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On Plato's Political Philosophy Author(s): Christopher Bruell Source: The Review of Politics, Vol. 56, No.

2 (Spring, 1994), pp. 261-282 Published by: Cambridge University Press for the University of Notre Dame du lac on behalf of Review of Politics Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1407818 . Accessed: 14/11/2013 00:06
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On Plato's PoliticalPhilosophy
Bruell Christopher
The article consists in an examination oftheRepublic, butthat examichiefly nationattempts to determine theplace oftheRepublic in relation to Plato'sother works(especially theLawsand theStatesman) as wellas their to place in relation it. This comparative effort a more than would permits precise specification otherwise be possibleofthemostimportant whichare raisedin those questions worksand oftheintention oftheauthor in treating thosequestionsas he does.

Plato's political philosophy is accessible to us primarily the threegreatworkswhose verytitlespoint to their through themes: theRepublic, theLaws,and the Statesman. The political and the which worksby Laws, Republic happen to be his longest aredevotedchiefly todeveloping schemes far, very thoroughgoing ofpoliticalreform; theStatesman is devotedto thesearchforthe rarequalitiesor qualifications thatwould makea man worthy of that name. Plato'spolitical first comestosight thenas philosophy bothcritical and reformist: itestablishes itsdistance immediately from actual politicsand looks to thetruepolitics, whichPlato's own educationalefforts are presumably intendedto help bring about. It can thushave an apparently however. effect, contrary Even as it raises its readers'politicalhopes, it may lower their to participate in the onlypoliticsavailable to them; willingness forthe small good thatmight be done thereseems smallerstill when it is comparedwiththegood theyhave been led to expect fromthe schemesof radical reform thattheyhave become acwith in Plato. quainted We may take as a typicalexample of such readersRaphael the would-be Platonist to whom Thomas More asHythloday, cribeshis Utopia. Raphael refusesto give advice to kingsand on thegroundthat-unless they weretobecomephilosoprinces would be phers themselves-they unwillingto accept the full measureofPlatonic short ofwhichwillsuffice to reform, nothing
This articlewas written as a lectureto be givenat theSiemens originally Foundation inMunichin thesummer of1995;thelecture willappear,inGerman as partofa collection oflectures on political translation, philosophy givenat the tobe published Foundation, by SeriePiper.

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remedytheircountries'ills. Now, Raphael's refusaldoes not meet with the approval of More. More rebukesRaphael for ... whichthinketh all things meet adoptinga "schoolphilosophy himthefollowing counsel: "there foreveryplace,"and he offers is anotherphilosophymore civil,which knoweth... her own and behavingherself in the play stage,and thereafter ordering thatshe hathin hand,playeth herpartaccordingly withcomeliout ofdue orderand fashion.And thisis ness,uttering nothing the philosophythatyou mustuse. ... So the case standeth in a and so it is in the consultations of kings and commonwealth, princes. If evil opinions and naughtypersuasionscannot be and quitepluckedout oftheir ifyou cannot, even hearts, utterly as you would, remedyvices which use and customhath confirmed: yet forthiscause you mustnot leave and forsakethe .... Foritis notpossibleforall things commonwealth to be well, unlessall menweregood. Which," Moreconcludes, "I think will notbe yetthesegood manyyears."1 Now there maywellbe some and it advantageto keepingzealots like Raphael out of politics, be doubtedthatMore expectedor desiredto enmay therefore courage Raphael or his like to take an activepoliticalrole. But therecan be littledoubt thatthe graceful and wittyMore, not Platonist-northat, himRaphael,was thegenuine bycontrasting selfwiththe character he had created, More was attempting to put his own readerson thepathto a moreadequate appreciation ofthemaster's intention. Butprecisely More's lead, if,following we hesitateto accept the opinion that Plato put forwardhis radicalschemeseither to discouragepolitical menfrom attempting to accomplishthe good withintheirreach or to have the schemes themselvestaken as practicalproposals (one should consulthereMore's criticisms of communism at theend ofeach book oftheUtopia), thenwe are compelledto raise,as iffrom the and witha combination of puzzlementand wonder, beginning theelementary questionofwhyhe did put themforward. We will attempt to beginto answerthatquestionby looking at Plato's threegreatpolitical works-first and mostextensively at the Republic, which is more fundamental than the Laws and easier of access thanthe Statesman. The Statesman, as the third
1. SirThomasMore,Utopia (New York: A. L. Burt n.d.,)pp. 208Company,

209.

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mustbe approachedbyway oftheTheaetetus ofa trilogy, member two formidable worksthatapparently have little and theSophist, and theLaws'selaboration ofa "second-best" to do withpolitics; relaxesthe more severedemands on political regimeexplicitly lifemade in theRepublic and thuspresupposes (see Laws739a-e)2 the as with a with familiarity Republic priorwork. Plato's other But we must,in addition,not neglectentirely with the are which devotedto (along Republic) mostly dialogues, or the refutations of Socrates. conversations As it memorializing thoserefutations thatkeptSocrates was the task of conducting fromengagingin politics-to judge, at least,fromhis himself in his Apology own statement cf.31c4-el)-we might be (23b7-9; or no attention in an examination inclinedto pay themlittle of But to Plato'spolitical to that inclination would philosophy. yield be to overlookthefactthat, quasi-publicas at least some of the refutations were (21dl, 23c2,33b9-c4)and devotedto moralimthe moralimprovement of Socrates'felprovement--especially low citizens-as all of them apparentlywere (29d5-30a4and cf.20d6-21d7 and 33a6-7), wellbe described as 31b1-5; they might indeed as the true acpoliticalthemselves, constituting political are described Indeed,thisis theway in whichthey tivity. by that same Socratesin theGorgias, wherehe claimsthathe alone ofhis fellowAtheniansengages in politics(521d6-8). Thereare then two versionsofthetruepolitics to us by Plato's politipresented cal philosophy: theone elaborated invariouswaysinhisschemes ofpolitical reform and theone actually practiced bySocrates.As for the relationbetween the two versions,it is not freefrom To mention theregimes perplexity. onlythemostmassivepoint, of both the Republic and the Laws would place rathersevere on the sortof refuting restrictions thatSocratescarried activity out virtually unhindered in Athens-in particular, on the phiaccess the to as we were Just losophers' compelledto young.3
2. All citations to Platoare to thestandard Greekedition ofBurnet (Oxford thepassages citedinthetext are tobe noted, Press). Unlessotherwise University foundin thedialogueunderdiscussion wherethecitation is made. 3. Republic and 537c9-540b7; Laws634d4-635a5, 952c5-d2and 497d8-498d1 and theregulations thecomposition and conduct oftheNoccontext, regarding turnal Councilmoregenerally: 951d4ff. and 961alff.One might in this consider of life in a democracy in Republic 557c4ff., lightSocrates'eulogyof democracy, especially 557dl1-2.

