Thursday, February 23, 2017

Would you help? (A letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University)

Dear Vice-Chancellor,
I believe that I have become a victim of blacklisting by Oxford philosophers. To justify this presumption, let me quote Nick Cohen’s ‘The Pub Philosopher’ published in The Independent Magazine on November 18, 1989, a day after the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in my country. The article opens with the words: ‘The judgements passed by Oxford dons on Julius Tomin seem outrageously brutal. “I don’t wish to sound East European,” said one, “but perhaps he does need psychiatric help … But you can disguise paranoia in the East. There are so many real conspiracies. There aren’t the same excuses when you come to the West.” Younger philosophers, who do not have the personal ties, will go on the record. Jonathan Barnes, Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford, impatiently brushed aside the suggestion that the Conservatives’ reduction in funding for British philosophy since 1980 might explain why there was never an academic post for Tomin at Oxford. “That’s not the point at all,” he said, “He would not be accepted as a graduate here, let alone be given a teaching job. He’s like a recalcitrant student who can’t admit he’s wrong.”

My Oxford colleagues miss-calculated, they left out the power of Ancient Philosophy. My daily travels to Ancient Greece, enjoying its cultural treasures in the original, have kept me sane.

I believe that a capable lawyer could find a way of rectifying my situation, but I have no possibility of looking for one. If you could help in any way, it would be great.

Let me inform you about my current situation. I have looked on my bank account, all I possess is £181.97. On March 2, £181.33 will be deduced from my bank account, which is the Service Charge I pay monthly for the flat in an old person house in which I live. Tomorrow I shall go to my Bank to ask for an overdraft. With the help of it I hope to survive until my Czech pension arrives, which I get four times a year (£454.64). The only other money I get is every four weeks £112.12 of British State Pension; the next £112.12 I expect to get later in March.

I hope you will find the right way of rectifying my situation in which I have found myself thanks to inviting Oxford dons to my philosophy seminar in Prague in 1978.
I hope to be hearing from you soon.
Julius Tomin
In the Attachment I am sending you the email concerning this matter I sent to the Master of Balliol in December 2016. I have received no reply.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

3 Reading Plato’s Statesman (with a reference to his Republic)

In my recent post (marked 4cc, February 17) I noted that ‘the Euthydemus and the Statesman have in common an important doctrinal aspect: they both insist that philosophy and politics are different disciplines.’ I contrasted this with the Republic in which ‘the unity of philosopher and statesman forms the very foundation of Plato’s ideal State’. But now, as I have begun to read the Statesman I came upon a passage that compels me to revise my observation. For Statesman 259a1-b5 suggests that Plato preserved the personal unity of political science and philosophy as far as he himself was concerned, although he had every reason to believe that it could never be attained by Dionysius, the ruler of Syracuse, whose adviser he was going to become.

Stranger: ‘If anyone who is in a private station has the skill to advise one of the public physicians (ei tô̢ tis tôn dêmosieuontôn iatrôn hikanos sumbouleuein idiôteuôn autos), must not he also be called a physician (ar’ ouk anankaion autô̢ prosagoreuesthai t’ounoma tês technês t’auton hoper hô̢ sumbouleuei ‘is it not necessary to give him the name of the same science which has the man whom he advises’;)?’ – Young Socrates: ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Str. ‘And if anyone who is in a private station is able to advise the ruler of a country (Ti d’; hostis basileuonti chôras andri parainein deinos idiôtês on autos), may not he be said to have the knowledge (ar’ ou phêsomen echein auton tên epistêmên) which the ruler himself ought to have (hên edei ton archonta auton kektêsthai;)? – Y. Soc. ‘True (Phêsomen).’ – Str. ‘But surely the science of a true king is royal science (Alla hê men alêthinou basileôs basilikê;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Str. ‘And will not he who possesses this knowledge (Tautên de ho kektêmenos ouk), whether he happens to be a ruler or a private man (ante archôn ante idiôtês ôn tunchanê̢), when regarded only in reference to his art (pantôs kata ge tên technên autên), be truly called “royal” (basilikos orthôs prosrêthêsetai)? – Y. Soc. ‘He certainly ought to be (Dikaion oun).’ (259a1-b6, tr. Jowett)

This agreement with the position expressed in the Republic does not alter the fact that in writing the Statesman Plato was compelled to profoundly alter it. For in the Republic Plato maintained that in the well governed state, i.e. state governed by philosopher-rulers all those who pursued either philosophy or politics to the exclusion of the other (tôn poreuomenôn chôris eph’ hekateron) must be compelled to stand aside (ex anankês apokleisthôsin, 473d3-5). Strictly speaking, on the principle thus expressed in the Republic the Statesman of the Statesman ought to be compelled to stand aside and hand over the rule of the state to a true philosopher-ruler.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2 Reading Plato’s Statesman (with references to his Euthydemus)

In my last but one post (4cc, February 17) I recorded parallels between Plato’s Euthydemus and Statesman. Let me add another one.

Socrates says in the Euthydemus: ‘The kingly art was identified by us with the political (edoxe gar dê hêmin hê politikê kai hê basilikê technê hê autê einai, 291c4-5, tr. Jowett).’

The Stranger says in the Statesman: ‘Then we may put all together as one and the same – statesmanship and the statesman – the kingly science and the king (Tên ara politikên kai politikon kai basilikên kai basilikon eis t’auton hôs hen panta tauta sunthêsomen, 259d3-4, tr. Jowett)).’

