In Plato’s Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger leads Socrates the Younger and their audience through an analysis of the statesman in the service of the interlocutors’ becoming “more capable in dialectic regarding all things” (285d7). In this way, the dialectical exercise in the text is both intrinsically and instrumentally valuable, as it yields a philosophically rigorous account of statesmanship and exhibits a method of dialectical inquiry. After the series of bifurcatory divisions in the Sophist and early Statesman, the Stranger changes to a non-bifurcatory method of dividing to account for the statesman, but does not explain the reason for this change. I argue that the change is prepared by the elements discussed in the digression from 277a2 to 287b2. Here the Stranger makes use of four concepts that are crucial for understanding this change: the notion of paradigm, the paradigms of care and the weaver, and the notion of due measure. I claim that the notion of paradigm clarifies the nature of dialectical inquiry, care and weaving act as paradigms appropriate to dialectical practice, and an account of due measure offers insight into the constitutive ratios that govern the structuring of kinds pursued through dialectical inquiry. I suggest that the non-bifurcatory method is intended to articulate knowledge in the strictest sense, or knowledge of the forms, presenting a method of inquiry into being and its structure that will foster the turning of the soul from things to forms that Socrates describes in the Republic.
In Plato’s Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger leads Socrates the Younger and their audience through an analysis of the statesman in the service of the interlocutors’ becoming “more capable in dialectic regarding all things” (285d7).1 In this way, the dialectical exercise in the text is both intrinsically and instrumentally valuable, as it yields a philosophically rigorous account of statesmanship and exhibits a method of philosophical inquiry.2 After the series of bifurcatory divisions in the Sophist and early Statesman, the Stranger changes his method of dividing in the text’s final section (beginning at Statesman 287b3). The Stranger only tersely announces the change, in which the bifurcatory division practiced on the angler and sophist in the Sophist and the statesman and weaver in the Statesman is replaced by a different type of division, when at Statesman 287c2-7 he indicates merely that he and Socrates the Younger will “[d]ivide according to limbs as with a sacrificial animal, since we now lack the power to divide in two” as they had done previously.3 The Stranger promises that “the reasons for this will become manifest as we proceed,” but is silent regarding the change thereafter. The nature and value of this method, as well as the reason for this change, thus require interpretation from the attentive reader.
The argument that I will defend is that the change from the bifurcatory division to the final, non-bifurcatory division of the statesman is prepared by the elements discussed in the Statesman digression from 277a2 to 287b2, which follows the myth of ages and lays the groundwork for this new kind of dialectic. In the digression, the Stranger makes use of four concepts that I argue are crucial for understanding this change. These are the notion of paradigm, the paradigms of care and the weaver, and the notion of essential measure. We will see that the notion of paradigm clarifies the nature of dialectical inquiry, care and weaving act as paradigms appropriate to dialectical practice, and an account of essential measure offers insight into the constitutive ratios that govern the structuring of kinds necessary for dialectical inquiry. Upon understanding these four elements, we will be prepared to account for the decisive shift into non-bifurcatory division, as well as the method’s nature and value.
I suggest that the non-bifurcatory method is intended to articulate knowledge in the strictest sense, or knowledge of the nature and structure of the forms.4 Therefore, an understanding of the change illuminates one of the main pedagogical aims of the Sophist and Statesman, which is to present a method of inquiry into being and its structure that will foster the kind of turning of the soul from things to forms that Socrates describes in the Republic.5 Furthermore, the concept into which the interlocutors inquire is statesmanship, which emerges as the practice of applied dialectic attending to the care of the human community. Thus both the method of inquiry and the account of the thing inquired into prove to be essential for understanding this dialectical method. Accounting for the interconnection between method and thing of inquiry will prove to be important for our understanding of the dialogue as a whole.
Before considering the groundwork for the change in dialectical methods, some orienting remarks are in order regarding division as inquiry into the sameness and difference of kinds.6 In the Sophist, the Stranger describes division as entailing “split[ting] the proposed kind in two, always keeping to the right hand part of the section and hold[ing] fast to the community to which” the kind belongs, “until we’ve stripped away all of [the kind’s] common features” and left it in its “indwelling nature” (Soph. 264 e 9-265 a 1). In other words, the dialectician practicing this type of division pursues knowledge of a thing with reference to the thing’s difference from other things like it in kind.7 The specific form of division indicated and used here is bifurcatory; the Stranger makes this explicit in describing the splitting “in two” and keeping to the “right hand part” (Soph. 264 e 9),8 and all of the divisions in the two dialogues prior to the myth of ages follow this pattern.9
While the method yields an account of the angler and seven separate, and apparently satisfactory, accounts of the sophist, it later begins to yield hazier results that fail to satisfy the interlocutors.10 In the initial set of bifurcatory divisions made towards an account of the statesman (Statesman 258 b 1-267 a 3), the moves cause the interlocutors to falter and digress. Things take a troubling turn during the analysis of statesmanship as prescribing collective nurture to land-based animals (256 a 5). Although the method had previously seemed to allow for clean bifurcatory divisions in every instance, here it yields two possible paths, neither of which seems to the interlocutors to contain greater explanatory power than the other. This suggests that the divisions have lost much of their value, given that the exhaustive account sought can apparently take two equally plausible forms. Ultimately the bifurcatory investigation ends in a “joke” (266 c 1) in the form of the “laughable” king (266 c 8) whose flock bears a strong resemblance to pigs, and the interlocutors temporarily suspend their practice of dividing.
