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Philosopher King: Plato believed that the philosopher king is the only person who can be trusted to rule well, because only the philosopher has knowledge of the absolute truth, and is able to apply this knowledge for the good of the state. This concept is first explored in Plato's Republic, written around 375 BC. See also State, Society, Governance.
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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Plato on Philosopher King - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 310
Philosopher King/Plato/Keyt/Miller: The absolute power of the rulers in Socrates' just polis is justified by their knowledge, especially their knowledge of what is really good. As all the world knows, they are philosophers as well as rulers, not run-of-the-mill philosophers (like you and me) but brilliant individuals whose extra-ordinary talents and rigorous education have gained them access to a realm of Forms existing
Gaus I 311
outside time and space - the realm of reality and nature (Rep. VI.501b2, X.597b6-598a3).
>Governance/Plato
.
The Good: at the apex of the realm of Forms stands the Form of the Good, the source of the being and truth of all other Forms and of the psyche's knowledge of them (Rep. VI.506d-509c).
>Good/Plato.
Given the metaphysics and epistemology of the Republic, the argument for the rule of philosopher-kings is straightforward: only true philosophers know what is really good and how to achieve it; everyone seeks what is really good, not what merely seems good (Rep. VI.505d5-10); whoever seeks an end seeks the means to that end; consequently, everyone (whether they realize it or not) really seeks to be ruled by a philosopher-king.
>Polis/Plato, >Poitics/Plato.

Literature: Santas, 2001(1), is a ground-breaking study of the central concepts of the Republic.)

1. Santas, Gerasimos (2001) Goodness and Justice: Plato, Aristotle, and the Moderns. Oxford: Blackwell.

Keyt, David and Miller, Fred D. jr. 2004. „Ancient Greek Political Thought“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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