Ideal Leaders Term Paper

Length: 7 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Term Paper Paper: #25613773 Related Topics: Allegory Of The Cave, Metaphysics, Plato, Leaders
Excerpt from Term Paper :

¶ … Plato using Socrates as his guide to help illuminate how his view of order and rulership should be defined. Plato's The Republic will be used to demonstrate how the orders of government should be carried out and how society itself is responsible for producing philosopher kings that provide the best rulers for their country.

Plato was a Greek philosopher that used his past experiences as a playwright to help develop the necessary emotional content within his writing to illicit substantial responses. Plato's mentor, Socrates, never recorded any of his ideas, and the use of his character by Plato in most of his works suggest that his elder supplied much of the inspiration and motivation for his own ideas. The notion that Plato's views have fundamentally shifted the means of thinking and metaphysics throughout the worlds modern history is very popular and supported in many academic and philosophical circles and his works are celebrated in many ways today.

Greek philosophy is a very wide subject and the ideas presented from the varying sources of knowledge present many different ideas on how society and order is best kept running. Plato devised his metaphysics in the world of imagination and creation, suggesting that the inner world of man was much more important the resultant outputs of his thoughts. The spiritual content of Plato's works as seen in the Timaeus and Phadeo attest to spiritual development as a core concept in his work. Plato used the idea of "forms" to help express his metaphysic. Forms are strictly imaginary, yet set the background for the essence of anything to manifest. This mystical approach to philosophy suggests that his models of society and rulership are based on these mysterious forces that constitute much of his work and significantly elaborated upon in his later works Statesmen, and Law.

Plato's student Aristotle, who eventually would aide Alexander the Great in his worldly conquests, provided a new approach on Plato's idea of adequate rulership and placed more of the emphasis on development in the material world. This diversion from Plato helps capture some of the ideals that were strictly Platonic and provide a useful model to examine how the ideal ruler may be established according Plato.

Framework of Society

Plato's ideal society was a Republic. His disdain for democracy and the individual to create his own path was clearly displayed in his treatise entitled the Republic. In order to understand how Plato envisioned effective leadership it is necessary to understand how he envisioned society and therefore the rightful place and duties of the leaders destined to lead his form of government. Society, according to Plato, should be broken down into components of intellectual capability. These intellectual capabilities are able to determine justice and therefore goodness (Plato, trans, 2009).

In The Republic, through the use of dialectic, or conversation, Plato documented his protege, Socrates, illuminating on the abstract ideas of justice and goodness. This baseline ideals sets the necessary stage to present his ideas on ruler ship and division of society. Goodness according to Plato is the ability to transcend the varying stages of mental being. These three levels of consciousness begin at the material level. This base level has the lowest potential for goodness and his reserved the masses. The middle ground of society represents a better understanding of justice and are represented by the Guardians. These people are conditioned and trained to protect the highest levels of society which are the rulers.

This type of society is ruled by a small minority were close to 85% of the population were the uneducated masses. Out of this top tier of society, Plato suggests only the true rulers can originate.

The Importance of Philosophy

A great ruler, must be a philosopher, dedicated to the rational soul of the world. Plato introduced the idea of a philosopher king as the appropriate model of leadership. The aristocratic form of government that Plato lays out in the Republic, requires that potential leaders are treated special within society and are singled out in their youth. These young philosophers should be property of the society according to Plato and be raised in a manner to serve the community. The problems of family life need to be minimized and rigorous training in many arts and sciences, including philosophy must be inculcated to these young students and potential leaders.



He recognized the importance of identifying leadership at an early age, and determined that parenting skills were not the best way to achieve state or collective objectives to these special children. The idea of grooming leaders at a young age was important to Plato, due to the many demands and challenges such leadership requires of a person. Women could also become philosopher-leaders as well, and Plato suggested that "If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things."

Wisdom and curiosity were held in high esteem with Plato and his followers. The emphasis on the ability of one's mind being able to maintain a level of interest in a variety of subjects was important for developing leaders. The dialogues in Plato's Republic create an environment where a "philosophic temperament" is of the most importance in sustaining leaders in times of stress and worry. The ability to rationalize and minimize emotions was key in this philosophical development, where even the impulses of music and art could hamper an initiate's ability to function as a leader: "Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the laws of the State always change with them."

Ultimately temperance is revealed as a key and mitigating factor in achieving a balanced mind. Physical, intellectual and artistic endeavors need to be synthesized and cooperated in order of these future philosopher kings may prosper and lead their fellow man to new heights of discovery and enlightenment. The idealism behind these objectives created the need for a special type of leader steeped in many experiences and thoughts, so that he may be able to reach out and communicate with numerous amounts of peoples and personalities that would fall under his jurisdiction. Elitism is very prevalent in this philosophy and portrays a society where these leaders will be required to make up for the shortcomings of their fellow man wallowing in the lower realms of consciousness, ignorant to the beauty and wonder of the world.

Allegory of the Cave

Plato's usefulness to the modern man, and his ability to weave an interesting and entertaining tale, is most on display when his characters use story and metaphor to reveal the essence of his teaching. The allegory of the cave discussed in the Republic is a very appropriate summation of Plato's attitudes on leadership, self development and the responsibility of helping and assisting those who remain in ignorance and darkness. The allegory of the cave suggests that selfish knowledge for the simple sake of knowledge is useless unless it is properly channeled and delivered in a manner where it can be shared and explored.

The allegory of the cave is a story of self-discovery and enlightenment. It also suggests that this philosophical awakening may be troublesome. Plato suggested that becoming a leader in society will require the leader to look upon the world in a different way, with more meaning and cunning. The required deception inherent in Plato's ideal republic suggest that great men of great philosophic substance, must be able to mold and formulate truths based upon lies. There is a constant struggle between the light of knowledge and the ignorance of darkness. It is clear that there are conflicting ideas that are found in this work, necessitating the use of metaphor and myth to deliver the true essence of the lesson.

Leaders and educators should expect great resistance and backlash from those who they try to illuminate with knowledge. Violence and aggression are sure to follow such efforts. Plato wrote: "Now, the process of adjustment would be quite long this time, and suppose that before his eyes had settled down and while he wasn't seeing well, he had once again to compete against those same old prisoners at identifying those shadows. Would he make a fool of himself? Wouldn't they say that he'd come back from his upward journey with his eyes ruined, and that it wasn't even worth trying to go up there? And would they -- if they could -- grab hold of anyone who tried to set them free and take them up there and kill him?"

The cave of ignorance must not be forgotten about according to Plato, regarding a leader's duty to his fellow man. The conclusion of this story adamantly reminds that those who have freed themselves from the bonds of ignorance and have seen the outside world, must attempt to help his fellow man regardless of his misgivings. This supports the adage that is more…

Sources Used in Documents:


Plato. (trans. 2009). The Republic. G. Farlik (Trans). Denver, CO: Parietal Publishing.

Lane, M.S., & Lane, M.S. (1998). Method and politics in Plato's Statesman. Cambridge University Press.

Rosen, S. (1995). Plato's Statesman: the web of politics.

Rosen, S. (1979). Plato's myth of the reversed cosmos. The Review of Metaphysics, 59-85.

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