Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Ortega on What it Takes for Philosophy to Rule

José Ortega y Gasset
José Ortega y Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses, (Chapter 13: “The Greatest Danger, The State”), talks about the devastating consequences of Statism.

He notes that instead of enabling people to live better, most states force them to live for the regime. “This is what State intervention leads to: the people are converted into fuel to feed the mere machine which is the State. The skeleton eats up the flesh around it. The scaffolding becomes the owner and tenant of the house.”

According to Ortega, unless philosophy holds sway in society, the state cannot be brought under control. But it is not Plato’s philosopher king that he has in his mind. He writes:

“For philosophy to rule, it is not necessary that philosophers be the rulers—as Plato at first wished—nor even for rulers to be philosophers—as was his later, more modest, wish. Both these things are, strictly speaking, most fatal. For philosophy to rule, it is sufficient for it to exist; that is to say, for the philosophers to be philosophers, For nearly a century past, philosophers have been everything but that—politicians, pedagogues, men of letters, and men of science.”

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