An article recently completed by my colleagues at UNT”s Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity. Worth the read good brothers & sisters of the Ether.
One of the oldest questions of philosophy is, “Who guards the guardians?” When Plato posed this question — if not quite this succinctly — his concern was with how a community can keep its leaders focused on the good of the whole. Plato’s answer was that guardians should govern themselves — philosophy would train their souls so that they would choose wisely rather than unjustly. Kings would become philosophers, and philosophers kings.
This is not how we do things today. In representative forms of government the people rule, at least intermittently, through processes such as voting, recalls, and referenda. Particularly within the American experiment everybody guards everyone else — through a system of “checks and balances.” But there is at least one major institution that still follows Plato’s lead, relying on self-governance and remaining proudly nondemocratic: the academy.