In the Euthydemus Socrates goes on to say: ‘To this royal or political art (Tautê̢ tê̢ technê̢) all the arts, including the art of the general (hê te stratêgikê kai hai allai), seemed to render up the control of the products (paradidonai archein tôn ergôn) of which they are the artificers (hôn autai dêmiourgoi eisin), that being the only one which knew how to use them (hôs monê̢ epistamenê̢ chrêsthai). Here obviously was the very art which we were seeking (saphôs oun edokei hêmin hautê einai hên ezêtoumen) – the art which is the source of good government (kai hê aitia tou orthôs prattein en tê̢ polei), and which may be described, in the language of Aeschylus (kai atechnôs kata to Aischulou iambeion), as alone sitting at the helm of the vessel of state (monê en tê̢ prumnê̢ kathêsthai tês poleôs), piloting and governing all things (panta kubernôsa kai pantôn archousa), and utilizing them (panta chrêsima poiein ‘making all of them useful’).’ (291c7-d3, tr. Jowett)

In the Euthydemus thus culminates Socrates’ effort at showing two sophists (and all those surrounding him and them in the Lyceum), Euthydemus and Dionysodorus – who at the beginning of the dialog claimed that they ‘could impart virtue better and quicker than any man’ (aretên hoiô̢ t’ einai paradounai kallist’ anthrôpôn kai tachista, 273d8-9), but in course of the discussion proved to be bent on nothing but sophistic refutations of their interlocutors – what would be the right way of attempting to persuade a young man that ‘one ought to pursue philosophy and study virtue’ (hôs chrê philosophein kai aretês epimeleisthai, 275a6). For what follows 291c4-d3 is Socrates’ relapse into philosophic ignorance. Can we view the Statesman as a re-activation of the theme that commenced in the Euthydemus and ended there in the quagmire of Socrates’ not-knowing?

In the Statesman, in the closing stages of defining the statesmanship, the Stranger says: ‘Considering how great and terrible the whole art of war is, can we imagine any which is superior to it (Tin’ oun pote kai epicheirêsomen houtô deinês kai megalês technês sumpasês tês polemikês despotin apophainesthai) but the truly royal (plên ge tên ontôs ousan basilikên;)? … The art of the general is only ministerial, and therefore not political (Ouk ara politikên thêsomen, hupêretikên ge ousan, tên tôn stratêgôn epistêmên)’. (305a4-9, tr. Jowett)

Monday, February 20, 2017

1 Reading Plato’s Statesman (with references to his Republic)

The Stranger’s opening moves on his way to defining the Statesman reminded me of Irwin’s note on Plato’s Gorgias, which I quoted in my recent post (4b1, January 31): ‘Technê is the normal term for any systematic productive skill, such as carpentry or shoemaking, but it is also applied to less obviously productive abilities, such as arithmetic or geometry, so that it is virtually interchangeable, in Plato’s early dialogues at least, with epistêmê (“knowledge”, “science”).’ The Statesman is a late dialogue, yet the Stranger uses technê and epistêmê indiscriminately.

Stranger: ‘Where shall we discover the path of the Statesman (Tên oun politikên atrapon pê̢ tis aneurêsei;)? We must find (Dei gar autên aneurein) and separate off (kai chôris aphelontas apo tôn allôn), and set our seal upon this (idean autê̢ mian episphragisasthai), and we will set the mark of another class upon all diverging paths (kai tais allais ektropais hen allo eidos episêmênamenous). Thus the soul will conceive of all kinds of knowledge under two classes (pasas tas epistêmas hôs ousas duo eidê dianoêthênai tên psuchên hêmôn poiêsai) … and are not arithmetic (ar’ oun ouk arithmêtikê men) and certain other kindred arts (kai tines heterai tautê̢ sungeneis technai), merely abstract knowledge, wholly separated from action (psilai tôn praxeôn eisi, to de gnônai pareschonto monon;)? … But in the art of carpentering (Hai de ge peri tektonikên au) and all other handicrafts (kai sumpasan cheirourgian), the knowledge of the workman is merged in his work (hôsper en tais praxesin enousan sumphuton tên epistêmên kektêntai) … Then let us divide sciences in general (Tautê̢ toinun sumpasas epistêmas diairei) into those which are practical (tên men praktikên proseipôn) and those which are purely intellectual (tên de monon gnôstikên) … And are “statesman” (Poteron oun ton politikon), “king” (kai basilea), “master” (kai despotên), or “householder” (kai et’ oikonomon), one and the same (thêsomen hôs hen panta tauta prosagoreuontes); or is there a science or art answering to each of these names (ê tosautas technas autas einai phômen hosaper onomata errêthê;)?’ (258c3-e11, tr. B. Jowett)

What is remarkable is not so much the indiscriminate use of technê and epistêmê, as Plato’s use of epistêmê when he speaks of carpentering and other crafts. This use of the term epistêmê in the Statesman stands in sharp contrast to its use in Books V-VII of the Republic, i.e. the Books in which Plato brings in the principle of unity between philosophy and statesmanship, delineating the ideal state governed by philosopher-rulers; there the term refers to the true Being, to the Forms: ‘Knowledge is relative to being (epistêmê epi tô̢ onti pephuke) and knows being as it is (gnônai hôs esti to on, 477b10-11, tr. Jowett),’

Friday, February 17, 2017

4cc Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (discussing Plato’s Euthydemus, Statesman, Republic and Laws, and Aristotle’s Politics)

Sorabji’s fourth objection against my dating of Plato’ Phaedrus: ‘There is a right way of teaching Rhetoric according to the Phaedrus, but it must be combined with Psychology. I had previously accepted the view (Jaeger’s?) that Aristotle put this into practice in his Rhetoric, of which Book II is in large part a psychological study. Both his Rhetoric and (on this view) Plato Phaedrus would then come later than the unqualified denunciation of Rhetoric in the Gorgias. Does Diogenes Laertius’s different order make equally good sense?’

In the preceding post I discussed Hackforth’s note: ‘We may believe that it is a reformed rhetoric that is allotted an honourable function in the state at Pol. 304 D: kai toûto men eoike tachu kechôristhai politikês to rêtorikon, hôs heteron ei͒dos on, hupêretoûn mên tautê̢ (‘Rhetoric seems to be quickly distinguished from politics, being a different species, yet ministering to it’, tr. B. Jowett).’ (R. Hackforth, Plato’s Phaedrus, Cambridge at the University Press, 1972, p. 11) I argued that the reformed rhetoric of the Phaedrus is based on dialectic, i.e. on philosophy, and it serves no external master, whereas the rhetoric in the Statesman is subservient to the Statesman.

