Statesman by Plato. - HTML preview
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The myth, like that of the Timaeus and Critias, is writer of fiction to give credibility to his tales, he is rather historical than poetical, in this respect corre-not disposed to insist upon their literal truth. Rather, sponding to the general change in the later writings as in the Phaedo, he says, ‘Something of the kind is of Plato, when compared with the earlier ones. It is true;’ or, as in the Gorgias, ‘This you will think to hardly a myth in the sense in which the term might be an old wife’s tale, but you can think of nothing be applied to the myth of the Phaedrus, the Re-truer;’ or, as in the Statesman, he describes his work public, the Phaedo, or the Gorgias, but may be more as a ‘mass of mythology,’ which was introduced in aptly compared with the didactic tale in which order to teach certain lessons; or, as in the Phaedrus, Protagoras describes the fortunes of primitive man, he secretly lau ghs at such stories while refusing to or with the description of the gradual rise of a new disturb the popular belief in them.
society in the Third Book of the Laws. Some dis-The greater interest of the myth consists in the crepancies may be observed between the mythol-philosophical lessons which Plato presents to us in ogy of the Statesman and the Timaeus, and between this veiled form. Here, as in the tale of Er, the son the Timaeus and the Republic. But there is no rea-of Armenius, he touches upon the question of free-son to expect that all Plato’s visions of a former, dom and necessity, both in relation to God and any more than of a future, state of existence, should nature. For at first the universe is governed by the conform exactly to the same pattern. We do not immediate providence of God,—this is the golden find perfect consistency in his philosophy; and still age,—but after a while the wheel is reversed, and less have we any right to demand this of him in his man is left to himself. Like other theologians and use of mythology and figures of speech. And we philosophers, Plato relegates his explanation of the observe that while employing all the resources of a problem to a transcendental world; he speaks of 28
what in modern language might be termed ‘impos-a knowledge of the arts; other gods give him seeds sibilities in the nature of things,’ hindering God from and plants; and out of these human life is recon-continuing immanent in the world. But there is some structed. He now eats bread in the sweat of his brow, inconsistency; for the ‘letting go’ is spoken of as a and has dominion over the animals, subjected to divine act, and is at the same time attributed to the the conditions of his nature, and yet able to cope necessary imperfection of matter; there is also a with them by divine help. Thus Plato may be said numerical necessity for the successive births of souls.
to represent in a figure—(1) the state of innocence; At first, man and the world retain their divine in-
(2) the fall of man; (3) the still deeper decline into stincts, but gradually degenerate. As in the Book of barbarism; (4) the restoration of man by the partial Genesis, the first fall of man is succeeded by a sec-interference of God, and the natural growth of the ond; the misery and wickedness of the world inarts and of civilised society. Two lesser features of crease continually. The reason of this further de-this description should not pass unnoticed:—(1) the cline is supposed to be the disorganisation of mat-primitive men are supposed to be created out of ter: the latent seeds of a former chaos are disen-the earth, and not after the ordinary manner of gaged, and envelope all things. The condition of human generation—half the causes of moral evil man becomes more and more miserable; he is per-are in this way removed; (2) the arts are attributed petually waging an unequal warfare with the beasts.
to a divine revelation: and so the greatest difficulty At length he obtains such a measure of education in the history of pre-historic man is solved. Though and help as is necessary for his existence. Though no one knew better than Plato that the introduc-deprived of God’s help, he is not left wholly desti-tion of the gods is not a reason, but an excuse for tute; he has received from Athene and Hephaestus not giving a reason (Cratylus), yet, considering that 29
more than two thousand years later mankind are as it is comically termed by Glaucon in the Repub-still discussing these problems, we may be satisfied lic, and the higher life of reason and philosophy.
to find in Plato a statement of the difficulties which But as no one can determine the state of man in arise in conceiving the relation of man to God and the world before the Fall, ‘the question must re-nature, without expecting to obtain from him a so-main unanswered.’ Similar questions have occupied lution of them. In such a tale, as in the Phaedrus, the minds of theologians in later ages; but they can various aspects of the Ideas were doubtless indi-hardly be said to have found an answer. Professor cated to Plato’s own mind, as the corresponding Campbell well observes, that the general spirit of theological problems are to us. The immanence of the myth may be summed up in the words of the things in the Ideas, or the partial separation of them, Lysis: ‘If evil were to perish, should we hunger any and the self-motion of the supreme Idea, are prob-more, or thirst any more, or have any similar sensa-ably the forms in which he would have interpreted tions? Yet perhaps the question what will or will his own parable.