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in puttingforwardhis wonder, then,about Plato's intention schemesofpolitical we mustwonderalso abouthisintenreform, the Socraticrefutations. In otherwords, tionin memorializing must his articulate two versionsofthe why politicalphilosophy truepolitics, and how do thoseversions one another complement so as to standtogether as partsofone whole?

The Republic itself as a consideration ofjustice.The presents first to be in the raised work is the question, generalquestion "What is justice?" It is raised and pursued,by a man named notas a merely theoretical Polemarchus, amongothers, question but as a questionofvitalimport to all who wish their lives to be governedby justiceand who are,or become,aware of theinadof justiceand hence of what it equacy of theirunderstanding demandsofus (cf.334b7-9 with335e-336a and 336e). The pursuit ofthequestion, "Whatis justice?" is interrupted at a certain point a man named who has no desire tojoin in the by Thrasymachus, searchfor couldwellbe seen as an justiceand whoseintervention to an end to that search. His reasons arenotthesame attempt put as those which motivate similar attemptscloser to home. is nota so-calledrelativist, one ofthosewho comThrasymachus bine thebeliefthatone cannotanswerby reasonedargument the thereis no true questionof whatjusticeis (since,as theyinsist, answerto it) withthefearthatto allow even thesearchforsuch an answer, toleave open thebarepossibility for all we know, that, there be an answerto it,is to open thedoor to dogmatism might and intolerance taketobe injustice (whichthey pureand simple). differs from our contemporary would-berelativThrasymachus istsbothin his awarenessthathe believeshe knowswhatjustice is and in a beliefthatsetshimapartnotonlyfrom thembut also from Socrates' other interlocutors intheRepublic. Thisis hisbelief also to statein plainterms) that (whichhe is willing justiceis bad for thejustpersonhimself whilebeinggood for others, especially his rulers, who profit from hisjustice. in contends, Thrasymachus short,thata lifeof injusticeis superiorto a just life(347e2-4). Thosewho cannot looktoSocrates accepthiscontention naturally fora defenseofjustice(cf.367d8-el,358d2-3);and, in his eagerness to providesuch a defense, Socratesabandons or defers the

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questionas to whatjusticeis (cf.345b9-cl pursuitofhis original this with 347e2); but rendershis first defenseof verydeferral justice(in thelatter partofbook 1) inadequate(354c1-3):how can thegoodnessor badness ofsomething be established before one in questionis? SinceSocrates'first knowswhatthething defense of justiceis admittedly inadequate,the demand can reasonably he undertake a seconddefense.And that be made that demandis forceand eloquence,by the made, and made withconsiderable twobrothers Glauconand Adeimantus ofbook (at thebeginning insistthatthisnew de2). Glaucon and Adeimantusproperly fense begin froman adequate explanationof what justice is. what theywant to know is not so much what More precisely, ofjustice)as whatpowerithas whenit justiceis (or thedefinition in our souls,whatpowerithas all by itself, is present whether or notitspresenceis notedby others(358b4-6, 367b3-5, d2-4,e3-5). Theirrequestis a reflection oftheir belief(as to whichtheymay be hardly are not as towhat conscious)that they entirely ignorant believe that know of it at least this that much: is; justice they they it involves the willingnessto subordinateone's own good to else (to a highercause, as we would say); and they something wantSocratesto convince or to reassurethemthatsuch subordinationis compatible with,nay demanded by, one's own truest coherent; but,forthat good. Theirrequestis thusnot entirely it to their of love veryreason, gives testimony justice. And the of their love of makes in turn, strength justice significant, pretheir of the fundamental fact. That fact cisely acknowledgment had been acknowledged, itis true, even priorto theintervention of Thrasymachus but only (331c1-dl,332all-b4,b9-c4,335c1-5), it is its most exalted in the implicitly; given expression teaching of (in whichthemostimportant culminates) partoftheRepublic thesupremacy of theIdea of theGood (504d2-6, 505a2-4, d5-el, 508el-509c4). Socratesoutlinestheveryradicalschemeofpoliticalreform forwhichtheRepublic is justlyfamousby way ofresponseto the brothers' request. That is, he respondsto their requestby cona cityin speech together withthemand by observing structing with themits coming-into-being. His procedureis apparently based on thefollowing consideration: while thereis justiceof a man as well as justiceofa city or country, thejusticein thelarger there is more of it-will be easier to being-where presumably

