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Philosophical Review

Slavery in Plato's Thought Author(s): Gregory Vlastos Source: The Philosophical Review, Vol. 50, No. 3 (May, 1941), pp. 289-304 Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review Stable URL: Accessed: 27/07/2010 17:35
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his views froma few casual Plato. We must reconstruct in theLaws oftheseis a simile statements. The mostimportant in attendance the freephysician (720), wherePlato contrasts upon freemen withthe slave healerof slaves.The freemedical man "investigates he the origin and the natureofthedisease;2 enters intocommunity withthepatientand withhis friends." a teacher, He is essentially who also learnsfrom but a teacher but educatesthe pathe sick. He gives no autocratic orders, tientinto health.Slaves, ,onthe otherhand,are incapableof The slave doctor's visitis hurried. suchreasonable intercourse. account(logos)of his He "neither any rational givesa servant nor asks him forany; he gives an orderbased on complaint, in the belief(doxa) withthe air of exact knowledge, empirical manner of a tyrant, thenjumps offto the nextailing insolent treatElsewhere the proper servant."3 (Laws 773e),discussing in thesewords:"One mentofslaves,Plato sumsup thematter as mustpunishslavesjustly,not spoiling themby admonition And in anothercontext:"Well thoughtheywere freemen."4 this,but be unable to give any rathen,shouldtheydiscern of it?-Impossible. The state of mind tional demonstration is thatofa slave" (Laws 966b). you describe oftheslave's suchpassagesthatPlato thinks It is clearfrom as a deficiency of reason.He has doxa,but no logos. condition of his beHe can have truebelief, but cannotknowthe truth and external pre(empeiria) lief.'He can learnby experience a rational But he can neither givenorfollow scription (epitaxes). This is not to persuasion." account.He is therefore susceptible
I Read in substance Association, Philosophical oftheAmerican at a meeting DecemberI 939

A FORMAL discussionofslaveryis nowhereto be foundin


3 Cf.also Gorg. in similarterms, is defined medicine SoIa, wherescientific ) and the contrastingthe knowledge of the natural cause (ri)v 4botv, rip atrcad ability to give a rational account (logos) with rptqj ical iyretpla. 4 Even Aristotle thinks thatthisis goingtoo far:Pot. i260b 6-8. 6 See Tm 5ie 3 and 4. 6 Atbaxi vs. reLo, Tm s5e 2. Peitho is usuallytranslated "persuasion", and

c iCaT& 4ibatv. 2 7!2d: Car'Apx7'js

wouldbe a betor "suggestion" thisusagehere.But "influence" I shallfollow mind.It putsno strings meanssimply changing another's Peitho terrendering. 289




[VOL. L.

evidence of reason, but the reverse. Nous is "unmoved by persuasion" (Tm 5ie 4). The weakness of doxa, even of true doxa, is that it can be changed.7 Only knowledge is stable (monimos),for he who knows has direct contact with the immutable Forms.8 This is what the slave lacks. His experience cannot yield true knowledge.9 In all matters of truth he is, unconditionallysubject to his intellectual superiors. therefore, Now it is an axiom of Plato's political theorythat the only one fitto rule is he who possesses logos.'0The good ruler must rule forthe good of the state. He can only do this if he knows the formof the Good, and then uses the necessary "persuasion and coercion" to order the state accordingly." Thus governbut does not require theirconment is good forthe governed,'2
on the way this is done. "Persuasion", as ordinarilyused in English, ties one down to some kind of intellectual,or, at least, rhetorical,process. You cannot persuade without some kind of argument, though it may be fallacious argument. But Plato can write 3tcaoKXXovs1rE7reretowevovs joto-0os(Laws 804d) without (quoted in Rep. 39oe). In Greek usage strainingthe word. Cf. &3pa OwbsbretOlE peithooftenstands for "bribe". 7 Meno 98a. Plato's educational system aspires to dye the right beliefs into the soul like fast colors into wool. But even fast colors fade. The ultimate guarantee of the stability of the state is not in the early precautions to make the guardians' good convictionsproofagainst persuasion, oblivion, beguilementof pleasure and pressure of fear (Rep. 413bc); it is the guardians' eventual acquaintance with the unalterable Good. 8 E.g., Rep. 532a. "Direct" means here "through reason without the media-

cvwv a paragon of empiric acuteness (e.g.,Rep. 5i 6c; and 5 iga Trv X eyogJ Vroz'qpLWv X qvxAptov. . .). At the end of the encounpbv, oo/xwv 6e, 's AptgbRAv f3XkMret

tionofthesenses". 9 It maybe asked: Whatoftheslave-boy in the Meno? Socratesconfidently he could do "in the asserts(85e) thatwhatthe boy has donein thisinstance and in all other lessons".But whathas he done in thisinwholeofgeometry could so plainthatonlya half-wit point makeseachsuccessive stance? Socrates missit. Plato neversuggested thatslaves are stupid.He onlysays thatthey yetbe theForms.One maylack logos lack logos or nousand cannotapprehend

