He argues that there must always be legal checks on the power of rulers, for, even if the ruler possessed the virtues and the “political art,” his “mortal nature” would inevitably lead him to greed (pleonexia) and self-interested action (874e–875d). Given Socrates' stress on the importance of unity and stability, it would seem reasonable to give members of the two lower classes some share in political power. There are strong reasons for doubting that a small ruling elite with no checks on its power will remain committed to an unselfish pursuit of the common good. In the subsequent history of political thought, it was the “well-mixed” polity that had the greater impact, not only in antiquity but also in the development of “republicanism” in the Renaissance.5. He accuses Socrates of naivety and argues that one is better off being unjust if one can get away with it. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Find this resource: Santas, G. (2006). “Does Slavery Exist in the Republic?” Classical Philology, 68: 291–5.Find this resource: Waldron, J. For Socrates, on the other hand, the political art is primarily concerned with the moral improvement of the members of the city state. Public education is mandated for all citizens, but, since the better off have more resources and leisure, their children will be able to go further in their studies. mentor, Socrates. If they had done their job properly, these leaders would have had the opposite effect: they would have made their fellow citizens more just and temperate, less under the sway of their appetites; and, as a result, the people would have been better judges of what was in their, and the city's, best interest. “Plato's Totalitarianism,” in R. Kraut (ed. The Statesman is more pessimistic than the Republic about the possibility of achieving knowledge of the political art (301de, 302e), and it treats the concept of the ideal ruler, and the laws he produces, as models to be “imitated” by inferior constitutions. (p. 107) 1293b1–7). Plato's Cretan City: A Historical Interpretation of the Laws. The physician's expertise is shown in her recognition of occasions when what is prescribed by a rule does not fit the particular case; no collection of precepts set down in a book will be adequate for making the right sorts of judgments in particular cases—the book learning must be supplemented by years of experience. Rule by one is either kingship (non-exploitative) or tyranny (exploitative); rule by a few is either aristocracy (non-exploitative) or oligarchy (exploitative). The council may send emissaries to other city states to investigate their laws, and may recommend changes in laws where that would be beneficial to the state. He asks us to imagine the people (the demos) as a shipmaster who is larger and stronger than his shipmates, but who does not see or hear well and whose knowledge of seamanship is similarly defective. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 65–89.Find this resource: Hansen, M. H. (1991). The second factor is colonization: during this period many city states established colonies along the coast of Asia Minor, as well as in Sicily and southern Italy. (ll. And, as it turns out, Plato's account of justice and virtue in book IV of the Republic is an elaboration of this analogy. For Plato, it is the political art that enables one not only to legislate but to recognize exceptional cases where the law fails to achieve its end—the general good of the citizenry; in such cases the expert statesman will act against the letter, though not the spirit, of the law. Early Greek Political Thought from Homer to the Sophists. There seem to be two ways in which the ideal ruler of the Statesman is not bound by laws: (1) he is justified in not adhering to a standing law—even a law he has laid down—if his knowledge of the political art dictates a different course (300cd); and (2) he is justified in changing a law if that is called for by new and unforeseen circumstances (295c–296a). Our life in this world is likened to the life of prisoners in a cave in which all that can be seen are dim shadows of reality. Plato's Ideal State: The Republic. But, whereas in the Republic he used the term “citizen” (politês) loosely to designate members of all three classes, in the Laws he understands a “citizen” (as does Aristotle) as one who has the right to participate in political decision-making; and the class of citizens in the Laws corresponds (more or less) to the military and ruling classes of the Republic. But there is room for skepticism about these claims, and since the time of Aristotle philosophers have pointed to glaring, and not so glaring, weaknesses in Socrates' theory. Keywords: Greece, political philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, constitutions, democracy, Republic, monarchy, oligarchy.