This article re-examines the old tension between the philosopher and the city. Reading Ibn Bājja's Governance of the Solitary and Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra against the background of Plato's Republic, it is argued that they both embrace several key aspects of Platonic political philosophy: the assumption that philosophical natures can grow spontaneously in sick cities, the ideal of the philosopher-legislator, and the correlative project of founding a virtuous new regime. Yet in preparation for this final task, each prescribes a regimen of solitude for philosophers, so that they might preserve their own health and autonomy. While this spiritual exercise at first appears merely temporary and provisional—aimed at the cultivation of a philosopher-ruler and the eventual establishment of a healthy political regime—it is argued that both Ibn Bājja and Zarathustra ultimately abandon their Platonic ambitions and opt instead for the apolitical contemplative life.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 699-739
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.