Philosopher Rulers and False Beliefs

Ancient Philosophy 37 (1):19-37 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Many scholars have viewed the noble lie as fundamentally a device for educating the non-philosophers in the Kallipolis. On this reading, the elite and sophisticated philosopher rulers lie to the non-philosophers, who are unable to fully grasp the truth; such lies help motivate the non-philosophers towards virtuous activity and the promotion of the common good. Hence, according to many scholars, the falsehoods of the noble lie play no role in motivating fully accomplished adult philosophers towards virtue. The motivation for this view is that it would seem strange that the wisest citizens, who have knowledge of the Forms, believe something as far-fetched as the myth of the metals. However, this paper challenges this tradition by arguing that the falsehoods of the noble lie are fundamental to the philosophers’ virtuous dispositions. More precisely, this paper argues that the non-reasoning part of the rulers believes the falsehoods of the noble lie and that these false beliefs have positive ethical value because the non-reasoning part of the soul is too unsophisticated to grasp the complete truth. Thus, the non-reasoning part of a philosopher’s soul requires false beliefs in the same way that non-philosophers require false beliefs.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Plato's noble lie: from Kallipolis to Magnesia.David Williams - 2013 - History of Political Thought 34 (3):363-392.
Plato's Moral Psychology.Andrew Crawford Houston - 1986 - Dissertation, Cornell University
Justice and Dishonesty in Plato’s Republic.Thomas C. Brickhouse & Nicholas D. Smith - 1983 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 21 (1):79-95.
Must false consciousness be rationally caused?Katarzyna Paprzycka - 1998 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 28 (1):69-82.
The Moral Vulnerability of Plato's Philosopher-Rulers.N. Smith & P. Verenezze - 1997 - Skepsis: A Journal for Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Research 8.
The happy philosopher--a counterexample to Plato's proof.Simon H. Aronson - 1972 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 10 (4):383-398.
Art in the Republic.D. R. Grey - 1952 - Philosophy 27 (103):291 - 310.
The Happiness of Plato's Philosopher-Kings.Peter Joseph Vernezze - 1989 - Dissertation, University of Washington
The Origins of Plato's Philosopher Statesman.J. S. Morrison - 1958 - Classical Quarterly 8 (3-4):198-.


Added to PP

257 (#47,915)

6 months
7 (#117,456)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Nicholas Baima
Florida Atlantic University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references