until and correcting Socratesgivesthepiecesofthepuzzleand keepsprodding The boy thenhas the answerto themproperly together. the boy has fitted truth. He knows butno graspoftheunderlying general thisparticular problem, thetruesolution, but notwhyit is true. I shouldnot concludethat Plato thinks that this slave-boy Nevertheless But, if the the Forms.This pointis leftundetermined. could not discover notto be a slave. In a "true" theForms, thenhe ought slave-boy couldmaster at thetop,notthe and therefore statehe wouldbe a philosopher, (i.e., Platonic) ofthesocialpyramid. bottom, 10E.g.,Laws g68a: The highest magistrate "must be able to givea rational account".Otherwise he cannot account(logos)ofall thatadmitsofa rational rulers". to other be a "fitrulerofthewholestate,but onlya servant 11 d1a occurs in theLaws. often iretOo Kac Rep. si 8b-e.The phrase 12 E.g., Socrates' in theRepublic, I, mainargument againstThrasymachus is forthebenefit ofthegoverned. thatgovernment taining

ter the slave-boy has not discovered the Form "square", "diameter", etc.

No. 3.]



sent.'3A democraticallyminded theoristlike Protagoras'4holds that all men have a sense of "reverenceand justice"; that they all share in the "political art"."15Plato denies this flatly:"Does it seem at all possible that a multitude in a state could ever acquire this [sc. political] science?-By no means" (Polit. 292e, Fowler's tr.). Hence anythinglike a contracttheoryof the state strikes Plato as a perniciouserror.'6 How can men who do not know the nature of justice establish a just state by common agreement?The only way to get justice is to recognizethe fact that "some men are by nature fitted to embrace philosophyand lead in the state, while othersare unfitto embrace it and must followthe leader" (Rep. 474c; cf. Laws 69ob). It followsthat the absence of self-determination, so striking in the case of the slave, is normal in Platonic society. The fully enlightened aristocratsare a small minority of the whole population (e.g., Pouit. 292e). All the rest are in some degree douloi in Plato's sense of the word: they lack logos; theydo not know the Good, and cannot know theirown good or the good of the state:
13 Potit.293a, 2962-297b. This pointis all the moreremarkable becauseit contrasts sharply with theconception ofgovernment which underlies the Crito. ThereSocratesthinks and acts as a responsible member ofa free republic. It is becausehe has himself consented to thelaws thattheyare binding upon him:

However, it would notbe impossible to find a casuistic reconciliation ofpolitical obligation thatrestsuponconsent withpolitical authority thatis above consent.Plato's point, I suppose, wouldbe thatthegoodruler's commands must be obeyed, consent or no consent; ifhissubjectsknewthe Good as he though knowsit (a hypothesis whichwouldabolishthe distinction between subject and ruler in theRepublic and thePoliticus), theywouldgladlygivetheir consent. 14 It is significant thatPericles himwiththeframing entrusted oftheconstitutionofThourioi. 15 Prot.322c, d. It is suggestive tocompare Protagoras' myth with themyth of thePoliticusandthe thesetting Iff. Intheformer comparable passageinLaws 73b is man'sstruggle for of fire self-preservation: of Prometheus'gift andHermes' gift "reverence and justice"putintoman'shandsthetwoweapons thatenablehim to succeed.Plato's aristocratic counterblast so as to abchangesthe setting stractentirely from theprinciple ofhuman self-reliance and self-help. It harks back to theage ofCronoswhere thereis no struggle withnature(Iravra ah6Laws, 7I3c), and where man'ssociallifeis directly under thecareofdivine beings(the"divineshepherd" ofthePoliticus, the"daemons"oftheLaws). Here reverence and justice(Laws, 7I3e) are not the condition, but the product, of and good government good government; meansnotself-government but government oftheinferior by thesuperior, ofthemortal by thedivine. 16 Rep. 359a,Laws 8894:thatjustice rests on agreement is mentioned as part ofa dangerous view,destructive ofmorality and religion. Yet theidea oflaw as aVVOJKo was so widespread thatit invaded eventhethought ofitsopponents: e.g.,Platohimself (Crito 52d,54c,citedabove) andAristotle (see Bonitz, Index,
729b 53).
aTra ytyyeoOca& ToSs &vapcOProos,

lrapcp TaS twaVOKcas Te Kal opuoXowylas


VOt*Kas nds irpbs Jpas



PoWt. 27id; &,s 4b-0ov&









[VOL. L.