not be is a foolish one, for who can tell?’ As in the He touches upon another question of great inter-Theaetetus, evil is supposed to continue,—here, as est—the consciousness of evil—what in the Jewish the consequence of a former state of the world, a Scriptures is called ‘eating of the tree of the knowl-sort of mephitic vapour exhaling from some ancient edge of good and evil.’ At the end of the narrative, chaos,—there, as involved in the possibility of good, the Eleatic asks his companion whether this life of and incident to the mixed state of man.
innocence, or that which men live at present, is the Once more—and this is the point of connexion better of the two. He wants to distinguish between with the rest of the dialogue—the myth is intended the mere animal life of innocence, the ‘city of pigs,’
to bring out the difference between the ideal and 30
the actual state of man. In all ages of the world Platonic thought which admits of a further appli-men have dreamed of a state of perfection, which cation to Christian theology. Here are suggested also has been, and is to be, but never is, and seems to the distinctions between God causing and permit-disappear under the necessary conditions of human ting evil, and between his more and less immediate society. The uselessness, the danger, the true value government of the world.
of such political ideals have often been discussed; II. The dialectical interest of the Statesman seems youth is too ready to believe in them; age to dispar-to contend in Plato’s mind with the political; the age them. Plato’s ‘prudens quaestio’ respecting the dialogue might have been designated by two equally comparative happiness of men in this and in a descriptive titles—either the ‘Statesman,’ or ‘Conformer cycle of existence is intended to elicit this cerning Method.’ Dialectic, which in the earlier contrast between the golden age and ‘the life under writings of Plato is a revival of the Socratic ques-Zeus’ which is our own. To confuse the divine and tion and answer applied to definition, is now occu-human, or hastily apply one to the other, is a ‘tre-pied with classification; there is nothing in which mendous error.’ Of the ideal or divine government he takes greater delight than in processes of divi-of the world we can form no true or adequate con-sion (compare Phaedr.); he pursues them to a length ception; and this our mixed state of life, in which out of proportion to his main subject, and appears we are partly left to ourselves, but not wholly de-to value them as a dialectical exercise, and for their serted by the gods, may contain some higher ele-own sake. A poetical vision of some order or hierar-ments of good and knowledge than could have ex-chy of ideas or sciences has already been floating isted in the days of innocence under the rule of before us in the Symposium and the Republic. And Cronos. So we may venture slightly to enlarge a in the Phaedrus this aspect of dialectic is further 31
sketched out, and the art of rhetoric is based on the distributed into seven classes. We are warned against division of the characters of mankind into their sev-preferring the shorter to the longer method;—if we eral classes. The same love of divisions is apparent divide in the middle, we are most likely to light in the Gorgias. But in a well-known passage of the upon species; at the same time, the important re-Philebus occurs the first criticism on the nature of mark is made, that ‘a part is not to be confounded classification. There we are exhorted not to fall into with a class.’ Having discovered the genus under the common error of passing from unity to infinity, which the king falls, we proceed to distinguish him but to find the intermediate classes; and we are re-from the collateral species. To assist our imagina-minded that in any process of generalization, there tion in making this separation, we require an ex-may be more than one class to which individuals ample. The higher ideas, of which we have a dreamy may be referred, and that we must carry on the knowledge, can only be represented by images taken process of division until we have arrived at the from the external world. But, first of all, the nature infima species.
of example is explained by an example. The child is These precepts are not forgotten, either in the taught to read by comparing the letters in words Sophist or in the Statesman. The Sophist contains which he knows with the same letters in unknown four examples of division, carried on by regular steps, combinations; and this is the sort of process which until in four different lines of descent we detect the we are about to attempt. As a parallel to the king Sophist. In the Statesman the king or statesman is we select the worker in wool, and compare the art discovered by a similar process; and we have a sum-of weaving with the royal science, trying to sepa-mary, probably made for the first time, of posses-rate either of them from the inferior classes to which sions appropriated by the labour of man, which are they are akin. This has the incidental advantage, 32
that weaving and the web furnish us with a figure sion of sciences into practical and speculative, and of speech, which we can afterwards transfer to the into more or less speculative: here we have the idea State.
of master-arts, or sciences which control inferior There are two uses of examples or images—in the ones. Besides the supreme science of dialectic, first place, they suggest thoughts—secondly, they
‘which will forget us, if we forget her,’ another mas-give them a distinct form. In the infancy of phiter-science for the first time appears in view—the losophy, as in childhood, the language of pictures is science of government, which fixes the limits of all natural to man: truth in the abstract is hardly won, the rest. This conception of the political or royal and only by use familiarized to the mind. Examples science as, from another point of view, the science are akin to analogies, and have a reflex influence on of sciences, which holds sway over the rest, is not thought; they people the vacant mind, and may originally found in Aristotle, but in Plato.
