[i]The large sense of the Platonic consideration in Politics and the multilevel crisis of the contemporary society
ааааааааа Prof. Philipos Nicolopolus
When we hear the adjective "Platonic" ("Platonic" viewer consideration) our mind is going to something very "idealistic", something that has no reference to "empirical" reality, or has not any connection with "material" or much more "self-interested" human intentions and purposes. That is in few words a several perception as it is emerged from the common language and the common thoughts of people that are not experts.
If one decides in more specific scientific terms, to analyze the adjective "Platonic" and the whole consideration that exists behind it, can ЕЕЕЕЕ the distinction between Platonic consideration (PC) stricto senxu (at the strict sense of the term), which of course, is based on the Plato's ideocratic ontology[ii] and Platonic consideration lato sensu (at theа ЕЕЕЕЕЕЕЕ sense of the term). The so-called P.C.а lato sensu is not ЕЕЕЕЕ with the known Plato's theory of objective existence of the world of ideas on forms (μέθεξη των ιδεών είναι τα όντα[iii]) but has a more broad meaning. It gives generally a distinct priority to non material way of life, to non material human goods and to a special intellectual upright ЕЕЕЕЕЕ.. has not concern for the "usefulness" criteria[iv] and the "bodily appetites"а of every day life. The PC consideration is not necessarily classified in the broader category of idealistic philosophy, but, of course, is against the various kinds of the vulgar materialism, independently if it is associated with left political ideologies or not.
In the present scientific announcement I will deal with the PC lato sensu in a more specific area, in politics. This consideration again is not identified exactly with the Plato's philosophy, as it is presented in his book Republic[v] and it is also connected with his own basic ontology and axiology (the reasoning part of the soul is considered as the highest one and the highest class of the perfect city-state (the Philosophers Ц Guardians) is in correspondence with the former[vi]).
This consideration lato sensu, in turn, is not also classified in the category of Political theories which derive from idealistic philosophy, but surely it respects the view that politics, more or less, is a mere outcome of economic processes and much more is determined exclusively by class struggle[vii] or by the decisions and guidelines of the powerfulа economic circles[viii]. Additionally it fights systematically in principle the moral degradation of politics and their tendency to work more with economic criteria and to serve "bodily appetites" (desires of material wealth and accumulation of power). It gives priority to the "non material dimension" of politics associated with ideals, principles and studies which are the core mission of the Polity and the real statesmen).
I chose this topic for my scientific announcement, because I wanted to highlight exactly the negative characteristics of contemporary politics that are extremely opposite to the PC. Besides I like to point out what must be changed in their field and what kind of "vital lead" the contemporary society should find in order to enhance the quality of its political life and toe get not from the "labyrinth" of its intricate problems. I preferred the term "Platonic" consideration and not, for example, Aristotelian (given that also Aristotle believed to the duty of Polity to give instructions to its citizens for the "ευ ζην"[ix]). I wanted much more to underscore and highlight the need for intellectual uplift and philosophical high-mindedness of the political world in our times.
- II Ц
The PC lato sensu can be better understood, if we present analytically its main characteristics.
1)аа The involvement in politics is based on an authentic disposal of offer to society and polity and not on self-interested intentions and purposes. If the glory, the fame or the occupation of some prestigious and powerful positions in the hierarchy of political world is the reward of the aforementioned involvement, it is a reward of some really qualitative great ЕЕЕЕЕЕЕ andа offers of the political actors to the society. There is not any space for glory, fame or powerful positions that "works for themselves",а derive only from the ambitions of the political actors and have no connection with political creation and offer.
2)аа Politics are not used as "means" for ЕЕЕЕЕЕ purpose, e.g. to make money, to obtain power or to be famous. Politics constitute an "end in itself". It is a mission for the goodness and the ЕЕЕЕЕЕ of the society.
3)аа Politics as "end in itself", as mission has to do with a systematic attempt to create a Polity with virtue and morality. Justice as idea, is broader than class-justice and is not connectedа with the economic and political interests of concrete particular social forces.
At first, without further sophisticated elaboration of the notion, we say that there is justice when every part member of the society fulfils its mission according to his/her nature and his/her special properties. Thus, we accept that there exists a differentiation of properties and capabilities among humans[x]. They are not all of them of "equal in physical terms". Justice there exists when the offers and the regards of the Polity is adapted to that differentiation and rejects and unfair vulgar equalitarianism. Surely the point is (the existing social and political structures and institutions) for the citizens to be able, through the existing social and political structures and institutions, to highlight their properties, skills and powers (the necessary prerequisite of the social equality and of the fair distribution of income and socio-political power).