I wrote that an implicit unity between the philosopher, the politician, and the master of the reformed rhetoric underlies the discussion of the reformed rhetoric in the Phaedrus. To corroborate this statement, I quoted a substantial part of Socrates’ imaginary discussion with the rhetorician Tisias. But when I think about that discussion more attentively, I must improve on the statement I had made. For in the light of that discussion only a philosopher can master the reformed rhetoric; he can use the reformed rhetoric for political aims, if he wishes to, and nobody can be a better politician than he; but his real aims, the aims for the sake of which he mastered rhetoric based on dialectic are much higher. In other words, the science mastered by the true rhetorician is much higher than the art of the statesman. In the Statesman it is quite the opposite; the science of the Statesman governs rhetoric, the art of persuasion, and is far superior to it.

In fact, Plato in the Statesman speaks of rhetoric in pejorative terms, which is reminiscent of the Euthydemus. If we take this fully on board, we realize that there is hardly any ground for the reformed rhetoric of the Phaedrus anywhere between the Euthydemus and the Statesman. What links these two dialogues in the first place, in so far as they speak of rhetoric, is the pejorative term ochlos ‘mob’, ‘popular assembly’ (in contemptuous sense, as L&S remarks). In the Statesman the Eleatic Stranger asks: ‘To what science do we assign the power of persuading (tini to peistikon ou͒n apodôsomen epistêmê̢) a multitude and a mob (plêthous te kai ochlou) by telling tales (dia muthologias) and not by teaching (alla mê dia didachês)?’ – Young Socrates answers: ‘That power, I think, must clearly be assigned to rhetoric (Phaneron oi͒mai kai toûto rêtorikê̢ doteon on).’ (Pol. 304c10-d3) In the Euthydemus Socrates defines rhetoric (tên logopoiikên technên, ‘the art of making speeches’, 289c7) as ‘the bewitching and calming down judges and men in the assembly and the other mobs (hê dikastôn te kai ekklêsiastôn kai tôn allôn ochlôn kêlêsis, 290a3-4).’

There are other parallels between these two dialogues. In the Euthydemus Socrates tries to define the science/wisdom/knowledge the possession of which would give us happiness, and weeds out those arts that falsely aspire to that dignity, thus rejecting any claim of rhetoric to such status. In the Statesman the Eleatic Stranger separates rhetoric from the science/art of the Statesman as an art distinct from it yet subservient to it.

In the Euthydemus Socrates begins with a great praise of the masters of rhetoric – only to lash them the more severely with his irony: ‘And yet I did think (kaitoi egô ô̢mên) that somewhere around here would appear the branch of knowledge (entautha pou phanêsesthai tên epistêmên) we’ve been so long seeking (hên dê palai zêtoumen): for the speech-writers themselves (kai gar moi hoi te andres autoi hoi logopoioi), whenever I am in their company (hotan sungenômai autois), have always appeared to me to be extraordinarily wise (hupersophoi dokousin ei͒nai), and their art itself divine and lofty (kai autê hê technê autôn thespesia tis kai hupsêlê).’ Then comes the irony: ‘And no wonder (kai mentoi ouden thaumaston), it’s a part of the art of enchantment (esti gar tês tôn epô̢dôn morion) …’ (Euth. 289e1-5)

In the Statesman the Stranger introduces the separation of the arts by comparing it to the task of those who are refining the gold (toîs ton chruson kathairousi, 303d6-7): ‘In like manner (Kata ton auton toinun logon eoike kai nûn hêmîn), all alien and uncongenial matter has been separated from political science (ta men hetera kai hoposa allotria kai ta mê phila politikês epistêmês apokechôristhai), and what is precious and of a kindred nature has been left (leipesthai de ta timia kai sungenê); there remain the nobler arts of the general and the judge (toutôn d’ esti pou stratêgia kai dikastikê), and the higher sort of oratory which is an ally of the royal art (kai hosê basilikê̢ koinônousa rêtoreia), and persuades men to do justice (peithousa to dikaion), and assists in guiding the helm of states (sundiakubernâ̢ tas en taîs polesi praxeis): How can we  best clear away all these (ha dê tini tropô̢ ra̢sta tis apomerizôn), leaving him whom we seek alone and unalloyed (deixei gumnon kai monon ekeînon kath’ hauton ton zêtoumenon huph’ hêmôn;)? (303e7-304a4, tr. Jowett).

How does the Stranger clear away ‘the higher sort of oratory’ from ‘the royal art’? Stranger: ‘There is such a thing as learning music (Mousikês esti pou tis hêmîn mathêsis) and handicraft arts in general (kai holôs tôn peri cheirotechnias epistêmôn)?’ – Young Socrates: ‘There is (Estin).’ – Str. ‘And is there any higher art or science, having power to decide which of these arts are and are not to be learned (to d’ au toutôn hêntinoun eite deî manthanein hêmas eite mê, potera phêsomen epistêmên au kai tautên ei͒nai tina peri auta taûta, ê pôs;)? – Y. Soc. ‘I should answer that there is (Houtôs, ei͒nai phêsomen).’ – Str. ‘And do we acknowledge this science to be different from the others (Oukoûn heteran homologêsomen ekeinôn ei͒nai tautên;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘Yes (Nai).’ – Str. ‘And ought the other sciences to be superior to this, or no single science to any other (Potera de autôn oudemian archein deîn allên allês, ê ekeinas tautês)? Or ought this science to be the overseer and governor (ê tautên deîn epitropeuousan archein) of all the others (sumpasôn tôn allôn;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘The latter (Tautên ekeinôn).’ – Str. ‘You mean to say that the science which judges whether we ought to learn or not (Tên ei deî manthanein ê mê), must be superior to the science which is learned or which teaches (tês manthanomenês kai didaskousês ara su ge apophainê̢ deîn hêmîn archein;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘Far superior (Sphodra ge).’ – Str. ‘And the science which determines whether we ought to persuade or not (Kai tên ei deî peithein ê mê), must be superior to the science which is able to persuade (tês dunamenês peithein;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘Of course (Pôs d’ ou;).’ – Str. `Very good (Eien); and to what science do we assign the power of persuading (tini to peistikon ou͒n apodôsomen epistêmê̢) a multitude (plêthous te kai ochlou ‘a multitude and mob’) by a pleasing tale (dia muthologias) and not by teaching (alla mê dia didachês)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘That power, I think, must clearly be assigned to rhetoric (Phaneron oi͒mai kai toûto rêtorikê̢ doteon on).’ (304b1-d3, tr. B. Jowett)

As can be seen, the mediating function of music and handicraft sciences in general (kai holôs tôn peri cheirotechnias epistêmôn) emphasizes the superiority of the political science to rhetoric, the science (epistêmê̢) to which is assigned ‘the power of persuading a multitude and a mob by tale and not by teaching’. Note that before refering to rhetoric as science (epistêmê) the Stranger refers to handicrafts as sciences (epistêmôn).

