Arash Arjomandi: The King, and (l) Merit


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In philosophy we speak of the need, in many areas, of human experience, of an anhypothetical principle, that is, a first principle that supports all our hypotheses of knowledge without being, itself, hypothetical in nature. Plato says, in the ‘Republic’, that in order for thought to flow, it must start from such an assumption, accepted as an unquestioned premise. It is a principle that is beyond our ideas but on which they all depend. Aristotle says that this supreme assumption is the principle of unity, which cannot be demonstrated but can be shown, not only as logically plausible, but as an essential premise for us to think. His proof would require referring us to other principles, while we have just said that all of these rest on him. The only thing that is viable for us in demonstrative terms is to refute its invalidity or futility.

For Descartes, this fundamental principle, which constitutes the root of the tree of the whole of our knowledge, is that the thinking subject himself exists. The scholastics spoke of the transcendentals who found and sustain all categories (the basic concepts that organize our knowing) being, themselves, beyond the categorial plane. For Kant, this transcendental principle is what is a priori, that is, what is prior and independent of experience but which makes it possible.

So far, with regard to the anhypothetical principle in our knowledge systems. But what about the practical domain and, especially, the social and political level? Is such a principle possible in public affairs? Should a democratic society be governed by a prior principle, when it is defined precisely by having no other foundation other than the will, never predetermined and always changing, of the conjunctural majorities? Is it necessary that in democracies there is an indisputable and anhypothetical figure, who is outside the system, but who makes its unity possible? Does it make sense that democratic forms of government, which result from popular agreements, are governed by one element, beyond such consensus to make them possible?

The way I see it, the answer is yes. It would be the figure of an elected king, an elected monarch. I will explain myself. With the anhypothetical principle of knowledge transferred to the field of politics, in a genuine democracy where the unity of citizens is truly prioritized, without undermining their legitimate individualities, such a figure seems useful to unite the infinite diversity of interests, needs, aspirations, preferences and wills that coexist in society. If we recognize that unity is a value that is all the more vital for the survival and prosperity of a country the greater its plurality, then the existence of a figure who remains alien to this pluralism but who constitutes the support of its cohesion becomes just as vital. . Its incalculable value and usefulness shine through, not only but, above all, in critical moments of polarization and in contexts in which the front line threatens to dismember or disintegrate the very functioning of the democratic system, the separation of powers, the respect for fundamental rights, etc.

That figure can certainly be embodied by a constitutional and parliamentary monarch as is the case in our country. But a non-hereditary personality may also do it, perhaps in other countries that achieve democracy, who is chosen from time to time. However, there is, for this, an indispensable condition: unlike the common republics, such a figure should not be associated with political parties, social factions or ideological families; it would have to remain outside the system of plurality in order to embody its unity. His choice would be due to his merits: his virtues and attributes, his arbitrating and conciliatory charisma, his agglutinating magnetism, his skills as a moderator, his recognized wisdom and, above all, his record of service to society. Only in this way would it incarnate, in politics, that anhypothetical principle, because in order to sustain pluralism and the diversity of wills and aspirations, it is not possible to be part of these. A head of state or nation of this tenor would be a symbolic headquarters not because it is a mere ornament or embellishment, but because it would be known and recognized, clearly by the majority, as a figure that represents, in effect, the unity of the people and sister and integrates the whole of society. For a symbol is always the visualization of an idea; in this case: the idea of ​​unity in diversity.

In the same way that for Plato the anhypothetical principle is prior in its valence and value, but later in its determination and legitimation, (since it does not constitute an arbitrary axiom, but is found after a search), an elected chief or chief is not for its partisan orientations, but for its merits (charismatic authority, according to Max Weber), it finds its legitimacy in democratic legality (rational authority, according to Weber). But its valence and usefulness, as a giver of unity to diversity, lies in its character prior to plurality and independent of political interactions. In the same way that the anhypothetical principle of Plato and company is, by its own character of the first postulate, permanent and stable, this chosen monarch should be so for long periods of time – let us say, perhaps, a generation – on the basis of his virtues. , excellence, ethics, wisdom and connection to the history of the people in terms of their contribution to it, in a way that is evident to the majority, as a patent is every anhypothetical principle.

* Arash Arjomandi is a philosopher and professor of Ethics at the UAB

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