After considering the myth of ages and discussing its implications, they are again prepared to take up the method of division anew, and soon in its modified form. This modified form is non-bifurcatory division, which the Stranger uses to account for the composition of care for the human community.11 The Stranger ultimately articulates his account of care as a spectrum bounded on one pole by those productive arts responsible for the material needs of the community, and on the other pole by those directly responsive arts that meet the spiritual needs of the community. Among the fifteen determinate moments of care, the Stranger locates statesmanship as the purest manifestation of the care for the spiritual needs of the city. To understand the significance of this result, we will consider the four constitutive elements composing the discussion in the digression from 277 a 2 to 287 b 2 that immediately precede the non-bifurcatory division of care for the human community.
The first discussion point in the digression is the notion of the paradigm (παράδειγµα). Previously implicit throughout the initial bifurcatory divisions (ending at 267 c 3) were the guiding paradigms of nurture and the shepherd orienting the inquiry into the statesman.12 While the paradigms of the angler and the imitator had explicitly governed the inquiry into the sophist, the divisions in pursuit of the statesman were made with the tacit assumption that the paradigms of nurturing and shepherding offered guidance.13 Several instances in which these paradigms are particularly evident include the division between commanding animals in “single-nurturing” and “herd-nurturing” modes (261 d 4-5) that both the Stranger and Socrates the Younger take to entail the model of tending practiced by the shepherd, or various references to “pasturing” and “herds” (e.g., 265 d 5, 266 a 1, 266 a 4, etc.). In his remarks concluding the initial, bifurcatory exercises, the Stranger finally makes each of these explicit in turn, stating that “of the many arts of pasturing that came to sight for us just now, one of them in particular was that of the statesman, and it was the tending of a particular herd” at 267 d 4-6, and then, that “this account is marked off as […] the collective nurture of human beings” at 267 d 7-8.
But with the myth of ages (beginning at 267 e 8), the appropriateness of the shepherding and nurturing paradigms is challenged.14 Through the myth, the Stranger demonstrates that herding entails a difference in kind between the shepherd and the flock. That is, a shepherd must necessarily be outside of the flock, and not a member of the community that the flock members compose. Likewise, the mode of nurturing appropriate to the shepherd is both intransitive and asymmetrical, insofar as the nurturer gives and the nurtured receives. These were the characteristics of the age of Kronos in the Stranger’s myth, in which the god acts as the nurturing shepherd for the human community. But the subsequent age of Zeus characterized by the withdrawal of the gods lacks this guidance, and hence it entails that tending to the needs of the human community must be done from within.
Shepherding and nurturing thus have been shown to be improper to an account of the statesman. The myth has demonstrated that the nurturing shepherd cannot be a human at all, but rather can only be a god (cf. 276 d 4). The failure of these paradigms occasions the discussion of paradigms more generally (beginning at 277 a 2).15 Here the Stranger addresses the inadequacy of the preceding account by stating that “[i]t’s hard, my young genius, to indicate any of the greater matters adequately without using paradigms. For it seems as though each of us, knowing everything as in a dream, is then ignorant again of everything when, as it were, awake” (277 d 1-2).16 By considering paradigms themselves, the Stranger will show the flaws implicit in the paradigms of shepherding and nurture at play in the investigation. Furthermore, by highlighting the very notion of paradigms, the Stranger will ultimately reorient the investigation under the new paradigms of care and, later, the weaver.
We will begin by considering the notion of paradigm itself, the first upshot of this move. The Stranger’s reflection on paradigms is related to one central problem under consideration in the Meno, which is the problem that investigation presupposes insight into the thing being investigated. This entails the consequence that a thing being investigated is both known, insofar as insight into it orients the investigation, and at the same time unknown, insofar as it must be sought. Thus it seems that inquiry is either unnecessary or impossible. Paradigms are indeed at play explicitly in the Meno, as Socrates had discussed the three accounts of shape and color as paradigms (παραδείγµατα) to assist in guiding Meno’s definition of virtue at Meno 77 a 9-b 2.
To satisfy his interlocutor in the Meno, Socrates offers the well-known myth to imply that the things of inquiry have a prior standing in the soul that require a kind of recollecting (Men. 81 a 9-e 4). Through his consideration of paradigms, the Stranger in the Statesman offers something closely related to the mythical conclusion that Socrates offers to Meno. As the Stranger recognizes, the insight by which a thing is investigated acts as a kind of preliminary guide for the inquirer.17 Often this guide is implicit, unstated, or even undeliberate, as is apparently the case with the paradigms of nurture and shepherding in the early investigation into the statesman. But these insights can always later be shown to be false, as the early investigation again demonstrates, and thus require constant testing.18 Moreover, insights into the sources of knowledge are often hazy and amorphous; and hence the Stranger compares the early appearance of these insights to dreams.19 This guiding insight that inquiry presupposes is what the Stranger calls the ‘paradigm.’
