the statesman plato summary
But to return to your division, you spoke of men and otheranimals as two classes--the second of which you comprehended under thegeneral name of beasts. The dialectical interest of the Statesman seems to contend in Plato'smind with the political; the dialogue might have been designated by twoequally descriptive titles--either the 'Statesman,' or 'Concerning Method.' But there is no reason to expect that allPlato's visions of a former, any more than of a future, state of existence,should conform exactly to the same pattern. andthe distinctions of freedom and compulsion, law and no law, poverty andriches expand these three into six. But why did we go through this circuitous process, instead of saying atonce that weaving is the art of entwining the warp and the woof? Among the Greeks as among the Jews, law was asacred name, the gift of God, the bond of states. In the infancy of political science,men naturally ask whether the rule of the many or of the few is to bepreferred. There may have been a time when the kingwas a god, but he now is pretty much on a level with his subjects inbreeding and education. In modern politics so manyinterests have to be consulted that we are compelled to do, not what isbest, but what is possible. At the beginning of thecycle before our own very few of them had survived; and on these a mightychange passed. The too much and the too little are in restlessmotion: they must be fixed by a mean, which is also a standard external tothem. Socrates. Whereas the right way is to find the differences of classes, andto comprehend the things which have any affinity under the same class. Is hea worse physician who uses a little gentle violence in effecting the cure? But he took the customswhich he found already existing in a half-civilised state of society: these he reduced to form and inscribed on pillars; he defined what hadbefore been undefined, and gave certainty to what was uncertain. Very good, but you are in too great a hurry to get to man. Let us, then, take an example, which willillustrate the nature of example, and will also assist us in characterizingthe political science, and in separating the true king from his rivals. Nolegislation ever sprang, like Athene, in full power out of the head eitherof God or man. Not only in fact, but in idea, bothelements must remain--the fixed law and the living will; the written wordand the spirit; the principles of obligation and of freedom; and theirapplications whether made by law or equity in particular cases. Yet no great number of persons can attain to thisscience. SOCRATES: Does the great geometrician apply the same measure to all three?Are they not divided by an interval which no geometrical ratio can express? Just now we divided the whole class of animals intogregarious and non-gregarious, omitting the previous division into tame andwild. Besides the supreme science of dialectic, 'which will forget us, if weforget her,' another master-science for the first time appears in view--thescience of government, which fixes the limits of all the rest. From such ideals as he had once formed, he turns away tocontemplate the decline of the Greek cities which were far worse now in hisold age than they had been in his youth, and were to become worse and worsein the ages which followed. There is; but beforewe can apply this measure, we must know what is the aim of discourse: andour discourse only aims at the dialectical improvement of ourselves andothers.--Having made our apology, we return once more to the king orstatesman, and proceed to contrast him with pretenders in the same linewith him, under their various forms of government. And thusPlato seems to stumble, almost by accident, on the notion of aconstitutional monarchy, or of a monarchy ruling by laws. 'I should say, that there is one management of men, and another ofbeasts.' The philosopher in Plato's Statesman. The greatest power,the highest wisdom, can only proceed one or two steps in advance of publicopinion.