Even if one hasn’t seen this word before it’s definition can be deciphered by combining the two words ‘epistemology’ and ‘democracy’. The former meaning ‘The theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope.’ and the latter meaning ‘A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.’ Combining to mean a system of government where pay lays in the hands of the most knowledgeable.
The basic tenet of epistocracy is that we should be ruled by moral and political experts, thus not having a choice in who rules.
Crito by Plato – Dialogue between Socrates & Crito
Soc.Tell me, then, whether I am right in saying that some opinions, and the opinions of some men only, are to be valued, and other opinions, and the opinions of other men, are not to be valued. I ask you whether I was right in maintaining this?
Soc. The good are to be regarded, and not the bad?
Soc. And the opinions of the wise are good, and the opinions of the unwise are evil?
Soc. And what was said about another matter? Was the disciple in gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise and blame and opinion of every man, or of one man only- his physician or trainer, whoever that was?
Cr. Of one man only.
Soc. And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the praise of that one only, and not of the many?
Cr. That is clear.
Soc. And he ought to live and train, and eat and drink in the way which seems good to his single master who has understanding, rather than according to the opinion of all other men put together?
Soc. And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion and approval of the one, and regards the opinion of the many who have no understanding, will he not suffer evil?
Cr. Certainly he will.
Soc. And what will the evil be, whither tending and what affcting, in the disobedient person?
Cr. Clearly, affecting the body; that is what is destroyed by the evil.
Soc. Very good; and is not this true, Crito, of other things which we need not separately enumerate? In the matter of just and unjust, fair and foul, good and evil, which are the subjects of our present consultation, ought we to follow the opinion of the many and to fear them; or the opinion of the one man who has understanding, and whom we ought to fear and reverence more than all the rest of the world: and whom deserting we shall destroy and injure that principle in us which may be assumed to be improved by justice and deteriorated by injustice; is there not such a principle?
Plato’s view is that the majority of people, in the pyramid of their soul, have a large portion taken up by desires and wants; blurring the capabilities of logic and reasoning being sovereign. He, however, believes that there are certain people, he calls them ‘wisdom-lovers’ we know them as philosophers- that through intense studying only these elite are able to know the realm of the ‘Forms’. The ‘Forms’ are what Plato considers to be the true nature of things- just as beauty can have many alterations, it is derived from the ‘Form’ of beauty which WE can never know. He believes the philosopher kings should rule or choose who to rule because they have the power to know the form of ‘Good’, while the normal man only knows certain things to be good and bad. He makes this point in his Republic where he believes that for an ideal state, for a utopia, these philosopher kings must become our guardians and rule us, completely shunning Athenian democracy because the views of the average man are clouded by passion, desire and the inability to ever grasp the ‘Forms’.
Plato would argue against the ‘democracy’ we have today… #Occupy
Aristotle believes that as early as birth there is a difference between men in their destiny, that is, for some to be ruled by their body as the chief instrument in their decision making and the others by their soul. Those which the body overrides the soul and so decision making is corrupted to satisfy desires, are by nature there to be ruled. While those who are born to be masters the soul successfully rules over body and mind.
Aristotle – Politics Book 1
For that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest. Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female.
But is there any one thus intended by nature to be a slave, and for whom such a condition is expedient and right, or rather is not all slavery a violation of nature? There is no difficulty in answering this question, on grounds both of reason and of fact. For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule…
…And it is clear that the rule of the soul over the body, and of the mind and the rational element over the passionate, is natural and expedient; whereas the equality of the two or the rule of the inferior is always hurtful. The same holds good of animals in relation to men; for tame animals have a better nature than wild, and all tame animals are better off when they are ruled by man; for then they are preserved. Again, the male is by nature superior, and the female inferior; and the one rules, and the other is ruled; this principle, of necessity, extends to all mankind.
So not only is Aristotle an advocate of slavery but he believes women are inferior to men also. Do bear in mind that this was written thousands of years ago where such views would have been the norm around most people but this gives us an interesting insight into how he though.
Now, Aristotle goes on to discuss 3 systems of government which can be tyrannous; democracy, which he describes as ruling by the needy, oligarchy which he describes as ruling in the interest of the wealthy, and monarchy concerned only with the monarch. In the end, Aristotle believes that we should trust those who have time on their hands to discuss and think through problems leisurely without over things to worry about, to rule best for all of society, that means labourers are completely shut out and it seems the monarchy have the rule- we already know he believes that people are born superior and inferior.
The problem lies with who can claim to have such knowledge and be so wise, throughout history we have seen dictators rule countries affirming to themselves, they know ‘what’s best’. Interestingly enough in the ‘The Open Society and it’s Enemies’, by Austro-British philosopher Karl Popper, he found rooted in the works of Plato’s – Republic, the branches of thought where 20th century totalitarianism had stemmed from. The link here to TIME magazine’s toppled dictators will show dictator, in virtue of the word itself, has negative connotations so imagine how Plato’s idea of an elite of philosopher kings would have gone down in todays society…
…In todays society the elite controlled media would’ve painted Plato an illogical, evil, blood thirsty demon who deserves to have his murder glorified without trial…maybe…because he would’ve wanted rulers driven by knowledge rather than money.