Plato’s references to Empedocles in the myth of the Statesman perform a crucial role in the overarching political argument of the dialogue. Empedocles conceives of the cosmos as structured like a democracy, where the constituent powers ‘rule in turn’, sharing the offices of rulership equally via a cyclical exchange of power. In a complex act of philosophical appropriation, Plato takes up Empedocles’ cosmic cycles of rule in order to ‘correct’ them: instead of a democracy in which rule is shared cyclically amongst equal constituents, Plato’s cosmos undergoes cycles of the presence and absence of a single cosmic monarch who possesses ‘kingly epistēmē’. By means of a revision of Empedocles’ democratic cosmology, Plato’s richly woven myth is designed precisely to reject the appropriateness of democracy as a form of human political association and legitimate monarchy in its stead.
In De Anima 2.4, Aristotle claims that nutritive soul encompasses two distinct biological functions: nutrition and reproduction. We challenge a pervasive interpretation which posits ‘nutrients’ as the correlative object (antikeimenon) of the nutritive capacity. Instead, the shared object of nutrition and reproduction is that which is nourished and reproduced: the ensouled body, qua ensouled. Both functions aim at preserving this object, and thus at preserving the form, life, and being of the individual organism. In each case, we show how Aristotle’s detailed biological analysis supports this ontological argument.