their only chance of doing the good is to obey implicitlythe commands of their superiors. Thus Plato speaks currentlyof subjection to the reasonable discipline of rulers, human and divine, laws, parents, and elders as servitude (douleuein,douleia).17 This usage is not without precedent. But Plato goes in this directionthan any earlierwriter.It had been the further "They canproud boast of Aeschylusforhis fellow-countrymen: not be called the slaves of any man" (Pers. 242). It is hard to literature where douleia is find an instance in fifth-century used, as Plato uses it, in the sense of virtuous, amicable, and withoutany of the cheerful submissionto constitutedauthority, grim associations of duresse and dishonor. Yet Plato's genial extensionof the word to cover an honorable and even fortunate estate is amply justifiedby the premises of his own thought: The manual laborer, for example, is "weak by nature in the he could not rule himself, principleof the best". Left to himself, but would be ruledby his appetites. What happiersolutioncould therebe than servitudeto one who is strongin the principleof the best, "so that we may all be equals and friendsso far as possible, all governedby the same principle"?" When Plato speaks so innocentlyof the artisans of the Rehe certainlydoes not public as the "slaves" of the philosophers, mean to be taken literally.19 He neithermeans to degrade all artisans to the level of bondmen, nor to raise the social status of
17 Laws 698bc,700a, 7oIb, 7I5d, 762e,839c,89oa. For someof theserefer"Plato to G. R. Morrow's ences, and for much elsein thispaper,I am indebted and GreekSlavery",Mind,April,I939. 18 Rep. 59ocd.(Jowett "servant"fordoulos, blursthe pointby translating often render"servant" for doulos: e.g., much as King James' translators is more translation Matthew 2o: 27,MarkIO: 44,Gal. 4: I, Eph. 6: 5. Lindsay's theattention it deserves. Bosanquetis exact.)This passagehas never received basisofAristotle's theonlyexception I know. He seesthat"thisis theessential "Plato's general acexplanation ... of slavery",and acceptsit in principle: and in or immature to inferior minds, countofthespiritual relation ofsociety ad (Companion toPlato'sRepublic, somedegree to all minds, is unimpeachable" ofBosanquet'spoliticaltheory the philosopher loc.). I supposethat in terms on this the"real will" ofthedoulos. Hegelis moresophisticated wouldexpress of subjective "the principle point.See his stricture on Platonicphilosophy: ofRight, Dyde, par. i85 freedom does notreceive its due" (Philosophy ofPlato and Hegel,Ch. iii). note. Cf.M. B. Foster,ThePoliticalPhilosophies Plato forhisdenialoftheobBut it is significant thatHegeldoes notcriticize classes. Hegel's own politicaltheorywould jectivefreedom of the working himto makethiscriticism. hardly entitle 19 As mistaken, forexample, by W. L. Newman,ThePoliticsofAristotle, I, thatthiswas "perI09- I0, in a valuablereference to thispassage,suggesting his theory derived ofnatural slavery". haps thesourcefrom which Aristotle

No. 3.]



the slave to that of the freelaborer. There is not the slightest indication,eitherin the Republic,20 or anywhereelse, that Plato means to obliterate or relax in any way that distinction.The very opposite is the case. ProfessorMorrow's admirable recent study has shown that Plato's law of slaveryis not more but less liberal than currentAttic law; and in one importantrespectless liberal than any known slave legislationof classical antiquity.2' Then what is the point of speaking so freely of all sortsand conditions of political subordinates as douloi? The point is not practical, but theoretical. It underlinesthe fact that, in prinin Plato's political theorybetween ciple, there is no difference the relation of a master to his slave and of a sovereign to his subjects; or, as Aristotle put this Platonic doctrine: that "mastership (despoteia), statesmanship (politike) and kingship (basilike) are the same thing".22 In otherwords,Plato uses one and the same principleto interpret (and justify) political authorityand the master's rightto govern the slave, political obligation and the slave's duty to obey his master. His conception of all government archer , archein) is of a piece with his conception of the governmentof slaves. Is this saying too much? One thinksof any number of Yet substantially the statement is important qualifications.23 true. One need only referto the Politicus for the explicitstatement that there is no other differencebetween the art of slaveowner despots&,259b 7) and king (basilikos, 259C 2) than the size of theirrespectiveestablishments. of such a theory,it appears at Whatever be the refinements once as a radical denial of democracy. It could no more account for the facts of democratic governmentin Athens, than the contract theoristscould account for the fact of slavery. The
20 See Rep. 469bc.(For barbarian see 47ib and cf.with slavesin theRepublic producers are enslaved deteriorates thatthefree 469b.) It is whenaristocracy in theliteral sense(547c).

see the same author'sPlato's peciallyp. i96. For a moredetaileddiscussion of IllinoisPress,I939). Law of Slavery (University 22 Pol. I 253b i8; I252a, 8. That this Polit.2sgbc. is Plato'sviewis clear from 23 It would be superfluous to detail thesehere.They are obviousto any them. See oftheRepublic and theLaws,and I shouldnotwishto belittle reader hereis that Plato uses one and the especially Rep. 547c.All I am suggesting in thecase of bothmaster to interpret (and justify) authority same principle in thecase ofbothslave and subject. and obedience and statesman


"Plato and Greek Slavery", Mind, April, I939. See pp. i94-198, and es-






contract theoristsgeneralized the governmentof the state by the demosforthe demos.They verged into idealism at the point where they would substitute "man" for "citizen of Athens"; at that point they did not know what to do with slavery, and played with the subversive view that slavery was unnatural.24 Plato, generalizing the governmentof slave by master, was forced into the opposite conclusion that democracy was unnatural. Plato idealized the institutionof slavery; the contract idealtheoriststhe institutionof democracy. Their conflicting ism mirroredthe real contradictionin Athenian society: a free political communitythat rested on a slave economy.

