Until The Philosophers Become Rulers or Rulers Become Philosopher Kings the World Will Have No Peace with Particular Reference To the Nigerian Political Crises

Until The Philosophers Become Rulers or Rulers Become Philosopher Kings the World Will Have No Peace with Particular Reference To the Nigerian Political Crises
Until The Philosophers Become Rulers or Rulers Become Philosopher Kings the World Will Have No Peace with Particular Reference To the Nigerian Political Crises

Until The Philosophers Become Rulers or Rulers Become Philosopher Kings the World Will Have No Peace with Particular Reference To the Nigerian Political Crises



The definition of democracy is key in understanding Plato’s argument for rule by philosophers. Nowadays, most modern states are democratic, in the sense that people have a say in the running of the state. Since Plato’s time there has been a debate regarding what democracy is: whether it is the idea of majority rule, or what has come to be known as the ‘Madisonian view’ that democracy involves the protection of minorities. To Plato, it all boils down to what democracy means, literally. Democracy is ‘the rule by the demos’, where ‘demos’ can be understood as ‘the people’, and as “‘the mob’…the unfit” (Wolff; 2006, 67). As Wolff argues, “Making political decisions requires judgment and skill. It should, Plato urges, be left to the experts.” (Wolff; 2006).

To further emphasize this, Plato uses the ‘craft analogy’, drawing on the allegory of the ship. In Plato’s The Republic, Socrates sets out an example of a ship led by men ignorant of navigation, who  “don’t understand that a true captain must pay attention to the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all that pertains to his craft, if he’s really to be the ruler of a ship. And they don’t believe that there is any craft that would enable him to determine how he should steer the ship, whether the others want him to or not, or any possibility of mastering this alleged craft or of practicing it at the same time as the craft of navigation. Don’t you think that the true captain will be called a real stargazer, a babbler, and a good-for-nothing by those who sail in ships governed in that way?” (Plato; 2007, 204)


I agree with Plato’s argument that the virtuous philosophers are uniquely qualified to rule by receiving customized educationand having access to knowledge of the forms. I also think that the “ship of state” metaphor also argued convincingly that only the best should rule. On the other hand, the very same aristocratic and elitist nature of Plato’s political framework raises broader systemic issues. Since it rests ultimately on privileged knowledge that others had no access to, it poses difficulty in identifying exactly which philosopher should hold the pinnacle position of the philosopher-king.

Therefore while philosophers ought to rule ideally, I think the sheer impossibility in selecting the philosopher-kingmeans the political system should be designed to run regardless and despite of rather than because of the individual. For the purposes of this essay, I will definethe “best philosopher” as the philosopher who is the most qualified and should hold the pinnacle position of philosopher-king.

Plato claims that “Until philosophers rule as kings in cities or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize […], cities will have no rest from evils […]” . His case for the rule by philosopher-kings mainly rests on the cave analogy  and the metaphor of “Ship of state” . The cave analogy is an allegory whereby prisoners are trapped in a cave only seeing shadows that they would understandably mistaken for the actual “object” .

Plato asks us to suppose if a prisoner is dragged outside the cave to see the actual object , then he has access to the forms that surely makes him most suitable to rule. For the latter, Plato conceives of a scenario whereby the ship-owner is “bigger and stronger than everyone else on board” but has deficient seafaring knowledge, yet the sailors are equally unqualified since they never “learned the art of navigation” .

Accordingly, in the event that the sailors take over through a mutiny, it can only lead to a disastrous outcome of “drinking and feasting” and “they continued their voyage with such success as might be expected of them” .By dismissing the opinions of those unqualified to make a proper judgment over how to steer the ship, Plato is arguing against crowd knowledge and majority rule. It follows that only those having the necessary and suitable qualifications should make decisions without considering the popular will. In short, only the best should rule.

Plato’s notion of the philosopher indeed embodies characteristics that an ideal ruler should have and thus ought to rule if one comes along. For instance, the philosopher loves to learn . Thus, he will be motivated to gain the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions during his reign. Most importantly, only the philosopher can truly grasp the “form of the good”, which is the “cause of all that is correct and beautiful in anything”, to have a true understanding of what is justice .Moreover, the philosopher receives decades-long rigorous education that nurtures them for the highly demanding role of serving as the philosopher-king . Indeed, there can be no more suitable choice to rule the kallipolis.

Ironically, the same long and rigorous preparation to nurture a philosopher also argues against rule by philosophers. Since the rigor of the process means there might not be a steady stream of philosopher to take up the position of philosopher-king, the kallipolis might very well be alternating wildly from flourishing to being effectively politically paralyzed depending on who is the ruler.

The likely volatility in quality of rule is presumably way beyond the tolerance limit of a normal citizen and thus extremely not conducive. Accordingly, I think to design a political system that practically revolves around an individual philosopher presents systemic risk that Plato has either downplayed or overlooked. Granted that Plato is realistic about its feasibility to make the disclaimer that it is indeed “hard” to bring about the kallipolis in reality , we shall focus our evaluation of Plato’s proposed political framework on the theoretical level. However, this turns out to be just as if not even more problematic for Plato’s argument of rule by philosophers.

For instance instead of a scarcity of philosopher, let us conceive of the opposite and unlikely scenario whereby there is more than one “best philosopher” who claims the position of philosopher-king amongst the philosophers. Naturally, this necessities some form of selection mechanism to decide who should be the philosopher-king.

