An approach to the ''Laws'': The problem of the harmony of by Raphael Arteau McNeil

By Raphael Arteau McNeil

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Extra info for An approach to the ''Laws'': The problem of the harmony of the goods in Plato's political philosophy

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11. The findings So, to summarize our results: first, the sort of interlacing that the Stranger has stressed is an interlacing of characters. On the one hand, it indicates that statesmanship is not only concerned with material goods produced by the arts but with psychological goods as well, the goods of the human soul. On the other hand, virtues and characters are not the same thing; this is made plain enough by the fluctuation between moderation and decorum in the Stranger’s speeches. Second, the way in which these characters are interlaced together is by means of opinions and intermarriage rather than by the transmission of a specific knowledge.

Summary The itinerary we just travelled through our analysis of the Euthydemus and of the Statesman can be summarized along these lines. The multiplicity of the goods that a happy human life requires was reduced to one: the knowledge of the political art. The inquiry into the nature of that knowledge, that is, the inquiry that aimed at finding the 72. Statesman, 311b7-c6. 51 work of the political art, culminated, however, in the re-emergence of the multiplicity of the goods: statesmanship is the art of weaving, or as we rephrase it, the art of harmonizing into one whole the human goods.

At this point we can see the problematical character of the Stranger’s two arguments. We began with two virtues, that is, two goods, which, since they both partake of virtue, are both part of the same thing while being different in look. But we end up with two opposite characters, manliness and decorum, that appear not only to be in opposition to one another but, what is worse, to be not good as such for the city. For in order to bring about a political good, namely political freedom, they must be woven with one another.

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