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Mathematics and Politics

Amusing view from Plato on how to train politicians:

We must endeavour to persuade those who are prescribed to be the principal men of our State to go and learn arithmetic, not as amateurs, but they must carry on the study until they see the nature of numbers with the mind only; nor again, like merchants or retail-traders, with a view to buying or selling, but for the sake of their military use, and of the soul herself; and because this will be the easiest way for her to pass from becoming to truth and being… Arithmetic has a very great and elevating effect, compelling the soul to reason about abstract number, and rebelling against the introduction of visible or tangible objects into the argument.

Plato, The Republic, Book VII

2 Comments

  1. raph raph

    In other words, and by pushing a bit too far, can we concldue that he prefers technocrats to politicians? As far as I recall he wanted philosophers to be the natural leaders of city states …

    Then I guess he would love the EU of today.

    • Jérôme Cigut Jérôme Cigut

      He wanted philosophers… but not the BHL type. He wanted them to have a background in Maths too.
      As for the comparison with the EU, you can see what you want in the quotation, but I feel this was not really his point.

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