For all those who study philosophy or politics, Plato’s Republic is an essential read. A book with many lessons, The Republic is an outline for modern political thought. One main feature of the book is the ideal of wisdom. Though modern philosophy still exists and we do have contemporary philosophers who bring light to many issues, it is not the norm to go out and search and study these great minds.
The Republic was written when the ideals of Zeus ruled the lands of Greece, Plato’s Republic reigns true today. The book itself has had its share of interpretations. From being seen as the enlightenment of wisdom and finding a better “self” and breaking free from the mould, to being blamed for totalitarianism regimes, The Republic has had its times of rejoice and scorn by its readers.
Plato writes about the Philosopher Kings. In his ideal society, in which he names Kallipolis, the society is ruled by the Philosopher Kings. These people are lovers of the truth and seekers of the ultimate wisdom. They ride what is the ship of state, or an allegory in which the philosophers must always take into consideration, the wind, the waves, the heavens, and the stars. Like society, a captain of the ship or the philosopher king must take into account all aspects of an issue in order to run a society. A Philosopher King is born by breaking free from the shackles of a cave, and leaving it to see the sun for the first time. Once enlightened, the Philosopher King may choose to rule or go back into the cave to continue the life of ignorance.
For centuries we have had many great men and women seek truth and ultimate wisdom, through religion, science, philosophy, or all three. There are countless points of views to be heard, and reading each, whether you agree with their ideals or not, leads you on your own personal path of enlightenment.
Perhaps the Philosopher King has taken on a new form in the 21st century. Previously, a book from a philosopher is slowly published, and over decades (sometimes centuries) their thoughts and ideals are shared with the world. Currently, those of us without those means of getting published who seek truth turn to YouTube and create a video (trust me, there are some good youtubers out there!), blog about their inner most thoughts, or become motivational speakers and travel the world sharing their findings. Therefore, I believe the 21st Century philosopher kings and Queens are born and budding into a fascinating century. They are those who seek wisdom and spread their voice rapidly across the world. Enlightenment, with modern technology, has just expanded our learning process to limitless knowledge. Not to mention, unlike previous centuries, those who are men or women, regardless of colour, caste, or place of birth, can have a voice with simple access to the internet. We are reaching boundless destinations, and combining eastern and western teachings into our modern world.
The differences to ancient Greek philosophers and your modern philosopher Kings or Queens are obvious. However, we share one common denominator: the seeking of truth. As the philosopher Kings and Queens of the next century, we must learn about both ancient and modern philosophies. History, as it is said, repeats itself. So we have much to learn from that which is old. It is also the true path to enlightenment to take in the new truths from new blossoming philosophers, analyze and take in what we believe is truth or not. We are all seeking truths or enlightenment in our life, and like good modern philosopher kings and queens we must leave the cave and choose to steer our ships into making our society an accepting one to new ideas and changes, whilst honouring the old. Eastern philosophers honour their ancestors, and as some of us are people of the west, we must do the same, as they hold the key to our past. By taking Plato’s idea of Philosopher Kings into the 21st Century, where everyone can make their own truth is a gift. We don’t know where we are going unless we know where we came from. That’s my philosophy.