often originate new directions of enquiry. Plato The doctrine that virtue and art are in a mean, seems to be conscious of the suggestiveness of im-which is familiarized to us by the study of the agery; the general analogy of the arts is constantly Nicomachean Ethics, is also first distinctly asserted employed by him as well as the comparison of parin the Statesman of Plato. The too much and the ticular arts—weaving, the refining of gold, the learn-too little are in restless motion: they must be fixed ing to read, music, statuary, painting, medicine, the by a mean, which is also a standard external to them.
art of the pilot—all of which occur in this dialogue The art of measuring or finding a mean between alone: though he is also aware that ‘comparisons excess and defect, like the principle of division in are slippery things,’ and may often give a false clear-the Phaedrus, receives a particular application to ness to ideas. We shall find, in the Philebus, a divi-the art of discourse. The excessive length of a dis-33
course may be blamed; but who can say what is the requirement of an impossible accuracy in the excess, unless he is furnished with a measure or stan-use of terms, the error of supposing that philoso-dard? Measure is the life of the arts, and may some phy was to be found in language, the danger of word-day be discovered to be the single ultimate prin-catching, have frequently been discussed by him in ciple in which all the sciences are contained. Other the previous dialogues, but nowhere has the spirit forms of thought may be noted—the distinction of modern inductive philosophy been more hap-between causal and co-operative arts, which may pily indicated than in the words of the Statesman:—
be compared with the distinction between primary
’If you think more about things, and less about and co-operative causes in the Timaeus; or between words, you will be richer in wisdom as you grow cause and condition in the Phaedo; the passing men-older.’ A similar spirit is discernible in the remark-tion of economical science; the opposition of rest able expressions, ‘the long and difficult language of and motion, which is found in all nature; the gen-facts;’ and ‘the interrogation of every nature, in or-eral conception of two great arts of composition and der to obtain the particular contribution of each to division, in which are contained weaving, politics, the store of knowledge.’ Who has described ‘the dialectic; and in connexion with the conception of feeble intelligence of all things; given by metaphys-a mean, the two arts of measuring.
ics better than the Eleatic Stranger in the words—
In the Theaetetus, Plato remarks that precision
’The higher ideas can hardly be set forth except in the use of terms, though sometimes pedantic, is through the medium of examples; every man seems sometimes necessary. Here he makes the opposite to know all things in a kind of dream, and then reflection, that there may be a philosophical disre-again nothing when he is awake?’ Or where is the gard of words. The evil of mere verbal oppositions, value of metaphysical pursuits more truly expressed 34
than in the words, —’The greatest and noblest things He is struck by the observation ‘quam parva have no outward image of themselves visible to man: sapientia regitur mundus,’ and is touched with a therefore we should learn to give a rational account feeling of the ills which afflict states. The condition of them?’
of Megara before and during the Peloponnesian War, III. The political aspects of the dialogue are closely of Athens under the Thirty and afterwards, of Syra-connected with the dialectical. As in the Cratylus, cuse and the other Sicilian cities in their alterna-the legislator has ‘the dialectician standing on his tions of democratic excess and tyranny, might natu-right hand;’ so in the Statesman, the king or states-rally suggest such reflections. Some states he sees man is the dialectician, who, although he may be in already shipwrecked, others foundering for want of a private station, is still a king. Whether he has the a pilot; and he wonders not at their destruction, power or not, is a mere accident; or rather he has the but at their endurance. For they ought to have per-power, for what ought to be is (‘Was ist vernunftig, ished long ago, if they had depended on the wis-das ist wirklich’); and he ought to be and is the true dom of their rulers. The mingled pathos and satire governor of mankind. There is a reflection in this of this remark is characteristic of Plato’s later style.
idealism of the Socratic ‘Virtue is knowledge;’ and, The king is the personification of political science.
without idealism, we may remark that knowledge is And yet he is something more than this,—the pera great part of power. Plato does not trouble himself fectly good and wise tyrant of the Laws, whose will to construct a machinery by which ‘philosophers shall is better than any law. He is the special providence be made kings,’ as in the Republic: he merely holds who is always interfering with and regulating all up the ideal, and affirms that in some sense science things. Such a conception has sometimes been en-is really supreme over human life.
