Annotated Bibliography

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2 pages, double spaced chicago style. Summarize the articles and criticize the writer, five sentences for each source. Make sure to cite the articles too.

Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 Plato’s The Republic, Book XI Editorial Introduction Mario Vegetti Professor Emeritus in Ancient Philosophy, University of Pavia Abstract In this newly edited Book XI of Plato’s Republic, to be considered as the authentic conclusion of the dialogue, Socrates meets a Stranger from Trier, and discusses with him the questions of social reform, power and future revolutions. Keywords Plato, Republic, Socrates, Karl Marx 1. History of the text The scanty ancient evidence regarding the existence of Book XI of the Republic, reported in Byzantine (Phontius, Biblioth. XXXIII.33) and Arabic sources (IbnAl-Ragù, Book of Admirable and Portentous Things in Praise of Allah, XVI.16), has always been considered as a result of copyists’ errors, given that the Greek tradition consistently presents Plato’s Politeia as a work which comprises ten books. In 1937, the Soviet scholar Josiph Vissarionovich announced the discovery of an ancient manuscript in an Armenian monastery, consisting of the text of an apparently Platonic dialogue that the scholar interpreted as an appendix of the Republic and entitled Epipoliteia; the scholarly community received this announcement with incredulity. During the War, the manuscript was luckily transported to Berlin, where it was studied and published by the great German philologist Fritz Derselbe, who confijirmed its Platonic origin and that it was part of the Republic on the basis of accurate stylometric evaluations.1 The 1. Plato und Karl Marx, ‘Zukunftphilologie’, 0, 1943, pp. 1–103. Derselbe maintains that the Stranger should be identifijied with a certain Karolus Marx, who is mentioned in the Chronacæ Trevirienses by Scribonius Strictus. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2012 DOI: 10.1163/156920612X634744 192 M. Vegetti / Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 manuscript was subsequently lost and vainly sought by the Soviet army after the invasion of Berlin. A few years later, however, the Greek scholar Aphrodisios Oinotes announced that he had seen the manuscript in a monastery on Mount Athos, although the monks unfortunately did not let him transcribe or take pictures of it (an absurd ban that is still enforced today, which would legitimise an intervention, possibly of military nature, by the international community). Despite these authoritative studies, the authenticity of the text and its identifijication as Book XI of the Republic are still disputed by many scholars, especially Anglo-Saxon ones (see, for example, Annas Julias),2 on the basis of three main arguments: the fact that the Greek tradition reports only ten Books; the historical implausibility of Socrates’s new interlocutor, the ‘Stranger of Trier’; and the philosophical content of the text. Two solutions have been offfered with regard to the fijirst objection. The most convincing one is that the book had been censured and therefore condemned to oblivion by the immediately post-Platonic Academy since the time of Speusippus, due to its ideologically embarrassing content: the theological and conservative attitude of this phase of the Platonic Academy would have largely preferred that the dialogue end with the myths of the afterlife expounded in Book X. The second hypothesis is that the original version of the Republic actually contained ten Books, the last of which contained the text presented in this edition. It would have been substituted with what is currently regarded as Book X, so as to allow a mythico-religious interpretation of the whole dialogue, rather than a political one. This hypothesis has the advantage of explaining the presence of an anomalous book, such as the current Book X, tracing it back to an academic forgery. Still, the opening section of Book XI must be explained, as it is openly polemical against Book X: perhaps it could be a later addition by a minoritarian strand of the Academy that opposed the expunction of our text and its substitution with the bigotry of the new text? The other two objections will be analysed in the following sections. 2. The interlocutors: the Stranger and the young Aristotle The character of the Stranger is introduced by means of the typical features of Platonic irony: the language attributed to him is extremely interesting, often interwoven with barbarisms à la Aristophanes. The interpretation of the expression Trieretes Xenos seems to be more problematic (cf. note 2 to the translation). It seems possible, however, that the Germanic city of Trier had 2. A Communist Fiction: The So-Called Book XI of the Republic, ‘Anoia’ 99, 2004, pp. 1–2. M. Vegetti / Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 193 cultural exchanges with the Greek world, by means of the fluvial ways represented by the Rhine and the Danube, as well as the commercial routes connecting the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. It is conceivable, therefore, that this character was a wise man of Germanic origins, perhaps educated in the Greek environment of Marseille, who was enslaved and subsequently set free from his chains; alternatively, he could have been a trader (possibly working for a rich German known as Federikos Anghelos,3 who exported textiles and metals) and may have had a commercial relationship with Cephalus’s industries – an aspect that would explain his presence in Piræus at the time of the dialogue. In addition, it is well attested that the Thracian festival of Bendis attracted many barbarians of northern origins to Athens.4 The choice of an unknown, barbarian interlocutor is clearly due to the Platonic wish to introduce in the dialogue and its fijictional dimension some new theoretical developments that were unrelated to the Athenian political tradition of the time, in order to highlight their ground-breaking nature; at the same time, however, they are not entirely alien to the spirit of the dialogue (similar cases are often attested, such as in the case of the ‘Eleatic stranger’ or Timæus of Locri). At any rate, it is not possible to exclude entirely that, in the course of the long compositional process of the Republic, Plato may actually have been influenced by non-Greek currents of thought, which arrived in the Hellenic area during the lively exchanges that took place in the fijirst half of the fourth century: these currents were subsequently marginalised and silenced by the progressive prevalence of reactionary, monarchical and authoritarian attitudes, and by the increasing ‘Asiatic’ influence on Greek culture, with its mystical and despotic features. Some remarks must be made regarding the other character introduced in the text, the young Aristotle. His presence in, and precocious influence on, the debates of the Academy has been underlined for a long time in scholarly literature: undisputable testimonies on this question are represented by the critiques of the Republic expounded in Book II of the Politics. His rôle seems to have been so influential that some scholars argue that Plato wrote the Laws in order to respond to these criticisms.5 Plato’s decision to include Aristotle as a 3. An epistolary exchange between the two individuals is attested to and collected in MAGA (Marx und Anghelos Gesammelte Werke), vol. XXX. Giuseppe Mucca, Marx pseudoepigraphus, in ‘Quaderni histerici’ 13, 1913, pp. 13–31, however, regards the correspondence as a forgery (as well as the actual existence of Marx and Anghelos). 4. Cf. on this question S. Pastaldi-Gambese, Bendidie, in M. Vecchietti (ed.) Platone. Repubblica, libro 1, Francopolis, Napoli 1998, pp. 6372–7277. 5. Cf. R. Godéus, Pourquoi Platon a-t-il compose les Lois?, ‘Revue phantastique de Philosophie’, 99, 1999, pp. 9–90. 194 M. Vegetti / Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 character in the last book of the dialogue, and let him express his criticisms in nuce, could be due to the intention to show their one-sidedness even before they were systematically argued by the author, as happened a few decades later. Still, this would not be the only case in which the Academic discussion is represented in the dialogues: the same kind of scenario is undoubtedly presented in the Parmenides and the Sophist.6 3. The development of the argument The appearance on scene of the Stranger, with his radical and provocative criticism, allows Plato to reconsider from a diffferent point of view all the ethico-political questions discussed in the dialogue, which are evoked and questioned in detail. a) In the fijirst place, there is a clarifijication of the meaning of the content presented in Book X, which seems anomalous in relation to the previous developments of the dialogue that analysed the relationship between happiness and justice without resorting to religious-oriented considerations on awards or punishments in the afterlife. The pungent critique of the Stranger, seconded by Thrasymachus as well as timidly by Adeimantus and Glaucon, forces Socrates to clarify that it represented just a rhetorical device exploited in order to convince the ignorant masses to follow justice, even though they are unable to understand the rational reasons to do so; in addition, it provides some consolation for the sorrows sufffered by just men in their worldly life. This educational and consolatory function is harshly defijined by the Stranger as a sort of ‘opium of the people’, as opposed to the need to give to the masses an active and conscious rôle in the process of their own liberation. From here stem two crucial lines of enquiry that re-examine some of the fundamental theoretical tenets of the dialogue: the relation between education and revolution and the question of power. b) While Plato, in the whole dialogue, insisted on the need to educate appropriately the ruling class of the new city, assigning them the task to reform the existing society and rule the future one, the Stranger applies a diametrically opposite approach. The process should not start from the summit but from the base, from the workers on whom the production of social richness depends and whose exploitation permits the enrichment of the ruling class. In this context the Stranger introduces, in his barbaric language, the concept of ‘class’, which was alien to ancient Greek political thought; Socrates is seen to have 6. Cf., with regard to this, F. Testarotta, Mentexis, Scuola normale [sic!] Superiore, 2002, pp. 613–890. M. Vegetti / Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 195 difffijiculties in understanding it, given his habit of considering workers diffferentially on the basis of their professions and technical skills. From this point of view, the educational project on which Plato had insisted so much in the dialogue appears now to be a pale and inefffective ‘reformist’ strategy, which is destined to leave society substantially unaltered and provide only mere appearances of improvement. The Stranger opposes to this scenario the concept of ‘revolution’, indicated by the Greek term neoterismos: a radical upheaval of the social relationships featuring the working class as the protagonist of its own liberation, fijinally able to regain possession of the fruits of their labour and also to be the interpreters of the universal interests of humankind. Only in this way, the Stranger argues, will the ‘evils’ of the city and of the men, whose therapy Plato entrusted exclusively to the philosophers, come to an end. c) From here stems one of the most signifijicant themes of the dialogue, in the context of which the Stranger appears to be in a difffijicult position: this is due to the diffferent, but also somehow convergent, criticisms exposed by Socrates and Thrasymachus, criticisms that focus on the relationship between masses and élites.7 He acknowledges that popular masses – that is, the legitimate subject of the revolution – need to be guided by a minority capable of interpreting its needs and aspirations, a minority that he indicates in his language as a Partei – a ‘party’, imperfectly rendered in Greek by the expression oligon meros.8 Thrasymachus, with the roughness proper to his style, has no difffijiculty in foreseeing that this ‘party’ may turn into an oligarchic tyranny under the influence of the pleonexia of the ‘stronger’ individuals. For his part, Socrates wonders whether there actually would be a substantial diffference between the ‘party’, assuming that its members are exempt from that kind of pleonexia due to their moral and intellectual qualities, and the small group [oligon genos] of the philosophers that he had been describing in Books VI and VII. These philosophers, one should remark, possess those dialectical skills, which exert a defijinite sort of fascination on the Stranger, probably due to his plausible discipleship to Hegelos, a radical innovator of this science in Germanic territories.9 7. On this theme, see the important contribution by L. Naftalina, Comunismo o élitismo?, in ‘Quinterni di Storia’ 2, 2002, p. 2. 8. This thesis argued by the Stranger may be traced back to the influence of the Scythe Vladimiros Leninos, better known under the pseudonyms Abaris or Anakarsis. 9. On the relationship between the Treviranus and the Rhenish wise man, see the fundamental contribution by D. Lomuto, The Book of Truths that Are Incontrovertible and Irrefutable Even by the Most Pernicious Critics, Coricella, Ischia s.d. 196 M. Vegetti / Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 The Stranger has some difffijiculties, as we have seen, in replying to these objections. He accepts that, for a transitory phase, the dictatorship of the people must be structured as a dictatorship of the ‘party’, which however, contrary to Thrasymachus’s observation, is made of a minority of just and virtuous men. Against Socrates, the Stranger refuses to admit a drastic separation between this minority and the masses that they lead, however temporary; on the other hand he does not seem to be able to indicate clearly the relationship between the ‘party’, the government of the city (or state) and the working masses, as is also confijirmed by his shaky references to analogous experiences in Gallic and Scythian areas. However, he must Socratically admit that the question remains open and that the enquiry must continue. d) Much more resolute is the Stranger’s attitude towards the delicate question of the limits of ‘communism’, which is rendered with the pseudoGreek term koinonismos that he coins specifijically for this occasion. In Book V, Plato had famously limited the community of goods and familial relationship to the ruling class, but doubtless the question had been the object of lively discussions within the Academy. According to an extreme collectivistic position that is reported by the Anonymous Athenian (the protagonist of the Laws) in order to rule it out as desirable but impossible,10 this form of communism should have been extended to the whole community of citizens; on the contrary, according to the opposite view maintained by the Academic ‘right wing’ and represented in this text by the fijigure of the young Aristotle, all forms of communism are both impossible and undesirable, as they go against the allegedly fundamental principle of human nature that is the instinct of property. With regard to this point, the Stranger attacks Socrates’s uncertainties and limits expressed in Book V, but does not deny his fundamental sympathy for its basic inspiration, although he argues for a bolder extension of this collectivism to the whole social body. Clearly, his perspective is that of an extreme and radical emancipation of men, and specifijically of workers, from all the bonds of economic and social subordination; this position difffers from the platonic one in that it assumes as its fundamental ground not an ethico- 10. This passage shows how Plato was aware of the objections formulated in his own school against the partial ‘communism’ theorised in the Republic, objections that were communicated abroad by some of his disciples, as demonstrated by the Cretan reference mentioned by the Stranger. According to M. Vecchietti, the leader of this opposition was the Pythagorean conservative Philip of Opus, well-known for his theocratic leanings; the very composition of the Laws should be attributed to him, as in that text the Platonic thesis of a collectivism that could potentially be extended to all citizens is mentioned only to be discarded. Allegedly Philip was also close to Aristotle, who not by chance considered the Laws much more preferable to the Republic. On the whole question, see M. Vecchietti, Unwritten and Extravagant Pages, Levanto s.d. M. Vegetti / Historical Materialism 20.1 (2012) 191–197 197 political theory but an economic interpretation of history and society as a struggle between working class and owners. e) The great myth of the ‘ghost’ (or ‘spectre’) of communism is certainly formulated by the Stranger as an ironic reply to the Socratic myths, especially to that of the afterlife presented in Republic, Book X. It contains and expresses, more efffectively than theoretical analyses, the perspectives and wishes of liberation evoked by the Treviranus and, in a sense, represents the summary and manifesto of his thought.11 The mythical form employed by the Stranger obtains, perhaps exactly due to its formal characteristics, one of his most signifijicant achievements: Socrates expresses his consensus [homologia] on the contents of the myth and expresses his hope of employing, one day, Thrasymachus’s theory of power to the benefijit of a project of universal liberation, rather than to that of tyrannical oppression. This perspective of reconciliation, in a utopian fashion, represents an adequate conclusion of the great dialogue: it remains a ‘one-thousand-year journey’, as in the conclusion of Book X – but in this case the journey is not one between this world and the afterlife but, rather, one leading towards a better world for the history of humankind. Translated by Tosca Lynch 11. A critical analysis of this myth is formulated by G. Blush and T. Bliar, Ghost-stories and Ghost-busters, Hollywood-Baghdad 2004. Lively replies to these critiques have been recently discussed in an international forum hosted in a clandestine location (I want to express my gratitude to the organisers, with regard to whose identity I am bound to maintain silence, for having confijidentially sent me the Proceedings of the meeting). Copyright of Historical Materialism is the property of Brill Academic Publishers and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. Copyright of Historical Materialism is the property of Brill Academic Publishers and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
The Dialogues as Dramatic Rehearsal: Plato's Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor ALBERT R. SPENCER Portland State University IN JOHN DEWEY & MORAL IMAGINATION, Steven Fesmire blames "Plato's low estimation of imagination in tbe Republic and Ion" for tbe denigration of imagination's role in moral deliberation (6i). He argues tbat Jobn Dewey's dramatic rehearsal better integrates imagination into the process of moral deliberation. His treatment of Plato represents a babit among pragmatists to reduce Dewey's reading of Plato to tbe polemics present in major works, sucb as The Quest for Certainty. In fact, Plato was Dewey's favorite philosopher, and be claimed tbat "[n]otbing could be more belpful to present pbilosopbizing tban a 'Back to Plaro' movement" (LW 5:154).' Following tbe scbolarsbip of Jobn Herman Randall and Henry Wolz reveals Plato as a moral artist enga^ged in a project of social reconstruction wbo wrote tbe dialogues as dramatic rebearsals of particular bistorical and cultural problems, specifically Atbenian begemony and Sophistic education. From tbis perspective. Republic Book I dramatizes tbe inadequacy of tbe moral accounting metaphor critiqued by George Lakoff and Mark Jobnson and experiments witb metapbors sympatbetic to Fesmire's construal of moral imagination. According to Fesmire, Dewey contends all inquiry requires imagination and tbat moral deliberation demands attention to tbe aestbetic dimension of imagination because of tbe affective nature of moral value. Tbis places Dewey in company witb Adam Smitb and David Hume wbo accepted tbe role of imagination and sentiment, and at odds witb Immanuel Kant and Plato wbo suspected emotions and imagination as barriers to rational inquiry: Imagination, on tbis view, is usually a trusty crafter of images but is given to miscbief Tbus Kant's suspicion. Imagination as reflective free play is essential to aesthetic judgment, for Kant, but in morals it is too self-indulgent. It may sap moral strength, usurping Reason and yielding THE PLURALIST Volume 8, Number 2 Summet 2013 : pp. 26-35 ©2013 by the Board of Trustees of che University of Illinois SPENCER : Plato's Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor 27 victory to Feeling. If a person "surrenders authority over himself, his imagination has free play," Kant claims. "He cannot discipline himself, but his imagination carries him away by the laws of association; he yields willingly to his senses, and, unable to curb them, he becomes their toy." Doing one's duty, on Kant's view, requires little imagination; therefore "its cultivation is at best a luxury, at worst a danger." Despite eulogizing of imagination by Adam Smith and David Hume, Enlightenment faculty psychology, following the lead of Plato's low estimation of imagination in the Republic and Ion, is responsible for imagination's being ignored even by those who urge that moral theories must be psychologically plausible. As a limited capacity prone to frivolous fancy and opposed to reason, imagination has little relevance to practical issues. So it can be dismissed altogether as a prescientific relic or, transfigured by Romanticism, admired on a pedestal as a "godlike power that enters into the world on the wings of intuition, free of the taint of contingency and history." (Fesmire 61-62) Instead, Fesmire prefers Dewey's concept of dramatic rehearsal because it properly values imagination and better coheres with our experience of moral deliberation. Rather than committing to a specific normative theory and always acting in accordance with it, Dewey argues that deliberation works best when we actively use our imagination to rehearse and evaluate a variety of responses and possible outcomes (70). Fesmire also references the four most common modes of dramatic rehearsal that Dewey mentions in his 1900—1901 lectures on ethics, specifically dialogue, visualization of results, visualization of their performance, and imagination of possible criticism (74). By consciously recognizing the role of imagination in the process of deliberation and flexing among the various phases and modes of rehearsal, Fesmire and Dewey believe that we can reconstruct "frustrated habits" that perpetuate moral problems and scenarios that seem intractable (78). Fesmire suggests that the moral artist provides opportunities to practice dramatic rehearsal through the creation of works of art that engage our imagination. He lists the characteristics of the successful moral artist as follows. First, she must perceive "relations that otherwise go unnoticed." Second, she must create works that "transform cultural perceptions" through "an ongoing experiment with novel possibilities." Third, she must coherently express moral experience in a manner that presents "overall character rather than blindly giving way to either custom or fleeting impulse," thus "such acts become role models." Fourth, she possesses "delicately refined skills [emphasis added]" judged not by the "quantity of possibilities available to imagination. 28 THE PLURALIST 8 : 2 2OI3 but their fittedness to the situation for wise deliberation." Finally, the moral artist communicates with an audience by anticipating their reception of a work in a way that "enables a dialectical interaction that gives point and focus to art" (115-18). At flrst blush, tne dialogues and Plato meet the criteria of both Dewey's four modes of dramatic rehearsal and Fesmire's characteristics of the moral artist. The dialogues use conversation as a means of exploring moral problems, and Plato uses dramatic irony to highlight the consequences of specific moral opinions as represented by the fate of recognizable interlocutors. His ability to create works of art that continue to challenge cultural perceptions should qualify Plato as a moral artist. Fesmire does highlight two points of continuity between Plato and Dewey. He suggests that the Statesman reveals Plato's awareness that rigid moral laws cannot keep up with the pace of constant social change. This awareness parallels Dewey's arguments in Human Nature and Conduct that moral habits, like laws, emerge from human interaction with our social environment and must adapt to changing social conditions (17). Fesmire also concedes that Dewey and Plato agree on the intrinsic value of justice, but distinguishes Dewey as conceiving "right action as cooperative social interaction and inclusive of growth, not in terms of a harmonious soul in which reason rules appetites" (99). By contrast, the majority of Fesmire references to Plato are usually critical. He acknowledges that Plato was the first to address the "moral power of art" to "directly and literally contribute to the moral imagination and character," but he criticizes Plato's understanding of this relationship as "psychologically simplistic" and as the source of Socrates's infamous arguments supporting censorship in Books II and III of the Republic.^ Furthermore, Plato fails to use art as a metaphor for moral experience. Fesmire cites George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's criticism of the "dominant moral accounting metaphor, in which moral interactions are understood as business transactions" and he agrees with their claim that Dewey provides a "wealth of alternative metaphors," specifically "organic growth, evolutionary adaptation, scientific experimentation, technological innovation, and art (no)."' Lakoff and Johnson correctly condemn Western philosophy's overdependence on the moral accounting metaphor. Furthermore, Fesmire provides a much needed alternative to contemporary ethics by re-introducing Dewey's concept of dramatic rehearsal, but must Plato be a foil to contemporary pragmatism or can we imagine a different relationship with the first author of philosophy? Fesmire correctly diagnoses the denigration of imagination as originating with Platonism, but this denigration originates from a literal SPENCER : Plato's Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor 29 analysis of the arguments presented by Socrates in the dialogues. It stems from an inability to imagine Plato as an artist, rather than a theorist, and Dewey struggled to overcome this lack of imagination throughout his entire career. One of the first essays to examine Dewey's complex reading of Plato is John P. Anton's "John Dewey and Ancient Philosophies." Anton focuses on three aspects of Dewey's relation to Greek philosophy: the "polemic," the "historico-contextual," and the "cumulative aspect" (477).'' According to Anton, the "sustained historical analyses he presented in his Questfor Certainty and Reconstruction in Philosophy are so dominated by a central philosophical and ethical concern of his social pragmatism as to mislead the reader into concluding that this is all he had to offer by way of understanding and appreciating the classical heritage." Because Dewey's most explicit commentary on Greek philosophy attempts to overcome barriers to philosophical inquiry, specifically the misapplication of ancient theories to contemporary problems, one is tempted to reduce Dewey's criticism only to its polemic aspect. Anton argues that a more accurate treatment of Dewey's approach accepts his admonishment of dualism and leisure class theory, without ignoring his "avowed sympathy with Plato" as a fellow social reformer (477-79). On one hand, Dewey was impressed by the degree of social awareness expressed in the dialogues and Plato's commitment to and aptitude for social reform. On the other hand, Dewey was cautious and skeptical of "the static features he read into Plato's ideals," what one might refer to as the Plato of Platonism. Anton points out other areas of kinship between Dewey and Plato, specifically seeing "art as imitation," seeing "intelligence as a method rather than a collection of finished outcomes," and seeing "philosophy in a wider meaning of a critique of institutions and a fundamental way of hfe." Thus, while key differences exist, specifically "on issues of metaphysics, ethics, logic, or aesthetics," the two philosophers are united by their desire for social reform and similar temperament (487—91). Ultimately, Anton's assessment of Dewey's approach to Greek philosophy is unsympathetic. He claims that while Dewey had the potential to offer a fruitful pragmatic analysis of ancient thought, his obsession with contemporary problems prevented him from developing an accurate picture of classical philosophy. Essentially, the polemic aspect of Dewey's approach hinders his attempts to produce a valid historico-cultural account of ancient thought and obscures the continuity between Plato and Dewey (Anton 498—99). Frederick M. Anderson offers a more charitable assessment when he suggests that Dewey uses polemics so that ancient philosophy might disclose itself in its 3O THE PLURALIST 8 : 2 2OI3 original richness free of received, modern interpretations. He argues that Dewey sees the problems of Greek philosophy as emerging from specific historicoctiltural influences and that modern philosophers misinterpreted as necessary and intractable. Dewey believed the topics discussed by the ancients are not perennial; they are reflections of specific human concerns embodied within the fabric of Athenian intellectual culture (Anderson 87-88). In summation, both Anton and Anderson agree that Dewey sees the authentic Plato as an expression of the cultural need for reform. A more useful middle view can be distilled from Anton's and Anderson's commentaries. The polemics against the Greeks in Dewey's major works border on the hyperbolic because he wanted to dislodge interpretations of Plato that overemphasized metaphysical dualisms and leisure class values as necessary to present inquiry. Using Dewey's own words, a convenient label for this interpretation would be Plato as the "original university professor," however, he preferred the "dramatic, restless, cooperatively inquiring Plato of the Dialogues, trying one mode of attack after another to see what it might yield . . . the Plato whose highest flights of metaphysics always terminated with a social and practical turn" (LW 5:155). Thus, the dramatic Plato uses the drama of the dialogues to experiment with different lines of inquiry in relation to specific practical problems, whereas Professor Plato invents abstract theories relevant to perennial, yet imagined philosophical problems. Sadly, Dewey never fully articulated his interpretation of the dramatic Plato. He wrote only two essays that provided extended commentaries on the dialogues. "The Ethics of Democracy" (1888) rebuts Sir Henry Maine's Platoesque critique of democracy as a "numerical aggregate" and "The Socratic Dialogues of Plato" (1925) presents an interesting, but quirky treatment of the Socratic problem. Both essays demonstrate Dewey's affinity for Plato, but neither presents a developed hermeneutical approach to the dialogues for which Dewey longs. He delivers his final word on the matter in "Experience, Knowledge, and Value: A Rejoinder" (1939) when he states in response to John Herman Randall's "Dewey's Interpretation of the History of Philosophy" that "I believe the factors of the existing cultural situation . . . are such that philosophical theories which in effect, . . . are products of pre-scientific and pre-technological, dominantly leisure class conditions, are now as obstructive as they are unnecessary" (LW 14:11) Given the phase of his career, Dewey probably decided to focus on more pressing concerns rather than fully articulate his affinity for Plato, and instead delivered a final warning against the spectator theory of knowledge, but Dewey does not directly dispute Randall's claim that the history of philosophy can be SPENCER : Plato's Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor 31 used instrumentally "as an arsenal, or as a warning" (Randall, Philosophy offohn Dewey 79). In Plato: Dramatist of the Life of Reason, Randall develops tbe tbree cbaracteristics of tbe dramatic Plato (drama, experiment, and practice) tbat Dewey outlines. Randall contends tbat Plato is not a bistorical pbilosopber, but "a poet and a dramatist," wbicb be explains as follows: "Plato is a pbilosopber because be is a poet. True pbilosopby is poetry—poetic insigbt and vision, tbe imaginative enbancement of life." In tbe dialogues, Plato dramatically depicts tbe "qualities of man's tbinking, tbe play and conflict of bis ideas, tbe spectacle of bis mind" as embodied in tbe "discourse of men" or "tbe drama of tbe Life of Reason." Tbe dialogues do not defend or analyze pbilosopbical tbeories. Tbey convert individuals to tbe pbilosopbical life (Randall, Plato: Dramatist-^-4). Tbe dialogues are not meant to be an accurate bistorical snapsbot of ancient Greece, but a presentation of "Greece in Plato's own perspective, Greece as be understood it, bow Greece and Greek culture looked to bim" (Randall, Plato: Dramatist •^6-46). Randall prefers to speak in terms of "Tbe Greek Heritage of Plato," tbat is, tbe patterns of tbougbts and values tbat be inberited from Greek culture, early Greek pbilosopbers, tbe Sophists, Socrates, and Plato's audience. Randall believes tbat Plato's use of drama captures tbis combination of curiosity and bumanism to recruit nom as a means of orienting buman nature toward tbe Good Life. Drama allows Plato to express bow tbese tbemes sbape tbe life of reason. Tbus, "tbe dialogues emerge, not as programs of action, but as dramatic portrayals of tbe life of tbe mind—of tbe follies, contradictions, entbusiasms, and greatness of buman tbinking, as bebeld by a detacbed and ironic intelligence—by nous. Dramatic Reason" (Randall, Plato: Dramatist 54). Plato bopes to impart tbe value of tbe pbilosopbical life and to inspire bis audience to participate in it so tbat tbey migbt improve tbemselves in tbe bope of finding fulfillment. Tbe dialogues are not presentations of pbilosopbical tbeories; tbey are invitations to engage in tbe betterment of bumanity tbrougb inquiry and conversation. Randall continues by explaining bow Plato uses drama to respond to tbe social and cultural cballenges of tbe Periclean Age (Randall, Plato: Dramatist 58-65). During tbe century preceding Plato's career, Atbens experienced optimism in tbe form of imperial expansion and begemony. Tbis expansion enabled social mobility, and tbe Sophists met tbe aristocracy's desire to maintain power and the need of tbe new rieb to access greater political privileges by teacbing arete or success. Wbile some of tbe original Sopbists advocated "bigb ideals" like "professional standards" or tbe improvement of "social con- 32 THE PLURALIST 8 : 2 2OI3 dirions," they quickly became "commercialized" and began to teach methods of gaining political advantage. Randall argues that Plato and Socrates saw the cynicism underneath this veneer of careerism and start teaching and writing as a response to the Sophists (Randall, Plato: Dramatist 81-84). Randall contrasts them with Socrates. He suggests that Socrates's actual teachings were broader than a set of dogmas and that his purpose for engaging in philosophy was not to know the Good in a systematic way.^ Socrates teaches his students how to philosophize; he does not teach a philosophy. He postulates the Forms and the Good for the purpose of revealing to his students the bias and prejudices that prevent them from thinking better about the practical challenges they face. Students gain excellence, areté, not through skillful rhetoric or seeking personal advantage, but through a love of wisdom and the practice of critical reflection—through imitating the life that Socrates leads, loving wisdom for its own sake—rather than teaching it for profit. Plato uses the character of Socrates dramatically to demonstrate how his readers can benefit from philosophical reflection and to initiate critical reflection within the reader. Henry Wolz elaborates on Randall's conception of the dialogues as philosophical drama. Wolz sees two phases at work in the dialogues: the destructive phase in which the interlocutor becomes aware of his ignorance, w.iich then initiates the constructive phase of inquiry that gives birth to new insights. In both phases, Socrates avoids presenting his own views because doing so would undermine his students' attempts at philosophy. Thus, the goal of the Socratic Method is to empower the student to engage in philosophy, and by dramatizing philosophical inquiry, Plato's dialogues empower his readers to engage in philosophy. Wolz cites Crito as an example of how the dialogues stimulate reflection rather than indoctrination. It presents the philosophical conflict between "radical freedom and unconditional submission" that "reside in the same mind [Socrates]" (Wolz 238—48).'' Good citizenship requires the ability to negotiate these two demands and by depicting their conflict within the character of Socrates; rather than in separate characters, the reader witnesses a single character dramatically rehearse the problem. By extension, the drama of the situation inspires the reader to think critically about the place of citizenship between radical freedom and submission. Thus, dialogues allow Plato to dramatize moral deliberation within a practical context. He teaches readers how to perceive their situations and imagine multiple solutions in response to a particular problem. Socrates might recommend a specific solution, but Plato depicts a variety of strategies and allows the reader to evaluate all of them critically. He does not present them dogmatically SPENCER : Plato's Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor 33 In fact. Republic Book I dramatically critiques the dominance of the moral accounting metaphor. Plato sets the dialogue at the height of Athens's imperial hegemony in the city of Piraeus, the base of the commercial and military navy. The subsequent conversation occurs at the home of Cephalus, a foreigner from Syracuse who became one of the wealthiest members of Athenian society through the manufacture of shields. Plato frames this discussion of justice with a setting symbolic of a society dominated by the moral accounting metaphor. Furthermore, Athens will soon overextend itself in the 2nd Peloponnesian War and be conquered by Sparta. As an artist, Plato chooses the temporal and spatial setting of the dialogue to reflect the failure of this metaphor to provide moral guidance for individuals and the city-state. The opening conversation between Cephalus and Socrates directly calls the moral accounting metaphor into question. The aged Cephalus has spent the day sponsoring sacrifices, which Adeimantus will later describe as an economic transaction with the gods for the purpose of atonement (Plato 364c). Ever the gadfly, Socrates asks Cephalus three probing questions: What is it like to be old? How did you become so wealthy? and What is the greatest benefit of wealth? (328e-33od). Cephalus takes Socrates's philosophical bait when he answers that wealth removes some of the temptation to "cheat or deceive someone against our will" and allows us to die without the fear of owing a "sacrifice to a god or money to a person" (331b). This reference to sacrifice as a means of easing one's conscience before death foreshadows and alludes to the final words of Socrates in the Phaedo and a subtle contrast emerges between Cephalus and Socrates as potential role-models for different life paths. Cephalus models the metaphor of moral accounting whereas Socrates models the metaphor of the love of wisdom. Glaucon reinforces this contrast when he contrasts between the perfecdy unjust man, Gyges, who uses a ring of invisibility to privately commit injustice while publicly maintaining a reputation for justice, and the perfecdy just man who lives ethically, but is publicly reviled (Plato 36oc-36id). Cephalus could be a candidate for the perfecdy unjust man who commits injustice to achieve his ends but dies without moral debts through a life of shrewd moral transaction, and Socrates's execution for impiety by the state certainly qualifies him as a candidate for the perfecdy just man. When we consider Cephalus and Socrates at the end of their lives, Socrates dies content and peaceful, confident in a life well lived, whereas Cephalus has achieved everything he wanted, but approaches death desperately trying to ease a guilty conscience.^ This segue into the dialogue is thick with references to the moral accounting metaphor and links them to the discussion of justice and ethics. Socrates critiques the metaphor 34 THE PLURALIST 8 : 2 2OI3 directly when he refutes the claim that justice is "to give to each what is owed to him," a definition presented by Cephalus but quickly bequeathed to his heir Polemarchus (33idc). By implying this contrast without direct comment, Plato undermines the moral accounting metaphor, and the remainder of the dialogue is an exploration of other possible metaphors for moral deliberation. The key metaphor of the Republic is the city-soul analogy, that is, that a link exists between public justice and personal morality (Plato 369a). Ultimately, Socrates supports this connection through an appeal to the metaphysical unity of the forms, but a more Deweyan interpretation would see Socrates as insisting that the "individual and society are organic to each other" (EW 1:237). Clearly, Dewey believes that the metaphors of democracy are superior to the metaphors of aristocracy, but Dewey always admired Plato's dialogues as works of moral imagination. He claimed that "if they had no value for philosophical reasons," and the harshest interpretation of Dewey's polemics might reach that conclusion, "the Republic would be immortal as the summary of all that was best and most permanent in Greek life, of its ways of thinking and feeling, and of its ideals" (EW 1:240). Dewey designed his polemics against Plato to demolish specific entrenched interpretations that buried the novelty of Plato's reconstruction of his historical context. Now those polemics should be set aside, lest they become barriers to future inquiry. By appropriating Plato as a moral artist, rather than a theorist, and reading the dialogues as dramatic rehearsals of moral problems, rather than philosophical arguments, we can connect with the Plato that inspired Dewey and use the dialogues to broaden our own imaginations. NOTES I. It should be noted that the publication of Dewey's lost manuscript. Unmodern and Modem Philosophy, occurred during the editing of this article. In this work, Dewey fleshes out his mature assessment of Greek philosophy, and it confirms that Dewey's reading of the Greeks, particularly Plato, is rich and nuanced. According to its editor, Phillip Deen, the manuscript would have been written between 1941-1943, which is immediately after Dewey's response to John Herman Randall's "Dewey's Interpretation of the History of Philosophy" in 1939. Thus, the manuscript stands as Dewey's final words on the subject. However, incorporating the manuscript into the debate between John Anton and Frederick Anderson or comparing the genealogy of Greek philosophy that Dewey presents to either Randall's genealogy of Plato's dialogues in Plato: Dramatist ofthe Life ofReason or Henry Wolz's reading ofthe dialogues as philosophical drama merit separate articles. With regard to the present inquiry, the manuscript supports this article's thesis that Dewey scholarship has underappreciated Dewey's affinity for the Platonic dialogues, and their influence on his work should be reassessed. SPENCER : Plato's Republic and the Moral Accounting Metaphor 35 2. See also Plato, Republic 378cd, 380c, 401a, and 4Oide. 3. See also LakofFand Johnson 141. 4. See also Betz. 5. See also Wallach. 6. Wolz also notes the Greek convention of using drama as moral education, for example, Sophocles's Antigone, and contends that Plato's dialogues are another example of this convention. 7. Consider Socrates's final words in the Phaedo: "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius; make this offering to him and do not forget" (Plato ii8a) in comparison to Cephalus's statement "that when someone thinks his end is near, he becomes frightened and concerned about things he didn't fear before" (33od). Socrates greets death peacefully and asks his students to offer a single and meager final sacrifice to the god of healing, whereas Cephalus hints that he has troubled dreams and quickly exits the dialogue to continue the sacrifices he has already been performing throughout the day. Given these last words and behaviors, it appears that Socrates goes to his grave with a clearer conscience than Cephalus. Also, Phaedo and Republic are conventionally considered to be ftom the same phase of Plato's career and address similar philosophical themes. See Ruprecht. REFERENCES Anderson, Frederick M. "Dewey's Experiment with Greek Philosophy." Intemational Philosophical Quarterly 7.1 (1967): 86-100. Anton, John P. "John Dewey and Ancient Philosophies." Philosophy andPhenomenological Research 25.4 (1965): 477-99. Betz, Joseph. "Dewey and Socrates." Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 16.4 (1980): 329-56. Dewey, John. The Collected Works of John Dewey: The Electronic Edition. Ed. Larry A. Hickman. Charlottesville, VA: Intelex Corporation, 1996. [cited in text as Early Works (EW), Middle Works (MW), or Later Works (LW), followed by volume:page number] Fesmire, Steven./oÄ« Dewey & Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2003. LakofF, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: U oFGhicago P, 1980. Plato. Plato: Complete Works. Ed. John Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. [cited in text using Stephanus pagination by number and section] Randall, John Herman. "Dewey's Interpretation of the History of Philosophy." The Philosophy of John Dewey. Ed Paul Arthur Schlipp. New York: Tudor, 1951. jj—ioz. . Plato: Dramatist of the Life of Reason. New York: Columbia UP, 1970. Ruprecht, Louis A., Jr. Symposia: Plato, the Erotic, and Moral Value. Albany: State U of New York P, 1999. Wallach, John R. The Platonic Political Art: A Study of Critical Reason and Democracy. University Park: Penn State UP, 2001. Wolz, Henry G. "Philosophy as Drama: An Approach to the Dialogues of Plato." International Philosophical Quarterly 3.2 (1963): 236-70. Copyright of Pluralist is the property of University of Illinois Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Robert Prus University of Waterloo, Canada Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Abstract Plato may be best known as a philosopher, but his depictions of people’s involvements in religion are important for social scientists not only because of the transcultural and transhistori- A lthough Plato (420-348 BCE) is widely ac- as well as Islamic theology.3 Still, of much greater knowledged as a philosopher and frequently consequence for our immediate purposes are (a) is referenced as an idealist as well as a theologian, the linkages that Plato develops between religion Plato’s texts are only marginally known to sociol- and social order (as in notions of justice, morality, ogists and most others in the social sciences. As virtue, and government), (b) people’s interrelated part of the task of reconnecting Greek and contemporary scholarship in a broader study of the development of Western social thought,1 the present paper focuses on Plato’s contributions to the study cal resources that they offer those in the sociology of religion, but also because of their more of human knowing and acting by using religion as general pragmatist contributions to the study of human group life. a more sustained point of reference.2 Thus, although Plato (a) exempts religion from a more thorough going dialectic analysis of the sort to which he subjects many other realms of human knowing and acting (e.g., truth, Whereas the more distinctively theological materi- justice, courage, rhetoric), (b) explicitly articulates and encourages theological viewpoints in als that Plato introduces in Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, some of his texts, and (c) sometimes writes as though things can be known only as ideal types or pure forms in an afterlife existence, Plato also (d) engages a number of consequential pragmatist (also pluralist, secular) aspects of people’s experiences with religion. In developing his materials on religion, Plato rejects the (popular) notions of the Olympian thagoras (580-500 BCE), our interests are much more directly related to Plato’s considerations of divinity to be mindful of Plato’s notions of divinity when considering the more distinctively socio- as a community experienced phenomenon than his logical matters he addresses (as in the problematics of promoting and maintaining religious notions of religion per se. religion, morality, and deviance). Still, each of the four texts introduced here assume significantly different emphases and those interested in the study of human group life should be prepared to adjust accordingly as they examine these statements. All four texts are consequential for a broader “sociology of religion,” but Timaeus and Phaedo are notably more theological in emphases whereas Republic and Laws provide more extended insight into religion as a humanly engaged realm of endeavor. The paper concludes with an abbreviated comparison of Plato’s notions of religion with Chicago-style symbolic interactionist (Mead 1934; Blumer 1969; Prus 1996; 1997; 1999; Prus and Grills 2003) approaches to the study of religion. Addressing some related matters, an epilogue briefly draws attention to some of the affinities of Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life with Plato’s analysis of religion. Herbert Mead; Morality; Deviance; Republic; Laws; Timaeus; Phaedo is a sociologist at the University of losophy and its sociological offshoot, symbolic inter- Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. A symbolic in- actionism, with Classical Greek, Roman, and interim teractionist, ethnographer, and social theorist, Robert European scholarship. Prus has been examining the conceptual and meth- email address: odological connections of American pragmatist phi©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 Many of the conceptions of religion that Plato introduces are strikingly parallel with notions of divinity developed within Judaic and Christian, This paper represents part of a larger pragmatist study of human knowing and acting from the classical Greek era (700-300 BCE) to the present time. The larger project traverses a wide array of scholarly endeavors including poetics, rhetoric, theology, history, education, politics, and philosophy (see Prus 2003a; 2004; 2006; 2007a; 2007b; 2007c; 2008a; 2008b; 2008c; 2009a; 2009b; 2010; 2011a; 2011b; 2011c; 2011d; 2011e; 2012; Puddephatt and Prus 2007; Prus and Burk 2010; Prus and Camara 2010). 1 While this paper focuses on Plato’s analysis of religion, Plato’s contributions to the study of human knowing and acting are much more extensive than suggested herein. Thus, readers are referred to interactionist considerations of Plato’s works as these pertain to causality, agency, and reality (Puddephatt and Prus 2007), poetics (i.e., fiction; Prus 2009a), love and friendship (Prus and Camara 2010), education and scholarship (Prus 2011a), morality, deviance, and regulation (Prus 2011c). This is not to deny Plato’s structuralist, idealist, and moralist emphases, but to acknowledge his much overlooked contributions to pragmatist scholarship. Plato’s considerations of the human condition are less consistently pluralist, secular, and pragmatist than those of his pupil Aristotle (384-322 BCE), but Plato’s work remains foundational to pragmatist thought in a great many respects. 2 Keywords Plato; Religion; Pragmatism; Sociology; Symbolic Interactionism; Emile Durkheim; George 6 gious viewpoints of Socrates (469-399 BCE) and Py- gods described by Homer and Hesiod as mythical as well as sacrilegious. Still, it is instructive viewpoints on both collective and individual levels and discussions of the interlinkages of Robert Prus and Laws have been developed mindfully of the reli- involvements in religion, deviance and control, education and scholarship, and poetics and entertainment, and (c) Plato’s more pervasive philosophic (and sociological) conceptions of human knowing and acting (including people’s multiple and shifting perspectives on religion). Thus, while acknowledging the more specific religious beliefs that Plato introduces in these texts,4 Because Plato’s works predate Christian and Islamic theology, as well as much of the recorded Judaic text, one can make the case that all three of these theologies were influenced by Greek thought in the broader eastern Mediterranean arena. 3 As a more general caveat, it should be recognized that while Plato often appears to adhere to the theological position he assigns to Socrates and his kindred speakers in Timaeus, Phaedo, and Republic and to the Athenian speaker in Laws, Plato’s texts are characterized by a broader set of tensions. Thus, in addition to some of the (a) idealist, (b) skepticist, (c) poetical, and (d) pragmatist viewpoints that Plato introduces in his considerations of religion in these texts, Plato’s (Socratic) notions of religion are presented in the midst of concerns with (e) establishing a functional political order, (f) placing philosophers in governing positions in these states, and (g) intensifying human quests for justice, virtue, and wisdom on both community and more individual levels. Plato clearly rejects the images of the gods developed by the Greek poets Homer and Hesiod, but his speakers generally profess clear notions of divinity. Likewise, Plato’s speakers appear adamant about the pragmatist value of religion as a mechanism for generating social order. Still, in his dialogues more generally, Plato (via Socrates) often questions human abilities to know anything. Although this latter position presumably would include (and would invalidate) Socratic, as well as any other claims regarding a divine essence(s), Plato clearly does not subject religion to the same sort of dialectic analysis with which he addresses other features of, or claims about, community life. It is mindful of these contradictions that Nietzsche (Zuckert 1996) argues that Plato primarily uses religion as a means of seeking personal prominence in the political arena (i.e., as a cloak of authority in the “lust for power”). We do not know if Nietzsche (who more openly craves for power) is correct in his claims about Plato, but there are many points at which Plato seems much more concerned about the pragmatic/integrative features of religion for the community than promoting any particular set of beliefs. It also may be the case that Plato had mixed views on religion. Thus, whereas Plato (a) may have followed Socrates in 4 Qualitative Sociology Review • 7 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Timaeus 6 the emphasis is on issues such as: (a) the ways that style of presentation and about the importance of fol- Plato appears concerned about articulating viable people deal with the unknown; (b) when and how lowing the flows of his texts in more patient ways. conceptions of divinity in all four of these texts and people invoke, formulate, promote, question, defend, Thus, whereas Plato’s student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) has developed various aspects of his philosophy and reject notions of divinity; (c) how people incor- writes in a particularly direct and exceptionally com- around this objective. Nevertheless, to his “socio- porate religion into their life-worlds ‒ as in routines, pacted analytic style, Plato develops his analyses in logical” credit, Plato also recognizes the problemat- identities, relationships, emotionalities, and the like; conversational formats. Nevertheless, Plato’s texts are ic, socially engaged nature of community life within and (d) how people manage notions of religion, mo- still remarkably systematic and offer extraordinary which people’s notions of divinity take shape. find much in Timaeus that is consistent with Stoic rality, and deviance on a day to day basis. conceptual depth. Timaeus and Phaedo Christian, and Islamic theology also are apt to find For those less familiar with Plato’s works, it may be In developing this paper, I have tried to stay close to observed that his texts are presented as dialogues in the specific conversational flows that Plato develops Although not intended as a set, Timaeus and Phaedo sequential aspects of these religions. which his speakers (of whom Socrates [469-399 BCE] in each of these texts, referencing his materials in provide instructive introductions to Plato’s notions often assumes the central role) engage wide ranges “chapter and verse.” This way, readers might bet- of religion. Further, prior to the Renaissance (1400- of topics pertinent to one or another aspect of hu- ter appreciate the overall ordering of his dialogues, 1600 CE), Timaeus provided the primary source of man existence. In dealing with their subject matters, as well as more readily locate particular sections of contact for Western scholars with Plato’s texts (see Plato’s speakers typically introduce and consider these texts for further examination. Plato: The Collected Works 1997:1224-1225). Even now, conceptually diverse sets of standpoints on the matters at hand. As well, although much of the analysis may seem delayed in the present paper, it is important to es- many who read Timaeus are apt not to have read Republic and often focus instead on the creation story and the related notions of divinity addressed within tablish Plato’s position in some detail before devel- ers typically leave questions unresolved in the end. oping an analytic commentary. This way, by treat- Nevertheless, Plato’s speakers are concerned about ing Plato’s texts as ethnohistorical documents, read- Nevertheless, Timaeus contains a mixture of theologi- defining their terms of reference and generally pur- ers will be better able to participate in, assess, and cal and philosophical materials. Relatedly, while the sue topics in highly reflective terms. As well, be- possibly extend the analysis. Relatedly, because of theological matters are clearly more speculatively in cause his speakers often engage their subject matters the claims I make in this paper, it is Plato’s analysis quality and some other “claims of fact” are clearly in extended, discerning, and comparative analytic of human group life rather than my commentary unsubstantiated, some of the philosophic concepts manners, those who are patient and thoughtful can that is central here. introduced in Timaeus are notably sophisticated and dressed by attending the subtopics that the speakers To put Plato’s “sociology of religion” in context, it is consider along the way. instructive to examine the theological position Plato Before we engage these texts more directly, it also a humanly engaged process. After addressing some may be instructive to caution readers about Plato’s of the more central features of Plato’s theology as matters of theology, it is possible that he also (b) was skeptical of theology as a scholar/dialectician, and yet (c) as a social theorist recognized that religion was a consequential feature of community life and (d) as a community planner and moralist valued the integrative features of any religion. While more overtly writing as a theologian, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) also appears to have struggled with somewhat parallel matters as both a highly astute dialectician and a most exceptional student of Aristotle’s texts. 8 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 represents prior to his broader analysis of religion as Timaeus. are apt to have contributed to a distinctively pluralist, dialectic or inquisitive emphasis on the nature of existence and the matters of human knowing and acting on the part of theologians as well as secular scholars over the centuries. expressed in Timaeus and Phaedo, this statement fo- As will become apparent later, the emphasis in Pha- cuses on Plato’s depictions of people’s involvements edo is notably different than that of Timaeus. Still, in in religious matters in Republic and Laws.5 addition to providing some insight into the charac- Given the references that Plato makes to Republic within Timaeus, Timaeus appears to have been written after Republic, but Republic and Laws more fully address religion as a humanly engaged process. 5 ences to several of Plato’s philosophic notions, it also represents Plato’s most focused theological statement. Those familiar with Stoic theology will religion.7 However, readers familiar with Judaic, many congruities between Plato’s Timaeus and con- To the frustration of many readers, Plato’s speak- glean much insight into the overarching issues ad- Whereas Timaeus [TS] contains important refer- ter of Socrates that Plato establishes for his readers, Phaedo deals with another popular Western religious theme ‒ the immortality of the soul. The present statement is based on the translation of Timaeus developed by Benjamin Jowett (1937). 6 Stoicism (from Zeno of Citium [334-262 BCE]) ‒ no preserved text remains; emerged as a philosophic position in Athens (circa 300 BCE), but later achieved considerable popularity in Rome. Cicero (106-43 BCE) provides a particularly lucid review of Stoic philosophy in On the Nature of the Gods. Although placing particular emphases on sense-based knowledge and logic, the Stoics also argue that the universe is governed by a natural, divinely inspired source (god/gods). Albeit an extension of Pythagorean and Socratic thought, Stoic philosophy also assumes some consequential divergences. Perhaps most notably the current history, circumstances, and experiences of human life are seen as but a temporary phase in an endless set of repetitions or reoccurring cycles of development and (re)birth of the universe as the gods recreate and regulate the processes of nature throughout eternity. Because they envision humans to be immensely indebted to the gods both for their creations of all things and their unending dedication to all of nature, the Stoics encourage people to accept things as the gods would intend. Thus, the Stoic emphasis is on pursuing an honorable or virtuous life-style in which the gods are revered. From a Stoic viewpoint, as well, community order is fostered through people’s subservience to the divine ordering of nature. The Stoics not only argue for the existence of god(s) that regulate all of nature, but also presume that human experiences are divinely fated or predestined. Relatedly, it is posited that by reading signs provided by the gods, people may foresee and adjust to future developments. Still, while human outcomes are predetermined in more general terms, people are thought to have some freedom of choice and are explicitly encouraged (through instruction, dedication, and careful, logical reasoning) to pursue virtuous avenues of action that would put them in closer alignment with their natural godly intended destinies. Whereas the Stoics, like Aristotle, insist on the importance of sensory perceptions (distinctions) for knowing and appear attentive to a more logical (vs. emotional) rhetoric, the Stoics’ emphases on divine life-worlds and fatalism take them some distance from Aristotle’s secular scholarship. For a notably extended analysis of Stoic and Epicurean conceptions of divinity and related notions of human knowing, acting, and destiny, see Cicero’s On the Nature of the Gods (also see Prus 2011e). 7 Qualitative Sociology Review • 9 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Although Socrates, Critias, and Hermocrates also are in Republic. Thus, Socrates (TS:20) says that he would ions have yet more to offer. Thus, after calling on see the mortal bodies of people and the lower ani- involved in the dialogue, Timaeus emerges as the like to provide an account of the origins of his city- the gods for assistance and understanding, Timaeus mal species. Thus, whereas God would provide the principle speaker. The dialogue opens with Socrates state, one that would give the citizens a sense of (TS:27) develops a creation story intended not just souls for all beings, his lesser gods were given the (TS:17-19) providing a very brief review of Republic. pride in its struggles and accomplishments. for the city, but also for the entire universe and all responsibility of preparing mortal bodies in which inhabitants of the earth. these divine souls would reside. Despite the many references to religion that Socrates While contending that he is unable to devise a wor- makes in Plato’s Republic, his references to Republic in thy statement on his own, Socrates also dismisses the Acknowledging that a world (i.e., universe) that is In addition to being the most religious of all earthly Timaeus focus almost entirely on the nature and well poets and the sophists as adequate authors for this amenable to the senses, Timaeus (TS:27-29) says that beings, people also were to possess capacities for being of the (secular) state. Somewhat ironically, as project. Describing the poets as imitators, he sees an eternal creator, without beginning or end, was the sensation and emotional experience (as in pain and well, Socrates (in Timaeus) largely disregards Repub- the challenge as beyond their abilities. Defining the cause or initiator of the world. Thus, God created the pleasure, fear and anger). Recognizing that people lic’s emphasis on justice, virtue, and philosophy. sophists as travelers who lack roots, loyalties, and universe as a likeness to himself by giving the uni- knowledge of local matters, Socrates also considers verse a soul or spiritual intelligence that comprehends them inappropriate for this task. It is in this spirit that all components and features of its organic (animal- Socrates seeks assistance from Timaeus, Critias, and like) whole (TS:30-33). Observing that the universe Hermocrates, each of whom is held in high repute in also has a material or corporeal existence, Timaeus matters of philosophy and statesmanship. says that all matter consists of fire, earth, water and air. Critias (TS:20-27) engages Socrates’ objective by re- While shaping the universe in the form of a globe or telling a story told to him by his grandfather. His sphere (TS:33-37), the creator had first created the in- grandfather had heard it from Solon who, in turn, visible soul that would reside at the center. After stat- had learned about the glories of a much earlier Ath- ing that notions of existence and being are problem- ens from an Egyptian priest. Noting that Greece had atic in more comprehensive terms, Timaeus (TS:38) been subject to numerous deluges or natural disasters contends that time came into being at the instant of over the millennia, the priest informed Solon that the creation and, likewise, would be dissolved if ever the Egyptians have records showing that Athens was products of creation cease to exist. For now, however, once home to the greatest of all nation states. Eventu- time represents a moving image of existence. Following a quick reference to the division of labor (as in farmers, trades people, soldiers and guardians) necessary for a viable state, Socrates focuses on those who would serve as guardians or administrators of the state he envisions. The guardians are to be highly dedicated, well educated, wise, and noble. As well, the guardians are to live in modest lifestyles in a setting in which all goods are communally owned. Their female companions are to participate in the activities of the male guardians, including warfare. To avoid more specific ties of kinship and to encourage the guardians to envision themselves as one family, the wives and children of the guardians are to be shared in common. Then, discussing the state somewhat more generally, Socrates also discusses the desirability of selective breeding ally, however, it was overcome by earthquakes and floods as, likewise, was the island of Atlantis. Following a commentary on the solar system, Ti- would struggle with their sensations and emotions, God intended to reward those who lived honorable earthly lives with a blessed existence. Those who did not would (in subsequent lives) pass into continually lowered states of animal life until they overcame their earthly failings. Having developed things thusly, God then turned matters over to the younger gods that God had created. God left them to deal with human bodies and souls as best they could (TS:42). After noting that the sensations that people encounter can affect their bodies in intense manners, Timaeus (TS:43-44) also observes that people are born without intelligence. Nevertheless, with nurturing and education, people can develop more extended intellectual capacities.8 maeus (TS:39-40) identifies four sets of living entities Later, Timaeus (TS:49-52) considers some of the in the community. Relatedly, he stresses the impor- Affirming that he has been accurate in his render- that God created: the gods of heaven; the creatures tance of insuring that children of the best citizens ing of the account of the lost ancient city of Athens, problematic features of human knowing. Recogniz- of the air; the species of the water; and the animals are well educated while still being mindful of the Critias also observes that the features of Socrates’ ing that the (basic) elements of fire, earth, air, and value of moving those who show potential to higher (humans included) that live on land. Republic correspond with those of the perfect Greek water are continually changing, he says that it is levels and assigning those with lower qualities to state described by the Egyptian priest. Notably, Noting that their own knowledge of the gods is lim- too, the same goddess Athene was the founder and ited, Timaeus (TS:40) says that they can only rely on guide of both city-states. what has come to them through tradition. as his starting point, Socrates observes the state still Socrates very much appreciates the connections Still, Timaeus (TS:41) continues. He states that God needs something more than what he has provided with the past provided by Critias, but his compan- had instructed the (lesser) gods he created to over- live among the inferior classes. With this highly abbreviated overview of Republic 10 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 inappropriate to say that things “are” or have certain qualities or to make other statements that imply permanence. Viewed thusly, there are three states of nature: that which is in the process of changReaders may appreciate some early pragmatist/constructionist emphases in Timaeus’ (TS:43-63) comments on the nature of human knowing and acting. 8 Qualitative Sociology Review • 11 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws ing; that in which change takes place; and the other heavy; and rough-smooth), before considering the but the creation of the mortal he committed to While noting that people may be encouraged to things that the (particular) things in the process of emotions and the matters of pain and pleasure more his offspring. And they, imitating him, received avoid vices through education and study, Timaeus changing resemble. specifically. Then, positing that pain is the product from him the immortal principle of the soul; and quickly puts these matters aside. Instead, he will Continuing, Timaeus (TS:51) asks if things properly (a) have any inherent qualities or whether (b) things of disturbances to one’s system and that pleasure is dependent on a restoration of one’s natural state, Timaeus (TS:64-68) considers the ways in which hu- around this they proceeded to fashion a mortal body, and made it to be the vehicle of the soul, and constructed within the body a soul [psyche – RP] of another nature which was mortal, sub- exist only to the extent that people, in some way, man sensitivities to taste, odor, sound, and sight are perceive these things through their sense organs? ject to terrible and irresistible affections, first of connected with people’s (sensory enabled) experi- all, pleasure, the greatest incitement to evil; then, Relatedly, he asks (c) if things have existence only ences with pain and pleasure. pain, which deters from good; also rashness and Then, stating that God alone has the capacity to cre- appeased, and hope easily led astray; these they through the names they are given? Pursuing these matters, Timaeus argues for a dis- ate and combine all things of his creation, Timaeus tinction between the things that people might know (TS:68-69) briefly summarizes his position as he through sensate experience and things that may be moves toward the conclusion of his story. Timaeus understood only through reason. Then, focusing states that God not only created the universe and on reason more exclusively, Timaeus argues for the gave order to what otherwise would be chaos, but existence of true ideas that transcend human sensa- also generated a soul for the universe that allowed tions. Further, Timaeus contends, it is these invari- for the intelligent, organic capacity of the universe ant truths (the contemplation of which rests with to comprehend and adjust to all of the entities with- intelligence) that provide testimony to a being that in. Further, while providing people with immortal pre-exists creation. Timaeus (TS:52) subsequently souls, God had given his closest offspring, the newer posits that it was necessary to create space before gods, the task of preparing and tending to the mor- the matters that occupy space could be brought into tal bodies in which people’s souls would be hosted. existence. Process, likewise, needed to exist before It was here, too, that people would be subject to the the heavens could be formed. human weaknesses (and temptations) associated After providing an account of the ways in which the elements of fire, earth, water, and air were configured into the universe, Timaeus (TS:57) observes that things cannot move without a mover or a source of motion. Relatedly, there can be no movement without something to be moved. Next, Timaeus (TS:58- fear, two foolish counsellors, anger hard to be tions both of these sets of people not to neglect the rienced by those who neglect their souls by disregarding the quest for knowledge. Amidst a somewhat extended consideration (TS:7086) of the ways that people’s bodies are (physiologically) prepared for life and disease, Timaeus also makes a brief argument for prophecy as implied in the art of divination.9 Timaeus (TS:77) subsequently notes that trees, plants, and lower animal forms also were provided for man’s existence. Following a discussion of human diseases (TS:7885), Timaeus (TS:86-87) engages the topic of vice Timaeus (TS:89-92) then delineates three aspects of the soul [psyche] to which people should attend: the divine, the mortal, and the intellectual. While acknowledging the divinely-enabled nature of one’s existence and the importance of caring for one’s mortal being, Timaeus particularly stresses the intellectual component. It is here, in questing for knowledge and true wisdom, he says, that people will achieve the greatest affinities with divinity. in more direct terms. He says that people who en- In concluding, Timaeus (TS:90-92) says that the souls counter great pain or pleasure lose their capacities of men who have not lived virtuous lives will as- to reason adequately. Timaeus insists that no one is sume lower forms of existence in subsequent lives. [a]s I said at first, when all things were in disor- voluntarily bad, but that people do bad things be- In this way, Timaeus accounts for the initial devel- der God created in each thing in relation to itself, cause of these and other afflictions that foster anger, with pain, pleasure, and other emotions amidst human capacities for love: and in all things in relation to each other, all the measures and harmonies which they could possibly receive. For in those days nothing had any depression, cowardice, stupidity, disregard, and the like. In addition, Timaeus remarks that people who tings also are prone to vice. ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 engrossed in disputation and strife, Timaeus cau- man. (Plato [Timaeus:69]; Jowett trans.) the things which now have names deserve to be 12 on studies and teaching while others are deeply he observes, the greatest of diseases will be expe- water, earth, and air), as well as a variety of forms touch-related sensations (hot-cold; hard-soft; light- Noting that some souls are intensively focused love according to necessary laws, and so framed have poor educations or live in badly governed set- capacities for sensate experience. He focuses on and the body in which it is hosted. care (e.g., exercise) of their mortal bodies. However, proportion except by accident; nor did any of Timaeus (TS:61-63) subsequently discusses human appropriate balance between one’s immortal soul mingled with irrational sense and with all-daring 61) considers the motion of the four elements (fire, that these material essences may assume. concentrate on the importance of maintaining an named at all – as, for example, fire, water, and the rest of the elements. All these the creator first set in order, and out of them he constructed the universe, which was a single animal comprehending in itself all other animals, mortal and immortal. Now of the divine, he himself was the creator, opment of women and human sexuality, the birds, other animals, reptiles, and fishes. This having been said, Timaeus acknowledges God as the creator of all. [Thus concludes the dialogue.] Phaedo10 9 While accepting the viability of divination as a message from the gods, Timaeus (TS:71-72) argues that people are most likely to receive these messages when they are asleep or in demented states (as in mental anguish or spiritual possession). However, because people in these latter states are considered unfit to judge their own experiences, these (messages) are to be interpreted by others who are more accomplished in the art of divination. Well known as an account of Socrates’ last days of his death sentence, Phaedo represents another of PlaIn developing this material I have built extensively on Benjamin Jowett’s (1937) translation of Plato’s Phaedo. 10 Qualitative Sociology Review • 13 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws to’s more notable theological statements. While em- ful. In response, Socrates says that people are the death provides the true philosopher that which he been lost or neglected overtime. Rather than just phasizing the immortality of the soul (as a spiritual possessions of the gods and have no right to destroy most desires – to be alone with the soul. remembering things, the claim is that people some- essence) and its capacity to know things (in both the things that the gods own. Instead, people are to human and divinely-enabled terms), this text also wait until God summons them. Relatedly, Socrates deals with the matters of people facing death, resist- states that his time has come. are not lovers of wisdom, but lovers of the body. Most likely, as well, they also are lovers of money Instead of assuming that people are born knowing of philosophy, virtue, and divinity. When Cebes and Simmias suggest that Socrates may and power, if not both. Further, Socrates adds, most these things at birth, the more viable argument is be too eager for his own death and perhaps ought people who claim to be temperate merely control that people knew these things from a previous life; Still, in contrast to Timaeus, which has a more distinc- to fear death more, Socrates (Phaedo:63) says that he their pleasures in most areas only because they are though a pre-existent soul that inhabits the present tive theological emphasis (via the creation story that might be more fearful if he did not believe he was in conquered by specific other pleasures of the body. body. Since these ideas existed before people were Timaeus recounts), Phaedo places greater emphasis the care of the gods. Thus, in the afterlife, Socrates True virtue, Socrates proclaims, is inseparable from born, Socrates concludes, the souls also existed be- on philosophy as an idealized (cultic) pursuit. Thus, fully expects to join the earlier departed who had true wisdom. fore birth; conversely, if not the ideas, then not the whereas one finds strong affirmations of a divinity- been wise and good in the sensate world. ing tendencies toward suicide, and the interlinkages enabled immortal soul in Phaedo, the immortal soul is sustained by a virtuous philosophic life that is mindful of the existence of absolute standards rather than through a devout religious life per se. Those who fear death, Socrates (Phaedo:68) insists, times recall things of a higher order than they have ever experienced in their (present) sensate lives. souls. But, Socrates affirms, since notions of absolute While listening to Socrates, Cebes (Phaedo:70) sug- beauty, perfect goodness, and the like, exist, so must Elaborating on his position, Socrates (Phaedo:64) gests that people may still be fearful that their souls exist. states that the real philosopher should be in good souls might dissipate with death and, effectively, spirits when he faces death. While noting that most cease to exist. Encountering some skepticism from Simmias who is not yet convinced that the soul will endure after people would not understand, Socrates says that Saying that he will locate his discussion within the death, Socrates (Phaedo:77-82) asks what is most like- realm of probabilities, Socrates (Phaedo:70-72) ref- ly to break up at the time of death – the simple and Recognizing that the senses are untrustworthy, erences an ancient doctrine that claims that when unchanging soul or the complex and changeable hu- true philosophers (Phaedo:65) are continually at- people die their souls are reborn from the dead. man body? Likewise, he asks, what is more vulner- tempting to separate their souls from their bodies, Thus, Socrates posits, the living come from the souls able to dissolution, the invisible soul or the visible to distance their spiritual essences from the sensu- of those who had earlier died and the souls have an body? Socrates also reminds Simmias that when the al failings of their bodies. Thus, Socrates references existence apart from the body. Socrates follows this body and soul are united, it is the soul that directs In developing his account, Phaedo (Phaedo:58-59) absolute justice, absolute beauty, and absolute good with a commentary on the existence of opposites the body. By this function, as well, Socrates argues first comments on the noble, gracious manner in as elements that are inaccessible to the senses and and concludes that living essences are generated the soul is closer to the divine and therefore more which Socrates dealt with the entire affair. Phaedo that can exist in pure forms only in the clarity of from those that had earlier died. likely to be immortal. Then, insisting that there is also identifies those who had been with Socrates the mind. This dialogue opens with Echecrates asking Phaedo if he had been present when Socrates drank the poison that resulted in his death. Echecrates has heard about Socrates’ trial (see Socrates’ Defense or Apology) and expresses his disbelief and dismay that Socrates had been condemned to death. true philosophers are always engaging death. a true, invisible, noble afterlife, Socrates claims that After Cebes (Phaedo:72) observes that the notion of Then, citing things such as the quest for food, the invisible souls of good people will depart to the souls being born again into other bodies is consistent encounters with diseases, and loves, lusts, fears, invisible world at death. with Socrates’ doctrine of recollection, Simmias asks Inspired by a dream, Socrates had been composing fascinations, and foolishness of all sorts, Socrates Socrates to refresh his own memory on this theory. musical verses while on his own. However, after the (Phaedo:66) says that the body is the source of end- others have arrived, he directs their conversation to less difficulty. Indeed, the soul cannot achieve pure In elucidating his position on recollection (also see earth where they are compelled to undergo pun- the journey he is about to make (Phaedo:61). knowledge while embedded within the body. Thus, Meno [in Plato; Jowett trans.]), Socrates (Phaedo:73- ishment for their past misdeeds. Further, after ap- Socrates (Phaedo:67) states, it is only after death; on 77) says that people may recall things that they have propriate punishment, and because of their earlier While conversing with Socrates (Phaedo:61-62), Cebes the separation of the soul from its earthly host, that never perceived in that manner. He describes recol- human failings, these souls would later occupy the and Simmias ask why suicide is considered unlaw- one’s soul may be purified. Viewed in this manner, lection as a process of recovering notions that had bodies of lower, less worthy animal species. during his last few days and hours. Plato, presumably ill at the time, was absent. 14 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 However, Socrates insists, the souls of evil people would be dragged down to (an invisible world on) Qualitative Sociology Review • 15 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Developing his position further, Socrates (Phaedo:82) the body. Socrates assures his listeners that virtuous lesser. Now, however, Socrates questions whether Then, following a consideration of the existence of says that while more virtuous people will be much souls will not become lost. one can understand the concept of causality or even opposites and the impressions they generate, So- whether things exist at all. crates (Phaedo:105-106) says that it is the soul that happier in the afterlife, it is only those souls that both have studied philosophy and are virtuously pure that may be allowed to partake in the company of the gods: [Socrates:] No one who has not studied philosophy and who is not entirely pure at the time of his departure is allowed to enter the company of the gods, but the lover of knowledge only. And this is the reason, Simmias and Cebes, why the true votaries of philosophy ab- Suspecting that Simmias and Cebes still have doubts, Relatedly, Socrates earlier had hoped that Anaxago- their concerns. Cebes returns to the question of the would never become the opposite of what it is (i.e., ras (500-428 BCE), who said that the mind was the soul surviving the death of the body. Cebes observes die). Defining the immortal as the imperishable, So- source and agent of all things, would provide some that while one person might outwear many coats, crates says that the soul is both immortal and im- answers. However, on reading his texts, Socrates some coats are apt to survive the owner. He asks perishable. Thus, while the mortal body will perish, found that Anaxagoras (a materialist, atomist phi- the soul will survive. whether something of this sort may not occur with the soul. Given the many bodies that the soul occu- stain from all fleshly lusts, and hold out against them pies over time, may the soul not weaken or wear out and refuse to give themselves up to them, not because – so at some point, the soul might expire with its cur- they fear poverty or the ruin of their families, like the rent body. Past survivals of the soul, Cebes contends, lovers of money and the world in general; nor like the lovers of power and honour, because they dread the dishonour or disgrace of evil deeds. [Instead – RP]… when philosophy offers them purification and release from evil, they feel that they ought not to resist her do not guarantee subsequent survivals. In developing his reply, Socrates (Phaedo:89-90) first cautions people about being either hardened skep- influence, and whither she leads they turn and follow. tics about people or haters of ideas. Still, Socrates (Plato [Phaedo:82]; Jowett trans.) (Phaedo:91) says, at this point he is not a philosopher After insisting that it is only through philosophy that people may gain a vision of true existence and escape the bars of their prison,11 Socrates (Phaedo:8384) comments on the particular dangers that sensations of pain and pleasure represent for the soul. Be- gives the body life and that the (life-giving) soul Socrates (Phaedo:84-88) encourages them to express so much as a partisan. Nevertheless, unlike most partisans, Socrates says that his objective is not to convince others of his viewpoint as much as it is to convince himself and, in the interim, to provide something for others to consider in more impartial terms. losopher who preceded Democritus [460-357 BCE] and Epicurus [341-270 BCE]) very much disregarded the mind and instead concentrated on air, water, and other oddities. Assuming that the soul moves to another world after the death of the body and has an immortal quality, Socrates (Phaedo:107-108) stresses the importance of people taking appropriate care of their souls dur- Seemingly after some other unproductive philo- ing their presence on earth. Socrates also states that sophic ventures, Socrates (Phaedo:100) says that he when souls enter the afterlife they will be judged assumed a new methodology. He would pick the and be sanctioned according to the virtues and im- strongest principle he could find and judge the val- purities of their earthly lives. ue of other things mindfully of the correspondence of these other things with that principle. In explaining his method, Socrates (Phaedo:100) says that he holds the position that there is absolute beauty, goodness, and greatness. These being the absolutely most viable standards, all things exist only in reference to these comparison points. Hence, Their consideration of the afterlife is diverted somewhat by a discussion of the earth. [Amongst other things, Socrates (Phaedo:108-111) not only describes the earth as spherical in shape, but also at the center of the universe.] Returning more directly to the plight of the soul, cause people’s experiences with pain and pleasure In the discussion following, Socrates (Phaedo:92- can be so intense, these sensations have a uniquely -95) reminds the others that the soul exists prior compelling presence; one that so completely bonds to the body and that the soul, especially the wise the soul to the body that the soul loses virtually all soul, directs the body. Socrates then reviews Cebes’ sense of its divine origins. Under these conditions, concerns about the soul not outlasting the body in comparisons between two or more (sensate) things there is little hope of these souls grasping aspects of which it is presently situated. (as other people might do), Socrates contends, that after becoming thusly purged of their sins, these these absolute standards provide one with exacting souls, likewise, will be rewarded for the good or perfect reference points. things they have done. true knowing. It is for this reason, Socrates explains, that philosophers must so scrupulously guard themselves against the more intense sensations of Those familiar with Plato’s other works may be reminded of Plato’s “allegory of the cave” (Republic, VII). Readers will also find material in Phaedo (especially pp. 82-84) that may have inspired Boethius’ (480-524 CE) The Consolation of Philosophy. 11 16 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 After noting that Cebes has raised a set of issues pertaining to the processes of generation and decay, Socrates (Phaedo:96-99) informs the others that as a young philosopher he also was eager to learn the causes of things. At this time, too, Socrates felt highly confident in the comparative notions of greater and it is only by reference to absolute beauty or greatness that something else may be considered beautiful or great, for instance. Instead of invoking relative 12 Readers may see the foundations of Socrates’ ideal forms or types in his methodology. Clearly, Aristotle (Categories), who says that nothing has any quality except in reference to that which it is compared, does not accept Socrates’ methodology. Likewise, while Plato seems sympathetic to Socrates’ conception of absolute (especially divinely inspired) truth, Plato also introduces direct challenges to this viewpoint in Parmenides. 