Works Cited

Works Cited

  • Alcoff, Linda M., ed. Epistemology: The Big Questions. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers

Ltd, 1998. Print.

  • Burnyeat, Myles; Levett, M. J. The Theaetetus of Plato. Indianapolis: Hackett

Publishing Company, 1990. Print.

  • Plato; Jowett, Benjamin. Theaetetus. N.p.: Dodo Press, 2007. Digital file.
  • Bostock, David. Plato’s Theaetetus. N.p: Oxford Scholarship Online, 1991. Digital


  •  Plato; Jowett, B. (Trans.) The Dialogues of Plato (4th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press,

1964, pg. 163 – 196

Epistemology II

Epistemology II

Ancients and Modernists

The majority of philosophical beliefs an individual holds onto are often due to the current philosophical movements and practices in their time. In contemporary times, the recent domination and success of science has resulted in a particularly realistic monist, empirical philosophy, and current epistemic beliefs openly reject the traditional faith from the rise of Christianity and theism. Regardless of the recent rejection of traditional epistemology, the western history of philosophy is imperative for founding modern science and culture.

Plato and Aristotle were dominant figures of flaying Epistemology into shape an Ancient Greece (~200ac – 200bc). The two philosophers agreed that knowledge is prior to senses, and sensory perception is not directly responsible for knowledge. Instead, in classical philosophy, the mind was responsible for recognising knowledge, while the senses were simply a means for the mind to obtain knowledge. The ancients founded the belief of intelligibility and the flux and contingency of the cosmos. Sensory perception was believed that it could not establish knowledge for time causes the objects in the external world to be in a constant state of becoming, rather than being. The mind recognises the intelligibility of objects in their state of being, despite their state of constant becoming.

While the ancients believed that reason, or logos, is the intrinsic method of obtaining knowledge, their epistemic beliefs were essentially based on faith that it is true. A large amount of perceptively unjustified trust was placed in their belief that the world inherently possessed intelligibility (opportunity for knowledge), as well as the idea that the mind evaluated knowledge. This recognition of faith in ancient epistemic values can be rightfully applied to a substantial amount of post-modern realist philosophy.

While post-modern practices (i.e. science) excel in discovering universal truths, its grounds are still based on realist and empirical beliefs. Science and other relative practices largely rely on its trust in empiricism; in a sense, this substantial trust is, to some extent, a faith. The difference between the faithful grounds of Modernity and faithful theism is the fact that the latter is particularly dogmatic. The reason as to why science cannot definitively support its claim is because the method of validating their claim is refuted. For example, one can not give evidence supporting their empirical beliefs because the opposition rejects empirical evidence.

The ancient sceptics, despite being a minority, were also important for the following philosophical and theological movements. The sceptics believed that, if senses can often fool the mind with auditory and visual delirium, then subsequently the mind can result in having a false judgement, despite a supposedly fair sensory account. The sceptics often asked the question;

“If the senses are the only method of understanding the external world, and the external world is intelligible, then how is it possible to have universal knowledge and truth?”

Divine Illumination and Language

Illumination and Language


It is almost universally understood that language and words are representations, or signs, of objects or states of objects (i.e. “if” represents a state of mind), yet interestingly enough we define these signs with other signs, or words. It is, by all means, a loop in language. If words are signs used to define objects and states of objects, then how can we ultimately define a sign without proceeding to enter into this twist? One could identify a sign with a sign, naturally, but it is rather contradictory. Consider the example wherein one man is asked to define what the term “ball” means: the man responds by defining the word as a circular object, but then how did the man establish what the word “object” means etc. etc.?

It is also understood that language is merely the verbal or written expression of thoughts, and that we intuitively give meaning to particular words when we are born. No man could have thought of verbalising an object, for neither thought nor producing sound via the vocal cords are instinctive mechanics; so there must have already been an intuitive understanding of the language of thoughts in order to be capable of expressing it via verbal/written language. Then how is it that we were given this understanding of our thoughts without any input by the external world? Could there be a divine being illuminating predisposed knowledge on us?

One could argue that, when one observes an object, one is naturally compelled to express a nonsensical word which is then given familiarity to the object at hand. For example, if a child’s first words were “Mom”, then the word, in the child’s mind, would essentially have no meaning unless their mind intuitively familiarises the enunciation “Mom” to their female parent, who is their Mother. But how is it that such a thing could be expressed mechanically? Surely the mind is distinguishable from bodily functions in the sense that the latter possesses an actual will to do. Just as the mind has no hold over what the body processes, the body has no will to control the mind.