tertained by modern theologians, and by Plato him-35
self, of the Supreme Being. But whether applied to be attacked:—either from the side of nature, which Divine or to human governors the conception is rises up and rebels against them in the spirit of faulty for two reasons, neither of which are noticed Callicles in the Gorgias; or from the side of ideal-by Plato:—first, because all good government sup-ism, which attempts to soar above them,—and this poses a degree of co-operation in the ruler and his is the spirit of Plato in the Statesman. But he soon subjects,—an ‘education in politics’ as well as in falls, like Icarus, and is content to walk instead of moral virtue; secondly, because government, whether flying; that is, to accommodate himself to the ac-Divine or human, implies that the subject has a tual state of human things. Mankind have long been previous knowledge of the rules under which he is in despair of finding the true ruler; and therefore living. There is a fallacy, too, in comparing unchange-are ready to acquiesce in any of the five or six reable laws with a personal governor. For the law need ceived forms of government as better than none. And not necessarily be an ‘ignorant and brutal tyrant,’
the best thing which they can do (though only the but gentle and humane, capable of being altered in second best in reality), is to reduce the ideal state to the spirit of the legislator, and of being adminis-the conditions of actual life. Thus in the Statesman, tered so as to meet the cases of individuals. Not as in the Laws, we have three forms of government, only in fact, but in idea, both elements must re-which we may venture to term, (1) the ideal, (2) the main—the fixed law and the living will; the written practical, (3) the sophistical—what ought to be, what word and the spirit; the principles of obligation and might be, what is. And thus Plato seems to stumble, of freedom; and their applications whether made almost by accident, on the notion of a constitutional by law or equity in particular cases.
monarchy, or of a monarchy ruling by laws.
There are two sides from which positive laws may The divine foundations of a State are to be laid 36
deep in education (Republic), and at the same time the union of opposites is to be effected.
some little violence may be used in exterminating In the loose framework of a single dialogue Plato natures which are incapable of education (compare has thus combined two distinct subjects—politics Laws). Plato is strongly of opinion that the legisla-and method. Yet they are not so far apart as they tor, like the physician, may do men good against appear: in his own mind there was a secret link of their will (compare Gorgias). The human bonds of connexion between them. For the philosopher or states are formed by the inter-marriage of disposi-dialectician is also the only true king or statesman.
tions adapted to supply the defects of each other.
In the execution of his plan Plato has invented or As in the Republic, Plato has observed that there distinguished several important forms of thought, are opposite natures in the world, the strong and and made incidentally many valuable remarks.
the gentle, the courageous and the temperate, which, Questions of interest both in ancient and modern borrowing an expression derived from the image of politics also arise in the course of the dialogue, which weaving, he calls the warp and the woof of human may with advantage be further considered by us:—
society. To interlace these is the crowning achieve-a. The imaginary ruler, whether God or man, is ment of political science. In the Protagoras, Socrates above the law, and is a law to himself and to others.
was maintaining that there was only one virtue, and Among the Greeks as among the Jews, law was a not many: now Plato is inclined to think that there sacred name, the gift of God, the bond of states.
are not only parallel, but opposite virtues, and seems But in the Statesman of Plato, as in the New Testa-to see a similar opposition pervading all art and ment, the word has also become the symbol of an nature. But he is satisfied with laying down the prin-imperfect good, which is almost an evil. The law ciple, and does not inform us by what further steps sacrifices the individual to the universal, and is the 37
tyranny of the many over the few (compare Repub-frame of nature, upon which the puny arm of man lic). It has fixed rules which are the props of order, hardly makes an impression. And, speaking gener-and will not swerve or bend in extreme cases. It is ally, the slowest growths, both in nature and in poli-the beginning of political society, but there is some-tics, are the most permanent.