The Euthydemus and the Statesman have in common an important doctrinal aspect: they both insist that philosophy and politics are different disciplines.

At the end of the Euthydemus, Crito tells Socrates that a famous speech-writer, whom he doesn’t name, severely criticised Socrates for his having been involved in a discussion with Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, two sophists. Having listened to the criticism, and to Crito’s characterization of the critic, Socrates says at the address of the latter: ‘He is one of those (houtoi gar eisi men) whom Prodicus describes (hous ephê Prodicos) as on the border-ground between philosophers and statesmen (methoria philosophou te andros kai politikou, 305c6-7) … they have a certain amount of philosophy (metriôs men gar philosophias echein), and a certain amount of political wisdom (metriôs de politikôn, 305d8) … if philosophy and political action are both good (ei men ou͒n hê philosophia agathon estin kai hê politikê praxis), but tend to different ends (pros allo de hekatera), and they participate in both (hoûtoi amphoterôn de metechontes), and are in a mean between them (toutôn en mesô̢ eisin) …  then they are worse than either (amphoterôn eisi phauloteroi, 306b2-5) (305c6-306b5 tr. B. Jowett) … The fact of the matter is (alla tô̢ onti), that because they have a foot in both camps (houtoi amphoterôn metechontes), they fail in both (amphoterôn hêttous eisin) of the respective purposes (pros hekateron) for which philosophy and statesmanship are worthwhile (pros ho hê te politikê kai hê te philosophia axiô logou eston, 306c2-4, tr. Robin Waterfield).’

In the Statesman the Stranger undertakes to define the Statesman as different from the Philosopher; the Sophist, the Statesman, and the Philosopher were to be a trilogy, but the Philosopher was never written.

At the beginning of the Sophist Socrates asked the Eleatic Stranger what the people in Elea thought of ‘sophist, statesman, and philosopher (sophistên, politikon, philosophon), whether they viewed them as terms describing one and the same kind of person (poteron hen panta taûta enomizon), or two (ê duo), or as the names are three (ê kathaper ta onomata tria), distinguishing three kinds (tria kai ta genê diairoumenoi) they assigned one name to each (kath’ hen onoma hekastô̢ prosêpton, 217a3-8). The Eleatic Stranger answered: ‘They regarded them as three (tri’ hêgounto), but to define the nature of each clearly (kath’ heakaston mên diorisasthai saphôs ti pot estin) is not a small (ou smikron) or easy task (oude ra̢dion ergon, 217b2-3).

The Statesman opens with Socrates addressing Theodorus: ‘I owe you many thanks, indeed, Theodorus, for the acquaintance both of Theaetetus and of the Stranger (Ê pollên charin opheilô soi tês Theaitêtou gnôriseôs, ô Theodôre, hama kai tês toû xenou).’ [Theaetetus, a disciple of Theodorus, was Socrates’ interlocutor in the Theaetetus and in the Sophist; the Theaetetus ended with a promise to meet the next day; next day Theodorus brought with him not only Theaetetus, but as well the Eleatic Stranger, and young Socrates, who becomes the Stranger’s interlocutor in the Statesman.] – Theodorus: ‘And in a little while (Tacha de), Socrates (ô Sôkrates), you will owe me three times as many [thanks] (opheilêseis tautês triplasian), when they have completed to you the delineation of the Statesman (epeidan ton te politikon apergasôntai soi) and of the Philosopher (kai ton philosophon).’  (257a1-5) – Theodorus turns to the Stranger: ‘I must now ask the Stranger (su d’ hêmîn, ô xene) … to proceed either with the Statesman or with the Philosopher, whichever he prefers (eite ton politikon andra proteron eite ton philosophon proairê̢, proelomenos diexelthe, 257257b8-c1).’ – Stranger: ‘That is my duty, Theodorus (Taût’, ô Theodôre, poiêteon); having begun (epeiper hapax ge enkecheirêkamen) I must go on (ouk apostateon), and not leave the work unfinished (prin an autôn pros to telos elthômen, 257c2-4) … After the Sophist, then (alla dê meta ton sophistên), I think that the Statesman naturally follows next in the order of enquiry (anankaion, hôs emoi phainetai, politikon ton andra diazêtein nô̢n, 258b2-3).’ (Translation B. Jowett)

It is worth noting that the Stranger’s ‘the Statesman naturally (anankaion ‘necessarily’) follows next in the order of enquiry’ indicates that the Philosopher stands higher in dignity.

