Gunsmoke

The passing of James Arness (aka Sheriff Matt Dillon) the other day reminded me of this excerpt from the Adam Curtis documentary “The Power of Nightmares” dealing with the curious TV viewing habits of Leo Strauss, the influential political philosopher whose teachings some have argued fostered the foreign policy adventurism advocated by neoconservatives within the Bush administration.

More interesting to me than the tenuous connection of Strauss to neoconservatism however, is his apparent endorsement of what have been called “noble lies” – myths leveraged by political elites for the sake of maintaining a cohesive society. The notion traces its roots back to Plato’s Republic and the ridiculous tale told by Socrates to explain the metallurgical origin of the different stratified classes of citizens in his proposed republic.

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4 Comments

Filed under Philosophy

4 responses to “Gunsmoke

  1. Plato’s concept of the Noble lie is not a bad thing if there is a common understanding of “virtue”. When virtue is interpreted as giving more power to economic entities in an increasingly deregulated global economy, one has to wonder if the concept of “civic virtue” is beyond redemption as an abstraction.

  2. One can only wonder, what is left ?

    I have come to believe that the libertarians are winning the battle of the contemporary discourse – the problem being that their worldview is spiritually barren in its devotion to a radical nihilism.

  3. D.I.D.

    Plato also advocated for Aristocracy as the ideal form of government and Socrates took pains to describe how to rear an effective ruling class.

    Problem being that our modern-day equivalent to “aristocrats” in no way match up to Plato’s or Socrates’ ideals and instead look much more like what they termed the Aristocracy’s degenerate form – the Oligarchy.

  4. Tomm

    A person can’t tell mis-information from real information at first glance, and we are bombarded by messaging at such a rate that most people don’t take the time to dig.

    D.I.D. I agree with you.

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