thing higher—an intelligent ruler, whether God or b. Whether the best form of the ideal is a person man, who is able to adapt himself to the endless or a law may fairly be doubted. The former is more varieties of circumstances. Plato is fond of pictur-akin to us: it clothes itself in poetry and art, and ing the advantages which would result from the appeals to reason more in the form of feeling: in union of the tyrant who has power with the legisla-the latter there is less danger of allowing ourselves tor who has wisdom: he regards this as the best and to be deluded by a figure of speech. The ideal of speediest way of reforming mankind. But institu-the Greek state found an expression in the deifica-tions cannot thus be artificially created, nor can the tion of law: the ancient Stoic spoke of a wise man external authority of a ruler impose laws for which perfect in virtue, who was fancifully said to be a a nation is unprepared. The greatest power, the high-king; but neither they nor Plato had arrived at the est wisdom, can only proceed one or two steps in conception of a person who was also a law. Nor is it advance of public opinion. In all stages of civiliza-easy for the Christian to think of God as wisdom, tion human nature, after all our efforts, remains truth, holiness, and also as the wise, true, and holy intractable,—not like clay in the hands of the pot-one. He is always wanting to break through the ter, or marble under the chisel of the sculptor. Great abstraction and interrupt the law, in order that he changes occur in the history of nations, but they may present to himself the more familiar image of are brought about slowly, like the changes in the a divine friend. While the impersonal has too slen-38
der a hold upon the affections to be made the basis few the rule of a class neither better nor worse than of religion, the conception of a person on the other other classes, not devoid of a feeling of right, but hand tends to degenerate into a new kind of idola-guided mostly by a sense of their own interests, and try. Neither criticism nor experience allows us to by the rule of the many the rule of all classes, simi-suppose that there are interferences with the laws larly under the influence of mixed motives, no one of nature; the idea is inconceivable to us and at would hesitate to answer—’The rule of all rather variance with facts. The philosopher or theologian than one, because all classes are more likely to take who could realize to mankind that a person is a care of all than one of another; and the government law, that the higher rule has no exception, that good-has greater power and stability when resting on a ness, like knowledge, is also power, would breathe wider basis.’ Both in ancient and modern times the a new religious life into the world.
best balanced form of government has been held to c. Besides the imaginary rule of a philosopher or be the best; and yet it should not be so nicely bala God, the actual forms of government have to be anced as to make action and movement impossible.
considered. In the infancy of political science, men The statesman who builds his hope upon the ar-naturally ask whether the rule of the many or of istocracy, upon the middle classes, upon the people, the few is to be preferred. If by ‘the few’ we mean will probably, if he have sufficient experience of
‘the good’ and by ‘the many,’ ‘the bad,’ there can them, conclude that all classes are much alike, and be but one reply: ‘The rule of one good man is bet-that one is as good as another, and that the liber-ter than the rule of all the rest, if they are bad.’ For, ties of no class are safe in the hands of the rest. The as Heracleitus says, ‘One is ten thousand if he be higher ranks have the advantage in education and the best.’ If, however, we mean by the rule of the manners, the middle and lower in industry and self-39
denial; in every class, to a certain extent, a natural the old Greek revolutions, and not without parallel sense of right prevails, sometimes communicated in modern times, that the leaders of the democracy from the lower to the higher, sometimes from the have been themselves of aristocratic origin. The higher to the lower, which is too strong for class people are expecting to be governed by representa-interests. There have been crises in the history of tives of their own, but the true man of the people nations, as at the time of the Crusades or the Ref-either never appears, or is quickly altered by cir-ormation, or the French Revolution, when the same cumstances. Their real wishes hardly make them-inspiration has taken hold of whole peoples, and selves felt, although their lower interests and preju-permanently raised the sense of freedom and jus-dices may sometimes be flattered and yielded to tice among mankind.
for the sake of ulterior objects by those who have But even supposing the different classes of a na-political power. They will often learn by experience tion, when viewed impartially, to be on a level with that the democracy has become a plutocracy. The each other in moral virtue, there remain two con-influence of wealth, though not the enjoyment of siderations of opposite kinds which enter into the it, has become diffused among the poor as well as problem of government. Admitting of course that among the rich; and society, instead of being safer, the upper and lower classes are equal in the eye of is more at the mercy of the tyrant, who, when things God and of the law, yet the one may be by nature are at the worst, obtains a guard—that is, an army—
fitted to govern and the other to be governed. A and announces himself as the saviour.
ruling caste does not soon altogether lose the gov-The other consideration is of an opposite kind.
erning qualities, nor a subject class easily acquire Admitting that a few wise men are likely to be bet-them. Hence the phenomenon so often observed in ter governors than the unwise many, yet it is not in 40
their power to fashion an entire people according in a half-civilised state of society: these he reduced to their behest. When with the best intentions the to form and inscribed on pillars; he defined what benevolent despot begins his regime, he finds the had before been undefined, and gave certainty to world hard to move. A succession of good kings has what was uncertain. No legislation ever sprang, like at the end of a century left the people an inert and Athene, in full power out of the head either of God unchanged mass. The Roman world was not per-or man.
manently improved by the hundred years of Hadrian Plato and Aristotle are sensible of the difficulty and the Antonines. The kings of Spain during the of combining the wisdom of the few with the power last century were at least equal to any contempo-of the many. According to Plato, he is a physician rary sovereigns in virtue and ability. In certain states who has the knowledge of a physician, and he is a of the world the means are wanting to render a be-king who has the knowledge of a king. But how the nevolent power effectual. These means are not a king, one or more, is to obtain the required power, mere external organisation of posts or telegraphs, is hardly at all considered by him. He presents the hardly the introduction of new laws or modes of idea of a perfect government, but except the regu-industry. A change must be made in the spirit of a lation for mixing different tempers in marriage, he people as well as in their externals. The ancient leg-never makes any provision for the attainment of it.
