Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
What is the leadership class allowed to do in order to secure the safety of the polis?
The leadership class of any society usually is the most privileged class, especially in the US they have a lot of wealth, power and prestige over the lower classes. It is generally expected however that the leadership class abide by the same principles as the rest of the people in the community. Most people like to think that leaders have the same morals as the average person and that they uphold them far better than the average person does.
One of the biggest principles in our culture is not to lie. As kids we are constantly told by parents and teachers and friends that lying is not OK and ends up causing much more problems then it’s worth and telling the truth is always better than lying. And many kids take that to heart and try to always tell the truth, which works out pretty well until the day the go to far, like telling the elderly next door neighbor that her cooking absolutely stinks and you hope to never have to eat one of her meals again. Then you are taken aside by another adult and explained the concept of a white lie. Sometimes it’s better to tell a lie, they tell you, if it’s going to hurt the other person unnecessarily to tell the truth. A good example that parallels this from Plato is when they discuss what the people should be told about why some people become guardians and some do not. They decide to say that “…the god, in fashioning those of you who are competent to rule, mixed gold in at their birth…in auxiliaries, silver; and iron and bronze in the farmers and the other craftsman…” (This is obviously a lie, people do not have metals in them. But isn’t it better to let the people think that what they are good at is predetermined before their birth instead of telling them that really they don’t have the necessary qualities to be a guardian and are given lower jobs instead? Why let people feel that they are stupid if it’s no necessary? It works better for everyone if they just believe what the guardians say.
So it is OK for the guardians to tell white lies is it makes no difference whether the people know the truth or not. But should the leaders be able to lie about really important matters, that directly affect everyone’s lives even if it is for the benefit of the people? Plato allows it, “It’s likely that our rulers will have to use a throng of lies and deceptions for the benefit of the ruled.” (459d-e). Socrates says this when he is talking about eugenics. In order to have the best possible city certain people must be bred with other people to make the best kids. But, “…All this must come to pass without being noticed by anyone except the rulers themselves if the guardians’ herd is to be as free as possible from faction.” (459e) Obviously breeding people is going to make the city as a whole function best but is anybody, except the guardians who get the best people, going to agree with this? Probably not, why would they because it means that if they happen to be someone in the lower class they are going to be stuck with a lower person. But since this is best for the population Plato says that the guardians are allowed to lie to the people, “…So that the ordinary man will blame chance rather than the rulers…” (460a) This way the harmony of the city will stay intact.
Today our leaders are allowed to lie to us if it is going to benefit us in the long run, but generally we probably don’t know it. For example, on the TV show The West Wing some cows got a mysterious disease that had some symptoms of mad cow disease in the US. Samples were sent to be tested but it would be a few days before they got the results. The president and his advisors spent a long time debating whether or not to tell the general public or wait to see what the results were. This isn’t lying exactly but it’s keeping essential information from the public. Eventually they decided to wait even though the more time people had to prepare for the disease the better off they would be. They did this because they knew that if they told the people about the cows there would be tons of panicking and cows killed all over the place and nobody would eat hamburgers for month. So they lied by omission, making the people believe there was no problem when there was. In the US the average person trusts that the government can make the right decisions and so when they lie in a way that benefits the majority not many people call them on it or bother to find out the truth.
The problem is that when the leader are allowed to lie for the benefit of the polis, what’s to stop them from lying to benefit themselves? Most people do not check up on everything the leaders do or make sure that what they tell the people is the truth and that they are not leaving important stuff out. If people in the leadership class decided to start taking more for themselves or making laws that benefit themselves who’s to stop them? They can always make it out to be in the best interests of the polis and most people won’t notice that it’s not. Its arguable that people allow the leadership class to make decisions that benefit themselves simply because they don’t know what’s happening.
So one of the biggest things that leaders are allowed to do by the society is to lie to the people because the people trust that they know the best way for things to work or because they don’t see or suspect a lie.