As a paradigmatic example of paradigms, the Stranger chooses letters (στοιχεῖα, also ‘elements;’ 277 e 4-278 c 8).20 As we learn in the Theaetetus, one who can correctly spell ‘Theaetetus’ but cannot correctly spell ‘Theodorus,’ replacing the first theta with a tau, cannot be said truly to know the spelling of ‘Theaetetus.’21 That is, because the speller lacks a robust understanding of the component parts of the name ‘Theaetetus’ as demonstrated by her inability to recognize the parts in other contexts, she can be said only to have right opinion regarding the spelling of the name ‘Theaetetus.’ But as the Stranger suggests in the Statesman, knowledge of a certain letter or syllable in a certain context can guide one toward right opinion and finally knowledge in another context. The recognition that accompanies the appearance of the letter theta helps to guide the young learner in unfamiliar contexts, allowing her to build more complex units of knowledge (e.g., syllables). The Stranger frames this point in terms of ascertaining a shared sameness, stating that “the derivation (γένεσις) of a paradigm occurs at that time, when what is the same in something other that’s sundered from it is correctly judged and, through comparison, brings to completion one true opinion about each of them as brought together” (278c 3-5).22 And by studying theta in various contexts, the student is guided in further investigations into spelling, allowing the partial insight into the nature of theta qua part to reveal the further depth and complexity of the letter, and the senses in which it is fit to blend with other letters. This process of learning to spell via the paradigmatic letter is thus analogous to the process that the budding dialectician undergoes through studying complex paradigms.23
The notion of paradigm thus is the solution to the apparent sophistical puzzle that inquiry into the unknown requires knowledge of the thing being inquired into, and hence that the thing of inquiry is both known and unknown. By considering paradigms, we see that inquiry always presupposes partial and obscured insight in the subjectively rooted ways that the thing being inquired into has already revealed itself. This partial insight is the paradigm of the inquiry, which acts as the means by which inquiry itself is even possible. This paradigm can prove to be false, as in the cases of nurture and the shepherd, and hence requires constant testing. By bringing this aspect of the inquiry to the fore, the Stranger has taken a step towards advancing the dialectical investigation and replacing the “laughable king” with a positive account deriving from insight provided by the paradigms most proper to the inquiry.
3 The Paradigms of Care and the Weaver
The discussion of paradigms ultimately allows the Stranger both to supplant the nurturer and shepherd paradigms and to draw attention to the paradigms implicit previously in the discussion that will prove to be more useful in the forthcoming inquiry into the statesman. The first new paradigm the Stranger offers is care (ἐπιµέλεια). An understanding of statesmanship as a determinate moment in the care for the human community will become the insight that guides the non-bifurcatory division. Care is a concept that had arisen in several telling instances before the digression on paradigms. In concluding the myth, the Stranger declares that in the age of Zeus, “the condition of care from the gods [has] given out, and humans themselves [need] to take hold of the course of their lives and its care on their own […]” (274 d 2-4).24 After further consideration of the competing images of the statesman, he later states that the interlocutors should “redirect their calling, directing it toward care rather than nurture” (276 c 9-d 1).25 Following the discussion of paradigms, the senses in which this redirection is desirable and necessary have become clearer. By considering the known concept of care implicitly at play in their considerations thus far, they can sharpen and redirect their inquiry into the statesman.
Care is a desirable replacement for nurture in several senses. Unlike nurture, care does not entail an intransitive and asymmetrical structure, but instead implies mutuality. That is, the mode of care reflects the reciprocal nature of the human condition wherein each one is co-constituted by the many and the all, and the sense in which the statesman must promote the well-being of the community not as an outside shepherd but instead from within. The insight gained through the care paradigm shows that the statesman is both intertwined with community and responsible for the wellbeing of the community.
Furthermore, care is relevant to dialectical practice as well, and the paradigm is an indication that the proper account of statesmanship must capture the art’s dialectical nature. As the ‘Socratic’ dialogues in particular tend to demonstrate, Plato’s philosophy is characterized by care given to the nature of being and the accounts that we produce in response to it. For Plato, as demonstrated by his principal interlocutors, philosophy is the call to ever greater depth and clarity in thinking, speech, and behavior as a reverent response to that which is given. The statesman, we shall see, is the application of this kind of care to the affairs of the human community.
As further groundwork for the forthcoming non-bifurcatory division, the Stranger offers the second guiding paradigm of weaving.26 Weaving, says the Stranger, is the “art of intertwining” (281 a 3).27 That is, weaving is the art of understanding the interrelation of the parts that compose a whole, the ways that a given part calls from its nature for blending with another, and the proper ways of applying this understanding to the parts in the service of the whole.28 This sense will prove to be relevant both to the method and contents of the analysis in what follows.
As a paradigm for investigating the statesman, the weaver is an improvement over the shepherd; but more is at stake in the weaver paradigm than a helpful metaphor. The discussion of the weaver marks a return to the inquiry into communing and blending in the metaphysical digression in the Sophist (Soph. 236 d 9-260 c 9), which will bear on the results of the digression in further laying the groundwork for the dialectical exercise that follows. Here I can offer only a brief indication of this connection, both to give fuller shape to the account of the weaver and to continue to work towards an understanding of the groundwork of Plato’s dialectical method being laid out in this section of the Statesman. In the Sophist’s central digression, the Stranger considers dialectic as the process of noetically apprehending discrete forms in their determinacy and the ways that their unique nature calls for a certain type of blending, either necessarily or for their best instantiation.29 One paradigmatic example of this consideration is the Stranger’s description of the five kinds—being, motion, rest, sameness, and difference—that are necessary for any instantiation whatsoever.30 The Stranger there defined the dialectician with reference to the ability to make such distinctions about determinately intelligible wholes, or forms, accounting for the nature of the individual form with reference to the blending necessary to instantiate its particular nature (Soph. 253 c 8-e 3). In other words, the five great kinds are those kinds with which all forms must necessarily blend in all instances. In this way, the dialectician progresses towards knowledge of the whole through an analysis of the parts and the parts’ interrelations that structure it.