islator did not really take a blank tablet and in-Aristotle, casting aside ideals, would place the gov-scribe upon it the rules which reflection and experi-ernment in a middle class of citizens, sufficiently ence had taught him to be for a nation’s interest; numerous for stability, without admitting the popu-no one would have obeyed him if he had. But he lace; and such appears to have been the constitu-took the customs which he found already existing tion which actually prevailed for a short time at 41
Athens—the rule of the Five Thousand—character-served in her fleets and armies. But though we some-ized by Thucydides as the best government of Ath-times hear the cry that we must ‘educate the masses, ens which he had known. It may however be for they are our masters,’ who would listen to a doubted how far, either in a Greek or modern state, proposal that the franchise should be confined to such a limitation is practicable or desirable; for those the educated or to those who fulfil political duties?
who are left outside the pale will always be danger-Then again, we know that the masses are not our ous to those who are within, while on the other masters, and that they are more likely to become so hand the leaven of the mob can hardly affect the if we educate them. In modern politics so many representation of a great country. There is reason interests have to be consulted that we are compelled for the argument in favour of a property qualifica-to do, not what is best, but what is possible.
tion; there is reason also in the arguments of those d. Law is the first principle of society, but it can-who would include all and so exhaust the political not supply all the wants of society, and may easily situation.
cause more evils than it cures. Plato is aware of the The true answer to the question is relative to the imperfection of law in failing to meet the varieties circumstances of nations. How can we get the great-of circumstances: he is also aware that human life est intelligence combined with the greatest power?
would be intolerable if every detail of it were placed The ancient legislator would have found this ques-under legal regulation. It may be a great evil that tion more easy than we do. For he would have re-physicians should kill their patients or captains cast quired that all persons who had a share of govern-away their ships, but it would be a far greater evil if ment should have received their education from the each particular in the practice of medicine or sea-state and have borne her burdens, and should have manship were regulated by law. Much has been said 42
in modern times about the duty of leaving men to judge. Such justice has been often exercised in primi-themselves, which is supposed to be the best way tive times, or at the present day among eastern rul-of taking care of them. The question is often asked, ers. But in the first place it depends entirely on the What are the limits of legislation in relation to personal character of the judge. He may be honest, morals? And the answer is to the same effect, that but there is no check upon his dishonesty, and his morals must take care of themselves. There is a one-opinion can only be overruled, not by any prin-sided truth in these answers, if they are regarded as ciple of law, but by the opinion of another judging condemnations of the interference with commerce like himself without law. In the second place, even in the last century or of clerical persecution in the if he be ever so honest, his mode of deciding ques-Middle Ages. But ‘laissez-faire’ is not the best but tions would introduce an element of uncertainty only the second best. What the best is, Plato does into human life; no one would know beforehand not attempt to determine; he only contrasts the what would happen to him, or would seek to con-imperfection of law with the wisdom of the perfect form in his conduct to any rule of law. For the com-ruler.
pact which the law makes with men, that they shall Laws should be just, but they must also be cer-be protected if they observe the law in their deal-tain, and we are obliged to sacrifice something of ings with one another, would have to be substituted their justice to their certainty. Suppose a wise and another principle of a more general character, that good judge, who paying little or no regard to the they shall be protected by the law if they act rightly law, attempted to decide with perfect justice the in their dealings with one another. The complexity cases that were brought before him. To the unedu-of human actions and also the uncertainty of their cated person he would appear to be the ideal of a effects would be increased tenfold. For one of the 43
principal advantages of law is not merely that it arrive at truth. He is deeply impressed with the enforces honesty, but that it makes men act in the importance of classification: in this alone he finds same way, and requires them to produce the same the true measure of human things; and very often evidence of their acts. Too many laws may be the in the process of division curious results are ob-sign of a corrupt and overcivilized state of society, tained. For the dialectical art is no respecter of per-too few are the sign of an uncivilized one; as soon sons: king and vermin-taker are all alike to the phi-as commerce begins to grow, men make themselves losopher. There may have been a time when the customs which have the validity of laws. Even eq-king was a god, but he now is pretty much on a uity, which is the exception to the law, conforms to level with his subjects in breeding and education.
fixed rules and lies for the most part within the Man should be well advised that he is only one of limits of previous decisions.
