Plato writes that, "Nothing else can enable one to see what is right for states and individuals, and the troubles of mankind will never cease until either true and genuine philosophers attain political power or the rulers of states become genuine philosophers." Do philosophers or theorists have anything of value to offer in the conduct of politics? Discuss with reference to at least two of the political thinkers you have studied.
In the political realm, philosophy works to establish the values that society lives under. If we understand politics as the question not of who will rule but of what values should rule, it is clear that philosophy is the ultimate form of politics. In this sense, philosophers such as Socrates (469 BCE - 399 BCE) and NiccolÃÂ³ Machiavelli (1469 CE - 1527 CE) claim that politics stems from philosophical theory. Both philosophers, by using contrasting arguments and ideas, set out to show us "how to live" in society.
Socrates was an idealist, and Machiavelli was a pragmatic realist. I will discuss whether it is in fact it is true that philosophy or theory has anything of value to offer in the conduct of politics. Socrates' argument is that philosophy has something of value to politics, but Machiavelli does not completely agree.
The writings and thoughts of Socrates and Machiavelli outline a deeper sense of political activity for philosophers. Socrates did not write down his thoughts, but his ideas have been declared through the writings of Plato and other philosophers. Thus it is often difficult to identify which ideas belong to Socrates and which belong to Plato. Whether recognised as rulers or not, philosophers, by determining through philosophical activity what the highest values are, are in fact directing the politics of the society of which they...