Statesman (dialogue)


Statesman (dialogue)

The Statesman, or Politikos in Greek and Politicus in Latin, is a four part dialogue contained within the work of Plato.

The text is a dialogue between Socrates and his student Theodorus, another student named Socrates (referred to as Young Socrates), and an unknown philosopher expounding the ideas of the statesman. This unknown philosopher from Elea is referred to in the text as the "visitor".

The text is a continuation of the dialogue preceding it, named "Sophist ", which is a dialogue between Socrates, Theaetetus and the visitor.

According to John M. Cooper, the dialogue's intention was to clarify that to rule or have political power called for a specialized knowledge. [Cooper and Hutchinson. "Introduction to Politikos".] The statesman was one who possesses this special knowledge of how to rule justly and well and to have the best interests of the citizens at heart. It is presented that politics should be run by this knowledge, or gnosis. This claim runs counter to those who, the visitor points out, actually did rule. Those that rule merely give the appearance of such knowledge, but in the end are really sophists or imitators.

For, as the visitor points out, a sophist is one who does not know the right thing to do, but only appears to others as someone who does. The visitor's ideal of how one arrives at this knowledge of power is through social divisions. The visitor takes great pains to be very specific about where and why the divisions are needed in order to properly rule the citizenry.

Translations

* Benjamin Jowett, 1892: [http://oll.libertyfund.org/Home3/HTML.php?recordID=0603 full text]
* Harold North Fowler, 1921: [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=plat.+stat.+257a full text (English & Greek)]

References

Bibliography

*Cooper, John M. and Hutchinson, D. S. (eds.) "Plato: Complete Works". Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 1997. ISBN 0-87220-349-2


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