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the statesman plato summary

In modern politics so manyinterests have to be consulted that we are compelled to do, not what isbest, but what is possible. Get this from a library! Is not government a science, and are we to supposethat scientific government is secured by the rulers being many or few, richor poor, or by the rule being compulsory or voluntary? We forgot this in our hurry to arrive at man, and found byexperience, as the proverb says, that 'the more haste the worse speed.'. He touches upon another question of great interest--the consciousness ofevil--what in the Jewish Scriptures is called 'eating of the tree of theknowledge of good and evil.' 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. A previous chaos in which the elementsas yet were not, is hinted at both in the Timaeus and Statesman. Here he makes the oppositereflection, that there may be a philosophical disregard of words. At the beginning of thecycle before our own very few of them had survived; and on these a mightychange passed. The legislator, too, is obliged to lay downgeneral laws, and cannot enact what is precisely suitable to eachparticular case. Having remodelled the name, we may subdivide asbefore, first separating the human from the divine shepherd or manager.Then we may subdivide the human art of governing into the government ofwilling and unwilling subjects--royalty and tyranny--which are the extremeopposites of one another, although we in our simplicity have hithertoconfounded them. 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. I admit that there may besomething strange in any servants pretending to be masters, but I hardlythink that I could have been wrong in supposing that the principalclaimants to the throne will be of this class. And the best thing which they can do (though only the secondbest in reality), is to reduce the ideal state to the conditions of actuallife. But, as in the laterdialogues generally, the play of humour and the charm of poetry havedeparted, never to return. 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. 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. Nor does the account ofthe origin and growth of society really differ in them, if we makeallowance for the mythic character of the narrative in the Statesman. how vigorous! 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. The complexity of humanactions and also the uncertainty of their effects would be increasedtenfold. But whether applied to Divine or to human governors theconception is faulty for two reasons, neither of which are noticed byPlato:--first, because all good government supposes a degree of co-operation in the ruler and his subjects,--an 'education in politics' aswell as in moral virtue; secondly, because government, whether Divine orhuman, implies that the subject has a previous knowledge of the rules underwhich he is living. The scholarly apparatus is immense and detailed. 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. And the science of the king is of the latter nature; butthe power which he exercises is underived and uncontrolled,--acharacteristic which distinguishes him from heralds, prophets, and otherinferior officers. In no Hellenic city are there fifty good draught players, andcertainly there are not as many kings, for by kings we mean all those whoare possessed of the political science. The evilof mere verbal oppositions, the requirement of an impossible accuracy inthe use of terms, the error of supposing that philosophy was to be found inlanguage, the danger of word-catching, have frequently been discussed byhim in the previous dialogues, but nowhere has the spirit of moderninductive philosophy been more happily indicated than in the words of theStatesman:--'If you think more about things, and less about words, you willbe richer in wisdom as you grow older.' But thetreatment of the subject in the Statesman is fragmentary, and the shorterand later work, as might be expected, is less finished, and less worked outin detail. There are two arts of measuring--one is concerned withrelative size, and the other has reference to a mean or standard of what ismeet. 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. They will often learnby experience that the democracy has become a plutocracy. Overall Impression: Plato … 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. And here I will interpose a question: What are the true formsof government? Suppose that they elect annually byvote or lot those to whom authority in either department is to bedelegated. The dramaticcharacter is so completely forgotten, that a special reference is twicemade to discussions in the Sophist; and this, perhaps, is the strongestground which can be urged for doubting the genuineness of the work. There is anotherexcellent jest which I spy in the two remaining species. In the Statesman the king or statesman is discovered by a similarprocess; and we have a summary, probably made for the first time, ofpossessions appropriated by the labour of man, which are distributed intoseven classes. As in the Republic,the government of philosophers, the causes of the perversion of states, theregulation of marriages, are still the political problems with whichPlato's mind is occupied. In such atale, as in the Phaedrus, various aspects of the Ideas were doubtlessindicated to Plato's own mind, as the corresponding theological problemsare to us. I make theseremarks, because I want you to get rid of any impression that ourdiscussion about weaving and about the reversal of the universe, and theother discussion about the Sophist and not-being, were tedious andirrelevant. And hence follows an important result. 