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
In response to rachel's piece of work-
sometimes I feel the same way as you do when you say that everything in our society is in some way connected with a lie. Like you said "when does the polis face reality." but do you honestly feel like our society is never faced with true facts, and that we are always being manipulated in some form? I know that when we discuss the noble lie we are referring to a lie that benefits the community, but what your saying is that everything we see and hear is a lie...or am I misunderstanding what it is that you are exactly saying. If I am understanding you correctly its sounds as though you are saying in our society their are even lies , such as media "pop music" that is a Noble lie, but how so. How does media contribute to the manipulation of lying in our society. Sorry if I don't understand, but I am curious to what it is that you mean.
so I guess what I'm asking is whether or not you think there are any real noble lies, ones that benefit our society, hangin around in our community. For instance a lot of peeps in the class used the example of Pearl Harbor being a "noble lie." would you agree that this was a actual noble act to help and lead our society in the right direction, or do you believe that FDR just wanted to let all those people die because he wanted to control the American people's decisions. Yeah I know that's extreme question but I truly want to know whether you believe in a "noble lie." Is there ever an instances where the government should lie to society, or would you rather always hear the truth instead of the fib...Deception?
No, I swear, I really do like your new hair style……..
Everyone, everyone has lied before. The pope, your parents, there is even record of Jesus Christ lying. It is just something that everyone has done before. The difference is the extent that people do it to. In Christianity, there is the idea of the mortal sin and the venial sin. The mortal sin is basically causing some form of serious damage to some one, while the venial sin your basic cursing and white lies. I bring this point up because certain people think that a noble lie is just a small white lie, which it can be, but it also can be so much more.
There is documented and recorded evidence the Johnson, during the Vietnam War, knew that the USA was not going to win the war. Yet, in his own mind, he felt that the US needed to be there to stop the advancement of communism. What does he do? He lies, to the American public and the soldiers. Telling them false Vietnamese body counts, and how the Great Red, White, and Blue are getting closer and closer to victory. Absolutely, in no way to I agree with what he did, but he used the concept of the noble lie because he thought he would be helping the problem of communism advancing.
This concept should not be called the noble lie, but the degrading lie. Starting a community from a lie is like starting a relationship on a lie, eventually it’s going to crumble. "Until either philosophers become kings or those now kings and regents become genuine philosophers."(473C) The idea of philosophy is to mold ones mind to think, and the noble lie is to mold ones mind to something that is not true. Plato talks about having the perfect education, but how can you start a perfect education on something that was false in the first place. If in fact the community finds out about this noble lie, they will not only turn there back on the leader, but on everything the community has taught them. The whole idea of founding something on a lie has corruption and scandal written all over it.
From a political stand point, I think depending on who is in office at the time will depend on the reaction of the noble lie. It’s not ok to lie to the people who look up to you, and let alone follow you, but sometimes it has to happen. Also, it depends on which political party that you caucus with. You don’t see too many conservatives asking Bush where are these nuclear weapons, but the Liberals sure are. It would be the same if Al Gore was in office.
“ The truth? You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”(A Few Good Men) The situation always arises where you think you want to know something, but when you find out you wish you didn’t know. Something’s are better kept secret, and that’s why the government has to do it. If we knew everything that happened, our country as we know it now, would be utter chaos.
Sam, you wrote-
"A good real life example of both of these types of leadership is the bombing of Pearl Harbor. JFK new that the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor, but he let it happen. He did this for self gain, but it also brought about a noble lie."
First of all... IT's been a whole 3 and a half months since i got out of American History class... so don't blame me if im a lil foggy, but I had no idea that JFK had knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack, due to the fact FDR was the president.
Secondly... How did he do it for personal gain?
In response to the holy lord T-MO:
You say that:
"One thing that Bob Roberts does is signs a paper that says he can go to military college, now he’s not exactly in the leader class, so it would not be helping society. In terms of an individual lie I think that as long as the lie only helps the majority of people, or depending on the case isn’t harmful, then it should be considered noble. Bob Roberts forged a signature to go to a college, this is a noble lie, because it isn’t hurting anyone, and could one day help everyone when he becomes president."
I might be mistaken, and be this the case, please clarify, but you seriously are arguing that Bob Roberts forging his signature to go to college was noble? This lie is not just IGnoble, but is simply detrimental! Although his forgery got him into college, it also kept another person out of college, for had he not got in, another applicant would have. Just think... this individual could have been the next military leader of our country, yet unfortunately did not receive the proper education to realize his potential.
