Plato – Statesman

  • Theodorus wants the Eleatic Stranger to show how the Statesman, Philosopher & Sophist are all different. Socrates allows a young Socrates “to be the interlocutor”.
  • They start off saying that the sciences should be divided into subcategories.
    • The sciences are divided between action-based knowledge (handicrafts, etc.) & abstract knowledge.
    • The one who has the knowledge in a private role may advise someone in a public.
    • The science of a king is “royal science”. This refers to the possessor as a ruler, master, householder, etc. because a household has much in common with a small state.
    • The king can’t do much with his hands to maintain an empire. He uses his intellect & strength of mind, as opposed to manual & practical arts of life.
    • This includes the art of calculation.
    • The master builder doesn’t build himself but rules over workers, contributing knowledge & not doing manual labor. All theoretical. His job is done once he’s made his calculation & assigned the workers the task to be done.
      • Pure knowledge – all sciences. The difference in the 2 is that on type has knowledge in common, they should be of the same mind.
      • Is the king a judge or a spectator? Should we call him a ruler & his science the art of command? (Yes)
      • We can subdivide the art of command.
        • Some give commands & some receive them.
        • The king is the supreme ruler. A herald, interpreter, boatswain, prophet, etc. exercise commands under the king, who gives them their commands. One gives his own commands. The other gives someone else’s commands.
        • We can ask: Does the ruler command the production of something? (Yes)
          • We can divide what’s produced into 2 categories: production of animate objects & inanimate objects.
          • A king has control over animate objects. A workman uses his science over inanimate objects.
        • But this command over living beings can also include herders who rule over flocks & herds. Drivers & grooms do too.
      • Young Socrates tries his hand at this & divides the command over the living beings into those over animals & those who are men
        • The Stranger corrects him because he’s cutting off one small group, men, & calling the remaining group, “other”. You can’t divided a group so finely. You really have to split them approximately in half. That’s the difference between a part & a class.
        • Young Socrates cut off a part of animals & focused on the men. That’s merely whittling.
        • We can divide command over animals into those animals in herd & those who aren’t. We already have an implied division between tame & wild animals.
        • Political science is in the tame & herd categories. But it’s beyond that because “tame” & “herd” categories of knowledge also include those who do collective rearing – fish preserves, bird nurseries, etc.
        • So we’ll have to divide between land & water animals. Obviously, the royal art is in the land portion.
        • Next we can divide between those who fly & those who walk. From here we can divide in 2 directions. One way is faster & one is slower but more thorough.
        • The longer way: tame & walking herd animals are either horned or unhorned. We’ll focus on the unhorned group. You can divide further by whether or not they have cloven feet & if they are of mixed breed.
          • Further division is whether or not they have 2 or 4 feet. Then we go on to if they have feathers or not. That would get us to men.
        • The shorter way: We should have just started with the division of 2 feet v. 4 feet. Then we go on to feathers or not & then to men.
  • Let’s define what the Stateman’s art is
    • Science of rule or command, similar to shepherding, manherding, but it is not involved in breeding or rearing.
      • With shepherds, rivals – those who also have a claim in the knowledge of the art of shepherding – are also shepherds. They can advise & critique one another in the art.
      • But we’ve separated the Statesman from those on his periphery.
  • Let’s start over… There’s a side story that might help in this. There’s a story that says men grew from the ground & didn’t come from their fathers. This was in the reign of Cronos. The story is patchy so, let’s fill in those patches.
      • There is a time when God guides & helps the world take its course. Others times, after the completion of a certain cycle, he lets go & lets the earth do its thing & it goes in a different direction. This is because only the most divine things stay the same. Heaven & the universe have a bodily nature & are not free from perturbation. They go in motion & will be subject to a reversal. God himself is the only thing able to move himself. The world moves by a divine external power. It only receives life from God himself. The world achieves balance but swings in a different direction.
      • When God let go, the animals, specifically humans, received the most changes. The animals saw mortal nature reversed. The animals & men were earth-born, rising from the ground. Most people today don’t believe that.