The unity of philosopher and statesman forms the very foundation of Plato’s ideal State in the Republic: ‘Until philosophers are the kings in their cities (Ean mê ê hoi philosophoi basileusôsin en taîs polesin), or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy (ê hoi basilês te nûn legomenoi kai dunastai philosophêsôsi gnêsiôs te kai hikanôs), and political greatness and wisdom meet in one (kai touto eis t’auton sumpesê̢, dunamis te politikê kai philosophia), and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside (tôn de nun poreuomenôn chôris eph’ hekateron hai pollai phuseis ex anankês apokleisthôsin), cities will never have rest from their evils (ouk estin kakôn paûla taîs polesi) – no, nor the human race, as I believe (dokô d’oude tô̢ anthrôpinô̢ genei).’ (473c11-d6, tr. B. Jowett)

In the Laws Plato presents to his interlocutors ‘the best state’ outlined in the Republic as the guiding principle for the second-best state: ‘The first and highest form of the state and of the government and of the law is that (Prôtê men toinun polis te estin kai politeia kai nomoi aristoi) in which there prevails most widely the ancient saying (hopou to palai legomenon an gignêtai kata pâsan tên polin hoti malista), that “Friends have all things in common” (legetai de hôs ontôs esti koina ta tôn philôn). Whether there is anywhere now (tout’ ou͒n eite pou nûn estin), or will ever be (eit’ estai pote), this communion of women (koinas men gunaikas) and children (koinous de einai paidas) and of property (koina de chrêmata sumpanta), in which the private and individual is altogether banished from life (kai pasê̢ mêchanê̢ to legomenon idion pantachothen ek tou biou hapan exê̢rêtai), and things which are by nature private, such as eyes and ears and hands, have become common, and in some way see and hear and act in common (memêchanêtai d’ eis to dunaton kai ta phusei idia koina hamê̢ ge pê̢ gegonenai, hoion ommata kai o͒ta kai cheîras koina men horân dokeîn kai akouein kai prattein), and all men express praise and blame and feel joy and sorrow on the same occasions (epaineîn t’ au kai psegein kath’ hen hoti malista sumpantas epi toîs autoîs chairontas kai lupoumenous), and whatever laws there are unite the city to the utmost (kai kata dunamin hoitines nomoi mian hoti malista polin apergazontai) – no man, acting upon any other principle, will ever constitute a state which will be truer or better or more excellent in virtue (toutôn huperbolê̢ pros aretên oudeis pote horon allon themenos orthoteron oude beltiô thêsetai) … to this we are to look for the pattern of the state (dio dê paradeigma ge politeias ouk allê̢ chrê skopeîn), and to cling to this (all’ echomenous tautês), and to seek with all our might for one which is like this (tên hoti malista toiautên zêteîn kata dunamin).’ (739b8-e3, tr. B. Jowett)

It is this ideal of unity and community, forcefully expressed in Republic V, 462a2-c10, which leads to the postulate of political greatness and wisdom meeting in one in Republic V, 473c11-d6, and to necessarily excluding those who pursue the one or the other separately (tôn de nun poreuomenôn chôris eph’ hekateron hai pollai phuseis ex anankês apokleisthôsin, 473d3-5). Yet in the Statesman and in the Philosopher Plato undertook the separation of philosophy and of the art/science of statesmanship.

The unity of statesmanship and philosophy is central to Plato’s ideal State in the Republic, and there is no place in it for rhetoric; in the Laws, which outlines the second-best state, is no place for rhetoric either. In contrast, both in the Euthydemus, which can be safely dated prior to the Republic, and in the Statesman, which can be safely dated after it, rhetoric is accepted, yet viewed as deficient both to philosophy and to statesmanship, regarded as separate disciplines. It thus appears that on doctrinal grounds there is no place for the reformed rhetoric of the Phaedrus in the period of Plato’s writings that begins with the Euthydemus and ends with the Laws.

I have now decided to re-read the Statesman next, for obtaining clarity into the affinity between the Statesman to the Euthydemus and its difference from the Republic appears to be of greater importance for the consideration of the dating of the Phaedrus on doctrinal grounds than Aristotle’s Rhetoric suggested by Sorabji.

This does not mean that I dismiss the possibility that Aristotle may shed light on this matter. Consider the light he sheds on the relationship between the Republic and the Laws in his Politics: ‘In the Republic, Socrates has definitely settled in all a few questions only (en tê̢ Politeia̢ peri oligôn pampan diôriken ho Sôkratês); such as the community of women and children (peri te gunaikôn kai teknôn koinônias, pôs echein deî), the community of property (kai peri ktêseôs), and the constitution of the state (kai tês politeias tên taxin). The population is divided into two classes (diaireitai gar eis duo merê to plêthos tôn oikountôn) – one of husbandmen (to men eis tous geôrgous), and the other of warriors (to de eis to propolemoun meros); from this is taken a third class of counsellors and rulers of state (triton d’ ek toutôn  to bouleuomenon kai kurion tês poleôs) … In the Laws there is hardly anything but laws (tôn de Nomôn to men pleîston meros nomoi  tunchanousin ontes); not much is said about the constitution (oliga de peri tês politeias eirêken). This, which he had intended to make more of the ordinary type (kai tautên boulomenos koinoteran poieîn taîs polesi), he gradually brings round to the other ideal form (kata mikron periagei palin pros tên heteran politeian). For with the exception of the community of women and property (exô gar tês tôn gunaikôn koinônias kai tês ktêseôs), he supposes everything to be the same in both states (ta alla t’auta apodidôsin amphoterais taîs politeiais); there is to be the same education (kai gar paideian tên autên); the citizens of both are to live free from servile occupations (kai to tôn ergôn tôn anankaiôn apechomenous zên), and there are to be common meals in both (kai peri sussitiôn hôsautôs).’ (Aristotle, Politics 1264b26-1265a8, tr. B. Jowett. Let me note that Aristotle does not say that ‘the citizens of both are to live free from servile occupations’; he says that they are to live free from necessary occupations (tôn ergôn tôn anankaiôn).


In my last but one post (4b1) I wrote that my quick and perfunctory reading of several chapters of Aristotle’s Rhetoric compelled me to look more thoroughly at the first few chapters of Book I, that on that basis I resolved to read Aristotle’s Rhetoric from alpha to omega, but that Aristotle’s covert references to the Gorgias in the first two chapters made me realize that I must begin with Plato’s Gorgias. I read the Gorgias, and then the Euthydemus. The Euthydemus combined with the discussion of rhetoric in the Statesman, to which I was alerted by Hackforth, made me realise that the next thing I must do is to re-read the Statesman. And now, reading what Aristotle says on Plato’s Republic and Laws in his Politics made me realize that if I am to see what can be said about the dating of the Phaedrus on doctrinal grounds, then I must re-read not only Plato’s Statesman, but his Laws as well before Aristotle’s Rhetoric.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

4c Dating of the Phaedrus – doctrinal arguments (discussing Plato’s Gorgias, Statesman, and Phaedrus)

Sorabji’s fourth objection against my dating of Plato’ Phaedrus: ‘There is a right way of teaching Rhetoric according to the Phaedrus, but it must be combined with Psychology. I had previously accepted the view (Jaeger’s?) that Aristotle put this into practice in his Rhetoric, of which Book II is in large part a psychological study. Both his Rhetoric and (on this view) Plato Phaedrus would then come later than the unqualified denunciation of Rhetoric in the Gorgias. Does Diogenes Laertius’s different order make equally good sense?’

