Read Statesman by Plato Eva Brann Peter Kalkavage Eric Salem Online


This is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, in which an unnamed stranger sets out to satisfy Socrates' desire for an account of sophist, statesman, and philosopher. (The third was never written.) Focus Philosohpical Library’s Statesman includes a faithful, clear, and consistent translation to English, with notes. It also includes an exploratory essay, glossaryThis is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, in which an unnamed stranger sets out to satisfy Socrates' desire for an account of sophist, statesman, and philosopher. (The third was never written.) Focus Philosohpical Library’s Statesman includes a faithful, clear, and consistent translation to English, with notes. It also includes an exploratory essay, glossary of crucial Greek terms, supplemental diagrams illustrating diairesis ("The Divisions of the Statesman"), and an appendix on the paradigm of weaving....

Title : Statesman
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ISBN : 9781585102907
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
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Statesman Reviews

  • Nikos Tsentemeidis
    2018-10-22 09:38

    Ο Πλάτων στην Πολιτεία εκθέτει τις απόψεις του για την πολιτική, ενώ στον Πολιτικό προσεγγίζει το θέμα από την πλευρά των πολιτών.

  • Hussain Ali
    2018-10-09 05:26

    عجائب لا تنقضي عند أفلاطون

  • Διόνυσος Ελευθέριος
    2018-10-04 10:45

    Seth Benardete's translation of Plato's Statesman is the translation any student of Plato (who lacks full knowledge of Greek) should make primary use of. His translation is the most literal one, and Benardete's mastery of Greek and his faithfulness to the particulars of the original make it the translation one should have at hand when paying the closest attention to Plato's particulars. In addition to the dialogue itself, Benardete's accompanying commentary can be the source of profound insights for those willing to expend the necessary effort needed to penetrate it (which, as I've said elsewhere, will come as no surprise to readers of Benardete's other works). One last thing I would like to point out: this is the third part of a three-part work which was originally published in one volume—The Being of the Beautiful. Each of the three parts were later published separately, and in each of those three individual parts there is one introduction that briefly discusses all three of the dialogues in the whole trilogy (Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman). But note: this three-part introduction is not included in the original Being of the Beautiful. But also, note this as well: the introduction that is in The Being of the Beautiful is not the same as the introduction in each of its later, separately published parts. Serious students may want to read both.

  • Catherine
    2018-10-21 04:25

    I was very disappointed that the new Brann/Kalkavage/Salem translation of the Statesman did not arrive in time for me to read it for my SJC Alumni Seminar this weekend, especially after having just read their Sophist translation. I found this translation to be much less clear and readable, which definitely affected my rating of the book...I was also comparatively unimpressed with the first half of the dialogue itself. Thankfully, over the course of our Seminar, several questions were raised which were interesting enough to make me reconsider the dialogue as a whole. In what way is the sophist the wolf to the philosopher's dog? Are the philosopher, the statesman and the sophist actually two rather than three, as the stranger claims? What is the stranger (he does not appear to fit as either a philosopher or a sophist, in spite of bearing a certain resemblance to both)?Additionally, since both the statesman and the philosopher are concerned with "weaving everything together in the most correct way", I have been trying to tease out the implications of them being the same person, just as the sophist is the image of each. Predictably, this has brought me back to the Republic, wherein the exploration of justice in the city is a way of exploring justice in the soul. Accordingly, if the true statesman is an expert at "weaving together the dispositions of courageous and moderate people", can we not say that the philosopher should be able to weave together the courageous and moderate dispositions within himself, favoring neither above the other and working to promote both?

  • Thomas
    2018-10-04 09:38

    Statesman lacks the mystery of Theaetetus and the rigor of Sophist, but it is the natural conclusion to the trilogy. The first dialogue is a critique of Protagoras and Heraclitus, a careful examination of the faults of relativism. The second dialogue is a critique of Parmenides and the faults of monism. Statesman demonstrates that neither one accurately describes practical human existence, which is ultimately a weaving together of both interpretations. The difficulty is that the two interpretations contradict each other in a very fundamental way, which to my mind calls into question the entire approach. The Stranger is no Socrates, who would no doubt have serious issues with the contradictions inherent in this weaving. But where the Stranger is successful is in outlining these competing schools of thought, both of which have their merits -- and perhaps that was Plato's goal here, or at least one of his goals. The Brann/Kalkavage/Salem translation is clear and consistent. One of the best things about the Focus Philosophical translations is that nearly all of them include glossaries, so the reader can see how the translators choose to translate particular words, in this case with explanations why. The interpretive essay is also very good, though perhaps not entirely necessary.

