La política del alma
speaking and Platonic writing both. Keywords: Plato, Socrates, dialogue, politics. Resumen político de Sócrates y aquellas de la escritura política de Platón. saying and Platonic writing and their connection were of decisive importance. Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy was well underway at the time of Leo Strauss's death in Having chosen the title for the book, he selected the most. Resumen. En este artículo se desarrolla la idea de una "política del alma", en . In Platonic terms this means that the realm of the psyche, though higher than the . A community whose seeking of harmonious relationship with humans.
Does politics no more need knowledge of some transcendent good for it is the unattainability of the Good that is at issue in this objection, rather than the universality at issue in the other objections than does medicine? There is always, therefore, a tension between the two. But Aristotle appears to go further: The knowledge above politics is simply a different kind of knowledge with different objects and thus irrelevant to the knowledge of our own human good. Matters, however, are far from being so simple.
If we turn to the account of wisdom in the Metaphysics, it turns out that its highest object, i. And its life is such as the best which we enjoy, and enjoy but for a short time" Met. In this case it is hard to see how ethics and political science would not be grounded in first philosophy and metaphysics.
To know the first principle of the heavens and the world is to know the good to which we ourselves aspire. In other words, a politician who was not a philosopher could not fully know the good to which human beings aspire and thus could not fully know what constitutes a good state. That, despite the critique of the Idea of the Good in Ethics I as unattainable and impractical, the ultimate object of ethics turns out for Aristotle to be a transcendent and divine good is made clear not only in the Metaphysics but in book X of the Ethics itself.
Indeed, what Aristotle concludes in this book perfectly mirrors what is said in the Metaphysics, thus showing how ethics and metaphysics are ultimately inseparable for Aristotle.How to Have a Platonic Relationship with Someone of the Opposite Sex
The best human life is concluded to be one lived according to the divine element in us, that is, a life focused not on a distinctively human good, but rather on those higher, divine things that are the objects of wisdom. The divine element of which Aristotle speaks is indeed 'in' us, but at the same time transcends our 'composite nature'. Indeed, in what appears to be a clear allusion to Socrates' description in the Republic of the transcendence of the Good beyond being "in power and honor" R.
Perhaps the best indication that the differences between Plato and Aristotle on the relation between philosophy and politics may not be as great as they seem is that in book X of the Ethics Aristotle is faced with a problem similar to that illustrated by the Cave analogy in the Republic: How is this not a repetition of the dilemma facing the philosopher outside the Cave?
One's existence as a political animal and thus politics demand one thing, while the philosophical knowledge of the highest divine good on which politics itself depends demands something else.
Those who best know that good to which humans aspire will at least want to live a distinctly human, political life. We thus appear to be left with a tense, problematic relationship between politics ethics and philosophy, not so different from that encountered in the Republic. If Plato, in attempting to reconcile politics and philosophy also shows them to be in conflict, Aristotle, in attempting to keep them sharply distinct, also shows them to be implicated in one another.
Therefore, theoretical philosophy represents for Aristotle the highest aim of a politics that aims at the highest human good. This is strikingly evident in book VIII of the Politics with its insistence that what the city should seek to promote above all in its system of education is useless knowledge see especially a Correspondingly, when confronting the debate concerning whether the contemplative or the political life is better, Aristotle chooses the former but only in insisting that it is the most genuinely active: It is in the context of this argument that the Politics must appeal to the Metaphysics: In conclusion, one could perhaps best express the difference between Plato and Aristotle as follows: Heidegger as Philosopher-King In courses from the 's Heidegger credits Aristotle with avoiding the confusion between ethics and ontology supposedly found in Plato's Idea of the Good.
And indeed in a course entitled Grundfragen der Philosophie, 10 Heidegger describes the making of philosophers into kings in the Republic as "the essential degradation [Herabsetzung] of philosophy. Yet when Heidegger four years earlier assumes the Rectorship of Freiburg University and joins the National Socialist Party, he sings a very different tune.
Delivering a course entitled The Essence of Truth [Vom Wesen der Wahrheit], 11 the first part of which is devoted to an interpretation of the Cave Analogy, Heidegger seeks in the ideal of philosopher-kings justification for his own political involvement.