Please enlighten your inferior classmember concerning the cleanness and crispness of this section
According to Thomas Jefferson: “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” and according to William Shakespeare: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” From a young age I have been buffeted by the theory that no matter the situation, honesty is the only option. Yet, when ruling a nation is a noble lie ever justified?
In Plato’s development of his utopia in The Republic, he establishes that the guardians must lie for the good of the state. One of the first lies Plato argues are necessary can be found in Book III. Socrates decides that the men should be put through a series of tests from childhood, displaying: “Who are the best guardians of their conviction that they must do what on each occasion seems best for the city” (page 92, 413 c). To convince the public that the system of selection was unquestionably flawless, Socrates contrives the lie of the metals. He decides it’s best to tell the public that: “The gods, in fashioning those who are competent to rule, mixed gold in at their birth; this is why they are most honored; in auxilaries, silver; and iron and bronze in the farmers and other craftsmen” (page 94, 415 a). He continues that bronze babies can come from gold parents, and vice versa. The members of the polis fear that the city will: “Be destroyed when an iron or bronze man is its guardian,” (page 94, 415 c) and thus fallow the myth.
Plato believes that this lie is utterly necessary. In Plato’s mind, the most important factor in his selection of the guardians, is that they “on each occasion do which is best for the city.” By claiming that the “gods” created the metals, rather than the humans creating the tests, no room is left for people to argue over the human-made tests. By crafting the lie, Plato successfully gives the guardians the ability to run the tests for future guardians without being hindered by the general public. Not only does Plato believe the lie is necessary, but also that it is just. Plato views what is best for the city is most important and just, and he believes whole-heartedly that this lie is in the city’s best interest.
I agree with Plato that his lie is just on the basis that his intention was to prevent chaos from breaking loose, and that he did not directly harm anyone. Had Plato given the public the ability to know how the leaders were chosen, individuals would have acted differently during the examinations had they known they were being tested. Also, had the public had knowledge of the test, and known it was crafted by humans rather than gods, there is a possibility they could have challenged this testing method. According to Plato’s laws of specialization, this would not have worked due to the fact the commoners role is to farm and trade and not lawmaking. Since all are given an equal opportunity in the lie, the only harm done to anyone is that done to the system as a whole. For in the future, if the public had any inkling of knowledge that the lie was indeed a fallacy, this would create a larger gap in confidence between the public and it’s government.
Recently, distrust between the public and the government has increased due to the war in Iraq. Some go as far to speculate that the sole reason the United States is involved in Iraq is to acquire oil. Like The Republic let’s dive further into this hypothetical example. If hypothetically President Bush had knowledge that the United States was going to face an oil crisis in the year 2010, made up a story about Sadaam Hussein creating weapons of mass destruction, then invaded Iraq for it’s oil, would this action be just?
I have concluded that if lying saves lives or saves humanity, even at the cost of deceiving the public, then it is justified. The invasion of Iraq can be viewed as both just and unjust. On one hand, it can be argued that the loss of life has more value than the stabilization of the American economy, and the nation deceiving the public. On the other hand, America has assumed the position of the world leader, and if the United State’s economy collapsed, worldwide chaos would break loose. This disaster could lead to a sharp decrease in the rest of the world’s quality of life, and the possible takeover of Hitler-like leaders.
Tim Aikey Behind every great fortune is a great crime.
What is a leader class allowed to do in order to secure the safety of the polis?
The leader class should do what is best for the society, polis or whatever the case may be. If it involves lying to some people or everyone, then it not only should be done, but has to be done. In every society the main goal is to have a successful society. In order to have a successful society the leader class might have to keep some things from the public. In The Republic Plato says that there are people that are basically smart and others who are dumb, so when it comes time for reproduction, basically you rig the draw. So that smart people mate with smart people and dumb people mate with dumb people. This way you have the smartest possible people in the society. Everyone will think that they have a equal chance of mating with anyone, but they don’t. This “Noble Lie” is acceptable, because it helps to advance the society, because there will be the smartest people possible. If a lie didn’t help a society but only a few people in a society it would not be a noble lie. For instance, if NASA was just a program to get large sums of money from the government to give to people working in NASA, and to pretend they were going into space working in NASA, then that would be a noble lie, because we all think that there trying to find other intelligent life in space and other places to live. This would not be a noble lie because the leader class would be lying to us and it would not be helping the whole society.
