The Daily Stoic for July 9th, “The Philosopher King”.

“For I believe a good king is from the outset and by necessity a philosopher, and the philosopher is from the outset a kingly person.”
—MUSONIUS RUFUS, LECTURES, 8.33.32–34

When you have a look at today’s politicians, especially the ones in power (like the president or prime minister), you wonder where did the philosopher kings of the past go.

I don’t know if that’s something endemic from Spain, my country, only. But I strongly suspect it’s not. You just have to have a look at the world around you. I can understand to a certain exempt that people in Russia or North Korea idolize Putin or Kim Jong Un… They live under their dictatorship’s propaganda, with a tight control of the media, and they are largely uneducated populations.

However, how can you explain then Trump, the Brexit or people like Berlusconi, basically a sexist clown, or the sad history of Spanish politicians and prime ministers, whose view of I+D ranges from promoting organic gardens to penalize renewable energies.

This is what Google has to say in this regard:

The Philosopher King, The Philosopher King, Micropreneur Life

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The Philosopher King

I don’t believe in kings
— John Lennon, God, 1971

I stopped believing in kings and politicians years ago. They are a reflection of our society. If you can’t expect most of the population to vote rationally, how can you expect the politicians to be philosophers?

The problem is not them, it’s us. Because, in modern, civilized societies, we have the power. We can get them out of their seats.

Nonetheless, we keep on voting them for purely visceral reasons. We vote them for the color of their flags, for the way they look or dress, and for the most irrational arguments. We want someone to blame for our problems. “We lost our job because the Mexicans stole them. So build a wall!”

I don’t have faith that’s going to change anytime soon. Recent events like Facebook’s influence -and not in a positive way- on the US elections, and the way fake news is becoming a credible source of information, outline a dark future.

Am I being too negative here? What are your thoughts?

Conclusion

Today’s Daily Stoic, “The Philosopher King”, discusses the concept of a philosopher king. Do the leaders of today can be defined as philosophers? Not in my opinion. And we are the ones to blame for that.

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2 Comments

  1. Sean July 10, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I just starting reading your article. I also purchased ‘the daily stoic’ about a year ago and tried to read it each day but stoped. I changed to searching online each day for something about stoicism to read – to start my day off. I am also reading ‘Seneca’ now.

    I agree with you regarding ‘philosopher’ kings it seems most politicians are not, but some are and some have a beleif or philosophy that they try to stay true to. In my country Canada, the problem with our Prime Minister J Trudeau is not that he doesn’t have a philosophy or general approach (he does) but that he is a hypocrite. He does not stick to what he ‘says’ he believes.

    Now with respect to Trump (although i don’t love his bluster and style) I don’t see him to be near as much a hypocrite as our Prime Minister. Trump was elected to change and challenge the core relationship the US has with the rest of the world. Many are in disbeliefe and think him to be an idiot but that is because those same people never questions those basic assumption that they hold. Trump and those who voted him in, want to see the US radically change relationship it has with the rest of the world. Since post Second World War the US has invested heavily in security of the world and it benefit enormously from that investment. It has negotiated trade deals that were inheritantly one side and again benefited from those deals. But the US now understand the world has change and it want to pull back from support the world security and from one side trade deals. We should not be surprised or astonished about these changes. We might not like them as they shake the foundation of many of today’s institutions (NATO) , NAFTA, UN but these are all the post world war institutions that we assumed were bedrock institutions and would never change. We forget that these institutions are empty shells with out the US and the US has known this and has always known this. However many people don’t.

    Reply
    1. nacho July 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      Hello there Sean, thanks for your comment. I acknowledge it’s difficult to follow every day, and I know what I’m talking about because writing about it every day is even more difficult! 🙂

      Regarding Trump or Canada’s Prime Minister, I don’t judge whether or not they are hypocrites or not. In the end, politicians are human beings, nothing more, nothing less. They are all imperfect -like we are-, and have the same flaws we have.

      My problem is that we don’t seem to demand the level of education, qualifications, or capacities as we expect from any other professional. If I am a web developer, I need to prove I am good at developing websites to be hired by a customer. Nonetheless, our politicians still show they are far from being the philosophers Musonius Rufus talked about.

      Reply

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