New Zealand Observer Political cartoon

Photo Credit: The New Zealand Observer, work initialled “BLO”

In Book III Chapter 9 of Politics, Aristotle concludes that:

Political society exists for the sake of noble actions.

But is this what we think of when we hear the word “politics”?

If it isn’t, the reason is found in Book V of Plato’s The Republic:

Until philosophers rule as kings in cities or those who are now kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils, Glaucon, nor, I think will the human race.

That is why the human race has no rest from evils.

But in The Republic, Socrates’ idea of dividing society into three classes (producers, guardians, and rulers) ensuring that philosopher-kings lead, liberating us from the foibles that traditional politicians have, is just too rigid  — which would explain why it’s never been tried.

I believe there is a way for humanity to rest from its evils, and I will explain this next through the rise of Japan as a nation.

Roman Forum Comitium

Photo Credit: From the book The Roman Forum: a topographical study By Francis Morgan Nichols 1877

On April 7, 1868 the Charter Oath (五箇条の御誓文), which outlined the aims of the Meiji government of Japan, was decreed.

The Oath consists of five clauses:

By this oath, we set up as our aim the establishment of the national wealth on a broad basis and the framing of a constitution and laws.

  1. Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by open discussion.

  2. All classes, high and low, shall be united in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state.

  3. The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall all be allowed to pursue their own calling so that there may be no discontent.

  4. Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature.

  5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of imperial rule.

This set the legal stage for Japan’s rapid, seamless modernization, and “can be considered the first constitution of modern Japan.”

If we can have a constitution that also legislates that knowledge be sought, it would aid our leaders to the point that Enlightenment would rule, and not an administration.

As in the woodblock print below, the Meiji Emperor merely oversees the assembly, symbolizing the rule of enlightenment — as that is exactly what Meiji () means.

Yōshū Chikanobu House of Peers Meiji era woodblock print

Photo Credit: http://www.harashobo.com/english/

What knowledge should be sought in our time?:

Knowledge should be sought regarding the equitable management, acquisition, and creation of natural resources in relation to the population of the planet.

Knowledge should be sought to eliminate environmental waste and pollution, and respond to climate change and its effects.

Knowledge should be sought regarding the best method to reduce poverty and to provide employment through investment.

Knowledge should be sought regarding the best educational system that would lead to humanity’s well-being or eudaimonia (εὐδαιμονία).

Those are just a few examples.

So, with all that humanity has been given, and the tools that have been developed, is the world’s self-destruction really inevitable?

Naka-ku, Hiroshima Japanese Garden Moon Bridge Shukkeien




*I will be on hiatus after this post, but there is more to be written…

This entry was posted in Classical/Enlightenment Thoughts, Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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