Sorabji is wrong when he speaks of ‘the unqualified denunciation of Rhetoric in the Gorgias’, for in the Gorgias Plato speaks of true rhetoric. He uses the expression only once, when he maintains that neither Cimon, nor Themistocles, nor Miltiades (516d-e) –  famous politicians of the Athenian past – ‘practised the true rhetoric’ (tê̢ alêthinê̢ rêtorikê̢ echrônto, 517a5). The discussion that follows indicates what is meant by it.

Callicles: ‘But no (Alla mentoi), Socrates – surely no one now will achieve such works (polloû ge deî, o͒ Sôkrates, mê pote tis tôn nûn erga toiaûta ergasêtai) as any one you like of those previous men (hoîa toutôn hostis boulei eirgastai).’ – Socrates: ‘My friend (Ô daimonie), I’m not reproaching them any more than you are (oud’ egô psegô toutous), as servants of the city (hôs ge diakonous ei͒nai tês poleôs). No; I think they proved to be better servants than the present people (alla moi dokoûsi tôn ge nûn diakonikôteroi gegonenai), and more capable of supplying the city (kai mâllon hoîoi te ekporizein tê̢ polei) with what it had an appetite for (hôn epethumei). But for bringing about change in their appetites (alla gar metabibazein tas epithumias), not indulging them (kai mê epitrepein), persuading (peithontes) and forcing them (kai biazomenoi) towards what will make the citizens better (epi toûto hothen emellon ameinous esesthai hoi polîtai) – here they were virtually no different from people now (hôs epos eipeîn ouden toutôn diepheron ekeînoi) – and that’s the only work for a good citizen (hoper monon ergon estin agathoû politou). But ships (naus de), walls (kai teichê), dockyards (kai neôria), and many other things (kai alla polla toiaûta) – I too agree with you (kai egô soi homologô) that the previous people were cleverer than the people now at supplying them (deinoterous ei͒nai ekeinous toutôn ekporizein).’ (517a7-c4) Translation is Irwin’s, with one correction; he wrongly introduces ‘forcing’ when he renders Plato’s alla gar metabibazein tas epithumias ‘But for forcing change in their appetites’. These words indicate what Plato means by the true rhetoric: it transforms the appetites of the citizens, persuading them towards what will make them better. This concept of rhetoric is introduced in an earlier discussion.

Socrates: ‘What about rhetoric addressed to the Athenian people (ti de hê pros ton Athênaiôn dêmon rêtorikê) and the other peoples of the cities (kai tous allous tous en taîs polesin dêmous), the peoples composed of free men (tous tôn eleutherôn andrôn), exactly what do we find this is (ti pote hêmîn hautê estin;)? Do you think that rhetors always speak with an eye on what is best (poteron soi dokoûsin pros to beltiston aei legein hoi rêtores), and aim (toutou stochazomenoi) to make the citizens as good as possible (hopôs hoi polîtai hôs beltistoi esontai) by their speeches (dia tous hautôn logous;)? Or do they too (ê kai hoûtoi) concentrate on gratifying (pros to charizesthai) the citizens (toîs politais) [as the writers of dithyrambs, of tragedy, of poetry do – 501e-502d], despising the common interest for the sake of their own private interest (kai heneka toû idiou toû hautôn oligôrountes toû koinoû)? Do they approach the people in cities as children (hôsper paisi prosomiloûsi toîs dêmois), trying only to gratify them (charizesthai autoîs peirômenoi monon), with no concern about whether they will be better or worse from it (ei de ge beltious esontai ê cheirous dia taûta, ouden phrontizousin;)?’ – Callicles: ‘That’s not just one question you’re asking any more (Ouch haploûn eti toûto erôta̢s). There are some (eisi men gar) who care about the citizens (hoi kêdomenoi tôn politôn) when they say what they say (legousin ha legousin), and others who are as you claim (eisin de kai hoious su legeis).’ – S. ‘That’s all right (Exarkeî). For if there are really two types here (ei gar kai toûto esti diploûn), I presume one type is flattery (to men heteron pou toutou kolakeia an eiê), and shameful public oratory (kai aischra dêmêgoria), while the other is fine (to d’ heteron kalon) – trying to make (to paraskeuazein) the souls of the citizens as good as possible (hopôs hôs beltistai esontai tôn politôn hai psuchai), and working hard in saying what is best (kai diamachesthai legonta ta beltista), whether it is pleasant or unpleasant to the audience (eite hêdiô eite aêdestera estai toîs akouousin). But you’ve never yet seen this kind of rhetoric (all’ ou pôpote su tautên ei͒des tên rêtorikên); or if you can mention a rhetor of this type (ê ei tina echeis tôn rêtorôn toioûton eipeîn), why haven’t you told me as well who he is (ti ouchi kai emoi auton ephrasas tis estin;)?’ (502d10-503b3, tr. Irwin)

