Why the Philosopher Kings will believe the Noble Lie

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One puzzle about the so-called “Noble Lie” is how, if at all, the rulers in the ideal state (so-called “philosopher kings and queens”) could be brought to believe it. In this paper I show that the story that they are to endorse is hard to believe not because it is false but because it conveys a message that is challenging to both aristocratic and democratic ideologies. It is also couched in imagery that will make sense to the philosopher first and above all, particularly once she or he has emerged from the Cave and discovered the truth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-100
Number of pages34
JournalOxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy
Early online date1 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Republic
  • Noble Lie
  • Philosopher Kings

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