the animals, and the Hellene in particular should IV. The bitterness of the Statesman is characteris-be aware that he himself was the author of the distic of Plato’s later style, in which the thoughts of tinction between Hellene and Barbarian, and that youth and love have fled away, and we are no longer the Phrygian would equally divide mankind into tended by the Muses or the Graces. We do not ven-Phrygians and Barbarians, and that some intelli-ture to say that Plato was soured by old age, but gent animal, like a crane, might go a step further, certainly the kindliness and courtesy of the earlier and divide the animal world into cranes and all other dialogues have disappeared. He sees the world un-animals. Plato cannot help laughing (compare der a harder and grimmer aspect: he is dealing with Theaet.) when he thinks of the king running after the reality of things, not with visions or pictures of his subjects, like the pig-driver or the bird-taker.
them: he is seeking by the aid of dialectic only, to He would seriously have him consider how many 44
competitors there are to his throne, chiefly among contain his disgust at the contemporary statesmen, the class of serving-men. A good deal of meaning is sophists who had turned politicians, in various lurking in the expression—’There is no art of feed-forms of men and animals, appearing, some like li-ing mankind worthy the name.’ There is a similar ons and centaurs, others like satyrs and monkeys.
depth in the remark,—’The wonder about states is In this new disguise the Sophists make their last not that they are short-lived, but that they last so appearance on the scene: in the Laws Plato appears long in spite of the badness of their rulers.’
to have forgotten them, or at any rate makes only a V. There is also a paradoxical element in the States-slight allusion to them in a single passage (Laws).
man which delights in reversing the accustomed use VI. The Statesman is naturally connected with of words. The law which to the Greek was the high-the Sophist. At first sight we are surprised to find est object of reverence is an ignorant and brutal that the Eleatic Stranger discourses to us, not only tyrant—the tyrant is converted into a beneficent concerning the nature of Being and Not-being, but king. The sophist too is no longer, as in the earlier concerning the king and statesman. We perceive, dialogues, the rival of the statesman, but assumes however, that there is no inappropriateness in his his form. Plato sees that the ideal of the state in his maintaining the character of chief speaker, when own day is more and more severed from the actual.
we remember the close connexion which is assumed From such ideals as he had once formed, he turns by Plato to exist between politics and dialectic. In away to contemplate the decline of the Greek cities both dialogues the Proteus Sophist is exhibited, first, which were far worse now in his old age than they in the disguise of an Eristic, secondly, of a false had been in his youth, and were to become worse statesman. There are several lesser features which and worse in the ages which followed. He cannot the two dialogues have in common. The styles and 45
the situations of the speakers are very similar; there of the subject in the Statesman is fragmentary, and is the same love of division, and in both of them the shorter and later work, as might be expected, is the mind of the writer is greatly occupied about less finished, and less worked out in detail. The idea method, to which he had probably intended to re-of measure and the arrangement of the sciences turn in the projected ‘Philosopher.’
supply connecting links both with the Republic and The Statesman stands midway between the Re-the Philebus.
public and the Laws, and is also related to the More than any of the preceding dialogues, the Timaeus. The mythical or cosmical element reminds Statesman seems to approximate in thought and us of the Timaeus, the ideal of the Republic. A pre-language to the Laws. There is the same decline and vious chaos in which the elements as yet were not, tendency to monotony in style, the same self-con-is hinted at both in the Timaeus and Statesman.
sciousness, awkwardness, and over-civility; and in The same ingenious arts of giving verisimilitude to the Laws is contained the pattern of that second a fiction are practised in both dialogues, and in both, best form of government, which, after all, is admit-as well as in the myth at the end of the Republic, ted to be the only attainable one in this world. The Plato touches on the subject of necessity and free-
‘gentle violence,’ the marriage of dissimilar natures, will. The words in which he describes the miseries the figure of the warp and the woof, are also found of states seem to be an amplification of the ‘Cities in the Laws. Both expressly recognize the concep-will never cease from ill’ of the Republic. The point tion of a first or ideal state, which has receded into of view in both is the same; and the differences not an invisible heaven. Nor does the account of the really important, e.g. in the myth, or in the account origin and growth of society really differ in them, if of the different kinds of states. But the treatment we make allowance for the mythic character of the 46
narrative in the Statesman. The virtuous tyrant is in works of the same author, and not in those of an common to both of them; and the Eleatic Stranger imitator, being too subtle and minute to have been takes up a position similar to that of the Athenian invented by another. The similar passages and turns Stranger in the Laws.
of thought are generally inferior to the parallel pas-VII. There would have been little disposition to sages in his earlier writings; and we might a priori doubt the genuineness of the Sophist and States-have expected that, if altered, they would have been man, if they had been compared with the Laws improved. But the comparison of the Laws proves rather than with the Republic, and the Laws had that this repetition of his own thoughts and words been received, as they ought to be, on the authority in an inferior form is characteristic of Plato’s later of Aristotle and on the ground of their intrinsic ex-style.
cellence, as an undoubted work of Plato. The de-3. The close connexion of them with the tailed consideration of the genuineness and order Theaetetus, Parmenides, and Philebus, involves the of the Platonic dialogues has been reserved for an-fate of these dialogues, as well as of the two sus-other place: a few of the reasons for defending the pected ones.