  • Διόνυσος Ελευθέριος
    2018-09-30 04:37

    Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, and Eric Salem's translation of Plato's Statesman is a very useful resource that I highly recommend to all serious students of Plato. The same trio collaborated on Plato's Phaedo, which is also very fine. The translation itself is very good: it is clear, and fairly literal—an absolute necessity for the proper interpretation of whom Nietzsche called "the most beautiful growth of antiquity" (Beyond Good and Evil, "Preface"). No translation is perfect, however, and so I recommend using this one in conjunction with an even more literal one, that of Seth Benardete. In addition to the translation, this edition by Brann, Kalkavage and Salem includes a very useful introduction, glossary, essay and two appendices (a brief—but instructive—illustration of the art of weaving, and a longer discussion of the many divisions from the dialogue). Of these additional features, the essay in particular has many illuminating observations.

  • Aaron Crofut
    2018-10-08 04:46

    The first two thirds of this dialogue are tedious to a ridiculous extreme.The last third more than makes up for it. Reading Plato can be like riding a roller coaster, ranging from agreement and enlightenment to pure horror at clearly totalitarian suggestions. The real question is, can a true Statesman ever exist and if not, isn't the idea of one dangerous? The Greek idea that government exists to perfect men is just one I will never agree with.

  • Joe
    2018-09-26 08:49

    Review:November 2004Plato's most disturbing political dialogueThis book, the culmination of Benardete's masterful translation of what Jacob Klein was pleased to call `Plato's Trilogy,' includes not only a translation of `The Statesman' but also a superb commentary with notes. (Benardete, btw, is something of a rarity these days, a `non-political' student of Leo Strauss.' This `trilogy' (as Klein would say) in question consists of 3 dialogues; Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman. But, as Benardete points out, the Sophist and Statesman belong together as a pair. The singular appearance of the Eleatic Stranger - some translate `Stranger' as Visitor - and the near silence of our Socrates, the inability (or unwillingness) of Plato to give us a third dialogue (as seemingly `promised' at 217a) called `The Philosopher,' all this points to the unique pairing of Sophist and Statesman. Benardete also points out that these 2 dialogues are the only ones with specific and "explicit allusions" to each other. In turning away from the Sophist and turning towards the Statesman we are leaving the rarefied heights (and obscure depths) of theory, and its imitators, for the `lowly' everyday world of political/social life. Indeed this `turn' can perhaps be said to be foreshadowed in the Sophist (at 247e) when the Stranger makes a remarkably `Nietzschean' definition, "I'm proposing, in short, a definition (boundary mark): `The things which are' are not anything but power." Being as Power! Plato is not Nietzsche, however. Plato always hedges. The `proposal' is perhaps only made to convince some so-called `improved' materialists to leave their `artless' materialism. But later, when speaking to some `friends of the forms,' who are `idealists' like Socrates, the logic of this dialectic forces the Stranger (249a) to say, "But, by Zeus, what of this? Shall we easily be persuaded that motion and life and soul and intelligence are truly not present to that which perfectly is, and its not even living, not even thinking, but august and pure, without mind, it stands motionless." Thus materialists and Idealists are `forced' to concede that being is the ability to affect and be affected. Later, at 249c-d, the Stranger will speak of this arrangement in such a manner that it reminds us of compromise between two warring parties. But compromise, and the seeming impossibility of enduring compromise, brings us towards the very heart of the Statesman. Socrates is going to die. (It is tragically fitting, perhaps almost necessary, that Benardete ends the final installment of his commentary on the Triptych Theaetetus/Sophist/Statesman with the words "Socrates is about to go on trial.") Death, the threat of death, hovers above these pages as it does around political life. "The Statesman is more profound than the Sophist" Benardete (p III.142) correctly reminds us. It is profound for several reasons. Benardete brings at this point to our attention just one: "Virtue consists in the strife of the beautiful with the beautiful." The metaphor/image/standard for morality in the Sophist - health - is replaced in the Statesman by beauty. ...Perhaps it is true that `we have beauty so we don't die of the truth' as Nietzsche somewhere remarked. But he fails to mention that we now die of beauty instead of truth. The two types of beauty that are at war are courage and moderation. "Dialectics, it seems, is the practice of resolving the strife between moderation and courage." Benardete, I think correctly, indicates there is, and can be, no final reconciliation between them. Indeed, it seems there is no natural mean between them. "Nature might herself be neutral, but her apparitions are always skewed and cluster around either one of two partial kinds." Men