Often people say Plato has three great political dialogues, the Republic, the Statesman and the Laws. To the Greek, nomos was asacred word, but the political idealism of Plato soars into a regionbeyond; for the laws he would substitute the intelligent will of thelegislator. When Plato was a child his father died and his mother married Pyrilampes who was a collegue of the statesman Pericles. Atlast, then, we have found a trace of those whom we were seeking. Plato’s Symposium is a series of speeches on Love given at a party in ancient Greece. The ancient legislator would have found this question moreeasy than we do. He noweats bread in the sweat of his brow, and has dominion over the animals,subjected to the conditions of his nature, and yet able to cope with themby divine help. This opposition of terms is extended by us toall actions, to the tones of the voice, the notes of music, the workings ofthe mind, the characters of men. 1. He is constantly dwelling on the importance of regularclassification, and of not putting words in the place of things. SOCRATES: Does the great geometrician apply the same measure to all three?Are they not divided by an interval which no geometrical ratio can express? Along the way, the three men meet Adeimantus, another brother of Plato. The law sacrifices the individual to the universal, and is the tyranny of the many over the few (compare Republic). Thesemeans are not a mere external organisation of posts or telegraphs, hardlythe introduction of new laws or modes of industry. He isbitter and satirical, and seems to be sadly conscious of the realities ofhuman life. When an individual rules according tolaw, whether by the help of science or opinion, this is called monarchy;and when he has royal science he is a king, whether he be so in fact ornot; but when he rules in spite of law, and is blind with ignorance andpassion, he is called a tyrant. b. And yet the figure of the king is still defective. 'But what, Stranger, is the deficiency of which you speak?' Several of the jests are mannered and laboured: for example, the turn of words with which the dialogue opens; or the clumsyjoke about man being an animal, who has a power of two-feet--both which aresuggested by the presence of Theodorus, the geometrician. But though Plato has his characters give accounts of the sophist and statesman in their respective dialogues, it is most likely that he never wrote a dialogue about the philosopher. At first, man andthe world retain their divine instincts, but gradually degenerate. Viewed in the light of science, wouldnot the continuance of such regulations be ridiculous? Rather, as in the Phaedo, he says, 'Something of the kind is true;'or, as in the Gorgias, 'This you will think to be an old wife's tale, butyou can think of nothing truer;' or, as in the Statesman, he describes hiswork as a 'mass of mythology,' which was introduced in order to teachcertain lessons; or, as in the Phaedrus, he secretly laughs at such storieswhile refusing to disturb the popular belief in them. Out of these human life was framed;for mankind were left to themselves, and ordered their own ways, living,like the universe, in one cycle after one manner, and in another cycleafter another manner. The origin of these and the like stories is to be foundin the tale which I am about to narrate. There is anotherexcellent jest which I spy in the two remaining species. A change must be madein the spirit of a people as well as in their externals. We shall find, in the Philebus, a division of sciencesinto practical and speculative, and into more or less speculative: here wehave the idea of master-arts, or sciences which control inferior ones. He presents the ideaof a perfect government, but except the regulation for mixing differenttempers in marriage, he never makes any provision for the attainment of it.Aristotle, casting aside ideals, would place the government in a middleclass of citizens, sufficiently numerous for stability, without admittingthe populace; and such appears to have been the constitution which actuallyprevailed for a short time at Athens--the rule of the Five Thousand--characterized by Thucydides as the best government of Athens which he hadknown. A succession of good kings has at the end of acentury left the people an inert and unchanged mass. Plato apologizes for his tediousness, and acknowledgesthat the improvement of his audience has been his only aim in some of hisdigressions. Nolegislation ever sprang, like Athene, in full power out of the head eitherof God or man. They are ready to accept any of the sixforms of government which prevail in the world. There may have been a time when the kingwas a god, but he now is pretty much on a level with his subjects inbreeding and education. in the world as it is, he finds three chief kinds of government,—by one ruler, by the few, and by the many. For he would have required that all persons who had ashare of government should have received their education from the state andhave borne her burdens, and should have served in her fleets and