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. Tointerlace these is the crowning achievement of political science. 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? The Sophist contains four examples of division, carried on byregular steps, until in four different lines of descent we detect theSophist. Then again, we know that the masses are not our masters, and that they aremore likely to become so if we educate them. The outline may be filled up as follows:--. But we might have proceeded, as I was saying, by another and ashorter road. And this science is akin to knowledgerather than to action. 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. 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 plan of the Politicus or Statesman may be briefly sketched as follows: (1) By a process of division and subdivision we discover the true herdsmanor king of men. And the appearance of change or progress is not to beregarded as impugning the genuineness of any particular writings, but maybe even an argument in their favour. At first sightwe are surprised to find that the Eleatic Stranger discourses to us, notonly concerning the nature of Being and Not-being, but concerning the kingand statesman. He is the wholesale dealer in command, and the herald,or other officer, retails his commands to others. Nohigher truth can be made clear without an example; every man seems to knowall things in a dream, and to know nothing when he is awake. Even Homer is indicted. The ancientlegislator did not really take a blank tablet and inscribe upon it therules which reflection and experience had taught him to be for a nation'sinterest; no one would have obeyed him if he had. Hide browse bar Your current position in the text is marked in blue. plus-circle Add Review. The rest of the citizens she blendsinto one, combining the stronger element of courage, which we may call thewarp, with the softer element of temperance, which we may imagine to be thewoof. And the Statesman is not a groom, but a herdsman, andhis art may be called either the art of managing a herd, or the art ofcollective management:--Which do you prefer? 4. The Statesman, like Plato's earlier Sophist, features a Stranger who tries to refute Socrates. He then examines which of the current forms… 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. c. Besides the imaginary rule of a philosopher or a God, the actual formsof government have to be considered. What the best is, Plato does not attempt todetermine; he only contrasts the imperfection of law with the wisdom of theperfect ruler. 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. The arts of thegeneral, the judge, and the orator, will have to be separated from theroyal art; when the separation has been made, the nature of the king willbe unalloyed. Thus we have drawn several distinctions, but as yet have notdistinguished the weaving of garments from the kindred and co-operativearts. 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. There are two uses of examples or images--in the first place, they suggestthoughts--secondly, they give them a distinct form. For, as weremarked in discussing the Sophist, the dialectical method is no respecterof persons. As in the Republic, Plato has observed thatthere are opposite natures in the world, the strong and the gentle, thecourageous and the temperate, which, borrowing an expression derived fromthe image of weaving, he calls the warp and the woof of human society. The government of one is the bestand the worst--the government of a few is less bad and less good--thegovernment of the many is the least bad and least good of them all, beingthe best of all lawless governments, and the worst of all lawful ones. The Sophist and Statesman show the author’s increasing interest in mundane and practical knowledge. The law sacrifices the individualto the universal, and is the tyranny of the many over the few (compareRepublic). Now there are inferior sciences, such as music and others;and there is a superior science, which determines whether music is to belearnt or not, and this is different from them, and the governor of them.The science which determines whether we are to use persuasion, or not, ishigher than the art of persuasion; the science which determines whether weare to go to war, is higher than the art of the general. The Plan of the Statesman (pp. The difference between good and evil is the difference between amean or measure and excess or defect. For thelaws are based on some experience and wisdom. Socrates. Similar questionshave occupied the minds of theologians in later ages; but they can hardlybe said to have found an answer. But he is satisfied with laying down the principle, anddoes not inform us by what further steps the union of opposites is to beeffected. The nobleman invites the party to his home. The same love ofdivisions is apparent in the Gorgias. He cannot contain his disgust at thecontemporary statesmen, sophists who had turned politicians, in variousforms of men and animals, appearing, some like lions and centaurs, otherslike satyrs and monkeys. They were shepherdsof men and animals, each of them sufficing for those of whom he had thecare. 