The leader class can do whatever it wants to secure the safety of a society. If for instance there are two groups in a society and the leader class had to sacrifice one it would only make sense to sacrifice the smaller group, and lie to the bigger group and say they had nothing to do with it. This could only be a noble lie if the leader class had to sacrifice one group, and if they didn’t both groups would die. For example, Rob said in class that there was a similar scenario that happened, which was the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Rob said that what could have been the case was that the government knew that Pearl Harbor was going to get bombed, but let it be bombed any way so that the U.S. could have a reason to retaliate. He Said the U.S. government had to do this so that nothing more happened.
In the movie Bob Roberts, there are many lies. One thing that Bob Roberts does is signs a paper that says he can go to military college, now he’s not exactly in the leader class, so it would not be helping society. In terms of an individual lie I think that as long as the lie only helps the majority of people, or depending on the case isn’t harmful, then it should be considered noble. Bob Roberts forged a signature to go to a college, this is a noble lie, because it isn’t hurting anyone, and could one day help everyone when he becomes president. When Bob Roberts actually is part of the leader class he sings songs about things that people want to hear, and because he sings them he makes people think that he’s doing them, but he’s actually doing the opposite.
There isn’t much more to say the leader class is allowed to lie, cheat, steal, kill, murder, rape, pillage, no matter how immoral it is, as long as it is for the good of the society, and a bag, it should be done.
Bob Roberts, the movie
The Republic, Plato
So clean and so crisp, says the lord.
September 29, 2003
Global Studies 2A
Reflection question 5
What is the leadership class aloud to do in order to secure the safety of the polis? This question does not have one answer. It is all dependent on the constrictions of the system that the particular leader(s) are trying to defend. It also depends on the time period that you are looking at. The leaders today are basically the same as they have been throughout history. But there societies, economic systems, and cultures have been very different. You also have to take into account what kind of leader that you are looking at. Plato’s theoretical guardians aren’t usually what they are and have been in real life.
“Isn’t the first step toward agreement for us to ask ourselves what we can say is the greatest good in the organization of a city-that good aiming at which the legislator must set down the laws-and what the greatest evil; and then to consider whether what we have just described harmonizes with the track of the good for us and not with that of the evil?” (Book 5 of the Republic of Plato, By Plato, 462a: page 141) This quote shows how a guardian must weigh in the good that can be braught to a community vs. what consequences it entails.
A guardian would be the best person to protect a certain group of people. A guardian also would put the people first and not have material wealth so that they wouldn’t take advantage of there power. He/she would way in all aspects of a situation and not be bias towards one or the other. In weighing what they can do to protect the polis, without hurting them, a guardian would most likely use a noble lie to protect his/her people. Or in a war, a guardian wouldn’t think about what would benefit themselves the most, but what would protect the people the best.
When you look at the leaders of the past and present, you can see that they haven’t usually followed out the theory of what they should be doing. Self-interest becomes a conflict in there decision making progress. When a real leader is faced with the question of how to best protect the polis, they can be influenced by there own personal interest and not do what is truly best. Instead of weighing how to best protect the polis without hurting them; it’s how to protect the polis the most with the most personal gain. This isn’t always the case but it is what happens in most cases.
A good real life example of both of these types of leadership is the bombing of Pearl Harbor. FDR new that the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor, but he let it happen. He did this for self gain, but it also brought about a noble lie. By letting the Japanese bomb American soil, know one had any excuse not to get into the war. When the Americans won this war, they became one of the worlds most powerful counties. Weather or not this was the intended effect, it helped America considerably and if you consider the damage that we had to what we gained, it was most likely the best thing for the polis. If it hadn’t been done, there’s a chance that the Nazi’s could have taken over the world.
If you look at episode 1007 AABF03 of the simpsons, you can see an example of a noble lie protecting the polis. Lisa cheats on a test to get a perfect A+++. This results in the schools average grades to be bumped up just enough to earn the school a much needed grant. She is faced with the decision of lying to the government and getting the school much needed funding, or to tell the truth and in the end hurt the polis. She is tricked by everyone in the end into taking the grant, but the she still helped every student in the school with one simple lie.
In conclusion, the leadership class can lie to the polis in order to protect or help them, if the intention is purely to protect or help them. It is alright if there is some personal gain for the leadership class if it is just a bi-product of a noble lie. But it isn’t ok if a leader uses personal gain in the deciding of how to best help or protect the polis.