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discern;after theycan look in the theyhave discoveredit there, itslikeness smaller (368e-369a).But,even ifwe being,in man,for in that justicehas thesame form an individualas ithas in a grant referred towould notexplainwhy theconsideration community, a cityin speech. The reasonis appartheyturnto constructing thisis notmade consideration based on thefurther (though ently that is well on itsway to completion) clearuntiltheconstruction in a good city; and,as we can well justiceis tobe foundespecially cities was sufficiently good existing suppose,noneoftheactually as wellas 369a6cf.427d3-5 their for 420b5-cl; purpose(434d6-e2, 7, 371e12,372e2-6). We mustassume, then,thatthe cityto be from thebeginning in speechis intended constructed by Socrates to be a good one. This stilldoes notexplain,however, why we to explain nordoes itsuffice mustobserveitscoming-into-being; theparticular sequenceofmeasuresand stagesby whichit does come intobeing. Forsome ofthosestagesare puzzlingin themselves (I have in mind,forexample,the first stage of the city's thatpolitiis based on Socrates' which suggestion development, in has and hencetheir cal lifein general, city particular, itsorigin in our economicneed in our lack of economicself-sufficiency, other thatignores thedesirefor alone,a suggestion among things in and role of the other the and, cases,what procreation family)4; certain ends to be measures to serve are puzdesigned appear as to serve more ends than insofar zling theyprove important or those theyare suggestedto serve when theyare introduced most are obvious even to be suchends themselves (the examples theeducationoftheruling and the class,as thatis first described, of the philosopher-kings)5. As we will see, the latter institution inlargeparttotherolethat canbe traced the difficulty, especially, in the construction of the whose twobrothers city, play developmentis affected bothby whattheyinsist upon and by whatthey for as wellas 473e6ff. resist and 487blff.). But (372c2-e6, example, of the brothers are this only raises the further question why to a role. and even such allowed, encouraged, play The necessary thatthecityis intended then, by assumption,
4. Cf.369b5-elwithAristotle, bk 1,chap.2. Politics, of373d4-374a2 and 375b9-c5) with399e5-7; cf.473b45. Cf.376c7-8 (in light ofa section whichrunsthrough with543al-6 e2, towardthebeginning 502c5-9, and d1f.as well as with496c5-497d6, whichstands473b4-e2 on itshead.

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tobe a good one,is theexpression thebeginning of Socratesfrom an enigma ratherthan itselfa solution. At the minimum, it us to wonder what Socrates takes the of a goodness compels city in: bywhatunderstanding ofa city's to consist goodnessdoes he in initiating thestepswhichhe takeson his own takehisbearings and in turning to his use thestepswhichare forced upon himby from which of others?To put thisanother way, point view is the of the to be The city goodness judged? adequacyofthejudgment whichitis will dependon theadequacyofthepointofview from toPlatoand hisSocrates, made. Now, according no pointofview is moreadequate or moreworthy ofrespect thanthatofphilosoof the But the standardis reaphy, philosophers. philosophers' What conceivable of a are ends, then, politicalcommunity sort. reasonableones? And whatwould thepolitical have community to be, if it is to pursue reasonableends alone? In setting out, with the to construct his is Socrates brothers, together city, setting sucha political outafter as thebestcommentator on community: theRepublic has said, "In theRepublic, reasonor intellect guides the foundation of the cityfromthe beginning, and eventually rules the cityin broad daylightwithoutany dilutionor disthecoming-into-being of thatcityin guise."6 And, in observing are we meant to come to understand its at the character, speech, same timeas we cometounderstand virtue of our (and largely by to the obstacles which its coming understand) coming-into-being mustconfront. This suggestion as to theunderstanding of goodness which in Socrates his construction of the guides cityin speechis admitan it but has the a tedly hypothesis, advantage of permitting of most,ifnot all, of theperplexities resolution connected with thatconstruction whichwe were compelledto note. The presence ofthebrothers, forexample, as participants in theconstructionis requiredifthecharacter ofSocrates'cityis determined as muchby theobstaclesitmustconfront and themeansitmustuse to overcome them as bytheends itseekstoserve-as muchbyits efforts toremovetheresistance totheruleofreasonas bytherule ofreasonitself. The participation ofthebrothers is required, that to therule of reasonis to be treated notjust is, if theresistance
6. Leo Strauss, TheArgument and the Action ofPlato'sLAWS(Chicago: UniofChicagoPress,1975),p. 38. versity

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theactionordramaofthedialogue, butalso through thematically of to lifebefore our eyesand ears in theform ifitis to be brought the reactionsof Glaucon and Adeimantus(and the others)to Socrates'proposals. Forthesetwo outstanding youngmen-for all theiradmirablequalities and forall theirgoodwill toward notphilosophers notpotenand probably Socrates-are certainly noteven Glaucon: theonlyinterlocutor tialphilosophers, either, of whom Plato informs of Socratesin the Republic us thathe is Polemarchus.7 Theirparticipaturnedlateron to philosophy in the tion is thus meantto impose upon Socratesconstraints if not identical, discussionof the good citythatare similar, to to implement such a projectwould enthose thatany attempt of the citywithSocrates(forexcounter. In name,cofounders are in fact stand-ins 458c6,534d8-el),thebrothers ample,378e7f., and are meant be forits future to affected citizens; they by the discussionof the measuresto be applied to its citizensin ways similar-to the extentpossible-to those in which the citizens would be affected The difficulty has bythemeasuresthemselves. with both ends and means: desirable in to do themselves steps but not seen as desirableby thebrothers mustbe introduced as thebrothers serving purposesthat alreadyaccept;whilethesame is trueformeasuresneeded forovercoming theirresistance to future steps: measureswhichmustalreadybe in place ifthose future forthatvery cannot, stepsare to win eventualacceptance reason,be introducedas servingthe purposes theyare truly meantto serve. Thus, to return to the examplesalreadymentheeducationoftheruling tioned, class,as thatis first described, in thecontext is introduced ofa consideration ofhow tomakethe soldiersof the city'snewly-formed armygentleto one another and to theirfellowcitizens;and theeducationsurelypromotes thatend (forexample, 378c1-8 and context).The armyitself had when it became clear thatthecity'spursuitof the been formed luxurieswhichGlaucon,in particular, had insistedupon would force ittoattempt toseize land from itsneighbors. The education in questionthusappearstobe introduced as a meansto facilitate thecity'saggression by (amongotherthings) helpingto prevent the armyformedforthatpurpose fromdestroying its fellow
7. Phaedrus see also Parmenides 126a-cand Symposium 257b3-4; 172c3-173a3.