However, it becomes clear from what Heidegger says that for him the idea of philosopher-kings does not mean any kind of actual involvement in concrete politics on the part of philosophers of any type. What he does say, after having characterized the Idea as the rule Herrschaft and the origin Ursprung for beings, is that "the rule of the being-with-one-another of human beings in the state must be essentially determined" through philosophical men and philosophical knowledge id.
But what does this mean, if it does not mean philosophers actually ruling the state? The following sentence provides the answer: Plato posed the question of the essence of knowledge [Wissen], not because it belongs to a school-concept [Schulbegriff] of the theory of knowledge, but because knowledge [das Wissen] forms the innermost enduring substance of political being [den innersten Bestand des staatlichen Seins], insofar as the state is a free one, that is, at the same time a force that binds a people.
Here we see at its clearest the complete identification of philosophy and politics or, more precisely, the complete absorption of politics into philosophy: If the philosopher must return to the Cave, this is not a demand of justice, but only an illustration of the fact that truth is never fully separable from untruth cf.
And if Socrates describes the philosopher who returns to the Cave as in danger of being killed, this for Heidegger does not not a tension between philosophy and politics but only the philosopher's being misunderstood cf. On Heidegger's reading, in short, there is no descent from philosophy to politics, no struggle and danger in the philosopher's attempt to become politically effective.
The philosopher is in himself and as such king; the people must come to him. Heidegger affirms the philosopher-king ideal to the extent that politics can simply be identified with philosophy; to the extent, however, that politics proves to be something quite different and much more "messy," as it no doubt did during Heidegger's Rektorat, Heidegger dismisses any association between philosophy and politics as a degradation of the former.
Whether Heidegger brings politics out of the Cave or dismisses it as a descent and debasement, in either case he remains outside the Cave.
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What he describes still in the late 's as the "inner truth and greatness" of National Socialism 13 is all he ever saw in the movement; what changed was only his assessment of the extent to which the National Socialist party and its members lived up to this "inner truth and greatness".
The failure of Heidegger's Rektorat, and even the catastrophe of World War II, was inessential because it represented nothing but the failure of those within the Cave to open their eyes to what is essential. To criticize Heidegger for his failure as a political leader, or to demand that philosophers become political leaders in the ordinary sense, is to miss what is essential and degrade philosophy. The politics Heidegger identified with philosophy remained untouched by the travails and upheavals of "real" politics.
When Heidegger reports having been accused of a "Privatnationalsozialismus" after his Rektoratsrede ibid.
As for how one can have a "private politics", that is of course precisely the problem. Foucault on Politics and the Courage of Truth In conclusion, Heidegger 'solves' the problem of the relation between politics and philosophy by simply collapsing the former into the latter: In contrast, Michel Foucault's reading of the Republic in his course, Le Gouvernement de Soi et des Autres, insists that the philosopher-king proposal, in claiming only that the same person should practice philosophy and politics, keeps the two completely distinct.
Thus Foucault develops his own view that, if philosophy can play a role in relation to politics by transforming the subject who lives politically, it plays no role within politics. Foucault insists that the idea of philosopher-kings in the Republic is only the idea that those who practice philosophy should be those who exercise political power and not a conflation of philosophical discourse and knowledge with political practice cf.
Foucault sees this conclusion as supported by a careful and faithful translation of the text c-d. Foucault first points out that what the passage describes is not philosophers becoming kings or kings becoming philosophers as our shorthand of 'philosopher-king' suggestsbut rather philosophers beginning to rule in cities or current rulers beginning to philosophize in an authentic and genuine manner.
To say that rulers will philosophize and philosophers will rule is not to say that philosophizing and ruling will become the same thing. Yet some translations of the key sentence have it go on to assert precisely such an identity. The Waterfield translation likewise reads: This literally says something like: This translation seems possible and can appeal for support to the use of a similar phrase at Theaetetus d to describe the relation that has been demonstrated between the definition of knowledge as perception, the Heraclitean flux theory and Protagorean relativism.
In other words, the identity is not between political power and philosophy, but rather in the subject who exercises both. This allows Foucault to read the philosopher-king's proposal as preserving the distinctness of political power and philosophy.
As he asserts at one point, But from the fact that he who practices philosophy is he who exercises power and that he who exercises power is also someone who practices philosophy, from this one cannot at all infer that what he knows of philosophy will be the law of his actions and of his political decisions. Philosophy can make someone worthy of ruling, can develop in that person the kind of character we want to see in a ruler id.
