Politics and Medicine: Plato’s Final Word Part II: A Rivalry Dissolved: The Restoration of Medicine’s Technē Status in the Laws

In: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
Susan B. Levin
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This article challenges the widespread assumption that Plato’s valuation of medicine remains steady across the corpus. While Plato’s opposition to poetry and sophistry/rhetoric endures, in the Laws he no longer views medicine as a rival concerning phusis and eudaimonia. Why is this dispute laid to rest, even as the others continue? This article argues that the Laws’ developments with a bearing onmedicine stem ultimately from the philosopher-ruler’s disappearance. The deeper appreciation of good medical practice that ensues, combined with an array of sociopolitical mechanisms for detecting injustice, means that the health care setting is no longer—as in the Republic—the crossroads where judgments of the whole person must be made. For the first time, by Plato’s lights, medicine may be a truly self-standing technē.

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