With the introduction of the paradigm of the weaver in the Statesman, the notion of the blending that the dialectician discerns is taken up anew.31 As the dialectician needs an account of blending for rendering dialectic properly, so too does the weaver need an account of blending to perform the weaving art. That is, the weaver must tend to all threads in the garment to weave together a whole, understanding each thread with reference to its compositional role. Like the dialectician grasping being, the weaver grasps the whole of the garment precisely insofar as it is a structure of interrelated parts.
But here the sense of the dialectician as theoretical weaver considered in the Sophist has been transposed onto the sense of the statesman as applied weaver. Put differently, this is an application of the theoretical insight into the blending of kinds that was worked out in the Sophist. The exercise in the Sophist was a study of receptivity, i.e., a receptive analysis of the necessary eidetic structure of forms. Here this exercise has been put towards productive use, with the model of the weaver acting as the paradigmatic sense by which the productive art of blending can be understood and applied. Through the weaver, we see that the statesman’s art is that of blending the elements of the human community with one another in the pursuit of the best instantiation of the community’s particular nature.
4 Due Measure
The Stranger soon posits (beginning at 280 e 6), however, that the account of the statesman merely as the caregiver to the human community in the mode of weaving is true but inadequate. Most immediately, the Stranger recognizes that this account will apply to all the arts inherent in human communities, each of which does this in its own way. Put another way, the paradigm of the weaver has not fully clarified the true nature of statesmanship, and more systematic work needs to be done with further orientation from the care paradigm to separate off statesmanship itself from the other modes of care for the human community through a dialectically rigorous account. Towards this end, the Stranger considers due measure. Only with an account of the causes to which a given thing owes its nature and the measured ways in which these causes are enacted is the thing truly known, and this final insight will prepare the way for the non-bifurcatory analysis of the statesman that immediately follows.
The insufficiency of the weaver paradigm leads the Stranger to consider the art of measurement broadly (beginning at 283 c 9), which he divides into the two halves relating on the one side to measurement of “reciprocal communing in greatness and smallness [τὸ (µέρος) (…) κατὰ τὴν πρὸς ἄλληλα µεγέθους καὶ σµικρότητος κοινωνίαν]” and, on the other, that having to do with “the being that is necessary to coming-into-being [τὸ (µέρος) κατὰ τὴν τῆς γενέσεως ἀναγκαίαν οὐσίαν]” (283 d 5-6).32 The Stranger explains the difference between these two senses of measurement in the passages that follow, ultimately distinguishing these two senses as relative measure and due measure, respectively.33 While relative measure entails the comparing of opposites relative to each other, due measure entails measuring opposites relative to a governing and normative ratio (283 e 10-11). Put differently, relative measure entails considering beings with reference to other beings in terms of the degree to which their shared properties compare specifically to one another, as in the distinction in size between that which is greater and that which is smaller; due measure, conversely, entails considering beings relative to a fixed normative ratio outside of all the beings themselves, or the sense of being necessary for coming-into-being even to be possible.34
But the Stranger soon (at 284 b 7-c8) folds these two senses of measure into one another. Here he again recalls the conversation from the Sophist, likening the reliance of non-being on being (discussed throughout the central digression and perhaps most explicitly at Soph. 257 b 3-4) to the analogous sense in which relative measure is possible only because of due measure. The Stranger asserts through a rhetorical question that, as with non-being’s reliance on being, “the more and the less in turn [must] be compelled to be measured, not in relation to each other alone but also in relation to the coming-to-be of due measure” (Stat. 284 b 7-10). In addition to challenging the effectiveness of the bifurcatory division of measurement and hence bifurcatory division more broadly, this suggests that relative measurement itself is possible only with reference to due measurement. In other words, measurement of beings is only possible insofar as beings are subject to the standards and conditions that give rise to them qua wholes of measurable qualities, and hence due measure more broadly. Thus, the primary sense of measurement at play in the Stranger’s account is due measure, insofar as the other senses of measurement presuppose it.
The consideration of due measure draws upon in the Stranger’s earlier identification of the notion of joint causes (first mentioned at 281 d 9 and revisited at 287 b 4-6). The joint causes are “[a]ll those arts that do not craft the thing itself, although they provide the tools [ὄργανα] for the crafting arts” (281 e 1-2). For example, health is a joint cause of victory in sea battle, as that which sustains the sailors through the course of the battle, while generalship (e.g.) is the proper cause.
The notion of joint causes then is recast through the lens of due measure. Due measure, as a governing ratio, separates one given thing from others like it in kind through the normative proportion necessary for its proper instantiation. The paradigm of musical tones will help us to understand this notion of joint causes in the context of due measure.35 C#, e.g., owes its nature to the joint causes of C and D, each one half step from C# in the diatonic scale. The due measure necessary to separate off C# from the tones that flank it on the tone scale thus accounts for the nature of C#. It also follows from this that one cannot truly know C# without knowing the tone with reference to C and D, and hence knowing each tone entails knowing the entire tone spectrum. This aspect of knowledge will become relevant in the investigation into the statesman, for each of the modes of care for the human community will be known in full only when they are situated relative both to the other modes of care, which act as joint causes for each individual mode, and to the whole of care for the human community, which discloses the due measure necessary for the proper instantiation of each of its moments.