12 Socrates (Phaedo:113-114) distinguishes three ways in which people’s souls may be treated in the afterlife, depending on their earthly lives. Those who have lived more moderate lives can expect to undergo punishment for their evil deeds. However, Those judged to have committed particularly heinous offenses are hurled into Tartarus wherein they are subject to unrelenting punishment. After an extended period of punishment, those souls that are Qualitative Sociology Review • 17 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws deemed salvageable may be given an opportunity the speakers consider mythical, but they are explic- Thus, since Plato envisions human involvements in religion as a highly important mechanism for foster- to appeal to their victims for leniency. Should their itly attentive to the importance of developing shared theology as embedded (being developed, experi- ing the moral order of the community, as well as pro- victims not wish to forgive them, these souls would reference points as sources of meaning and motiva- enced, instructed, resisted, and changing over time) viding direction for individual character and moral be returned to Tartarus. For the souls that are con- tion for citizens in the state. within the broader parameters of community life, well-being, Plato’s speakers are also attentive to the his notions of religion are developed amidst discus- relativist, problematic, enacted, and contested nature sions of education, poetics, wrongdoing and pun- of religion. They are also mindful of the importance ishment, and marketplace activity, as well as within of policies, practices, and even entertainment motifs more encompassing considerations of justice and for sustaining religious viewpoints, along with the the affairs of state. social and personal implications thereof. sidered incurable, there is no other destiny than perpetual punishment in Tartarus. In Phaedo, Plato gives much attention to the “immortality of the soul,” but still shows how people may Those who have lived virtuous lives are allowed to struggle with ambiguity, knowledge and wisdom, live pure, content lives in the afterlife. Still, Socrates and doubt, and virtue and religion in the face of affirms, those virtuous souls who also know philos- one’s own death and those of one’s associates. These ophy will fare even better in the afterlife. sorts of things may seem obvious, but humanly en- It also is important to note that the emphases of Interestingly, as well, although Plato is often dis- gaged matters along these lines have largely been Plato’s Republic and (later) Laws are somewhat dif- missed as an idealist, his analysis of religion, virtue, overlooked in “the sociology of religion.” ferent. Republic addresses the development of a state evil, and regulation exhibits a noteworthy pragma- in which justice and social order are maintained tist attentiveness to human knowing and acting as through the activities of a more elite set of guard- a collectively, community-achieved, adjustive pro- ians (philosopher-kings) who would manage the cess. Thus, in addition to acknowledging the mul- affairs of state in virtuous (as in knowledgeable, tiple viewpoints that people may adopt with respect courageous, wise, temperate, and just) manners. By to the situations in which they find themselves, Pla- contrast, Plato’s Laws focuses on the matter of devel- to’s speakers are also mindful of people’s activities, oping a centralized constitution and an explicit le- identities, emotionality, reflectivity, and persuasive gal code that not only would define the essential pa- interchange (and resistance). After cautioning his listeners that the afterlife that he has described is only a reasonable approximation of what actually exists, Socrates (Phaedo:114) says that there is good reason to be optimistic about the future of his soul. Indeed, he contends, those who have severed themselves from the sensations and trappings of the body and who have lived virtuous life-styles are ready to face death when their time comes. 13 Republic and Laws ‒ Questing for Community In contrast to the more limited scope of Timaeus and Phaedo, Plato’s Republic and Laws are intended as encompassing guidelines or models for community life. Plato still introduces a set of theological view- Then, returning to the more immediate matter of his points in developing his models of community life. own death, Socrates (Phaedo:115) reminds his com- However, because he is attentive to so many features panions that the earthly body that he leaves behind of community life as elements “in the making” in is not the true Socrates. Thus, they should not be these two texts, Plato provides some early and ex- Notably, too, whereas Republic deals with scholar- troubled by the state or disposition of his earthly re- ceptionally valuable pragmatist considerations of ship and philosophy in more sustained terms, Laws mains. The dialogue ends with Phaedo (Phaedo:116- the ways in which people engage a wide array of is more attentive to the task of preserving and main- matters pertaining to divinity. taining the community at large. Still, in both texts, 118) describing the sense of loss experienced by those in the setting and, somewhat concurrently, the calm, peaceful manner with which Socrates faced death. Timaeus and Phaedo in Context In developing Timaeus and Phaedo Plato humanizes his considerations of religion in consequential respects. Thus, while dealing with abstract matters in certain regards, Plato is attentive to the ways that people enter into the process as agents. Thus, for instance, Timaeus may revolve around an account that 18 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 Although we will be focusing on religion as an arena of community life separately in these two texts, Plato is clearly aware of the interconnectedness of religion and other realms of people’s involvements. As well, although each religious community develops somewhat unique sets of beliefs and practices, it is instructive to ask about the affinities (continuities and divergencies) one encounters in the viewpoints expressed by Plato’s speakers in Timaeus and Phaedo and more contemporary variants of Judaic, Christian, and Islamic religions. By revisiting Plato’s texts, we may better understand similarities and differences not only between these three major religious traditions, but also between some of the variants one finds within. 13 rameters of conduct for all citizens, but would also include provisions for “regulating the regulators.” one finds a sustained emphasis on justice at a community level and virtue as a highly desirable individual quality. While justice and virtue are defined as closely interconnected, justice is seen as fundamental to overarching notions of divine and human Republic14 [Adeimantus:] Once more, Socrates, I will ask you to consider another way of speaking about justice and injustice, which is not confined to the poets, but is found in prose writers. The universal voice of mankind is always declaring that justice and virtue are honourable, but grievous and toilsome; and that the pleasures of vice and injustice are easy of attainment, and are only censured by law and opinion. They say also that honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty; and they are quite ready to call wicked men happy, and to honour them both in public and (community) order, whereas individually achieved private when they are rich or in any other way in- virtue represents people’s primary means of insur- fluential, while they despise and overlook those who ing a more viable divinely-enabled afterlife. Moreover, whereas Plato’s speakers are highly attentive to the integrative features of religion and envision may be weak and poor, even though acknowledging 14 In developing this statement on Plato’s Republic, I am very much indebted to the translations of Benjamin Jowett (1937), Paul Shorey (Hamilton and Cairns 1961) and G.M.A. Grube and C.D.C. Reeve (Cooper 1997). Qualitative Sociology Review • 19 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws them to be better than the others. But most extraordi- beit negative) feature of community life. They note After commenting on the effects that these matters cuss God are to do so only in terms that are good nary of all is their mode of speaking about virtue and that people often think that injustice (as in decep- might have on the minds of the young, the speakers and just. Likewise, as a perfect being, God would tion and evildoing) can be highly profitable (Rep, (Rep, II:365) introduce a number of differing view- not be compelled by external influences (including II:358-360). They also observe that wrongdoers who points on the gods. First, because the gods possess human demands) and, being perfect, would have no rich men’s doors and persuade them that they have appear honest may not only achieve considerable superior intellects and abilities, it seems inappro- reason for changing within. Relatedly, God would a power committed to them by the gods of making an material advantages, but are also often honored for priate to believe that the gods can be deceived or not represent himself in ways that are not authentic, atonement for a man’s own or his ancestor’s sins by their successes. Further, those who appear dishon- compelled by human activities. Still, these notions nor would God be pleased with such representa- est may be severely punished, even if they are in- would be inconsequential if the gods do not exist; or, tions by others. nocent (Rep, II:361-362). if the gods exist, but do not care about human mat- the gods: they say that the gods apportion calamity and misery to many good men, and good and happiness to the wicked. And mendicant prophets go to sacrifices or charms, with rejoicings and feasts; and they promise to harm an enemy, whether just or unjust, at a small cost; with magic arts and incantations binding heaven, as they say, to execute their will. And the poets are the authorities to whom they appeal. ... While recognizing the fairly widespread “slippage And they produce a host of books written by Musaeus of justice” that exists in community life, the speak- and Orpheus, who were children of the Moon and the ers also note that people typically encourage young Muses ‒ that is what they say ‒ according to which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atone- people to behave virtuously. Still, rather than encourage virtue as a means of pursuing justice, people only through tradition and the poets (most centrally Hesiod and Homer), the speakers also observe that it is these same poets who claim that the gods can be influenced by words, sacrifices, and the like. typically emphasize the matters of maintaining good Leaving their discussion of these issues in this situ- ments which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the reputations and building character (Rep, II:363). Re- service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they ation, the speakers (Rep, II:369-377) next discuss the latedly, people often tell others that justice will be processes by which a state (community) is developed achieved in the afterlife, even if it eludes them in the and other matters pertaining to war, leadership, and human present. The claim is that those who are truly education might be managed. Then, returning to reli- virtuous will enjoy a luxurious afterlife whereas the gion more directly, the speakers (Rep, II:377-386) pro- ments for sin may be made by sacrifices and amuse- call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us. (Plato [The Republic, II:363-365]; Jowett trans.) Denoting an extended analysis of community life, evildoers will be severely punished for their worldly Plato’s Republic [Rep] is one of the most remarkable misdeeds in a different afterlife setting. statements developed within the broader tradition of political science. Still, rather than deal with Republic (a rather substantial text) in more comprehensive terms, this discussion focuses more specifically on matters pertaining to religion. Republic begins with Plato’s spokespeople (of whom Socrates is most notable) embarking on a statement on justice. While envisioning justice as a central and highly enabling of community life, they also recognize that justice is a problematic and elusive feature At the same time, however, the speakers (Rep, II:364) recognize that people often describe virtue as an unpleasant or painful experience whereas vice is more likely to be associated with more pleasurable human life-styles. As well, the speakers observe, certain people have assumed roles as prophets or mediators and claim (often for compensation) to be able to speak to the gods on behalf of those who might desire to be forgiven for their transgressions. Likewise, those who attend to the poets He- of human group life (Rep, I:352). siod and Homer may be led to believe that they can Relatedly, although they stress the importance of performing certain rituals, making sacrifices, and virtue and intend to find ways of promoting justice, engaging in various mysteries involving the living the speakers also view injustice as an important (al- and the dead. 20 ters. Then, after noting that people know of the gods ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 gain expiations and atonements for their sins by pose that the poets (such as Hesiod and Homer) be Continuing, the speakers (Rep, II:386-387) propose not only to eliminate poetic passages that misrepresent the gods, but also to purge poetic materials of the vivid, depictions of the punishments depicted in Hades (lest these image traumatize young minds). Then, after noting that only misrepresentations that serve the public good may be allowed (Rep, II:389) in the state and commenting on the importance of young people achieving temperance or self-regulation, the speakers again condemn the poets for representing the gods as foolish and indecent in their censored for their false representations of the gods. behaviors (Rep, II:390-391).16 In particular, Plato’s speakers are concerned be- Still, only much later in Republic, after dealing with cause the poets often represent the gods as acting in irresponsible, immoral, and quarrelsome manners. To be viable, God is to be presented in more sincere terms, as the author of good only.15 Those who disPlato’s speakers are somewhat inconsistent in their references to God and the gods. In the main, however, Plato appears to insist on a single overarching spiritual essence, with lesser essences seen as derivatives or creations of the one. Likewise, while Plato sometimes refers to God as a prime mover (Timaeus) in ways that more closely approximate Aristotle’s notions of a prime mover, Plato’s speakers also seem attentive to good and evil gods at times, as well as subscribe to a yet broader assortment of gods (as in Olympian gods and/or other divinely-enabled spiritual forces). In these latter respects, Plato’s speakers approximate what later will become known as Stoic theology. Those who deem Christianity to be more exclusively monotheistic may wish to examine St. Augustine’s City of God wherein he explicitly compares Greek and Christian views of overarching divinities and lesser spiritual essences. 15 leadership, property, communal life-styles, education, philosophy, and forms of government, and poetics, do Plato’s speakers re-engage religion in more direct terms. Retaining their emphasis on virtuous conduct, the speakers (Rep, X:608) consider what may be the greatest of rewards for human virtue: the prospect of an eternal existence of the soul. Still, rather than dispose of the souls of evil people, the speakers conclude that human souls are immortal and Envisioning the poets as providing models for people’s future behavior, Plato’s speakers also are critical of the poets for not representing people and city-states in more consistently virtuous terms (Rep, II:392). 16 Qualitative Sociology Review • 21 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws cannot be destroyed by the evils of the body. Relat- while the rewards of virtue are great, Er describes edly, they (Rep, X:609-611) add that the soul is one the penalties for evil in horrifying terms. Laws17 Noting that laws are intended to serve those who invoke them, the Athenian (Laws, I:631) defines a more Plato’s Laws may be much less well known than ReAfter the souls of the dead had moved forward (in- virtuous set of qualities to which all states may as- public is, but Laws represents another major statement Mindful of the oneness of people’s souls with di- cluding more virtuous souls, as well as those who pire. Most notably, these include wisdom, temper- on political science and the interlinkages of religion, vinity, the speakers (Rep, X:613) consider next how ance, justice, and courage. Still, the Athenian also had been cleansed by punishment), they were given governing arrangements, and education with the one might be a better friend of the gods. They de- acknowledges the importance of some less virtuous opportunities to choose new worldly lives for them- fine the just person as one who strives to be per- moral order of the community. Thus, although Plato’s qualities, including people’s personal health, beauty, selves. Because he would be returned alive to his sonally virtuous and fair in his treatment of others, speakers envision religion as an important feature strength, and wealth. It is with this broader set of former life, Er was not permitted to select another no matter what life may present in the way of ob- concerns in mind that the speakers subsequently will life at this time. of community life and are attentive to the ways in which religion can contribute to the moral order of address matters of education, forms of government, the community, they are particularly mindful of the and authority, before the formation of a model state ways in which religion is sustained and perpetuated, (Laws, IV onward) in which these objectives may be with the eternal. stacles. The speakers also reason that someone who strives to be a friend of the gods, who tries to be The souls were informed that there were more like the gods as much as humanly possible, would lives from which to select than the souls at hand. not be neglected by the gods. Then, after claiming Likewise, samples of a great variety of human that people will be rewarded in the afterlife in di- and nonhuman lives were displayed for the souls rect proportion to their good deeds, Socrates shares to consider. Working with the stipulation that the a tale of the afterlife that he has heard. new life was to be different from the past, the souls were encouraged to choose wisely, to be mindful The “vision of Er” (Rep, X:614-621) involves a man of the risks and liabilities that each life may have who was killed in a battle and later is carried with respect to virtue and justice. Then, in turn, home to be buried. Oddly, his body did not decay by chance arrangements, the souls were to choose and on the twelfth day, Er returned to life. Most new mortal lives. Er reports that people often made importantly, though, Er was able to provide an choices that would prove to be foolish and sad, if account of what he had experienced in the other not clearly disastrous, for the subsequent states of world. their souls. as well as disregarded and jeopardized as people engage other aspects of community life. Whereas Republic begins with Plato’s speakers attending to justice in particularly direct terms, Plato’s Laws opens with a consideration of the origins of law. The speakers (an Athenian Stranger; Cleinias, a Cretan; and Megillus, a Lacedaemonian [Spartan]) posit that their laws likely had divinely inspired origins, but emphasize the importance of a legal constitution for the well-being of the community (Laws, I:624). Thus, even the Cretan and the Spartan who envision conflict as a natural state of affairs for pursued through a constitutional government.19 Although religion is seen as an important aspect of community life, Plato clearly does not see religion as an element (factor or product) unto itself. Thus, while Plato’s speakers generally quest for and intend to promote religious motifs within the course of ongoing community life, they also acknowledge the fuller range of religious and irreligious beliefs and practices that people may engage both across and within communities. As well, they are attentive to an assortment of state objectives (e.g., safety, justice, prosperity) and personal concerns (e.g., wealth, pleasure, physical well-being) and practices that people commonly in- Following his battlefield death, Er found himself in The souls had been free to choose in knowing ways. the company of the souls of others who also had city-states, as well as the villages, families, and indi- However, once their choices were made, the souls died. He observes that these souls were subjected viduals within, argue for the importance of an orga- were subject to “the plain of forgetfulness” and Likewise, instead of focusing on people’s religious to a judgment process wherein they were held nized governing unit characterized by a system of drank from “the rivers of unmindedness.” In as- viewpoints and practices as more individualistic or directly and openly accountable for their earthly law (Laws, I:625-631).18 suming their new lives, thus, the souls would not deeds. After judgment, some souls were allowed know from whence they came or how they arrived to go directly to heaven, but many had to spend in their subsequent states. time in Hades. Here, they were to undergo ten-fold punishments for instances of human wrongdoing Socrates concludes saying that it is only in the quest before they might be considered for admission to for virtue and justice that people may deal with good heaven. The souls of those who are judged to have and evil, be valued by one another and the gods, been particularly wicked would never leave the and successfully deal with the long-term pilgrimage gruesome conditions of the underworld. Notably, of the soul. [Republic ends on this note.] 22 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 This statement on Plato’s Laws is developed from the translations of Benjamin Jowett (1937), A. E. Taylor (Hamilton and Cairns 1961), and Trevor J. Saunders (Cooper 1997). 17 Those familiar with Thomas Hobbes’ (1588-1679) Leviathan (1994) will recognize the particular affinities of these materials with Hobbes’ conception of the state as one wherein everyone is in a natural condition of conflict with one another. As evidenced in Hobbes’ translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (1975) and his synopsis of Aristotle’s Rhetoric (1984), Hobbes seems well versed in Greek scholarship. Readers also may appreciate that the last half (and most controversial part) of Leviathan represents Hobbes’ attempt to establish a more virtuous community (with or without religion). 18 terfuse with notions of divinity. mechanistic matters, Plato’s speakers explicitly acAmong other aspects of government, Plato’s speakers deal with constitutional matters pertaining to state and civil affairs, office holders and management concerns, deviance and regulation, family relations and child rearing prectices, trade and international relations, and entertainment, as well as religion. While considering the ways that a more just state might be established, the speakers are also concerned about the ways that a state of that sort might be maintained and how the various participants within might be encouraged to pursue viewpoints and activities that correspond with and contribute to the broader objectives of the state while also achieving higher levels of individual virtue. 19 Qualitative Sociology Review • 23 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws knowledge the ways in which people envision, en- Later, when discussing the formation of an ideal this manner, the Athenian alleges, can expect to be activities that threaten the state (as in treason, revolu- gage, and experience religion in more active and state, the speakers (Laws, IV:709) consider the pri- appropriately rewarded by the gods. tion). Those who jeopardize the security of the state interactive terms. Thus, they seem particularly con- mary elements affecting human experiences. They cerned with the images, beliefs, and practices that identify three competing viewpoints on social order. people develop within the collectively enacted (and In addition to claims that (a) human experiences are sustained) features of community life. Further, al- largely matters of chance and (b) people can control though Plato’s speakers assume and/or insist on more distinctive theological stances at times, they are also attentive to the relativist, problematic, and socially constituted nature of people’s religious experiences. As with the preceding consideration of Republic, this statement follows the overall flow that Plato develops in Laws. While enabling readers more readily to locate specific materials on religion in Laws, this ordering may also help remind readers that Plato does not envision religion as something unto itself, but instead deals with religion as a collectively-achieved, community-based phenomenon. Later, noting that young people not only are partic- would think it impious to inquire into the nature of ularly apt to engage in excesses, but also tend to be the supreme God and the universe more generally. insolent in disposition, the Athenian (Laws, X:884- However, adopting the standpoint that the best and -885) reiterates the group’s viewpoint that the worst truest knowledge of all things would be good for crimes are those against religion. Still, he adds, be- the state and would seem acceptable in every way fore deciding on punishment, one should ascertain to God, they proceed. Indeed, they contend, such the more particular religious frameworks to which things are important if the citizens and youth are particular offenders subscribe. He contends that no After some discussion of the problematics of hu- more fully to appreciate the gods and act appropri- one would act in such offensive manners unless man governors and legislation, the Athenian argues ately and reverently toward them. they (a) do not believe the gods exist; (b) do not be- or shape outcomes through artful (as in technology, skill, focused effort) endeavor, the speakers also acknowledge a third position, that (c) the gods control all things, including all aspects of chance and meaningful human conduct. for the importance of divinely-inspired guidance in the affairs of state. Drawing on a fable of a city that should be named after God, the Athenian (Laws, IV:713-716) briefly describes the ideal state that guides his subsequent commentary. Viewing divine goodness as the most desirable condition to which asks if it might not be appropriate to view people people may aspire, the emphasis is on pursuing as “the puppets of the gods.”20 Still, whether people worldly rule in ways that are consistent with divine constitute the playthings of the gods or were created notions of virtue and justice. ence a range of tensions between virtuous and dishonorable activities and struggle with these matters through reason and legislation.21 In the midst of a broader discussion of education, the Athenian will make another reference to “people being the playthings of the gods” (Laws, VII:558). He encourages people to assume this role as best they are able. The parallels with Stoic philosophy are much more evident in Laws than in Republic. 20 Using the consumption of alcohol as an illustrative reference point, the Athenian (Laws, I:645-651) considers (a) people’s concerns with self regulation, (b) their encounters with pleasurable experiences and temptations, and (c) their attentiveness to pain, evil, and disgrace, as well as (d) their participation in social occasions, and (e) the situated development of character. An analysis of people’s drinking activities may seem somewhat peripheral to many readers, but the Athenian pointedly observes that a sustained knowledge of people’s tendencies and practices is of greatest importance for the art of politics (i.e., political science). Plato does not draw explicit linkages between self-regulation, religion, and virtue at this point, but the parallels seem evident. Thus, in contrast to the view that “man is the measure of all things” (Protagoras), the Athenian insists that God is to be recognized as the measure of all that is (Laws, IV:716) and is to be honored as such. Relatedly, good people will be known by their reverence for God while the unjust would only waste their time making offerings to the gods. 21 24 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 also are to be treated severely. the speakers (Laws, VII:821) note that some people Fairly early in Laws, the Athenian (Laws, I:644-645) with other purposes, he observes that people experi- As part of a broader consideration of education, The Athenian (Laws, IV:717) subsequently establishes a hierarchy of honor to which humans should attend, with the Olympian gods and the gods of the state assuming priority over all other beings. They are followed, in turn, by the demons and spirits of the underworld, the heroes, ancestor gods, and one’s parents (living or dead). Those who honor in With the Athenian again taking the lead, the speakers (Laws, VIII:828-829) next discuss the institution of religious festivals, the laws governing their im- lieve that the gods, if they exist, care about people; or (c) believe the gods exist, but also think that the gods easily can be pacified. plementation and conduct, the specific gods to be Continuing, the Athenian (Laws, X:885) states that, honored on particular occasions, and the ways in when confronted with crimes against religion, the which sacrifices and other tributes may be arranged offenders are apt to defend their activities. Thus, to maximize (divinely-bestowed) benefits for the they may insist that they should be understood be- state more generally. fore being punished and that they require proofs, Following considerations of other state festivals and contests, as well as the regulation of the marketplace variously, that gods exist, that the gods care, and that they are not easily appeased.22 (commodities, participants, and practices within), the In developing a response, the Cretan (Laws, X:886) emphasis shifts (Laws, IX) to law suits involving the first states that the ordering of the universe consti- citizens at large. After noting that legislation serves tutes a proof of divine existence, as also does the to deter crime (as a result of implied punishment), as fact that all manners of Greeks and Barbarians be- well as provide a basis of punishing people for their lieve in the gods. misdeeds (Laws, IX:853), the Athenian states the first law should prohibit theft from temples (Laws, IX:854855). Penalties for these offenders are to be severe and unavoidable. Hence, whereas strangers and slaves who commit such offenses are to be branded, beaten, and banished, citizens (as better educated and responsible members of the community) are to be executed. The next most reprehensible crimes involve Despite his own agreement with the Cretan, the Athenian cautions him that these claims will not be adequate in themselves. Indeed, the Athenian says, In accepting the challenges posed in these defenses, Plato’s speakers will address some of the most consequential issues in religious studies. Indeed, it is not until Cicero’s (106-43 BCE) On the Nature of the Gods that matters of these sorts are given more extended philosophic consideration in the extant literature (also see Prus 2011e). 22 Qualitative Sociology Review • 25 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws the poets and philosophers have greatly complicated are told by them that the highest right is might, and erything to fire, water, earth, and air) are in error the individuals within. Indeed, the Athenian (Laws, matters. While the poets have introduced all sorts of in this way the young fall into impieties, under the because they neglect the spiritual, divine essence X:904-905) explains, people are assigned to places that must precede the existence of all other matter. that best enable them to contribute to the larger or- It is only the soul that alone is capable of moving it- der of destiny. Relatedly, those who are more virtu- that is, to live in real dominion over others, and not in self; of initiating change from within. Likewise, the ous will be rewarded while those who act in evil legal subjection to them. Athenian states, it is the soul that has given motion ways also will be punished accordingly. However, to all other things. he adds, because people are unable to see the larg- dubious tales about the gods, their genealogies, and their behaviors, some philosophers have claimed that the heavenly bodies are no more than chunks of earth and stone and that these material essences have no regard for humans. Likewise, the Athenian observes, these (material) philosophers argue that religion is entirely fictional in essence. idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions, these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, [Athenian:] ...what should the lawgiver do when this evil is of long standing? ... Should he not rather, when he is making laws for men, at the same time infuse the spirit of persuasion into his words, and mitigate er scheme of things, they may not understand the Continuing this line of argument, the Athenian more exacting nature of divine justice. posits that since the soul inhabits all things that move, the soul is the cause of evil, as well as good, Having arrived at this point, the Athenian (Laws, and the unjust, as well as the just. Presumably, how- X:905-906) next takes issue with those who think ever, the world is governed by the better aspects of the gods easily can be placated or appeased with the soul, or by the better soul (assuming that there respect to human wrongdoing. Emphasizing that leave nothing unsaid in support of the ancient opin- are good and evil souls). Proceeding in this man- the gods are people’s greatest allies in the conflict ion that there are Gods, and of all those other truths between good and evil, he says that it is absurd to Noting that there always are some people who have ner, the Athenian proposes that somewhat differ- which you were just now mentioning; he ought to ent souls or spiritual essences may be involved in assume that the gods are so fickle or greedy that doubts despite their upbringing and their awareness support the law and also art, and acknowledge that sustaining all heavenly objects. they can be bribed into instances of dishonor or Recognizing the limitations of merely legislating on the premise that the gods exist, the Athenian (Laws, X:887) suggests that they find some ways of persuading others that the gods do exist, that they care, and that they are genuinely attentive to justice. that others believe, the Athenian (Laws, X:888-890) proposes that they consider the position of the philosophers who deny any divine intervention; who say the universe is the product of nature and chance the severity of them as far as he can? [Cleinias:] Why, Stranger, if such persuasion be at all possible, then a legislator who has anything in him ought never to weary of persuading men; he ought to both alike exist by nature, and no less than nature, if they are the creations of mind in accordance with injustice. Indeed, the Athenian asserts, as people’s Hinging his position on the argument that “the soul principal guardians, the gods would act in people’s I am disposed to agree with you in thinking. (Plato must be the origin of all things,” the Athenian (Laws, best interests. [Laws, X:889-890]; Jowett trans.) X:899) concludes he has said enough on the existence right reason, as you appear to me to maintain, and alone or that all humanly known things are the of the gods. He now turns attention to those who be- Then, describing himself as zealous in his opposi- products of nature, chance, and human endeavor. Mindful of the long-standing nature of religious lieve that the gods exist, but do not believe that they tion to evil people, the Athenian (Laws, X:907-909) Summarizing the positions of these philosophers, skepticism, the speakers stress the importance of care about the condition and affairs of humans. proposes imprisonment for impious persons. The the Athenian states: using the laws to persuade rather than threaten the citizenry. However, they (Laws, X:891) also observe In an attempt to convince people that the gods do for the religious viewpoints and practices of others that, once instituted, the laws can help maintain the care, the Athenian (Laws, X:900) begins by assert- may avoid imprisonment, but those who are more very viewpoints they reference. Still, in the absence ing that the gods are good and possess virtue, as openly critical of the religious practices of others of other defenders of religion and virtue, the speak- in courage, honor, and responsibility. Likewise, the and subject believers to ridicule are to be placed of those who make them; and that the honourable is ers envision their duty as legislators to encourage Athenian (Laws, X:901-903) observes that the gods in a reformatory for a five year term. Second time one thing by nature and another thing by law, and honorable viewpoints wherever possible. know all things that people do and that these di- offenders would be sentenced to death. Other non- vine souls have the power to accopmplish many believers who commit offenses against divinity or things both great and small. humanity are seen as incorrigible and are to be [Athenian:] In the first place, my dear friend, these people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing Then, embarking on what will be a more sustained about them and altering them; and that the altera- argument for the existence of the gods, the Athe- tions which are made by art and by law have no basis sentenced to life imprisonment. nian (Laws, X:891-899) develops the position that the Further, the Athenian stresses, it is important for soul (as a living, spiritual essence) must precede the people to remember that they came about only as Next, noting that gods and temples are not easily are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writ- material features of the universe. He contends that part of a much larger creation process rather than instituted and sustained, the Athenian proposes ers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They the physical (material) philosophers (who reduce ev- presume that the larger creation was developed for that citizens also are to be forbidden from estab- in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made. These, my friends, 26 nonbelievers who maintain a tolerance and respect ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 Qualitative Sociology Review • 27 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws lishing personal temples, as well as practicing sac- extremely sketchy at best. Still, for our more imme- afterlife.24 Not only do people’s souls survive their spirational or motivational focus. Not only is reli- rifices and other religious rituals in private settings diate purposes, it may be sufficient to acknowledge mortal bodies, but death also is not to be feared by gion interfused with other aspects of human group (Laws, X:909-910). three aspects of Plato’s material on religion: (a) theo- those who have lived virtuous lives. While devel- activity and interchange as part of the developmen- logical standpoints; (b) considerations of the moral oped more fully in Timaeus and Phaedo, the preced- tal flows of community life, but religion is also de- order of community life; and (c) a more distinctive ing notions are also notably evident in Republic and pendent on human enterprise for its continuity. pragmatist (or constructionist) philosophic analysis Laws. Still, even though Plato’s speakers endorse of religion. religious viewpoints and practices of this sort just In concluding Laws (XII:964-966), Plato’s speakers emphasize the importance of the guardians or administrators of the city-state being people of virtue. Thus, the guardians are to possess courage, temperance (self control), justice, and prudence (judgment). In addition, the speakers insist that all those who outlined, it also should be noted that they invoke Theological Representations occupy these elevated offices also have knowledge When approaching Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and of the gods and be inspired accordingly. Laws, it is important to acknowledge the overarch- Summarizing their religious viewpoints, the speakers insist that the two main arguments for believing in the gods revolve around the priority or pre-existence of a (divine) soul and the ordered nature of the universe. These are the two essential principles that characterize a true believer. ing theological standpoint (predominantly following Pythagoras and Socrates) that Plato’s speakers introduce. Expressed in highly compact terms, the theological position that Plato represents most centrally rests on the claim that there is a single intelligence that created and oversees the entire universe and all things that inhabit the universe. This intel- Still, in addition to an attentiveness to divinity and ligence not only has given the universe an adjustive the other virtuous attributes associated with those or organic capacity, but also created other essences who would govern the city, the speakers require yet (lesser gods) that administer aspects of the universe one more element for a constitutional government, and give people souls “of an infinite nature” to in- a council of magistrates to oversee the governors habit their temporary mortal bodies. (i.e., to “regulate the regulators”). Laws concludes with the Cretan and the Lacedaemonian insisting Of all earthly creatures, people not only have been that they would like to enlist the services of the given the greatest capacities for reason, religion, and Athenian in developing their state. virtue, but also the most pronounced sensations for Plato in Perspective In this section of the paper, I briefly overview Plato’s philosophy of religion as this pertains to both his theological and his sociological emphases. Because Plato engages so many topics pertinent to religion in the texts considered here,23 this overview will be Plato also introduces some materials pertaining to theology and the soul (as a spiritual essence) in Socrates Defense or Apology (on theology), Cratylus (on the soul), and Phaedrus (on the soul). 23 28 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 desires, temptations, and evil. Accordingly, it is in the human condition that notions of good and evil are experienced most comprehensively. It is in striving for perfection, in living virtuous, moral lives, and otherwise imitating divinity that people would more completely (closely) become one with God in the afterlife. Conversely, those failing to live virtuous lives will suffer the consequences of their human shortcomings and injustices in the broader, more notably pluralist, pragmatist analytic standpoints even as they do so. Accordingly, Plato’s speakers seek out ways to insure that people will envision religion as a more consequential feature of human existence and follow a code for more virtuous life-styles. His spokespeople also intend to defend religion from those who disregard, misrepresent, or otherwise fail to accord (communi- Religion and Moral Order ty-endorsed) religion an appropriate level of respect. Matters pertaining to the social or moral order of More important than a particular religion or set of the community are given some attention in Timaeus beliefs, (potentially any) religion is seen as provid- and Phaedo, but they are pursued much more exten- ing an integrative community quality and is deemed sively in Republic and Laws. Still, because the present central to the moral order of the community. statement has focused more exclusively on religion rather than the associated matters of politics, educa- Notably, although expressing some particular theo- tion, family life, deviance, and regulation, readers logical viewpoints, Plato’s spokespeople invoke more will obtain only a very partial consideration of the distinctive pragmatic standpoints as they attend to matters of state and civility from the preceding dis- the actualities and problematics of regulating human cussions of these texts. conduct. Plato’s concerns about the socialization of Thus, while endeavoring to establish models for the poets (Republic) are especially relevant here as also entire realm of people’s political (community) lives are his discussions of poetic representations of divin- in Republic and Laws, Plato also considers the ways ity as a basis for knowing and acting and his focused that people do things and attempts to find ways of considerations of censure as a regulatory endeavor. young people and the corrupting influences of the more closely aligning people’s current relationships and practices with more ideal notions of community Plato’s discussions of deviance on the part of the justice, individual virtues, and afterlife salvation. young and people’s more general disregard of di- Whereas religion is seen as a vital component of haviors are similarly instructive. In these and other community life, religion is much more than an in- discussions of morality (good and evil), readers are Clearly, Plato does not subscribe to the representations of the gods depicted in the texts of poets such as Homer and Hesiod. Stressing the importance of people living virtuous lives with respect to one another, Plato also questions the value of piety as it is commonly envisioned and pursued through sacrifices and prayers. Likewise, Plato recognizes that religious viewpoints are not uniformly acknowledged or practiced. 24 vinity in monitoring and adjusting their own be- also introduced to pragmatist features of human intersubjectivity and agency ‒ of people developing a knowledge of things through linguistic association with others and acting in deliberative, purposive, adjustive terms. Qualitative Sociology Review • 29 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Pragmatist Motifs and evil; and (d) temptations, justifications, defens- and their concerns about justice, it should be noted while preferring religion of virtually any sort to a so- es, and sanctions for wrongdoing. that Plato does not subject religion to a sustained dia- ciety without religion, Plato seems particularly con- Plato may be a “theologian interested in saving lectic analysis (and more totalizing skepticism asso- cerned that any religion promoted within the com- souls,” as well as a “moral entrepreneur” (Becker Still, despite the many matters that Plato engages with ciated thereof) of the sort he invokes with respect to 1963) concerned about order and justice within the respect to religion, including an illustration of the cir- munity would emphasize justice on a broad basis and truth, self knowledge, courage, loyalty, wisdom, and virtue at an interpersonal, more individualized level. human community, but in contrast to most theolo- cular reasoning implied in people’s more common no- knowing (e.g., see Cratylus, Gorgias, Laches, Philebus, gians and moralists, Plato addresses issues about the tions of piety or holiness (Euthyphro), and Plato’s overt Theaetetus).26 Whereas a more sustained dialectic con- origins, variations, significance, and maintenance of discussion of doubts or disbelief that people might sideration of religion would have added to the overall people’s religious viewpoints and practices in nota- have about the existence of the gods, their activities, value of Plato’s pragmatist analysis of religion, as well bly direct pluralist, humanly engaged terms. 