Callicles suggests Themistocles, Cimon, Miltiades, and Pericles. Thus challenged, Socrates outlines in greater detail what the true rhetoric and true rhetor would be all about: ‘The good man (ho agathos anêr) who speaks with a view to the best (kai epi to beltiston legôn), surely he won’t speak at random (ha an legê̢ allo ti ouk eikê̢ ereî), but will look to something (all’ apoblepôn pros ti;)? He will be like all other craftsmen (hôsper kai hoi alloi dêmiourgoi) … each of them arranges in a structure whatever he arranges (eis taxin tina hekastos hekaston tithêsin ho an tithê̢) (503d6-e7) … for the structures and orderings of the soul (taîs de ge tês psuchês taxesi kai kosmêsesi) the name is (onoma einai, 504c8) “lawful” (nomimon) and “law” (te kai nomos), from which people become lawful (hothen kai nomimoi gignontai) and orderly (kai kosmioi); and these are justice (taûta d’ estin dikaiosunê) and temperance (kai sôphrosunê) … Then won’t that rhetor, the craftsman, the good one, look to these things (Oukoûn pros taûta blepôn ho rêtôr ekeînos, ho technikos te kai agathos) when he applies all his actions to them (kai tous logous prosoisei tais psuchaîs hous an legê̢, kai tas praxeis hapasas), and when he gives whatever he gives (kai dôron ean ti didô̢, dôsei), and when he takes away whatever he takes away (kai ean ti aphairêtai, aphairêsetai)? He’ll always have his mind on this (pros toûto aei ton noûn echôn); to see that the souls of the citizens acquire justice (hopôs an autoû toîs politais dikaiosunê men en taîs psuchaîs gignêtai) and get rid of injustice (adikia de apallattêtai), and that they acquire temperance (kai sôphrosunê men engignêtai) and get rid of intemperance (akolasia de apallattêtai) and that they acquire the rest of virtue (kai hê allê aretê engignêtai) and get rid of vice (kakia de apiê̢).’ (504d1-e4, tr. Irwin)

Socrates observes that no rhetoricians of Athens, past or present, practiced the true rhetoric, but this does not mean ‘the unqualified denunciation of rhetoric’; it means the unqualified denunciation of the rhetoric practiced in Athens and in other cities (502d10-e2). This denunciation derives its power from being made against the background of the true rhetoric.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Hackorth writes: ‘In so far as the Phaedrus is much concerned with rhetoric it is natural to compare it with the Gorgias. The difference of standpoint between the two dialogues, which are separated probably by some seventeen years, is that whereas in the earlier [the Gorgias for H. & Co.] Plato is content merely to contrast rhetoric and philosophy, in the later [the Phaedrus for H. & Co.] he seeks to harness rhetoric in the service of philosophy. Rhetoric as it is actually practiced and the principles (or lack of principles) on which it is actually based are condemned as vigorously as ever: it is still no technê, no true art, for it knows nothing of dialectic, the sovereign method of philosophy; but it can, Plato suggests, become a technê by basing itself on dialectic and psychology.’ Hackforth adds a note: ‘We may believe that it is a reformed rhetoric that is allotted an honourable function in the state at Pol. 304 D: kai toûto men eoike tachu kechôristhai politikês to rêtorikon, hôs heteron ei͒dos on, hupêretoûn mên tautê̢ (‘Rhetoric seems to be quickly distinguished from politics, being a different species, yet ministering to it’, tr. B. Jowett).’ (R. Hackforth, Plato’s Phaedrus, Cambridge at the University Press, 1972, p. 11)

Richard Sorabji wrote to me in the first paragraph of his letter of December 31, 1980: ‘The “secondary literature’ is conveniently summarised in five pages in R. Hackforth Plato’s Phaedrus (pp. 3-7). So in twenty minutes I think you could know as much as I know about it. May I express the hope that you look at this? I feel that we have so much to gain from a dialogue with you.’

Before coming to Oxford I spent very little time with secondary literature: ‘I didn’t learn Ancient Greek to be pushed around by secondary literature,’ I thought. The following story can best illustrate my attitude of the time. When I returned from the USA to Prague in 1970 – in 1969/70 I was teaching as a Visiting Professor at The University of Hawaii – there was no place for me at Charles University and so I became a worker, a turbine operator in the Prague Power Plant. Considering myself a Marxist, the idea of combining philosophy with manual work appealed to me. In a month, I wrote an article on Aristotle and offered it to the Department of Philosophy at Charles University. Since it took the regime installed in the wake of the Soviet led invasion of 1968 quite a time before they succeeded to bring the nation to heel, my offer was accepted. I read my article, and docent (Assistant Professor) Pešek opened the discussion with the words: ‘How dare you write about Aristotle without reading secondary literature? There are at least 80 books you should read about Aristotle before even thinking of writing about him.’ I replied: ‘Rather than reading Werner Jaeger’s Aristotle, I would  re-read Aristotle’s Metaphysics in the original.’ In those days, it may have been October or November 1970, the Philosophy Department was still intact. Professor Patočka, the disciple of Edmund Husserl, was there, and he expressed his full support to my approach to the Greeks.

Having received Tony Long’s rejection of my ‘Socrates in the Phaedrus’, and Richard Sorabji’s letter in which he insisted that I reject the ancient dating of the Phaedrus, I re-read Plato, could not find anything that might compel me to reject the ancient dating, and so read Hackforth. Hackforth derived almost all his arguments for the late dating of the Phaedrus from H. von Arnim. From Arnim I went back to Hermann, from Hermann back to Schleiermacher, from Schleiermacher back to Tennemann. When I got Tennemann’s System der Platonischen Philosophie, published in 1792, on my desk in the Bodleian Library, I had in my hands the first modern attempt to date the Phaedrus late. Kant – and Tennemann as his faithful follower – believed that he (i.e. Kant) discovered the truth. The only thing that remained to be done was to describe the historical journey that led to its discovery, as the closing Hauptstück of the Critique of Pure Reason, entitled ‘Die Geschichte der reinen Vernunft’ (‘The History of Pure Reason’) indicates. Tennemann began to fulfil this grand task with Plato. In the Phaedrus Plato comes the nearest to Kant’s theory of a priori knowledge of pure concepts: only those souls can be incarnated in human form that saw the Forms prior to their incarnation (Phaedrus 249b5-6). In Tennemann’s eyes, Plato progressed to the Forms through a chain of dialogues as the whole subsequent history of philosophy developed towards Kant. – A brilliant idea, which carried Tennemann on, through his work on Plato, to the many volumes of his History of Philosophy, the work without which Hegel could never have conceived his philosophy; but it could not compel me to throw away the ancient dating of the Phaedrus, just as nothing did with which I met in my descent from Hackforth to Tennemann. Still, Tennemann was a delightful read, the delight enhanced by the fact that I had to borrow a wooden knife at the service-desk; for the sheets of the book were uncut – I was the first person to read it.