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warfare. citizens or itself thediscussion Onlyafter byinternecine akinto thatwhich oftheeducationhas had on Glauconan effect itself is intended tohaveon thesoldiers, theeducation canSocrates "withouttheirnoticingthis," reveal to him thatit has rather, purgedthecityofthoseverydesireswhichhad made expansion appear to be necessary. The purgingwhichGlaucon is at that pointreadyto acceptis theveryone thathe has to some extent (see thepassages citedin thefirst alreadyundergone partofnote the rule of philosopher-kings is introduced as five). Similarly, thenecessary meansto thecoming-into-being in deed of merely and notas an integral thegood city without which partofthecity, the city'sgoodness would be incomplete. (In imitation of this ofthesame regime in feature oftheRepublic, Socrates'discussion the Timaeusomits mentionof the philosopher-kings fromthe as distinct hissubsequent from remarks.)8 summary proper, Only afterthe considerable meets oppositionwhich its introduction witheven thenhas been assuaged, can the rule of philosopherbe revealedtobe also (orrather) kings partofthepeak,notto say thepeak itself the cited in thesecond partofnote (see passages As forthesuggestion thatpoliticallifein general, and hence in their has in our lack ofeconomicselfcity particular, itsorigin in our economicneed alone, Socratesmakes it besufficiency, cause he regardsthatneed as a trueneed and the contribution made to fulfilling it by cooperation among fellowcitizensas a and perhapsevennecessary contribution. (369e2-370c6), genuine, He goes so faras to call thecity whichlimits to pursuit ofso itself a the true as is But, (or truthful) genuine good city(372e6-7). shown by his readyacceptanceof Glaucon's revoltagainstthat whichexpressesitself in a demand forluxuries), city(therevolt Socrates does notreally the tobe able expect political community to restrict itselfto the pursuitof this limited,if rational,end Glaucon'sinsistence on luxuries, (372e2-4).Moreover, alongwith theattempt to expand thecity'sterritory whichitentails, makes and hence the introduction into the necessary possible cityof in thesense offormation ofcharacter education, Now, (376c7ff.). uses that Socrates as we have seen,topurgethecityof education,
8. Cf.Timaeus with19e5. 17c1-19bl

five).

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theverydesireswhichhis acceptanceofGlaucon's demand had in it;and, as he indicates, allowed to growstrong thisis in a way to takethecity"back" to itspre-corrupted state(cf.399e5-6 with towhichthecity returns is 372e7). Butonlyina way: theposition fromthatwhich Glaucon forcedit to leave. Its selfdifferent whichwas formerly theunconscious childofinnocence, restraint, on thebasis ofa frank has been reestablished confrontation with ofit. Innocence desireand a taming has been replacedbyvirtue.9 We have reached, another then, stagein thegood city'sdevelopa one. The city thatoffered us no more ment-apparently higher than to provide efficiently forour bodily well-being has been transformed intoone thatpromotes virtue.And virtue is an end believeorwishtobelieve(cf.359b6-7 with which,as thebrothers 358c6and 366c6-dl),is dearerto themnotonlythanbodilywellso, as theyhope that beingbut even thanlifeitself--deservedly Socrateswill confirm in Glaucon'sspeech,361b5(see especially, who judge from whatthey knowofthemd3). The philosophers, selves and observeof others, not least of such noble youthsas Glauconand Adeimantus, thedissatisfaction agreetothisextent: withthelimitthatnaturesetsto our lifeand therefore also with the pursuitmerelyof the well-being of our mortalbodies, the dissatisfaction whichtheclaimmade on behalfofvirtue and the connected with that claim so is hopes noblybespeak, not only butalso us,who callourselves human, apparently inescapablefor reasonable(butconsider Statesman 272bl-d2). The onlyquestion is whetherour situationleaves us any genuinerecourseother thanresignation and thelifeofserenefreedom that suchresignationopens to us. In thePhaedo, whichis seton theday ofhis own withthepractice ofnothdeath,Socrates equates philosophizing else but to die and be In dead.10 the he limits himself ing Republic, to indicating thatthe "Isles of the Blessed,"to whichthe other citizensof the good cityare to believe theirphilosopher-rulers themdepartwhen theydie, are believed by the philosophers selvestobe their while are alive (cf. ordinary dwelling-place they 540b5-c2 with519c5-6).We shouldnotbe verysurprised, to then, findof thissecond stage in the good city'sdevelopment thatit,
9. Cf.Laws679b7-e5 in thelight of678b1-4. 10. Phaedo 64a4-6.

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a transitional too,will have to be surpassed. It is, in fact, stage. whichthecity has now undertaken topromote The virtues linkit or finalone. On the withboththefirst stageand withthethird one hand, as Socrateswill explain later on, those virtuesare somehowclose tobodilyvirtues (518d9-e2):thisis so notmerely an because ofthesortofeducation by whichtheyare inculcated, educationwhichrelieson habitand exercise, but also (as we can add on thebasis ofour earlier consideration ofthateducationin questionare 268 and 269 because the virtues above) pages to the of citizens. the Indeed, they bodilywell-being necessary are hardlyless necessaryto thatend than is the economicexin thefirst hand, changethatwas introduced stage. On theother as their rankappears to us to transcend insofar thatof means to such an end, thosevirtuespointto a thirdstage (cf.543d1f.), a but also stagein whichthecityis notonlyruledby philosophers takes as its purpose,above all, the fostering of the capacityfor in the natures suitable for it (540b5-6and the philosophizing thatwe finally educationschemeofbook 7). Thus itis onlythere as itwould seem,at thecitygood without a arrive, qualification, ruled and to reason devoted reasonable ends. city by The good citywas to be constructed, we recall, and we were itscoming-into-being toobserve it because was thought ostensibly thatby discerning first thejusticeof the largerbeing,and then lookingforits likenessin man, we mightmore easily discover whatjusticeis. But theconsideration ofthegood citycontinues book 7, long after, thatis, it has servedits alleged purthrough of justice,which it does in pose of leading us to the discovery book 4. Moreover, whatwe learnfrom itaboutjusticeis ambiguous: ifwe takeourbearings the we are led to by good cityitself, concludethatjusticerequiresof us nothing so muchas thatwe fulfill our own task(thatforwhichwe are mostnaturally suited) withinthe politicalcommunity (433al-b4); whereas,if we take our bearingsby thelikenessof thisjusticein theindividual, we are led to concludethat of us so much as justicerequires nothing thatwe tendto thehealthofourown souls (441d5-e3, 443b7-d3). Socratesdoes call our attention to theneed to removeanyapparent divergence betweenthejusticethatwe findin the cityand thatwhichwe findin the individual(by rubbingthedivergent untiltheflameofthetruejusticebursts together understandings