25 Thus, Plato approaches religion both as an essence developed within the community and as an enacted realm of activity that is maintained in conjunction with other aspects of community life. Accordingly, he introduces many matters of great consequence to a pragmatist sociology of religion. In acknowledging the multiple viewpoints that people may adopt with respect to religion and divinity, Plato’s speakers also consider: the problematics of knowing divinity (evidence/arguments/ways). In more relativist terms, his speakers also ask whether divine essences exist, care about humans and their activities, and would forgive human transgressions. Even more consequentially in sociological terms, Plato focuses attention on the processes of constructing and sustaining religious beliefs and practices. He also considers the linkages of religion with other realms of community life (as in the interconnections and interdependencies of religion, politics, law, education, and poetics). Attending to people as active, minded participants in the community, Plato’s notions of religion also encompass matters pertaining to (a) human agency, justice, virtue, and afterlife existences; (b) the interlinkages of people’s activities and beliefs; (c) people’s exposure to notions of, and tendencies toward, good 30 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 25 Albeit one of Plato’s shortest dialogues, Euthyphro (hereafter, EU) is notable for the ways in which Plato (with Socrates as his principal spokesperson) questions people’s notions and pursuits of piety. The dialogue (I have relied primarily on Jowett’s translation [1937]) is set outside the courtroom, where Socrates awaits charges of corrupting the youth by introducing new versions of religious beliefs. On encountering Euthyphro, who claims to be acting in a pious manner in charging his own father with murder, Socrates expresses the desire to learn about piety and the standards implied within (EU:1-5). After being informed that people commonly define piety as that which pleases the gods, Socrates asks Euthyphro if things are holy because the gods value them or whether the gods value things because they are holy? In developing a response, Euthyphro (EU:6) identifies the poets as the principal sources of people’s notions of the gods. Reflecting on poetic representations of the gods, Socrates (EU:713) asks Euthyphro if the gods (like people) adopt differing standpoints on the meanings of things (including notions of good and evil, as well as justice and culpability) and if the gods, accordingly, are at odds with one another in the things they most value. Euthyphro’s answers suggest that even divine standards for piety, holiness, and the like are vague, if not also contradictory. When Euthyphro adopts the position that “the holy is defined by what the gods value” and “what the gods value is holy,” Socrates (EU:14) asks for more clarification. In particular, Socrates asks about the art or practice of piety and what people hope to achieve by being pious. After discerning that piety revolves around the dual practices of sacrificing or giving to the gods and praying or asking for concessions from the gods, Socrates asks whether piety has any substantial meaning for the parties (people and gods) involved. Continuing, Socrates (EU:15) observes that people often appear to benefit much from the work of the gods, but that the gods appear to have no need of anything from people. When Euthyphro insists on the importance of honoring (and thus pleasing) the gods (something they would not seem to require), Socrates points out that he and Euthyphro have done little more than go around in circles. Seemingly frustrated, Euthyphro says that he has no time to discuss the matter further. In response, Socrates expresses disappointment that he will not benefit by learning more about piety. Although Plato’s Euthyphro questions the validity of people’s notions of piety, as well as the value of sacrifices and prayers for the religiously inclined, it may be appreciated that the matters that Euthyphro emphasizes clearly are not central to Socrates’ notions of theology (wherein the emphasis is on living a virtuous life combined with an enduring philosophic quest for wisdom as the means of more adequately achieving a spiritual oneness with divinity). Plato and Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic interaction rests in the last analysis on three simple premises. The first premise is that hu- as his considerations of the functionalist qualities of man beings act toward things on the basis of the religion for community life, his pragmatist and func- meanings they have for them... The second premise tionalist considerations of religion are of substantial is that the meaning of such things is derived from, significance for the sociology of religion. However, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has the absence of a fuller dialectic (comparative) analy- with one’s fellows. The third premise is that these meanings are handled in, and modified through, an sis of religion suggests that Plato intends to stress the interpretative process used by the person in dealing more uniquely indispensable quality of a collective with the things he encounters. (Blumer 1969:2) attentiveness to divinity as the cornerstone of community morality. As a preliminary caveat, it might be observed that On another level, Plato is highly mindful of the pragmatist functional features of religion for the community at large (as in fostering conformity, cohesion, and devotion to the well-being of the community).27 Still, If one uses Socrates as Plato’s primary reference point, then true religion (as a route to a genuine, divinely-enabled existence) is best epitomized by those who promote justice at a community level, pursue virtue in their own lives and dealings with others, and strive for philosophic wisdom of divinity in the company of like-minded others. Because he does not speak directly for himself, Plato’s own views on religion have been the subject of much intellectual debate as well as extended theological intrigue. It may be the case that, being cognizant of the hostile treatments accorded Heraclitus, Socrates, and others who offended the theological sensitivities of the broader Greek community, Plato endeavored to engage religion in more ambiguous (and circumspect) terms. However, Plato’s exemption of religion from a fuller dialectic analysis may reflect his own theological sympathies and/or broader concerns about maintaining the moral order of the community. Still, regardless of his own position on religion, we can be grateful to Plato for addressing people’s experiences with religion in such a broad and often pluralist assortment of analytic terms. 27 Although Plato discusses religion in “structuralist-functionalist” terms at times, wherein outcomes are envisioned as the products of earlier institutionalized practices, Plato is also attentive to a “pragmatist functionalism” wherein people (as reflective, deliberately, strategizing agents) act in regulatory, cooperative, and uncooperative ways ‒ with particular outcomes emerging as part of this minded, interactive flow. 26 no one working in the interactionist tradition has approached the sociology of religion in a way that compares with the scope achieved by Plato.28 However, in asking to what extent Plato’s considerations of religion resonate with an interactionist approach, it is instrucThus, whereas Prus (1997) briefly outlines an agenda for the interactionist study of religion and introduces an extended set of interactionist-based resources that one might use to study religion or any other realm of human endeavor and some interactionist ethnographic research on religion is cited elsewhere in this paper, interactionist research and analysis generally has had a comparatively limited scope with respect to the sociology of religion. Among those in the interactionist community, William Shaffir’s (1974; 1978a; 1978b; 1983; 1987; 1991; 1993; 1995a; 1995b; 1998a; 1998b; 2000a; 2000b; 2001; 2002; 2004; 2006; 2007) work on religion is especially significant. Speaking more generally, there are few analyses of religion as realms of human lived experience that may be compared to the texts developed by Plato. The most notable approximations include Cicero’s (106-43 BCE) On the Nature of the Gods, Thomas Aquinas’ (12251274) Summa Theologica, and Emile Durkheim’s (1858-1917) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Those familiar with Berger and Luckmann’s The Social Construction of Reality (1966) will recognize many affinities between constructionist and interactionist approaches to the study of religion. Nevertheless, like the interactionists, the constructionists have developed little research on religion as a humanly enacted realm of activity. Notably, despite the text that Berger and Luckmann jointly published in 1966, neither Thomas Luckmann (1967) nor Peter Berger (1967) have much to offer to a social constructionist analysis of religion. 28 Qualitative Sociology Review • 31 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws tive to compare Plato’s materials with interactionist (a) spect to one’s own being that people become ob- premises, (b) methodology, and (c) analytic emphasis. jects unto themselves (and act accordingly). 11. Human group life takes place in instances. Communi- all manners of community life in the ongoing or ty life is best known through an attentiveness to emergent instances of the “here and now” in which the particular occasions in which people engage they find themselves, (11) the “whatness” of human Building directly on Herbert Blumer’s (1969) excep- 6. Human group life is sensory/embodied and (knowingly) tionally valuable text on the theoretical and method- things. Conceptions of human experience are to materialized. Among the realms of humanly know- group life by examining the instances in which com- ological foundations of symbolic interaction, along be developed mindfully of, and tested against, ing “what is” and “what is not,” people develop an munity life take place, and (12) the ongoing flows with some related sources (see Mead 1934; Blumer the particular occasions or instances in which awareness of [the material or physical things] that of community life in each area of human endeavor 1969; Strauss 1993; Prus 1996; 1997; 1999; Prus and people attend to and otherwise act toward self, others in the community recognize. This includes ‒ even as people linguistically, mindedly, and be- Grills 2003), I have delineated twelve premises or as- other, and other objects of their awareness. attending to some [sensory/body/physiological] es- haviorally build on, accept, resist, and reconfigure sumptions that inform the interactionist paradigm. sences of human beings (self and other), acknowl- 12. Human group life is historically informed, cultur- edging human capacities for stimulation and ac- ally enabled, collectively sustained. Whereas activ- Addressing central features of symbolic interactionism, these premises provide consequential reference tivity, and recognizing some realms of practical points for our subsequent considerations of religion: (enacted, embodied) human limitations and fragilities. Still, neither phenomena, nor sensations, 1. Human group life is intersubjective. Human group life is accomplished (and made meaningful) through community-based, linguistic interchange. 2. Human group life is knowingly problematic. Rather than positing an objective or inherently meaningful reality, it is through activity, interchange, and symbol-based references that people begin to distinguish (i.e., delineate, designate, and define) realms of “the known” and “the unknown.” 3. Human group life is object-oriented. Denoting any phenomenon or thing that can be referenced (observed, referred to, indicated, acted toward, or otherwise knowingly experienced), [objects] constitute the contextual and operational essence of the humanly known environment. 4. Human group life is (multi)perspectival. As groups of people engage the world on an ongoing basis, they develop viewpoints, conceptual frameworks, or notions of reality that may differ from those of other groups. 5. Human group life is reflective. It is by taking the perspective of the other into account with re- 32 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 7. ity takes place in instances, community life and the interchanges that develop within are built up over time, through shared sets of meanings, nor motions are meaningful in themselves. practices, technologies, and other artifacts that Human group life is activity-based. Human behavior collectively developed memories of the groups (action and interaction) is envisioned as a mean- and the individuals within. ingful, deliberative, formulative (engaging) process of doing things with respect to [objects]. become embedded within the life-worlds and aspects of the (cultural) “whatness” that they have inherited from their predecessors and have come to know from their more immediate associates, as well as through their adjustive considerations of earlier, present, and anticipated activities. Because Plato introduces a broad array of emphases (including theology, idealism, morality, structuralism, functionalism, and totalizing skepticism) in his texts, only some of his work has a more discernable Although rudimentary in certain respects, these premises have profound conceptual and method- pragmatist quality. However, if one may judge by the texts considered in this paper, as well as some of Plato’s other works (e.g., Cratylus, Theaetetus, States- 8. Human group life is negotiable. Because human ological implications for those studying the human activity frequently involves direct interactions condition. They encourage social scientists to ac- man, Sophist), it is quite apparent that Plato is highly with others, people may anticipate and strive to knowledge (1) the ways in which people make sense cognizant of most matters addressed in these prem- of the world in the course of symbolic (linguistic) ises with respect to human knowing and acting. interchange, (2) the problematic or ambiguous na- Still, rather than examine the “whatness” of human ture of human knowing (and experience), (3) the group life in the actual instances in which they oc- 9. Human group life is relational. People do things object-oriented worlds in which humans operate, cur, Plato focuses his analysis on more prototypical within group contexts; people act mindfully of, (4) people’s capacities for developing and adopting or generic categories of phenomena. Still, interest- and in conjunction with, their definitions of self multiple viewpoints on [objects], (5) people’s abili- ingly, and to his credit as a dialectician, Plato often and other (i.e., self-other identities). ties to take themselves and others into account in insists on examining particular matters from a vari- engaging [objects], (6) people’s sensory-related ca- ety of standpoints (something that is much less com- 10. Human group life is processual. Human lived ex- pacities and [linguistically meaningful] experienc- mon in contemporary scholarship). periences (and activities) are viewed in emer- es, (7) the meaningful, formulative, and enabling gent, ongoing, or temporally developed terms. features of human activity, (8) people’s capacities for On the surface, Plato’s materials seem more re- The emphasis, accordingly, is on how people (as influencing, acknowledging, and resisting one an- moved from the interactionists on a methodologi- agents) make sense of and enter into the instanc- other, (9) the ways that people take their associates cal level. Unlike his student Aristotle (384-322 BCE), es and flows of human group life in meaningful, into account in developing their lines of action, (10) who insists on examining things in the instances purposive terms. the ways that people experience (and accomplish) and developing concepts from comparisons of the influence others, as well as acknowledge and resist the influences of others. Qualitative Sociology Review • 33 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws instances,29 Plato is much more uneven in his em- typic representations of human knowing and act- Although analytic induction is the central means by of human group life with which the interactionists phases. ing, Plato provides us with an extended corpus of which people achieve generalizations and concepts grapple in their research and analysis (as in speech sophisticated ethnohistorical materials.31 of all sorts,34 comparative reasoning has not been and meaning, viewpoints, identities, relationships, pursued with great intensity or in more sustained activities, negotiation, reflectivity, coordination, con- As a theologian, Plato argues for the purity and infinite superiority of divinely-inspired knowing. At Although some contemporary interactionists have other times, too, Plato subjects all knowing to a (more ways by many of those in the human sciences. flict, deviance, and regulation). Further, Plato’s care- studied aspects of people’s involvements in reli- thoroughly relativistic) dialectic analysis in which Pla- Whereas Plato develops his analyses of religion on ful methods of reasoning and questioning are highly gion in more detailed and situated terms than Plato to’s principal speaker, Socrates, claims “the best that more abstract levels and the interactionists situate instructive for any who might attempt to come to does, it also should be acknowledged that Plato in- can be known is that nothing can be known.” Still, in much of their analyses of religion in ethnographic terms with the study of human knowing and acting. troduces an extended array of process-related issues other places (especially see Republic and Laws), Plato research, both Plato and some interactionists (see (pertaining to the matters of human knowing and puts great stress on human language, sensation, ac- Glaser and Strauss 1967; Blumer 1969; Strauss 1993; acting in religious and associated spheres) that the Prus 1996; 1997; 1999; Prus and Grills 2003) make ex- interactionists have yet to consider.33 tensive use of comparative reasoning in developing tion, and collectively achieved and sustained culture. In these latter regards, there is much in Plato’s work 32 their conceptual frames. Still, Plato’s analyses lack a “groundedness in the instances” that the interactionists emphasize in their ethnographic research. Although most of Plato’s dialectic analyses involve references to aspects of human lived experience and some of his texts (e.g., Republic, that presages George Herbert Mead’s (1934) attentive- With this last point, we move into a third theme ness to “the generalized other.” involving Plato and Chicago-style interactionism. As an analyst, Plato not only insists on his speakers Laws) are especially attentive to the processes and This revolves around the use of analytic induction defining their terms of reference, but he also subjects problematics of human group life, Plato’s analyses and the development of process-oriented concepts speaker viewpoints and observations to extended are still notably limited with respect to the actual in- (based on comparisons of similarities, differences, comparative analysis. Thus, whereas Plato may be stances in which people do things.35 As well, whereas and inferences thereof). best known for his dialectic analysis, his dialectic Plato’s analytic objectives are more mixed or diffuse, Given these apparent contradictions in Plato’s “methodology,” scholars adopting more pluralist or pragmatist approaches will find parts of Plato’s dialogues much more relevant than other components and will need to adjust accordingly. Still, because his materials are so detailed, analytically astute, and involve comparisons of prototypic cases, Plato provides contemporary readers with valuable depictions of people’s practices in religious, philosophic, and poetic arenas. 30 Plato’s texts lack the more consistent pluralist and secular methodological rigor and attention to “instances in the making” that one associates with Chicago-style ethnography. Nevertheless, even in his more protoFor a fuller consideration of some of the parallels between Aristotle’s views of human group life and contemporary symbolic interactionism, see Prus (2003b; 2004; 2007a; 2008a; 2009a). 29 Insofar as theologians attempt to “explain something,” discourse about religion may be seen as philosophic in that broader sense. However, the distinction here refers to the more pluralist/analytic features of philosophic endeavor. In contrast to many theologians, thus, Plato may be seen both as a (partisan) religious spokesperson and a philosopher in this latter, more distinctively pluralist/analytic sense. As Plato is also well aware, the distinctions between “theologians” and “poets” are not as sharp as some might claim. 30 34 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 It also may be appreciated that Plato assumes the role of a “participant observer” in developing his dialogues. Plato sometimes obscures his texts with literary playfulness (and fictionalization), but Plato is very much a participant and analyst of the broader philosophic (and theological) life-worlds about which he writes. Thus, like more extended contemporary ethnographies, Plato’s ethnohistorical materials (e.g., Republic and Laws) are to be valued for their contributions to a broader understanding of “the generalized other” (Mead 1934). In that sense, Plato’s texts add notably to our “collective wisdom about human group life.” 31 analysis invokes analytic induction wherein things are continuously and extensively compared with respect to similarities, differences, and the inferences (claims and uncertainties) thereof. Even though Plato often ends his analyses by establishing the problematic nature of human knowing, readers may learn a great deal about people’s viewpoints and activities, For some interactionist ethnographic work on religion, see Simmons (1964), Shaffir (1974; 1978a; 1978b; 1983; 1987; 1991; 1993; 1995a; 1995b; 1998a; 1998b; 2000a; 2000b; 2001; 2002; 2004; 2006; 2007), Prus (1976; 2011d; 2011e), Kleinman (1984), Shepherd (1987), Jorgensen (1992), Heilman (1998; 2002), and Kahl (2012). Although not an interactionist, Van Zandt’s (1991) work is largely consistent with this approach. Also see Festinger, Riecken, and Schachter (1956). as well as the concepts with which participants (and Thus, for instance, Plato not only is especially attentive to the developmental flows (and disruptions) of collective beliefs in the broader community, but he also is mindful of the ways that various people (e.g., poets, law-makers, priests, and citizens at large) enter into this process. As well, Plato is attentive to the enacted interchanges of members of the community with respect to their notions of religion, poetics, law, justice, deviance, morality, and the like. For example, Plato’s speakers in Republic and Laws plan to use the laws, traditions, and emergent practices to “prop up” people’s involvements in religion, as well as use religion as a motivational reference point in fostering loyalty to the state. lytic induction emerges as the single most central en- 32 33 any outside analysts) may work by attending to the comparisons Plato develops. Albeit often presented in the form of questions regarding particular claims and observations, amidst some deductive reasoning, anaabling feature of Plato’s analysis of community life. Those who examine Plato’s dialogues will find that he is attentive to a great many of the complexities As Aristotle (see Spangler 1998) observed, all knowing involves comparisons of things with other things ‒ that things can be known only in relation to other things. 34 the Chicago interactionists (see Blumer 1969; Strauss 1993; Prus 1996; 1997; 1999; Prus and Grills 2003) are more consistently attentive to the task of developing generic, process-oriented concepts with which to explain the nature of human group life. Thus, while recognizing the analytic resources that Plato brings to the study of group life as humanly engaged fields of activity and the study of religion as realms of humanly accomplished lived experience within, we also may acknowledge some of the resources that the interactionists more specifically offer to the study of religion as an ongoing feature of community life. First, insofar as analysts attend to the relevance of generic social processes for comprehending the 35 By contrast, Aristotle (more like the interactionists) explicitly insists on the necessity of knowing things (i.e., by developing concepts and connections) from sustained examinations of the instances in which things occur. Qualitative Sociology Review • 35 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws nature of human group life, the interactionist litera- In developing this statement, two objectives were Because of his remarkable attentiveness to hu- Plato’s work on religion that one encounters in the ture could be used more systematically to inform pursued. The first major task was to provide a more man knowing and acting (as in speech, reflectiv- literature, but that Plato’s, as well as Durkheim’s the study of religion pertaining to people’s (a) careers sustained (chapter and verse) depiction of Plato’s ity, objects, activity, and strategic interchange), analysis of religion becomes even more compel- of participation (initial involvements, continuities and consideration of religion in Timaeus, Phaedo, Repub- Plato’s texts represent an invaluable set of tran- ling when the two sets of analyses are considered intensifications, disinvolvements, and reinvolve- lic, and Laws. This is important, not only because of shistorical and transcontextual reference points in comparative analytic terms. Still, a few prelimi- ments) in religious matters, (b) experiences, in particu- (a) the exceptionally instructive analysis of religion that those adopting an interactionist approach nary comments seem appropriate. lar religious life-worlds (e.g., acquiring perspectives, that Plato provides and (b) the value of his texts as may use in more fully comprehending people’s developing identities, doing activity, experiencing transhistorical resources, but also because (c) few experiences with religion (and community life emotionality, managing relationships engaging in scholars in the human sciences have a viable work- more generally).37 Relatedly, and with the reader’s collective events), (c) participation in the “grouping ing level of familiarity with these materials. The indulgence, I briefly comment on Plato’s works as process” (e.g., as in forming and coordinating as- second objective was to develop some substantive a transhistorical comparison point by referencing and conceptual comparisons of Plato’s materials on Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Re- religion with that of those working in the interac- ligious Life [EFRL]. sociations; also cooperation, conflict, negotiation, competition) in which religion is embedded, and (d) collective involvements in the development and maintenance of moral order (and the related matters of defining morality and regulating deviance).36 In addition, the interactionists have developed a well-defined methodology for studying people’s involvements in life-worlds of all sorts (Prus 1997; Prus and Grills 2003). Further, in contrast to theologians and others adopting partisan standpoints, the interactionists engage their research and analyses in ways that are more pointedly and pluralistically attentive to the viewpoints, practices, and interchanges of all of those involved in any particular realm of community life. As a result, the interactionists not only are able to benefit from the “humanly engaged” features of Plato’s works but, because of their integration of theory, methods, and research, the interactionists also would be able to draw fairly specific process-oriented linkages between Plato’s texts and other materials from across the millennia that address human knowing and acting in more explicit and sustained terms. For more comprehensive considerations of generic processes, see Blumer (1969), Strauss (1993), Prus (1996; 1997; 1999; 2003b; 2004; 2007b), and Prus and Grills (2003). 36 36 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 tionist tradition ‒ even if only on a very preliminary level at present. Denoting a corpus of theory, methodology, and data derived from field research, the interactionist literature offers a notably systematic, unified conceptual framework and a set of comparative resources for the study of people’s involvements in religion as an aspect of human knowing and acting more generally. Given his mixed emphases (i.e., theological, idealist, dialectic skepticist, functionalist, structuralist, and pragmatist), Plato’s texts are best approached with some conceptual and methodological caution. However, as indicated herein, Plato has much to offer to the study of religion as a humanly engaged and sustained realm of community life. Epilogue for comprehending religion as a contemporary community-based phenomenon, Plato’s texts provide insightful ways of informing and revitalizing “the sociology of religion” in a more enduring pragmatist sense. ciological literature, I have found that the fuller contents of this text are not at all well known amongst sociologists, including many of those working in “the sociology of religion.” Not only have a great many scholars in this subfield of sociology imitated the structuralist, quantitative emphases one en- Although I had been working with Plato’s texts counters in Durkheim’s Suicide, but most also seem (and the broader classical Greek, Latin, and West- inattentive to the conceptual and methodological ern European literatures) for some time prior to contents of EFRL. examining Emile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life and some other humanist sociological materials that Durkheim developed later in his career,38 I would contend that Durkheim’s EFRL not only is the closest sociological approximation to Whereas this epilogue focuses more exclusively on some conceptual affinities between the approaches to religion developed by Plato and Emile Durkheim, some other valuable transcultural, transhistorical materials on religion can be found in texts developed by Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE; Prus 2011e), and Dio Chrysostom (40-120; Prus 2011d). Cicero may be best known as an orator (Prus 2010), but his analysis of religion ‒ wherein he considers the viewpoints of the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Academicians, as well as the nature of human knowing and acting regarding divinity, merits careful study on the part of students of community life, as well as those focusing on religion more specifically. Dio Chrysostom’s text is much less extensive, but still offers considerable insight into the ways that people’s images of deities are developed, presented, and sustained. 37 Focusing on Durkheim’s Pragmatism and Sociology, Moral Education, and The Evolution of Educational Thought, more extended depictions of Emile Durkheim’s “sociological pragmatism” or “pragmatist sociology” can be found in Prus 2009b, 2011b, and 2012, respectively. Durkheim’s Moral Education is seldom referenced as a text pertinent to religion, but in analyzing the matters of devotion, discipline, and character, as well as the roles that intermediaries (instructors, associates) might play in the educational process, this statement also has much to offer to a broader understanding of the interconnections of religion and secular life as realms of human lived experience. 38 Far from being antiquated or of limited relevance First, even though EFRL is frequently cited in the so- Whereas EFRL seems to have been dismissed as an anomaly of sorts by those adopting structuralist/positivist approaches to the study of religion, the contents of this text also has been almost entirely neglected by the interactionists and other sociologists adopting interpretivist approaches to the study of human knowing and acting. Defining Durkheim mostly in structuralist and/or positivist terms, few sociologists have carefully examined this remarkable study of people’s lived experience. Rather ironically, thus, the same Emile Durkheim who earlier (1933 [1893]; 1951 [1897]; 1958 [1895]) had assumed such a central role in promoting a structuralist, quantitative approach to the study of community life on the part of sociologists also has provided the most astute conceptually articulated and ethnographically informed statement on religion that we have in the sociological literature. Emphasizing the centrality of historical analysis Qualitative Sociology Review • 37 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws and ethnographic inquiry for the study of com- interdependence of religion with other aspects of munity life in EFRL, Durkheim attends to religion community life, Plato is highly mindful of the ways as denoting collectively articulated, developmen- that people actively engage, shape, and maintain tally achieved, situationally accomplished, and religious beliefs and practices. He is also attentive community sustained realms of human lived ex- to the ways that people’s involvements in religion perience. are depicted, instructed, monitored, and regulated In addition to dismantling more conventional rationalist and empiricist philosophic approaches to the study of human knowing (i.e., epistemology), as well as animist and naturist positions regarding religion in EFRL, Durkheim also refuses to reduce the complex reality of human group life to abstract structures and variable analyses. Attending to religion and all other realms of knowing as humanly experienced, collectively-informed fields of activity, Durkheim (1915 [1912]) insists on the centrality of ethnology and history for the sociological venture. Interestingly, and despite the many affinities of Plato’s works on religion with Durkheim’s EFRL, Dur- by others. Durkheim approaches religion in much Acknowledgements I would like to thank Hans Bakker, Lorne Daw- project.” The thoughtful assistance of Magdalena son, and Jason West for discussing aspects of this Wojciechowska (Editor) along with the readers paper with me. I am grateful as well to Beert Ver- and editorial staff of QSR also is very much ap- straete for his broader attentiveness to “the Greek preciated. more consistently pluralist analytic terms than does References Plato (who sometimes pointedly writes as a theolo- Aquinas, Thomas St. 1981. Summa Theologica. 5 volumes. Durkheim, Emile. 1958 [1895]. The Rules of Sociological gian and/or moralist). Nevertheless, there is much Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Prov- Method. Translated by S. A. Solvay and E. G. Catlin. New in Plato’s considerations of religion and community ince. Ellen, TX: Christian Classics. York: Free Press. life with which Durkheim’s analysis of people’s ex- Aristotle. 1984. The Complete Works of Aristotle. Edited by Durkheim, Emile. 1961 [1902-1903]. Moral Education: periences with religion resonates. Jonathan Barnes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. A Study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of Durkheim may have developed EFRL over 2000 Augustine, St. 1984. City of God: Against the Pagans. Trans- 40 years after Plato, but those intent on learning lated by Henry Bettenson. New York: Penguin. about the ways that people experience religion Becker, Howard S. 1963. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology in actual practice will find intellectual treasure of Deviance. New York: Free Press. chests of great value in the works of both Plato and Durkheim. Still, as both Plato and Durkheim would stress, much more can be gleaned by sub- Berger, Peter. 1967. The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Berger, Peter and Thomas Luckmann. 1966. The Social kheim (as far as I can tell) draws no explicit linkages between his work and Plato’s analysis of religion in allel materials to more sustained comparative Republic, Laws, Timaeus or Phaedo.39 This is especially analysis and attending to the conceptual insights noteworthy because in addition to Plato’s attentive- thereof. It is here that symbolic interactionism, Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. ness to the functional, structural, and processual with its pragmatist emphasis on attending to hu- Boethius. 1962. The Consolation of Philosophy. Translated man lived experience, represents a particularly by Richard Green. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill. Whereas most philosophers and social theorists appear much more familiar with Plato’s texts than those of Aristotle, comparatively few of those in the human sciences (including Durkheim, Weber, and Marx, as well as Peirce, James, Dewey, and Mead) had a particularly strong background in classical Greek scholarship. They would have had some exposure to this literature and some have built more directly on aspects of classical Greek scholarship, but sustained contact with the Greek literature is more limited than might generally be supposed. Likely, these and other social theorists would have been diverted by various issues (along with denigrations and misrepresentations of classical Greek thought) that other scholars (e.g., René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Auguste Comte, and Friedrich Nietzsche) had generated in the interim. Durkheim’s (1977 [1904-1905]; also see Prus 2012) analysis of “the evolution of educational thought” in Western Europe also helps shed light on the relative neglect of classical Greek philosophy prior to, amidst, and following the 16th century Renaissance. 38 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 viable conceptual medium for pursuing comparative analyses of this very sort. Having engaged Emile Durkheim’s EFRL in somewhat parallel analytic terms to the consideration of Plato’s texts presented in this paper, I had anticipated developing a more extended comparison between Plato’s analysis of religion and that which Durkheim articulates in EFRL. Indeed, mindful of the pragmatist sociological standpoint with which Durkheim approaches the study of human knowing and acting more generally in EFRL, there is much to recommend an analysis along these lines. However, given the extended analysis of religion (and related matters) that Plato provides in the texts considered here and the conceptually massive quality of Durkheim’s EFRL, along with other challenges involving “the Greek project” (as I sometimes call it), I have not yet been able to pursue this objective. 40 Schnurer. New York: Free Press. Durkheim, Emile. 1977 [1904-1905]. The Evolution of Educational Thought. Translated by Peter Collins. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. jecting these and other sets of more notably par- 39 Education. Translated by Everett K. Wilson and Herman Durkheim, Emile. 1983 [1913-1914]. Pragmatism and Sociology. Translated by J. C. Whitehouse. Edited and Introduced by John B. Allcock. New York: Cambridge Univer- Construction of Reality. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. sity Press. Blumer, Herbert. 1969. Symbolic Interaction. Englewood Durkheim, Emile. 1993. Ethics and The Sociology of Morals. Translated by Robert T. Hall. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. Festinger, Leon, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter. 1956. When Prophecy Fails. New York: Harper and Row. Cicero. 1951. De Natura Deorum [On the Nature of the Gods]. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Glaser, Barney G. and Anselm L. Strauss. 1967. The Dis- University Press. covery of Grounded Theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine. Durkheim, Emile. 1915 [1912]. The Elementary Forms of Re- Heilman, Samuel. 1998. Synagogue Life: A Study in Sym- ligious Life. Translated by Joseph Ward Swain. London: bolic Interaction. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Allen and Unwin. Heilman, Samuel. 2002. People of the Book: Drama, Fellow- Durkheim, Emile. 1933 [1893]. The Division of Labor in Society. Translated by G. Simpson. New York: Free Press. ship, and Religion. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. Hobbes, Thomas. 1975. Hobbes’ Thucydides. Edited by Durkheim, Emile. 1951 [1897]. Suicide. Translated by J. A. Richard B. Schlatter. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Uni- Spaulding and G. Simpson. New York: Free Press. versity Press. Qualitative Sociology Review • 39 Robert Prus Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws Hobbes, Thomas. 1994. Leviathan (With selected variants Reynolds and Nancy J. Herman-Kinney. Walnut Creek, Prus, Robert. 2008c. “Producing, Consuming, and Pro- Human Knowing.” Qualitative Sociology Review 7(3):1-30. from the Latin Edition of 1668). Edited by Edwin Curley. CA: Altamira Press. viding Instruction on Poetic Texts in the Classical Roman ( Era: The Pragmatist Contributions of Horace (65-8 BCE), ume20/QSR_7_3_Prus.pdf). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. Prus, Robert. 2003b. “Policy as a Collective Venture: Jorgensen, Danny L. 1992. The Esoteric Scene, Cultic Mi- A Symbolic Interactionist Approach to the Study of Or- lieu, and Occult Tarot. New York: Garland. ganizational Directives.” International Journal of Sociology Kahl, Kristina. 2012. “«My God Wants Me to Live Sim- and Social Policy 23(6):13-60. ply»: The Constructed Selfhood of Faith-Based Simple Prus, Robert. 2004. “Symbolic Interaction and Classical Livers.” Symbolic Interaction 35(3):249-266. Greek Scholarship: Conceptual Foundations, Histori- Kleinman, Sheryl. 1984. Equals Before God: Seminarian as Humanist Professionals. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Luckmann, Thomas. 1967. The Invisible Religion: The Transformation of Symbols in Industrial Society. New York: Macmillan. Mead, George H. 1934. Mind, Self and Society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Plato. 1937. The Dialogues of Plato. Edited by Benjamin Jowett. New York: Random House. Plato. 1961. The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Plato. 1997. Plato: The Collected Works. Edited by John M. Cooper. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. Prus, Robert. 1976. “Religious Recruitment and the Management of Dissonance: A Sociological Perspective.” Sociological Inquiry 46(2):127-134. Prus, Robert. 1996. Symbolic Interaction and Ethnographic Re- cal Continuities, and Transcontextual Relevancies.” The American Sociologist 35(1):5-33. Prus, Robert. 2006. “In Defense of Knowing, In Defense of Doubting: Cicero Engages Totalizing Skepticism, Sensate Materialism, and Pragmatist Realism in Academica.” Longinus (100 CE), and Plutarch (46-125 CE).” Studies in Symbolic Interaction 30:81-103. Prus, Robert. 2012. “On the Necessity of Re-engaging the Prus, Robert. 2009a. “Poetic Expressions and Human En- Durkheim’s The Evolution of Educational Thought.” The acted Realities: Plato and Aristotle Engage Pragmatist American Sociologist 43:172-202. Classical Greek and Latin Literatures: Lessons from Emile Motifs in Greek Fictional Representations.” Qualitative Sociology Review 5(1):3-27. (http://www.qualitativesociolo- Prus, Robert and Scott Grills. 2003. The Deviant Mystique: In- volvements, Realities, and Regulation. Westport, CN: Praeger. Prus, Robert. 2009b. “Reconceptualizing the Study of Prus, Robert and Matthew Burk. 2010. “Ethnographic Community Life: Emile Durkheim’s Pragmatism and So- Trailblazers: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.” ciology.” The American Sociologist 40:106-146. Qualitative Sociology Review 6(3):3-28. ( Qualitative Sociology Review 2(3):21-47. (http://www.quali- Prus, Robert. 2010. “Creating, Sustaining, and Contest- ing Definitions of Reality: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106- Prus.pdf). 43B CE) as a Pragmatist Theorist and Analytic Ethnog- Prus, Robert and Fatima Camara. 2010. “Love, Friend- rapher.” Qualitative Sociology Review 6(2):3-50. (http:// ship, and Disaffection in Plato and Aristotle: Toward a Pragmatist Analysis of Interpersonal Relationships.” QSR_6_2_Prus.pdf). Qualitative Sociology Review 6(3):29-62. (http://www.quali- Prus, Robert. 2007a. “Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: Laying the Foundations for a Pragmatist Consideration of Human Knowing and Acting.” Qualitative Sociology Review 3(2):545. ( Prus, Robert. 2011a. “Defending Education and Schol- ume7/QSR_3_2_Prus.pdf). arship in the Classical Greek Era: Pragmatist Motifs in Prus, Robert. 2007b. “Human Memory, Social Process, and the Pragmatist Metamorphosis: Ethnological Foundations, Ethnographic Contributions and Conceptual Challenges.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 36(4):378-437. Prus, Robert. 2007c. “On Studying Ethnologs (Not just People, «Societies in Miniature»): On the Necessities of Prus_Burk.pdf). Prus_Camara.pdf). the Works of Plato (c420-348 BCE) and Isocrates (c436- Puddephatt, Antony and Robert Prus. 2007. “Causality, 338 BCE).” Qualitative Sociology Review 7(1):1-35. (http:// Agency, and Reality: Plato and Aristotle Meet G. H. Mead and Herbert Blumer.” Sociological Focus 40(3):265-286. QSR_7_1_Prus.pdf). Shaffir, William. 1974. Life In A Religious Community: The Prus, Robert. 2011b. “Examining Community Life «in the Lubavitcher Chassidim In Montreal. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart Making»: Emile Durkheim’s Moral Education.” The Ameri- and Winston of Canada. can Sociologist 42:56-111. Shaffir, William. 1978a. “Becoming an Orthodox Jew: The Ethnography, History, and Comparative Analysis.” Jour- Prus, Robert. 2011c. “Morality, Deviance, and Regulation: Socialization of Newcomers in a Chassidic Community.” ence. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. nal of Contemporary Ethnography 36(6):669-703. Pragmatist Motifs in Plato’s Republic and Laws.” Qualita- Pp. 295-309 in The Canadian Ethnic Mosaic: A Quest for Identi- Prus, Robert. 1997. Subcultural Mosaics and Intersubjective Prus, Robert. 2008a. “Aristotle’s Rhetoric: A Pragmatist search: Intersubjectivity and the Study of Human Lived Experi- Realities: An Ethnographic Research Agenda for Pragmatizing Analysis of Persuasive Interchange.” Qualitative Sociology tive Sociology Review 7(2):1-44. ( Review 4(2):24-62. (http://www.qualitativesociologyre- Prus, Robert. 2011d. “On the Processes and Problematics York Press. of Representing Divinity: Dio Chrysostom (c40-120) and Prus, Robert. 1999. Beyond the Power Mystique: Power as In- Prus, Robert. 2008b. “On the Pragmatics and Problem- the Social Sciences. Albany, NY: State University of New tersubjective Accomplishment. Albany, NY: State University atics of Defining Beauty and Character: The Greek Poet the Pragmatist Motif.” Pp. 203-221 in History, Time, Mean- ty, edited by L. Dreidger. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. Shaffir, William. 1978b. “Witnessing as Identity Consolidation: The Case of Lubavitcher Chassidim.” Pp.39-57 in Identity and Religion, edited by H. Mol. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. ing, and Memory: Ideas for the Sociology of Religion, edited by Shaffir, William. 1983. “Hassidic Jews and Quebec Poli- Barbara Jones Denison. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. tics.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 25(2):105-118. of New York Press. Lucian (120-200) Engages Exacting Portraitures and Difficult Subjects.” Qualitative Sociology Review 4(1):3-20. Prus, Robert. 2011e. “Religion, Platonist Dialectics, and Shaffir, William. 1987. “Separated From the Mainstream: Prus, Robert. 2003a. “Ancient Precursors.” Pp. 19-38 in ( Pragmatist Analysis: Marcus Tullius Cicero’s Contribu- The Hassidic Community of Tash.” The Jewish Journal of Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism, edited by Larry T. ume9/QSR_4_1_Prus.pdf). tions to the Philosophy and Sociology of Divine and Sociology 29(1):19-35. 40 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 Qualitative Sociology Review • 41 Robert Prus Shaffir, William. 1991. “Conversion Experiences: New- Perspectives, edited by Leslie J. Francis and Yaacov J. Katz. comers to and Defectors from Orthodox Judaism.” Pp. Trowbridge, Waltshire: Gracewing. 