Origins of Aesthetics (Plato and Presidential Candidates Advertisements) - 19903

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Plato was deeply pessimistic about the ability of the human race to govern itself. InThe Republic he has Socrates say:

“Unless either philosophers rule in our cities or those whom now we call rulers and potentates engage genuinely and adequately in philosophy, and political power and philosophy coincide, there is no end, my dear Glaucon, to troubles in our cities, nor I think for the human race.” [473c-d]

By ‘troubles’ Plato means both civil strife, such as he had lived through, and that there would be no end of trouble for human societies if they sought democraticallyto decide what is the best thing to do. He believed democracy to be inherently flawed. To show why, Plato gives us an allegory of a ship at sea. The ship is the Athenian state, and the captain is the Athenian people, who own the state and are supreme therein. This captain is “a bit deaf and short-sighted” and ignorant of navigation. The crew are the politicians, who “quarrel with each other about how to navigate the sh