Manual Platos legislative demiurgy: a study of the character of the

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Get this from a library! Plato's legislative demiurgy: a study of the character of the Laws. [Lewis Meek Trelawny-Cassity].
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In this dialogue and conflict over boundaries, in order to demarcate the three image rich activities, Plato both distinguished different types of images and defined the nature of image. And he did not remain content with a theoretical distinction but wanted to show what philosophical images are and how philosophers make good use of them in different contexts.

We therefore learn some things about sensible and discursive, philosophical images in the Republic. But it is only when philosophy confronts sophistry, namely in the Sophist, that the question is raised about the nature of image qua image. Socrates had previously characterized the sun as an image and offspring of the form of the good,6 and provided an incomplete list of images as the objects he allocated to the very last section of the Line, which stood for conjecture: among them he enumerated first shadows, and then reflections in water, or in any dense, smooth, shiny surface and everything of that sort e1- a3.

In the Line, Socrates had furthermore condemned the mathematicians for using sensible images for their operations and confined dialectics exclusively to the intelligible forms. Socrates resorts to the image of the cave in order to explain how the ideal education takes place. And it is rather a complex discursive image, which is a whole made out of parts, as Socrates stresses in b2.

This necessity is divine, as a much later passage a makes explicit: the coincidence of philosophical knowledge and political power can neither be predicted nor expected, but the project is feasible, and no mere wishful thinking c7-d6.

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Either that, or until due to some divine inspiration the sons of those in positions of authority or sole rule, or the actual holders of those positions, are seized by with a true love of true philosophy. The philosophers may be the only ones who understand becoming in its dependence on the forms, but this happens on the basis of their investigation into the realm of forms.

The sensibles are neither real nor knowable but degraded into mere shadows and images of the forms upon which they are dependent.

The only knowledge attributed to the sensibles is the knowledge of the forms they are copies of. We do not encounter this crucial shift in the 12 On the dialectical ascent cf.

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What I initially labeled the ontological problem of the descent is not dealt with in the Cave. Thus I will leave aside the ontological aspect of the descent for now only to come back to it at the end, and will introduce the second aspect of the descent, which the text itself poses. Plato scholars were right to find the celebrated crux only later in the seventh book bb and not when the notion of descent is introduced. The ethical problematic can be summarized as follows: the philosophers seem to be acting against their own self-interest and sacrificing it when they are compelled to return to the cave because they have to give up the life that is much more worth living, namely their pure theoretical endeavour.

The Story of the Descent Retold: Motivations for the Descent Here I cannot even outline the solutions given to this battery of problems17 but briefly depict my own proposal according to which neither the ethical doctrine nor the practicability of the political ideal are jeopardized, since the external compulsion will prove to be grounded in an inner compulsion that arises as part of the transformative process of philosophical education. This education renders external compulsion or command unnecessary.

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These are the two fundamental motivations for the descent, which Plato neither differentiates adequately from one another nor analyzes to the same extent. Laertius V, There he argues, namely, that there should be a compulsion on the rulers or a penalty, since payment or fame are disgraceful. And the greatest penalty is to be ruled by someone worse, if they are not willing to rule themselves.

It is because of this fear that decent people seem to rule, when they rule. The necessity which is introduced here is imposed by the external circumstances, is said to be added and waited for. It is left open what kind of necessity this could be. Before we enter the context of the seventh book, let our second station be a crucial and dense passage in b-d, in which the philosopher is said to imitate the intelligible divine model as far as this is possible. Against this background of the paradigm and its imitation, the concept of demiurgy finds its appropriate place in d PLATO, The electronic Journal of the International Plato Society, n 11, Do you think she will be a bad craftsman of temperance and justice, and civic virtue as a whole?

The philosopher is compared to a demiurge, who looks at her paradigm and works on her material.

But she will also be willing to become bond and cause of unity in her own city, which admittedly is a far cry from the intelligible order of the forms. Her goal is to bind the individual co-citizens and the city together a4. Socrates exposes the exact educational path of the ideal state in the seventh book. After ten years of mathematical studies, five years of dialectics follow before the dialecticians devote themselves to fifteen years of practical experience in the cave. The problem of the descent into the cave, which Socrates addresses in the seventh book, does not concern this first return to the cave, but the one after the completion of their education, namely after their acquaintance with the form of the good a.

Thus the relevant question to ask is how the knowledge of the form of the good motivates the philosophers to descend. It is there in the specific knowledge of the good that the definite motivation for the descent is to be looked for. My point is that although Plato depicts the notion of demiurgy differently, the demiurge, the paradigm and the material are present in all diverse contexts.

