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.

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