Can we detect any higherovertonesof the master-slaverelation? Can we trace it in wholes of a different orderthan political society: in the human microcosmand the physical macrocosm? One's attention is drawn in this directionby Plato's frequent references to the body as the "slave" of the soul. That this is no mere figureof speech, but is meant to convey a serious philosophical truth, is clear from three considerations. (i) It stands as a formalpremise in a metaphysicalargumentforthe immortality of the soul in the Phaedo.25(ii) It is writteninto the physiology of the Timaeus.26 (iii) It determines leading ideas
24 Contract for force, on which slavery couldonlybe thethinnest ofdisguises on agreement was to so obviously rested(see Poi. i255a 5 ff.). To base slavery and slavery invalid.How suggest theviewthatthisagreement was unnatural manyof the contract theorists sharedthisview? We do not know.In the whoflatly maintained Politics(I 253b2i) Aristotle doesnotnamehisopponents is conventional thatslavery to nature.See Gorg. 484ab forCaland contrary Antiphon, the licles'viewthat "naturaljustice"may be violatedby slavery. between Greek sophist, undercuts thedistinction between nobleand lowbirth, (Diels, B, 44, Fr. B, and barbarian ~red 4bace rairra'racrres'V1oicos ire kace' Alcidamas, thepupiland col. 2). The same principle wouldundercut slavery. of Gorgias, is said to have declared:"God leftall menfree;nature successor ofPhilemon, madeno onea slave" (Schol.on Rhet. I373b, i8). Anda fragment thecomicpoet(ed. Meineke, Fr. 39), runs:"Thoughone be a slave,he has the same flesh; / By nature no one was everborna slave." 2' 7ge-8oa.It is thenecessary linkin theanalogyofthesoulto the "divine" and of the bodyto the "mortal":"in the orderof nature"the bodyand the thesoul and thedivine. mortal are boththeslavesoftheir respective masters, 26 In the head, whosespherical is form copies the shape of the universe, is "lord (eo-Iroro0v) ofall placed "the divinest and holiest part" (452a), which thatis in us" (44d). The restofthebodyis made to serve (4 Kac rirv rToacta

motions" the soul's two "divinerevolutions" (44d) withthe "six wandering (44d8; cf.43b). The "mortal"part of the soul is housedapart "for fearof and bounpolluting thedivine part" (69d); theneckwas builtas "an isthmus daryto keepthetwoapart" (69e).




it is a vehicle (6xrnlka)for the head, supplementing

No. 3.]



in Plato's ethics.27 Each of these mattersdeserves detailed discussion. But to keep this paper withinreasonable limits,I proceed at once to Plato's application of the slave-metaphorbeyond anthropologyto cosmologyitself. Let us begin with the scene in the Phaedo where the Platonic Socrates explains that he turned away from Ionian physics, because it did not use the right method. The right method, suggested by Anaxagoras' nous, but, alas, not followedby this unregenerateIonian, is definedin the followingterms: "If you wish to findthe cause of anything. . ,you must findout this about it: How it is best for it to exist or be acted upon or act in any other way" (97cd). Thus a scientific explanation of the shape and position of the earth must prove that it has that particular shape and position because these are "best" for it (97e). method the Platonic To back this unusual view of scientific Socrates resortsto an analogy: What is the cause of my presence in this prison?It is not bones and sinews that keep me here,but my decision that this is forthe best (99b). Physiologyis not the "real" cause (Iroartoz'vr43 5Vlrt), but only an indispensablecondiwor' d'lt a'ltov, 99c). Without tion (E'KElhO oB r6o a'lruwv hivev OK hip fromthe human organism apology this argumentis transferred to the universeat large. The reasoningtakes it forgrantedthat as mind teleologyand mechanismare related in the world-order to body in man himself.But since the relation of mind to body has already been conceived as analogous to that of master to slave, it would followthat the relation of teleologyto mechanism can also be so conceived: that the mechanical cause, mistakenly accepted by the Ionians as the "ruling" cause, is actually only a "slave" cause. This, of course, is so far only an inference.But if we followthe developmentof Plato's thought
27 In the beginning of virtueis reducedto of Laws v, the wholerationale ofelements: oftwokinds consists invariably theseterms: "A man'sownnature and worse are slaves are lordly thestronger and better (3eair6oovra) theweaker above theslavishelements thelordly (6oiXa); wherefore one musteverhonour thesoulabove thebodyand itspleasures in one'snature"(726). That is,honor is described of as insubordination intemperance and passions.In theRepublic and interthe appetites againstthe orderof reason.It is "a meddlesomeness ference and rebellion ofone partofthesoulagainstthewholeto gaina ruleto is suchthatit ought to be which it has no right; thatpartindeedwhosenature Lindsay's slave, whilethe othershouldneverbe slave, but ruler"(following o'ros of 444b,exceptafterthe semicolon, wherehe takes rotobrov translation

instead of pukpovs rtL6s). Similar expression in 442ab. 4baet to referto T4> Myip




[VOL. L.

in the later dialogues we shall findthat this is exactly the direction in which it moves. Physical variables, like hot and cold, dry and moist, which play such an importantrole in early Ionian thought,appear in the Philebus under the category of the measureless.28 Lacking in order,this realm of being would be full of hybrisand evil (26b), were measure not imposed upon it29 by a creative agent.30 This is thecause (ro a'lrtfv, 26e): the very categorythat Socrates missed in the Jonians. It is the orderingnous of Anaxagoras now taken in good earnest and assigned to its proper place as "king of heaven and earth" (28c). The other principle is its slave: "slave to the cause (boLoueioV a1tlr) for the purpose of
generation" (27a).

