By Xavier Márquez

The Statesman is a tough and confusing Platonic discussion. In A Stranger's Knowledge Marquez argues that Plato abandons right here the vintage concept, favourite in the Republic, that the philosopher, qua philosopher, is certified to rule. as an alternative, the discussion offers the statesman as different from the thinker, the possessor of a consultant services that can not be decreased to philosophy. The expertise is of ways to make a urban resilient opposed to inner and exterior clash in mild of the imperfect sociality of humans and the poverty in their cause. This services, besides the fact that, can't be produced on call for: one can't educate statesmen like one may possibly educate carpenters. Worse, it can't be made appropriate to the voters, or function in ways in which are usually not deeply harmful to the city’s balance. whilst the political group calls for his wisdom for its upkeep, the true statesman needs to stay a stranger to the city.

Marquez indicates how this deadlock is the foremost to figuring out the ambiguous reevaluation of the rule of thumb of legislation that's the so much awesome function of the political philosophy of the Statesman. The legislations appears to be like right here as a trifling approximation of the services of the necessarily absent statesman, dim photos and static snapshots of the transparent and dynamic services required to lead the send of kingdom around the storms of the political international. but such legislation, even if they don't seem to be created by means of actual statesmen, can usually give you the urban with a constrained kind of cognitive capital that permits it to maintain itself in the end, as long as electorate, and particularly leaders, continue a “philosophical” perspective in the direction of them. it is just while rulers recognize that they don't know higher than the legislation what's simply or sturdy (and but need to know what's simply and solid) that town will be preserved. The discussion is therefore, in a feeling, the vindication of the philosopher-king within the absence of actual political knowledge. 

 

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Extra info for A stranger's knowledge : statesmanship, philosophy, & law in Plato's Statesman

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Some of these differences between Socrates and the Stranger are merely apparent, to be sure; Socrates’ focus on private conversations rather than public legislation can be understood, for 17 A Stranger’s Knowledge example, as a second best response to the corruption of Athens. And others could be explained as differences in emphasis rather than as substantive disagreements, such as the Stranger’s lack of attention to the statesman’s virtue. But there can be no denying that the Stranger invites us to consider statesmanship as a form of knowledge that is different from philosophy, resulting in conclusions that are not obviously compatible with the more “Socratic” views of statesmanship expressed elsewhere in the corpus.

48 One might argue that the interactions between philosophical spokesmen and minor characters might be important in some of the “earlier” Socratic dialogues, but that by the time Plato wrote the Statesman the dialogue form had become a mere formality; after all, one might say, it is hard to imagine a more pliant and characterless interlocutor than Young Socrates. Yet the dialogue itself draws our attention to the importance of the interaction between the Eleatic and Young Socrates. At the very beginning of the conversation the elder Socrates explicitly indicates (257d1–258a6) that he would prefer that the Eleatic Stranger choose as his interlocutor the younger Socrates, because he (the elder Socrates) has already conversed with Theatetus and seen him in conversation with the Eleatic Stranger, whereas he has not yet seen Young Socrates in action, and it is necessary for him to see both in action in order to discover their “kinship” with him.

42 In chapter 4, I explore the conception of knowledge that the Stranger implicitly uses in his discussion of statesmanship. ” The statesman’s knowledge is thus not exhausted in the contemplation of eternal forms, but is instead conceived as the ability to make use of a grasp of the invariant structure of reality to order the unstable world in which he must operate. Moreover, I show that in order to come to terms with the idea of “false judgment” in the Sophist, the Stranger develops a distinctive and original conception of imitation as the reproduction of formal relationships in different media that will enable him to explain how laws can imitate the knowledge of the statesman while still retaining some epistemic value.

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