The Wheel-Turning Philosopher-King: Plato and Buddha on the Inculcation of Virtue

Doug Campbell

Samedi, Concordia – 11h à 11h30

This talk will compare the way that Plato and Buddha thought that rulers ought to make their citizens virtuous. The important difference between them is that Plato believed that rulers could act only through institutions: chiefly, the education system, but also the legal system. In contrast, the Buddha believed that, while acting through institutions (specifically, laws) is important, more important is the way that the ruler provides moral leadership simply by acting visibly. The way a leader displays his or her character influences the characters of the citizens, even if the leader is not passing laws or education reforms to inculcate any habits at all.