In the Timaeus the whole account of man and the world turnson a clear-cutdistinctionbetween two kinds of causes: (i) the "primary"cause, whichis "intelligent","divine", and productiveof all that is "fairand good" ;31 (2) The "secondary" cause, which is "necessary", irrational, fortuitous and disorderly.32 The modern reader must find something bafflingabout this blend of necessity with chance in the secondary cause. For us the very idea of necessityimplies necessary order.33 How conceive of necessarydisorderwithoutself-contradiction?34

ofnecessity ofPlato's concept I am notspeaking discussion B3In theensuing Like everyone logicalnecessity. from thediscussion as a whole.I am excluding this with rational order.He uses constantly else, Plato identifies &V&ycn, conclusion ofa deductive and evidence thecogency &va'yKaTov, mark (e.g., is of ananke at the Gorg. 475a-c; Phaedogie; Phil. 40c; Tm 53c). This kind is necessity cause. Logical from the anankeof the secondary otherextreme is the (Theait.062e), whileverisimilitude opposedto verisimilitude explicitly world(Tm 29c; and about the material mood of all discourse characteristic of ananke intoformal Iver' AV&YKfS eLK6Tra cX6yov). This bifurcation 53d KalT TrP His viewis tersely is conserved stated byAristotle. order and material disorder Oct., I939: and acutelydiscussedby D. M. Balme in the Class. Quarterly, inherent causality sequences:thereis no transeunt "Anankedoes notgovern p. I30. in thematerial", 34 In Plato's Cosmology some lighton this throws (i62 ff.)F. M. Cornford chancedoesnotmeanthe He points outthatto Plato,as to Aristotle, problem.

(47e); Toat /LovwdoE~atc 4povh-ews last Phil. 28d 6, 7.

(46d), 6oTaL yerT& VOV KaXWV Kal rTls gpopovos Obaews alTLlas rp&Tas 511MOVpTOL(46e), Td Sta vov (47e), TO'GtoV (68e). & 32 aV&'yKfl (48a), e r'fs 6,V&PKfS (56c), Td AvayKcalov(68e), Ta S 0K-t&S

6, 7). (26a 29 Note theforce of hir' rtoots (30c 5). 30 rT 3,gtovpyo'VV (27b), ra rotoVV (27a), e

and of rT 9,ggerpoV Kcal o1bgerpov opposite of rT 7reparoet6ks 25d: To A&retpov

rol) rOtOVVTOs Obaos


&ya&ov AVAPKfWS

TO TvXcv ATraKTov ktepya&tovaTc

this (46e). Cf.with

No. 3.]



I can think of one clue: "The ideas of douleia and ananke", writes George Thomson, "are almost inseparable in Greek, the word ananke being constantlyused to denote both the state of slavery as such, and also the tortureto which the slaves were subjected."3" No one, so far as I know, has ever thought of interpretingthe ananke of the Timaeus on the pattern of slavery. Yet Plato speaks of material necessityas a "servant" 68e 4) who, he also tells us, is 46c 7; v'rqpeTovoaas, (v7r-iperoiv'W, "incapable of any logos or nous about anything" (46d 4). But this, as we have seen, is the definingconcept of the slave: a servant destituteof logos. Here, I think,is the explanation we need. The idea of "disorderlynecessity" strikes us as a flat selfcontradiction because we think of necessity in terms of a whose motions follow a strictmechanmechanical instrument, and we can ical order; that orderis inherentin the instrument, in so far as we respect its order. Plato only use the instrument whose use thinksof necessityin termsof a "living instrument", does not seem to depend on our understandingof its own intrinsicorder,but ratheron our ability to "persuade" it to follow our own purpose. In this case the order does not seem to be in but in us. This is the very image that occurs to the instrument Aristotlewhen he picturesthe teleologicalorderof the universe: are least at libertyto "But it is as in a house, wherethe freemen act at random,but all thingsor most thingsare already ordered forthem,while the slaves and the beasts do little forthe comThe slave does mon good, forthe most part live at random".36 not share of his own accord the order of the common life. Left Order, which to himselfhe would "wander" offinto disorder.37
accident" Thusa "necessary ofpurpose. buttheopposite ofnecessity, opposite in the involved circumstance but unavoidable, meansto bothany unintended, in ananke. of compulsion of a plan. This does explainthe element execution ofdisorder. But it does notexplaintheelement I938). The association II, 345, (Cambridge, 36 TheORESTEIA ofAeschylus, defines Aristotle obvious meaning. from their follows naturally ofthetwowords irapa riv 6pguiv ananke(in the senseofcompulsion: ApX2iv, riv I riv yap 9wAev (Nic. Eth. I224b I) ; while the O 6V&?yKfV XkYO0teV KLWOVoavc, j krodlov6oav
common view of douleia, as Aristotle reports it, is
I3P7b 3). 36 Met. IO75a


r'vj (bsflobXErat(Pol.

rT TvXcv with and TrTrKTat ofthispassage i9. Cf. 6Tt 9TvXev of Tm 46e 5. the 37 But theslave'sbehavior from It is onlydisorderly disorder. is notutter orderintended by the master.At the priceof inof the superior standpoint




[VOL. L.

