In Plato’s Athens, the polis was an extended “family.”

2022-07-29 0 By

At the end of the day, what The Statesman is crafting is an argument from a technical point of view that already plays an important role in the Republic;It redefines the rule of law which will be given concrete form in the Law.In fact, it Bridges the rule of philosophy with a philosophical rule of law.The first premise continues to be that politics is a specialized art that requires deep expertise, though Here Plato emphasizes more than in the Republic the distinction between statecraft and the more common art in order to highlight the incompatibility of political art with the common profession.As always, the emphasis is on the exclusivity of expertise and expertise, and perhaps the most crucial point is that the true expert must be completely free to practice his craft.This principle exempts politicians from obeying the law and paves the way for redefining the rule of law.But first Plato sought the best analogy for the statesmanship.He begins by saying that political craftsmanship is essentially the same as domestic craftsmanship.We need hardly be reminded of what it meant in Plato’s Athens to regard the polis as an extended “family,” and all that the hierarchical structure of the latter implied;Plato’s identification of politicians with family owners and even slave owners is particularly provocative.However, this is not enough to characterize political craftsmanship, so Plato ventured further afield.Here he introduces the myth of the cosmic cycle, which we have already encountered when we talked about the Prometheus story.The philosopher’s contemporaries lived at the time of Zeus, at the bottom of the cosmic cycle, full of pain and toil, and without divine guidance or assistance, in sharp contrast to the time of Cronus, when the human herds were ruled and nurtured by divine shepherds.This foreshadows the possibility of analogies between politicians and pastors;But while Plato acknowledged the analogy, he could not accept it conclusively.It certainly has the advantage of emphasizing that political craftsmanship is about governance rather than citizenship, but for reasons that will soon become clear, he is unwilling to admit that political craftsmanship, like shepherding, necessarily involves the nurturing of the body of its subject.The nearest statecraft, Plato found, was weaving.The art of weaving selects the right material, discarding the rest and weaving a large number of different threads into a colorful yet cohesive fabric.Political art is like weaving in that its object is to weave different kinds of people into a social fabric.Politicians direct the picking and discarding of materials, and weave the national fabric with the warp and woof of humanity.He must weave together the threads that truly belong to the fabric of the state, while allowing other parts, not primarily but necessary for the existence of the state, to “surround” it.Plato distinguished between the art of weaving itself and other auxiliary arts: those “secondary” to weaving but part of the whole process, such as combing and spinning, and the purely “auxiliary” arts, which are not part of the weaving process but merely necessary to produce tools such as shuttles.Similarly, there are secondary and assisting arts in politics.In particular, those who practice the art of assisting must not touch the art of political domination.We find, in the end, that these arts, excluded from politics, cover all the material necessities of the production of the community, that is, food, tools, clothing, shelter, transportation, and other material materials used for survival and health, recreation, or protection.When Aristotle joined the Acadmi Academy in 367 BC, when Plato’s Statesmen was taking shape, he made a distinction with similar political effect between the “parts” of the city-state, which participated in politics, and the “conditions,” which merely created the conditions that made politics possible.Having established the nature and purpose of the art of governing, Plato was able to redefine the rule of law accordingly.His first premise was that law, or at least law as it was generally understood in democratic Athens, was incompatible with art.”Law” is opposed to “skill”, because the rule of law restricts the free play of craftsman’s skill, and because the layman actually commands the expert.For example, doctors should not be told what to do by people who know nothing about the art of medicine.Doctors should be free to respond creatively to each situation as best guided by their knowledge and skills.The rule of law as the Athenians understood it violated this principle of skill and tied the hands and feet of those who ruled them.The law is a hindrance to both the leader and the led;And (as we realized earlier in considering the contrast between nomos and thesmos, two very different legal concepts) it is an expression of the status (non-expert status) of the people in determining their common life.Plato, however, found a way to reapply law to his own use by redefining its function.In his new definition, the rule of law should imitate rather than hinder political craftsmanship.Its goal should be to create and maintain a social fabric, not to introduce elements of civic equality into the city, but rather to embody inequality, and especially to fix the hierarchical relationship between those who practiced the political art and those who “aided” the city merely by serving its needs.Plato goes on to classify regimes, and he still follows the traditional distinctions of one-man rule, minority rule, and majority rule, but he divides each into law-abiding forms and law-abiding forms.Just as one-man rule can be either a law-abiding monarchy or a law-abiding tyranny, minority rule can also take the form of aristocracy or oligarchy, and the difference is not that one is ruled by the “best” and the other by only the rich, but that one is ruled by the wealthy and the other is not.Here Plato gives democracy a grudging endorsement, saying that of all bad regimes, the lawless form of democracy is the most tolerable, not because it is more virtuous than the others, but simply because it is weaker and does less harm.But the best indication of his true intentions, he says, is that of all the law-abiding regimes, democracy is the worst, furthest from the art of politics and its aims.In the Laws, Plato puts these principles into practice, describing in great detail a city-state ruled by a system of laws designed to imitate the art of politics.Here, as The Statesman would have us anticipate, the rule of law is conceived as a means of rigorously organizing social behavior by legitimately solidifying human typologies.The main aim was to permanently divide the inhabitants of the city-state into pre-determined social positions or classes or even castes, so as to prohibit any intermingling between them, and in particular to separate those who were fit for citizenship from those whose occupations were soul-corrupting and disqualifying their participants from political participation.This step would be accomplished by establishing a clear and legally defined distinction between the landowner, who was exempt from all necessary Labour, and the landless labourer, who was to perform all necessary Labour.The land would be carefully distributed to prospective citizens and completely non-transferable.The landed class created in this way would be able to use the Labour of others and thus qualify for citizenship.Although the civic class included both those of moderate (movable) income and those of considerable wealth, Plato effectively restored the rule of a hierarchical landed aristocracy, with the difference that the main arena was now the city-state rather than the “family”.The remaining landless inhabitants, from slaves and agricultural labourers to artisans and merchants, would have no political rights.Indeed, all those who perform the necessary Labour will be on a par with slaves in dependency and servility.Plato had it all in mind to overthrow the Athenian system, and he painstakingly replaced his democratic principles with rival aristocratic standards, which quickly ran out of work.He even made his intentions clear by ostensibly adopting some Athenian institutions, such as Solon’s division of wealth classes and Cleisthenes’ division of population by tribe, and adapting them to his anti-democratic agenda.Solon’s hierarchy, for example, became no longer a means of assigning political identity to even the poorest classes, but rather an intensification of their exclusion.The new classification simply divides the ruling class into four parts according to their personal wealth, completely ignoring the rest of the population.This class structure, solidified by law, was designed to make the city less dependent on the judgment of wise rulers.Separating the good from the bad minimizes the scope of chance, and prevents virtue from being sully by a mixture of nobility and baseness.Although much of philosophy’s work would be done in advance by a strict system of laws, it would still play a major role in the daily life of the polis.In fact, nothing illustrates the political intent of Plato’s philosophy more clearly than his account of the night council overseeing the law.It bore a striking resemblance to Plato’s Acaddemi Academy, participating in philosophical research and emphasizing mathematics, astronomy, and theology, but the council was clearly a political body with a central place in governance, much like the council of the Ares Hill in pre-reform Athens.It could act as a Supreme Court to interpret laws, act as a permanent constitutional convention to amend them when necessary, act as a school for public servants, and act as an ombudsman of morality;Its primary function as guardian of the law is to protect the rigid class system that for Plato is the essence of legitimacy.Compared with the Republic, it is more difficult to avoid the political implications of Plato’s philosophical system in the Law.