Monday, September 29, 2003
Plato speaks about the noble lie as another form of justice. It is using the form of an unjust act but wielding it in the shape of justice. Socrates uses examples of how the noble lie would be conducted in the Polis through eugenics and by eliminating all privacy. The noble lie is used by the ruling class as a tool for justice to the city as a whole, having the greater good always in mind for future generations. Lies are never told to singularly benefit a specific group of the population including the ruling class, decisions are made only concerning what is best for the entire population.
Acting upon the good for the city for the present and the future, the ruling class controls who has children with whom and sets up the society in a way where people often marry multiple times and have children. Marriage is set up to be a completely different concept in the Polis compared to our present day society. In the Polis, marriage is usually a temporary sexually oriented relationship, which purposes are to produce improved offspring to benefit the population for future generations. Socrates says, “there is a need for the best men to have intercourse as often as possible with the best women, and the reverse for the most ordinary men with the most ordinary women; and the offspring of the former must be reared but not that of the others, if the flock is going to be of the most eminent quality.” (459 d, e). This quote presents breeding of humans for different purposes; it speaks of people being bred for high-class positions and for their performance. Likewise people are being bred for the working class positions to maximize their quality and production. Socrates goes further by saying, “…as the offspring are born, won’t they be taken over by the officers established for this purpose… take the offspring of the good and bring them into the pen.” (460 b, c). He is saying that the good children born from guardians or other classes must be taken away and put into a common place where they will be trained for their “purpose.” Then, the deformed, “they will hide away in an unspeakable and unseen place, as is seemly.” (460 c). Meaning, anyone born with defects or imperfections will be shunned away as not to disrupt the others from serving their purposes.
The city is set up in a way where nobody is allowed to live a private life in any aspect. Here is where Allan Bloom notes Socrates’ plans for the abolishment of privacy, “…offspring of the unions must become part of public property. The family is abolished, unless one considers the city as one family.” (Interpretive Essay, page 385). Through this it can be grasped that there will be an absence of privacy, for, “…men are finally deprived of everything which they might love more than the city; all men are brothers.” (Interpretive Essay, page 385). Meaning, by having everything public, men will become dependent on the city for everything, and they will love it. The city is their family meaning, “The blood ties bind and have a morality of their own which keeps the mind from wandering freely over the world; they stand in the way of natural fulfillment. Men are usually torn between duty to their own and duty to the good.” (Interpretive Essay, page 385). Leading to the conclusion that by having the city be the family blood ties would no longer have any significance or recognition whatsoever, thus, the city has incest.
To cross-reference Plato’s notion of the noble lie to our present day society, it is noteworthy that the conditions, methods, and aims are different. However, the similarity lies in the concern for the overall good and justice of the society as a whole. So conclusively, the noble lie has the same ultimate meaning or purpose but through both Plato’s polis and reality they are preformed differently and are used in different areas. In Plato’s polis, the underlying philosophy lies in the act of eugenics and differing from the nature of humans by subtracting shame and the privacy from the lifestyle of the population. However, in reality, noble lies are told in subjects dealing with natural resources, safety, and war instead of around lifestyles and privacy. There are not any absolutely confirmed incidents where the noble lie has been performed, only many suspicions not specifically ridiculing them or the performers, only acknowledging them, for the intentions of the noble lie is for the benefit of the ruled. A suspected example of a noble lie in reality is the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is believed that the United States’ government knew that the attack was going to occur through the translation of Japanese communications, but they let the bombing happen anyways in an effort to rally up the American people to go to war. This sidetracks the population into concentrating on Pearl Harbor and how they are punishing the bad people whereas the true reason for war remains with the high government officials. These officials do no wish to release the true reason for war because they fear the population would not back them and they would not understand the complete benefits of the officials’ decisions, and they would, therefore, be thought of as fools.
In conclusion, the noble lie is used in many different ways through Plato’s polis and for its purposes, as well as and through reality, both, however, resulting in benefit for the city as a whole.
What is a leadership class allowed to do in order to secure the safety of the polis?