In this sense meaning itself could be the epitome of Christ, divine nature or divine knowledge. Perhaps man is intuitively granted knowledge of the world, and merely recognises it when provoked by the external world. For example, a child could attend school and already know language and mathematics by predisposed illumination, and when they claim to have learned something at school from the Teacher, it was merely the Teacher evoking recognition of the subject in the Child’s mind. This theory essentially claims that intelligibility is already known by man before he perceives the world, and the actual interaction of the external world provokes recognition of the predisposed knowledge embedded in their minds, and subsequently provoking a firm memory of the knowledge. Essentially, man merely recollects and recognises, rather than learning. This paradoxical fallacy of language is currently only known to be logically resolved by such a theory. It is presumed that, in this theory, a God of sorts is responsible for illuminating the mind of man with this knowledge before they incarnate into the world.

“What parents would be so foolish as to send [their child] to school to learn what the teacher thinks?”




“…it seems plausible that the truth can’t be found, whereas to me it seems plausible that the truth can be found.”


The philosophy of scepticism, particularly ancient scepticism, is a way of life which appeals to my philosophical interests. The modern definition of scepticism takes no significant relevance to ancient scepticism. In contemporary English language, a sceptic is man who questions the validity of whichever subject. Yet an ancient sceptic is cautious to approach anything, holding to the belief that no religious or philosophical belief can be legitimately proven. In most sporting games, such as football or cricket, there is a goal which the players reach to achieve. The average player plays hard to reach that goal, just like the average man reaches for divine truth or validation to their belief. However, an ancient sceptic firmly claims that the goal is unreachable, giving them the privilege of being free from knowing anything which is untrue.

Of course one questions how the ancient sceptic would make a good player in the field if they hold the belief that the goal is unobtainable. But one must understand that any well respected sceptic will reach for the goal regardless of their philosophical perspective. Just as playing on the field exercises their muscles and playing skill, so does studying philosophy exercise the soul.

In a Nutshell: Augustine



            “Believe in order to understand.”

Augustine (born 358AD) was a young man and a brilliant teacher of rhetoric. At age 15 he read Cicero’s Hortensius, as well as other sacred texts of his mother’s religion of Christianity, but found them repulsive and contradictory. This led to a feud between Augustine and his Mother regarding their differences in belief. Augustine thought that the human emotions and interferences of the Christian God were inappropriate. The semi-Christian sect of the Manichees took in Augustine, where he used logic and rationality to become celibate. Manichaeism was a radical dualist organisation which rejected the primitive God told in the Old testament, which governed a lot of similarities to Augustine’s belief. The Manichees, as well as Augustine, promoted the self control of passion and instincts, and claimed that reason on the intellectual plane offered freedom. However, Augustine lost faith in the organisation because he believed that its Astrology made no sense, and embraced ancient scepticism to further pursue his career.

In Milan, Augustine became acquainted with Platonist Christians after meeting the country’s Bishop, where he was baptised (29 years). Platonists Christians had a non-literal understanding of Scripture yet maintained their Christian beliefs. During Augustine’s time, Western civilization commonly scrutinised the Christians because the common belief was held that Christian theology was no more than mythology. However, due to a shift in only allowing Christians to join the military, a sudden surge of people joined the Christian Church. Because of this, the level of piety in the Church was radically reduced and many pious Christians, including Augustine, started a Monastic movement in Egypt. Before the time of his death (430AD), Augustine abandoned his Philosophical aspirations and pursued the life of pastoral care as a Bishop of Hippo’s Church.

Epistemology I

Epistemology I

Theaetetus and Knowledge:

A Brief analysis of the central arguments put forward in the four major sections of Plato’s Theaetetus and its significance to the field of Epistemology.

The nature behind knowledge, what justifies a belief and the essence behind truth is a philosophical field of study known as Epistemology. Epistemology serves as an important topic in modern philosophy, while being essential for the history of not only Western Philosophy but its culture and insight to some of the greatest minds in the past and how they influenced present society. The Socratic dialogue of Plato’s Theaetetus, dating back from approximately 360 BCE, is often regarded by scholars as the origin, as well as quintessential dialectic work, to the field of Epistemology.

