And now let us begin again at the art of managing herds. 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. The idea of the king or statesmanand the illustration of method are connected, not like the love andrhetoric of the Phaedrus, by 'little invisible pegs,' but in a confused andinartistic manner, which fails to produce any impression of a whole on themind of the reader. Great changes occur in thehistory of nations, but they are brought about slowly, like the changes inthe frame of nature, upon which the puny arm of man hardly makes animpression. Both the serious discussions and the jests are sometimes out ofplace. But our concern is chieflywith that part of the art of wool-working which composes, and of which onekind twists and the other interlaces the threads, whether the firmertexture of the warp or the looser texture of the woof. The stylesand the situations of the speakers are very similar; there is the same loveof division, and in both of them the mind of the writer is greatly occupiedabout method, to which he had probably intended to return in the projected'Philosopher.'. Inthe Sophist and Statesman especially we note that the discussion is partlyregarded as an illustration of method, and that analogies are brought fromafar which throw light on the main subject. (Summary by Geoffrey Edwards) share Share No_Favorite Favorite rss RSS. Plato’s thought: A philosophy of reason. For one of the principal advantages of law is not merely that itenforces honesty, but that it makes men act in the same way, and requiresthem to produce the same evidence of their acts. Let us, then, take an example, which willillustrate the nature of example, and will also assist us in characterizingthe political science, and in separating the true king from his rivals. Very good,Socrates, and if you are not too particular about words you will be all thericher some day in true wisdom. The ancient legislator would have found this question moreeasy than we do. Yet no great number of persons can attain to thisscience. The common people say: Let a manpersuade the city first, and then let him impose new laws. 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). And do we wonder, when the foundation of politics is in the letter only, atthe miseries of states? and we say also, how calm! For at first the universeis governed by the immediate providence of God,--this is the golden age,--but after a while the wheel is reversed, and man is left to himself. 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. 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. Laws should be just, but they must also be certain, and we are obliged tosacrifice something of their justice to their certainty. how vigorous! The two classes both have theirexaggerations; and the exaggerations of the one are termed 'hardness,''violence,' 'madness;' of the other 'cowardliness,' or 'sluggishness.' Then the Creator, seeing the worldin great straits, and fearing that chaos and infinity would come again, inhis tender care again placed himself at the helm and restored order, andmade the world immortal and imperishable. For they ought to have perished long ago, if they had dependedon the wisdom of their rulers. Socrates concludes his attack on the \"libelous poetry\" that portrays his beloved virtues in so many negative lights. The words inwhich he describes the miseries of states seem to be an amplification ofthe 'Cities will never cease from ill' of the Republic. Nor is iteasy for the Christian to think of God as wisdom, truth, holiness, and alsoas the wise, true, and holy one. But thecomparison of the Laws proves that this repetition of his own thoughts andwords in an inferior form is characteristic of Plato's later style. 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. The reason ofthis further decline is supposed to be the disorganisation of matter: thelatent seeds of a former chaos are disengaged, and envelope all things. Some discrepancies may be observedbetween the mythology of the Statesman and the Timaeus, and between theTimaeus and the Republic. For the philosopher or dialectician is also the only true king orstatesman. He is constantly dwelling on the importance of regularclassification, and of not putting words in the place of things. 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. And if we say that the weaver's art isthe greatest and noblest of those which have to do with woollen garments,--this, although true, is not sufficiently distinct; because these other artsrequire to be first cleared away. At present I am content with the indirectproof that the existence of such a standard is necessary to the existenceof the arts. Such was the origin of theearthborn men. 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. Such a conception hassometimes been entertained by modern theologians, and by Plato himself, ofthe Supreme Being. 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. Plato glories in this impartiality of the dialectical method, which placesbirds in juxtaposition with men, and the king side by side with the bird-catcher; king or vermin-destroyer are objects of equal interest to science(compare Parmen.). 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? As theadviser of a physician may be said to have medical science and to be aphysician, so the adviser of a king has royal science and is a king. I know very little about it, can you tell me why you chose it? Plato does not trouble himself to construct a machinery by which'philosophers shall be made kings,' as in the Republic: he merely holds upthe ideal, and affirms that in some sense science is really supreme overhuman life. It is presented that politics should be run by this knowledge, or gnosis. We perceive, however, that there is no inappropriateness inhis maintaining the character of chief speaker, when we remember the closeconnexion which is assumed by Plato to exist between politics anddialectic. A logical or psychological phase takes the place of the doctrine of Ideasin his mind. There is; but beforewe can apply this measure, we must know what is the aim of discourse: andour discourse only aims at the dialectical improvement of ourselves andothers.--Having made our apology, we return once more to the king orstatesman, and proceed to contrast him with pretenders in the same linewith him, under their various forms of government. Once more the cycle of life andgeneration was reversed; the infants grew into young men, and the young menbecame greyheaded; no longer did the animals spring out of the earth; asthe whole world was now lord of its own progress, so the parts were to beself-created and self-nourished. In the Statesman Plato admits that, although there is a correct science of government, like geometry it cannot be realized, and he stresses the need for the rule of law, since no ruler can be trusted with unbridled power. According to John M. Cooper, the dialogue was intended to clarify that to rule or have political power called for a specialized knowledge. The true answer to the question is relative to the circumstances ofnations. And, speaking generally, the slowest growths, both in natureand in politics, are the most permanent. The human bonds ofstates are formed by the inter-marriage of dispositions adapted to supplythe defects of each other. 