the statesman, (257a-291c, pp. 294 -335). philosophy 190: plato fall, 2014 prof. peter hadreas...

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The Statesman, (257A-291C, pp. 294 -335) .Philosophy 190: PlatoFall, 2014Prof. Peter HadreasCourse website:

Platos Academy, a mosaic in the Museo Nazionale, Naples, (Photo: Giraudon)Topic of the Statesman:

What is the art of statesmanship and how might it be applied well

Was Napoleon a good statesman? A good political leader? Is Barack Obama a good statesman? A good political leader?

Who Is the Eleatic Visitors Interlocutor: The Younger SocratesThe Socrates of Platos early and middle dialogues, as in the Sophist, is silent in the Statesman except for a few opening remarks. The younger Socrates, of the Statesman, is mentioned once in the Theaetetus (147D1) as studying mathematics with Theodorus and Theaetetus. He was likely an early member of Platos Academy. He is mentioned once in Platos Tenth Letter (358E). Aristotle also mentions him once in the Metaphysics (Meta, B 1036b25) in a way that suggests he belonged to a group in the Academy that Aristotle reproaches for their pan-mathematicism.

Result of Division (Diaeresis) I (p. 308, 267B-C)VISITOR: Well then; of theoretical knowledge, we had at the beginning a directive part; and of this, the section we wanted was by analogy said to be self-directing. Then again, rearing of living creatures, not the smallest classes of self-directing-self knowledge, was split off from it; then a herd-rearing form from rearing of living creatures, and from that in turn, rearing of what goes on foot; and from that, as the relevant part, was cut off the expertise of rearing the hornless sort. Of this in turn the part must be woven together as not less than triple, if one want to bring it together in a single name, calling it expert knowledge of rearing of non-interbreeding creatures. The segment from this, a part relating to a two-footed flock, concerned with rearing of human beings, still left on it own this very part is now what we were looking for, the same thing we call both kingly and statesman like.

End of Diaeresis I (p. 308, 267B-C) Is a Joke 1The last divisions of the longer way of the first Diaeresis 265E-266C hardly can be meant seriously The Stranger says that the young Socrates and Theaetetus need to divide up literally tear open -- the nurturing of hornless land-dwelling herd animals. (Theres a problem with dogs because they travel in packs when wild, but singly or severally with human beings when tame.) But especially funny is the comparison of four-footed animals to the square root of four and two-footed animals to the square root of two. As Rosen points out this is a Platonic joke. (Two-footed land animals are irrational like 2). And especially a joke or joke-like is the Visitor calling human beings the noblest and laziest race (266B10-C6) playing on the word for pig. 1. Indebted to Stanley Rosen for these observations. See Rosen, Stanley, Platos Statesman: The Web of Politics, (South Bend, IN: St, Augustines Press, 2009), pp. 34-35.

End of (Diaeresis) I (p. 308, 267B-C) Is a Joke 1The shorter way (266D-267A) the last revision in the first Diaeresis -- also seems to be ironical. The shorter way takes for granted that human beings are the only two-footed featherless animals, drops the main condition of the political art as a tender of human beings and inserts that the political leader holds the reins of the city. This suggests a comparison between human beings and horses. So we end up with the conclusion that the royal and political art is the pastoral science of unmixed breeders, a herding of two-footed animals.

1. Again adapted from Rosen, Stanley, Platos Statesman: The Web of Politics, (South Bend, IN: St, Augustines Press, 2009), pp. 34-35.

The Statesman Diaeresis I is an Example of the Misapplication the Method of Division in the Determination of a Type .1

The progress of the first application definition by Division, Diaeresis I, in the Statesman methodically demonstrates the misapplication of this manner of analysis. Each forward division step is revealed to be a step backward; admitted to be a failure; and, the correction of errors are made through further errors. The goal of the Method of Division is to uncover a natural and conceptual order. But this sequence of division relies on a freakish system of distinctions. Commentators find fundamental Socratic ironyThe Statesman Diaeresis I is an Example of the Misapplication the Method of Division in the Determination of a Type1 [from previous slide]

in the Early and Middle Plato Dialogues with little exception have been able to find irony in the Statesman. Few commentators allow Plato the same rhetorical complexity in this later dialogue. One of the few who reads the Statesman giving Plato the license to irony in the Statesman is Rosen. Rosen writes about Diaeresis I: Philosophy is transformed into technology and the doctrine of Ideas into ideology. Platonism is then indistinguishable from the late-modern version of the Enlightenment, according to which humans make themselves.