As Foucault states the point more specifically, the ruler must learn through philosophy to govern himself in order to be the kind of person who can justly govern others id. The most important figure in this transition is Socrates who in the Apology, as Foucault points out, describes his divine mission of speaking the truth to his fellow citizens as turning away from politics. Philosophy as such a way of life that is always other cf. However one interprets d, and Foucault's reading appears hard to defend, 18 it seems clear that for Socrates the knowledge the philosopher attains as such will be the law of his political actions and decisions.
However, Foucault can also be seen as developing a tension between politics and philosophy that has been seen to be already there in Plato's text. Furthermore, if Foucault only reinterprets rather than outright rejects the idea of philosopher-kings, that is because even for him philosophy and politics do not diverge to such an extent that they cease to have anything to do with each other.
If philosophy can never be politics, it nevertheless always exists in an essential relation to politics. That notion lies at the heart of our contemporary liberal assumptions. But I would like to argue that they are not really metaphysically neutral and that in the end they lean inevitably towards materialism.
If that is the case, and if one believes in the reality of soul, then liberalism is not really a humanism because it tends to deny the ontological space in which we can alone operate in a truly human fashion.
In doing so it has to appeal to a sub-human or a post-human space in a way that is becoming increasingly manifest. So I will claim that where one does not base the social and political order on the reality of the soul, then in the end one is on a path that will either undo itself or finally undo humanity. But initially, just what does it mean to speak of a politics of the soul?
The clearest reference point here is Plato. In the Gorgias he defines the "art of government", that is to say the political art, as that which ensures the good health of the soul in the way that medicine ensures the good health of the body. From our modern point of view this is thoroughly confusing.
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His reason for doing so is that he thinks that there can only be a specific art of human governance, a political art, if there is such a thing as a psychic reality. For otherwise, if human beings were only physical, they could be adequately governed by medicine. It follows in consequence that governance has a problematically dual application: In Plato's consideration of psychopolitics however, there is always a problem.
Which comes first, the political soul or the psychic city? The problem arises because Plato rightly thought that our will and desires are only moved by the scope of our vision.
Thus we always will the good, but are too often deluded by false simulations of the genuine good. Yet in that case, how can the lost and deluded individual really reform himself? He needs help in the shape of a teacher, a community and finally a good polis or city.
But because governance applies also to the individual, good cities can only be built by good men, whom Plato took to be religiously-inspired philosophers. A genuinely human, virtuous life, depends on the periodic irruption of extraordinary individual charisms, however we may account for this. In another way also, Plato insisted on the crucial place of the religious dimension. For him good governance, right order, does not just mean the superiority of the soul over the body, whether for the individual or for the city, though it does indeed involve that.
More fundamentally he places in parallel the diseased body and the diseased soul, or alternatively the healthy body and the healthy soul. As his programme for the education of the guardian class in the Republic well shows, he is primarily concerned with our integral well-being as embodied souls, or soul-informed bodies.
In the case of the body, good government means the control of the body by psychic wisdom, which will advise you to listen to your doctor rather than to the blandishments of the archaic equivalent of TV cooks. Since there is nothing human higher than the soul, does this mean that psychic self-control is the highest private political art? But this is the idea that Plato is perhaps most anxious of all to refute. For if self-government means merely self-control, then why may this not be exercised simply in terms of improving one's own power and corporeal contentment?
Understood in this fashion, the rule of the soul could be just the conscious and manipulative, suavely urbane augmentation of military strength and pride, which we know can subdue our spontaneous and baser passions for the sake of the pursuit of glory.
And this is just what the sophists, according to Plato, took psychic governance to be: For this perspective, the pursuit of political rule is naturally undertaken for the augmentation of the fulfilment of one's own private desires. This aim would seem to bend the political back into the psychic, albeit in a monstrously narcissistic variant.
However, Plato's claim is that in reality sophistry tends to remove the psychic from the political sphere. This is because, for the sophists, as for the historian Thucydides, we must split reality between nature or physis on the one hand, and nomos or law, on the other. Nature and culture have nothing to do with each other, because nature is inexorable and meaningless, inciting of blind passions, while culture, shaped by law, is entirely wilful, conventional and artificial.
This ensures that individual expressions of soul are conscious manifestations of a blind will to power, as it were vagaries of nature, rather than revelations of natural order.
And in seeking power in the city they have to try to incite and manipulate all sorts of blind and egotistic human passions.