Additionally justice is conceived in holistic terms i.e. it refers to the society as a whole. The "ευ ζην" (good life) to an extent, is a duty of the Polity for its citizens and the democracy is not limited only to procedures (voting, elections) Of course we do not mean an authorization or much more totalization way of imposition of "ευ ζην". We mean more a duty of the Polityа through dialogue and feedbacks from citizens. Nevertheless its "outputs" and decisions, in many cases, are to be based on its own initiatives. Polity is the great teacher and always begins with a "value guarantee".
4)аа The real statesmen should believe to the endless moralization and intellectualization of citizens. Economy or the material prosperity should be considered as mere ЕЕЕЕЕЕ.. for the moral and intellectual uplift. The discussion and the promotion of the notion of "virtue" is a very basic part of the whole mission of statesmen. Their exemplar (their exemplary conduct) itself should be a part of the whole positive influence on people.
5)аа There are enlightened humans (men/women) who have higher level of intellectual powers, capabilities, skills and knowledge compared with the others, the so-called "many" ("πολλοί" in Socrates' vocabulary) people. These men/women should be the real statesmen and leaders, who exercise power believing to their mission to offer to society. In parallel these persons can deal with authentic mental activities that are not considered "means" for another purpose (intellectual life also as "end in itself"). So in these leading circles politics and intellectual life are authentic activities apart from any kind of expediency chiming thoughts, and ulterior motives (exactly the opposite to the existing inclination of the most part of the contemporary politicians).
Thus, the differentiation of humans regarding their intellectual powers coexist with the acceptance of the principle of social equality, if, of course, we speak for a regime with political and social democracy. And the latter does not cancel the former. On the contrary, in the framework of a real social democracy everybody has the same chances to highlight his/her special properties and abilities and to reach the positions he/she deserves. The point is, for every member of the society, to receive what is entitled to get according to his/her offer to society, to his/her contribution to cultural creation and to his/her aforementioned particular properties and abilities.
6)аа These enlightened men/women have advantage in the rational perception of the common good and they do not adopt the criteria of the "bodily appetites", as the prevailing ones[xi]. Generally give priority to the "non material" criteria in the whole function of the society, even though they do not adopt exactly idealistic doctrines in the field of strict philosophy, and they fight any kind of vulgar materialism (included the trivial materialism of the contemporary consumption society). Additionally they reject any kind of "fundamentalism" (included the fundamentalism of the market economy) that results in a social formation, in which the economic (material) criteria are again prevailing against any other value world. These enlightened circles must have the upper hand in the conception formulation, promotion and final application and imposement of the common good. But "upper hand" does not mean, of course, authoritarianism and lack of democratic dialogue with people (dialogue guaranteed through certain political institutions and processes). The "upper hand" should be based, to an extent, to the respect towards these leading circles, and their capacity to convince the people. The spirit of ЕЕЕЕЕЕЕ.., spread out in all levels of the society and polity, is a prerequisite of allа those arrangements.
7)аа Those leading circles do not use easily the tactics "the ends justifies the means" and they believe to the human personality as "end in itself" common point with the Kantian ethics[xii] and ЕЕЕЕЕЕЕЕЕ.. from the tactics of Jacobins Leninvets and other left revolutionaries). That belief is connected with their whole culture in which intellectual and moral values and the mental live and activities themselves are appreciated as "end in itself". The insistence on "one and only one goal" in life and the one-sided political considerations are not approved by them.
- III Ц
In the contemporary societies, mainly in the capitalist, the powerful economic circles (e.g. banks, capitalists, corporations) have mostly the upper hand against the political circles. In many cases the so-called political class serves the guide lives and the organized interests of therefore mentioned circles which mostly ЕЕЕЕЕЕЕЕЕЕ.. virus[xiii] (priority to monetarism, minimizing of governmental institutional intervention in the field economical life, reduction of taxes, governmental expenditure andа welfare services.
What is the purpose of those circles? To accumulate more and more capital, more and more money, more and more economic power in order to satisfy their "bodily appetites" (in Platonic terms) and to impose their will in the governmentа and on the peoples (in global terms).
Surely one can add the issue of development, i.e. those circles accumulate capital in order to be able for new investments and thus to push more and more the whole process of economic development in terms of free market. But development differs and if it is isolated from a real progress (justice, social equality, participation democracy, intellectual and cultural quality) will ЕЕЕЕ.. in a "swallow" material society, in which the ЕЕЕЕ increasing participation in consumption society will be the ultimate purpose.
Development by definition or much more "ideology of development" or "vulgarization" of "development ideology" that eventually is identified with any kind of growth, does not mean progress[xiv], does not mean "ευ ζην" (the good life in Platonic and Aristotelian terms).