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is made in the dialogue,in but no attempt out [434d2-435a3])1; to out such a examination. It obvious way, carry any comparative how or the whether consideration of remainsunclear, therefore, of what the good cityleads us to an adequate understanding is. justice betweenthetwo unThe difficulty posed by thedivergence of serve to remind us ofthesomewhat derstandings justicemay similardifficulty buriedwithintherequestmade of Socratesby in motion. thatsettheconsideration ofthegood city thebrothers no responseto it Since thatrequestwas not entirely coherent, it in everyrespect.This have hoped to satisfy could reasonably make us to that fact the theconsidsuggestion mayperhaps open ofthegood citymustbe understood as partofan implicit .eration request,a responsewhich responseof Socratesto the brothers' the takesas itsstarting point opinionthatjusticedemandsofus devotionto thecommongood,together withtheopinionthatthe commongood is, formostpractical withthe purposes,identical of the of the That is the city, good politicalcommunity. meaning ofjusticeaccording to thecentral ofthethree definitions offered in Book One (helpingfriends and harming as becomes enemies), thefactthatthesortofhelp originally clearwhen one considers man the who offered thatdefinition, theappropriby envisaged is especiallythatprovidedto fellow atelynamed Polemarchus, citizensin war (332e2-5;cf. 334clff. and 335b2ff.).12And it is withtheunderstanding consistent ofjusticeby whichthebrothers are moved. This is confirmed not onlyby theirpassionate in politicalreform, interest to whichSocratesis able to appeal in theirparticipation in the construction of the city,an enlisting interest fueledin partby their concernforAthensin her decay it is confirmed also by theapproval they (563d2-3and context); that thehappinessofcitizens orparts givetoSocrates'suggestion of thenew cityis to be subordinated to thehappiness(thewellbeingor cohesion)ofthewhole (421c7and 520a5),as well as by their to judge philosophy willingness by thestandardofitsusefulnessto the politicalcommunity but cf. (487d5 and context; If for most practical 519d8-9)."3 justiceconsists, purposes,in ser11.Cf.Seventh Letter 341c5-d2. 12.Cf.Clitophon 410a7-bl. 13.My summary does notalwaystakesufficient noteoftheverysignificant differences betweenthetwobrothers.

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thequestionof thegoodnessof vice to thepoliticalcommunity, justicecan almostbe reducedto thequestionofthegoodnessof such service. For the reason already indicated(see page 267 in thismoreprecise above), thatquestioncan thenbe restated form:inwhichcase orcases do thephilosophers service to regard as something the politicalcommunity more thana necessitythatis, as a positivegood? The case or cases in question are tobe soughtamongthosein whichtheends pursued presumably are reasonable the ones. Hence thesearch by community political a political for that would ends and community pursuereasonable reasonableends alone. But thissuggestion as to themeaningor of thegood citywould render purposeofSocrates'construction hisresponsetothebrothers' somewhat and playrequest playful; fulnessmaywell appear to be out ofplace in connection witha ofsuch gravity. matter It is impossibleand impermissible to doubt that Socrates wishedto respondto thebrothers' he did respond requestor that to it in some fashion; but it is equally impossible, as it seems to to make the consideration of the fit me, good city neatlyintoany of a conceivable to conclude thatthemeaning and plan response, of it are exhausted whatever contribution purpose considering by thatconsideration may make to such a plan. But iftheyare not thenwe are compelledtowonderwhether exhausted the by this, construction of thegood cityand theobservation of its comingin speechwerenotofinterest toPlatoand his Socrates into-being in their own right. We thusreturn to thequestionfrom whichwe of Plato's interest in the scheme of began as to the character reform thatis outlinedin theRepublic. Whatwe believe to have seen in themeantime is something ofthecharacter ofthereform itself and something ofwhatis tobe learnedaboutthatcharacter from thegood city as itcomesintobeingin speech. For observing theaim ofthereform is nothing less thana truly rational politics. And such a politics, forPlato as well as forhis Socrates, would less than the rule of rational human berequirenothing fully who rule moreover not in the manner is, ings-that philosophers, thatMore recommended to Raphael but rather as philosophers, tono other thanthemselves. To observethe responsible authority in speech of the good cityis, therefore, to coming-into-being become aware of the obstacles to philosophicrule. Those obstacleswould in all probability, to say the least,preventphilo-