Plato’s written works are well known for being entirely written in the context of dialogue between two or more Greek philosophers. In the case of Theaetetus, the dialogue is primarily between Socrates and Theaetetus, a Greek philosopher and a young Mathematician. The story of Theaetetus is introduced in the text when Euclides’ report of a discussion between Socrates and Theaetetus is read aloud by a young servant. Throughout the dialogue between Theaetetus and Socrates, the central issue of knowledge is discussed when Socrates proposes the fundamental question to epistemology, “what do you  think knowledge is?” (Levett, 146c)

Along with his conversational partner, Theaetetus, Socrates establishes that knowledge is essentially the same as wisdom, and that the trust of a man is dependent on their profession’s relevance to the claim. Both of these realisations serve as the foundation for the following dialogue in which Theaetetus remarks that “…knowledge is simply perception” (151e).

Socrates further elaborates on Theaetetus’ response by applying the claim of a Greek Philosopher, Protagoras, that “Man is the measure of all things” (152a), a quote which further builds on the premise.

Essentially, the claim of Protagoras suggests that truth is subjective to the individual, provided that knowledge is, in fact, sensory perception. Therefore it would seem that, under the new premise of knowledge, only the individual perceiving such an experience would be able to know of it, without certainty that another individual is capable of experiencing from precisely the same perspective. In a sense Protagoras’ claim denotes that knowledge and truth is independently egocentric – a claim which entirely supports Theaetetus’ original answer.

After Protagoras’ claim has established relevance to the premise, Socrates continues by pronouncing the belief of another Philosopher, Heraclitus, concerning the Universe’s flux and contingency, by stating that “…nothing ever is, but all things are becoming” (38). Socrates’ statement about the flux and contingency of the Universe is a rather simple paraphrase of Heraclitus’ quote, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

With both of these theses established by Socrates in the dialogue, so is the conclusion that knowledge is not perception in its entirety. Plato himself agrees that perception is in a flux of becoming, rather than being, which corresponds with Heraclitus’ thesis, as well as perception being relativist. However, Plato argues that knowledge does not coincide with the realm of becoming, like that of perception, but rather with the realm of being. Myles Burnyeat, in The Theaetetus of Plato, considers a notable foundation for what coincides with knowledge from Plato’s conclusion in the premise that knowledge is perception. Burnyeat’s foundation states that “it [knowledge] must be always of what is and it must be unerring” (8).

Considering Plato’s conclusion on the first premise formed by Theaetetus, the second rule by Burnyeat, that knowledge must be unerring, is safely abided by Protagoras’ thesis. However, the first rule by Burnyeat is broken when comparing the relevance of both perception and knowledge to Heraclitus’ thesis. Plato’s reason as to why knowledge is in the realm of being is that knowledge is recollected from the memory, whereas perception creates a memory. However, as well structured as the argument is, the basis of it is still fallible, for Plato assumes that the theory of Protagoras correlates with knowledge. If one is to assume that Protagoras’ theory of relativism is true, then it is proposed that this too is the case of Heraclitus’ thesis.

Socrates and Theaetetus soon quickly evolve their premise into Theaetetus’ new suggestion that “knowledge is true judgement” (187b). Throughout this section of the dialogue, the central argument is often skewed into a different area of discussion, particularly the argument as to whether one can make false judgement. Although these rather off-topic discussions have some relevance to the central point, Plato makes is blatant that his intent behind the lengthy and unnecessary dialogue is to provoke the reader into analysing the discussion and interpret their conclusions individually. Since the topic as to whether judgement can be false or not is imperative for understanding Socrates’ final conclusion of the new premise, this will be investigated briefly before continuing further to the final chapter.

Socrates quizzes Theaetetus about judgement with a logical puzzle (188a-d). In this short puzzle, Socrates serves two major points to the table which are logically fallible; the first (1) point being that something which you know is instead something which you do not know, and vice versa for the second (2) point. Both of these points are formed in Socrates’ question to Theaetetus:

But a man certainly doesn’t think that things he knows are things he doesn’t know, or again that things he doesn’t know are things he knows… then in what way is false judgement still possible?  (188c)

With these four points established in this quiz of Socrates, it then brings one to analyse whether or not these establishments are entirely valid, or if they have a crack in their argument. The fundamental flaw seen in the puzzle is that Socrates’ assumption that man cannot think that things which he doesn’t know are things that he does know, is genuinely false. Man can think that they know of something, when in reality they don’t know of it at all; man can ultimately make false judgement on what they know and do not know. This is considered a false judgement by Socrates to assume that man is incapable of false judgement, and other fallacies in judgement are riddled throughout the dialogue, leaving the logical discussion between Socrates and Theaetetus in this chapter rather redundant.