armies. This is scientific government, and all others areimitations only. Mankind havelong been in despair of finding the true ruler; and therefore are ready toacquiesce in any of the five or six received forms of government as betterthan none. The outline may be filled up as follows:--. The two essays are thematically and historically connected, for the Statesman supposedly takes place immediately after the Sophist. At this point we may take a longer or a shorterroad, and as we are already near the end, I see no harm in taking thelonger, which is the way of mesotomy, and accords with the principle whichwe were laying down. The dialectical interest of the Statesman seems to contend in Plato'smind with the political; the dialogue might have been designated by twoequally descriptive titles--either the 'Statesman,' or 'Concerning Method.' There would have been little disposition to doubt the genuineness ofthe Sophist and Statesman, if they had been compared with the Laws ratherthan with the Republic, and the Laws had been received, as they ought tobe, on the authority of Aristotle and on the ground of their intrinsicexcellence, as an undoubted work of Plato. The young Socrates has heard of the sun rising in the westand setting in the east, and of the earth-born men; but he has never heardthe origin of these remarkable phenomena. Here, as in the tale ofEr, the son of Armenius, he touches upon the question of freedom andnecessity, both in relation to God and nature. Commentary: A few comments have been posted about Statesman. In certain states of theworld the means are wanting to render a benevolent power effectual. in themyth, or in the account of the different kinds of states. The true answer to the question is relative to the circumstances ofnations. IV. All Rights Reserved. Literature Network » Plato » Statesman » Introduction and Analysis. Thereis no such interval between the Republic or Phaedrus and the two suspecteddialogues, as that which separates all the earlier writings of Plato fromthe Laws. Your division was like adivision of the human race into Hellenes and Barbarians, or into Lydians orPhrygians and all other nations, instead of into male and female; or like adivision of number into ten thousand and all other numbers, instead of intoodd and even. Thoughno one knew better than Plato that the introduction of the gods is not areason, but an excuse for not giving a reason (Cratylus), yet, consideringthat more than two thousand years later mankind are still discussing theseproblems, we may be satisfied to find in Plato a statement of thedifficulties which arise in conceiving the relation of man to God andnature, without expecting to obtain from him a solution of them. Yet no great number of persons can attain to thisscience. The too much and the too little are in restlessmotion: they must be fixed by a mean, which is also a standard external tothem. The Statesman stands midway between the Republic and the Laws, and is alsorelated to the Timaeus. The people are expecting tobe governed by representatives of their own, but the true man of the peopleeither never appears, or is quickly altered by circumstances. He hasbanished the poets, and is beginning to use a technical language. And the art of carding, and the wholeart of the fuller and the mender, are concerned with the treatment andproduction of clothes, as well as the art of weaving. But how would you subdivide the herdsman'sart? Od. This new action is spontaneous, andis due to exquisite perfection of balance, to the vast size of theuniverse, and to the smallness of the pivot upon which it turns. We may now divide this art of measurement into two parts; placing in theone part all the arts which measure the relative size or number of objects,and in the other all those which depend upon a mean or standard. But to return to your division, you spoke of men and otheranimals as two classes--the second of which you comprehended under thegeneral name of beasts. Men and birds areboth bipeds, and human beings are running a race with the airiest andfreest of creation, in which they are far behind their competitors;--thisis a great joke, and there is a still better in the juxtaposition of thebird-taker and the king, who may be seen scampering after them. I willanswer that question by asking you whether the training master gives adifferent discipline to each of his pupils, or whether he has a generalrule of diet and exercise which is suited to the constitutions of themajority? And there was no violence among them, or war, or devouring of oneanother. At the same instant allthe inferior deities gave up their hold; the whole universe rebounded, andthere was a great earthquake, and utter ruin of all manner of animals. At first the case of men was veryhelpless and pitiable; for they were alone among the wild beasts, and hadto carry on the struggle for existence without arts or knowledge, and hadno food, and did not know how to get any. 'The arts would utterly perish, and human life, which is bad enoughalready, would become intolerable.'