Plato, ancient philosopher

Plato, ancient philosopher

The pork barrel scandal in the Philippines revved up once more as a new whistle-blower, Ruby Tuason, recently

Ruby Tuason at the Senate  (photo by Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Ruby Tuason at the Senate (photo by Philippine Daily Inquirer)

testified before the Senate that she personally handed over millions of pesos to Senator Jinggoy Estrada, son of former president and now Manila mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada (photo by Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Senator Jinggoy Estrada (photo by Philippine Daily Inquirer)

In several Facebook posts last year, I noted how several political philosophers would weigh in on the scandal.  With some revisions, I am sharing them with this blog’s readers.
We start with Plato (or Platon).
The best ancient philosophers like Plato flourished when the Greek city states like Athens were in crisis. Let’s face it: who philosophizes during swell times?
That’s the time to party!Plato’s over-riding concern was justice and the specification of the best, which must be a just, political order.Plato observes that each of us have three components of the soul: reason, spirit, and desire.He then proceeds to classify people into three based on the dominant element: creatures of “appetite” or “desires”, creatures of “spirit” or “courage”; and creatures of “reason”. He promotes the ideal, the mirror that the rule of people ruled by reason is best. They will establish a harmony between reason, spirit, and appetite.This is true for an individual. If a person is ruled by desires, she will be distorted by greed. If she is ruled by spirit, she will be foolhardy and impetuous. Only when she is ruled by reason will a healthy balance prevail.By implication, a society cannot be ruled by people of spirit since it will be a bellicose and tragic society. If it is ruled by people of desires, society will be a poorer and a sorry lot.

Following Plato, politicians who salivate for pork barrel and other forms of ill-gotten wealth are not fit to rule. They do not deserve to be our public servants. Ditto with NGO chieftains, bishops, bureaucrats, and the others who enjoyed the loot while our people were hungry, sick, and homeless.

However, the question remains: who must rule so a just social order obtains?  Plato prescribed that only those–the so-called philosopher-kings–ruled by reason should lead a society.
Do we have such people around?  Now?
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