This conception of joint causes with reference to due measure is closely related to the art of weaving, insofar as each entails a consideration of the ordered structure of a whole with reference to the parts that structure it. Due measure goes beyond weaving, however, in several senses. First, weaving entails the intertwining of homogeneous parts, whereas the parts of the city will be shown to be heterogeneous and, in an important sense, co-constitutive.36 Relatedly, due measure goes beyond weaving insofar as it entails attending to the senses in which each part owes its nature to the other parts constitutive of the whole to which it belongs. That is, the robust account of the part entails a consideration of the part’s nature insofar as its nature is defined by and marked off from the nature of the other parts that also constitute its corresponding whole, and the normative measurement that accounts for this marking off. In this way, the description of due measure suggests a deficiency in the paradigm of the weaver taken merely in itself. The dialectician strives for an understanding of the whole that discloses the nature of each mode in a given spectrum (e.g., C# in the tone spectrum, or statesmanship in the spectrum of care for the human community) with reference to the mode’s joint causes that goes beyond the scope of the weaver’s relationship with the threads composing the garment. Due measure thus acts as the principle of measurement by which each mode is separated from the others relative to the nature of the spectrum.
The dialectician’s practice is that of giving accounts, and therefore this art of measurement arises as a final component under inspection in the Statesman digression. The due measure sought by the dialectician is the appropriate balance necessary for true accounts, and an understanding of the norms governing the good account. In the moves that follow, the statesman will be shown to be both a fixed ratio on the spectrum of care for the human community and that person most capable of instantiating that care within the human community. This latter characteristic is at play, e.g., in the account of the statesman’s due measure between the virtues of moderation and courage at 305 e 2-311 c 5.37 In this way, the method of the investigation and the thing under investigation show themselves to be intimately connected.
After accounting for due measure, the Stranger begins the non-bifurcatory dialectical account of care for the human community at 287 b 3. Here I can only indicate this account in a cursory way that gives context to the findings of this discussion. The Stranger’s definition of care for the human community entails an account of care as a spectrum bounded on one pole by those productive arts responsible for the material needs of the community, and on the other pole by those directly responsive arts that meet the spiritual needs of the community. Among the fifteen determinate moments, the Stranger locates statesmanship as the purest manifestation of the care for the spiritual needs of the city. This response is characterized by the statesman’s grasp of the entire community, and the ways in which its parts are woven together and hence constituted by one another. Similarly, the nature of the statesman is defined with reference to the other modes of care for the human community as the deepest manifestation of care for the spiritual needs of the city.38
The non-bifurcatory division of care and the isolation of the statesman were made possible by the four elements of the digression under consideration. The notion of paradigm allowed the interlocutors to understand the nature of inquiry and the sense in which the known guides the investigation into the unknown. An understanding of this structural aspect of inquiry allowed the interlocutors to recast their investigation under the guidance of better paradigms, including those previously made explicit (care) and those tacit in previous investigations (the weaver, in its embodiment of several key metaphysical concepts in the Sophist digression). These paradigms proved to be of value both to the particular investigation, and to Platonic dialectic more broadly, insofar as they characterize aspects of the process of dialectic itself. With these paradigms in play, the consideration of due measure allowed for the non-bifurcatory division to begin due to its revealing the senses in which governing ratios account both for the nature of an individual being and its co-composition among others like it in kind. After having identified ‘care’ as the paradigmatic form through which the statesman can be disclosed, the Stranger’s application of the insight into due measure allowed for the ultimate disclosure of the nature of the statesman.
In this sense, the non-bifurcatory division has offered insight into being, and acts as a method by which to achieve the kind of turning of the soul from things toward forms that Socrates describes in the Republic. By considering due measure as an extension of the sense of being by which becoming is possible, and by allowing it to guide an investigation via that which is known in a dreamlike state into a philosophically rigorous account, the dialectical method has yielded knowledge in the strictest sense, or knowledge of the forms as constitutive and necessary elements of being. The account of statesmanship that we have arrived upon thus serves as a paradigm for Platonic dialectic.
Plato. Sophist. Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, and Eric Salem (trans.). 1996. Plato’s Sophist: The Professor of Wisdom. Newburyport, MA: Focus Philosophical Library.
Plato. Statesman. Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, and Eric Salem (trans.). 2012. Plato’s Statesman. Newburyport, MA: Focus Philosophical Library.
Ackrill, J.L. 1970. ‘In Defence of Platonic Division’ in O. Wood and G. Pitcher (eds.), Ryle: A Collection of Critical Essays. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.
Annas, Julia. 1995. ‘Introduction’ in J. Annas and R. Waterfield (eds.), Plato’s Statesman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, Lesley. 2010. ‘Definition and Division in Plato’s Sophist’ in D. Charles (ed.), Definition in Greek Philosophy, 151-171. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gill, Mary Louise. 2010. ‘Division and Definition in Plato’s Sophist and Statesman’ in D. Charles (ed.), Definition in Greek Philosophy, 172-199. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ionescu, Cristina. 2016. ‘Due Measure and the Dialectical Method in Plato’s Statesman.’ Journal of Philosophical Research 41, 77-104.
