Monday, 6 May 2019

Enlightenment Endangers Philosophy

Alcibiades Being Taught by Socrates
by François-André Vincent (1776) 
Allan Bloom in his “Interpretative Essay,” (The Republic of Plato; Page 392) writes:

“Socrates teaches that wisdom and political power are distinct. Their coming together can only be due to the coincidence that a man who is wise happens also to be a ruler, thus uniting the two things; nothing in their two natures leads the one to the other. Political power serves the passions or desires of the members of a city, and a multitude cannot philosophize. It may use the results of science or philosophy, but it will use them to its own ends and will thereby distort them. Moreover, the wise man by himself is more of a threat to a regime than a helper. Intellectual progress is not the same as political progress, and, because there is not a simple harmony between the works of the mind and the works of the city, the philosopher without power must remain in an uneasy relationship with the city and its beliefs. Enlightenment endangers philosophy because it tempts philosophers to sacrifice their quest for the truth in favor of attempting to edify the public; in an "enlightened" world, philosophy risks being made a tool of unwise and even tyrannical regimes, thus giving those regimes the color of reason and losing its function as the standard for criticism of them.”

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