In chapter V of Plato, Socrates starts discussing the lifestyles of the Guardians. These Guardians believe that men and woman should be treated as equals, and share the same responsibility in the polis. The Guardians, in their just city, say that everyone is considered as family, and that there is no family loyalty. This is supported by this quote: â€œdo we believe the females of the guardian dogs must guard the things the males guard along with them and hunt with them, and do the rest in common: or must they stay indoors as though they were incapacitated as a result of bearing and rearing the puppies, while the males work and have all the care of the flock?â€� (451 d) Socrates states that all children early on, should be taken into war so they can watch, learn and grow from what they see. Socrates then talks about Philosopher kings, who are chosen because of their sense of justice, wisdom, and their being â€œlovers of sights and sounds.â€� What he means by this, is that he has the ability to tell the difference between the perfect form of objects or ideas, and how they appear in reality.
Leaders can bring safety to our polis today. Leaders have power, and when you have power, you can at most times, feel safe. However, when do our leaders use the noble lie and when does the polis face reality? Is it safe for the polis to not know when our leaders are telling noble lies? The truth is, the people never face reality. Our entire society is a lie. Every single one of us is getting manipulated into what is â€œcoolâ€�, â€œrealâ€�, and â€œreasonable.â€� Take for example the pop icon and all of those young, hot artists on MTV. The noble lie that is pop music, is that itâ€™s a distraction from topics of actual importance. Are we getting controlled by the minds of the media?
The noble lie is greatly shown In the movie â€œBob Roberts.â€� We witnessed a young man using the noble lie to get himself elected, he wasnâ€™t using his power for the good of the city, he was using it for his own ends. Everyone was distracted by his â€œshooting incidentâ€� that nobody really focused back on the important topics that needed to be covered.
As for the physical safety of our polis, leaders have in the past made many mistakes, in the name of safety. The army draft, for example, and the Vietnam War caused rioting among thoughtful individuals throughout the country, although American leaders claimed it was for the safety of the state. I donâ€™t think this was a safe idea, because they were asking men to put their life on the line for the â€œpreservation of democracyâ€� when in many ways the safety of the state wasnâ€™t being threatened at all.
When we discuss what and what not a leader can do we must first look at that leader. There will never be a specific set of guidelines that a leader will always follow. When you look at a leader today, you look at someone who may be corrupted by power and money. Back in Plato’s day things were different.
Leaders today can do a lot to secure the safety of their polis. They can launch weapons to defend the polis. They can withhold information from the citizens in order to protect themselves for their own security. In some nations they can fix elections in order to be re elected for the next couple of years. Basically, leaders can do anything they want in order to protect their city states as long as they have the cash and the power. For example, the President of the United States has the best military in the world. He can attack anyone he wants, because he has the power, and because he has access to the money. A smaller country with less money can’t do as much as the US could do. Is that fair? Of course not, but if you’ve got the power then you’ve got the strength.
The leaders in Socrates time could also do quite a bit to secure the safety of their Polis. For example, Socrates and Glaucon discuss the question of whether or not sex should be regulated. Socrates decides, as a leader, that sex should be regulated in order to secure the finest genetic stock available to the city. In other words he wants the best children so that they can become Guardians as well as their parents. “Quite a throng of noble cock’s in your house did you Glaucon ever notice something about their marriages and procreation.” “What” he said. “First, although they are all noble, aren’t there some among them that prove to be best?” “There are.” “Do you breed them all alike, or are you eager to breed them from the best as much as possible?” “From the best.” (pg: 137-138, lines: 159a-459b) These quotes are important to look at because it proves that the leaders in this society are allowed to breed from the best and kill the rest.
Furthermore, Socrates says,“It’s likely that our rulers will have to use a throng of lies and deceptions for the benefit of the ruled. And, of course, we said that everything of this sort is useful as a form of remedy.” (459c-d) This in particular proves that leaders can do anything they want to secure the safety of the Polis even if it involves lies, and deceptions.
In conclusion, in some nations things have not changed much over the years. In the U.S., because of money and power we have military might. In China, they still regulate sex to make sure there is only one child. Also leaders still lie to the population, and come up with brilliant stories in order to save themselves from certain destruction. In the eyes of some this is a bad thing. Others may think its okay, because there are some things we are just better off not knowing.