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. May not any man, rich or poor, with or withoutlaw, and whether the citizens like or not, do what is for their good? Be the first one to write a review. In orderthat our labour may not seem to be lost, I must explain the whole nature ofexcess and defect. These are adaptedto each other, and the orderly composition of them forms a woollen garment. That was the time whenPrometheus brought them fire, Hephaestus and Athene taught them arts, andother gods gave them seeds and plants. And theanswer is to the same effect, that morals must take care of themselves. Such a conception hassometimes been entertained by modern theologians, and by Plato himself, ofthe Supreme Being. 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. 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. Likeother theologians and philosophers, Plato relegates his explanation of theproblem to a transcendental world; he speaks of what in modern languagemight be termed 'impossibilities in the nature of things,' hindering Godfrom continuing immanent in the world. The excellence, importance, and metaphysical originality of the twodialogues: no works at once so good and of such length are known to haveproceeded from the hands of a forger. Thoughdeprived of God's help, he is not left wholly destitute; he has receivedfrom Athene and Hephaestus a knowledge of the arts; other gods give himseeds and plants; and out of these human life is reconstructed. Forthe orderly class are always wanting to be at peace, and hence they passimperceptibly into the condition of slaves; and the courageous sort arealways wanting to go to war, even when the odds are against them, and aresoon destroyed by their enemies. At length he obtains such ameasure of education and help as is necessary for his existence. For, as Heracleitus says, 'Oneis ten thousand if he be the best.' Very good,Socrates, and if you are not too particular about words you will be all thericher some day in true wisdom. The common people say: Let a manpersuade the city first, and then let him impose new laws. 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.' 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. The 'gentle violence,' the marriageof dissimilar natures, the figure of the warp and the woof, are also foundin the Laws. Hence we conclude that the science of the king, statesman, andhouseholder is one and the same. Nor am I referring to governmentofficials, such as heralds and scribes, for these are only the servants ofthe rulers, and not the rulers themselves. According to Plato, he is aphysician who has the knowledge of a physician, and he is a king who hasthe knowledge of a king. Then (6) there are the arts whichfurnish gold, silver, wood, bark, and other materials, which should havebeen put first; these, again, have no concern with the kingly science; anymore than the arts (7) which provide food and nourishment for the humanbody, and which furnish occupation to the husbandman, huntsman, doctor,cook, and the like, but not to the king or statesman. Along the way, the three men meet Adeimantus, another brother of Plato. But is aphysician only to cure his patients by persuasion, and not by force? Its elaboration of the "ship of state" metaphor improves upon the Republic. The hand of the master is clearly visible in the myth. There is reason for the argument infavour of a property qualification; there is reason also in the argumentsof those who would include all and so exhaust the political situation. What's so great about choosing who you get to marry? But hesoon falls, like Icarus, and is content to walk instead of flying; that is,to accommodate himself to the actual state of human things. Thesemeans are not a mere external organisation of posts or telegraphs, hardlythe introduction of new laws or modes of industry. The Statesman is naturally connected with the Sophist. The good legislator can implant by education the higherprinciples; and where they exist there is no difficulty in inserting thelesser human bonds, by which the State is held together; these are the lawsof intermarriage, and of union for the sake of offspring. Those that rule merely give the appearance of such knowledge, but in the end are really sophists or imitators. in themyth, or in the account of the different kinds of states. The sensible world, according to Plato is the world of contingent, contrary to the intelligible world, which contains essences or ideas, intelligible forms, models of all things, saving the phenomena and give them meaning. And let us further imagine, that when the term of theirmagistracy has expired, the magistrates appointed by them are summonedbefore an ignorant and unprofessional court, and may be condemned andpunished for breaking the regulations. 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. No onewould think of usurping the prerogatives of the ordinary shepherd, who onall hands is admitted to be the trainer, matchmaker, doctor, musician ofhis flock. Like Minos, they too wil… Hence the wiser course is,that they should be observed, although this is not the best thing of all,but only the second best. 1. It continues the discussion around the philosophy of concepts started in the Sophist. Ought we not rather to admire the strength of thepolitical bond? The philosopher ortheologian who could realize to mankind that a person is a law, that thehigher rule has no exception, that goodness, like knowledge, is also power,would breathe a new religious life into the world. The origin of these and the like stories is to be foundin the tale which I am about to narrate. Le mythe met en lumière les conditions qui devraient être remplies pour que les premières divisions soient affranchies de leur incohérence. Nor is Plato, here or elsewhere,wanting in denunciations of the incredulity of 'this latter age,' on whichthe lovers of the marvellous have always delighted to enlarge.

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