      • Those who age & then have the age reversals also are accompanied by the read of the dead lying in the earth. This is the great wheel of generation turning back. They rise & live in opposite order unless God has other plans.
          • You Socrates infers that the world being changed must have caused the stars & sun to have changed course as well.
      • Previously, God superintended over everything. Then he distributed rule to lesser gods over the several parts of the universe. These lesser gods were shepherds of their domains & were sufficient in doing so. When God himself ruled over man as his shepherd, there were no possessions, children & wives, no forms of government. Man just walked around naked in the open air.
      • Imagine all the men under Cronos doing philosophy with the animals & using all they learned in a store of knowledge. But alas, we know they didn’t & it wouldn’t happen.
  • Let’s get to why I brought all that up… After a while, the earth-born race had died & each soul had done its cycle of births. The pilot of the universe let go of the helm & rest to watch it all. The lesser deities also let go of the areas under their control. The world started spinning in the opposite direction, bringing a new sort of destruction to the animals. The chaos calmed down after a while. God put his goodness into the creature but unfortunately, some evil seeped into them.
      • After a while, the mixture went from mostly good & some evil, to mostly evil & some good. God had to step in to restore everything.
      • This is the complete cycle of the universe. The large animals began to tear the smaller ones apart because the small ones were defenseless & had no resources to get food. Man was given fire by Prometheus, arts by Hephaestus, & seeds & plants by Athena. The care directly from the gods was gone & man was left to his own devices to develop knowledge.
      • Going on from before that myth, the king & statesman are the shepherds of the human flock. We declared them to be rulers of the sate but didn’t say how.
      • The myth was introduced to show that the shepherd alone is worthy of the title of “king” or “statesman” because he alone had care for humans. The divine shepherds is even higher than the king. The statesman is very much like the animals he’s shepherding.
        • Our statesman had been referred to as a shepherd. But that doesn’t work for the term “Statesman” because he doesn’t rear men. “Caring”, “managing” & “tending” encompasses both the shepherd & the statesman.
        • We can also subdivide on whether or not men are “cared for” voluntarily or compulsory where a tyrant rules against the subjects’ will & a stateman rules with them.
        • The rules of statesmanship on the things we do or acquire all fall into the categories – protective & creative. Preventatives fall into antidotes & defenses.
      • There are 2 kinds of arts in all we do. One is a principal cause & one is the conditional.
        • Arts that don’t manufacture the actual thing but develop the tools for the manufacture are cooperative.
        • Arts that make things are causal:
          • Arts that make spindles, combs, etc. are cooperative.
        • Arts that treat & fabricate the things themselves are causal
      • Applying this to the general…
        • Let’s look at the nature of excess & defect, length & shortness, all arts of measurement
        • There is a relativity of greatness & small to each other. This shows us the principle of the mean both in speech & action à makes the difference between good & bad men.
        • But we also must make another comparison with the mean & an ideal standard.
        • Only comparing something or someone to the mean will leave out the ideal standard & vice versa.
      • This creates problems for the art of the statesman who wants to watch for excess & defect, especially with respect to real evils.
        • If the science of the statesman disappears, the search for the royal science will be impossible.
        • We must try to show that less & more are to be compared to one another but also to the mean.
      • This requires the notion of a mean with respect to absolute truth.
        • The existence of science must depend on the possibility of measuring more or less with one another & to attaining the mean. If there are arts, there is a stand of measure. If there is a standard of measure, there are arts. If either one is missing, there is neither.
        • The next step is to divide measurement into parts – lengths, depths, etc.
        • Many allegedly wise men who say measurement is universal. All things that come into an art, have to do with measurement. But they don’t know about both comparing 2 things to one another but also to the mean.
        • Look at a child learning to read. He is asked what letters make up a word. Is that question meant to improve his knowledge of that word or of all words? Obviously for all words.
        • We can ask that about the Statesman. Does he intend to improve our knowledge of politics or our power of reasoning in general? In general.