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Reflection paper five
What is the truth? A question we might want to all ask ourselves, but how can we, when we don’t realize that there are aforementioned lies being told to us. These lies whether or not are for a justified motive, are keeping us from the ultimate truth. Then, why are these fabrications being told to us? One might assume that the truth does not always appoint situations on the correct pathway (in other words solving mishaps), but does that mean we, as a society should be kept from the truth? In modus operandi, yes. The truth does not persistently make or fix our calamities. Sometimes it directs us on a different road, which we did not intend to travel through. Hence the “noble lie.” A lie in which protects us and is used for the good, or benefit, of the city as a whole. Not for the individuals purposes, but for the whole. For every citizen this lie conveys a practice to better the society, and to lead it closer to that route of idealism. The noble lie’s argument is created for the intention of having the citizens governed in such a way as to be beneficiary to the society as a whole.
How can one differ the truth from a lie when the ruling class of the society blinds us from candor? In many instances it is acceptable for the governing party to choose what is or is not adequate for the citizens to hear. Nevertheless, how do we know if our rulers are capable to constitute this judgment? Remembering that a noble lie is not a negative deception when it is used in the correct manner. It is a forgery that betters the society. This implication suggests the rulers then must not be self-indulged in view of the fact that their noble lie will better themselves for their own greedy desires. Thus this particular noble lie does justice for no one but the one who created it; the unjust ruler who does not look for the good in the society making the city as a whole unjust. Although, how does one know when that particular truth will or will not be justified in our society? Is there a way to say that that specific noble lie is warranted? By all means there is an approach to say so, but because in society everyone is an individual these noble lies might not necessarily fit the needs, or desires of the whole citizen.
A noble lie in some instances may be associated with manipulation. The fact that the truth is taken away from society, and a new “truth” is provided for the citizens altars the perceptions of the situation. Our thoughts are fabricated to believe a so-called “unambiguous” realism when in fact this “reality” is a mask for the truth, which could damage our polis. As a society we must except that the truth is not always essential. Citizens think they want to hear the veracity, but merely they subconsciously do not. Society is only told what they want to hear so that they are competent to feel safe. With the noble lie good can be done to the city.
In a democratic society a common concept is accepted amongst everyone. To speak the absolute truth, and where everyone has a say, but is this really reality? In the democracy we live in today we do not essentially have the fair say in our government. We as a society are blinded by relishes, luxurious life styles, and even more lies from the people we believe are telling us exactly what is happening in our world, our lives. If these noble lies actually take place how is it that we have a say with them if they are created to get us, society, to act in a certain manner. These deceptions would not work if the citizens always had a say. They are designed without our knowledge because sometimes as citizens we don’t know what is best for ourselves because we aren’t provided with extreme depth of information. Thus can’t we say these noble lies that the government are creating for the society, are taking away the democratic rights of every person? Our “say” in this democracy then has no control whatsoever if the governments, the “rulers,” “hidden lies” are being used. This ideal democracy that our society believes we have might not be fundamental to our government. Thus the noble lie; which is manipulations for society, generated by the government to better the city as a whole. If our society’s democracy followed its ideals then everyone not depending on education background or anything of that sort would be able to take part in the government. If this was so, then judgments and verdicts would be unjust, and not for the best interest for the polis. The noble lie is established to help society move along in the right direction, but not when they are fabricated by an individual who does not look for the justification of the city.
The question perchance would be who are these people that originated these noble lies? If we were to determine whether or not the lie was justified, we would look at the intentions of the person who thought it necessary to acquire the lie. The noble lie all depends on the principle of obtaining it. What good does the noble lie do the society? We must remember that because we are all individuals living in our “own” private lives, we have diverse perspectives of how things should be dealt with.
In Plato’s republic a noble lie is created for one specific use; to control procreation such as eugenics. Eugenics being the breeding of specific animals to have a stronger next generation. In some instances eugenics was used in a negative way. Meaning that instead of making the best-fit couple to procreate they would just eliminate all the weak. There was no control of who was having children with whom. Even in today’s society the birth rate is not controlled, and in truth the people who are not capable of supporting children tend to have the most, making their children weaker. “Human law, super seeding natural law, strove to eliminate them at birth,” (Ancient Eugenics, www.familyguardian.betterthanyours.com). In the republic, Plato makes sure that in his Utopia the opposite occurs by none other than one noble lie.