Miller, Mitchell. 1986. Plato’s Parmenides: The Conversion of the Soul. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Miller, Mitchell. 1999. ‘Dialectical Education and Unwritten Teachings in Plato’s Statesman’ in J.M. van Ophuijsen (ed.), Plato and Platonism. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press.
Owen, G.E.L. 1973. ‘Plato and the Unpredictable’ in E. Lee, A. Mourelatos, and R. Rorty (eds.), Exegesis and Argument. New York: Humanities Press.
Rowe, Christopher. 1996. ‘The Politicus: Form and Structure’ in C. Gill and M.M. McCabe (eds.), Form and Argument in Late Plato. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Sanday, Eric. 2017. ‘Paradigm and Dialectical Inquiry in Plato’s Statesman’ in J. Sallis (ed.), Plato’s Statesman: Dialectic, Myth, and Politics. Albany: SUNY Press.
Weiss, Roslyn. 1995. ‘Statesman as epistēmōn: Caretaker, Physician, and Weaver’ in C.J. Rowe (ed.), Reading the Statesman. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag. 213-22.
Wiitala, Michael. 2014. ‘The Forms in the Euthyphro and Statesman: A Case Against the Developmental Reading of Plato’s Dialogues.’ International Philosophical Quarterly 54 (4), 393-410.
Wiitala, Michael. 2018. ‘The Argument against the Friends of the Forms Revisited: Sophist 248a4-249d5.’ Apeiron 51 (2): 171-200.
Translations of the Sophist and Statesman herein are taken and from the Brann, Kalkavage, and Salem editions, with slight modifications noted.
The nature and scope of inquiry in Plato’s philosophy is much debated. For a broad overview on inquiry in Plato’s thinking and method, see Fine (2014). Regarding the method of division, commentators such as Crombie (1963) and Ryle (1966) have doubted the philosophical value of the method and argued that the method is helpful only exposing the nature of philosophical definition or in guiding philosophical amateurs, respectively. Weaker skepticism regarding division has been voiced by recent commentators such as Brown (2010) and Gill (2010). While Brown holds that the specific divisions in the Sophist cannot be taken seriously due to the nature of the object sought, namely the essence of sophistry, Gill argues that division by its nature cannot yield satisfying accounts beyond very simple investigations, but instead is valuable for provoking deeper thinking on challenging philosophical issues. In the case of the Statesman specifically, some commentators, like White (2007), believe that the inquiry is ultimately unproductive and the dialogue is aporetic. Others, including Rowe (1996), argue that the dialogue is best read on the model of a treatise, with dialectical elements subservient at best and extraneous at worst to Plato’s main aim of articulating his own positions. I argue against these views below, as I hold that the final, non-bifurcatory division in the dialogue yields an account of the statesman as a mode in the form of care for the human community. For discussions, closer to my own view, of the method as a mode of discovery entailing considerations of the senses of sameness and difference at play in the discussion of the great kinds in the Sophist, see Ionescu (2013 and 2016) and Miller (1999 and 2016).
Not all scholars agree that this moment does indeed entail a change of method, or that the method works as I am describing here. For the view that the final division in the Statesman has a bifurcatory structure, see Goldschmidt (1947). For the view that a bifurcatory structure is not necessary, but instead merely desirable, for the Platonic method of division broadly in all its appearances in the dialogues, see Ackrill (1970).
I follow Miller (1980 and 1999) and Ionescu (2014 and 2016) in interpreting the final, non-bifurcatory division in the Statesman as an account of the statesman as the purest manifestation of the care for the spiritual needs of the city. The view, which I share, that forms are at play in the Statesman is contested. For versions of the view that the inquiry in the Statesman is strictly practical and excludes the metaphysical concepts espoused elsewhere by Plato’s principal interlocutors, such as the conception of forms at play in the Republic and Parmenides, see Owen (1973), Annas (1995), and Lane (1998). Rowe (1998) holds the similar view that dialectic in the ‘Eleatic’ dialogues is aimed not at the nature of being, but instead at the souls of the interlocutors. But these commentators miss the role of care for the human community in the non-bifurcatory diairetic analysis in the dialogue’s latter third, which (as I argue below) necessarily entails the notion of form as described in dialogues like the Parmenides. For more on this view, see Harvey (2009). Remaining agnostic regarding the role of ‘form’ in the proper sense, Ionescu (2013 and 2014) offers both (i) a discussion of the prevalent models of understanding forms among commentators either as logical relations of entailments among forms (the ‘intensional’ model, represented by Cohen ) or as a hierarchy of forms divided into subclasses of forms (the ‘extensional’ model, represented by Sayre ), and (ii) a novel interpretation of division as separating the intelligible relations of forms that happens on various ‘levels’ corresponding to the separations of types of knowledge described in the divided line analogy in the Republic, suggesting that the divisions in Sophist lead progressively away from knowledge at the level of pistis and towards that of noesis. I follow Ionescu throughout insofar as I am interested in the senses in which the dialectical exercises progress towards knowledge at the level of noesis.