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evercomingintobeingalso in deed; and, as we sophicrulefrom notedearlier (page 267 above), they place their stampevenon the ofthemeasureswhichare requiredfor cityin speechin theform them. As we also noted earlier(page 268 above), overcoming measureswhichare required forovercoming obstacles regarding to proposalsthatwould be unacceptable ifthemeasuresin questionwere not alreadyin place, thosemeasurescannotbe introduced as servingthe purposes theyare trulymeant to serve. Whatwe are now in a positionto add is thatthemostimportant in thecourseoftheRepublic, measuresintroduced whatever they be said to be introduced must be understood to be for, may forthepurpose of overcoming obstaclesof one requiredrather sortor another tophilosophic rule. Moreprecisely, theymustbe understoodto be requiredforovercoming the obstacleswhich orthemostpolitically class prevent non-philosophers, significant of non-philosophers, fromacceptingphilosophicrule,with all thatsuch rule entails. But the most important measure introduced in theRepublic, a measurewhichhas a greater effect than from rule itself on the character of the anything apart philosophic or which further in life as it has city goes transforming political toitofSocrates'interlocutors alwaysbeen known(as thereaction is thenotorious ofwomenand children, communism confirms), the with sexual which together equality paves theway forit (see the transition at 458c6-e2). There is a link,then,accordingto of such a communismas Plato, between the implementation would deprivea man of any spouse or children of his own and thecapacity ofthebestkindofnon-philosophers to acceptphilosophicruleand all thatitentails. In order to understandthe natureof thatlink,we would and works,theSymposium probablyhave to studyPlato's erotic thePhaedrus, in additionto hispolitical but we can confirm ones; thatPlato does indeed point to its existence by glancingat the Timaeus and Critias, whichform a sort ofappendixto the together and at the Laws. The Timaeus and Critias takeplace on Republic, theday after Socrates has provided(toa groupincluding Timaeus, Critias and Hermocrates) a discussion ofa political which, regime from thesummary he givesofthediscussionat thebeginning of the Timaeus, sounds verymuch like the regimeoutlinedin the Socrates'summaryis a prelude to his repetition of a Republic. that he has made of his listeners of the before: that request day

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to it in motion, that show himhis city is,at war,by ascribing they to it in those such actionsand speechesas would be appropriate His companions circumstances (17b5-cland 19b3-20b7). propose a war once fought Socrates'requestby describing to fulfill by an ancientAthenianregimeof which Critias has heard through tradition and whichbearsa number ofresemblances some family will undertake thatdescription, to Socrates'city. Critiashimself but his speech will be precededby a speech of Timaeus on anothersubject. As a resultof these explanationsand arrangeare three there distinct accounts(in theTimaeus-Critias) of ments, the regimewhose conductin war is to be described. Socrates' sketchof his cityat thebeginning of the Timaeus is followedby Critias' firstaccount of the old Athenianregime;then,after Timaeus' speech,Critiasgivesa secondaccount, in theearlypart of the Critias, of thesame Athenian as we noted Now, regime. inanother earlier Socrates' does notrefer to connection, summary but he refers to rulers a such bit in rulers, later, philosophic just of his request(19e5-6;cf.18a5); the the course of the repetition to bothsexual equalityand communism summary properrefers and children(18cl-4; 18c6-d5). In Critias' regarding marriages first accountof the old Athenianregime, on the otherhand, a whose to resemblance Socrates' regime cityis sufficiently great, as he claims,to allow himto use itin fulfilling Socrates'request, both sexual equalityand communism and regarding marriages are conspicuousby theirabsence (24a2-d6);and, in acchildren cord withthis, thephilosophic rulers, too,are gone (butcf.24c7class the which the d3): (from military philosophicrulerswere drawnin theRepublic) is to limit itsconcern to matters connected withwar (24b1-3),and thereis added, alongsideor above it,a classofpriests theinterconnectedness ofthese Moreover, (24a4-5). inhissecondaccountofthe that, bythefact changesis underlined Critiashas a change of heart(apparently old Athenianregime, on in some way by theintervening brought speech ofTimaeus). In the second account,sexual equality(110b5-c2)and communismregarding are back forthemilitary (110c5-d2) "everything" whichthecomclass,whichis also said to practice "everything" had theday before beensaid byhim parableclass in Socrates'city themilitary to practice class is now said to live (110d3-4); finally, on theacropolis, withaccommodations toits byitself appropriate communism domestic and political is no longer (112b3-c7):there

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in theLaws, ofa class ofpriests. wherethe Similarly any mention mostobviously from thatoftheRepubitsetsforth differs regime rulers-theso-calledNocturnal lic in theabsenceofphilosophic in thelatter Council introduced stagesof theworkis but a dim of them-the onlypassage whichexplicitly reflection compares oftheone beingsetforth in tracestheinferiority thetwo regimes theLawstotheabsenceofcommunism, communism of especially women and children our dis(739a1-740a2).To conclude,then, we suggestthattheconsideration cussionof theRepublic, of the is meant to reveal how life would have to be good city political in orderto admitof philosophic rule and why it is transformed to expect, unreasonable perhapseven to desire,such a transformation.

We turn now to a brief discussionoftheLawsand theStatesin theRepublic man. Iftheregime outlined is meantto show how in orderto thepolitical would have to be transformed community admit of a trulyrationalpolitics,the regimeelaboratedin the Lawsmaybe said tobe meanttoshowhow fara reform in moving the same direction can proceedin a politicalcommunity which or called forin the does notundergothetransformation effected As have we there is no in communism Republic.14 already seen, theregimeoftheLaws-in particular, no communism ofwomen and children-and henceno philosophic rule. The Lawsis thusa morepractical workthanthe Republic, and thisdifference is rein the difference in conversational flected An old settings. phinot losopher-not Socratesbut anotherAthenian"5-converses withinexperienced to mention a rhetorician) youths(not foreign butwithtwoold citizens ofhighly regarded law-abiding regimes, with men,one ofwhomhas been entrusted experienced political a gravepoliticalresponsibility, forthecarrying out ofwhichhe seeks guidance fromthe conversation.But the more practical character of theLaws does not mean thattheworkis devoid of interest or intent. To thecontrary, for theoretical whatis difficult
14.Cf.Aristotle Politics 1265a2-6. 15. Butcf.Aristotle bk 2, chap. 5, as well as Strauss, Plato'sLAWS., Politics, pp. 1-2.

