Plato's noble lie
Author: Dombrowski D.
Source: History of Political Thought, Volume 18, Number 4, 1997 , pp. 565-578(14)
Publisher: Imprint Academic
The purpose of this article is both to examine Plato's own use of the noble lie in politics and to examine it within the context of contemporary political philosophy, a context wherein at least three different assessments of the noble lie are possible. First I will consider the strengths of those (e.g. Karl Popper) who see the noble lie as part of, or at least leading to, totalitarian politics. Second I will also consider the degree to which contemporary (Leo Straussian) defenders of Plato can adequately defend the noble lie. Thirdly, I will articulate and defend a third (John Rawlsian) view that mediates between the above two views, albeit in a way that finds the noble lie morally objectionable even if it is not necessarily seen as part of totalitarian political aspirations. In effect, I lean more towards the Popperian assessment of the noble lie than towards the Straussian one, even if it must be admitted that the Popperian assessment is hyperbolic.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 1997-01-01