173-202 in Tradition, Innovation, Conflict: Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Israel, edited by Z. Sobel and B. Beit Hallahmi. Albany, NY: State University of New Shaffir, William. 2001. “Fieldwork Among Hassidic Jews: Moral Challenges and Missed Opportunities.” The Jewish York Press. Journal of Sociology 43(1/2):53-69. Shaffir, William. 1993. “Jewish Messianism Lubavitch Shaffir, William. 2002. “Outremont’s Hassidim and their Style: An Interim Report.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 35(2):115-128. Shaffir, William. 1995a. “Boundaries and Self-Presentation among Hasidim: A Study in Identity Maintenance.” Pp. 31-68 in New World Hasidim: Ethnographic Studies Of Hasidic Jews in America, edited by J. Belcove-Shalin. New York: SUNY Press. Shaffir, William. 1995b. “When Prophecy Is Not Validated: Explaining the Unexpected in a Messianic Campaign.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 37(2):119-136. Shaffir, William. 1998a. “Doing Ethnographic Research in Jewish Orthodox Communities: The Neglected Role of Sociability.” Pp. 48-64 in Doing Ethnographic Research: Fieldwork Settings, edited by S. Grills. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Shaffir, William. 1998b. “Still Separated From the Mainstream: A Hassidic Community Revisited.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 39(1/2):46-62. Shaffir, William. 2000a. “Hassidim and the Rebbe: Some Initial Observations.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology Neighbours: An Eruv and its Repercussions.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 44(1/2):56-71. Shaffir, William. 2004. “Secular Studies In A Hassidic Enclave: «What Do We Need It For?»” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 46(1/2):59-77. Shaffir, William. 2006. “The Renaissance of Hassidism.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 48(1/2):69-74. Shaffir, William. 2007. “Hassidim Confronting Modernity.” The Jewish Journal of Sociology 49:5-35. Shepherd, Gordon. 1987. “The Social Construction of a Religious Prophecy.” Sociological Inquiry 57:394-414. Simmons, J. L. 1964. “On Maintaining Deviant Belief Systems: A Case Study.” Social Problems 11(3):250-256. Spangler, Sister Mary Michael. 1998. Aristotle on Teaching. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Strauss, Anselm. 1993. Continual Permutations of Action. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter. Van Zandt, David E. 1991. Living in the Children of God. 42(1/2):73-85. Shaffir, William. 2000b. “Movements in and out of Ortho- Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. dox Judaism: The Cases of Penitents and the Disaffect- Zuckert, Catherine H. 1996. Postmodern Platos. Chicago, ed.” Pp. 269-285 in Joining and Leaving Religion: Research IL: University of Chicago Press. Prus, Robert. 2013. “Representing, Defending, and Questioning Religion: Pragmatist Sociological Motifs in Plato’s Timaeus, Phaedo, Republic, and Laws.” Qualitative Sociology Review 9(1):6-42. Retrieved Month, Year ( 42 ©2013 QSR Volume IX Issue 1 Copyright of Qualitative Sociology Review is the property of Qualitative Sociology Review and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. 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On Mimetic Style in Plato’s Republic Russell Winslow ab st ract In this article the author offers a reading of mimetic style (lexis) as it is presented in book 3 of Plato’s Republic with the aim of disclosing the importance of style in the acquisition and employment of knowledge—whether scientific or ethical. In fact, the author argues that a careful reading of Socrates’ words in the text occasions the idea that reflection on the way that we imitate our inherited content—the ethos, the comportment, in which we exhibit that content—makes visible a potential to appropriate received content and imitated knowledge in original and wakeful ways. In consequence, the author argues that it might be style, not content, that harbors the capacity for us to take a genuine, critical responsibility for our inherited concepts. In book 3 of his Republic, Plato has Socrates undertake an assessment of the educational curriculum that the city (which is being constructed by him in speech) will implement for its youth. Consequently we see that Socrates assigns to poetry a crucial importance; by their imitation of it, poetry shapes the citizens with an initial formation, casts them within a certain orientation, and places them on a path leading in an already conceived direction, toward some unarticulated good. Thus, in forming this city and the souls of its citizens, Socrates first conducts a censorship of the content of the formative myths of the city in an attempt to orchestrate a certain fail-safe against ambiguity and against falling off the path toward the fulfillment of the good of human nature. I want to draw our attention to a passage (392c) just after Socrates effects this censorship; for there, Socrates follows his critique of the content of the poetic utterances that animate our identities with a meditation on style. “So then,” says Socrates, “let that be the end of what has to do with [the content of ] speeches. After this, I suppose, style [lexis] Philosophy and Rhetoric, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2012 Copyright © 2012 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 46 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic must be considered, and then we’ll have made a complete consideration of what must be said and how it must be said” (1991, 71, emphasis added). In response to this announcement about the need to think not only about what is said, but also how it is said, Adeimantus replies that he does not understand. Perhaps his perplexity should not be surprising. After all, how something is said, style, is rarely considered when we speak in our everyday engagements. But perhaps the reader asks, what about more sophisticated, non-everyday discourse? What about the speech of the trained public speaker, for instance, or even the sophist and the philosopher? Do not these elevated, self-conscious speakers reflect on and manipulate their styles? Even if it is true that training in rhetoric had made public speakers and sophists more aware of stylistic manipulation in discourse, I want to argue that Adeimantus’s bafflement implies an ignorance about a certain modality of speech that perhaps remains untouched by mere rhetorical training, a lexis that remains crucially connected to all speech and yet is not reducible to content: mimēsis.1 Often, in our everyday engagement in discourse, we present our observations and arguments with only an awareness of the content we wish to convey. Even in rhetorically sophisticated and stylistically trained modes of discourse we present arguments in, say, journal articles with an awareness of the content about which we are speaking, and, with respect to style, we might very well couch our claims using certain rhetorical devices and in a stylistically acceptable form. Yet the form of imitation that we employ in our speech is perhaps more elusive. Socrates here indicates that style qua mimēsis, is crucially important, too—perhaps even more important than content in securing the stability of our disposition. In this article, I offer a reading of mimetic style (lexis) as it is presented in book 3 of the Republic—in the portion of the text concerned with the censorship of inherited poetic utterance. I read this section not so much as a prescription for political governance of citizens within a city but rather as an occasion for a mediation on human nature and that nature’s dependency on a complex and curious skein of logoi, a meditation that should disclose the importance of mimetic style in the acquisition and employment of knowledge—whether ethical or epistemological. In fact, we might find that a consideration of style remains even more urgent than that of content. After all, even if we authentically desire it, we might find ourselves hard pressed to offer a convincing argument that the content of our soul formation can genuinely be edited once we are already shaped; we might even doubt that the censorship of content can genuinely serve as political security by which we can preserve the unwavering dispositions of a citizenry. 47 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 47 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow However, I argue that reflection on the way that we imitate our inherited content—the ethos, the comportment, in which we exhibit that content— does make visible a potential to appropriate received content and imitated knowledge in original ways.2 In consequence, it might be style, not content, that harbors the capacity for a genuine responsibility toward our inherited concepts.3 In section 1 I perform a textual analysis of the brief conversation surrounding style in book 3. I conclude that on Socrates’ account in these passages, philosophy is in no way opposed to poetry but rather it is concerned with securing the most wakeful and responsible ethos toward inherited logoi. The philosophical disposition, I observe, is one of the three dispositions of imitation articulated in book 3 (imitated speech, nonimitated, or simple, speech, and a mixture of both). Surprisingly, Socrates does not suggest that the ethos of simple, nonimitated speech be the one that they allow in the kallipolis. Rather, he chooses the mixed form, which, I argue, is the most philosophical lexis, the one that follows Homer’s style. I end this section with a few considerations of why the comportment of the mixed style is the one in which we may most take responsibility for the conceptual structures that we have inherited. In section 2 I offer an interpretation of style in its relation to knowledge. Here I invoke Aristotle’s claim in the Nicomachean Ethics that children can recite passages of Empedocles and perform geometrical demonstrations, but these acts do not indicate that children know what they are saying; that is, children have the knowledge—they have the content—but that is not a sign that they are actively, wakefully knowing these things. I argue that the difference between the child and the geometer cannot be intuited through the content (indeed, they both exhibit the very same content) but rather only through their style of imitation. I then situate this argument within the context of the presentation of the new sciences in book 7 of the Republic in order to offer a reading (through the image of lexis) of that most controversial of Platonic concepts: dialectic. style and of logos mimēsis : on style as the comportment Before offering remarks on the passage at the beginning of Socrates’ consideration of style, I think it is important to indicate that I read the scope of this passage differently than most scholars. For the most part, the passage is read as a consideration exclusively of poetry.4 Thus, not only is the 48 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 48 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic reach of the passage often narrowed in such a way that it is taken to be an ­articulation of how poetry as a specific art form will be allowed in the city (instead of being seen as a thesis about the meditation on human nature, which is the interpretation that is governing my work here) but also the three modes of style (imitation, simple speech, and a combination of both [392d]) in which Socrates says poetry is embodied are seen as confined to poetry. I want to argue, however, that these three modes of style characterize all speech, broadly conceived. My reading is further buttressed in a passage a few pages after the initial consideration of style (397c). Socrates asks: “Do all the poets and the men who say anything fall into one of these patterns of style or the other, or make some mixture of them both?” “Necessarily,” [Adeimantus] said (1991, 76, emphasis added). We see from these words that Socrates’ reflections on style are not limited to poems or the specific form of speech that we see in poetry. Rather, style is something that shows itself in every utterance, in every speech activity, in the speech of humans that, as Socrates says, “say anything.” Of course, speech—or logos—is certainly not one activity among others for human beings—for these ancient Greeks, it is most primary.5 Indeed, human nature itself is displayed through and as logos for them. Thus, we might say that any consideration of human nature would have to concern itself most primarily with logos. Moreover, as I have suggested, mimetic style might be even more urgently a concern than content; for, by its very nature, this form of lexis is something that often slips into the soul unnoticed. Rather like our grammar, the style of imitation in speech remains most often unreflected on, unnoticed, unquestioned, surreptitiously under our radar. Yet at the same time that our style remains hidden from us, it is formative to our comportment in our speech, since we are prepositioned toward the world, toward ourselves, and toward others in our style. Lexis of imitation discloses our bearing toward the world; it is a fundamental hexis, which is to say, we hold ourselves toward the world and toward ourselves in our style and, consequently, style harbors a certain meaning that remains, for the most part, undisclosed to us. To be sure, style is that in which content is embodied; we might even say that it is the body of meaning. As such, the style of imitation is not merely a minor consideration in the censorship of poetry; indeed, it is not merely a concern for poets and poetry. Rather style is a concern for anyone who says anything—that is to say, style shows itself as a central concern for any human being. Let us consider, then, how style is presented in the Republic so that we may retrieve from this formative text an idea of how the lexis of mimēsis 49 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 49 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow might be shaping our thinking and how it might determine meaning in its unique and surreptitious way. At the beginning of his consideration of style (392d), Socrates says that everything that is spoken by poets or tellers of tales (and this would include presumably all kinds of speaking and speakers) is “a narrative of what has come to pass, what is, or what is going to be” (1991, 71). Indeed, everything that comes to be in logos is a certain articulation of the being of things, either in the present, the past or in the future. Further, Socrates suggests that this narrative of the being of things takes three different styles: “simple, or produced by imitation, or both together” (1991, 71). Having been pressed for a clearer description, Socrates offers examples of these three different modes of style. Appealing to his interlocutor’s knowledge of poetic utterance, Socrates explains that Homer’s Iliad fits the third, the combination of simple and imitative style: You know up to these lines, “And he entreated all the Achaeans, But especially Atreus’ two sons, the marshallers of the host,” the poet himself speaks and does not attempt to turn our thought elsewhere, as though someone other than he were speaking. But, in what follows, he speaks as though he himself were Chryses and tries as hard as he can to make it seem to us that it’s not Homer speaking, but the priest, an old man. (1991, 71). Thus, Socrates employs Homer as an example of a poet that both imitates and repeats the figures, sentiments, and conceptual motivations of the characters that animate Greek culture and life and speaks for himself, originally commenting on the events as an individual. On the one hand, therefore, Homer’s articulation, his thought that is preserved through oral and written tradition for us, is itself a repetition, an imitation of some other individual’s or culture’s thought or reflection, some other individual’s actions and commitments. Yet, on the other hand, Homer’s articulation also shows itself as original. He speaks for himself, as himself and does not hide himself (393c) behind the presentation of the image of another. From these observations about the style of speech that is a combination of the imitative and the simple, we can intuit what purely imitative speech and purely simple speech mean for Socrates. On the one hand, imitative speech would show itself when we effect the comportment of one who is imitating someone else. Socrates describes it in this way: “When he gives a speech as though he were someone else, won’t we say that he then likens his own style as much as possible to that of the man he has announced as the 50 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 50 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic speaker?” To which Adeimantus responds, “We’ll say that, surely” 1991, 71). Imitative speech betrays a certain displacement of the speaker; he hides or occludes himself behind the presentation of the imitation. Like a rhapsode, the imitative speaker in a way channels the sentiment, the concept, or the action of another, serving as a conduit for the concepts and sentiments of other people. Perhaps we can even say that he re-presents the other as himself without disclosing himself within the representation. The fact that he loses himself in the presentation of another is not unimportant here. To be sure, the rhapsode determines and shapes the utterance he articulates insofar as it is in his voice, his timbre, his tempo—indeed, his embodied constitution—that the speech of the other finds its expression, but, nevertheless, the way that Socrates describes this speech comportment here indicates that he thinks that one lacks in a crucial way any power over what one says. One repeats in an imitative, unreflective way the concepts and sentiments of another.6 As for simple speech, we might say that Socrates’ description makes it out to be radically original, speech that brings something into being from nothing. “If the poet nowhere hid himself,” Socrates says, “his poetic work and narrative as a whole would have taken place without imitation. So that you won’t say you don’t understand again, I’ll tell you how this would be. . . . It would be something like this”—Socrates then speaks in simple style— “I’ll speak without meter; I’m not poetic” (1991, 72). In this speech comportment, the speaker speaks, and perhaps also thinks, for herself. Without the structure of imitation or poetic meter, this comportment is the exact opposite of the rhapsode. There is an immediacy to this kind of utterance, an immediate character to the representation that discloses nothing but the unmediated thought of the speaker herself. One might even say that there is no re-presentation in the disposition of the simple speaker, insofar as she speaks without repetition, without imitation. Such a disposition in speech would, as such, convey a certain originality to reflection, insofar as these words would be conceived as mine alone—immediate presentations of my individual soul. These three modes of lexis indicate for us the character of what Socrates means by “style”; for him, style is the comportment that our speech and our thought adopts in relation to the common language economy. Perhaps, for the most part, we merely imitate the common concepts of our cultural horizon without much reflection. We dispose ourselves to our inherited cultural economy in the way of the rhapsode, allowing the governing ­conceptual structure to shape and determine the ends of our thoughts and actions 51 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 51 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow without ever really engaging them in a critical way. Thus, Socrates thinks that the style of pure imitation runs a great risk for the city. If we just imitate and fail to self-critically reflect on those concepts we receive from our cultural horizon, it might never occur to us that the sentiments and concepts that we imitate may not lead to the good for us or for our city. We may very well, as Socrates says, narrate everything [without reflection] and think nothing unworthy [to imitate]. . . . Hence he’ll undertake seriously to imitate in the presence of everything we were just mentioning—thunder, the noises of winds, hailstorms, axles and pulleys, the voices of trumpets, flutes, and all the instruments, and even the sound of dogs, sheep, and birds. And this man’s whole style will be based on imitation of voice and looks, or else include only a bit of [simple style]. (1991, 75). For Socrates, the style of pure imitation harbors the danger of fully “losing ourselves” in our imitation. Not only do our identities—qua this historical human individual—unravel in the imitation of axels, pulleys, and wind, but, perhaps even more important, we give ourselves over to the mere repetition of already governing commitments, expectations, and cultural norms. Pure imitations allow cultural norms to be repeated without reflection for the sake of some unperceived “good” and, thus, without responsibility. Socrates’ critique of imitation is often considered to be a critique of poetry without qualification. However, I think that the consideration of style here allows us to say that the problem of imitation does not lie in poetry or poets; rather, the problem of imitation lies in the complacent and passive reception of poetry, one’s comportment or style in approaching inherited speech. On my reading, if we maintain (as I do here) that poetry is the mode of education and the formation of souls in the polis, then there really is no other way to receive poetry except by passivity and imitation. After all, we are habituated as children into our cultural paradigms. However, on the other hand, Socrates thinks that this disposition toward poetry, while unavoidable, desirable, and certainly human, is not the most exquisite manifestation of human nature. Rather, thinks Socrates, our capacity to raise questions about our poetic formation, to reflect on the “good” that that formation harbors, might be the most authentic appropriation of poetry; indeed, perhaps we could even say that a wakeful appropriation of our poetic formation would be most radically poetic. 52 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 52 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic Thus, philosophy on the Platonic model would not be opposed in any way to poetry, even as it confronts poetry. Rather philosophy would be the most radically poetic of all. Given the concern expressed surrounding imitation, we might assume that Socrates would privilege “simple” lexis, or the style of speech that contains no imitation. However, that is not what Socrates says he believes. “In my opinion,” he says, when the sensible man comes in his narrative to some speech or deed of a good man, he will be willing to report it as though he himself were that man and won’t be ashamed of such an ­imitation. . . . Won’t he use a narration like the one we described a little while ago concerning Homer’s verses, and won’t his style participate in both imitation and [simple narrative]? (1991, 75). But is not the human being that speaks in a radically original way most philosophical? Do we not value the so-called original genius precisely insofar as she speaks in a nonrepetitive fashion and thereby discloses what had previously remained invisible to us? Socrates seems to say “no.” Why would the radically original simple style not be the one that Socrates suggests that we should adopt, like philosophers? Why does he choose the “mixed” style of speech that is both imitative and original? Moreover, what can we possibly mean by describing a style as “both imitative and original”? Is this not fundamentally contradictory, oxymoronic? I want to argue that when we offer a considered view of style in the context of human nature, then we see that the question of imitation and originality is much more complex than it at first seems. When do we see examples of radically simple speech? In the Republic, we see it in the speech of the sophist Thrasymachus.7 In his articulation of justice, we see the sophist offer an account that is precisely opposite the common conception, the conception articulated by the poets. So, in some way, Thrasymachus is ­offering—or thinks that he is offering—a radically original conception of justice. He opposes the conception of justice derived from the poets with a notion that would otherwise be seen as antijustice. Justice is in the interest of the stronger, who seek to acquire whatever they can at whatever cost to the public good. This conception of justice is indeed original, insofar as it is radically opposed to the primary understanding of justice. Moreover, he claims to be speaking with originality insofar as he does not rely on education or the 53 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 53 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow poets: he is speaking for himself as himself. Without regard for the consequences of his definition of justice on the community or the individuals who adopt it, he speaks as an individual, a radical individual. Yet is this true without qualification? In Thrasymachus’s speech, he employs language, language and concepts that clearly do not belong to him but belong to ­everyone.8 Language and concepts, by their very nature, are never private or individual but betray a political status. As a consequence, we can say that there is no radically original articulation, no radically original speech, insofar as every original speech always emerges out of a wellspring of already governing and preexisting speech. Speech always exhibits itself as repetition. There is not a single meaningful word that I can utter that is not always already an imitation. Thus, there is no simple style in speech. Simple style betrays itself as merely an affection of one who does not fully understand the debt he holds to the language and conceptual economy already at work around him. The lack of concern on Thrasymachus’s part for the consequences his articulation will have on the community at large is to me an indication that he remains unaware of the debt he holds toward the community and its governing logos.9 Philosophy by contrast, as I have indicated, takes up the concepts of the poets, imitates them with a commitment to engaging them in a reflective way. As such, it is always already both imitative—insofar as the philosopher recognizes that there would not be a conception of justice, wisdom, truth, or beauty to consider at all without the poets—and original, insofar as the wakeful, critical appropriation of the meaning of justice represents an original articulation that is irreducible to the pure imitation of a rhapsode. Philosophy is thus an original imitation that seeks to disclose and justify the “good” toward which we are blindly moving and that governs our actions in precisely the same way as radical poetry, poetry as we perhaps think of it often today.10 style and knowledge: on the difference between “having knowledge” and “knowing” Now I would like to pursue a possible description of what I am calling the phenomenon of mimetic style as it shows itself both in the Republic and in a general way when we talk about modes of philosophical discourse and activity. With the aim of contributing to the recent arguments that seek to broaden what is understood as philosophical discourse in Plato, I discuss mimetic style’s relationship to Platonic dialectic in book 7. First, however, 54 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 54 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic I preface my reading of dialectic with a brief meditation on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. With this digression, I can more clearly elucidate a principal assertion of this article: it is only through a consideration of mimetic style, I argue, that one will be able to intuit the difference between “having the facts of knowledge” and “knowing.” That is to say, it is possible for two accounts differing in their mode of imitation to possess the same content, the same facts. Yet unless one perceives this difference of ethos, of comportment, one fails to perceive something fundamental about the articulation. Ontological considerations, therefore, can never be indifferent to the ethos of mimetic style without losing something central. In the Nicomachean Ethics (1147a19–24), Aristotle distinguishes between, on the one hand, a child that can perform demonstrations and recite verses of Empedocles and, on the other hand, an adult that “knows what he is saying” in regard to the very same content.11 Having the content of the logos is not enough; there is something additional that one must possess that does not become displayed in the exhibition of content in speech. The child acquires the logos and can repeat it effectively and accurately. The child knows. The adult mathematician knows the content, too, but there is something else that becomes manifest in the display of knowledge, something that does not become evident until style is considered—style, that is, as the potential form of mimēsis an utterance might display. Both individuals possess the facts, possess the correct data; they each have the knowledge and the content. Indeed, without a consideration of lexis, there is no way to tell the accounts apart. While the terms “child” and “adult” need to be understood somewhat loosely here, nevertheless, the example is revealing. The “child,” Aristotle implies, imitates the content of a demonstration and recites verses of Empedocles, but he does not make it his own; he does not exhibit an encounter with the content that manifests a history of the occurrence of critical engagement and appropriation; he does not display an original repetition of Empedocles or Euclid. One must be disposed toward the content in a manner that does result in one merely displaying the content, in merely imitating in a nonreflective fashion. By contrast, the “adult”—in the fullest sense of this term—actively appropriates what he imitates. There obtains a wakeful and original orientation within his comportment toward what he knows, toward what he imitates. In the context of book 7 of the Republic, we see a similar sentiment in the conversation concerning the cultivation of the reflective disposition toward beings that Socrates suggests human nature harbors as a potency, a disposition that might be considered to be a philosophical ethos of speech. 55 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 55 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow In this section of the dialogue, Socrates argues that the education of the youth described in book 2 was not yet complete. There, the educational system was organized around music and gymnastics; gymnastics shaped and cultivated the bodily strength and stamina of the population (as well as fortitude in the soul), while the study of music—actually conceived much more broadly as music, poetry, mathematics, and the study that nurtures the part of the soul concerned with all logoi—engendered knowledge in the soul (376e–377b). As such, we might say that the early study of music (which includes poetry) places all of the most central conceptual structures (the facts, the content) within the soul. It shapes and organizes the soul. In this way, the early education serves a most crucial function: namely, instilling the potential for each human to actualize his or her humanity— it bestows the logos on the citizens. Consequently, each citizen is given a knowledge-grid through which to perceive and interpret the world. Yet, in book 7, Socrates argues that this education is inadequate for fully actualizing a citizen’s potential to become a human being (952 e–522 a)— that is to say, to effect an intellectual relation to knowledge and to beings in the way of Aristotle’s “adult.” In an effort to provide completeness to the educational structure, Socrates announces a series of new studies—each established to establish and foster what at 518c he names the “art of turning,” an activity that clearly bespeaks “style” in the way I have been describing it throughout this article; that is to say, the “art of turning” describes the study (or studies, in this case) by which we are able to “turn” from one comportment of mimēsis (pure imitation) to another comportment of mimēsis (philosophical imitation). If a child is a human being only in potency, what then is needed beyond mere bodily maturity to actualize that potency? Socrates thinks that the possession of bare facts, the possession of knowledge or content, is not the answer to this question, since the “knowledge” is already in the soul of the child, insofar as the child has already been appropriated by the common language economy—that is to say, the child has already undergone the education of book 2 and, therefore, already possesses the content, possesses the logos (or perhaps we should say that the child is already possessed by the logos). The characteristic of “having the knowledge” is not the definitive distinction by which we are able to discern the difference between the human being in potency (the child) and the actualized human being (the adult). “Having knowledge,” therefore, must even be distinguished from “knowing.” The difference between the child and the adult, between “having knowledge” and “knowing,” would be intuited through the display of a 56 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 56 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic capacity to perform what Socrates calls “the turn”—that is to say, through a certain comportment in which we hold ourselves toward the knowledge and contents that we already harbor in the soul. For, on my reading, to speak of how we are “turned” toward the knowledge we harbor in the soul is the same as to speak of the ethos we hold toward the facts. I want to argue that it is the cultivation of a certain style that Socrates seeks to develop by way of the new studies, through a curriculum that establishes an imitative comportment toward preexistent knowledge on the model of that I have proposed. If, in their early studies, human beings are appropriated by the surrounding conceptual economy, then, when they take up the new curriculum, they imitate those very same concepts in a way that is original; that is to say, they perform an “original imitation” of the facts, of the content—they effect a disposition toward the logos in the form of an original imitation. In the interest of conserving space, I here briefly discuss only two of the new studies (arithmetic and dialectic) in an effort to describe how each one cultivates the specific comportment in speech suggested by Socrates in book 3—that is, through this abbreviated description of the new studies, I show how they engender the possibility for (though not the assurance of ) an originally imitative style in speech. Ultimately, I want to suggest that the initial mathematical and scientific studies prepare one for the practice of dialectic (but do not subtend it—indeed, cannot subtend it).12 Moreover, I argue that dialectic is in fact the practice of “turning”; that is to say, I argue that dialectic as described in book 7 is the uniquely human practice of original imitation, the activity by which we turn away from the ethos in which we imitate the facts of our education in a nonreflective manner and toward the ethos of the philosophical, wakeful lexis. With this reading, I dive headfirst into the deep and troubled waters of the recent literature on Platonic dialectic. In agreement with David Roochnik, I recognize the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of drawing a consistent cross-corpus and systematic articulation of the “technical meaning” of dialectic in the dialogues.13 Yet, in what follows, I hope to contribute meaningfully to the debate by arguing that there is a consistent conception of technical dialectic operative in the description of book 7 if we read it through the lens of the lexis of imitation that I have developed in this article.14 The first study that Socrates describes is arithmetic. However, this is not the same sort of mathematics that the youth have learned in the educational program of music and gymnastics. In fact, each of the new studies cultivates a certain wakeful disposition toward what is already present in the 57 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 57 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow soul. One might say that the new studies are concerned not with acquiring new knowledge but with intellectually engaging what the old study had already placed in the soul. In this study of number, the student considers “the one” itself. As Jacob Klein has remarked, the problem of “the one” in Greek mathematics was quite perplexing.15 If we are beings that operate in accordance with logos—which is a universalizing conceptual structure—how then do we become aware of only one thing? In order for there to be one recognizable concept, there must be at least two of something. For instance, on any given evening at seminar, there are numerous beverage bottles on a table. All of the bottles on the table possess meaning not because of any one bottle, but because each one belongs to the multitude encompassed by a concept. For this reason, Aristotle argues that the first number is two; for, there must be at least two of something in order to form a conceptual economy in which things are counted and subsequently numbered. Thus, attempting to think through “the one” leads the human into what Socrates calls an “aporia”—it leads the inquirer into a state of perplexity regarding the “fact” or “content” that he has always taken for granted as understood. When an inquirer reaches an aporia, Socrates says that nous (or the intellect) is called before itself.16 The inquirer is newly disposed toward “the one” and called before herself in contemplation. Contemplation of “the one,” or the newly wakeful imitation of “the one,” occasions “a turn” toward a consideration of what this “one” actually is that has always already animated my conception of number, though I now understand that I remain in ignorance of it, despite having the awareness of it. While arithmetic (and other mathematical study) contributes to our capacity to render ourselves at a loss and effect a wakeful comportment toward the knowledge that has shaped us, it is clear that Socrates privileges dialectic, the final study. The first three studies lead one into serious difficulties that emerge in Greek science and mathematics. Arithmetic leads one to reflect upon the paradox of singularity and unity; the study of geometry calls forth the problem of the incommensurability of the diagonal of the square; and astronomy renders one starstruck regarding the possibility of circular motion. However, it is dialectic alone that seems to pervade human life. With this observation, I voice my disagreement with the claim that dialectikē in the Republic is mathematical or “technical” in the sense often attributed to it.17 For the prior mathematical studies are a mere “prelude to the song itself ” (1991, 211): dialectic.18 I would argue that the distinction articulated between dialectic and the mathematikē in book 6 (510b) 58 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 58 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic continues to hold here in Book 7. That is, mathematics and the sciences presume their archai and proceed with hypotheses grounded on those presumed archai. Dialectic, by contrast, takes up the question of the presumed archai and asks what they are. For instance, physics holds a presumed understanding of physis, of nature, an understanding that remains unquestioned but that serves as a foundation for the work of physics. Biology operates with a presumed conception of bios, or life, as its first principle and builds its science on the foundation of this conception. However, dialectic inquires into the first principles; it asks, “What is physis?” “What is life?” Again, in the new study of dialectic, there is a turn away from the unreflective orientation toward the first principles (the scientific/mathematical) and an interrogative turn toward the first principles themselves—this turn, as should be phenomenologically evident, is crucially a matter of imitative style, not content. In book 7, what the mathematical new sciences share with dialectic, as is evident from my analysis, is the capacity to invoke aporia and nous in the inquirer; but dialectic itself need not be mathematical in order to actualize this potency. In fact, dialectic is that activity that when practiced carefully engenders the “turn” and forces one into an originally repetitive style in all of the basic concepts that hold together and preserve a human being: wisdom, beauty, moderation, courage, justice, and certainly the good itself. A dramatic example of this activity in the dialogue already appears in book 1 during Polymarchus’s engagement with Socrates. In answer to the question “What is justice?” Polymarchus answers with an unreflective imitation of the poet Simonides: “it is just to give to each what is owed” (1991, 11). As a consequence of the ensuing interrogation of Polymarchus’s off-the-cuff interpretation of this poetic utterance, Polymarchus comes to understand that he neither knew what Simonides meant nor what he himself meant in his interpretation: “I no longer know what I did mean” (1991, 11). That is to say, Polymarchus reaches an aporia with respect to his unreflected conception of justice and is now in a position, an ethos, for the very first time to pursue this fundamental concept that had always already animated him.19 Polymarchus always already possessed the content and would often imitate it, but he had never imitated it originally, that is, with responsibility. We can now see that the content of any one of these fundamental concepts driving human activity can be recited in blind imitation without a genuine ethos of “knowing” and, consequently, without genuine human animation. It is only through the distinction made visible by reflection on lexis (qua mimēsis) concomitant with a consideration of the content behind “the good,” “justice,” and “wisdom,” and so forth, that we are able to intuit 59 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 59 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow the difference between genuinely being animated by “justice” and simply “having the facts” of its content. Moreover, through our interpretation of style, we have taken a preliminary step toward fleshing out a reading of human nature in the dialogue; for, it might not be “the facts” that humans acquire that exhibit human nature in its most exquisite sense, nor perhaps even the capacity to acquire knowledge that does. On this account, it is the comportment, the ethos, we hold toward what is given in the world, in others, and in ourselves that discloses human nature most of all.20 St. John’s College, Santa Fe notes 1. With this claim, I distinguish my focus from that of others on the question of style, for instance, Ruby Blondell’s (2002). I am not here concerned with rhetorical style as such. I am rather pursuing an interpretation of the three different mimetic styles in the Republic—that is to say, the styles in which we imitate inherited discourse and concepts. My reading suggests that education in book 3 is not merely about how to speak but also about how to say, to imitate, what has already been said. 2. Here, I appropriate Claudia Baracchi’s terminology in her Of Myth, Life, and War in Plato’s “Republic”: “It must be made clear that, properly speaking, the problem was never the lie of mimēsis, but the comportment toward it—the ethos” (2002, 124). I argue that the question of right lexis in book 3 is not a matter of whether to imitate or not but rather a matter of the ethos in which one inevitably and unavoidably imitates. 3. I develop the notion of mimetic style here as part of the project of many in recent years of expanding the concept of philosophy in Plato beyond the merely argumentfocused interpretations found in, for example, Vlastos 1983. By suggesting that style must be considered as a serious and unavoidable source for responsibility, I seek to further Jill Gordon’s claim that “the elements that are considered nonphilosophical by contemporary approaches—or at the very least, extraphilosophical or extralogical—are the very elements of Plato’s dialogues that can turn a soul toward the philosophical life” (1999, 5). 4. See, for example, Rosen 2005, 101, Naddaff 2002, 53–55, Annas 1981, and Cornford 1945, 80. For an account that recognizes the extrapoetic nature of the speech discussed in book 3, see Baracchi 2002, 102. 5. Here I assume my reader agrees that there is a commonality between Socrates’ words on the formation of human beings through education in books 2 and 3 of the Republic and Aristotle’s on human nature in book 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics. As is well known, in the Ethics Aristotle articulates a vision of the nature of human beings in a way that distinguishes it from other animal natures as the kind of life having logos. 60 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 60 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic 6. As has been pointed out by Ruby Blondell (2002, 37), it should not escape our notice that since Socrates is himself narrating everything that happened yesterday (in the form of Homer), his initial narration of the various myths that are recounted throughout the Republic must have been a matter of pure imitation. Thus, Socrates is both a pure imitator and a mixed one. Further, Claudia Baracchi wonders “what to say about that other narrator behind Socrates, that other one who makes Socrates remember and narrate, even write? What to say of this one, who writes dialogues but never speaks?” (2002, 101). Given the structure of the dialogue, Plato’s style of speech would have the characteristics of the most imitative—even further behind the scenes, further hidden than the purely imitative narrator Socrates. 7. I do not wish to overly simplify the distinction between the sophist and the philosopher. The difficulty of making this distinction by appealing to rhetoric has been shown by Marina McCoy. However, I do want to suggest that perhaps one way of making such a distinction is through the figure of imitative style. McCoy distinguishes between the philosopher and the sophist by way of what she calls “moral virtues” (2008, 5). With reservations, I agree. However, I show in this article that the ethos of imitation determines the designation “virtue.” 8. Even though Glaucon claims at 358c that the thrasymachal account of justice and human nature in book 2 is an imitation of the stories by which he has been “talked deaf by Thrasymachus and countless others” (1991, 36), with Drew Hyland, we might say that Glaucon’s presentation of human nature is in fact “atomistic.” As such, the simple style may correspond to the mistaken “atomistic” conception of human nature in which a human being is conceived as an “autonomous, independent, radically self-interested ‘monad’ or ‘atom,’ who, to be sure, may enter into relations with others” but to whom “such relations will never be essential” (Hyland 1995, 40–41). 