and women are emblematic images of courage and moderation, the ever-present reminder that they can never simply be the same. But the City can, in theory, also be either moderate or courageous. A city of the first sort, "moved by the spirit of accommodation, such a city ends up enslaved, its unwilled and inadvertent cowardice hardly separable from its stupidity." A city of the second type, "in contrast, looks at every other city as its enemy. Its' insight is too keen. The otherness of the stranger [foreigner] is for it so absolute that it must be constantly engaged in war, until it brings upon itself either its enslavement or destruction." This last, the beautiful error of courage, could only not be an error if the courageous city never lost. "The Stranger disregards the possibility that such a city might never fail and thus achieve a universal empire." But this is the beautiful modern dream of Kojeve and his universal homogenous state; it is not the dream of the Stranger or, I think, Benardete and Plato. Not that a universal state is, for Benardete at least, impossible. "But apart from the difficulty that it [the courageous city] would then be forced to turn against itself if it were not to give up its own nature, the myth [of the Reversed Cosmos, 268e] has taught us that God alone is capable of universal rule, and even he is periodically forced to abandon control. Excessive moderation then, is more a danger to the city than the hubris of courage. The nature of things is more disposed to check the tyranny of a part over the whole than the enslavement of a part to a part. We perhaps might believe that the Stranger in this regard is a shade too hopeful." It seems that while Benardete thinks the Universal State, ala Kojeve, is technically possible, it would be a calamity. It would not be entirely an exaggeration if we were to observe that the major difference between `non-political' or philosophical Straussians and those Straussians actively involved in politics is that the latter no longer believe that the Universal State is necessarily a calamity. Be that as it may, Benardete points out that while the city executes, exiles or disgraces those courageous natures that oppose it, the moderate it merely enslaves. This only seems, btw, to contradict what Benardete said earlier about moderation being a greater danger. The greater danger to the city qua city is moderation; the most dangerous individuals, however, are always courageous. "The city cannot afford excessive courage; it cannot dispense with excessive moderation." But the binding of "moderation and courage, which the paradigm of weaving [279e] implies, cannot be accomplished politically." Indeed, we turn from the political to the biological and psychological. Intermarriage (of the moderate and courageous) and education (for common opinion) replace (or augment) pure politics, as the proper form of the paradigm of weaving. "The Stranger's solutuion, then, really amounts to this: the true King assigns the members of courageous families to the city's army, and the members of moderate families to its lawcourts." Benardete doesn't here mention it but in this manner the City itself, the institutions of the city itself, are forced to mimic the Guardians we meet in the Republic; they are fierce to enemies but gentle towards friends. Benardete then observes that "the Stranger does not even hint at which families are to supply the rhetoricians of the city." Or which family supplies the weavers or true Kings. Benardete fills the penultimate paragraph with observations on how it is very difficult to get the members of the different families (courageous and moderate) to love each other. One can convince them that the `mixed' marriages are best but one cannot make a married couple into lover and beloved by education alone. "Insofar as Eros is love of the beautiful, and not identical with sexual desire, these most suitable marriages are against the grain of Eros." Each `family' sees itself only as beautiful. But the city requires that each family marry its non-beautiful other. "And, likewise, since the divine bond of the city consists of opinions about the beautiful, just and good, which are for the wise statesman nothing but prescriptions for the health of the city, the city through the law incorporates in its ruling families as little satisfaction of the requirements of pure mind as of the needs of Eros." Thus the laws of the city satisfy neither the mind nor the eros of citizens. ...But the city is healthy; and the citizens bodies are protected and sated. "The law, said the Stranger, is like a stupid and willful human being. We now know what this means. The law combines the vice of moderation with the vice of courage and thus passes itself off as the perfect weaving into the web of justice of the beautiful with the beautiful. But the true synergy of mind and Eros in soul was the impure dialectics of Socrates, and Socrates is about to go on trial." By `impure' dialectics Benardete means a dialectic that is a mixture of moderation and courage. The philosopher Socrates is about to die so the city can live. The city, or, if you prefer, its laws, are an inverted philosopher. The city and its laws are stupid and willful, while the philosopher is both moderate and courageous. ...In any city Socrates would die.