It is interesting to note that ‘judgement’ derives from the Greek noun Doxa and its verbal counterpart Doxazein, which can subsequently translate to ‘belief’ or ‘opinion’. With the three of these differing translations, the intuition naturally presumes that one is capable of holding a false belief, opinion or judgement, and this intuition is reinforced through observing the constant bickering between Religions, the daily quarrels between two people or perhaps the Jurys’ conviction in the court of law. So long as there are two subjective opinions to one objective fact, there must be false Doxa.

After Theaetetus agrees that their conversation regarding false judgement is inconclusive unless they both resolve what knowledge is, Socrates continues by briefly proving that knowledge is not, in fact, true judgement. Socrates depicts the scenario in the court of law (200d-201c) as an example which clarifies the distinction between true judgement and knowledge. In this example, Socrates mentions the orator, or lawyer, as the man which convinces the jury whether or not the accused is guilty. Instead of teaching the jury of events, however, the orator uses rhetoric, much like a sophist, to convince them whether or not to convict the accused, depending on which case the orator supports. While the persuasion of an orator is to use witnesses and other pieces of evidence to recollect the events which took place, they are undoubtedly recollecting, as well as the jury determining, that only the accused and witness knows of the event being constructed.
In the case that the event is accurately reconstructed for the jury, and the judgment is correct, the judger in particular does not know of what took place, instead they only judged correctly because of people’s retelling of events. Of course it could be argued that it is possible to gain knowledge of an event from somebody’s recollection, but, as mentioned in the first premise that knowledge is perception, knowledge only seems to be embedded in the state of being, or engraved firmly into the knower’s memory. This moment of clarity leads Theaetetus to conjure up the third, and final, premise that not only is knowledge true judgement, but also an account of the event.

Interestingly enough, Socrates also admits to a vague memory of somebody claiming that knowledge is true judgement with an account. However, he believes that he had heard of the theory in a dream (201d), which excuses the reason as to why his recollection is vague. An invaluable observation to consider when interpreting this chapter is that the word ‘account’ derives from logos. Although this derivation is common amongst the majority, if not all, of the English translations of Plato’s Theaetetus, the word logos can just as equally be translated into justification or reason. Perhaps logos is commonly translated into ‘account’ in such texts because of the fact that Socrates essentially differentiates true judgement from knowledge by claiming that knowledge is obtained from a record by the memory, or an account, as opposed to reason. Regardless, the situation of interpreting logos is important to consider while viewing Theaetetus.

Socrates continues recalling his dream to Theaetetus, opening the basis of the argument with the analysis of words, letters and the construction of language. Throughout this analysis, Socrates acknowledges that letters have no meaning, but rather names (or definitions), yet the constituents of such letters compose a word with meaning, and an “account being a complex of names” (202b). For example, the word ‘lamp’ is the description, or account, of a particular object which is a light source, yet the individual letters in-themselves offer no intrinsic value. Socrates then asks Theaetetus as to whether or not he agrees to the following statement; “Now when a man gets true judgement about something without an account, his soul is in a state of truth as regards to that thing, but he does not know it” (202b-c). Both of these beginning truths become the foundation for the final chapter, and Socrates continues to elaborate on the relevance of languages’ elements.

The elaboration is given by the affirmation that the letters, or ‘elements’, grant an account of a syllable (203a), which then proceeds to Socrates to presume that the compounding of letters cannot be known, unlike the individual letters, which are unknowable. This presumption is reached because of the previous statement that letters have no essential meaning, but rather are just entirely intended for the composition of language, which consequently creates a constituent that can be known. The issue which arises in this establishment is how it is possible for an element, which is essentially unknowable, to compound into something which is conversely knowable. How is it that an account can be compiled from elements with no account, or value, at all?

This issue is never resolved by Plato and, consequently, the original question, “what is knowledge?” is never truly answered. Then what is it, one might ask, that makes this Socratic dialogue of any importance to the field of Epistemology, or even Philosophy in general? Among all, one must understand that the very reason as to why Plato wrote this extensive dialogue is because it evokes the reader to think for themselves. Plato intended for Theaetetus to expand the minds of his colleagues, and with the privilege of having an English translation our minds can undergo the same intellectual transformation. Not only does Theaetetus expand the mind, but it also expands the question of what knowledge is, allowing scholars to elaborate further on epistemology, while using Theaetetus as the pillars, the foundation, of epistemology, as well as being an extraordinary insight to the great minds that have made Western civilisation what it is today. Theaetetus, while ultimately inconclusive, is an insight to what has flayed Western Civilisation into shape; a testament to the intricacies and complexity of Philosophy; a journey to the peaks of mankind’s unparalleled ingenuity.