9. Given the broad scope of its potential development, I do not address here how my reading accounts for a fundamental problem in the text with respect to mimēsis: the relation of book 3 to book 10. In the latter book, Socrates bans all imitation from the city. 10. An anonymous reader asked how I can say that philosophy is the activity that discloses the original, and therefore, the new, when we see examples of this disclosure in other disciplines (e.g., contemporary poetry and contemporary physics). I must refrain from entering into the storm of criticism surrounding what poetry is and does in the modern world. However, one way of describing “poetry today” might be as what I am calling “original repetition”: as the imitation of beings and events in a way that makes them original. I would say that a poet expresses a singular and original being or event through the means of an imitated language. If I am allowed this interpretation, then Socrates’ understanding of philosophy might be said to be poetic for us, though, to be sure, he does not use the term “poetry” in this way. As I suggest in my interpretation of book 6, I think that, for Socrates, insofar as a physicist performs the activity of physics, he is not disclosing the archē and thus not discovering the new. However, insofar as he performs the work of physics with 61 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 61 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow the aim of uncovering archai in the way suggested by book 6, he is performing philosophy as Socrates understands that term. Consequently, part of the task of this article is to argue that philosophy in the Republic must be understood as more than logical argumentation. 11. “Speaking the words that come from knowledge signifies nothing, since people who are in these states of passion recite demonstrations, or verses of Empedocles; those who are first learning something also string words together, but do not yet know anything. For one must grow into knowing, and this requires time; and so one ought to assume that people who behave without restraint speak in the same way as actors playing a part” (2002, 124, emphasis added). 12. With this qualification, I distinguish my interpretation from the readings of “technical dialectic” developed by, for instance, Gilbert Ryle (1966). 13. In the appendix of his book on the Republic, David Roochnik first observes a distinction between the everyday meaning of dialegesthai (“to converse,” “to discuss,” “to argue”) and the “technical” meaning of dialectikē, noting that the latter is derived from the former. Citing John Lyons (1967), he shows that the addition of the suffix ikē to the adjective turns the activity of dialegesthai into a technē. The technical form means “skilled in language or argument” (2003, 133). According to Roochnik, commentators in the tradition have often attempted to argue that the dialogues present the development of Plato’s thinking on the cultivation of the higher, philosophical mode of technical dialectic, grounding it on the mathematical and scientific. However, he finds this reading problematic for a number of reasons: not only because there is scant evidence and description of the practice of technical dialectic across the dialogues but also because there is much in the dialogues that undermines the idea that only the “technical philosopher,” the one that practices technical dialectic, “is the serious one” (2003, 140). For instance, in his interpretation of the Phaedrus, a dialogue that does offer a brief description of dialectic, Charles Griswold suggests (and Roochnik agrees) that it does not encourage the project of dialectic as much as it “point[s] out the limitations of technē” (1986, 144). Both Roochnik and Griswold ultimately conclude that “there is not a comprehensive view of the meaning of dialegesthai in the dialogues” (Roochnik 2003, 144). 14. I use the terminology of “technical” dialectic with hesitation here. My understanding of dialectic, as suggested by my analysis of the relevant passages of book 7, is animated by a commitment to the notion that there is an inseparable relation between dialegesthai and dialectikē—indeed, one might even say that there is a “dialectical” relation between them, insofar as dialectikē is a lexis in which one wakefully imitates what is already given in dialegesthai. Even if, given the rarity in the dialogues of the actual term dialectikē (see Kahn 1996, 327) and the meager technical descriptions across the corpus, we wish to give up on a clear definition of the technical form, nevertheless, my reading still holds. For we can textually show two different comportments within the same dialegesthai: an ethos of pure imitation and an ethos of original repetition. 62 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 62 13/01/12 5:03 PM on mimetic style in plato’s republic Additionally, insofar as it will be mimetic style that enables us to take responsibility for the concepts that we have inherited, dialectic, on my reading, will exceed its characterization as mere argumentation or logic. As Jill Gordon argues, “dialectic or questioning is a way to protect the soul not from beliefs repugnant to logic, but beliefs repugnant to good human living” (1999, 28). 15. Klein 1992, 49. 16. See especially 524e: “A soul would be compelled to be at a loss [aporein] and to make an investigation, setting in motion the intelligence [ennoian] within it, and to ask what the one itself is” (1991, 204). 17. According to Roochnik, for example, dialectikē is “somehow dependent on mathematics” (2003, 150), though, to be sure, Roochnik here refers to this common attribution as a problem for the description. 18. I would like to thank one of my reviewers for pointing me to the following passage that comes just after the discussion of the new mathematical studies that helps to distinguish between them and dialectic: “The power of dialectic alone could reveal it to a man experienced in the things that we just went through, while it is in no other way possible” (1991, 212). 19. Though, with this observation, I do not necessarily claim that Polymarchus has the character to perform the dialectic successfully. Blondell’s claim that Polymarchus is too pliable and capable of manipulation is convincing. For “pliability is dangerous in so far as it encourages passivity rather than analysis” (2002, 178). 20. I would like to thank my two reviewers for their considered and constructive criticisms of this article. works cited Annas, Julia. 1981. An Introduction to Plato’s “Republic.” Oxford: Oxford University Press. Aristotle. 2002. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. Joe Sachs. Newburyport, MA: Focus Press. Baracchi, Claudia. 2002. Of Myth, Life, and War in Plato’s “Republic.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Blondell, Ruby. 2002. The Play of Character in Plato’s Dialogues. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cornford, F. M. 1945. The Republic of Plato. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gordon, Jill. 1999. Turning Toward Philosophy. University Park: Penn State University Press. Griswold, Charles. 1986. Self-Knowledge in Plato’s “Phaedrus.” New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Hyland, Drew. 1995. Finitude and Transcendence in the Platonic Dialogues. Albany: State University of New York Press. Kahn, Charles. 1996. Plato and the Socratic Dialogue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 63 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 63 13/01/12 5:03 PM russell winslow Klein, Jacob. 1992. Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra. Mineola, NY: Dover. Lyons, John. 1967. Structural Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McCoy, Marina. 2008. Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists. New York: Cambridge University Press. Naddaff, Ramona. 2002. Exiling the Poets. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Plato. 1991. The Republic. Trans. Allan Bloom. New York: Basic Books. Roochnik, David. 2003. Beautiful City: The Dialectical Character of Plato’s “Republic.” Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Rosen, Stanley. 2005. Plato’s “Republic”: A Study. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Ryle, Gilbert. Plato’s Progress. 1966. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Vlastos, Gregory. 1983. “The Socratic Elenchus.” In Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, vol. 1, ed. Julia Annas, 27–58. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. 64 PR 45.1_03_Winslow.indd 64 13/01/12 5:03 PM Copyright of Philosophy & Rhetoric is the property of Pennsylvania State University Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
ATLANTIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION 2016, VOL. 24, NO. 2, 71–82 A sublimed experience of the rhetoric of Plato’s Republic Michael Warren Tumolo Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 Communication Studies, California State University, Stanislaus ABSTRACT This article argues that Plato’s Republic promotes a public memory characterized by a sublimed experience of reason. The standard understanding of the meaning and value of the Republic is a product of processes of sublimation rather than a necessary conclusion drawn from the text’s propositional content. Key moments of the text illustrate this pattern of sublimation. The particular strand of arguments from the Republic addressed in this article invite readers to justify the use of deception, to forget the ethical implications of achieving and maintaining justice through deceit, and to identify with the ruling and deceiving class. Critical attention to this line of arguments offers an understanding of the symbiotic, rather than antagonistic, relationship between philosophy and rhetoric while allowing us to recognize the danger inherent in our willingness to rationalize the unethical foundation of the kallipolis. How are we to judge things if we want to judge them well? Isn’t it by experience, reason, and argument? Or could anyone have better criteria than these? How could he? — Plato (Republic, 1992, 582a) Alfred North Whitehead (1979) famously observed that “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato” (p. 39). The value of this observation is perhaps most evident with the Republic, Plato’s dramatic meditation on the nature of justice that inaugurated Western political philosophy.1 The standard interpretation of the Republic presents the text as an archetypal philosophical search for justice that would liberate humankind from injustices perpetrated by rhetoricians. The cave allegory contained in the Republic endures as an archetypal representation of the philosophical universe, a universe in which the search for truth sets one free from the trappings of ignorance. In the preface to his translation of the Republic, Alan Bloom (1991b) contended that Republic’s cave “is the image of every serious student’s profoundest longing,” adding that the work of those who do not find inviolable justice in the Republic must be dismissed as philosophically untrue (pp. ix, viii). Interestingly enough, scholars of rhetoric broach the ancient rhetoric/philosophy divide along similar lines in courses that introduce students to the discipline. Rather than presenting rhetoric in the context of an attempt to understand ways of being, knowing, or judging (Benson, 1989), rhetoric is presented in the context of the trenchant criticisms of rhetoric found in Plato’s Phaedrus and Gorgias, in which sophists are presented as petulant and arrogant purveyors of ignorance. In this context, rhetoric is thought to originate as a tool used by sycophantic proponents of a truthless world to hide their manipulations of logic as they deceive their way to fame and fortune. Philosophers become the rightful operators of rhetoric, which is then understood as a tool used to disseminate truths to a general, nonphilosophical population. Although those professing disciplinary knowledge may find richness, value, and even polysemy in works by both Plato and the sophists, students CONTACT Michael Warren Tumolo California State University, Stanislaus, Communication Studies, One University Circle, Turlock, CA 95382. 1 Allan Bloom (1991b) made the case that Plato’s Republic is the foundation of Western political philosophy in the “Preface to the Second Edition” of his translation of The Republic of Plato (p. ix). © 2016 Taylor & Francis Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 72 M. W. TUMOLO introduced to rhetoric in this light would be right to judge rhetoric harshly, consequently inviting them to remain unsympathetic to a discipline of knowledge and practice with deep philosophical and historical roots. In the following pages, I offer a reading of the Republic that focuses on an explicit argument sustained in a series of key moments throughout the text that address the nature and uses of rhetoric. Although it ought not to be startling news for scholars to find that Plato employed rhetoric to produce the truths he sought to disseminate, the Republic’s explicit commentary regarding the function of rhetoric for producing and maintaining the ideal society contrasts sharply with the attitudes toward sophistic rhetoric and Platonic philosophy established in the Phaedrus and Gorgias. In recognizing, with Kenneth Burke (1966), that every presentation of reality is both a selection and a deflection of reality (p. 45), we may acknowledge that the reality of the rhetoric/philosophy antagonism is due, in large measure, to the primary and secondary literature provided as evidence in service of that reality. As such, I acknowledge that this essay offers one reading of the Republic, itself a polysemous text capable of sustaining contradictory lines of argument. The focus here involves a line of argument in which rhetoric is offered to leaders as a mechanism of deception useful for controlling the masses. Rather than simple contrariness, the purpose of this approach is to offer a reading, rooted in propositional content found explicitly in the Republic, that evinces a need to revise a simplistic dichotomy in which rhetoric is seen as founded in vice and philosophy in virtue. The Republic invites such work insofar as its style of reported speech draws attention to how the central claims regarding justice and truth are developed in the context of rhetorical arguments—only to become “truths” as the argumentative process is elided over time. I label the result of this elision as a “sublimed experience” to indicate how the truths of the Republic are products of processes of rhetorical sublimation in which the text’s propositional content is obscured by pervasive supplemental attitudes toward philosophy, justice, rhetoric, and reason. This reading consequently offers an opening in which we may develop a more robust understanding of the symbiotic, rather than antagonistic, relationship between rhetoric and philosophy. As a point of clarification, this use of the “sublime” differs from that used by thinkers including Immanuel Kant (1987/1790), Edmund Burke (1958/1757), and Longinus (1991), who present a sublime experience as one that overwhelms its audience with awe or terror even though the experience may forever remain ineffable. A sublime experience would thus have a recognizable presence regardless of whether the experience is intelligible or communicable. Scholars have explained how such a powerful affective experience plays out philosophically (O’Gorman, 2004), as an experience that destabilizes subject positions (Gunn & Beard, 2000), and as a rhetorical style (McDaniel, 2000; O’Gorman, 2008). This account of a sublimed experience contributes to this literature by locating useful rhetorical dimensions of the “sublime” in discussions of the term from the fields of chemistry and psychology. In chemistry, an element or compound sublimes when it makes the transition from a solid into a gaseous state without becoming a liquid. In rhetorical discourse, such a transition happens metaphorically as a discourse becomes increasingly pervasive and the source of its pervasiveness is obscured. That is, a solid and identifiable rhetorical discourse transforms into an ineffable effect of rhetoric. For instance, an argument may be said to have sublimed when it is no longer seen as an argument but rather experienced as a truth that, in Friedrich Nietzsche’s (1989) language, seems “solid, canonical, and binding to a nation” (p. 250). In psychology, sublimation is an ego-defense mechanism involving the redirection of negative drives into positive ones. According to the psychoanalytic perspectives presented in Sigmund Freud’s (1930/1989) Civilization and its Discontents and Anna Freud’s (1936/1966) The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, sublimation indicates the redirection of socially unacceptable drives into socially acceptable ones. Those who control the meaning and value of social acceptability do so by directing processes of sublimation. This essay proceeds in three sections. The first section addresses how the issue of justice is framed stylistically and rhetorically in the Republic, focusing on key moments including Thrasymachus’s challenge and the noble lie. Taking a cue from Plato, this section begins, by necessity, with an explanation of the philosophical grounding offered in support of Plato’s decision to render the text in ATLANTIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION 73 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 reported speech as an extended monologue from the character Socrates. The second section picks up where the noble lie leaves off, analyzing an implicit theory of rhetoric that presents people as effects of dispositions that were created and may be altered by rhetorical interventions. The third section extends this reading through the cave allegory, focusing on how it seeks to explain knowledge and education. By addressing how the Republic’s interlocutors employ rhetoric to create a sublimed experience of arguments that will have become truths when audiences eventually forget their argumentative origins, scholars of rhetoric may introduce students to rhetoric/philosophy as a symbiotic relationship rather than as a divide. This also opens the text up to an important lesson, namely, that we may do a great deal of harm to ourselves and others if we do not attend to our power to rationalize worldviews. Socrates’s monologue, Thrasymachus’ challenge, and rhetorical interventions Readers encountering Plato’s Republic meet a text written in a style that is substantially different from the most famous dialogues. Plato’s dialogues were written in direct speech, with the narrative attributed directly to the character speaking. In contrast, the Republic was written in reported speech from the point of view of the character “Socrates,” meaning that all utterances in the diegetic world originate in one character’s recollections and are authored by Plato. As such, the drama of the Republic plays out not as a dialogue but as a monologue issued as the reported speech of a narrator identified as Socrates.2 Despite the entirety of the text originating in the words of one character, the Republic’s style leads readers to reflect on its contents as if it were a dialogue. Even Bloom, lauded for the literalness of his translation, wrote about the text as if it were written in direct speech. This makes sense because a series of textually accurate descriptions of the text’s action would render an essay unreadable. For instance, one might accurately state that “Plato wrote that the character Socrates reported that Thrasymachus claimed justice to be the advantage of the stronger.” Perceptions of the Republic as a dialogue are fostered by some contemporary versions of the text that present it as if it were a dialogue including C. D. C. Reeve’s new translation (Plato, 2004). Reeve explained his choice to render the Republic in direct speech as a significant and “conscious derivation from strict accuracy” to promote “readability and intelligibility” (Plato, 2004, viii). The Republic’s unique style performs one of the text’s foundational philosophical arguments. The philosophical reasoning behind Plato’s decision to render the text in the style of reported speech is explicitly presented in the Republic in passages where Socrates establishes grounds for dismissing large portions of odes and songs from Homer and others due to their content (Plato, 1992, 377d392c) and style (especially Plato, 1992, 392c-399e). These sections, and the proscriptions therein, turn on the concept of imitation, arguing first that life imitates the arts. Socrates explains that leaders must censor stories concerning the gods insofar as they influence the behavior of ordinary people. For instance, Socrates argues that “we must put a stop to such stories” as those featuring “close descendants of the gods” doing bad things “lest they produce in the youth a strong inclination to do bad things” (Plato, 1992, 391e). Here we see that content is to be censored out of a belief that people will imitate undesirable actions. The Republic’s investigation into issues of poetic and expressive style, which results in an additional call for censorship, addresses a different facet of imitation. Socrates explains that there are poets who “effect their narrative through imitation” (Plato, 1992, 393c) such as those who produce tragedies and comedies, those who employ “narrative without imitation” (Plato, 1992, 393d) described as reported speech, and a combination found in places including epic poetry (Plato, 1992, 394c). Socrates explains imitative style by observing how Homer imitates characters in the Iliad and 2 There are translations available that recast the Republic in direct speech akin to the dialogues including C. D. C. Reeve’s new translation (Plato, 2004). Of that translation, Reeve explained that he made a significant and “conscious derivation from strict accuracy” by presenting Socrates’s “report as an explicit dialogue in direct speech, with identified speakers” to increase “readability and intelligibility” (p. viii). 74 M. W. TUMOLO Odyssey so well that his authorship is obscured. For instance, the poet “speaks as if he were Chryses and tries as far as possible to make us think that the speaker isn’t Homer but the priest himself—an old man” (Plato, 1992, 393a-b). Readers, Socrates notes, are likely to attribute the imitated prose to the character that is being imitated rather than the actual poet doing the imitating, which would not be a problem if the poet were to only imitate the desirable speech of good people. The interlocutors decide that imitative narrative ought to be disallowed by all except for the rulers who Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 should employ a more austere and less pleasure-giving poet and storyteller, one who would imitate the speech of a decent person and who would tell his stories in accordance with the patterns we laid down when we first undertook the education of our soldiers. (Plato, 1992, 398a-b) The argument concerning style and imitation is thus animated by a second belief that the arts wield undue power when they imitate life and that such power ought to remain in the hands of those whose philosophical natures are considered appropriate for ruling. This lays the groundwork for subsequent arguments concerning noble uses of deception for controlling the masses. With an understanding of the philosophical grounding for the Republic’s style, we can now turn to the narrative. The Republic is a dramatic account of a fictional meeting of a group of men attempting to understand and define the concept of justice. Plato’s story begins with the characters Socrates and Glaucon returning to Athens from a religious ceremony on the Piraeus. Polemarchus, who is walking with a group of men nearby, sends his slave to accost Socrates and Glaucon, demanding that the two stay to talk. Once Socrates concedes, the group moves on and is met by many others including the sophist Thrasymachus of Chalcedon. After discussing the relationship between age, wealth, and just actions, Socrates changes the subject to the meaning of justice, drawing the ire of Thrasymachus. Socrates reports that Thrasymachus grew angry and “coiled himself up like a wild beast about to spring, and he hurled himself at us as if to tear us to pieces” (Plato, 1992, 336b). Thrasymachus charges Socrates for questioning others’ definitions rather than providing his own clear and precise account of justice. Socrates responds while “trembling a little,” saying that justice is such a valuable concept that those searching are unlikely to find it and should therefore be “pitied by you clever people” instead of “given rough treatment” (Plato, 1992, 336e). Thrasymachus is encouraged to give an account of justice himself, which he does only after proactively charging Socrates as being ironic (Plato, 1992, 337a). Gregory Vlastos (1987) explained that this use of “irony” requires closer inspection because the Greek word eirōneia denotes “the intention to deceive,” indicating that Thrasymachus is “charging that Socrates lies in saying he has no answer of his own to the question he is putting to others” (pp. 80–81). Despite this charge being passed over, Socrates lends it credence by calling for the use of deception throughout the Republic. With more encouragement, Thrasymachus offers his account—“justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger” (Plato, 1992, 338c). The dramatic tension of the remainder of the Republic is driven by Socrates reporting the proceedings of an attempt to counter Thrasymachus’s rhetorical account of justice with a philosophical account. For his efforts, Bloom labeled Socrates the “protector of justice against a rhetorician” (Plato, 1991, 338). In this account, rhetoric is treated disdainfully at the same time as the alternative account of justice is advanced with a series of rhetorical tasks and interventions. The first rhetorical intervention in the text calls for the censorship of stories used to educate children. This intervention targets childhood education because, Socrates argues, “the beginning of any process is most important, especially for anything young and tender” and hence it is “at that time that it is most malleable and takes on any pattern one wishes to impress on it” (Plato, 1992, 377a-b). In terms of Plato’s philosophy, this particular passage is striking for how it stands in opposition to Plato’s theory of knowledge as recollection. This statement suggests that children learn not by recollection but by the incorporation of external influence that is controlled by men rather than the Divine. Book 2 of the Republic shows how influencing the paedeia, or the cradle to crypt education into a culture, is the most crucial step to creating the foundation for his philosophical version of justice in an ideal city. Thus, Plato has Socrates argue that to create the ideal city, ATLANTIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION 75 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 then we must first of all, it seems, supervise the storytellers. We’ll select their stories whenever they are fine or beautiful and reject them when they aren’t. And we’ll persuade nurses and mothers to tell their children the ones we have selected, since they will shape their children’s souls with stories much more than they shape their bodies by handling them. Many stories they tell now, however, must be thrown out. (Plato, 1992, 377b-c) At this point, the ones who judge which stories are to be told and which are to be silenced are entitled to do so by virtue of their agreement with Socrates. This task will be given to the philosopher-kings once their class is established. The censors, those responsible for supervising the storytellers, are also secret-keepers. In the case that the enlightened come across stories that might be inconvenient or damning to the smooth operation of the state (Socrates cites Hesiod’s account of the patricidal origin myth of the Greek people), they are to pass over them in silence rather than share them with “foolish young people” (Plato, 1992, 378a). Stories that may damage the state are only to be known by elites whose sworn secrecy is to remain bounded by ritualistic sacrifice. This is to be the case even when the story is known to be true, and if, for some reason, it has to be told, only a very few people—pledged to secrecy and after sacrificing not just a pig but something great and scarce—should hear it, so that their number is kept as small as possible. (Plato, 1992, 378a) The act of secret-keeping extends to rhetorical education, which is presented as an avenue for the people to wrest power and destroy the city’s constitution. In Socrates’s estimation, human nature and desire is aligned such that the constitution of a city will inevitably gravitate toward tyranny. Democracy is cast as a poor constitution only one step above tyranny in which state power is concentrated in the people, made up of poor laborers without political aspirations (Plato, 1992, 565a). The founders must prevent the general population from accessing rhetorical education, as it would exacerbate society’s decline by diffusing power among the people. If legislated, the proposal for strict control of permissible narratives and limited access to rhetorical education and practice would effectively put an end to a multiplicity of competing public memories, competing ethical positions, or competing worldviews. The masses would be left as spectators who bear witness to the stories and internalize their moralizing lessons. Read this way, the normative political implication of the Republic would involve the creation of a society where leaders rule over people who passively obey. This structure of governance and power would be held intact by controlling public memory. As evidenced in the text, public memory is to be controlled, in large measure, through the use of narrative and falsehood that culminate in the noble lie,3 the “Myth of the Metals,” which is subsequently put into practice in a proposed ritual of public marriage. The myth is introduced as “one noble falsehood that would, in the best case, persuade even the rulers, but if that’s not possible, then the others in the city” (Plato, 1992, 414b-c). After demonstrating a reluctance for introducing a persuasive political discourse, Socrates explains that he will begin by persuading the “rulers and the soldiers and then the rest of the city that the upbringing and the education we gave them, and the experiences that went with them, were a sort of dream” (Plato, 1992, 414d). All that is real, including themselves, were crafted by a deity within the earth and they should “think of the other citizens as their earthborn brothers” (Plato, 1992, 414d-e). Socrates continues the myth: The god who made you mixed some gold into those who are adequately equipped to rule, because they are most valuable. He put silver in those who are auxiliaries and iron and bronze in the farmers and other craftsmen. For the most part you will produce children like yourselves, but, because you are all related, a silver child will occasionally be born from a golden parent, and vice versa, and all the others from each other. So the first and most important command from the god to the rulers is that there is nothing that they must guard better or watch more carefully than the mixture of metals in the souls of the next generation. (Plato, 1992, 415a-b) The terms “useful falsehood” and “noble falsehood” are consistent with Reeve and Grube’s translation of Plato’s (1992) Republic. Bloom translated the terms as “lies” and “noble lies” (Plato, 1991). 3 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 76 M. W. TUMOLO In the proposed application of this myth we see a troubling side of the Republic’s rhetoric. Rhetoric is understood as the art of deception that uses words (rather than physical coercion) to control human desire in the kallipolis, in which ideal justice requires a rigidly divided caste system. This conceptualization of rhetoric is consistent with Popper’s (1966) critique that the Republic uses rhetoric to disseminate a self-conscious “propaganda lie” to promote a totalitarian morality and a “myth of racialism” while reducing religion and faith to the level of “an opportunistic lie” (pp. 149–150). Hans-Georg Gadamer (1986) offered a powerful counter reading to this and other passages from the Republic, arguing that the text’s utopian demands are absurd and deliberately designed to provoke and ought not be taken as serious reflections of Plato’s intentions. This contrasts with Friedrich Nitezsche’s assessment that “whether Plato truly believed his own doctrines or not, his followers did” (Zuckert, 1996, p. 25). The goal of this article is not to attribute intention to Plato but to offer a reading of a line of argument carried throughout the text. In the textual world of the Republic, philosophy is presented as a way of being in the world that seeks to order society by directing and controlling the resources of public memory to forge an incipient memory “that social order reflects a natural order” (Zuckert, 1996, p. 18). The way that the noble lie is presented suggests that it was not designed to produce demonstrable effects on its immediate audience or to serve as a prescription for identifying the intrinsic value of individual souls. Rather, its work would happen memorially as it is written into the experience of future generations in the space of tradition—as tradition transforms, so too would the belief structures of those born into it. He has Glaucon state that “I can’t see any way to make them [the rulers, soldiers, and rest of the people] believe it [the myth of the metals] themselves, but perhaps there is one [way] in the case of their sons and later generations and all the other people who come after them” (Plato, 1992, 415d). Socrates responds affirmatively with “let’s leave this matter wherever tradition takes it” (Plato, 1992, 415d). The combined logic of Glaucon’s observation and Socrates’s advice suggests that the myth of the metals would become a foundational belief as it sublimes to become part of the tradition.4 This belief does not present the myth as a diagnostic test. Rather, the myth is offered as a type of narrative that would be useful for justifying and maintaining consolidated power formations. The myth in action: Nemesis and mnemonocide Although the myth anticipated limited, if any, immediate effects of its audience, the way in which the myth is activated in the Republic illustrates both the text’s perspective of rhetoric and the centrality of rhetoric to the text. On this point, a particularly illuminating exchange happens just prior to Socrates’s call for leaders to use deception as a drug to control the people. Socrates is found pleading with his interlocutors so that they will not hold him accountable for missing the mark in his explanation of justice. Whether lost to omission or consumed by Plato’s provocations, the passage warrants a closer look for the insight it offers into the theory of rhetoric embedded in Plato’s Republic. Further, the passage is significant insofar as it indicates that Plato was uneasy in presenting an idea that he knew “was opposed to the democratic and humanitarian tendencies of his time” (Popper, 1966, p. 150). The passage begins as Glaucon coaxes Socrates into speaking about the nature of justice, assuring him that he is free to err because his audience is friendly. Socrates replies, So I bow to Adrasteia for what I’m going to say, for I suspect that it’s a lesser crime to kill someone involuntarily than to mislead people about fine, good, and just institutions. Since it’s better to run this risk among enemies than among friends, you’ve well and truly encouraged me! (Plato, 1992, 451a-b).5 4 The myth is projected more boldly in Aristotle’s (1998) Politics, where Plato’s student espouses a doctrine of natural slavery that plainly observes innate differences in the bodies of slaves and rulers (p. 9). It is striking that a sense of disquiet accompanies a lengthy speech encouraging a form of gender equity when no such sentiments were displayed in conjunction with the promotion of racialism in the myth of the metals. 5 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 ATLANTIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION 77 The risk Socrates refers to concerns the possibility that a lack of certainty may lead him into creating a false image of justice—a rhetorical action understood to be worse than involuntarily killing someone. By implication, the crime that Socrates might commit is murder, and his fear is not committing it but being held responsible for it. To be sure, Socrates will not be engaging in the physical destruction of anyone. Rather, he recognizes quite rightly that what he is about to say is aimed at the foundational dispositions of his interlocutors, including but not limited to their beliefs in justice. If his speech effectively persuades them, their foundational dispositions will be altered or replaced. Consequently, each will cease to exist as the same person that they were prior to Socrates’s speech. It is not fratricide or coercive force that Socrates fears being held responsible for, but rather mnemonocide through the rhetorical action of his arguments.6 That is, the act of creating arguments designed to produce memories of the fine, good, and just requires the simultaneous destruction (or displacement) of other memories, including existing memories of the fine, good, and just. Despite the gravity of the claim, Socrates must have winked as he bowed to Adrasteia. Because Adrasteia “was a kind of Nemesis, a punisher of pride and proud words,” Socrates’s bow “is therefore a kind of apology for the kind of act or statement that might otherwise spur her to take action” (Plato, 1992, 124, n4). This gesture may be easily missed given its foreignness and that it provides the foil for Plato’s famous defense of gender equity, polygamy, and the communal rearing of children.7 The key to this passage lies in the tactical use of laughter and seriousness following Socrates’s bow. This rhetorical tactic is explained by Gorgias in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. There, Aristotle reports that “Gorgias [correctly] said that ‘the opposition’s seriousness is to be demolished by laughter, and laughter by seriousness’” (as cited in Sprague, 2001, p. 63).8 In response to the gesture, Socrates reports that Glaucon laughed and said: Well Socrates, if we suffer from any false note you strike in the argument, we’ll release you and absolve you of any guilt as in a homicide case: your hands are clean, and you have not deceived us. So take courage and speak. (Plato, 1992, 451b) Although Glaucon’s laughter may have been used as a tactic to soften the force of Socrates’s seriousness, Socrates emerges to control the direction and meaning of the Republic by repeating his jest in earnest: “I will [take courage and speak], for the law says that someone who kills involuntarily is free of guilt when he’s absolved by the injured party. So it’s surely reasonable to think the same is true in my case as well” (Plato, 1992, 451b). A substantive acknowledgment of the power of rhetoric accompanies the shifts between Socrates’s gesture, Glaucon’s laughter, and Socrates’s seriousness. In acknowledging the potential to fundamentally alter those on the receiving end of his work of “truth telling,” Socrates is bowing to an understanding of rhetoric premised on the belief that people are an effect of their foundational dispositions, which are produced and destroyed through rhetorical interventions. Plato operationalizes the myth of the metals in a proposed ritual of public marriage. Socrates explains that promotion of the kallipolis requires, first, that the best men must have sex with the best women as frequently as possible, while the opposite is true of the most inferior men and women, and, second, that if our herd is to be of the highest possible quality, the former’s offspring must be reared but not the latter’s. (Plato, 1991, 459d-459e) 6 Charles E. Morris III (2004) used this term to describe the rhetorical efforts of destroying memory (p. 99). The defense of gender equity occurs in Book 5 (451d–469b). Natalie Harris Bluestone’s (1987) Women and the Ideal Society: Plato’s Republic and Modern Myths of Gender provides an exemplary reading of the section along such terms of equality. Bloom similarly argued that the Republic is “gripping because of its very radical, more than up-to-date treatment of the ‘gender question”’ (1991b, vii–ix), while the “whole Republic represents the triumph of the just speech” (1991a, 337). Although Plato’s (1992) ideas do, in fact, affirm a type of equality in value across the sexes, such equality is to be understood as happening within the strict class-based limitations drawn by the myth of the metals (459d). 8 The text is excerpted from Aristotle’s (1991) Rhetoric section 1419b. George Kennedy translates this to read, “As for humor, since it seems to have some use in debate and Gorgias rightly said that one should spoil the opponents’ seriousness with laughter and their laughter with seriousness” (p. 280). 7 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 78 M. W. TUMOLO In stating that the offspring of “inferior” people must not be reared, Reeve and Grube noted that “Plato is recommending infanticide by exposure for these babies, a practice which was quite common in ancient Greece as a method of birth control” (Plato, 1992, 134, n12). Plato then offers a ritual of public marriage involving a public lottery in which names would “randomly” be drawn and those selected would be free to reproduce. The leaders would be the only people to know that the ritual is rigged “so that our herd of guardians remains as free from dissention as possible” (Plato, 1991, 459e). When not selected, “the inferior people we mentioned will blame luck rather than the rulers” (Plato, 1991, 460a). In sum, the myth warrants rigging a public marriage ritual such that only those believed to be born of gold are permitted to reproduce. Those men and women deemed best, and hence selected in the rigged lottery, are to accept reproduction as their duty and privilege. In losing the rigged lottery, those deemed unworthy are to curse fate and wait until next time. If they succumb to temptation, their offspring will be left to die by the heat of the same sun that discloses truth. They are, by design, not to question or try to alter the system. Doing so would inaugurate the fall into democracy and, inevitably, tyranny. Whether one follows Popper’s reading and takes this application as an affront to open society or follows Gadamer and reads this as a simplistic provocation, it still stands that the section offers insight into the understanding of rhetoric presented in the Republic. Plato has Socrates both increase and clarify the stakes of this rhetorical task when he states simply that to found the kallipolis “it looks as though our rulers will have to make considerable use of falsehood and deception for the benefit of those they rule. And we said that all such falsehoods are useful as a form of drug” (Plato, 1992, 459cd). This utilitarian-psychopharmaceutical analogy highlights three ways that the Republic deals with rhetoric. First, it reaffirms the earlier conceptualization of rhetoric that recognizes people as an effect of their rhetorically constructed foundational dispositions. Second, it proposes rhetoric as a tool to be used by leaders to influence knowledge and memory through the use of strategic deception. Both claims affirm the centrality of rhetoric to the creation and maintenance of senses of being in the world while highlighting how the kallipolis is best to be thought of as an effect of the rhetoric of public memory. Third, the analogy proposes limiting access to an education in rhetoric. Ordinary people are restricted from access to the use of rhetoric, which is relegated to its prescribing doctor. On this point, Socrates observes that “falsehood, though of no use to the gods, is useful to people as a form of drug, clearly we must allow only doctors to use it, not private citizens” (Plato, 1992, 389b). This account of Plato’s Republic thus far has shown how justice was constituted with the help of rhetoric, which is presented as the art of deception in which narrative and lies are used like drugs for controlling the masses while creating and preserving a space for the philosophical life. On this point, Catherine Zuckert (1996) explained Nietzsche’s observation that “Plato taught what was necessary to maintain philosophy as a way of life” (p. 21). This meets its most poignant expression in Plato’s noble lie, the myth of the metals, which is subsequently activated in the dramatic exchanges involving Nemesis and gender parity. These sections of the Republic give a sense of how the text works as a rhetorical document, with the character of Socrates seen as a powerful rhetorical trope for producing a particular persuasive response, namely, remembering the rhetorical accomplishments of the text as evidence of a triumph of philosophy over rhetoric. Knowledge, education, and a sublimed experience of reason The rhetorical interventions including prescriptions concerning the content of childhood education, control of permissible cultural narratives, and noble deception were designed to produce a particular sort of people by altering their foundational dispositions. This work is expressed in the “Allegory of the Cave.” Socrates introduces the allegory as a comparison of “the effect of education and of the lack of it on our nature” (Plato, 1992, 513e-514a). Bloom (1991b) gives voice to a common interpretation of the allegory’s enduring importance by claiming that ATLANTIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION 79 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 for students the story of man bound up in the cave and breaking the bonds, moving out and up into the light of the sun, is the most memorable from their encounter with the Republic. This is the image of every serious student’s profoundest longing, the longing for liberation from convention in order to live according to nature, and one of the book’s evidently permanent aspects. (p. ix) Although Bloom’s statement is meant to merely buttress the importance of the work, it additionally acknowledges that, by virtue of learning how to learn and what to learn about, the act of education shapes the student’s basic desires for knowledge. Such a view coincides with Plato’s framing of the allegory as an attempt to explain how education and the lack thereof function to shape desire. The narrative continues with Socrates asking readers to imagine a deep cave occupied by humans with bindings around their legs and necks so they must remain still and only see that which is placed before their eyes. Behind the troglodytes is a fire providing light and puppeteers plying their craft by carrying around artifacts to project shadows upon the opposite wall. Because the people in the cave cannot turn their heads, they see the shadows but remain unaware of how the shadows are produced. In this condition, when puppeteers project shadows of artifacts, the people imprisoned in the cave “would in every way believe that the truth is nothing other than the shadows of those artifacts” (Plato, 1992, 515c). With the scene drawn as such, Plato introduces an act designed to retrospectively justify the use of deceit and lies to control the masses. Socrates asks Glaucon to consider what would naturally happen in the case of one being released from bondage and cured of ignorance. The chosen one is freed and then “suddenly compelled to stand up, turn his head, walk, and look up toward the light, he’d be pained and dazzled and unable to see the things whose shadows he’d seen before” (Plato, 1992, 515c). The freedman would then become disoriented and his eyes would hurt as he realized that what he thought was real was only a puppet show. Because, the Republic argues, people gravitate toward ignorance when given the opportunity, and the freedman is no different. Socrates asks, What do you think he’d say, if we told him that what he’d seen before was inconsequential, but that now— because he is a bit closer to the things that are and is turned towards things that are more—he sees more correctly? (Plato, 1992, 515d) Upon hearing that the new worldview is increasingly more accurate, the freedman turns away from the new and unfamiliar sights and flees back to his familiar world of shadows. This one’s freedom is coerced as he is then dragged “away from there by force, up the rough, steep path” and not let go until he is in the sunlight (Plato, 1992, 515e). The freedman then experiences a period of optical adjustment, here surrogate for the four conditions of the soul described in Plato’s “line analogy” as imagining (eikasia), belief (pistis), thought (dianoia), and understanding (noêsis).9 Once able to see the sun, not its reflection, he infers and concludes the lessons of the earlier “sun analogy”10 that “the sun provides the seasons and the years, governs everything in the visible world, and is in some way the cause of all the things that he used to see” (Plato, 1992, 516b-c). The former slave, now a person of knowledge, returns to the cave and is treated to a bleak scene. Readers are asked to imagine contests that give prizes to slaves who correctly identify the shadows on the wall. As the enlightened one plays the game and gives answers that evidence understanding rather than imagining (e.g., he says that what he sees is a shadow of a chair rather than a chair), he is ridiculed. The other prisoners observe that he “returned from his upward journey with his eyesight ruined and that it isn’t worthwhile even to try” leaving the cave (Plato, 1992, 517a). They up the stakes by declaring that they would kill anyone who tried to free them and lead them upward. This The four conditions of the soul are posited in Plato’s “line analogy,” which immediately precedes the cave allegory. In the line analogy, Plato has Socrates argue that each of the conditions of the soul is to be understood as a ratio relating degrees of clarity to shares of truth, with the condition of understanding (noêsis) as closest to and the condition of imagining (eikasia) as furthest from truth (Plato, 1992, 509d–511e). 