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Das Paradox von der Philosophenherrschaft im Staat, Staatsmann und in den Gesetzen. Einige Bemerkungen zur Einheit und Variation des platonischen Denkens


Ferber, Rafael (2013). Das Paradox von der Philosophenherrschaft im Staat, Staatsmann und in den Gesetzen. Einige Bemerkungen zur Einheit und Variation des platonischen Denkens. In: Karfík, Filip; Euree, Song. Plato Revived. Essays on Ancient Platonism in Honour of Dominic J. O’Meara. Berlin: De Gruyter, 261-277.

Abstract

This paper deals with the paradox of the rule of philosopher-kings in the "Republic", the "Statesman" and the "Laws". The paper tries to show that the rule of philosopher-kings is “applied platonic metaphysics”. (I) In Plato’s dialogues, one can find a “dogmatic minimum”, which consists of seven theses: 1) There is a difference between true belief and knowledge. 2) No one errs willingly. 3) Virtue is knowledge. 4) The just man is happy, the unjust one unhappy. 5) Knowledge corresponds to true being (in the Parmenidean sense), but belief corresponds to something which lies between being and not-being. 6) As knowledge is the foundation of belief, ideas are the foundation of sense phenomena in the following way: Ideas can exist without sense phenomena, but sense phenomena cannot exist without ideas. 7) The ideal state must correspond to the hierarchical structure of knowledge and being and reflect the hierarchical structure of the cosmos. Therefore, the philosopher-kings who know the ideas and especially the idea of the Good must rule. Theses 1 to 4 may go back to Socrates, theses 5 to 7 to Plato. (II) In the second part of the paper, it is shown that Plato never abandoned the idea of the rule of philosopher-kings. One can find this concept in the "Republic" (473c-e), in the "Statesman" (294a8-9) and also still in the "Laws" (711e-712a). However, the idea is modified in the "Laws": The rule of the philosopher-kings is only a means for the introduction of the rule of the law (710d). (III) The third part of the paper discusses the question of whether Plato is an aporetic or a dogmatic philosopher – a distinction which leads historically to academic scepticism on the one hand and Plotinus’ Neo-Platonism on the other. The paper argues in favour of a third alternative between the two: First, there is the same dogmatic minimum in all of Plato’s dialogues; its core is the idea that there is a difference between true belief and knowledge. Second, this dogmatic minimum is developed over the course of the early to the late dialogues. Therefore, at the same time, there is unity and development in Plato’s dialogues and philosophy. Thus, the whole work itself shows contrasts between unity and development, systematic philosophy and open philosophizing. Perhaps the most urgent task of Plato scholarship would be to integrate these two aspects in one monograph.

Abstract

This paper deals with the paradox of the rule of philosopher-kings in the "Republic", the "Statesman" and the "Laws". The paper tries to show that the rule of philosopher-kings is “applied platonic metaphysics”. (I) In Plato’s dialogues, one can find a “dogmatic minimum”, which consists of seven theses: 1) There is a difference between true belief and knowledge. 2) No one errs willingly. 3) Virtue is knowledge. 4) The just man is happy, the unjust one unhappy. 5) Knowledge corresponds to true being (in the Parmenidean sense), but belief corresponds to something which lies between being and not-being. 6) As knowledge is the foundation of belief, ideas are the foundation of sense phenomena in the following way: Ideas can exist without sense phenomena, but sense phenomena cannot exist without ideas. 7) The ideal state must correspond to the hierarchical structure of knowledge and being and reflect the hierarchical structure of the cosmos. Therefore, the philosopher-kings who know the ideas and especially the idea of the Good must rule. Theses 1 to 4 may go back to Socrates, theses 5 to 7 to Plato. (II) In the second part of the paper, it is shown that Plato never abandoned the idea of the rule of philosopher-kings. One can find this concept in the "Republic" (473c-e), in the "Statesman" (294a8-9) and also still in the "Laws" (711e-712a). However, the idea is modified in the "Laws": The rule of the philosopher-kings is only a means for the introduction of the rule of the law (710d). (III) The third part of the paper discusses the question of whether Plato is an aporetic or a dogmatic philosopher – a distinction which leads historically to academic scepticism on the one hand and Plotinus’ Neo-Platonism on the other. The paper argues in favour of a third alternative between the two: First, there is the same dogmatic minimum in all of Plato’s dialogues; its core is the idea that there is a difference between true belief and knowledge. Second, this dogmatic minimum is developed over the course of the early to the late dialogues. Therefore, at the same time, there is unity and development in Plato’s dialogues and philosophy. Thus, the whole work itself shows contrasts between unity and development, systematic philosophy and open philosophizing. Perhaps the most urgent task of Plato scholarship would be to integrate these two aspects in one monograph.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Language:German
Date:2013
Deposited On:06 Nov 2013 16:32
Last Modified:11 May 2016 12:36
Publisher:De Gruyter
Series Name:Beiträge zur Altertumskunde
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110324662.261

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