as “apprehending that which is permanent and unvarying, while those who can’t, those who wander erratically in the midst of plurality and variety, are not lovers of knowledge, which set of people ought to be rulers of a community”, and allows these certain men to grasp concepts and have knowledge instead of just believing the visual things or having an opinion about something. It is described in Plato’s allegory of the cave where the philosopher kings are the ones who see the bright light that stands for the Truth. They become enlightened by the real Truth and no longer simply believe like the rest of the people. The myth of the metals also displays why, in Plato\'s ideal, philosophers should reign. Although the myth is a lie, as its name suggests, it is a good argument as to why the philosopher kings should rule. In the myth of the metals, the fact that the rulers are compared to gold suggests that they should be on top of the social pyramid. It describes the social hierarchy in which he says that “God included gold in the mixture when he was forming those of you who have what it takes to be rulers, silver when he was forming the auxiliaries, and iron and copper when he was forming the farmers and the other workers.” When these certain people accept their type of “metal”, they are then contributing to a just community in Plato’s eyes.


Plato strongly justifies the fact that philosophers should be of the highest class because of their distinctive character and special ascendance to real knowledge. He also believes it is just simply because they are serving the purpose they were made for. They are also the right ones for the job because they “can recognize every reality” and that is what it takes to be a ruler in Plato\'’ just community.