But back to Hackforth; the comparison of the Phaedrus to the Gorgias, including the accompanying note, is his. Let me begin with his note: ‘We may believe that it is a reformed rhetoric that is allotted an honourable function in the state at Pol. 304 D: kai toûto men eoike tachu kechôristhai politikês to rêtorikon, hôs heteron ei͒dos on, hupêretoûn mên tautê̢.’ And let us see the quoted line in its context (typed in bold).

Stranger: ‘You mean to say that the science which judges whether we ought to learn or not (Tên ei deî manthanein ê mê), must be superior to the science which is learned or which teaches (tês manthanomenês kai didaskousês ara su ge apophainê̢ deîn hêmîn archein;)?’ – The younger Socrates: ‘Far superior (Sphodra ge).’ – Str. ‘And the science which determines whether we ought to persuade or not (Kai tên ei deî peithein ara ê mê), must be superior to the science which is able to persuade (tês dunamenês peithein;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘Of course (Pôs d’ ou;).’ – Str. `Very good (Eien); and to what science do we assign the power of persuading (tini to peistikon ou͒n apodôsomen epistêmê̢) a multitude (plêthous te kai ochlou) by a pleasing tale (dia muthologias) and not by teaching (alla mê dia didachês)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘That power, I think, must clearly be assigned to rhetoric (Phaneron oi͒mai kai toûto rêtorikê̢ doteon on).’ – Str. ‘And to what science do we give the power of determining whether we are to employ persuasion or force towards any one, or to refrain altogether (To d’ eite dia peithoûs eite kai dia tinos bias deî prattein pros tinas hotioûn ê kai to parapan hêsuchian echein, toût’ au poia̢ prosthêsomen epistêmê̢;)?’ – Y. Soc. ‘To that science which governs the arts of speech and persuasion (Tê̢ tês peistikês archousê̢ kai lektikês).’ – Str. ‘Which (Eiê d’ ouk an allê tis), if I am not mistaken (hôs oi͒mai), will be politics (plên hê toû politikoû dunamis)? – Y. Soc. ‘Very good (Kallist’ eirêkas).’ – Str. ‘Rhetoric seems to be quickly distinguished from politics (Kai toûto men eoike tachu kechôristhai politikês to rêtorikon), being a different species (hôs heteron eidos on), yet ministering to it (hupêretoûn mên tautê̢). – Y. Soc. ‘Yes (Nai).’ (Pol. 304c4-e2, tr. Jowett; his translation is very loose, but not misleading.)

Pace Hackforth, the reformed rhetoric of the Phaedrus is as far removed from the one of the Statesman as can be. What underlies the discussion of the reformed rhetoric in the Phaedrus is the implicit unity between the philosopher, the politician, and the master of the reformed rhetoric. Plato closes his outline of the reformed rhetoric in the Phaedrus with Socrates’ imaginary discussion with the rhetorician Tisias:
‘Unless the aspirant to oratory can on the one hand list the various natures amongst his prospective audiences (ean mê tis tôn te akousomenôn tas phuseis diarithmêsêtai), and on the other divide things into their individual kinds (kai kat’ eidê te diaireîsthai ta onta) and embrace each individual thing under a single form (kai mia̢ idea̢ dunatos e̢͒ kath’ hen hekaston perilambanein), he will never attain such success (ou pot’ estai technikos logôn peri) as is within the grasp of mankind (kath’ hoson dunaton anthrôpô̢). Yet he will assuredly never acquire such competence (taûta de ou mê pote ktêsêtai) without considerable diligence (aneu pollês pragmateias), which the wise man should exert not for the sake of speaking to and dealing with his fellow-men (hên ouch heneka tou legein kai prattein pros anthrôpous deî diaponeîsthai ton sôphrona), but that he may be able to speak what is pleasing to the gods (alla toû theoîs kecharismena men legein dunasthai), and in all his dealings to do their pleasure (kecharismenôs de prattein to pân) to the best of his ability (eis dunamin). For you see, Tisias, what we are told by those wiser than ourselves is true, that a man of sense ought never to study the gratification of his fellow-slaves (ou gar dê ara, ô Teisia, phasin hoi sophôteroi hêmôn, homodoulois deî charizesthai meletân ton noûn echonta), save as a minor consideration (hoti mê parergon), but that of his most excellent masters (alla despotais agathois kai ex agathôn). So don’t be surprised that we have to make a long detour (hôst’ ei makra hê periodos, mê thaumasê̢s): it is because the goal is glorious (megalôn gar heneka periiteon), though not the goal you think of (ouch hôn su dokeîs). Not but what those lesser objects also, if you would have them, can best be attained (so our argument assures us) as a consequence of the greater (estai mên, hôs ho logos phêsin, ean tis ethelê̢, kai taûta kallista ex ekeinôn gignomena).’ (273d8-274a5, tr. Hackforth)
The Statesman of Plato’s Statesman is neither a ‘fellow-slave’ (that is a ‘fellow-citizen’) nor a god to whom Socrates refers in the Phaedrus. In the Phaedrus Plato’s thought moves within the framework of the Athenian democracy, in the Statesman it moves within the framework of a wished-for state governed under his guidance by Dionysius in Sicily. The rhetorician in such a state is fully subservient to the Statesman, the ruler; he says what he is ordered to say. In the Phaedrus, the rhetorician says of what he wants to persuade his audience. The aspirant of the reformed oratory must master dialectic, he must ‘make a long detour’; in other words, he must become a philosopher.
Hackforth is wrong when he says that Plato in the Phaedrus ‘seeks to harness rhetoric in the service of philosophy’. In the Phaedrus Plato seeks to harness philosophy in reforming rhetoric.