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ofthegood cityof theRepublic an examination alone to see from oftheRepublic seen by contrasting thecity with and can be better in that which is elaborated the is what the Laws, city precisely and philosophic forthepolitiabsenceofcommunism rulemeans to the most cal community.We must limitour consideration If the culminates books 5 (in 7) Republic point. important through in a discussionofphilosophy and oftheso-calledIdeas or Forms (whichare supposed to supplythePlatonicanswerto thequestionofthehighest causes),theLawsmaybe said to culminate (in oftheexistence ofa providential book 10) in a demonstration god of the Athenian'sinterlocutors or gods: the more important such a demonstration-in a demonstration of particular, regards of punishinggods-as the noblestand best introthe existence law code as a whole (887b5-c2).We may grant ductionto their thattheconnection betweenthegod or gods whose existence is in theLawsand theOlympiangods worshipped demonstrated by Greeksremains dark(cf.898c1-899c1 with904a9-bland ordinary thetheological oftheLawsis farcloserto the e4).16 Still, teaching than is thetheological ofbook 2 ordinary understanding teaching oftheRepublic, whose gods do notharmanyoneand are,in their all change,prefigurations from oftheFormsor Ideas exemption introduced lateron (379a5-b10and 380a5-c3;380dl-381c10and of Book Two may be dilutedin Now, the theology 381d1-4).17 other for but it passages (427bl-c5, example,as well as 540b7-c2); is notaltogether to say thattheregime oftheRepublic misleading standsor fallsby thesuccess or failure of theattempt to form a citizenbody thatcan acceptit.18 In theregimeoftheLaws-and this is its significance forus-the attempt to introducesuch a is not even made. That in even theregimethatis is, "theology" meantto come as close as is practicable (739e3-4)to thatof the itis impossible, in Plato'sview,to go so far. Republic, In orderto make themreceptive to thereform he intendsto the Athenian of the Laws must two old citiinduce the propose, zens withwhom he speaks to admitthatthelaw codes of their
16. Cf.Timaeus 40d6-41a5 with39e3-40d5. 17. Cf.Sophist thetheological-oranti-theological248e6-249b1 regarding oftheIdeas. implications 18. For an indication as to wherethechiefobstaclelies, compareRepublic 603d9-604a9 with387d1-e10.

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own countries (Creteand Sparta)are flawedand thuscapable of barrier to such an admissionis beingimprovedupon. The chief thatthe codes are of divineorigin(cf. theirclaim or contention 624a1-b4with628c9-e5and 630d2-3)and henceperfect.In this theAthenianproceedsby granting theirpremiseand situation, its he only reeven insisting (630d4-631a8); upon implication in this is a which the ofthe defenders request quests return-and to him-that theyconsider codes provetobe unable refuse what the perfection, whichdivinelyinspiredlaws of course possess, must consistin (631a8-632d1). He thensuggeststhatthe law codes of Creteand Spartabe examinedto see how theypursue thegoods whicha perfect code has beenagreedtoprocure (632d1their ofthosegoods manifestly 633a3). Not surprisingly, pursuit fallsshortof the standardwhichtheir defenders have accepted in thisway,theAthenian succeeds in (634b7-c9).By proceeding thanithad (or clearer makingit clearto theold menthemselves been) thatthe claimsof divineoriginhad been made to protect theircodes from unwise criticism, especiallyon the partof the oftheearlypartofthe young(634d4-635a2).This development Laws linksthe Laws withthe Statesman. The counterpart in the tothecritique ofthetwoparticular Statesman divinecodes carried outin theLawsis a critique oflaw,oftheruleoflaw,as such. That is work not ofSocrates(who merely the listens to it) too, critique, but of another of law or Rule to law is philosopher. according in it with of a rule man who the art compared possesses kingly withprudence(294a7-8). Such a man would be able to together takeintoaccountwhatno law can,however wiselyitwas framed: thatdistinguish the countlessdifferences fromone anotherthe cases as to whicha disposition has to be made,in particular, the the human differences involved and their activities among beings and 301c6-d6). Rule of law is com(294a10-c9;cf.296e1-297a5 via a mythical account oftheAge ofCronos pared also,implicitly, in earlier the with direct divine rule over presented dialogue, humanbeings (271e4-272a1 and context).Now, as the philosopher points out, laws, which in theirgenerality disregardthe differences referred to, are nevertheless necessary(294c10-dl). No one would be capable of sitting beside each human being his lifein orderto prescribe what is fitting forhim throughout if someone were of this Or, (294d3-295b2). (thephilosocapable here of the rule belongingto the Age of pher mustbe thinking

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Cronos),he would neverput obstaclesin theway oftheexercise of his discretion by layingdown laws whichare supposed to be cf.295b7-296a3 and incapableofbeingimprovedupon (295b2-6; intheStateswith297d4-e14 and 299b2-dl).The critique 300c9-d3 manthusseemsto go further thanthatin theLawsby callinginto ofdivinelaw; but,while it exceeds questiontheverypossibility the critiqueof the Laws in its reach,it may fall shortof that in itsgrasp. Itspersuasiveness is limited that critique by thefact who carries itoutappearstorest thephilosopher hisargument on a premisenotnecessarily sharedor granted the adherents of by theview opposed to his own. We have alreadycalledattention tothefact that theStatesman of a trilogy member also ofthe Theaetetus is thethird consisting and the Sophist. In the Theaetetus, Socrateshas a conversation withseveralmathematicians whichattempts to answertheques"What is Much of that tion, conversation, however, knowledge?" of a positionof Protagoras is takenup by a consideration that would seem to deny the verypossibility of knowledge(151e8oftheinterlocutors to answerthequestionto 183c4). The attempt whichtheTheaetetus is ostensibly devotedends in failure (210a9to vindicatethe dl); and the same can be said of theirattempt ofknowledgein thefaceoftheProtagoreana possibility challenge as theyhad agreedto (183b7-cl).19 Whenthegroupreassembles, do, the nextday, the mathematicians bringalong withthema from a member of the Parmenidean circle there. Elea, philosopher Socratesasks thisman whether, the to Parmenideans, according the threenames "sophist,""statesman," and "philosopher," are all to the same individual to two or or three properly applied individuals. The philosopher's elaboration ofhis initial or provisional answer(Sophist bulk of constitutes the the 217b1-3) Sophist and the Statesman. to our Platoniccommentator, "It According could seemthat thequestion the or regarding identity nonidentity ofthesophist, thestatesman, and thephilosopher takestheplace of the question,or is a more articulate versionof the question, Whatis knowledge?"20 Sincethequestion"Whatis knowledge?"
19. On thispassage,and whatis at stakemoregenerally in theProtagorean see David Bolotin, "The Theaetetus and thePossibility ofFalse Opinchallenge, A Journal 15 (1987):179-93. ion,"Interpretation, ofPolitical Philosophy 20. Leo Strauss, ed. Leo Strauss and "Plato,"in History ofPolitical Philosophy, 3rded. (Chicago: University ofChicagoPress,1987),p. 68. Joseph Cropsey,

