A stranger's knowledge : statesmanship, philosophy, & law in by Xavier Márquez

By Xavier Márquez

The Statesman is a tough and complicated Platonic discussion. In A Stranger's Knowledge Marquez argues that Plato abandons the following the vintage thought, admired in the Republic, that the philosopher, qua philosopher, is certified to rule. in its place, the discussion provides the statesman as different from the thinker, the possessor of a expert services that can not be decreased to philosophy. The expertise is of the way to make a urban resilient opposed to inner and exterior clash in mild of the imperfect sociality of people and the poverty in their cause. This services, notwithstanding, can't be produced on call for: one can't teach statesmen like one may perhaps teach carpenters. Worse, it can't be made appropriate to the voters, or function in ways in which aren't deeply harmful to the city’s balance. while the political neighborhood calls for his wisdom for its maintenance, the real statesman needs to stay a stranger to the city.

Marquez indicates how this deadlock is the major to figuring out the ambiguous reevaluation of the rule of thumb of legislations that's the such a lot amazing characteristic of the political philosophy of the Statesman. The legislations seems to be right here as a trifling approximation of the services of the unavoidably 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 global. but such legislation, even if they don't seem to be created via real statesmen, can frequently give you the urban with a restricted kind of cognitive capital that permits it to maintain itself in the end, as long as voters, and particularly leaders, keep a “philosophical” angle in the direction of them. it's only whilst rulers comprehend that they don't know greater than the legislation what's simply or sturdy (and but need to know what's simply and stable) that town should be preserved. The discussion is therefore, in a feeling, the vindication of the philosopher-king within the absence of real political knowledge. 


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Additional resources for A stranger's knowledge : statesmanship, philosophy, & law in Plato's Statesman

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In chapter 1, I argue that the discussion of weaving starting at 279b provides the most important clue to the structure of the dialogue as a whole. Not only is the art of weaving a paradigm of statesmanship (reflecting its formal structure to a significant degree), the discussion of weaving is itself a paradigm of the discussion of statesmanship. The discussion of weaving, like the discussion of statesmanship, proceeds in two parts, interrupted by a methodological interlude: one part that identifies weaving as the art that is concerned with woolen cloaks, that is, the art that produces an artifact that protects human beings from the harshness of winter, and another part that articulates the relationships between weaving so conceived and all the other arts that contribute to the production of cloaks.

I argue that the myth serves three basic purposes within the overall economy of the dialogue. First, the myth describes those essential features of the cosmos that affect the way in which we should conceive of the knowledge of the statesman and its ability to shape the city. These features include a lack of direct divine guidance, the hostility of nature and the scarcity of the means of life, the division of human rationality among a number of different arts, and the “entropy” of the cosmos in its present age (its partial tendency towards disorder).

First, the statesman must know the appropriate time, in moments of crisis, to either use the art of rhetorical persuasion to change laws or negotiate advantageously with other cities, or to use force to eliminate existential threats to the city. But second, and most importantly, the statesman must also be able to structure the city’s institutions so as to diminish the biases that ordinary people have towards action or inaction, violence or deliberation, and which can tear the city apart and endanger its survival in the face of external enemies.

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