Philosopher rulers

Here’s an interesting idea. Angie Hobbs, who is Professor in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and who writes a really good blog and some rather good tweets also, is running an alternative UK election. She is assuming that people are sick and tired of the politicians on offer, and so she suggests instead that people should vote for their favourite (dead) philosophers to be prime minister and indeed to occupy all cabinet posts. I suppose this is on the principle that a dead philosopher is better than most live politicians. If you follow her tweets, you’ll see how the voting is progressing.

When I saw what she was doing, I contemplated for a moment turning the idea into something broader, and suggesting academics from any discipline. You know, Einstein for Minister for Enterprise Trade and Innovation, John Henry Newman for Education (I don’t think he would accept ‘…and Skills’), that kind of thing. But as I was doodling with my own hyper-IQ cabinet, I did notice that I was always driven back to the philosophers. It’s not that there aren’t well know historical figures from other disciplines, but that the philosophers somehow seemed to be more obvious choices for this particular purpose.

Maybe this gets us back to a topic that arose in the comments on one of my recent posts, about the need for philosophers in universities. Certainly even DCU has always had a philosopher or two, though not a philosophy department.

But then again, we should celebrate the fundamental role that all academics play, or at least can play, in the growth of a society or nation. Maybe we should have a cabinet of all the disciplines. But perhaps led by a philosopher.

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14 Comments on “Philosopher rulers”

  1. kevin denny Says:

    The problem with having famous old philosphers running the country is that, well, they are all drunken sots:

  2. Vincent Says:

    Some say without Philosophy all you have is a school for Blacksmiths.
    It tends to be the same crew that state that without Theology the very same would hold.
    Anyhow, Professor in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Warwick is a bit of a mouthful. Still she seems to be having a go, if this is anything to measure it by.

  3. Sally Says:

    Jacques Derrida for Ministry of Public Building and Works

    • Jilly Says:

      …and Michel Foucault for Ministry of Justice and Prisons. And definitely Michel de Certeau for Roads and Transport (though perhaps with Marc Auge as a Junior Minister, especially for motorways and airports?). And Jean Baudrillard as Minister for War.

      Sorry, I’ll stop now. This is almost too easy.

  4. Fr B Says:

    You don’t count Newman as a philosopher?

  5. John Says:

    Terry Eagleton – Minister of Faith-based Objectivity

  6. John Says:

    Even a cursory flick-through of Loss and Gain shows JH Newman to have at least taken a dialogical, if not dialectical approach, even if the premises are all wrong and the scope confined to the head of a pin.

    Dead? Yes. Philosopher? Yes.

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