I cannot develop a thorough account of the relationship between the Republic and the ‘Eleatic’ dialogues here. Although I reject developmentalist interpretations of Plato’s dialogues—for a recent articulation of a version of the view that I share and that informs my argument throughout, see Wiitala (2014)—nothing in the structure of my account is affected by any issues involving developmentalism so far as I can tell. I am interested here primarily in the conception that emerges from the Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman trilogy, which has been understood as Plato’s “late” view (see Sayre , Vlastos , etc.) or a rigorous and developed version of the same view that Plato espouses throughout most or all of the dialogues (see especially Miller , Rosen , Sanday ).
Following a longstanding line of interpretation, some commentators understand this method as “collection and division.” An early defense of this view is offered by Cornford (1935), while a more extensive version of the view is articulated in Sayre (1969). Ionescu (2013 and 2014) offers a more recent defense of the implicit role of collection in the Sophist. Sayre later articulates a more ‘moderate’ view, arguing at Sayre (2006), 37 that “collection” is relevant to the Sophist but has largely “dropped out” by the ‘time’ of the Statesman. I however follow Lane (1998) and Miller (2006), the latter of whom notes that the language of “collection” (συναγωγή) is absent alongside references to division (διαίρεσις) in the Sophist and Statesman and is imported by commentators from the language that Socrates uses in the Phaedrus, i.e., at 265 c 9-266 c 6.
In this sense, division is closely related to the third account of logos as ‘true knowledge with an account’ in Theaetetus: “being able to tell some mark by which the object you are asked about differs from all other things” (Theae. 208 c 6-9). For the connection between this definition of knowledge in the Theaetetus and the method of division on display in the Sophist, see Miller (1992 and 2016).
For a challenge of this interpretation, see Ackrill (1970), who maintains that bifurcation is not necessary for Platonic division, but instead is merely desirable. Ackrill does not justify, however, his drawing together of the passages in the Phaedrus and the ‘Eleatic’ dialogues, nor does he account for the shift of methods from bifurcatory to non-bifurcatory division in the Statesman.
For analyses of these divisions, see Gill (2006 and 2010).
Ionescu (2013 and 2014) interprets the change between the methods and satisfaction yielded by the results of the division exercises in the Sophist and Statesman in a similar manner, but argues that the exercise in the Sophist was bound to fail due to its neglect of value and instance on binary divisions instead of division according to “natural joints.” Similarly, Brown (2010) argues that the diairetic exercises in the Sophist must fail due to the nature of the thing inquired into, that is, the sophist. For the view, which I share, that bifurcatory division plays a role in the larger project of Platonic inquiry and thus has its own value, see Miller (1992 and 2016).
For a thorough analysis of the outcomes of the non-bifurcatory division of care, see Miller (1999).
For the view that the notion of paradigms (or ‘models’) in the Sophist and Statesman contrasts with other accounts of paradigms in dialogues such as the Phaedo, Republic, and Timaeus, with paradigms in these other dialogues closely associated with the Platonic notion of forms, see Gill (2006). Gill also argues that the shepherd is not a proper paradigm in the Statesman since it does not truly serve as a formal model for pursuing the statesman.
Miller (1980) and Gill (2010) have suggested that the association of the statesman with a herdsman probably derives from convention, e.g., Homer’s epithet for Agamemnon as shepherd of the people (ποιµὴν λαω̑ν), e.g. Il. 2.243 and 254.
Ionescu (2014) offers an extensive and helpful discussion of the relationship between the methods of division and the myth of ages, including the senses in which the mythic divisions, e.g. between the various kinds of animals divided by the divine spirits at 271d, gesture towards the metaphysical divisions that follow in the final diairetic account in the dialogue. I follow this interpretation in my argument.
In contrast to my view, Weiss (1995), Gill (2006), and Ionescu (2014) all argue that the shepherding paradigm remains at play throughout the rest of the dialogue. Skemp (1952), Miller (1980 and 1999), and Sanday (2017), conversely, share my view that the myth occasions the interlocutors’ rejection of the shepherding paradigm.
“χαλεπόν, ὦ δαιµόνιε, µὴ παραδείγµασι χρώµενον ἱκανῶς ἐνδείκνυσθαί τι τῶν µειζόνων. κινδυνεύει γὰρ ἡµῶν ἕκαστος οἷον ὄναρ εἰδὼς ἅπαντα πάντ᾽ αὖ πάλιν ὥσπερ ὕπαρ ἀγνοεῖν.”
Gill (2010) discusses the sense in which a given paradigm (or ‘model’) entails a specific procedure for future investigation that has value to the investigation as a whole. Gill writes that a model “indicates how to go on, how to begin an enquiry or how to get beyond an impasse” (176).
On the possible falsity of paradigms and the need for constant testing, see Sanday (2017) passim, but especially 151-155.
Plato’s primary interlocutors often invoke dreams as a way of understanding inchoate knowledge. A good example of the “dreamlike” quality of guiding paradigms comes at Theae. 201 d 1. Theaetetus offers a hazily recollected account of knowledge as “true judgment with an account,” which Socrates characterizes as a dream shortly thereafter (201 d 9 and 202 c 4). The Stranger also uses the metaphors of sleep and wakefulness in his discussion of paradigms in Stat. 278 e 2-9.