must be imposed upon him, prehe could not originatehimself, ferablyby persuasionor,failingthis,by coercion.The Demiurge, being the wisest of masters,need not resortto coercion at all: he "persuades necessity" (48a 2) and makes it his "willing" slave (56c, 5). The notion of "persuading necessity" and the implied idea of "compelling necessity" make sense only if one keeps steadily in mind the slave metaphor. Persuading the law of gravitationdoes not make sense. Persuading a slave does. To appreciate the importanceof this development one must see it in historicperspective.The slave metaphoroccurs at the verypoint wherePlato turnsconsciouslyaway fromthe cosmoFrom the very beginningsof Ionian logy of his predecessors.38 necessity had been an integral thought rational and immanent featureof the concept of nature. Recall, forexample, the saying of Anaximanderthat thingscome into existenceand perish "as it is ordained; forthey make satisfactionand reparationto one To another fortheirinjustice accordingto the orderof time."39 express natural necessity this early Milesian borrows words fromthe governmentof man. But that is, of course, no more than what we must still do to-day when we speak of the "laws" of nature. What is importantis ratherthe absence of any suggestion of a superior agency to issue ordinances and enforce reparations.On the contrary,Anaximander excludes the interventionof a superiororderupon the course of nature by endowing nature itselfwith the attributes of divinity: it is infinite, Thinkers as opposed to one another immortal,indestructible.40
maintaining of the slave-metaphor, Plato is trueto thisfeature consistency chaos had crude "traces" of the elegantorderthat the that the primordial thechaos had been "inbefore ofcausal implication an order forit recognizes formed withshapesand numbers" (53b). Yet Plato can onlyexplaincausal and fire between connection the necessary the Forms:e.g., through implication put it: heat,snowand cold (Phaedo Io3C ff.).As P. H. DeLacy has recently level.The Ideas are the physical on thepurely no causal relation "Plato finds exist objects,forthequalitiesofparticulars causesofthequalitiesofphysical in Ideas" (Class. Phil., April,I939). participate onlyin so faras particulars I have notedin which in Plato's thought contradiction This is partofa larger April, Motion in the Timaios",p. 76-7, Class. Quarterly, "The Disorderly
IgIo. 39

zyevkcews rTO2vqfv Demiurge was to impress upon it at creation: riv iypatvogkuwv V, Kal 6Ta &XXa TOrTOts Kal 7rvpov/kuJVf Ka Tra's y's TE Kal 6ppos Iuopas 86exoi,.kV is The last clause particularly (Tm mr&caxovo-av 52de). important, 7r&1 owvbarerat

I939. and Sciences, Jan. 38 See W. H. Heidel, 2reptObTews, Proc.Am. Acad. ofArts

Diels, B, i.

40Ibid., B, 3.

No. 3.]



as the Ionian Heraclitus and the Italian Parmenides4'preserve this featureof Anaximander'sthought.Some verbal expressions may suggest the opposite. But a closer examinationshows how firmly they adhere to the notion of autonomous nature. When Heraclitus says, for example, "The sun will not overstep his measures (metra)else the Erinyes,the assistants of Justice,will findhim out" Justiceand the Erinyesstand forno independent entity; theysimplyexpressthe inevitabilityof the pattern that fire followsin its unceasingtransformations, "kindled in measure (metra), and extinguishedin measure".42Likewise when Parmenides writes, "strong ananke keeps it in the bonds of the limit",43 ananke is neithersuperiornor inferior to the inflexible rationalityof existence,but simplyidentical with it. In the atomism of Leucippus and Democritus this trend of thought comes to full maturity: "Nothing occurs at random, but everything fora reason (ek logou) and by necessity."44 Here is the exact opposite of Plato's doctrine: logos and ananke are coupled together;material necessityis rational and it excludes chance.45 The inherentmotion of matter which seems to Plato the source of necessary disorder is in the eyes of Democritus the very meaning of necessaryorder.46 And because it is necessary, motion is coeval with matteritself.There is no need fora "firstcause" to set matter in motion.47 This was the finalblow at the anthropomorphictheory of creation. Its consequences, writesCyril Bailey, "were momentous.In the sphereof physical
41 This connection ofParmenides with Anaximander was suggested to meby Werner Jaeger's remark: "he also calls it [sc.ananke] dikeor Moira, obviously underAnaximander's influence", Paideia, Eng. tr.,p. I74. 42 Diels, B, 94 and 30. Cf.also B, 8o: "strife is justice".The conflict of the elements("war") itself producesits own order.So again in B, 53: "War is father ofall and king ofall; somehe has madegodsand somemen, someslaves and somefree." A question might ariseoverB, 4I: "thethought (gnome) which steers(&KVJ3pvlo-e) all things through all things." Is thisgoverning thought an extraneous superior factor? Clearlynot,ifone compares B, 64, "thethunderboltthatsteers(olaKirt) thecourseofall things" withB, 66: "Fire in its advance will judge and convictall things"(Burnet'str. following Diels): the "thought" is inherent in thefire; like "justice"above,simply another expressionfortherelentless orderliness offire. 43 Diels, B, 30 Li; 1. cf. 11.I4 and 37.

a caso pone"rests on a misconception. Histoire See Enriques and de Santillana, de la Pensge Scientifique, argument in Greek iII, 40, and CyrilBailey'selegant Atomists and Epicurus,I4I-3.
47 D.