          • This is in an effort to train ourselves to give & accept a rational account of truths. Immaterial things (which are the greatest & noblest things) are shown only in thought. It’s easier to fix the mind on small things than great things.
        • Reason tells us we should make the ease & quickness of an inquiry our 2nd goal. The 1st inquiry should be to use they method of division according to species. Previously, we had taken a longer way & a shorter way. The result was the same. The long version seems tedious & long-winded. The short version skips steps.
  • Back to the Statesman…
    • He has similarities to shepherds. Let’s incorporate the idea of causal arts & cooperative arts with respect to states.
    • All arts that implement in a state are cooperative & without them, a state & statesmanship would be impossible. It’s hard to divide any further because anything can be used as a tool of some art. There’s another class of possessions in a city.
      • 2nd class – It is like an instrument to produce, but for preservation of what’s been produced. This keeps dry things dry, built things built, etc.
      • 3rd class – a vehicle to move on water or land. These have nothing to do with a statesman but carpenters, smiths, etc.
      • 4th class – cloths, arms, walls for the sake of defense. All made by builders, weavers, etc. – not statesmanship.
      • 5th class – arts, drawings, music, literature – all only for amusement. Again, nothing to do with the Statesman.
      • 6th class – everything to do with carpentry & plaiting with gold or silver. All carpenters & metal workers – not statesmen.
      • 7th class – providing food & ministering to the body. These are done by farmers, doctors, cooks, etc. Not statesmen.
        • All of these classes have to do with inanimate objects as property with the exception of tame animals.
        • A class of slaves of ministers remains. This includes aspirants to the throne.
        • Slaves are possession & don’t claim royal science.
        • Freemen who become servants of other classes, & exchange & equalize the products of husbandry & other arts, exchanging money for money or products are merchants & retailers. Not statesmen.
        • Hirelings & serfs have no share in royal science.
        • What about “serviceable” officials? They’re heralds, scribes, etc. in the business connected with the government of states. They work for rulers but aren’t rulers. This also includes diviners who are said to interpret for the gods. The priestly class tell us what gifts & actions are acceptable to the gods. These 2 are swollen with pride & prerogative. The kings of Egypt can only reign if he has priestly powers. In Greece, the honor of giving the biggest sacrifices is reserved for the higher magistrates to offer to the gods.
        • These seem to be slippery characters changing their forms to what’s convenient & necessary for the occasion.
  • We should analyze different forms of government – monarchy, rule of the few & rule of the many.
    • We have to add the element of voluntary or compulsory to them.
      • 1 – Monarchy has 2 forms – royalty & tyranny
      • 2 – Government of the few has 2 forms – aristocracy & oligarchy
      • 3 – Democracy alone, whether following rules or not has the same name
    • We said that royal power is a science both judicially & authoritatively.
      • Whatever form of government there is, there’s an art to each. Where does this art or science reside? In a city with 1000 men only a handful of them would be able to possess the royal science. Whether it’s with or without rules, there’s some scientific principle going on. The possessors have to be the governors, not the pretenders, to have a true form of government.
      • They have to decide for the public good to purge the state by killing some or exiling others. They may send some out to reduce the size of the city or bring in outsiders to expand the size. They’ll act according to the rules of wisdom & justice & use their powers for the general security & improvement of the city.
      • Legislation is the business of a king. The man should rule who has wisdom & royal power. The law doesn’t totally encompass what’s noblest & just for all & can’t enforce what’s best. People are unpredictable & can’t be ruled by a universal & simple rule. The law tries to make one.
      • If the law isn’t the perfection of right, why do we make laws at all?
        • Gymnastic contests have rules enforced on pupils by their trainers. These trainers don’t have specific rules for specific students. They prescribe generally the regimen that’s benefit the majority. They assign equal amounts of exercise to all.
      • The legislator can’t provide what’s specifically appropriate to each person. So he has general laws to enforce social interaction & relies on unwritten rules in the form of traditional customs. He can’t prescribe for everyone what’s right for him. It’s just not possible.