1. Rosen, Stanley, Platos Statesman: The Web of Politics, (South Bend, IN: St, Augustines Press, 2009), p. 36.

The Incompleteness of Diaeresis I: the Introduction of the Myth of a Forward and Backward Moving CosmosImmediately following his summary of Diaeresis I, the Visitor says that the previous result of the Method of Division has not been entirely successful (267C-D). In the case of the non-human herds there seems to be one art and type of person capable of caring for them. But in the case of human beings there are numerous types of professionals and producers who nurture people along with the statesman. There are for example, merchants, farmers, grain producers, gymnasts and physicians (2676-268A). In terms of Platos previous dialogues and his later dialogues such as the Timaeus and the Philebus we should also note that Diaeresis I of the Statesman is directed towards the human animal. There is an avoidance of any knowledge or techn that might be concerned with the best or the Good. The dialogue will finally arrive at the Socratic conclusion. But the initial investigation of the Visitor seems to methodically avoid it. The Myth of the Statesman:A Forward and Backward-Moving CosmosMyth of a Forward and Backward Moving Cosmos - IIntroduction(268E-269C)The Visitor refers to tales recounted by ancients. He says many actually took place and will occur again. (The Statesman myth bears comparison to Nietzsches Eternal Recurrence of the Same.) The Visitor mentions the account of the heavenly sign marked upon the strife between Atreus and Thyestes. The legend that the Visitor refers to is about strife between two brothers Atreus and Thyestes who fight over who should be king. Zeus settles the dispute in preference of Atreus. Myth of a Forward and Backward Moving Cosmos I Introduction(268E-269C) [continued]Zeus then changes the course of the sun and the Pleiades as a sign of his decision. The Visitor in the Statesman revises the legend. Instead of changing the motion of the sun and the Pleiades, The Visitor has Zeus changing the motion of the entire cosmos, a motion which perpetually recurs. Hence forward there is the epoch of the motion of the cosmos as we know it, followed and preceded by its reversal. This recurs perpetually. Well call the first the forward epoch and the second the reverse epoch. Ruins of Mycenae. Thought to be Atreus treasure or perhaps Agamemnons tomb.

Myth of a Forward and Backward Moving Cosmos - IIDescription of Cosmic Motion (269C-270B)The Visitor refers to the god who guides all. This would suggest a Demiurge. Neither Zeus the Forward Epoch god nor Cronus the Reverse Epoch god will qualify since they operate within their specific epochs. Some overriding Demiurge guides the cosmos which is described as possessing a body and being alive. The Visitor describes the Reverse Epoch in which things become younger. Humans and animals who are previously dead are resurrected from the earth at the point of their death and then they become younger entering into middle age, youth, and infancy until they become seeds and are sewn in the earth. The rejuvenation is described as a process of unraveling, so mental and perceptual processes unravel as well. To the extent there is any knowledge it is subject to a process of forgetting. Myth of a Forward and Backward Moving Cosmos - IIIConsequences of Reverse Cosmic Motion (270B 271C)Most animals and especially humans cannot sustain the process of the reversal of becoming younger. The Reverse Epoch begins when the cosmos has undergone the final period of the Forward Epoch which was the last stages of destruction an decay. The cosmic reversal is a kind of purgation perhaps an ancient version of modern theories of revolution which maintain that current civilization must be destroyed or largely destroyed -- before a fair and just society may be inaugurated. Rosen observes that during this period the Platonic Ideas or Forms must remain particularly in the background because nothing is keeping its look, its eidos or form since everything in becoming younger is changing and unravelling.1 1. Quoted from Rosen, Stanley, Platos Statesman: The Web of Politics, (South Bend, IN: St, Augustines Press, 2009), p. 49.

Myth of a Forward and Backward Moving Cosmos - IVThe Reverse Epoch is Ruled by Cronus (271C 272B)Hesiod: Works and Days (109ff.):The deathless ones who dwell upon Olympus first made the golden race of articulate human beings. These belong to the time of Kronos, when he was king in heaven. They lived like gods with a careless spirit, far from pains and misery. Nor did miserable old age approach them. For these residents of the golden age, death was like a falling asleep. They did no work; all goods were theirs by natures bounty. This r