44Ibid., 67 B, 2 (Bailey's tr.). Simpl. 330.I4 T6 U Kat&&rep o iraXatu X6,yos o Avatpw'v riv rbXflv (Physics, A. OLKE elpSo6at.... Dante'sreproach, "Democrito che i1mondo i96a, I4) 7rpbs

Plutarch, Strom., 7 (D.


IX, 45:

ris alrias out~2s Ts



7r,&vrwv,IV &KV&YKJV XyeL.




[VOL. L.

Op. cit.,I22. into physics. The real is oftenblamedforimporting Aristotle teleology is Plato. Aristotle culprit, ofcourse, thinks as a Platonist whenhe repudiates in natural belief ofhispredecessors theall-but-universal necessity (Phys.i98b Anim.639b2i). It was Plato whohad led theattackon theIonian 2; depart. is mechanists, foisting on themhis own assumption that materialnecessity ofdenying them intotheabsurdposition equivalent to chance, and thusforcing of becausetheywillnotgranttheexistence of the universe the defactoorder forfinal whichvitiatesthe argument telelogical order.This misconception in the Philebus(28d-29e) and causes in Phys. ii. viii had been anticipated Laws X. 50 How easilythispointmay be missedis clear from A. E. Taylor'sparaphraseofthispassage(in the Introduction to histranslation oftheLaws,lii): oftwohistorical cor"Plato's viewis thatatheism is theproduct factors,,the theory porealism of the earlyIonian menof science.. ., and the 'sophistic' ofmoraldistinctions." character But of the purely and relative conventional factors". It is thesamepeople(the thetextsaysnothing about "twohistorical is expounded in 889b-dand whosepolicosmology (ooot &dvpesof888e) whose ticsis givenin 889d-8goa.
48 49

speculation it introducedfor the firsttime the possibilityof a strictlyscientific conception of the world."48 Why was it that Plato chose to frustratethis possibilityin his cosmology?49 It would be presumptuousto attemptto answer this question within the limits of this paper. But the answer, whateverit be, must reckonwith this fact: Plato attacks Ionian physicsnot only on philosophical,but also on political grounds; so that both the political and the cosmological associations of slavery came into play in his polemic. The issue is the very existenceof a philosophywhich conceives of the governmentof the state and the governmentof the world as analogous to the of the slave. The locus classicus forthisattack is the government tenth book of the Laws. His opponents are the "modern scientists" (886d; also 888e ff.). He imputes to them not only mechanisticcosmology,but also the contracttheoryof the state.50 The first gives rise to the second, and each to atheism. The basic erroris the idea that physical bodies "are moved by the interplayof theirrespective forces,according as they meet togetherand combine fittingly" (889b, Bury's tr.); in otherwords,that nature is a self-regulating system,and is not governed by the art of a divine mind. This implies that the stars are products of a natural process, not gods, but inanimate material bodies (886de; 889b). It implies further that legislation(like everyotherart) is a late productof the same process,so that laws are not absolute commands,but man-made agreements(889c-8goe). Instead of derivingthe laws

No. 3.]



fromthe gods, this impious view derives the gods fromthe laws, and variable laws at that. To refuteall this Plato maintains that the soul is the first cause of all physical motions. His elaborate argumentneed not be examined here. We need only note that the point of his thesis is to prove that the soul, being "older" than the body, has the right to "rule" the body." And what he means by the soul's "rule" is clear froma parallel passage in the Timaeus (34c): soul is despotis; it rules the body as master rules slave. If he can prove this, Plato feelshe has destroyedIonian materialism.He can then have everything his own way: that soul or souls direct every bodily motion (896de); that the stars have soul or souls and are divine (898d-899b); and that, in short, "all thingsare fullof gods" (899b). Thus cosmologysupportsreligionby establishingthe existenceof its gods.52 And the link between religious cosmologyand political religionis the slave-metaphor.

Any discussionof Plato's views on slaveryinvitescomparison with the most famous text of antiquity on this topic: the first book of the Politics. Aristotle's polemic is mainly directed against those who hold that slavery is contraryto nature." The word "nature" is used here in at least three senses: a moral, a biological, and a cosmological one. The firststates the demonstrandumof Aristotle's argument; the latter two decide the demonstration. To prove:that slavery is natural,in the sense of being good and just:54good forthe master,to whom it provides a necessary instrument(I253b 23 ff.);good also for the slave,55 whose intellectual deficiencyis supplemented by the master's superiorreason.6 This is proved first by the contentionthat the
51 E.g., 892a: EaTn Ut&TCoJV, 9inipo-Oezv w&J'Twv 'yevolue'vnv, (bs v rp&rotpOLS [tpvxh] whence it is assumedby a simpleconjunction (xat) thatit ruleseverybodily The inference from change. to ruleis madeexplicit superior age to theright in Tm 34c. 52 The "gods according to the laws": 885b,89oab, 904a. Seriousconfusion results whenthislimitation is notrecognized. Laws x doesnotevenattempt to provetheexistence oftheDemiurge, whois never mentioned among theofficial

divinities. 537rapad 4sov


i8. #rXtOVJKitX8icaLOv, I254a baiXOL 4so VL ots PAVrL6 (TTLV ApXEGOaL TanjJv 56 I252a 3V; cf. Nic. Eth. ii6ia 35-b i.

rcd beo-r66etv, I253b 20.

rt1v aipxhv, I 245b i 9.