Additionally development based on loans and on international credit system (especially for the peripheral, or less developed countries) may result in a dangerous trap, if the countries cannot payoff the loans and are in danger to be confronted with a default. Development in ЕЕЕЕ. terms ends in a society with socioeconomic inequalities, in which its "market section" is much bigger than its "non market" one[xv]. This disproportion between the aforementioned sections is negative factor for the mental and moral quality of the society, as even G. Soros underscores in his book. The Crisis of Global Capitalism[xvi]. It creates an imbalanced society, "unjust" in Platonic and Aristotelian terms, because the "material means" become "an end in itself" and the lower class (in Platonic terms), being predominated by bodily appetites, become the leading, circle: upside down.
The contemporary economic crisis has to do with the structure of the entire world capitalist system[xvii], and behind that or connected with that there is a serious value and moral crisis that penetrates all the levels and sections of the whole society. We are in a period of anomie, as E.Durkheim would say: No stable value system and the particular individuals do not know where to believe to, they do not have a genuine "moral pole-star", what it remains is the "instinct of survival" transformed (in neoliberal terms) to economic activities, in which private economic units tend to exploit anything and everything (natural and human resources) with ultimate purpose the maximization of profit and power against the necessary interventions of the governmental policies.
So, the crisis is unbelieved and creates a real "labyrinth" of problems with an obvious negative impact upon the preservation of environment and its balance with the man-made systems.
In our times we need to find a "vital lead" to a real intellectual and even more spiritual wored which can help us to govern with equilibrium the already grant material wored that we have created with the ЕЕЕЕ. of modern science and technology. The PC lato sensu in politicsа is a serious contribution to this direction.
[i] See Christofer Janaway "Ancient Greek Philosophy I: The Pre-Socratics and Plato" in A.C. Grayling Ced.). Philosophy, a Guide through the subject, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995, p.p. 372-380' Harold Cherniss "The Philosophical Economy of the Theory of Ideas" in Gregory Vlastos (ed.) Plato, I, Gardey City, 1971; Gregory Vlastos (ed.) "Degrees of Reality in Plato" in R.G.Allen (ed.), Studies in Plato's Metaphysics, London, 1965; J. Annas, An introduction to Plato's Republic, Oxford, 1981.
[ii] See Christofer Janaway, op. cit., p. 378╖ Plato, Phaedo 65d-e, 72e-76e, 95e-1078c; Plato, Republic 507a-511e, 514a-518d, 523a-525b; Plato, Symposium, 210a-211b.
[iii] See Michael J. Sandel, Democracy's Discontent
[iv] See Christofer Janaway, op. cit., p.p. 372-375; J. Annas, An Introduction to Plato's Republic, Oxford, 1981; Plato, Republic, 352d, 427e-434d, 441c-445e, 369b-376c, 412b-417b.
[v] See Christofer Janaway, op. cit., p.p. 373-374; Theodosios N. Pelegrinis, I. Pente, Epoches tis Filosofias (The Five Eras of Philosophy), Athens, Ellinika Grammata, 1997, p. 67; Plato, Republic, 432b-436b, 441c-445e.
[vi] See K. Marx,а Kritiki
tis Politikis Ikonomias (Critique of the Political Economy),
[vii] See Immanuel Wallenstein, Understanding the World: An Introduction to World Systems Analysis, 2004, p.p. 62-58.
[viii] See Michael J. Sandel, op. cit., p. 7; Aristotle, The Politics, London, Oxford University Press, 1946, p. 119-120; Aristotle, The Politics, Book Three, 1280b:10-35, 1281a:1-10.
[ix] At this point there exists to an extent, an analogy with Plato's views (Plato, Republic, 412b-473b).
[x] See Paul A. Baran, "The
Commitment of the Intellectuals", Monthly
Review (May of 1961) and in Dianooumeni
ke Politiki (Intellectuals and Politics),
[xi] See Theodosios N. Pelegrinis, op. cit., p.p. 321-322.
[xii] See George Soros, I Krissi tou Pagtosmiou Kapitalismou (The Crisis of Global
[xiii] See John Perkins, Exomologissi enow ikonomikou dolofonou
(Confessions of an Economic Hitman),
[xiv] See George Soros, op. cit., p.p. 327-345.
[xv] Ibid, p.p. 326-371.
[xvi] See Philippos Nicolopoulos, "The Responsibility of Political
Leadership in the Contemporary Economic Crisis, the Issue of Value Orientation,
and the Contribution of Radical Humanistic Philosophy", Paper
delivered at the 1st Dialectical Symposium of the World Philosophical
Forum (Athens, 4-8 October, 2010) p.p. 10-11, 13-
[xvii] See Emile Durkheim, Kinonikes eties tis Aftoktonias (The Social Causes of Suicide), Athens, Ger. Anagnostidi Publications, p.p. 284-286; Steven Lukes "Anomie" inа William Outhwaite (ed.), The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, 2nd ed., Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 2006 p. 17-19.