  • Jairo Fraga
    2018-10-05 03:25

    Continuação do Sofista, mas menos tedioso e ao meu ver com mais implicações pro futuro. O método de subdivisões, apesar de induzir muitas vezes ao erro, é uma ferramenta curiosa, que tenta reduzir em classes as definições até chegar ao ponto desejado. O Estrangeiro traz discursos que induzem a reflexão para nosso cotidiano, como a regulação por leis de artes que não são compatíveis com essa deliberação forçada e não otimizada de alocação de recursos. Há pontos de alusão aos benefícios da autocracia, que nos faz pensar na atualidade. "A democracia é a pior forma de constituição quando as leis são respeitadas, e a melhor quando elas são violadas. O contrário para a monarquia"

  • Brendan
    2018-09-24 03:45

    A few highlights, in no particular order:1. The Stranger's division of things into categories at the beginning is kind of awesome. There are some good points about methodology that contemporary metaphysicians might want to take note of (e.g., it seems awfully anthropocentric to divide the the world into human/nonhuman). The fact that this all ends with the definition of politics that's somewhat hard to take seriously (as the tending of featherless bipeds) is even better.2. Plato's discussion of the way that character traits (such as aggressiveness and docility) can be either virtues or vices, depending on the political structure in which they are realized, foreshadows Aristotle's doctrine of the mean. And while the presentation is much shorter, I think there's actually a lot to be said for Plato's discussion: he avoids ranking one class of people as inherently better than the other (as Aristotle likes to do, on occasion), and the sorts of outcomes he is worried about (a state that slowly becomes either too aggressive or too timid) don't seem to require any wacky beliefs about genetics--the worry is rather that culture can be "pushed" too far one way or the other. This might be reading too much into a (relatively short) discussion, but it is (so far as I know) one of the few places Plato wades into these sorts of issues.3. I think there's a serious case for teaching the Statesman as an "introduction" to Plato's political philosophy (especially when compared to the much weightier Republic and Laws). The beginning provides a defense of Plato's methodology, and the conclusions the Stranger reaches (regarding the permissiblity of paternalism, the justification of the laws, the relative merits of democracy and rival forms of government) are pretty straightforward. OTOH, the Statesman's modest ambitions do make it a bit less *fun* (philosophically speaking) than these other dialogues.

  • Tim
    2018-10-10 10:48

    This is a somewhat odd member of the Platonic corpus. The myth of the reversal of the cosmos isn’t Plato’s most compelling and doesn’t seem deeply relevant, or at least not completely integral to the book. And the Visitor’s lengthy exposition of the “method of division” doesn’t seem to have enough importance to justify its length. But when the book finally gets to political philosophy it’s substantial and interesting, not least in its relationship with Republic and Laws. I rarely see Statesman mentioned in discussions of those works, which is unfortunate. The political section is almost a first draft outline of Aristotle’s Politics, which alone should get it more attention. And as I mentioned in a review of Sophist, there are other proto-Aristotelian elements – notably, something like a prototype of Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean. There’s even a slight hint of Aristotle’s causality. The Theaetetus-Sophist-Statesman trilogy doesn’t seem to get as much consideration as it deserves, at least from non-specialists and in works on Plato for a general audience. It’s certainly not as fun as Plato’s early works, or as grand as his middle period ones. But the substance is there, and the developments in comparison with earlier works strike me as pretty much essential if you want to have a reasonable handle on Plato’s thought as a whole. Perhaps it’s only for the dedicated student of Plato, amateur or otherwise. But throw in the proto-Aristotelian elements, fascinating in considering Aristotle’s origins and his difficult relationship with Plato’s thought; and take the developmental aspects of both Plato’s thought and his art, with the questions of what’s changed and why – and the greater oddity seems to be this trilogy’s relative neglect. After all, it’s not like we’re talking about the Parmenides.