        • The doctor or trainer will write down his prescriptions & instructions for patients so they won’t have to remember them. Suppose the doctor did this & went away. When he came back something may have changed to make him update his instructions.
        • Likewise, a legislator should be allowed to change the laws, especially if ancient laws are proven to be able to be improved.
        • The doctor or legislator also need to use some “gentle violence” to compel his patient or people to comply with his written rules or instructions. To punish the doctor in this case would be an injustice. & when a citizen is compelled into just behavior & the threat of mild violence is not unjust & is absolutely just.
        • No matter if it were a rich or poor man, it’s just & unjust. Any man would do what’s in society’s best interest. The true principle of government according to which the wise & good man will order the affairs of his subjects.
          • Wise rulers who observe this principle can’t go wrong.
      • There isn’t a lot of people who can attain political knowledge or give order to a state. But true government can be found in a small body or in an individual.
  • Suppose the government we’ve been talking about is the only true way that we must use written laws to achieve justice but not perfect justice. Citizens shouldn’t violate laws but this is only the 2nd best thing. The pilot & physician have similarities with the king.
    • Any physician saves who he wishes to save & mistreat anyone he wants to mistreat. Those wishing to be saved are required to give a payment – a sort of tribute. The doctor receives money from his relation with the sick man. Pilots of ships play people false & leave them ashore. They cause mishaps at sea & jettison freight.
    • Suppose neither one of these professions has absolute control over freemen or slaves. But we call an assembly of all the people may offer an opinion about the arts to challenge their actions & absolute control.
    • But they will use implements required for navigation or medicine. In the case of navigation, they can deal with dangerous winds & waves that jeopardize the ship on its voyage. They help the pilot to deal with pirates, to repair ships, to engage in naval battle.
      • Should the assembly tell them how to perform their art even though they have no ability to make rules in this art into laws or into national customs?
    • Suppose pilots & physicians are appointed or elected from the public to perform their arts. After a year, these people are brought before a court to be judge on their performance. Should they be judged on whether or not they adhered strictly to the laws?
      • We’d have to enact laws that say that any doctor or pilot detected breaking the rules or national customs will be punished. In this case, anyone who challenges written rules or unwritten customs, or has novel ideas, will be seen as a sophist, will be called a corrupter of the young, seen as one who would persuade the young to follow unlawful practice of medicine or navigation. He would be punished for advising others to violate laws.
      • If this was the way arts & science functioned, all arts & sciences would die & human life would become terrible.
      • Blind adherence to laws would be a greater evil than breaking the law & practicing your art properly. Laws ought to be written down by those who know something about the subject.
      • With respect to the law, he who has the knowledge is a true statesman. He will update the laws when they don’t reflect justice.
      • Those without knowledge of what they’re doing are imitating the truth but often do it badly. Those with it don’t imitate it, they actually have the truth.
      • The royal or political art can’t be attained by the mob or the rich. The best they could do in this area is to do nothing at all.
      • When the rich imitate a true government, it’s an aristocracy. When they do so, regardless of the laws, it’s an oligarchy.
          • When an individual rules according to the law, imitating one who knows, he is a king, whether he has real knowledge or not.
      • One who rules but violates the laws & customs is called a tyrant.
    • The origin of the tyrant, king, oligarchy, aristocracy & democracy comes from the fact that people are offended at the idea of one man claiming to be worthy of a monarchical authority, or that he is able & willing in the spirit of virtue & knowledge to act justly to all. They think he’ll turn into a despot, & hurt, harm or kill anyone he wants.
      • But the state has no natural head superior to the rest. One has to make laws & come as close as possible to true government.
      • When politics is only purely formal in law & custom, knowledge is divorced from wonder & misery are inevitable. Any other art done this way would be ruined. It’s amazing that any state survives. Many fail. Many go through upheavals, especially those unfamiliar with politics.
      • So which of these untrue forms of government are the least oppressive?
        • Monarchy is in the forms of tyranny & royalty.