Narcissism, Egoism and Altruism

Narcissism, Egoism and Altruism

Narcissus and his reflection

Narcissus and his reflection

The myth of narcissus tells the tale of a man, known as Narcissus, who looked over the shore of a lake and observed his own reflection, commenting that his own appearance was beautiful. However, Narcissus fell into the water, rippling his reflection and leaving him to drown. From this myth, the philosophy of narcissism and egoism (variably referred to as “egotism”) arise, claiming that our own appearance is a proportional reflection on our morality.

Psychological egoism is the theory in which human motivation is intrinsically self interested. Even when we appear (or think ourselves to be) altruistically motivated, It is still all about personal benefit. This philosophy often assumes itself in the role of economics and politics, where businessmen maintain their business entirely for their own economical gain, and politicians are often quick to spend the people’s tax money on their own wage. Particularly in modern society, psychological egoism is abundant as people have the conception that their worth is empirically based on their bank account’s digits.

This philosophy is interesting, and its validity is indubitable. Psychological egoism, narcissism, and general egoism is present in today’s social networking technology, and is never shy to present itself in amidst of society. Even if somebody were to claim that their compliments to another person was entirely in the interest of others, an egoist would argue that generosity towards others is in their own interest because their sense of selflessness is just a foundation for their sense of nicety or virtuousness.

Many philosophers, such as Hobbes, believe in what is known as the social contract. The idea of social contracting is that mankind mutually agrees to expend their unbridled egoism for the sake of maintaining social order. In Leviathan, Hobbes explains mankind is naturally brutish and often willing to harm others for their own survival; in essence, mankind’s brutish mentality leads to man being both prey and predator to each other. With social contracting, however, people band together in order to invest in a Government system with laws and regulations, in order to maintain survival and not live in a state of anarchy.

The strong do what they will; the weak bear what they must.


The opposite of egoism, however, is what is known as altruism. Altruism is the philosophical belief in which man is naturally self sacrificial at the expense of others. For example, if somebody was required to give CPR to a relative, then they will proceed to do it even if doing so is emotionally unbearable. However, while this may be evident even in today’s society, egoism is certainly far more abundant.

Freedom: Are Human Beings Free?

Freedom and Determinism: Are Human Beings Free?

Is freedom an idea which is available to us in modern society, and in general history? Or is it that freedom is an illusion which no man could possibly possess? If freedom is illusory, then it leaves the question as to why it is an ideal so sought after in mankind. The problem of freedoms is at the core of meta-ethical reflection, as it is the possibility of moral behaviour. Hence, if freedom is a myth – a curtain laid across the stage, or Universe – then so is morality.

Assuming that freedom is a legitimate ideal, which plays a significant role in the play of life, then there are two types of freedom to consider; these are: negative freedom (freedom from constraint or coercion), and positive freedom (freedom for inclusion). Negative freedom is essentially about not stopping an individual from doing what they want, regardless of the consideration of other’s liberty. Positive freedom, however, is the participation of what is genuinely good for an individual, while considering the freedom of others.

In contemporary society, people are often skewed towards negative freedom, often due to the conception that the Government is stripping society of freedom. Yet, as stated in my statement regarding Government conspiracies, the general idea of a Government is to maintain civility and equality at the expense of negative freedom. Leviathan by Hobbes reinforces this fundamental, albeit generalised, ideology.


Things which are naturally granted to ourselves which we do not determine, but determine us. Such things include:


-Family of origin;

-Genetic Constitution;

-Socio-political circumstances;

-Access to (and quality of) education;


-Native language(s);

-Actions of others;

I personally believe that I have free will, and my entire life isn’t determine by another force or nature. However, I am compatibalist in the sense that I understand facticity. Often in life we have to “play the cards we’re given”, and, as such, not everything is determined by our independent free will.

The Libertarian Thesis

In the absence of physical coercion etc.; human beings have free-will or agent: their decisions and actions are their own. The case of the Libertarian Thesis essentially boils down to the experience of deliberation, making Libertarianism incompatible with determinism.

Libertarianists rebut the argument of determinism by claiming that “I could have done otherwise had I so chosen.” For example, a Libertarianist, in defence of their belief, could say that a Determinist chose their belief in becoming a Determinist. As well as this, one could claim that just because X caused Y, it does not necessarily mean that X is the cause of Y.