10 Plato’s “sun analogy” attempts to explain the good’s composition. Grube and Reeve argued that the sun and line analogy “dramatically portray Plato’s views on knowledge and reality, which, together with his earlier description of the state of philosophy in the actual world, are expressed in some of the most brilliant and passionate writing in all of philosophy” (Plato, 1992, 157). 9 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 80 M. W. TUMOLO threat of death is to be taken as a twofold reminder for the “gold” rulers that their lesser subjects both pose a constant threat and would freely choose ignorance if it were given as an option. The cave allegory presents a conceptualization of knowledge as limited to the individual’s consciousness—presented metaphorically as eyesight or perspective. In this model, knowledge is guided by education, which signifies the process by which one learns to recognize, remember, and understand particular experiences that then serve as the substratum for the consciousness that influences what an individual may continue to think and know. Education influences consciousness by altering the learner’s direction of attention, which henceforth will alter the ethos of his students. Socrates explains that “the final outcome of education, I suppose we’d say, is a single newly finished person, who is either good or the opposite” (Plato, 1992, 425c). Because Plato’s model of education does not allow for knowledge to be put into ignorant souls, an individual’s capacity to learn would then be limited to the biological differences explained by the myth of the metals that correspond to conditions of the soul explained in the line analogy.11 Bronze individuals would be limited to condition of the soul expressed by knowledge of images (eikasia or recognizing shadows on the wall), whereas gold individuals would be capable of understanding (noêsis or comprehending light). Because noêsis is a virtue available to the few fit to be philosopher-kings, the cave allegory is less an encomium of education than it is an analogue to the noble lie that would restrict education based on one’s social status. The masses are, as with the troglodytes in the cave allegory, given to a world of shadows structured by noble lies. The proper redirection of their attention involves reinforcing their presumed separation from politics (Plato, 1992, 565a). The select leaders are to be educated differently. The founders (including the characters Socrates, Glaucon, and Adeimantus) assume the task of compelling those with the “best natures” to ascend from the cave, see the good, and “share with each other the benefits that each class can confer on the community” to “bind the city together” (Plato, 1992, 519e–520a). That is, those deemed elite will receive the best education and then be compelled to manage the good city by putting everyone else into their proper place. Such teaching, Socrates instructs, will make use of falsehood and deception as a useful drug for keeping the people in line. Those who criticize this system from democratic or other starting points are deemed unfit for argument due to improper rhetorical education based upon practices such as the dissoi logoi and eristics (Plato, 1992, 538d–539c). These types of education are to be seen as teaching argument for sporting purposes rather than for seeking truth or the good. Plato offers imagined interlocution as a model for doing philosophy, saying that by imitating “someone who is willing to engage in discussion in order to look for the truth,” one would “bring honor rather than discredit the philosophical way of life” (Plato, 1992, 539c-d). Thus, one would seek truth by imitating interlocutors, acting as “both jury and advocates at once” and debating with them privately in the confines of one’s own mind rather than engaging publicly with other “real” people (Plato, 1992, 348b). The products of such interlocution are the good and the truth to be “shared” with the community in the style of simple narrative without imitation.12 Consequently, there is no dialogue in this kallipolis just as there is no dialogue in the Republic. There is but one agent—the philosopher as ruler. The ruler’s craft is to be plied through narrative, with the Republic explicitly acknowledging how ideal justice is to be produced by employing deception to impose a philosophy of justice and truth on the people. This justice promotes rigid class distinctions in which some are taught to be bronze and are condemned to a life of slaving, and others are raised as if they were gold, given to the task of philosophy and to replicating structures of control for the presumed benefit of society. In this reading of the Republic, the promised discourse on justice is subordinated to an example of how persuasion could be made to consolidate power and maintain social control. Rhetoric is A concise statement on Plato’s model of education is at 518b-c, the “myth of the metals” is at 413b–415d, and the line analogy is at 509d–511e. In addition to the earlier discussion of Books 2 and 3, see Russell Winslow’s (2012) sustained analysis of Book 3 of the Republic, where he discusses the importance of style as it bears on conceptual responsibility. 11 12 Downloaded by [EBSCO Publishing Distribution 2010], [Paige Riordan] at 05:32 15 June 2016 ATLANTIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION 81 conceptualized as a tool useful for producing a specific public memory, a sublimed experience of reason, through a carefully crafted narrative designed to dispose its readers negatively toward Thrasymachus (rhetoric) and favorably toward Socrates (philosophy). To refute Thrasymachus’s definition of justice, that justice is the will of the stronger, Socrates narrates the foundation of an ideal city, the kallipolis, founded with strict limitations on the stories told, the music heard, the instruments played, the food eaten, and the education offered therein. In this narrative of an ideal city, order is maintained by the use of deception and a rigidly enforced caste society. The line of argument calling for this type of social control is laid out transparently for every reader to see. It is striking that this text has been experienced writ large as a testament to truth and justice rather than as support for a descriptive account of might making right. In the Republic, social control is achieved by naked force and readers are invited to celebrate it as the triumph of reason. This triumph has become so normalized that Bloom could say, with a good conscience, that the goal of the Republic is every serious student’s most profound longing (Bloom, 1991b, p. ix). Contrasting with presentations of the Republic as an unproblematic text, this reading focuses on how the Republic operationalizes an unethical species of deceptive rhetoric to set the stage for the triumph of reason. The product of the deceit called for in the Republic is “justice,” the mode of production is now going to be passed off as education. Justice, as rendered in the Republic, would be formed by rewriting the stories of the gods, controlling the stories told to children, calling for the rulers to deceive the people, infanticide, marriage of the “best” through a rigged lottery, and the strict upkeep of rigid class distinctions in a caste society. Readers are invited to identify with the ruling class and, despite the explicitness of the text’s harrowing prescriptions, accept the use of deception as philosophically virtuous and pragmatically necessary. However baldly such tenets are advanced, whether they are absurd provocations or sincere prescriptions, the movement of the text invites its readers to experience such actions as justified and then forget the ethical implications of achieving and maintaining justice through deceit. According to the logic of Plato’s discourse, this work represents the triumph of reason—a sublimed experience in how it strikes readers with awe by suspending a search for the ideal in experience beyond judgment, directs processes of sublimation by indicating which drives are socially acceptable, and remains as a pervasive yet ineffable lens through which the world is to be experienced. Perhaps an ironic lesson emerges from this darker line of argument contained in the Republic, stemming from the dissonance that readers might experience over the entanglements of the opposing forces of reason and deception, freedom and control, appearance and truth, rhetoric and philosophy. We desire reason, freedom, and truth and hope that they reside in our world of action untainted by their conceptual opposites. The protagonist Socrates insists that the ideal city must be built on a foundation of deception, strict censorship, and a rigid caste society. He advances these pursuits rhetorically and justifies them philosophically. Our willingness to accept this worldview as ideal and to subsequently rationalize the disturbing foundation upon which it rests offers a sobering reminder of how we may become victims of our own powers of rhetorical and philosophical rationalization. And this may well be the Republic’s gift to posterity—that we must subject our power to rationalize worldviews to unstinting criticism lest we lead ourselves willingly into a state of tyranny. References Aristotle. (1991). On rhetoric: A theory of civic discourse (G. A. Kennedy, Trans.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Aristotle. (1998). Politics (C. D. C. Reeve, Trans.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett. Benson, T. W. (1989). Rhetoric as a way of being. In T. W. Benson (Ed.), American rhetoric: Context and criticism (pp. 293–322). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Bloom, A. (1991a). Interpretive essay. In The Republic of Plato (pp. 305–406). 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Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 Truth as a Value in Plato’s Republic Raphael Woolf Philosophy Department, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK Abstract To what extent is possession of truth considered a good thing in the Republic? Certain passages of the dialogue appear to regard truth as a universal good, but others are more circumspect about its value, recommending that truth be withheld on occasion and falsehood disseminated. I seek to resolve this tension by distinguishing two kinds of truths, which I label ‘philosophical’ and ‘non-philosophical’. Philosophical truths, I argue, are considered unqualifiedly good to possess, whereas non-philosophical truths are regarded as worth possessing only to the extent that possession conduces to good behaviour in those who possess them. In the non-philosophical arena it is an open question, to be determined on a caseby-case basis, whether falsehood is more efficacious in furthering this practical aim than truth. Keywords truth, falsehood, value, philosophical, Republic I ‘No man is to be valued more than the truth’, says Socrates near the start of Book X of the Republic (595c3-4).1 How, then, is the truth to be valued? This paper stems from a general interest in Plato’s views on the value of truth,2 and a more specific interest, with regard to the Republic, in what one might call the normative robustness of truth. Is it a good thing always and everywhere to possess the truth? Or is the possession of truth sometimes to be considered not a good thing, even a bad one? 1) 2) Translations in this paper are based on Grube/Reeve 1992, with some amendment. For some thoughts on how the Phaedo approaches the issue, see Woolf 2007. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/156852808X375237 10 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 My answer, in a nutshell, will be that, as far as the Republic is concerned, it depends on what sort of truths we are talking about. There is a privileged set of truths (which I shall call ‘philosophical’) which it is unqualifiedly good to possess; other truths (‘non-philosophical’) may or may not be good to possess, and this is determined by considering whether their possession will bring benefit or harm.3 In the case that they would cause harm, truth is no protection: the dialogue’s view is that people should not be in possession of them. By the same token, it might be beneficial to possess certain falsehoods; if so, then people should possess these, their falsity being no bar. More specifically, the benefit or harm at stake when it comes to the possession of non-philosophical truths is practical: the criterion for assessment of whether or not it is good to possess such truths is whether or not they conduce to good behaviour on the part of their possessor. Philosophical truths, by contrast, will be good to possess irrespective of their effects on the agent’s behaviour. This distinction in turn, I shall argue, reflects the distinction, set out at the beginning of Republic II, between what is valued for its own sake and what is valued for its results. In considering how the Republic values truth I shall mainly be assessing the dialogue’s stance on how truth is to be treated within the ideal society it constructs – Kallipolis. Since much of the Republic is centered on laying down arrangements for Kallipolis, this is not in itself an unfair procedure. Indeed most of what the dialogue has to say about truth occurs in the context of these arrangements.4 So I shall not be overly sensitive to the possibility that these views may not be intended to apply outside it.5 To the extent that Kallipolis is supposed to represent an ideal way of organizing 3) The distinction sketched here is similar to that adopted, with regard to the Republic, in Simpson 2007. 4) The most clear-cut case of truth being flagged outside Kallipolis, at VIII 560b-c, concerns the soul of the oligarchic character’s son, which, lacking ‘fine studies and practices and true accounts (λόγων ἀληθῶν)’, becomes infiltrated by ‘false accounts and beliefs’. The young man is then on his way to acquiring a democratic character. The pieces missing, through his father’s ‘lack of knowledge’ (ἀνεπιστημοσύνη, a10) of how to educate, appear to derive ultimately from the programme for Kallipolis, given that the timocratic character was said to lack the ‘reason (λόγος) mixed with music’ (549b6) that picks up its key elements. So we are brought back to the question of how truth features within Kallipolis. 5) In fact Socrates famously asserts at I 331c that truth-telling may sometimes not be right, a sentiment quite in tune with the way he regards the dissemination of falsehood within Kallipolis, as we shall see. It seems plausible that regarding lying Plato ‘ist . . . kein moralischer Rigorist’ (Szaif 2004, 203). R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 11 human beings, we may even be entitled to suppose that the way truth is treated therein is meant to be paradigmatic. Does Socrates think that these arrangements themselves get it right, in the sense of accurately describing the ideal city? Yes, but it does not follow for him that this ideal could be realized in practice. He notes that the account of the model will have been a good one even if it could not be established exactly along the lines proposed, and adds that ‘practice by nature grasps truth less well than theory does’ (V 473a1-2). It would, however, be a mistake to infer from this remark that ‘truth is evidently what he is interested in’, as opposed to feasibility. The correct moral is indeed that ‘practicability is only a fallible sign of truth’,6 but that is a point, so to speak, internal to truth and its relation to theory and practice. Though what Socrates says here is certainly consistent with a view that finds more truth in abstract paradigms than in their concrete realizations, nothing follows about the way he ranks truth versus, say, practicability. Maybe an over-zealous concern for truth can stand in the way of getting things done;7 the question of its normative robustness remains open. II That being so, let me suggest that the Republic appears, at first blush, to adopt a rather inconsistent position on the value of truth; and since, with one exception (T3 below), the relevant texts occur in the context of arrangements (particularly for education) within Kallipolis, it is of no avail to appeal to an inside/outside distinction in addressing them. At times, we seem to be told that it is always a good thing for people to possess the truth: T1. [Soc:] I mean that to be false in one’s soul about the things that are, to be ignorant and to have and hold falsehood there, is what everyone (πάντες) would least of all accept, for everyone hates a falsehood in that place most of all. (II 382b1-4) T1’s explicit concern is falsehood and ignorance, not truth. But it seems fair to infer that, in hating ignorance and falsehood about the things that 6) Both quotations are from Schofield 2006, 239 and 240 respectively. On the feasibility of Kallipolis see Burnyeat 1992. 7) The Republic is not insensitive to this issue: consider Adeimantus’ challenge to Socrates to combat the typical complaint that even the best of those who pursue philosophy turn out to be ‘useless’ to the city on account of their studies (VI 487d3-5). 12 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 are, what ‘everyone’ wants for their soul is not a state of (say) blankness but of truth. The view of ‘everyone’ might be wrong of course. But it appears to receive stout endorsement from Socrates: T2. What’s that? Don’t you consider that people (τοὺς ἀνθρώπους) are voluntarily deprived of bad things, but involuntarily deprived of good ones? And isn’t being deceived about the truth a bad thing, while possessing the truth (τὸ ἀληθεύειν) is good? Or don’t you think that to believe the things that are is to possess the truth? (III 413a5-8) T1-2, then, suggest a high score for truth on the scale of normative robustness. But a rather different outlook is presented elsewhere, albeit initially in a not particularly troubling fashion. Though Kant might have objected, one would think that the following nostrum is no more than common sense: T3. [Soc]: No one should be willing to tell the whole truth to someone in this condition [madness]. (I 331c8) There is surely no great problem, thus far, in tacitly qualifying T1-2 with the proviso that possession of truth is a good thing ‘except in the case of the mad’. Yet there are passages which seem considerably to extend the scope of prohibition. From the mad we move to the young and foolish and beyond: T4. [Soc:] Even if it were true [that the gods behaved badly] it should not so readily be told to foolish and young people,8 but ideally passed over in silence, and if there is some need to tell it, only the smallest possible number should hear in secret . . . (II 378a2-5) Now Socrates is convinced that it is not true that the gods ever behave badly – he has an argument to offer that gods would never fall short of perfection (II 380d-381c, cf. 379a-c). Our passage nonetheless makes a One might, with Grube/Reeve 1992, translate ἄϕρονάς τε καὶ νέους here by hendiadys as ‘foolish young people’ (53); but Socrates hardly considers foolishness to be a monopoly of the young, and as Ferrari 1989 notes (114 with n. 27), he is explicit at times in including adults as part of the audience for poetry: cf. παισὶ καὶ ἀνδράσιν, III 387b4; also II 380c1-2, and 378c6-d2 quoted below. 8) R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 13 crucial point about the value of truth. Evidently tales of gods behaving badly are undesirable because of the dangerous signals they may send about what sort of behaviour is legitimate. What Socrates makes clear in spelling out the counter-factual case is that, true or false, this is what matters in determining whether such tales are passed on. Still, one might at least continue the strategy of qualifying T1-2 in a relatively innocuous way by adding ‘the young and foolish’ to our list of people for whom it is not always good to possess the truth. One might, however, wonder how large a category ‘the foolish’ may turn out to be; and the final segment of the passage presumably indicates not that the fewest possible number of the young and foolish be told in secret, as if there might be some elite grouping of them granted such privileges, but as few people as possible in general, the notion of secrecy perhaps indicating a small cabal who might be able to take in the information without being led astray. In any event, we soon move from younger folk to older: T5. [Soc:] If we’re to be persuasive that no citizen has ever hated another and that it’s impious to do so, then that’s what should be told to children from the beginning by old men and women; and as they grow older (πρεσβυτέροις), poets should be compelled to tell them the same sort of thing. (II 378c6-d2) Perhaps this text is out of place as evidence for a demotion of truth? Socrates does not actually say that it is false that no citizen ever hated another. However, it is hard to believe that even in Kallipolis, with its emphasis on unity and harmony, he could be confident that this would not have occurred.9 More to the point, he is surely not making the necessity of imparting the sense that no citizen ever hated another dependent on that being true. His interest is in the beneficial effect on the citizens’ behaviour that he assumes the production of such a belief, true or not, will have. Doubtless he is hoping to engineer a virtuous circle, the engendering of such beliefs producing an outcome whereby citizen amity will be at a maximum; conversely, if citizen enmity turns out to be rife, the task of persuasion will be correspondingly harder. But it would be incomprehensibly fastidious to let past exceptions to the desired outcome – which is to say, the possibility of the slogan being false – veto the whole project. Truth cannot plausibly be taken as normatively robust here. 9) One sympathizes with the strictures of Brickhouse and Smith 1983 in labelling it ‘a patent falsehood’ (83), though it may be less blatant if Socrates has Kallipolis in mind. 14 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 Finally, there are falsehoods that it is preferable for all to have in their souls: T6. [Soc:] How, then, could we devise one of those useful falsehoods we were talking about a while ago, one noble falsehood that would, in the best case, persuade even the rulers, but if that’s not possible, then the others in the city? (III 414b7-c2) Socrates and Glaucon turn out to be rather sceptical (415c) about the feasibility of inculcating the Myth of the Metals that is foreshadowed here; but the desirability of doing so is not in question. They go on to assert that though the first generation of citizens may not be persuadable, subsequent generations might be (c-d).Who would do the persuading? Perhaps that element that Socrates says at VI 497c-d (cf. 501a, III 412a-b) will be needed to maintain the ‘theory of the constitution’ (λόγος τῆς πολιτείας) that the Republic sets out to devise. Whatever the mechanics, Socrates’ basic point here about the generations is clear: the further away from the city’s actual founding we are, the easier it will be to establish, at all levels, a fictional one; preservation of truth is the main obstacle to the myth taking hold.10 III At this point, it seems to me, the attempt to deal with T1-2 by exempting certain limited categories of persons from their application is close to bankruptcy. If there are significant falsehoods that even rulers should ideally absorb, together with the acceptance that in a potentially much wider range of cases awkward truths may be suppressed and their contraries disseminated, then these texts appear emptied of meaning in their trumpeting of truth as a universal good and falsehood as its opposite. A possible tension between the rulers’ love of truth and their preparedness to purvey falsehood within Kallipolis is noted by Julia Annas,11 but if 10) One should not, I think, seek to soften the point by imputing, with e.g. Kamtekar 2006, 199, ‘moral truths’ that the myth is intended to express. No such appeal is made in the text, the myth’s purpose being to imbue the citizens, by hook or by crook, with a sense of commitment to the arrangements of Kallipolis. In general interpreters of the Republic are more inclined than the dialogue is itself to present the conveyance of deeper truth as the reason for its use of falsehood. See further section IV below. 11) 1981, 166-7; cf. 107. R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 15 anything this understates the problem, since it is not obviously inconsistent with an agent’s – even a ruler’s – love of a certain good to be willing to distribute its contrary.12 Socrates does distinguish (II 382a-b) between the ‘true falsehood’ that everyone hates to have – that is, the holding of a falsehood by one unaware that it is so – and the less troublesome ‘falsehood in words’ – one that is formulated by someone in awareness of what it is,13 and which can be useful to purvey to others (c7); but the result of that, of course, will be the holding of falsehood unawares by the recipients. Paradox is given by the idea that the incurring of falsehood by some might be desirable when truth is supposedly a good (and its opposite bad) for all.14 How, then, can one reconcile the apparent generosity of T1-2 as far as possession of truth is concerned with the restrictiveness of T3-6, respecting all the while what both groups of texts appear to say? I want to suggest that instead of qualifying T1-2 with regard to category of person, which would maintain their consistency with T3-6 at the cost of their sense, a more promising approach for dissolving the tension is to do so with regard to category of truth: the truths that it is always and everywhere good to possess are themselves a restricted set. Read with scope thus appropriately constrained (as, I shall argue in section V below, one may do without straining their sense) T1-2 will be perfectly consistent with the notion that, when it comes to truths generally, there may be plenty that it is good for people not to possess. The truths that it is always good for people to possess I shall label ‘philosophical’ truths. These will be, roughly, those truths expressed by the accounts of Forms that it is the task of the philosopher in the Republic to discover. Other truths I shall call non-philosophical. This division, I shall 12) So Brickhouse and Smith 1983 exaggerate somewhat in claiming that one might be tempted to see ‘a paradox of the first order’ (84) in the juxtaposition of the rulers’ love of truth with their willingness to employ falsehood. 13) Hence Socrates describes this latter as a ‘not altogether unmixed falsehood’ (382c1-2). His description should not be explained, with Reeve 1988, 209-10, as meaning that these (literal) falsehoods are intended to convey something ethically true or at least not mislead in that regard; even if this were the reason why Socrates recommends their use (which I doubt), he clearly thinks they are only useful to purvey in certain circumstances (cf. πότε καὶ τῷ χρήσιμον, c7), so that aspect is unlikely to be part of their generic account. 14) One might say at this point that possession of truth is a good alright, just a lesser good than e.g. orderly conduct, to be jettisoned where the two conflict. That is already to answer the question of normative robustness in the negative, which I shall argue, at least with regard to non-philosophical truth, is the correct approach. 16 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 further suggest, maps on to the distinction, given in Book II (357b-d), between items that are valued for their own sake, those that are valued because of what results from them, and those that are valued in both ways. Philosophical truths will, I shall argue, fall into the third category, nonphilosophical truths into the second, so that what is distinctive about philosophical truths will be that possession of them is of value for its own sake. Further explication of the distinction between what is of value for its own sake and what is of value for its results will be undertaken in sections X and XI below; but my key claim, as it pertains to truth, is that the latter is dependent, as the former is not, on the promotion of good behaviour in those who possess the truths in question. The value of non-philosophical truth is, in this sense, purely practical. IV This dualism about truth (the philosophical and the non-philosophical), though I think it serves the main purposes of the present paper, does not aspire to capture the dialogue’s position fully. It is noncommittal, for example, on where one would place such items as the truths of the mathematical sciences, though in brief the view would seem to be that when conducted properly mathematical studies are closely akin to, and vital preparation for, the study of Forms.15 In similar vein, we must note that there are four segments of the divided Line, even before one considers the special position of the Form of the Good; and one of the Line’s main criteria is that of truth: [Soc:] Would you be willing to say that, as regards truth and untruth, the division [of the Line] is as follows: As the opinable is to the knowable, so the likeness is to the thing that it is like? (VI 510a8-10) [Soc:] Arrange them [the four kinds of cognition] in a ratio, and consider that each shares in clarity to the degree that the subsection it is set over shares in truth (VI 511e2-4) 15) They facilitate the turning away of the soul ‘from becoming towards truth and being’ (VII 525c5-6), that is, towards the Forms. Geometry is for the sake of (ἕνεκα) ‘knowledge of what always is’ (527b4), to which Glaucon eagerly ripostes that it is knowledge of what always is (b6-7), though this sentiment does not receive explicit endorsement from Socrates. For discussion of the role of mathematics in the Republic, and its connection with value, see Burnyeat 2000. R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 17 Consideration of the Line, while throwing up a complexity that I shall not attempt to do justice to, does provide an opportunity to stress an important negative point: we should not take there to be different senses of truth in play here. The last thing an author who wished to convey that a notion is being used equivocally would be expected to do is construct a model with a single (albeit divided) line as its main feature. To say that higher sections of the Line have a greater share of truth than lower is surely to imply that it is the very same quality we are talking about in each case.16 As we advance along the Line, we advance along the same dimension; this would seem to be just the point that a linear representation is designed to make. I shall, then, speak paradigmatically, if not always rigidly, of different sets of truths, not senses of truth. That there are two senses of truth at work in the Republic is, however, argued by Brickhouse and Smith,17 who claim that, in both Greek and English, in addition to having a ‘sentential’ meaning concerning what is the case, the term ‘true’ ‘can also be used in an evaluative sense as a synonym for “real” or “good” ’. It is perhaps noteworthy that the authors cite no straightforward usage in the Platonic corpus as evidence for this alleged sense. Nor is it easy to pin down exactly what the sense is supposed to capture, since ‘real’ and ‘good’ are not obviously themselves synonyms (in either language). The example that Brickhouse and Smith offer is ‘true friend’, used ‘when we wish to assert that [someone] is indeed a “real” friend or a “good” friend’. But ‘friend’ is already a term of positive evaluation, so in calling someone a real friend one is bound to be saying something positive. Try substituting ‘good’ into, for example, ‘he’s a real cad’ to discover how dubious the semantic connection with goodness actually is. Even if ‘real’ and ‘true’ might be correlated in a fairly straightforward way (such that, for example, ‘Socrates is wise’ would be true iff Socrates’ wisdom is real), ‘true’ and ‘good’ are a much more contentious pairing, though it is this aspect that Brickhouse and Smith emphasize in explaining, 16) I say this without prejudice to the question of what kinds of item the dialogue takes truth to be a quality of. Nor shall I pursue the question of what exactly it means to speak of a thing’s having a greater or lesser share in truth (clearly the ‘Compresence of Opposites’ said at e.g. V 479a-d to be a feature of the sensible but not intelligible realm is of relevance). These are central issues for any full discussion of the role of truth in the Republic. But attempting to elaborate on them here would blur rather than sharpen the questions about value that I wish to focus on. 17) 1983, 86. 18 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 with regard to the Republic, that evaluative truth measures the degree to which goodness has been realized, by reference to the appropriate Form, in the sensible world. Thus they appeal to Socrates’ claim at VI 501b-d that one who is a lover of ‘what is and truth’ (τοῦ ὄντος τε καὶ ἀληθείας, d1-2) will endeavour to produce the best possible image of the Forms of the virtues in the city. But here we are dealing with items that are, in being what the virtues are, already something good. So reproducing in the sensible world (as far as one can) the truth about justice – what is the case about justice – will of course endow that world with a degree of goodness. It is simply a mistake to infer from this that in Platonic usage ‘truth’ can mean ‘goodness’.18 One might as well claim (to borrow from the Phaedo, cf. 65d-e) that since the Form of Health, an example of ‘what is and truth’,19 endows things in the sensible world with health, then for Plato ‘truth’ can mean ‘health’.20 A similar moral applies to the other main evidence from the Republic cited by Brickhouse and Smith for an evaluative sense of ‘true’, Socrates’ assertion, at 508d-e, that the Form of the Good produces truth. Here Socrates’ point is about the relation of that Form to the individual Forms, particularly of the virtues (cf. 505a, 506a). The Good brings truth to them insofar as it is the cause of their being what they are – objects that, as virtues, must be good.21 Again, this carries no implication that one meaning of ‘true’ is ‘good’, a point reinforced by Socrates’ insistence that, although the cause of truth, the Good is ‘other than’ truth (VI 508e4-5); an incongruous statement from one supposedly treating truth here as synonymous with goodness. Nor, from a different perspective, do I think it correct to say, with Christopher Gill,22 that in its complaints about the content of Greek poetry, the 18) Such a usage seems presupposed in Johansen 1998, which speaks (with particular reference to the Myth of the Metals) of ‘stories told by the rulers [of Kallipolis] which are literally false but which are true in the sense that they represent what is good for the city.’ 19) Socrates asks rhetorically whether one will discern ‘what is most true’ (τὸ ἀληθέστατον, 65e1-2) about health and other items such as size and strength – ‘what each thing actually is’ (ὅ τυγχάνει ἕκαστον ὂν, d13-e1) – through the senses. 20) Though the proposition is lent only jocular credence by Socrates’ reference to what he calls the ‘genuine’ (ἀληθινή) city – the City of Pigs – as a ‘healthy’ one (II 372e6-7), more serious questions are raised (which I will not touch upon here) about why an acquisitive, ‘fevered’ city (e8), and so apparently not the genuine one, should serve as the starting-point for Kallipolis. 21) See here Sedley 2007, 269. 22) 1993, 46. R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 19 Republic employs ‘certain special and extended senses of “falsehood” ’ designed to encompass not just factual falsity but ethical wrongness.23 On the contrary, Socrates goes out of his way to keep the two notions apart, introducing as his first criterion for acceptance of a poem whether it is ‘fine’ (καλὸν, II 377c2), only subsequently asserting that the poets tell false tales (d4-5), and then identifying the resultant misrepresentation of the gods as being especially problematic ‘if one does not lie finely (καλῶς, d8)’. Outrageous lies about the gods will be far from fine (377e): given the gods’ perfection what is thereby portrayed is bound to be morally ugly. But these are the sentiments of someone interested not in extending the term ‘falsehood’ to cover ethical wrongness, but in explaining that his main worry is not falsehood as such but falsehoods which present morally ugly exempla, a point that depends on treating the foul as distinct from the false. There is, it seems to me, no credible evidence, here or elsewhere, for an ethical or evaluative reading of the true/false pairing in the Republic. V Here, then, with allowance made for a dualism that is less refined than the ontology it purports to reflect, is an outline of the Republic’s position as I read it: (A). Philosophical truths are always and everywhere good to possess, and this is because, for reasons to be discussed, the possession of them is in and of itself a good thing. Even if their possession will generally also have further good results – for example, by contributing towards their possessor acting well – the actual possession of these truths is of value independently of considerations of their effect on the agent’s actions. (B). Non-philosophical truths are not always good to possess, and this is because possession of them is not a good thing in and of itself. Whether or not they are good to possess will be a matter of assessment on a caseby-case basis of the benefit or harm they will cause. This in turn will depend 23) Concerning ethically positive content, assimilation with truth is read on Socrates’ behalf in like manner by Ferrari 1989, 112: ‘what Socrates intends to disseminate is in the deepest ethical sense not false at all, but true’. So too Morgan 2000, 164, on educational myth of the sort used in Kallipolis as ‘surface falsehood reflecting ethical truth’. 20 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 chiefly on whether possession of them is likely to conduce to good or bad behaviour on the part of those who do possess them. Often enough it will be better (more conducive to good behaviour), with regard to the nonphilosophical realm, to possess falsehoods rather than truths. To begin my defence of these theses, a closer look at T1-2 will reveal that they can be read in a somewhat restricted way as far as the set of truths to which they are applicable is concerned. For both talk of that about which it is bad to have falsehood or ignorance as being ‘the things that are’ (τὰ ὄντα). Now the latter phrase, although it can be used non-technically to refer to items in the world generally, also has a technical usage in which it refers specifically to the Forms, those items that are the only unqualified bearers, strictly speaking, of the epithet ‘to be’. It is of course true that at this stage of the dialogue we have not yet been introduced to the Forms. But having read the whole work, we are entitled to wonder if T1-2 hint at a narrower point about the value of truth, in terms of those truths (the ones I have labelled ‘philosophical’) to which later passages can be seen to apply. When one first encounters T1-2, it is natural enough to read them non-technically.24 Once we have digested the later metaphysics, however, it is unlikely that we are intended to read phrases such as ‘the things that are’ with wholly innocent eyes. It would be remiss not to take account of the metaphysics in considering interpretive possibilities, the more cautious sentiments about truth that we have also looked at providing an extra motivation to do so. Even in the original context there is definite indication that T1 at any rate is not to be read with unrestricted scope. For a few lines earlier Socrates had declared that what no one would willingly possess is not falsehoods about any old thing but about ‘the most authoritative things’ (τὰ κυριώτατα, II 382a8). What these things are is again not specified, but an important restriction on scope is nonetheless explicitly signalled, to be filled out as the dialogue unfolds.25 Indeed T2 talks of ‘believing’ (δοξάζειν) the things that are (413a8), which does not correspond to the later metaphysical schema in which knowledge is the proprietary form of cognition of that which is, though Socrates could hardly have offered ‘knowing the things that are’ as an adequately general description of what it is to have the truth, his official purpose here. 25) In the more immediate context there may be a back reference to 377e6-7 where ‘the most important things’ (τῶν μεγίστων) concern the behaviour of the gods; and an 24) R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 21 Now it is, I take it, uncontroversial that the label ‘being’, together with kindred phrases, is reserved in more theoretical contexts of the Republic for the Forms. The key passage in this regard is the argument with the lovers of sights and sounds at V 475-80, which attempts to establish that it is only ‘the F itself ’ as opposed to the many F things that can be called ‘that which is’, this phrase in turn delimiting the scope of what can be known. Moreover, at the outset of the argument, Socrates distinguishes lovers of sights and sounds from genuine philosophers (lovers of wisdom) by calling the latter ‘lovers of the sight of truth’ (475e4), so here we seem to have some backing for the idea that one might identify a category of specifically philosophical truths encapsulated in the knowledge of Forms. Having previously claimed that it would be a mistake to read T1-2 as restricted to a certain category of person, I do not deny that Socrates thinks that only a select few are capable of arriving at philosophical truth. ‘The majority cannot be philosophic’ he remarks pithily at VI 494a3.26 The crucial difference is that with, say, the mad or the young, these characteristics were the reason why it would be bad that certain truths be imparted. That someone is not philosophical, by contrast, makes it not bad but pointless to impart certain truths, namely the philosophical ones; for they could not be grasped by such a person. One might as well try imparting the finer truths of quantum theory to most of us. If the majority could grasp philosophical truth, they would benefit from it in the same way as anyone else. In this important sense the value of philosophical truth remains unqualified; anyone who did grasp it would be in possession of a good. It may, however, still be a little quick to conclude at this point that once the dialogue’s metaphysics is on the table we may speak without further ado about a particular body of truths that can be labelled philosophical. To be sure, a number of passages do sustain the connection between ‘that which is’ as referring to Forms, and truth. For example: anticipation of III 392b1, where the same phrase is applied to (what is told about) happiness and justice in humans; but when we reach VI 503e-504a, ‘the most important subjects’ (τὰ μέγιστα μαθήματα) that demand the ‘longer road’ (504b2) of dialectical enquiry for discovery are the Forms of the four cardinal virtues (cf. a5-6). The Form of the Good is itself described as ‘having authority’ (κυρία) in the intelligible realm in the provision of truth and understanding (VII 517c2). 