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to include or implythe question "Is is shown in the Theaetetus knowledgepossible?" we take thissuggestionto mean thatin ofknowledge, we orderto answerthequestionofthepossibility and philosopherare the must ask whether sophist,statesman, a partofthequestion whichSocrates same ornotthesame.Surely asks of the philosopherfromElea, and not its least important is necessarily a genuinephilosopher is thequestionwhether part, knowsalso what in thesensethat he necessarily also a statesman, knows. And in raisingand addressas statesman thestatesman the and Statesman latter this Sophist approachpolitiquestion, ing which they to that from froma direction cal matters opposite wereapproachedin theworkswe have alreadydiscussed. There, ofpolitics addressedmenwho tooktheimportance a philosopher tolead theconversation and he tried forgranted, to,orat anyrate a philosoand Statesman, towards,philosophy.21 In the Sophist with who take the of converses mathematicians, importance pher with them the for and he theory explores question granted, on theoretical must whether-precisely grounds-a philosopher answerto that to politics. The philosopher's turnhis attention question must be gatheredfromthe elaborationof his initial rather thanfrom theinitialresponseitself; responseto Socrates, as faras the Statesman is and thehighpointof thatelaboration, oflaw whichwe have alreadyconsidis thecritique concerned, who carriesout thatcritiquehave ered. Could the philosopher it to theoretical that his he be able to thought necessary enterprise in thisconnection, that he is an Eleatic, do so? We recall, thatis,a follower(of sorts)of the philosopher whose thought seems to have usheredin or bornewitnessto thefirst greatcrisisofphiloor Moreover he himself, in the self-doubt self-criticism. sophic an account of the all difficulties Sophist, gives attending preItwas in response Socratic (242b6-250e7).22 positions philosophic thatSocrateshad turnedfrom the directexto such difficulties amination ofthebeingsto thespeechesaboutthem, as he tellsus in thePhaedo and to his refutations ofhis (95e7-100a7), eventually and others.The philosopher oftheSophist fellowAthenians and
21. Regarding theLaws,see especially. 963a10-965c8. 22. The "Theoryof Ideas" in the formin whichit was presented by the forcriticism himself is properly includedamong youngSocratestoParmenides thepre-Socratic (Parmenides 128e5-135d6). positions

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does notseem to have gone thisfar: to whatwe have Statesman observed (pages 278 and 279above), we can add thatthe already himtoSocrates who introduces mathematician remarks that he is of too measureda mannerto takeverbaldisputes(eristics) serithat he the is and himself critical of (in Sophist) highly ously, cf. eristics 267e4-268d5; 229e1-231b8). (224e6-226a5, 232a1-235a7, On the otherhand, or forthis very reason,he is able to call to a mostimportant attention (in theStatesman) political-rhetorical taskwhichonlya philosopher can accomplish but which,as theClitophon as a whole,a philosopher one can see from engaging in Socraticrefutations even to mightfindit especiallydifficult ofreconciling takeup (306al-310bl). Thetaskis that thenaturally moderate humanbeings(for theyoungaddresseeofthe example, and the Sophist)23 Theaetetus and the naturally manlyones (for the of addressee the and thusbenStatesman)24 example, young both the and efiting politicalcommunity philosophy by producadherents.And itis accomamongtheir ingharmony (potential) theright plishedby teaching opinionsabout thenoble,just,and and their d10-el, e5-6). Plato's good things opposites(309c5-6, which shows us-in the Republic and the politicalphilosophy, Laws-what is at stake in the quarrelbetweenphilosophyand politicsand-in its memorialsto the Socraticrefutations-presentstheactivity tried tovindicate thephilosobywhichSocrates phers' side of the quarrel,seems also to have taken up and taskthathis spokesmanin accomplishedthepolitical-rheforical theSophist and Statesman calls to our attention. It is difficult forus to appreciatetoday the magnitudeof Plato's rhetorical Thisis due, at leastin part, to accomplishment. thefactthatwe in themodernWestlive underforms ofgovernmentwhichowe their to modernpolitical originto philosophy, and which to have thegoal of philosophy, appear accomplished the philosophicpoliticsthatPlato experimented within the Reand in theLaws,without public, especially, askingofus thesacrificeswhich he feltcompelled to demand. At the same time, we apparently evermoreindifferhowever, become,day-by-day,
23. Sophist 265cl-e2. 24. Statesman 263c3-el: in orderto appreciateproperly the 261e8-262b7, one mustask oneself whether thehypothetical case he has vehemence, Stranger's in mindis truly that ofthinking cranes.

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ent to the problemthatboth unitedand divided the two preofits moderncamps (itunitedthemin mutualacknowledgment and divided them virtue of the diametriby supremeimportance oftheir we callyopposed character responsesto it). As a result, become ever more blind even to the meaningof the political thatmodern achieved. Thisindiffervictory political philosophy be understood modern encewould probably by political philosoas a confirmation ofitsview that thenatural concerns of phyitself humanbeingsdo notlook beyondsuch goods as humanbeings can themselves ofviolent death,for procure(prevention example, As we have seen (page 270 above), thisview or "recognition"). of the naturalhuman concernsis not Plato's view. From his theindifference referred to is merely indifapparent perspective, ference and itsrootis notnature but rather themodernteaching aboutnature. Ifhe is correct, thepolitical ofmodern achievement so farfrom being withoutcost,may have politicalphilosophy, come at the price of our estrangement fromour fundamental loss ofself-awareness. concern To test whether thisis the through case is perhapsthemosturgent reasonfor Plato'sworks. studying

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