        • Rule of few is in the forms of aristocracy & oligarchy.
        • Rule of man is in the form of democracy – with or without rule of law.
          • All 3 categories can be divided in accordance with rule of law.
          • Monarchy when bound by good law is the best. But when it is not, it is the worst.
          • Government of the few is intermediately good when ruled by law & intermediately bad when lawless.
          • Government of the many is fairly weak either with or without laws.
        • The members of these states, except the member(s) who actually has knowledge, may be considered partisans, idolaters of making themselves as the idols – the greatest of sophists.
        • The difficulty remains to sift away from politics what isn’t purely about politics. When they do that, 3 things remain of the nobler arts of the general, the judge & higher oratory – which persuades men to do justice & assist him & guiding the state.
          • But these have superior arts. E.g. the art of deciding whether or not to persuade is superior to the actual art of persuasion.
            • Persuasion belongs to rhetoric, which is separate from politics. It can be used for politics, but not always.
            • The science of generalship is that of military operations. But the science superior to is advising whether or not to go to war or make peace. But that only serves statesmanship.
            • The science of a judge determines if the dealings of men with each other are just or unjust with respect to the standard given by the king or legislator. He is not to be perverted by gifts in his decisions. Another ministerial job.
              • None of these is the royal or political art.
      • The king ought to know what is & what isn’t a good opportunity for taking the initiative. Others execute his orders & are concerned with special actions of their own.
      • The science above has charge of laws & matters affecting the state & weaves them into one art we call politics. The nature of the royal web weaves various threads into one peace.
        • These virtues may appear different but that can be disputed.
        • Is courage a part of virtue? Yes.
        • Is temperance different from courage? Yes. But is it also a virtue? Yes.
        • They conflict with one another. Quickness & energy are praised in one word – “manliness” or “courage”. When we refer to things as “quick”, “manly” & “energetic” as a short hand term to be praised.
        • We also praise the quiet strain of action. But that is the opposite of quickness.
          • Too fast & too sharp – you’re called mad or violent. Too slow or gentle – you’re called a coward.
        • Temperance & manliness seem to be odds with each other. We praise one & blame the other.
          • The orderly & gentle class press for peace & cane be at the mercy of the enemy. The citizens can go from freemen to slaves in a few years.
        • Those with courageous nature incite the country to war & have an excessive love for the military. Before long, the country will be in ruins.
        • These 2 are antagonistic towards one another. In this way, virtue can be at variance with itself.
    • The true & natural art of statesmanship would never allow the state to be formed by combining good men & bad men. But it will test human natures & then entrust them to teachers who are ministers to the purposes of the state. The state will give orders & maintain authority.
      • Royal science is the mistress of all lawful educators & instructors. It will not allow them to train men to be the antithesis of what’s suited for the constitution of the state.
      • Those who are vicious & of an evil nature will be exiled or killed. Those who wallow in ignorance & baseness are enslaved.
      • The rest of the citizens are educated & united by the Statesman, who blends & weaves them together – those who are courageous & those who are gentle. These characteristics are assigned at birth.
      • A courageous soul, when civilized, is more just. When it is not, it tends towards brutality. The peaceful & orderly soul, when it becomes temperate & wise with the law. Without the law, it becomes silly & useless.
        • The union is established by law, uniting the similar & the different.
      • We see those who marry forming ties. Someone with the procreation of children in mind, people will marry for wealth & power. But those who mostly seek a family mostly join up with those who are similar to themselves. They also tend to dislike those who are unlike them.
        • The orderly seek those who are like themselves. The courageous do the same. If they only keep to themselves, the courageous will devolve into insanity & the gentle will devolve into indolence.
      • The Statesman uses the good of these 2 groups to temper the badness in each of them. They must be blended. The ruler himself must be careful & just but also thorough & energetic.
        • The weaving of the brave & temperate natures brings the 2 together by unanimity & friendship. All men – slaves or freemen – are bound into one fabric, & governed & presided over by the Statesman.

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