Until The Philosophers Become Rulers or Rulers Become Philosopher Kings the World Will Have No Peace with Particular Reference To the Nigerian Political Crises


Plato’s idea of the ideal state in his socio-philosophy in avertedly specifies the criteria for both incumbent and aspiring Nigerian political leaders. Of the three categories of hierarchy in the state the guardians (rulers) which in our contemporary can be referred as the political leaders carry out the major and most sensitive functions of coordinating and organizing the other two classes of people in the state (the auxiliaries and the artisans). In other words, in the mind of Plato, political leaders are entrusted with the most sensitive responsibilities of the state.

Plato strongly recommends that the rulers (political leaders) must be groomed in the knowledge of philosophy. This is an indisputable fact considering their respective sensitive functions at the federal, state, and local government levels of government in Nigeria.

Therefore, applying the socio-political philosophy of Plato, any political leader or anybody who aspires to become a political leader in Nigeria should be well groomed in philosophy and should possess the following philosophical stance, mind-set, or approach to leadership

Developing country is a country like Nigeria in the world that is still experiencing growth in the development process of the country, whether it’s performance areas of social, economic and others. Economic development that seemed slow cause poverty is everywhere and becomes a ghost which is great for the people of developing countries.

Basically, poverty is a frightening specter for every country, especially developing countries in the world. None of the State eager entangled poverty but there is not one country in the world is able to escape from the poverty trap. However, the dream of peace and welfare does not mean that people can only be wishful thinking without forming into a reality.

 There is always hope for every country to be able to break away from the shackles of poverty, including Indonesia. Indonesia is one country in the world that is still in the category of Developing country. Natural resources are abundant, the climate and also the country’s position is very strategies. On the other hand, it has not been able to make this nation becoming the developed country like Nigeria. 

            Poverty is the problem with the very high of complexity. This is not just the question of economics, but also the implication of the system of macro politics, social and cultural that have cultural roots in the Republic. Poverty is a factor in the collapse of the political system which is decorated dark spots moral culprit. Poverty is the result of  social construction that puts the little guy on the hegemony and domination of bourgeoisie.

 In addition, poverty can be defined as the occurrence of discoloration noble values of the national culture given to the agents of globalization as the mother culture of consumerism, associations, amoral, and also as one of the important factors causing ‘Spiritual Decadence’ . Some scholars of economic in Indonesia also said that poverty is the failure of the economic system imported worship of Neo-liberalism and save populist economic ideas of the founding fathers.

            The reality of poverty in the developing countries is very complex, as well as the poverty in Indonesia which has roots so much that is difficult to overcome. Indonesia’s Government cannot eliminate poverty by economic theory or by mere moral and political reform only. Furthermore, it cannot be solved by restoring the cultural values of the nation to be more friendly, social, regular, traditional, etc.

            Eliminating the root which is one factor, it will only give an opportunity to other factors so that the problem of poverty will grow harder to solve. One way to eliminate poverty from the Developing countries is the presence of Super Human. In the Western patriot figures maybe it is referred to as Superman, Wonder Woman or any other names that would make a great title for a man. Moreover, to be a superman or wonder woman is certainly not as easy as we thought. This requires certain stages are very difficult and obviously only be passed by a few people are able to survive in the face of step by step on the process. This process as already mentioned in the beginning of the assignment is that Plato called these people as the Philosopher King.

Philosopher King is much needed presence in developing countries and even developed countries are also needed. The evidence suggests that one of the reasons that Indonesia was not able to get up is the lack of leadership and government there. Therefore, it is time to create the Philosopher King emerging leadership and strong governance, character, resolute, intelligent, trustworthy, honest, and thoughtful and so on. 

            On the other hand, the Philosopher King does not mean a philosopher who became leader or a king in a State, but having a king (leader) in having the properties of a philosopher. The main property of a philosopher is able to think well, faithful to the truth without any fear of anyone, and he also must have spiritual intelligence which in the other words, has the probity and purity of soul. If we are concerned, it is already attached in Islam long before the advent of theory Philosopher King by Plato.

Until The Philosophers Become Rulers or Rulers Become Philosopher Kings the World Will Have No Peace with Particular Reference To the Nigerian Political Crises


The exposition and application Plato’s theories of the ideal state and the necessity of the guardian (ruler) to be groomed in the knowledge of philosophy in his socio-political philosophy which this paper has done is very relevant to Nigerian politicians because it equips them with the metaphysical, epistemological, axiological, and logical tools, techniques, expertise, and approaches to leadership. This unequivocally will create unimaginable rapid economic, political, judicial, technological, infrastructural, educational, and social justice, equality, and development in Nigeria. Plato argues that “there will be no end to the troubles of states… humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in the world… and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands”.

 Perhaps, Plato’s argument for a group of knowledgeable persons who have the ability to bring about happiness and justice in the Republic is ideal, but extremely unrealistic. As Aristotle argued, man is a political animal and it is inevitable for us all, not just for an elite of old men, to be interested and have a say in politics, as it is a force which inevitably affects us all. Plato’s argument is asking us not only to be disinterested in the political process, but also to leave our rights and opinions in the hands of a benevolent dictator.

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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of onlineproject.com.ng. A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.