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Plato's refusal of this picture is actually in harmony with the archaic wisdom of most human societies. For they do not generally divide nature from culture, but think of nature as itself including many cultures and of human culture as itself a natural manifestation. In Platonic terms this means that the realm of the psyche, though higher than the material, is still fully a part of nature.
As he puts it in The Laws: Notice here again the mix of public things like "habit and custom" with private things like "diligence and memory" as equally belonging to the psychic sphere. It follows for Plato, as perhaps for most pre-modern human beings, that if human culture cannot be reduced to pre-human nature, and yet is itself fully natural and fully in continuity with pre-human nature, that it must be guided by a power and by standards higher than itself.
The sophists denied this, but thereby they effectively denied the integral reality of the human, since they split the psychic sphere between the invading ravages of egoistic nature on the one hand and the arbitrary contrivances of the human will on the other, which inherently can know no bounds.
This must eventually encourage the creation of a post-human superman, if there are no given, natural but transcendent restrictions on the human exercise of power. It then follows that there can be no art of politics, defined as an exercise of justice, irreducible to either natural necessity or an individual will to power, if the soul that rules itself or other souls is not guided by the transcendent reality of the true, good and beautiful.
In practical terms this means that the just ruler does not merely ensure that the social realities of brute force and material need are kept in their spatial places by reason for this risks reducing reason itself to a subtler kind of coercive power but rather that he continuously tries to ensure through time and on differently arising occasions that these subordinate things, and all different things are harmoniously and proportionately blended in such a way as to participate in the transcendent kalon which is both goodness and beauty.
For Plato then, it is clear that the reality and irreducibility of the soul cannot be disconnected from the transcendent realm, which he understood to be the realm of the gods and the forms, even though he did not think one can entirely prove the reality of this realm, but must resort to the language of myth and the practice of ritual in order to experience its reality.
Now modern people might find themselves happy with the idea that religious beliefs can keep alive in individuals a sense of the objective reality of the Good and of the irreducibility of human conscience and freedom. However, from a Platonic perspective this would be entirely illogical.
Because, as we have seen, the psychic is for Plato as much the shared sea in which we swim as it is a kind of vital salt-water bubble inside ourselves. If the guidance of the soul depends upon its vision of transcendence, then this is needed as much in public as in private, precisely because the good person requires the training by the good city every bit as much as the good city can only be shaped by good people. One can here usefully say a little more about the fundamental Platonic aporia as to which comes first, city or soul?
As I've already indicated, Plato tends to resolve it by invoking a divine irruption which interrupts the vicious cycle. However, this is not for him a deus ex machina insofar as occasional inspiration is linked to the poetic recitation of good myths which can benignly "charm" the soul and to the practice of religious liturgy and sacrifice.
This was best realised by the "theurgic Platonists" like Iamblichus and Proclus who insisted against Plotinus on the "complete descent" of the human soul into the body and equivalently on the way contemplative ascent has to be matched by a divine descent towards human beings of the gods in ritual and magical practices.
The theurgists tended to insist, beyond Plato, that the philosopher ruler did not risk contamination by political engagement, precisely because the rituals of the city were crucial for his own education. Thus the wise man requires a combination of peaceful theoretical reflection with political engagement. Equally he exalts in the Gorgias the art of humble artisans over and above the political arts of rhetoric.
But why should not the critical jolt of the individual conscience be enough here? I would argue that it is not enough precisely because the main reality of all human association, including political association is itself psychic.
In other words it is to do with friendship, as both Plato and Aristotle taught; it is to do with benevolent generosity as they taught in common with Confucius in the Far East. Plato picks up on the comedic and the tragic genre in his own writing. We read the Statesman with an eye on what Euripides' Bacchae, a tragedy about hubris, unwise rule, and repression as well as oppressioncan teach us about the politics of the Peloponnesian War and the demise it spelled for Athens; downfall through which Plato lived.
We examine the dialogue's comical motifs with the help of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, a comedy about sex, war, and the city, from which Plato borrows his most complete paradigm for rule—weaving—on which the Statesman ultimately settles. Plato's dialogical style demands attention not only to the arguments and replicas of individual interlocutors, but also to the way in which one thing that is being said directs or informs the next one.
The relationship between the speeches is just as important as the speeches themselves. There are arguments and speeches, but there are also actions.
The dialogical action is not so much what the interlocutors do, although that is important.