"The philosophers have only interpreted the world ...; the point, however, is to change it." (Marx,
Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach). How adequate is Marx's characterization of "the philosophers" to
Plato? To Machiavelli, Hobbes, or Locke? (Discuss Plato and any ONE of these three modern thinkers.)
The Answer to the question:
Both Plato and Machiavelli disregard the merit in ruling. Plato claims that he can change the world if people
saw the use of philosophers. He uses the example of the ship and the analogy of the cave to support that
people find philosophers useless. While Plato understands that he cannot change the world due to the view
on philosophers in ancient times, he still claims that philosophers can be the best rulers and can change
the world if given the chance. Machiavelli, a modern thinker believes he can in fact change the world and
writes an instruction manual-type book to do so. Machiavelli’s ultimate goal towards a better world is full
control of power. This maintains peace and security in a populace, through the instillation of fear of course.
The Church divides power in principalities and it is this variable that must be eliminated to consolidate pure
power within a principality. Despite Plato and Machiavelli’s thinking which could change the world in theory,
as philosophers, they are simply useless.
Socrates’ city in speech can only be possible if the philosopher is the king.
Through metaphors such as the Cave analogy, the philosopher can never lead society towards
This is different from modern thinkers because classical thinkers understood they could not change the
world. In the past, these classical thinkers were often crushed by society. They are compelled to question
the opinions that the city holds sacred and assumes to be true. Thus, gaining the support of the entire
populace was often a useless endeavor.
The rule of the philosophers depends on the ideal regime, and in turn this same ideal regime must depend
on their creation by the ideal thinker, a philosopher. The fact that the philosopher and regime depend on
each other to come into existence means they are both impossible in reality.
ex. Plato’s regime – His utopian city is split into different classes, his regime being “made of gold” or top
In light of this argument, it is only the philosopher who can form an ideal regime because they see far more
clearly than the rest of society in the imperfection of things.
Ex. USA believes their regimes are just. They cling to opinions and the way of life these opinions support.
The philosopher is a lover of wisdom and sees past this all and thus, only he can create the utopian regime.
The philosopher does not dwell on good things but rather good in itself.