What they learn on the basis of arduous and painstaking learning experience, is that the form of the good is cause of everything that is good b8-c2 and how it creates, promotes and preserves goodness in all possible fields of reality, namely as a unifying bond of plurality and diversity. The unity of a multiplicity manifests the presence of goodness, both in the case of justice in individual souls d-e and rule in the city ea. In the first case the person aims at unifying the three parts of soul.


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In the second case, the philosopher binds together the three parts of the city. Additionally it should be kept in mind that in the fourth book we do not reach the ultimate account for justice, which needs a longer account c-d , on which the interlocutors embark in the sixth book in their investigation into the form of the good b. And as far as the second case is concerned, the philosopher is said to become the bond of the city only after her acquaintance with the form of the good. The realization that they are demiurges motivates the philosophers to return to the cave.

The former embody the civic law e and thus the source of the motivation is not externally imposed, in comparison to the argument in the first book There is a clear statement about the form of the good as unity in b-c, where it emerges like a single aim. It is in order to answer the question raised by Glaucon that Socrates distinguishes between two kinds of lives the way he does in the seventh book: the life of genuine philosophy the philosopher prefers and the life of political office he repudiates b1f. But this clean-cut separation of the contemplative and the practical lives should not be taken at face value and even less should we conclude a Platonic understanding of a theoretical life deprived of any practical component.

This contempt guarantees that the philosophers will not turn the political office into their only and ultimate goal but always regard it as the necessary means to an end, i. Let me now turn to the relevant notions of necessity as the sources of these two motivations.

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The philosopher who reaches the form of the good can thus desire to imitate it as a cause of goodness. In comparison to her, the philosophers who fulfill their duty by returning to the cave are willing to rule, which means they are reluctant to disobey, but this does not necessarily presuppose any desire.

And he would have underlined the analogy with the Timaeus. Because he is good, he wants to share his goodness and creates the world 29ea6. Similarly, the philosopher who gets acquainted with the form of the good imitates its overflowing goodness and creates order in her soul and the city.

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This analogy notwithstanding, we ought not to sideline a very crucial difference between the philosopher as demiurge and the divine demiurge. The latter is free to create the world. Her descent does not happen automatically and without any choice. The attempt to gain knowledge of the human soul is present in many dialogues and, with the possible exception of Alcibiades, drink is not used to ply any of the interlocutors into spilling the truth about themselves. The shift from the open and critical dialogue favored by Socrates to the drinking-inspired conversation of the Laws is partly necessitated by the fact that Kleinias and Megillus are much more taciturn than Callicles.

In her study of wine-drinking in the Laws Belfiore correctly notes that wine is only to be drunken by the old. Compare the characterization of Kleinias and Megillus at 1. In Book 2 of the Laws, the Athenian begins to make the connection between wine-drinking and education clearer by noting how human beings become more reluctant to singing and dancing, two central components of public education, as they get older 2. As Book 2 progresses, we learn that the city is to be divided into choruses according to age, with a children's chorus, dedicated to the Muses; an under-thirty chorus, dedicated, to Apollo; and a third chorus made up of men between thirty and sixty, which is to be dedicated to Dionysus 2.

The Athenian's statement does here not initially make sense, for none of the preceding arguments specifically takes up anything resembling a Dionysian chorus for the elderly; indeed, there is no indication that the old need education at all. Rather, the preceding passages that deal with age suggest quite the reverse. In judging the best kind of public performance, the Athenian has suggested that the elderly, with their preference for rhapsodic performance over comedy, tragedy, and puppet shows, have the best aesthetic taste 2. Clark's treatment of age in the Laws rests on the assumption that Plato focuses some of the rhetorical strategies of the Laws on the old and some of them on young readers This counter-intuitive assumption gains in plausibility when one considers the young interlocutors imagined in Book The Dionysian Chorus, which is brought up after this gerontocratic passage, revises this view.

The elderly, the Athenian seems to be saying, are only educable if one gets them drunk first.

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Thus, one comes to see that the Laws is not so gerontocratic after all. We come to see that the old men for 70 whom all of the arguments so far have been made 2. Wine-drinking is an attempt to get the Dorians to become open to the fact that while their regimes are the oldest, they may not be the best. While wine-drinking presents a renewed attempt to engage Kleinias and Megillus in open dialogue, it also represents a concession. The level of conversation after several drinks may be more cordial and open than a sober dialogue, but it also loses precision as it becomes more drunken.

Leo Strauss provocatively suggests that this implies that the Athenian Stranger is subject to the effects of wine-drinking as well: The vicarious enjoyment of wine through a conversation about wine, which enlarges the horizons of the law-bred old citizens, limits the horizon of the philosopher.