Other Philosophers on Ethics

Other Philosophers on Ethics

AJ Ayer, a leading 20th Century philosopher, believed that moral statements are technically meaningless; but they involve emotive and prescriptive element. Essentially, Ayer believed that, because morality has no relation to science, it has no purpose. Charles Stevenson claimed, however, that it is possible to give reason for our likes and dislikes, rather than intuition or emotional desire.

Moore believed that the good was not something that could be defined or reduced to naturalistic categories (Hume): Naturalistic fallacy. Moore’s approach to ethics was a very intellectual and intuitive approach. He believed that, quite simply, man knows what is good through intuition. Intuition is both a rationalist and emotive decision-making about making facts about the world, such as morality. The philosopher Shaftesbury believed the faculty by which we naturally discern the difference between good and evil (known as moral sense). Moral sense is best described briefly as the aggregation of both intuitive morality and naturalistic ethics.

The idea of intuitive morality is that you naturally know the difference between good and evil, without being able to distinguish the knowledge as either intellectual or emotive. A prime example of intuitive morality is the case of Nazi Germany and their philosophy, for it is considered naturally wrong to kill somebody entirely for their race.

Adam Smith believed that the principle of moral sentiment is essentially based on sympathy (sympathy being the innate human desire to identify with the emotions of others). Smith also claimed that if man had a lack of sympathy for other human beings then there is something wrong with you, and you are regarded as immoral. This is an emotive approach, to some extent, as sympathy is naturally considered as a human emotion.

 Levinas on Ethics as ‘first philosophy’

Levinas’ entire method of thinking about the origins and nature of ethics is so very different from the majority of analytic moral philosophy. The roots of moral imperative lie prior to rationality, language, emotions, intuitions, and even the constitution of the self. Ethics, according to Levinas, is grounded in the primordial pre-conscious call of the ‘other’, who calls me into my responsibility for his/her welfare. The ethical encounter with the other is the touchstone of the subject’s freedom.

Ethics of War

Ethics of War

The morality of War; a Controversial subject


There are essentially three primary positions of which one can take on the issue of whether or not a war can be justified, and what tactics are permissible;

–          Realism    

War is an inevitable function (nothing particularly wrong with war). Some realists go so far as to claim that war is not an issue of morality; but rather amoral.

–          Just War Theory

War is inevitable, but only in absolutely extreme cases of national crimes in opposing states. War can be moral if justified appropriately.

–          Pacifism

War is always immoral and sub-human. Pacifists often compare war with murder, in which murder, regardless of the situation, results in punishment by the court of law.

Many realists, in terms of war, justify their belief that war is necessary by claiming that the soldiers in frontline and military of the state are fighting for their own nation’s freedom and equality. Realism is often biased and arrogant, but it is quite valid in the political view of war, for history evidently shows that remorseless military leaders succeed by not considering morality in interstate conflict. The pacifist of war believes in the contrary to the realist, comparing war with mass murder.

The “Just war” theory is in between the realists and pacifists, as such theorists consider the implications and necessities of war. This theory is rather dependant on the individual’s opinion, but it generally claims that war is only necessary when the opposing state is committing brutish acts of immorality and political movements, particularly when it affects their own state.

“Right… is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”


Thomas Hobbes, a 17th Century English political philosopher, wrote a book titled Leviathan, which discussed the necessity and purpose of a Government, which somewhat justified the realist view on war. The Prince, by Machiavelli, a 16th Florentine political philosopher, also supported the realist view on war by explaining that a politician of the state should dress well to earn respect of the masses and still maintain the position of power as much as possible. Both of these philosophers, as well as Thucydides, argued that the great politician will convince the masses to put their very life on the line for the state.

Personally I believe that War is sub-human, and can be overcome by reasonable negotiation. Unfortunately, many different cultures act sub-human on a national scale, and it is often another country’s duty to intervene – sometimes with force. As for rulers, while Machiavelli offers a lot of merit when it comes to maintaining power amongst a nation, it certainly doesn’t make for a good ruler. In Plato’s Republic (book I), Socrates argues with Thrasymachus as to whether or not the greatest ruler is immoral, Thrasymachus supporting injustice and Socrates supporting Justice. Eventually Thrasymachus submits into Socrates’ persuasion and they mutually conclude that the ruler’s duty is to enforce rules which condone justice and extinguish injustice, and that the ruler’s subject is the people, just as the doctor’s subject is their patients bodies, and not themselves.