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Sophos -- Study of Philosophy and Thought Message Board › Possible Cancellation for June, or change in venue, and questions for readings

Possible Cancellation for June, or change in venue, and questions for readings

Rabbi Mordecai F.
user 13690183
Group Organizer
Los Angeles, CA
Dear Fellow Eudaimonians,

Unfortunately, I cannot host the meeting this coming Sunday. Our daughter is leaving in two weeks for  Israel to go into the Army there, and we are organizing a farewell gathering for her and her friends. It turns that this coming Sunday afternoon/evening is the only good time for all concerned. I will be back on track for the July meetup.

If anyone receiving this would like to host, I would certainly pass that info on to the entire group.

Just in case we do have a host, distinguished Eudaimonian Bill Jacobs has graciously offered a set of questions to guide our reading and discussion.

Good studying!


Rabbi Finley


In preparation for next week’s meeting, when you read the Statesman you might wish to consider the following questions for possible discussion:

1. Certain portions of the Statesman can be viewed as Plato’s effort to explain the method of division. Probably first mentioned in the Phaedrus (cf. 265d ff and 273d ff), as we saw last month it occupies a major part of the Sophist (218b – 236B and 264d – 268D). In the Statesman, what do we learn about the method of division? What directions are we given? Can we give a rational construction of what Plato is attempting to do? Is the method of division defensible?

2. As any reader of the dialogues knows, the analogy to the arts or crafts (technai) is ubiquitous to the point that in Gorgias 491A Callicles protests that Socrates is continually talking about artisans and in Symposium 221E – 222A a very drunk Alcibiades declares that Socrates’ remarks about artisans are the only arguments that make any sense. Clearly the Statesman heavily relies on craft analogy.

With that in mind, you may wish to spend some time thinking about the craft analogy, its assumptions, and its implications. For example, for Plato what is an art or craft? Does Plato properly apply the analogy? Is it appropriate to speak of a statesman’s craft? If so, are there any differences between the statesman’s craft and other more mundane crafts such as those of the cobbler or boat pilot?

3. Given the subject matter of the Statesman – the effort to define the statesman – comparison to the presumably earlier dialogue, the Republic, is inevitable (as also will be the comparison to the later Laws). On what points do the Republic and the Statesman agree? Disagree? Are the differences merely due to change of emphasis (as maintained by those who argue for the unity of Plato’s thought) or change in doctrine (as maintained by those who argue for the evolution of his views)?

When considering this question, some specific points meriting examination include the treatment of law (nomos), the analysis of the different ways in which city states can be organized, the role of education and training, and the organization of the rulers.

4. Since the 1930s, a major battle has raged amongst scholars as to whether we should see Plato as the inspiration for 20th century totalitarians or for upholders of liberty. Given what we have read in the Republic and the Statesman, in which camp should Plato be placed?




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