[VOL. L.

difference of master and slave, commensuratewith that of soul and body or of man and beast (I254b I7), is a congenitalone: "some thingsare marked out fromthe momentof birthto rule or to be ruled" (I254a 23). This is the part of Aristotle'sargument that has given greatest offenceto posterity and thus attracted widest attention. Yet no less importantin Aristotle's eyes is the metaphysicalsanction of slavery. The difference between master and slave, he holds, is natural because it follows a patternthat pervades all nature: "because in every composite thing, where a plurality of parts, whether continuous or discrete, is combined to make a single common whole, there is always found a rulingand a subject factor,and this characteristic of living things is present in them as an outcome of the whole of nature (4K r Sa air~oS 4vTEWS)."57 Now let us ask: What is therein this argumentthat Plato too could not have said in fullconsistencywith his own ideas about slavery? It is, of course, the A B C of exegesis to distinguish between what a writer has actually said and what he could have said or ought to have said. That the Platonic dialogues give us no equivalent to the first book of the Politics points to a of temperbetween Plato's and Aristotle'sviews which difference must not be minimized. Neverthelesswhen we have made full allowance forthis difference, we must still observe a fact which has escaped the notice of many modern interpreters and might modify their conclusions about Plato's moral and social philosophy: that in every one of these three points Plato would have to agree with his pupil's argumentin defence of slavery: (i) that slavery is good for the slave (as well as for the master): better to be ruled by an alien reason, than not to be ruled by reason at all (Section I of this paper); (2) that this difference in intellectualand social status rests on a diversityof native endowment:nature is the originalfactor
57I254a 29-32,Rackham's tr.Other passagestoo showthatAristotle thinks ofslavery notas an isolated factbut as a specialinstance ofa general relation whichconnectsslaverywith his whole philosophic system:e.g.,Eud. Eth. I24gb 6 ff., Nic. Eth. ii6ia 32 ff. The analogy ofthemaster-slave to thesoul-body relation enablesus to connectit withthemostgeneral pattern ofAristotelian metaphysics, therelation ofform ofthebody,and bodythematter ofthesoul to matter. Soul is theform (de An. 4I!2a i 6). And since (v Ai nv r aiVa-yKaLOV, r6 8' o0 9VEKa & ,r4X&yo? (Phys. 2ooa 14), the Aristotelian contrast of mechanism to teleology is, as in Plato,

analogous to the contrast of slave to master.

No. 3.]



in differentiating the philosopher from the producer and a

fortiori fromthe slave ;58

only repeats on the human plane a (3) that this difference pattern writ large over the cosmos: the master's benevolent reason persuading the slave's irrationalforcefulfils a function analogous to that of the Demiurge, persuading towards the Good the irrationalaacnke of the material universe (Section II of this paper).

This study does not suggest that Plato deduced his political theory,his psychology,or his cosmology,fromhis concept of slavery. No such deduction is to be found in his writings, and it is profitless to speculate about the unpublishedadventuresof his mind. What it does suggest is that his views about slavery, state, man, and the world, all illustrate a single hierarchic pattern; and that the key to the pattern is in his idea of logos with all the implicationsof a dualist epistemology.59 The slave lacks logos; so does the multitude in the state, the body in man, and material necessityin the universe.Left to itself each of these would be disorderlyand vicious in the sense of that untranslatablyGreek word,hubris. Order is imposed upon them, by a benevolent superior: master, guardian, mind, demiurge. Each of these rules (archein) in his own domain. The common title to authority is the possession of logos. In such an intellectual scheme slavery is "natural": in perfectharmony with one's notions about the nature of the world and of man. There is another world-viewthat is the antithesisof Platonic idealism, and would be persecuted in the Platonic utopia as false,wicked,impious,subversive.8 It is associated with Ionian in physics61and the contract theoryof the state. It is scientific
58 See theuseof4dfoLS, ifco, etc.inRep. 370ab, 374e-376c, 428e9,43IC 7,590C 3; PoWt.30Ie, 3o9ab, 3ioa; Laws 875c. 59I refer to theseparation from theparticulars. At(XCpLOtp6s) oftheForms

tempts to explainthisaway have beenmadeby Natorp,C. Ritter, and many others. Theyare notconvincing. See F. M. Cornford, Plato's Theory ofKnow2 ff., ledge and Plato and Parmenides 74 ff. 60 Laws 8gib; 907d ff. Cf.Grote'sPlato III, 406 ff. in the i865 edition. See also B. Farringdon's Science and Politics in theAncient World, London,1939. I owe muchto thisstimulating essay. 61 Is "Ionian" unnecessarily restrictive? "All the men who have ever yet handledphysical investigation" constitute the fountain-head of impiousunreason(Laws 89ic) denounced by theAthenian stranger.




temper,empiricalin its theoryof knowledge,democratic in its political sympathies. Plato and others of his class complained that democracywas much too lenientwith slaves.82 They never went so faras to chargewhat seems so evidentto us to-day: that a consistent democratic philosophy would repudiate slavery altogether.


I3igb 28.

62 Rep.

Pol. I3I3b 35, Ath.Pol. 1. io ff.; Aristotle, 536b;"The Old Oligarch",