I note parenthetically here that letters are a frequent and important paradigm in the dialogues. They also act as the paradigm for the consideration of part and whole composition in the investigation into logos in the Theaetetus, the paradigm for blending in the metaphysical digression in the Sophist, and, as vocalic sounds, the unlimited dyad of tones in Socrates’ examples of speech with reference to the god-given method in the Philebus. Here I suggest that letters are paradigmatic for many of the most important metaphysical analyses in this cluster of related dialogues. Commentators who explore the role of letters in more depth include Gómez-Lobo (1977), Miller (1992), Notomi (1999), Gill (2006), and Sanday (2015).
Although focused in Theae. 202 e 8-206 a 3, this conversation is one important part of the greater whole that composes the final section of the Theaetetus and sets the stage for the inquiries taken up the following day in the Sophist and Statesman. For more on these closing pages and their anticipation of the ‘Eleatic’ dialogues, see Miller (1992).
“οὐκοῦν τοῦτο µὲν ἱκανῶς συνειλήφαµεν, ὅτι παραδείγµατός γ᾽ ἐστὶ τότε γένεσις, ὁπόταν ὂν ταὐτὸν ἐν ἑτέρῳ διεσπασµένῳ δοξαζόµενον ὀρθῶς καὶ συναχθὲν περὶ ἑκάτερον ὡς συνάµφω µίαν ἀληθῆ δόξαν ἀποτελῇ;” I substitute “derivation” for “generation” in translating “γένεσις” to capture the sense in which the paradigm is already implicit but not yet articulated that I believe the Stranger here has in mind, as opposed to the sense of creation out of nothingness that the English “generation” might entail.
Cf. Sanday (2017).
“ἐπειδὴ τὸ µὲν ἐκ θεῶν, ὅπερ ἐρρήθη νυνδή, τῆς ἐπιµελείας ἐπέλιπεν ἀνθρώπους, δι᾽ ἑαυτῶν τε ἔδει τήν τε διαγωγὴν καὶ τὴν ἐπιµέλειαν αὐτοὺς αὑτῶν ἔχειν.”
“τοὔνοµα µετασκευωρήσασθαι, πρὸς τὴν ἐπιµέλειαν µᾶλλον προσαγαγόντας ἢ τὴν τροφήν[.]”, substituting “calling” for “name” in translating “τοὔνοµα” to preserve the sense of inquiry with which the Stranger is here speaking.
Gill (2010) separates the value of this paradigm into two aspects, the introduction of a new procedure on the basis of the nature of the weaver paradigm and its acting as an ‘example’ that will help to define the nature of the statesman. Elsewhere (in Gill ) Gill likens this distinction to that between the form and the content of the paradigm. While I am largely interested in the intersection of these two aspects in what follows, Gill’s discussion of their separateness is relevant here, as Gill suggests that the structural (formal) aspects of the paradigm reveal, or otherwise suggest or indicate, the structure of the target concept towards which the paradigm is being used. This analogy is consistent with my interpretation of the specific paradigms in the Statesman.
“τὸ µὲν τῆς ὑφῆς συµπλοκή τίς ἐστί που.” Put differently, intertwining is weaving’s ‘τίς ἐστί.’
In much of what follows I am heavily indebted to Harte (2002) and the analysis of the competing mereologies that Plato tacitly rejects and endorses through the discussions in several of his dialogues.
More precisely, the discussion in the Sophist presupposes the considerations of the discrete and determinately intelligible one as they are laid out more explicitly in the hypotheses in the Parmenides and entails applying them to the concepts of blending and communing. For discussions of these elements of the Parmenides, see Miller (1986) and Sanday (2015).
That is, all determinately intelligible unique simples—what Plato calls forms—in their nature require being insofar as they are, rest and sameness insofar as they are at rest in themselves with a distinct nature, difference insofar as they are not any other form, and motion insofar as their nature entails communion with or participation in other forms (for more on the status of motion as a necessary great kind and this particular interpretation of the necessary communing of forms with motion, see Wiitala ). In this way, the paradigm of blending helps to establish both what forms are and, for the purposes of the discussion in the Sophist, an account of being helpful to clarify the problem of non-being and advance that particular investigation that motivates the turn in the dialogue. Further discussion of these points is in Rosen (1983), Sallis (1996), and Miller (2006).
For the view, which I follow, that the Stranger articulates an account of dialectic as entailing an analysis of the difference (via bifurcatory division) and sameness (via non- bifurcatory division) of kinds, see Miller (2016).
Here I substitute “coming-into-being” for “generation” in translating “γενέσεως” to emphasize the derivative relatedness between being and becoming that the Stranger will emphasize in 284 b 7-c 8, considered below.
For a detailed discussion of the seven passages that give shape to the distinction between these two kinds of measurement, see Ionescu (2016). I largely follow Ionescu’s interpretation of this distinction in what follows. White (2007) also offers extended consideration of the role of due measure in the discussion and account of the statesman that follows.
Cf. Miller (1980), Ionescu (2016). Sayre (2006) considers this issue with reference to the unwritten teachings, and his discussion is illuminating regarding the role(s) of due measure and the mean in Platonic thinking more broadly.
Socrates uses this paradigm to illustrate a closely related point in the Philebus, beginning at Phil. 17 a 7.
I owe this point to Peter Moore.
For more on this aspect of the Stranger’s account of the statesman, see Ionescu (2016).
As mentioned above, the account of the final, non-bifurcatory division in the Statesman that I follow is that of Miller (1999).