. Most persons intheir marriages seek after wealth or power; or they are clannish, andchoose those who are like themselves,--the temperate marrying thetemperate, and the courageous the courageous. As inthe Book of Genesis, the first fall of man is succeeded by a second; themisery and wickedness of the world increase continually. Introduction to the Statesman. The words inwhich he describes the miseries of states seem to be an amplification ofthe 'Cities will never cease from ill' of the Republic. The Sophist had begun with the question of whether the sophist, statesman, and philosopher were one or three, leading the Eleatic Stranger to argue that they were three but that this could only be ascertained through full accounts of each (Sophist 217b). Man should be well advised that he is only one ofthe animals, and the Hellene in particular should be aware that he himselfwas the author of the distinction between Hellene and Barbarian, and thatthe Phrygian would equally divide mankind into Phrygians and Barbarians,and that some intelligent animal, like a crane, might go a step further,and divide the animal world into cranes and all other animals. The former is more akin to us: it clothes itself in poetry andart, and appeals to reason more in the form of feeling: in the latterthere is less danger of allowing ourselves to be deluded by a figure ofspeech. And thetending of living animals may be either a tending of individuals, or amanaging of herds. The higher ranks have the advantage in education and manners, themiddle and lower in industry and self-denial; in every class, to a certainextent, a natural sense of right prevails, sometimes communicated from thelower to the higher, sometimes from the higher to the lower, which is toostrong for class interests. It continues the discussion around the philosophy of concepts started in the Sophist. A similar spirit is discernible inthe remarkable expressions, 'the long and difficult language of facts;' and'the interrogation of every nature, in order to obtain the particularcontribution of each to the store of knowledge.' Acknowledgement: I have summarized Plato's dialogs (some much more than others) using The Collected Dialogues Bollingen Series Princeton University Press 1961-1989, edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. They even go a step further, andenact, that he who is found enquiring into the truth of navigation andmedicine, and is seeking to be wise above what is written, shall be callednot an artist, but a dreamer, a prating Sophist and a corruptor of youth;and if he try to persuade others to investigate those sciences in a mannercontrary to the law, he shall be punished with the utmost severity. The youngerSocrates resembles his namesake in nothing but a name. In the truest sense of all, the ruler is not man but God; andsuch a government existed in a former cycle of human history, and may againexist when the gods resume their care of mankind. According to John M. Cooper, the dialogue was intended to clarify that to rule or have political power called for a specialized knowledge. If having boundless leisure, and the power of discoursing not only with oneanother but with the animals, they had employed these advantages with aview to philosophy, gathering from every nature some addition to theirstore of knowledge;--or again, if they had merely eaten and drunk, and toldstories to one another, and to the beasts;--in either case, I say, therewould be no difficulty in answering the question. The Statesman also offers a transitional statement of Plato’s political philosophy between the Republic and the Laws. Plato maintains that the King or the Statesman may do good to the citizens against their will, even by violence, at least in theory; but 2. As in the Theaetetus, evil issupposed to continue,--here, as the consequence of a former state of theworld, a sort of mephitic vapour exhaling from some ancient chaos,--there,as involved in the possibility of good, and incident to the mixed state ofman. Thus theywill embrace every species of property with the exception of animals,--butthese have been already included in the art of tending herds. Whereas the right way is to find the differences of classes, andto comprehend the things which have any affinity under the same class. Such justicehas been often exercised in primitive times, or at the present day amongeastern rulers. And thescience which has this authority over the rest, is the science of the kingor statesman. In A Stranger's Knowledge Marquez argues that Plato abandons here the classic idea, prominent in the Republic, that the philosopher, qua philosopher, is qualified to rule. The temperate are careful and just, butare wanting in the power of action; the courageous fall short of them injustice, but in action are superior to them: and no state can prosper inwhich either of these qualities is wanting. To theuneducated person he would appear to be the ideal of a judge. 