  • Dean Chavooshian
    2018-10-22 10:22

    After recently finishing the book I have gone back and re-read a few portions of the Statesman by Plato and I'm reminded of the sheer beauty of his ethereal and poetic vision regarding "the immediate Providence" of God ("the Creator"), balanced with the proper running of a "true government" with a leader(s) guided by knowledgeable action. Of course, for Plato, he proposes a monarchy ruled by a few "bound by good prescriptions or laws" - and not the democracy ruled by many. Regarding the question of laws, Plato acknowledges their importance but understands the need to change them when circumstances demand. Our present day gun control laws in the United States are a perfect example: we could act contrary to fixed laws "with a view to something better" by reassessing the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights, written in 1791, which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." In the 21st century the "view to something better" might suggest a certain logical approach to background checks and the elimination of assault weapons - changes I think Plato would approve!

  • Zach
    2018-10-14 04:43

    The Visitor is still really bad at dialogues, but this is a lot more interesting than Sophist. One, the backwards spinning myth about the inevitable golden age was an interesting interpretation. Two, there was a nice discussion of government forms, which actually reminded me a lot of Cicero's On the Republic (I suppose it should really be the other way around). And three, the categorization, boring though it may be, and the more interesting discussion of ethics and moderation were sort of Aristotelian - since this is a later dialogue, maybe Plato and and his students were starting to lean that way (or at least Plato was experimenting with it) and Aristotle ran with it later on.

  • Ibis3
    2018-10-11 04:39

    My only comment on this dialogue (mid-read):" Yes, it takes a wise government to know when to stick to precedents and existing laws and when to change them to suit new conditions. Even moreso when those laws are thought to be based on some kind of sacred principle (e.g. the Bible) or hallowed patriotism.I believe the Stranger will continue in this dialogue to expolore what makes a real government (one that acts in the best interest of the people) and what is only a poor imitation. "

  • Jeff
    2018-10-21 03:41

    Don't let the section where "the stranger" and Young Socrates divide the arts to the point of absurdity discourage you. This dialogue is incredible. Deep insights into the nature of personality and how it affects laws and government; the nature of laws them selves; and finally an inspection of different types of governments and the people who lead them. Well worth your time slogging through the boring middle section.

  • Paul
    2018-09-22 06:47

    This is the place where Plato gives his description of democracy as the worst possible form of government, but the best option we have. I liked his notion that a king is just as much a king even when he is not in power (292e). My favorite discussion, however, was on the 'regio dissimilitudinis,' the infinite region of dissimilarity into which the universe will fall when God takes his hand out from where He spins the heavens in their circles.

  • Joshua
    2018-10-13 04:39

    I think I'll have to read this one again down the track because it is the third part of a trilogy. I found this translation difficult to read. It might be good for someone who wants a literal account of the original, but for a philosophical beginner like me it was too wordy. I'm thinking that I might read another translation.

  • Riccardo
    2018-10-02 02:33

    Bello perché ancora una volta Platone ricorre a un favoloso mito per spiegare il fulcro delle sue idee.Interessante perché traduce l'ideale politico Platonico delineato nella Repubblica in uno stato pratico che tenga conto del caos e dei pregi e difetti delle persone.Attuale perché fa riflettere mettendo a confronto i "politici" di oggi con i politici senza virgolette. :)

  • Alexander
    2018-10-02 03:44

    This is one of the strangest, but also most interesting, of Plato's dialogues. Essential for the student of his later thought, it offers considerable interpretive challenges for one who aims to assess its complicated relations to its predecessor (Republic), sister dialogue (Sophist) and successor (Laws).

  • Garrett Cash
    2018-09-28 02:44

    Mostly a bunch of senseless division that goes nowhere, and then some interesting political thoughts for a few pages. A mixed bag as a dialogue, but certain excerpts are important for tracing Plato's political development into his older years.

  • Lee Walker
    2018-10-08 03:33

    Part of a trilogy. Follows the first, Sophist. The Statesman sets about defining what separates the Statesman from the Sophist. Apparently the Statesman possesses the kingly art. Who would have guessed?

  • Jesse
    2018-10-13 03:24

    This dialogue is the second best example of dialectic reasoning in Plato's corpus. He determines that, like a warp and a woof, the members of society must blend their violent and peaceful instincts: the statesmen is the weaver.

  • Lindsay
    2018-10-16 08:42

    worst translation available

  • Sebastian
    2018-10-22 04:33

    German Edition

  • Ivi
    2018-09-25 07:33


  • Josh
    2018-10-22 02:22

    Interesting - my first taste of Plato.