26) Whether this is to be regarded as a puzzling feature about the distribution of human talents is a question that I shall not pursue here. 22 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 [Soc:] When it [the soul] focuses on something illuminated by truth and what is, it understands, knows and appears to have understanding; but when it focuses on what is mixed with obscurity, on what comes to be and passes away, it opines and is dimmed, changes its opinions this way and that, and seems bereft of understanding. (VI 508d3-8) Similarly, after stressing how the philosopher-ruler will look to Forms in establishing the right kind of city and citizens, Socrates asks of potential critics of philosophy: Then how could they possibly dispute it? Will they deny that philosophers are lovers of what is and of truth? (VI 501d1-2) Given that these critics were said at 499d to be ‘the many’ (τῶν πολλῶν), and are presumably the same ‘crowd’ (πλῆθος) who at 493e-494a will not hold that there is such a thing as beauty itself, as opposed to the many beautiful things, it may be that what they concede here cannot in their mouths concern ‘what is’ in its technical aspect. Yet, both here and in the discussion about knowledge and belief in Book V, of which there is some resonance here,27 Socrates seeks to reform the critics by trying to persuade them that the philosopher looks beyond the world of multiplicity. To this extent, even though the critics may be unable to acquire knowledge of the Forms (cf. V 476b-c), they can be brought to accept the basic outline of Platonic metaphysics, such that ‘that which is’ can be acknowledged by them to have a special referent. VI Be that as it may, there are also texts that seem to indicate that philosophers remain concerned with truth more broadly construed. Indeed the following two passages occur when Socrates is laying down his criteria for the genuinely philosophic nature: They [those with philosophic natures] must be without falsehood – they must never voluntarily accept what is false, but hate it, and have a love for the truth. (VI 485c3-4) At 476d-e the task is to calmly persuade (πείθειν, e1) the angry objector; at 501c Socrates hopes that they are persuading (πείθομεν, c5) those who were angry and making them gentle. 27) R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 23 Then someone who really loves learning must above all strive for every truth (πάσης ἀληθείας) from childhood on. (VI 485d3-4) One should, however, be clear about what Socrates means in speaking of a philosophic nature. He is describing the attributes not necessarily of a fully-fledged philosopher, but rather of the kind of person capable of becoming one – hence, for example, the reference to childhood above. This is explicit at VI 489e-490a where Socrates says that what they have been doing is identifying the nature that must belong to one who ‘is going to be’ (ἐσόμενον, a1) a fine and good person; such a person, to share in genuine philosophy, must pursue truth ‘in every way and everywhere’ (πάντως καὶ πάντῃ, a2). Socrates goes on to say that they must investigate how the philosophic nature gets corrupted (490e) and then remarks that whether it is fulfilled or spoiled will depend on the education it receives (492a). What emerges from this is that the quality of being interested in truth of every kind is not a mark of the mature philosopher, but of the kind of young person capable of becoming one. The acquisition of philosophical truth is not on the curriculum in the earlier stages of the philosopher’s education – Socrates famously bars from participation in dialectic (the route to acquiring such truths) those who are too young to reap its benefits (VII 539a-d). Rather, the test of those who can, when old enough for it, perform the search in the unflagging way required to gain philosophical truth, is that when younger they show an unflagging interest in finding things out quite generally: a criterion of some psychological plausibility. The presence of dialectic in turn makes it correct to view certain passages that bring philosophy and truth together as concerned with (what I have been calling) philosophical truth rather than truth more generally. Thus in complaining that critics of philosophy have not listened sufficiently to ‘fine and free arguments’ (λόγων . . . καλῶν τε καὶ ἐλευθέρων, VI 499a4) that seek the truth ‘in every way’ (ἐκ παντὸς τρόπου, a6), Socrates surely refers in speaking of such arguments to dialectical discussion, with the truth in question being that concerning the nature of justice, beauty and so on. In similar vein, when Socrates implies that the philosophical soul will not be content to accept falsehood, but will be angry ‘when caught being ignorant’ (ἀμαθαίνουσα . . . ἁλισκομένη, VII 535e4), this catching unmistakably refers to that painful phenomenon of dialectical refutation. 24 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 It remains the case, then, that the interest of the philosopher as such is in a particular set of truths – those concerning Forms. One is correspondingly entitled to continue speaking of such truths as a distinct category in the Republic, identifiable as philosophical, once the dialogue’s metaphysics is brought into view.28 VII Let us turn to the non-philosophical realm. Here, as we have seen, when it comes to beliefs about, say, the behaviour of the gods or the origins of the city, it is not their truth that will determine whether people should come to possess them. Rather, it is, as I shall now argue, the effect that possessing these beliefs, true or not, will have on the subject’s actions. There are actually two separate strands here. I want to consider, firstly, the question of who the possession of the appropriate non-philosophical beliefs is supposed to benefit and, secondly, how it is supposed to benefit. Regarding the first question, it might be thought that the criterion is that the city as a whole should benefit; this would, after all, be consonant with the dialogue’s emphasis on the welfare of the city as a whole being paramount, rather than that of any segment within it (e.g. IV 418e-421c). This might also offer a satisfactory alternative way of reading T1-2, which can now be left to state that it is indeed good for any (let us say sane and mature) individual to possess the truth, the further restrictions elsewhere being a recognition that sometimes the good of the individual must be subordinated to a greater good. Now no doubt Socrates would affirm that the possession of the appropriate beliefs (true or false) will be of benefit to the city as a whole. Nonetheless, his main criterion for determining which beliefs should be possessed is the welfare of their possessor not society overall. In this regard Socrates’ approach is not a utilitarian one, in the sense of one that takes it as justification for doing harm to some that a wider good is thereby served. Thus in speaking of why tales about heroes’ bad behaviour should not be told, Socrates says that they are ‘harmful to people who hear them’ (τοῖς 28) This is the category at issue in two important applications of the metaphysics: the discussion of true pleasures in Book IX (‘That which is related to what is always the same, immortal and true, is itself of that kind’, 585c2-3), and of the imitative arts in Book X (the painter of a bed, for example, is ‘third from the truth’ (597e7), as represented (in the example) by the Form of Bed). R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 25 γε ἀκούουσιν βλαβερά, III 391e4). It is, then, those who would be in pos- session of such beliefs about heroes who are picked out as the primary subjects of harm, and it is this fact that justifies the tales not being told. More generally, Socrates avers that the rulers of the city will need to make considerable use of falsehood and deception ‘for the benefit (ὠφελία) of those ruled’ (V 459c9-d2; he is anticipating the introduction of the rigged marriage lotteries).29 Again, it seems clear that the justification for the deception is in terms of the benefit conferred on those who are being deceived. This is reinforced by Socrates’ talk here of falsehoods being dispensed as a kind of ‘drug’ (ϕαρμάκου, d2), with the rulers acting as doctors, a theme already spelled out at III 389b (cf. II 382c-d). Those who are not rulers are strictly forbidden to purvey falsehoods (389b-d), but this has no tendency even partially to convert falsehood into a thing bad in itself; the worry, rather, is that the non-ruler will lack the expertise to dispense falsehood appropriately (b5-6).30 Evidently the primary purpose of a doctor giving a drug to a patient is to benefit the patient. It may have wider beneficial effects too,31 but for a doctor qua doctor it is the patient’s welfare that is the objective (cf. I 341c-e). When Socrates does mention telling falsehoods ‘on account of enemies or citizens for the benefit of the city’ (III 389b9-10), he leaves it open whether the particular citizens to whom the falsehood is told might not benefit too (by being prevented from acting badly, for example). It may not be an accident in this regard that the term translated ‘on account of ’ – ἕνεκα – may 29) How exactly those who lose out in the rigged lotteries are supposed to benefit is unclear; but that Socrates is justifying the falsehood by reference to those who are told it seems not in doubt, especially given (as we shall now see) Socrates’ use of medical terminology. 30) There follows an interesting twist (c1-2): ordinary citizens should no more lie to their rulers than a sick person to his doctor. The test in this instance is the benefit of the agent of the lie not the recipient, though presumably doctors and rulers alike are hindered in the proper performance of their function (and in that way harmed) by the receipt of false information from the non-experts they serve. 31) As in the metaphorical case at II 382c-d, where Socrates mentions that falsehoods can be a ‘useful drug’ (ϕάρμακον χρήσιμον, c10-d1) for preventing one’s ‘so-called friends’ (τῶν καλουμένων ϕίλων, c9) from doing something bad through madness or ignorance. Still, the reference to friends – ‘so-called’, presumably, because one cannot be a genuine friend of the ignorant or mad (cf. 382e3) – in combination with the drug motif indicates that it is they who remain the primary recipients of benefit, bad actions being bad chiefly for their agent, on familiar Socratic principles (the point is of course asserted, with particular reference to unjust actions, at IV 444c-e). 26 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 just as well mean ‘for the sake of ’. Perhaps even the treatment of enemies with falsehood is thought of as bestowing benefit on them to the extent that it prevents bad behaviour on their part. The fact that the passage is governed by the medical analogy would suggest so.32 On balance, one should conclude that Socrates’ principal justification for the dispensing of falsehoods is that they benefit those to whom they are dispensed. VIII How does it benefit them? By helping them, as already indicated, behave well rather than badly. The useful drug of falsehood may stop friends who, through madness or ignorance, are ‘attempting to do something bad’ (κακόν τι ἐπιχειρῶσιν πράττειν, II 382c9-10).33 Portraying gods as sinners, even if they were that, is tantamount to telling the young that ‘one would do nothing untoward’ (οὐδὲν ἂν θαυμαστὸν ποιοῖ, 378b2-3) in committing the gravest wrongs, an impression likely to be given if, for example, Ouranos is represented as doing what Hesiod ‘says that he did’ (ϕησι δρᾶσαι αὐτὸν, 377e8). Picturing life in Hades as miserable is ‘neither true nor beneficial for future warriors’ (III 386b10-c2) and will clash with the objective of turning out soldiers who ‘will prefer death in battle to defeat or slavery’ (386b5-6). Now here Socrates implies that the beneficial view of Hades is also the true one. But there is no indication that it is beneficial because it is true. The benefit at stake is a practical one: courageous behaviour on the battlefield, to be engendered by fostering the attitude that death is no great evil. Socrates does say at II 382d3-4 that ‘in making falsehood as much like truth as possible, we thereby (οὕτω) make it useful’. But the context is specifically tales about the gods, who Socrates has just argued indepen- 32) Against this, one might cite the fact that in the later, slightly tongue-in-cheek discussion of the merits of Asclepius’ approach to medicine, getting a patient who can lead a normal life back to health is said to be ‘in order that he not harm the city’s affairs’ (III 407d4). On the other hand, the granting of treatment to one incapable of living a normal life is described as profitable ‘neither to himself nor to the city’ (e2, cf. 408b2-3). For all its bracing tone, there is insufficient here to support a notion that Socrates would countenance sacrificing the interest of a subject for the wider good of the city. 33) Falsely informing one’s crazed friend who demands the return of a borrowed knife that one has lost it would be in the spirit of Socrates’ celebrated example at I 331c. R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 27 dently cannot be bad (380d-381c),34 his point then being that in telling stories no doubt factually inaccurate (or at least unverifiable given the antiquity of the events they purport to describe, d2), but in the spirit of what has been shown to be the truth about the gods (cf. II 377a4-5),35 we thereby achieve the desired practical outcome of a well-behaved citizenry. One must note, however, that the notion of making falsehood like truth also has a less wholesome resonance. The terminology Plato uses cannot but be a deliberate echo of Hesiod’s famous line (Theogony 27) in which the Muses claim that they know how to ‘speak falsehoods like truths’,36 and one plausible reading of this is that the Muses, through the cunningness of their art, can make anything sound true (hence persuasive), whatever its actual relation to the facts. The task envisaged by Socrates for the poets from this viewpoint would be akin to the production of accomplished rhetoric. Moreover, as we saw earlier (T4 above), when it comes to the behaviour of the gods, Socrates is clear that they should not be portrayed as acting badly even if this were true. The correct inference to draw is that he does not think that possessing the truth in one’s soul about gods, heroes or Hades is itself a good thing. Rather, it is good if it produces good behaviour, bad if it produces bad. By the same token, imparting falsehoods on these topics is the right thing to do if it benefits the recipients by helping them to act well. IX I want to bring out further the lack of importance that the Republic attaches to truth in the non-philosophical arena by considering the particular case 34) Heroes may also be included under this rubric as children of gods (391d5-e1), though when it comes to tales of that doughty hero Achilles’ bad behaviour, Socrates will merely ‘deny that they were truly said’ (οὐ ϕήσομεν ἀληθῆ εἰρῆσθαι, 391b7-8) – and one may have other grounds for denying a thing to be true than the belief that it is false. Grube/ Reeve 1992 mislead here in translating ‘Nor is it true . . . So we’ll deny that’ (67); no such inference is in the Greek. 35) The stories would simply be relating the sorts of things gods might actually have done: there is no call to follow Schofield 2007, 143, in reading Socrates’ talk of making falsehood like truth as indicative of a contrast between ‘fact’ and ‘moral truth’. 36) ψεύδεα . . . λέγειν ἑτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα; Socrates talks of ἀϕομοιοῦντες τῷ ἀληθεῖ τὸ ψεῦδος at 382d3. For a discussion of this relation (which adopts the more wholesome reading) see Belfiore 1985. 28 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 of the Auxiliaries. They seem to me to provide a good touchstone for the view I am arguing here because, firstly, they are, so to speak, the best of the non-philosophers within Kallipolis; so if it turns out that it is of little or no moment that the beliefs they possess are true, one can infer that nonphilosophical truth has limited significance overall. Secondly, the city’s courage exists precisely in virtue of the Auxiliaries’ preservation of their beliefs about what should and should not be feared (presumably concerning such issues as defeat and slavery in the former case, pain and death in the latter); and this enables one to ask directly: is it the case that these beliefs of the Auxiliaries must be true? With one possible exception (which I shall come to shortly), the official account of civic courage does not mention truth. Thus Socrates says: The city is courageous, then, because of a part of itself that has the power to preserve through everything its belief about what things are to be feared, namely that they are the things and kinds of things that the lawgiver declared to be such in the course of educating it. (IV 429b8-c2) That preservation of the belief that has been inculcated by the law through education about what things and sorts of things are to be feared [is courage]. (IV 429c7-8) [We contrived] that because they had the proper nature and upbringing, they would absorb the laws in the finest possible way, just like a dye, so that their belief about what they should fear and all the rest would become so fast that even such extremely effective detergents as pleasure, pain, fear, and desire wouldn’t wash it out . . . (IV 430a2-b2) Or [is the most important virtue] the preservation among the soldiers of the lawinspired belief about what is to be feared and what isn’t? (IV 433c6-8) Rather than associate ‘the things that are to be feared’ with what is actually worthy of fear, these passages tie the Auxiliaries’ beliefs about what is fearful to what the lawgiver declares to be so, with no particular indication that the lawgiver’s aim in laying down the law is to transmit truth. Socrates’ description of courage’s counterpart in the soul also makes no mention of truth: And it is because of the spirited part, I suppose, that we call a single individual courageous, namely, when it preserves through pains and pleasures the declarations of reason about what is to be feared and what isn’t. (IV 442b10-c2) There might be paradox in reason knowingly passing on falsehoods to another part of the soul (if that is what reason would be doing in the event R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 29 that what is passed on were not true), as there would not be in the case of Guardians doing this to Auxiliaries.37 But that would be a merely pragmatic constraint on the truth status of what is being conveyed, not an objection to their falsity as such. Socrates is in any event silent on the truth status of these declarations. What receives prominence with regard to courage in both city and soul is not that the beliefs be true but that they be well-entrenched, capable of being preserved through thick and thin. The fundamental point when it comes to the Auxiliaries is thus twofold. The beliefs that they take on must be (a) ones that will in principle produce the appropriate behaviour in the fulfilment of their duties, and (b) well enough inured against the forces of pleasure and pain to ensure that such behaviour is consistently displayed. With this in mind, let us turn to the passage which may indicate that civic courage is in fact the preservation of true belief: [Soc:] This power to preserve through everything the correct and law-inculcated belief about what is to be feared and what isn’t is what I call courage, unless, of course, you say otherwise. [Glaucon:] I have nothing different to say, for I assume that you don’t consider the correct belief about these same things, of the sort found in animals and slaves, and which is not the result of education, to be inculcated by law, and that you don’t call it courage but something else. (IV 430b3-9) The first point to notice here is that the term Socrates and Glaucon use to describe the beliefs in question is not ‘true’ (ἀληθής) but ‘correct’ (ὀρθή). Though the latter may be simply functioning as a synonym for the former, it may alternatively indicate that what the beliefs need to be is not true in the sense of corresponding to the facts, but correct in the sense of fitting the purpose,38 this being, in the principal case under discussion, the eliciting of courageous behaviour from the city, in the shape of its military wing. 37) The Guardians, it is later implied, do establish regulations in Kallipolis on moral matters on the basis of having seen ‘what is most true’ (τὸ ἀληθέστατον, VI 484c7): the Forms. What, if anything, this commits Socrates to regarding the truth content of the regulations themselves is another question. 38) This is a recurrent sense of the word in the Republic. See e.g. V 451c5 (the correct way to possess women and children), III 403a7 (the correct way to love); generally, correctness (ὀρθότης) is ‘related to nothing other than the use for which each thing is made or naturally adapted’ (X 601d4-6). 30 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 Let us assume, however, at least for the sake of argument, that the term does carry the sense of ‘true’ in this passage. What can be gleaned from it, on this reading, about the importance of the Auxiliaries’ beliefs being true? The striking thing is the way that the notion gets downplayed. For Glaucon is perfectly happy to suggest (and Socrates concurs) that the possession of correct beliefs as might be held by slaves and animals about what should and should not be feared does not qualify as courage.39 What allows us to speak of a virtue is that the beliefs are lawlike (νόμιμον, 430b8),40 that is, inculcated through a systematic educational programme, thus making them particularly immune to the influence of the passions. To the extent that the Auxiliaries’ beliefs are true, this aspect of them is pointedly downgraded. No wonder that, if it does feature at all, in the majority of the descriptions of their beliefs it is notable by its absence. X Thus far, I have argued for a distinction in the Republic between philosophical and non-philosophical truth, such that only the former is considered worthy of possession in itself. In the case of the latter, I have tried to show that its value is a matter of how possession affects the way the possessor acts; if it conduces to acting well, it is a good thing to possess; if not, then not. With the Auxiliaries, and perhaps more widely, even if the beliefs that conduce to acting well should happen to be true, what is important is that they be well-entrenched, else we do not have a guarantee of reliability as far as the agent’s good behaviour is concerned. In introducing the curriculum of Books II-III, Socrates emphasizes how the young soul ‘takes on any pattern one wishes to impress on it’ (377b2), which means it must be ensured that the young acquire no beliefs ‘opposite to what we think they ought to hold when mature’ (b6-8). Beliefs imbued when young ‘are hard to erase and tend to become unalterable’ (378e1). Not that Socrates is takὀρθή as applied to slaves and animals carries the same potential ambiguity between true, on the one hand, and conducing to desired behaviour, on the other (consider the various unpleasant but useful tasks that slaves and animals might be required to carry out). 40) The reading of the manuscripts, adopted by Burnet’s OCT. Slings’s OCT has Stobaeus’ μόνιμον (‘stable’). Little turns for present purposes on which reading one adopts, though the MSS seem more in keeping with the earlier descriptions of civic courage, as well as differentiating the Auxiliaries’ condition more precisely from that of slaves and animals. 39) R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 31 ing any chances on that score with the content he deems appropriate. Entrenchment, not truth, is the issue. With truth in the non-philosophical realm at best a muted presence, I want now to focus a little more on philosophical truth, and to flesh out my claim that with regard to it at any rate possession is valuable for its own sake. Since I have suggested that what possession for its own sake is contrasted with when it comes to truth is effect on action or behaviour, I want to show that philosophical truth is seen as distinctively valuable regardless of its effects on its possessor’s behaviour. This is not, of course, to deny that to the extent that possession of philosophical truth does affect an agent’s behaviour, it will affect it positively. Knowing what justice is will surely help the agent to act justly in appropriate contexts, and so on. What I am asking, however, is whether possession of these truths would be valuable even if there were no question of it being connected with action. Let us consider the examples Socrates gives, in his classification of goods, of those that are valued both for their own sake and for what results from them (II 357c2-4). These are three: ‘thinking’ (φρονεῖν), ‘seeing’ (ὁρᾶν) and ‘being healthy’ (ὑγιαίνειν). Now thinking and seeing might in a rather general sense both be said to be things one does. On the other hand, φρονεῖν might also be translated as ‘be intelligent’, in which case it refers to a state or attribute rather than an activity; and this is unequivocally true of being healthy. Whether or not one would still be moved to classify seeing as something one does, it would hardly count, given that it simply requires (together with some external conditions) that my healthy eyes be open, as a case of acting or even behaving. Assuming a certain degree of unity in these examples, we might read the contrast here, despite the verbs, as one between having a certain attribute (intelligence, vision, health) and what having that attribute enables us to get done. Intuitively, we do just like being healthy, intelligent and percipient regardless of what further things they help us achieve;41 but we also value these goods because they contribute in fairly obvious ways to the furtherance of our plans and projects; we are, it seems reasonable to say, generally able to act more successfully with them than without them. 41) This need not exclude (if we wish to give the verbs full weight) the idea of our enjoying the use of our eyes and our minds independently of it furthering the achievement of some separately specified goal. 32 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 If this is one plausible way of construing the contrast between an item’s being valued for its own sake and for what results from it,42 we next need to show that the possession of philosophical truth is regarded as something that is valuable for its own sake. A firm indication that it is to be so regarded may be found in perhaps a rather unexpected place, namely the splendid remarks about philosophical dogs at II 375d-376b. Socrates and Glaucon have been worrying, at 375b-c, about how one might find in the same person (as potential guardian) the quality of being both harsh (to enemies) and gentle (to friends). Socrates notes that these characteristics do coexist in well-bred dogs, thus enabling the pair to conclude that they need not despair of finding it in humans. Then Socrates adds that what this means is that a good guardian must be philosophical (375e9), and remarks that this quality too is found in dogs! How so? Socrates continues: When a dog sees someone it doesn’t know, it gets angry even without having suffered anything bad. But when it knows someone, it welcomes him,43 even if it has never received anything good from him . . . How could it not be a lover of learning, if it defines what is its own and what is alien to it in terms of knowledge and ignorance? (II 376a5-7; b6-7) One cannot but be struck by the humour of the passage, and might (at the risk of spoiling the joke) even ask: why is it humorous? A plausible response is that it seems an exaggeration (to put it mildly) to label even the best trained dog ‘philosophical’. There is, on the other hand, no reason not to take Socrates’ account of what it is to be philosophical at face value. Indeed if we did not, the very humour of applying this account to dogs would lose its edge. Note, then, one important element of the account. The dog proves itself to be philosophical because it welcomes someone it knows even if it has 42) I make no claim that, even if correct, this is the only way to construe it, particularly with regard to the latter element. When he turns to things valued only for their results, Socrates talks of ‘the rewards and other things’ they may bring about (357d1-2), indicating that he has in mind a variety of sorts of outcome that might be valued, not confined to successful action. 43) The term for ‘welcome’ used here – ἀσπάζεσθαι – perhaps deliberately recalls the classification of goods earlier in Book II, where it describes the attitude of the subject both to goods valued simply for their own sake (357b6) and to those valued for their own sake and for what results from them (c4). R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 33 never received anything good from him, and likewise is angered when encountering one it doesn’t know even without having suffered anything bad. Socrates infers that it must be a lover of learning – philosophical – in regarding knowledge and ignorance this way. Whatever its merits as a description of canine psychology,44 Socrates goes out of his way here to emphasize that the mark of the philosopher is to value knowledge for its own sake, regardless of what further goods may result from it. That he speaks of knowledge rather than truth is appropriate enough, since as we discover later (from Book V on) knowledge will turn out to have Forms as its proprietary objects, and these correspond to the restricted class of truths that I am calling philosophical.45 XI The hypothesis, then, is that it is good to possess philosophical truths for their own sake, where this in turn implies good regardless of any beneficial effects that possessing them may have on one’s actions. Now it seems to me that one very strong test of this hypothesis would be the following: imagine that one who possessed such truths, and would thereby presumably be in the best possible position, on the basis of possessing them, to act well, had a choice not to act at all, but rather to be simply in the state of possessing these truths. Would being in that state be of such value that the subject would not be motivated to go out in the world and act at all? Here is what Socrates has to say: And what about the uneducated who have no experience of truth? Isn’t it likely – indeed doesn’t it follow necessarily from what was said before – that they will never adequately govern a city? But neither would those who have been allowed to spend their whole lives being educated: the former because they don’t have a single goal at which all their actions, public and private, inevitably aim; the latter because they won’t 44) My thanks to Nick Denyer and Shaul Tor for instruction on Greek views in this regard. 45) I doubt in fact that there is much of a wedge to be driven between knowledge and truth at this level, assuming (as the repeated refutations in the Platonic corpus of actual attempts to answer ‘What is F’ questions may indicate) a rather high degree of complexity in the correct accounts of Forms. Merely having a complex formula in one’s head (because, say, one had been told it and learned it by heart) without really understanding what it means is, I think, intuitively insufficient to be regarded as possessing the truth about the subjectmatter in question. 34 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 be willing to act, thinking that they had settled while still alive in the Isles of the Blessed. (VII 519b7-c6) The truth that Socrates is speaking of here is evidently something like what I have been calling philosophical truth, since he has just spoken of the desirability of one’s soul being turned around from the earthly realm to look at ‘the true things’ (τὰ ἀληθῆ, 519b4), that is, the Forms, those entities the apprehension of which gives us the truth about the qualities they represent.46 Left to their own devices, those who have this vision, Socrates tells us, ‘won’t be willing to act’ (ἑκόντες εἴναι οὐ πράξουσιν, c4-5).47 And this despite the fact that, as he also informs us, those who lack this vision will not be able to act as well as they might, since they will lack the unified aim that a grasp of the correct account of a virtue (rather than more piecemeal information) can provide.48 Nor should one restrict Socrates’ claim about unwillingness to act to the public sphere. It will of course be a particular concern of his that the philosophers of Kallipolis should bear the burden of ruling, despite the attractions of living permanently outside the Cave. But the contrast he draws in the present passage is not limited to public life.49 The uneducated fail to act optimally in private or public; those who have received nothing but education simply won’t be willing to act – by implication, in private or public. In imagining themselves already settled on the Isles of the Blessed, they place themselves outside the realm of action, content to experience their own version of heaven constituted by possession of the truth. Since the philosophers of Kallipolis owe their education to having been reared within it, and perhaps could not have reached that level without it 46) As sight is to visible objects, so dialectic is to Forms, with the Good its ultimate end (532a-b). One might thus consider the unified goal of action to be given above all by a grasp of the Form of the Good. Given his talk of ‘true things’ (plural), Socrates seems less focused at this juncture on its special role; that it remains at least in the background is, however, indicated by the resonance of the claim that those who lack this aim will be hampered in their actions ‘in private and public’ (519c4) with the earlier assertion that if one is to act properly ‘in private or public’ (517c4) one must see the Good. 47) Compare 517c-d, where those who ascend to the intelligible realm are said to be ‘unwilling to do human actions’ (οὐκ ἐθέλουσιν τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων πράττειν, c7-8), eager instead simply ‘to pass the time above’ (ἄνω . . . διατρίβειν, c8-d1). 48) Compare the importance of dialectic for achieving a ‘unified vision’ (σύνοψις) at 537c. 49) Note the responsibility of the educated philosopher to shape human character ‘both in private and public’ (500d6). R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 35 (as VI 497a-c seems to imply), Socrates can at least claim that ruling is the just thing for them to do (VII 520a-e), and given that the just life is better than the unjust (the central contention of the Republic), the life in which one takes one’s share of ruling will in fact be better for the philosopher than the practicable alternatives. Pointedly, the Isles of the Blessed recur as the philosopher’s dwelling-place only, if naturally, on death (VII 540b6-7). What this echo reinforces, though, is the notion that a life in which ruling were not required stands as the ideal, even if the ideal and the attainable do not go hand in hand. Philosophical truth is valuable for its own sake, then, just in the sense that in a world where there were no actions to be made good by its possession, it would still be a good thing to possess. XII Why exactly is the state of possessing philosophical truth so good in itself? There are, I think, two related aspects. First, it is clear (particularly with regard to the Form of the Good) that what one who is in possession of philosophical truth has a grasp of is the fundamental nature of reality. There is incomparable satisfaction in having such a grasp: [Soc:] And as for a philosopher, what do you suppose he thinks the other pleasures are worth compared to that of knowing where the truth lies and always being in some such pleasant condition while learning? Won’t he think that they are far behind? (IX 581d9-e1) That, at any rate, is the philosopher’s view; but the philosopher’s combination of intelligence and experience means it is also an accurate one (582e-583a). However, the reason this state is so satisfying is connected less with the fact that it grasps the fundamental nature of reality than with what that nature is – namely an orderly structure. It is this kind of structure that is the ultimate possessor of value, and it is because of this that to grasp it in turn has value. Moreover, a grasp of the structure of reality is endowed with this value in a peculiarly direct way, in that one who recognizes it cannot help but become as much like it as possible: [Soc:] As he looks at and studies things that are organized and always the same, that neither do injustice to one another nor suffer it, being all in a rational order, he 36 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 imitates them and becomes as like them as he can. Or do you think that someone can consort with things he admires without imitating them . . . So the philosopher, in consorting with what is ordered and divine, becomes as divine and ordered as a human being can. (VI 500c3-7; d1-2) One might wonder at this point whether the taking on of the structure of the intelligible realm that makes one divine is not to be classified as a result of grasping that structure rather than what the grasping of it consists in. But what Socrates seems to emphasize here is that the grasping and the taking on are not really successive but simultaneous – on both sides he uses the present tense throughout. In contemplating the Forms the philosopher cannot but be engaged in imitating them and becoming like them, acquiring as far as possible the quality of being ‘divine’ (θεῖος), surely the highest term of approbation in the Platonic vocabulary. It is this orderly structure, then, that has supreme value; one who takes it on is in possession of what is most desirable. Note that, as one might expect when the paradigm is inanimate objects,50 nothing follows directly about action except negatively, the reference being to the non-commission of injustice (500c4). It is, however, just action that has previously been said to promote and preserve a harmonious tripartite soul (IV 443e-44a). It seems plausible, then, that the reason why rulers should rule, given the requirements of justice, is ultimately for the preservation of their soul’s orderly structure. Only if one were considering a purely rational soul would the taking on of the structure of the intelligible realm be all there were to the achievement of psychic order. If orderly structure is the ultimate value, then ruling will be a condition of its manifestation in the soul of the philosopher of Kallipolis. The philosopher, in love with the realm of reason, may understandably feel reluctance at having to return to and remain in the Cave. But the fact is that the embodied philosopher’s soul is not one of pure reason; the orderly structure of a tripartite soul demands for its maintenance those actions called for by obedience to the requirements of justice. When death, with perhaps disembodiment of the soul to accompany it, sweeps the phi50) That these objects are the Forms (rather than, say, astronomical entities) seems confirmed by their being referred to a few lines earlier as ‘the things that are’ (c1), though Socrates’ later words would apply quite naturally to the celestial order, a perhaps deliberate choice given the elevated place that objects of mathematical study have in the dialogue’s ontology. R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 37 losopher off to the Isles of the Blessed, a life of pure reason, and with it the achievement of the soul’s essential nature, is at hand (cf. X 611b-612a).51 XIII Where does this leave the relation between value and truth? The contingencies of embodiment aside, let us accept that in grasping the truths of the intelligible realm I grasp its orderly structure and that in grasping its orderly structure I take on that structure – the ultimate locus of value – as far as is possible. To be in possession of philosophical truth is, one might then say, to be in a state that is of the highest value. Is the value of philosophical truth in the Republic thereby confirmed? Let me approach the question by returning to the one I posed at the start of this paper: how normatively robust is truth as far as the Republic is concerned? When it comes to non-philosophical truth, the answer is, I hope to have demonstrated, not robust at all. For what matters in this regard is not whether the subject has the truth, but whether what is had is of practical benefit. These two elements will sometimes fail to coincide, and when that happens, truth is dispensable.52 When truth and benefit do coincide, Socrates is clear that what matters is the practical benefit; even in those cases where the relation is tighter (as with truths about the gods, for example) Socrates takes time to insist that were tales of gods behaving badly to be true, they should not be told. With regard to philosophical truth, the case would appear to be rather different. Certainly, it does not seem to be just a coincidence that the ultimate structure of reality, insofar as it is intelligible, is orderly. The Form of the Good is ‘that which gives truth to the things that are known . . . it is the cause of knowledge and truth’ (VI 508d10-e3). The import of this is that to be an intelligible realm just is to be underwritten, so to speak, by the Form of the Good; that which is intelligible is, necessarily, good. And if the primary manifestation of goodness is orderly structure, then the truths of the intelligible realm will express such goodness. The tight connection between philosophical truth and order is outlined as early as VI 486d7-11, 51) One can, it seems to me, explain along these lines why the philosopher evidently at some level minds having to rule, but is also prepared, in the embodied life, to do so. 52) ‘If lying or deception will be of assistance in fostering an individual’s moral development, he [Plato] will use it’ (De Chiara-Quenzer 1994, 43). See also Page 1991, 8-9. 38 R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 when Socrates and Glaucon agree that truth is akin to ‘due measure’ (ἐμμετρία), such that one whose thought possesses this latter quality will be easily led to ‘the form of each thing that is’. This, I think, does allow us to vindicate philosophical truth as normatively robust. For in possessing it one thereby, necessarily, manifests goodness, explicated as orderly structure. So there is no question of disjoining philosophical truth from goodness; it is always and everywhere, insofar as it manifests orderly structure, a good thing to possess. Yet a qualification of considerable importance remains. We are entitled to ask: what if, per impossibile, philosophical truth were disjoined from goodness? What makes this a legitimate question is the fact that one can perfectly well give an account, by the Republic’s own lights, of goodness as orderly structure, without so much as mentioning the notion of truth. That is to say, philosophical truths are of value not because they are true but because they are philosophical; it is in expressing the order of the intelligible realm that they are endowed with goodness. If the intelligible realm were (as admittedly it could not be) lacking an orderly structure, its truths would carry no special value. And this means that in the final analysis it would be a mistake, with regard to philosophical truth, to locate its value in the quality of being true. How should this affect our assessment of the Republic’s stance? On the one hand, there is no direct evidence that the conceptual separability of order and truth is intended to undermine the normative robustness of the latter. But it should undermine it; and one can be fairly confident that Plato would not have the slightest worry about conceding that, when disjoined from order, truth as such does lack normative robustness – and here there is considerable indirect evidence in the dialogue’s attitude towards non-philosophical truth. If that is so, then there may be less than one supposes to the view that truth, of whatever stripe, is a source of value in the Republic.53 53) Earlier versions of this paper were read at a seminar of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy at Boston University in September 2006, and at a meeting of the Cambridge University B Club in February 2007. My warm thanks to David Roochnik and Malcolm Schofield, the respective organizers, for their hospitality, and to the audiences on both occasions for lively discussion. Thanks also to the members of the King’s College London philosophy department staff seminar, to whom an abridged version of this paper was presented in November 2006, for helpful questions and comments. R. Woolf / Phronesis 54 (2009) 9-39 39 Bibliography Annas, J. 1981. An Introduction to Plato’s Republic, Oxford. Belfiore, E. 1985. ‘“Lies Unlike the Truth”: Plato on Hesiod, Theogony 27’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 115, 47-57. Brickhouse, T. and N. Smith. 1983. ‘Justice and Dishonesty in Plato’s Republic’, Southern Journal of Philosophy 21, 79-96. Burnyeat, M. F. 1992. ‘Utopia and Fantasy: The Practicability of Plato’s Ideally Just City’, in J. Hopkins and A. Savile (eds.), Psychoanalysis, Mind and Art, Oxford. —— 2000. ‘Plato on Why Mathematics is Good for the Soul’, Proceedings of the British Academy 103, 1-81. De Chiara-Quenzer, D. 1994. ‘To Lie or Not to Lie: Plato’s Republic’, Polis 13, 31-45. Ferrari, G. R. F. 1989. ‘Plato on Poetry’, in G. A. Kennedy (ed.), The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 1, Cambridge. —— (ed.). 2007. The Cambridge Companion to Plato’s Republic, Cambridge. Gill, C. 1993. ‘Plato on Falsehood – Not Fiction’, in C. Gill and T. P. Wiseman (eds.), Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World, Exeter. Grube, G. M. A. rev. C. D. C. Reeve. 1992. Plato, Republic, Indianapolis. Johansen, T. 1998. ‘Truth, Lies and History in Plato’s Timaeus-Critias’, Histos 2. Kamtekar, R. 2006. ‘Speaking with the Same Voice as Reason: Personification in Plato’s Psychology’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 31, 167-202. Morgan, K. 2000. Myth and Philosophy from the Presocratics to Plato, Cambridge. Page, C. 1991. ‘The Truth about Lies in Plato’s Republic’, Ancient Philosophy 11, 1-33. Reeve, C. D. C. 1988. Philosopher-Kings, Princeton. Schofield, M. 2006. Plato: Political Philosophy, Oxford. —— 2007. ‘The Noble Lie’, in Ferrari (ed.). Sedley, D. 2007. ‘Philosophy, Forms and the Art of Ruling’, in Ferrari (ed.). Simpson, D. 2007. ‘Truth, Truthfulness and Philosophy in Plato and Nietzsche’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15, 339-60. Szaif, J. 2004. ‘Die Alêtheia in Platons Tugendlehre’, in M. van Ackeren (ed.), Platon Verstehen, Darmstadt. Woolf, R. 2007. ‘Misology and Truth’, Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 23, 1-16.

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December 11, 2017

This explanatory introduction delivers unique understanding into Plato's Republic.
Emphasizing Plato's longing to rouse philosophical rational in his bibliophiles, Julia Annas here
validates the consistency of his chief moral quarrel on the nature of impartiality, and explains
related ideas of schooling, human incentive, acquaintance and understanding. In a vibrant
systematic manner, this book demonstrates that contemporary moral attitude still has abundant to
acquire from Plato's effort to move the attention from queries of what turns the just individual
ought to accomplish to the more reflective questions of what category of person the unbiased
individual have to be. But the role argument accomplishes that justice is mutually necessary and
adequate for happiness, and this is a significantly stronger notion than the entitle that the unbiased
are always better-off than the unfair.
Plato can be best recognized...

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