465 Views . For the lord of moving things is alone self-moved;neither can piety allow that he goes at one time in one direction and atanother time in another; or that God has given the universe oppositemotions; or that there are two gods, one turning it in one direction,another in another. To thosewho were naturally inclined to believe that the fortunes of mankind areinfluenced by the stars, or who maintained that some one principle, likethe principle of the Same and the Other in the Timaeus, pervades all thingsin the world, the reversal of the motion of the heavens seemed necessarilyto produce a reversal of the order of human life. Or where isthe value of metaphysical pursuits more truly expressed than in the words,--'The greatest and noblest things have no outward image of themselvesvisible to man: therefore we should learn to give a rational account ofthem?'. The Statesman is a difficult and puzzling Platonic dialogue. He is a young nobleman named Polemarchus. comment. But in the Statesman ofPlato, as in the New Testament, the word has also become the symbol of animperfect good, which is almost an evil. If we suppose the Sophist andPoliticus to stand halfway between the Republic and the Laws, and in nearconnexion with the Theaetetus, the Parmenides, the Philebus, the argumentsagainst them derived from differences of thought and style disappear or maybe said without paradox in some degree to confirm their genuineness. The spheres ofknowledge, which to us appear wide asunder as the poles, astronomy andmedicine, were naturally connected in the minds of early thinkers, becausethere was little or nothing in the space between them. The ideal of the Greek state found an expression in thedeification of law: the ancient Stoic spoke of a wise man perfect invirtue, who was fancifully said to be a king; but neither they nor Platohad arrived at the conception of a person who was also a law. Thisconception of the political or royal science as, from another point ofview, the science of sciences, which holds sway over the rest, is notoriginally found in Aristotle, but in Plato. How can we get the greatest intelligence combined with thegreatest power? And as the physician may cure us with our will, or against our will, and byany mode of treatment, burning, bleeding, lowering, fattening, if he onlyproceeds scientifically: so the true governor may reduce or fatten orbleed the body corporate, while he acts according to the rules of his art,and with a view to the good of the state, whether according to law orwithout law. Suppose a wiseand good judge, who paying little or no regard to the law, attempted todecide with perfect justice the cases that were brought before him. The reason of the falling off was thedisengagement of a former chaos; 'a muddy vesture of decay' was a part ofhis original nature, out of which he was brought by his Creator, underwhose immediate guidance, while he remained in that former cycle, the evilwas minimized and the good increased to the utmost. Plato, Statesman ("Agamemnon", "Hom. The search after the Statesman, which is carried on, like that for theSophist, by the method of dichotomy, gives an opportunity for many humorousand satirical remarks. I will make one more observation by the way. The condition of man becomes more and more miserable; he is perpetuallywaging an unequal warfare with the beasts. Yet the ideal glory of the Platonic philosophy is notextinguished. The two classes both have theirexaggerations; and the exaggerations of the one are termed 'hardness,''violence,' 'madness;' of the other 'cowardliness,' or 'sluggishness.' The Sophist contains four examples of division, carried on byregular steps, until in four different lines of descent we detect theSophist. We forgot this in our hurry to arrive at man, and found byexperience, as the proverb says, that 'the more haste the worse speed.'. These three men are walking the path that Minos (a legendary lawgiver of Crete) and his father followed every nine years to receive the guidance of Zeus. The Statesman (Greek: Πολιτικός, Politikós; Latin: Politicus[1]), also known by its Latin title, Politicus, is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. Admitting of course that the upper and lower classes are equalin the eye of God and of the law, yet the one may be by nature fitted togovern and the other to be governed. His own image may be used as a motto of his style: like aninexpert statuary he has made the figure or outline too large, and isunable to give the proper colours or proportions to his work. howtemperate! The question is oftenasked, What are the limits of legislation in relation to morals? And yet we havenot clearly distinguished the political shepherd from his rivals. And hence follows an important result. There is a one-sided truth in these answers, if they are regarded ascondemnations of the interference with commerce in the last century or ofclerical persecution in the Middle Ages. Plato seems to be conscious of the suggestivenessof imagery; the general analogy of the arts is constantly employed by himas well as the comparison of particular arts--weaving, the refining ofgold, the learning to read, music, statuary, painting, medicine, the