Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Again, from Plato's Republic
we should prefer [as our rulers] the steadiest and bravest and, so far as possible, the best-looking.
But how insane to prioritise good looks (albeit subordinated to steadiness and bravery) as a criterion of fitness to rule! I'd like to have heard Socrates up against some real opposition, rather that the flimsy resistance put up by pushovers like Glaucon. This guy for example, knows how to argue:
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
Besides Python, I'm reminded of the joke title for a Bernard-Henri Levi book,
God Is Dead But My Hair Is Perfect
And, not that this tells in favour of its being a joke, but remember that Socrates was famously ugly.
He did like 'em handsome, though. The beginning of the Charmides is especially funny on this subject.
Also begs the same question about looks as about roguery before - I mean have philosphers tended to be more or less good looking than the norm? Habermas, who is, I suppose, the most prestigious philospher alive today, is shockingly ugly in every photo I've seen of him.
As for whether philosophers are especially ugly, this can be investigated.