Out of the three classes in the republic, Plato argues that only the guardians be selected to procreate considering that they are the most ideal “citizen.” The guardians have no feelings for sexual desire, greed, possession, or profit. Instead their purpose is to better, and protect, the city. From childhood they are well trained in music and gymnastic succeeding all tests to strengthen their minds and physical bodies. When thinking back to eugenics, the procreation of the best fit rather than the weaker, we see as to why Plato instructs the rulers only to permit the guardians to produce offspring. “Making yet idler a soul that is already idle.” (458 a). The more proficient the blood relation, the more suitable and fit the next generation will be. If this idea of procreation, controlling the birthrate by saying who and whom cannot bear children, were to thrive, the offspring of the new area will be, or close to the ideal dream. They will, as time persists, hold the four cardinal virtues thus molding a more just city. The potential generations of the polis will of course want to be superlative, and have the most able-bodied citizens, but to have this idealism you must eliminate the notion of privacy. Plato does exactly this. He removes the perception of confidentiality by extracting the words “my own.” “…The privacy of such things dissolves it, when some are overwhelmed and others overjoyed by the same things happening to the city and those within the city.” (462 b). By deleting the notion of privacy he is also taking away the concept of the individual. By doing thus Plato is strengthening the dependency that the guardians will have upon each other creating this one family. The guardians instead of being satisfied with what they posses, will be content by the community. To have this dependency come about Plato must take away three main entities. The conception of one intimate relationship with a woman, a child of their own, is the most vital individual formation of the single traditional family. “The communism of women and children, by suppressing family ties, serves to emancipate men’s love of the good.” (Interpretive essay, page 385).
The justification for the concept of everything becoming “public” is that there are no emotions for oneself and his/her family, but that there will be a greater concentration on the city itself.
Plato’s noble lie that he devises is to terminate the idea of a conventional family unit. He does this by incorporating the gods into his deception. The rulers will speak of the marriages as being extremely sacred. “So Socrates invokes the gods. Marriages, he says, are sacred.” (Interpretive essay, page 384). These aren’t marriages of the norm were one remains with his/her spouse and creates this unit of kin. This is exactly what Socrates says should not happen, and what they are trying to avoid. Instead these “marriages” are for a sexual relationship to procreate. The rulers will have “festivals” according to a system of a calendar and choose who will be the married couple based on their performance of their art. However the guardians must not know of the rulers system for choosing who will be chosen. “The best men to have intercourse as often as possible with the best women, and the reverse for the most ordinary men with the most ordinary women…”(459 d). The motivation for only having the predominate guardians having offspring is to better their society. Meaning that this noble lie the rulers will control will be profitable for the ruled because it will make their future more efficient and ideal. “… Taking into consideration wars, disease, and everything else of the sort; and thus our city will, within the limits of the possible, become neither big nor little.”(460 a). Considering that there are no “single families,” the city is one large family. All of the offspring born are the sons and daughters of the older generation, and to ensure that this happens the city makes certain that the birth parents do not get attached to their birth offspring. This is furthermore done for the purpose of making everything public in the city. If the city were one large family then there would be no need for rivals amongst the citizens be they would all be dependent on each other and need no reason to fight.
In response to this specific noble lie that Plato creates for his republic we can assume that it is justified for the city. It does not just control the birth rate, but it betters their future generations making them all fit and more ideal then before. The noble lie in this case also eliminates privacy, and for this Utopia it fits its purpose. There are no feelings of greed and hedonistic actions for the reason that everything is public, and the citizens are dependent on each other. However, a sense of “publicity” and sharing a family would not fit in our society because we are all familiar and comfortable with our private lives. Consequently, this noble lie could never be justified in our society. Nevertheless, the noble lie fulfills a need for Plato’s city, and improves it by bringing it closer to his ideal vision.
Conversely, a noble lie is never reasonable if conceived for a self-indulgent purpose for a single individual. Manipulation used in the wrong reasons is never justified for the polis. Manipulation for the wrong reasons is unethical, and something that needs to be prevented where it is planned and stopped where it has occurred because then our society is being used in a unjust manner. The problem with Plato’s noble lie is that it takes place in a societal structure which hides manipulation and therefore by design, eliminates the means by which society recognizes and deals with this type of abuse.