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. Its elaboration of the "ship of state" metaphor improves upon the Republic. Hence we conclude that the science of the king, statesman, andhouseholder is one and the same. All things require to be compared,not only with one another, but with the mean, without which there would beno beauty and no art, whether the art of the statesman or the art ofweaving or any other; for all the arts guard against excess or defect,which are real evils. And they may govern us either withor without law, and whether they are poor or rich, and however they govern,provided they govern on some scientific principle,--it makes no difference. Professor Campbell well observes, thatthe general spirit of the myth may be summed up in the words of the Lysis: 'If evil were to perish, should we hunger any more, or thirst any more, orhave any similar sensations? In the fulness of time, when the earthborn men had all passedaway, the ruler of the universe let go the helm, and became a spectator;and destiny and natural impulse swayed the world. 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. But in the Statesman of Plato, as in the New Testament, the word has also become the symbol of an imperfect good, which is almost an evil. Children aretaught to read by being made to compare cases in which they do not know acertain letter with cases in which they know it, until they learn torecognize it in all its combinations. Other forms of thought may be noted--the distinctionbetween causal and co-operative arts, which may be compared with thedistinction between primary and co-operative causes in the Timaeus; orbetween cause and condition in the Phaedo; the passing mention ofeconomical science; the opposition of rest and motion, which is found inall nature; the general conception of two great arts of composition anddivision, in which are contained weaving, politics, dialectic; and inconnexion with the conception of a mean, the two arts of measuring. The political aspects of the dialogue are closely connected with thedialectical. He isbitter and satirical, and seems to be sadly conscious of the realities ofhuman life. Le mythe met en lumière les conditions qui devraient être remplies pour que les premières divisions soient affranchies de leur incohérence. It is ostensibly an attempt to arrive at a definition of "statesman," as opposed to "sophist" or "philosopher" and is presented as following the action of the Sophist. For the firstgeneration of the new cycle, who lived near the time, are supposed to havepreserved a recollection of a previous one. 4. Much has beensaid in modern times about the duty of leaving men to themselves, which issupposed to be the best way of taking care of them. ); he pursues them to a length out ofproportion to his main subject, and appears to value them as a dialecticalexercise, and for their own sake. The youngerSocrates resembles his namesake in nothing but a name. A true government must thereforebe the government of one, or of a few. If, however, we mean by the rule ofthe few the rule of a class neither better nor worse than other classes,not devoid of a feeling of right, but guided mostly by a sense of their owninterests, and by the rule of the many the rule of all classes, similarlyunder the influence of mixed motives, no one would hesitate to answer--'Therule of all rather than one, because all classes are more likely to takecare of all than one of another; and the government has greater power andstability when resting on a wider basis.' Andif we pursue the enquiry, we find that these opposite characters arenaturally at variance, and can hardly be reconciled. 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. The point of viewin both is the same; and the differences not really important, e.g. The myth gave us only the image of a divine shepherd,whereas the statesmen and kings of our own day very much resemble theirsubjects in education and breeding. But then, as we have seen,no great number of men, whether poor or rich, can be makers of laws. 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. (5) His characteristicis, that he alone has science, which is superior to law and writtenenactments; these do but spring out of the necessities of mankind, whenthey are in despair of finding the true king. And thescience which has this authority over the rest, is the science of the kingor statesman. Let me suppose now, that a physician or trainer, having leftdirections for his patients or pupils, goes into a far country, and comesback sooner than he intended; owing to some unexpected change in theweather, the patient or pupil seems to require a different mode oftreatment: Would he persist in his old commands, under the idea that allothers are noxious and heterodox? Besides the supreme science of dialectic, 'which will forget us, if weforget her,' another master-science for the first time appears in view--thescience of government, which fixes the limits of all the rest. 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 interlocutors ultimately offer a complicated account of the statesman through a version of division that entails accounting for the object of inquiry 'by carving at the joints' like a 'sacrificial animal' (Statesman 287b-c).. 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. This has the incidental advantage, that weaving and the web furnish us witha figure of speech, which we can afterwards transfer to the State. Whenwith the best intentions the benevolent despot begins his regime, he findsthe world hard to move. And what's the relation between politics and philosophy? 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. What the best is, Plato does not attempt todetermine; he only contrasts the imperfection of law with the wisdom of theperfect ruler. For the compact which the law makes withmen, that they shall be protected if they observe the law in their dealingswith one another, would have to be substituted another principle of a moregeneral character, that they shall be protected by the law if they actrightly in their dealings with one another. There is the same declineand tendency to monotony in style, the same self-consciousness,awkwardness, and over-civility; and in the Laws is contained the pattern ofthat second best form of government, which, after all, is admitted to bethe only attainable one in this world. 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. 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. In that case we should have begun by dividing land animalsinto bipeds and quadrupeds, and bipeds into winged and wingless; we shouldthan have taken the Statesman and set him over the 'bipes implume,' and putthe reins of government into his hands.
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