art ofthe pilot--all of which occur in this dialogue alone: though he is alsoaware that 'comparisons are slippery things,' and may often give a falseclearness to ideas. It may however be doubted how far, either in a Greek or modernstate, such a limitation is practicable or desirable; for those who areleft outside the pale will always be dangerous to those who are within,while on the other hand the leaven of the mob can hardly affect therepresentation of a great country. Plato - Plato - Late dialogues: The Parmenides demonstrates that the sketches of forms presented in the middle dialogues were not adequate; this dialogue and the ones that follow spur readers to develop a more viable understanding of these entities. This would not have been the case, if they hadboth originally held the same notions about the honourable and the good;for then they never would have allowed the temperate natures to beseparated from the courageous, but they would have bound them together bycommon honours and reputations, by intermarriages, and by the choice ofrulers who combine both qualities. Thevirtuous tyrant is common to both of them; and the Eleatic Stranger takesup a position similar to that of the Athenian Stranger in the Laws. The other consideration is of an opposite kind. Both expressly recognize the conception of a first or idealstate, which has receded into an invisible heaven. VI. It is not of use to the State. The individual translators for quotations included are noted below. The similar passages and turns of thought are generally inferior to theparallel passages in his earlier writings; and we might a priori haveexpected that, if altered, they would have been improved. Thus Plato may be said to represent in a figure--(1) thestate of innocence; (2) the fall of man; (3) the still deeper decline intobarbarism; (4) the restoration of man by the partial interference of God,and the natural growth of the arts and of civilised society. But,as there is no natural ruler of the hive, they meet together and make laws. No, not that; but another part of the story, which tells howthe sun and stars once arose in the west and set in the east, and that thegod reversed their motion, as a witness to the right of Atreus. Whether the best form of the ideal is a person or a law may fairly bedoubted. As a young man, Plato had political ambitions, but he quickly abandoned them when he began to become dissatisfied with the leadership in Athens. Some states he sees already shipwrecked, others founderingfor want of a pilot; and he wonders not at their destruction, but at theirendurance. When a pupil at a school isasked the letters which make up a particular word, is he not asked with aview to his knowing the same letters in all words? May not any man, rich or poor, with or withoutlaw, and whether the citizens like or not, do what is for their good? For a king rules with his mind, and not with hishands. The text is a dialogue between Socrates and the mathematician Theodorus, another student named Socrates (referred to as Young Socrates), and an unknown philosopher expounding the ideas of the statesman. But mankind, in despair of finding a trueruler, are willing to acquiesce in any law or custom which will save themfrom the caprice of individuals. Please to observe that they can only be fairly judged whencompared with what is meet; and yet not with what is meet for producingpleasure, nor even meet for making discoveries, but for the great end ofdeveloping the dialectical method and sharpening the wits of the auditors.He who censures us, should prove that, if our words had been fewer, theywould have been better calculated to make men dialecticians. But now I recognize the politician and his troop, thechief of Sophists, the prince of charlatans, the most accomplished ofwizards, who must be carefully distinguished from the true king orstatesman. The royal art has been separated from that of otherherdsmen, but not from the causal and co-operative arts which exist instates; these do not admit of dichotomy, and therefore they must be carvedneatly, like the limbs of a victim, not into more parts than are necessary.And first (1) we have the large class of instruments, which includes almosteverything in the world; from these may be parted off (2) vessels which areframed for the preservation of things, moist or dry, prepared in the fireor out of the fire. The white locks of the aged became black; the cheeks of thebearded man were restored to their youth and fineness; the young men grewsofter and smaller, and, being reduced to the condition of children in mindas well as body, began to vanish away; and the bodies of those who had diedby violence, in a few moments underwent a parallel change and disappeared.In that cycle of existence there was no such thing as the procreation ofanimals from one another, but they were born of the earth, and of this ourancestors, who came into being immediately after the end of the last cycleand at the beginning of this, have preserved the recollection.
2020 the statesman plato summary