Sophist and Statesman may be given here.
4. The suspicion of them seems mainly to rest on 1. The excellence, importance, and metaphysical a presumption that in Plato’s writings we may ex-originality of the two dialogues: no works at once pect to find an uniform type of doctrine and opin-so good and of such length are known to have pro-ion. But however we arrange the order, or narrow ceeded from the hands of a forger.
the circle of the dialogues, we must admit that they 2. The resemblances in them to other dialogues exhibit a growth and progress in the mind of Plato.
of Plato are such as might be expected to be found And the appearance of change or progress is not to 47
be regarded as impugning the genuineness of any STATESMAN
particular writings, but may be even an argument in their favour. If we suppose the Sophist and by
Politicus to stand halfway between the Republic and the Laws, and in near connexion with the Theaetetus, the Parmenides, the Philebus, the ar-Plato
guments against them derived from differences of thought and style disappear or may be said with-Translated by Benjamin Jowett out paradox in some degree to confirm their genuineness. There is no such interval between the Republic or Phaedrus and the two suspected dialogues, as that which separates all the earlier writings of Plato from the Laws. And the Theaetetus, PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE:
Parmenides, and Philebus, supply links, by which, Theodorus, Socrates, The Eleatic Stranger, The however different from them, they may be reunited Younger Socrates.
with the great body of the Platonic writings.
SOCRATES: I owe you many thanks, indeed, Theodorus, for the acquaintance both of Theaetetus and of the Stranger.
THEODORUS: And in a little while, Socrates, you will owe me three times as many, when they have 48
completed for you the delineation of the Statesman STRANGER: That is my duty, Theodorus; having and of the Philosopher, as well as of the Sophist.
begun I must go on, and not leave the work unfinished. But what shall be done with Theaetetus?
SOCRATES: Sophist, statesman, philosopher! O my dear Theodorus, do my ears truly witness that this THEODORUS: In what respect?
is the estimate formed of them by the great calculator and geometrician?
STRANGER: Shall we relieve him, and take his companion, the Young Socrates, instead of him?
THEODORUS: What do you mean, Socrates?
What do you advise?
SOCRATES: I mean that you rate them all at the THEODORUS: Yes, give the other a turn, as you same value, whereas they are really separated by an propose. The young always do better when they interval, which no geometrical ratio can express.
have intervals of rest.
THEODORUS: By Ammon, the god of Cyrene, SOCRATES: I think, Stranger, that both of them Socrates, that is a very fair hit; and shows that you may be said to be in some way related to me; for have not forgotten your geometry. I will retaliate the one, as you affirm, has the cut of my ugly face on you at some other time, but I must now ask the (compare Theaet.), the other is called by my name.
Stranger, who will not, I hope, tire of his goodness And we should always be on the look-out to recog-to us, to proceed either with the Statesman or with nize a kinsman by the style of his conversation. I the Philosopher, whichever he prefers.
myself was discoursing with Theaetetus yesterday, 49
and I have just been listening to his answers; my STRANGER: Then the sciences must be divided as namesake I have not yet examined, but I must.
Another time will do for me; to-day let him answer you.
YOUNG SOCRATES: I dare say.
STRANGER: Very good. Young Socrates, do you STRANGER: But yet the division will not be the hear what the elder Socrates is proposing?
YOUNG SOCRATES: I do.
YOUNG SOCRATES: How then?
STRANGER: And do you agree to his proposal?
STRANGER: They will be divided at some other point.
YOUNG SOCRATES: Certainly.
YOUNG SOCRATES: Yes.
STRANGER: As you do not object, still less can I.
After the Sophist, then, I think that the Statesman STRANGER: Where shall we discover the path of naturally follows next in the order of enquiry. And the Statesman? We must find and separate off, and please to say, whether he, too, should be ranked set our seal upon this, and we will set the mark of among those who have science.
another class upon all diverging paths. Thus the soul will conceive of all kinds of knowledge under YOUNG SOCRATES: Yes.