Abstract This paper transposes for evaluation in relation to the concerns of Plato’s Politicus (or Statesman) a claim developed by Verity Harte in the context of his Philebus, that ‘external imposition of a practical aim would in some way corrupt paideutic [philosophical] knowledge’ (Harte 2018, p. 41). I argue that the Politicus provides a case for which the Philebus distinction may not allow: ruling, or statecraft, as embodying a form of knowledge that can be answerable to practical norms in a way that does not necessarily subordinate or corrupt its epistemic norms. I argue further that while Harte shows that the Philebus develops a view of the ethical value for a knower in being a knower, the Politicus for its part does not develop any view of the ethical value for a knower in being a ruler. I Introduction Verity Harte (2018, p. 28) asks whether knowledge has value ‘beyond its practical value’ or beyond its ‘practical object’.1 Assessing Platonic arguments, primarily in one section of the Philebus, on the ‘ethical’ value of knowledge in terms of its role in the good life (p. 42),2 she construes an important distinction drawn by Socrates therein as ‘track[ing] whether the project of a form of knowledge is governed by practical norms or epistemic norms’ (p. 40, emphasis in the original):3 specifically, whether the project involves ‘some degree of subordination of the epistemic norms to the practical norms’ or whether ‘the epistemic norms are paramount’ (p. 40). This is a promising proposal. It successfully disposes of some misguided worries, such as the thought that such high-minded knowledge could not (or must not) have any practical relevance on pain of the (false) implication that it would thereby fail to count as paideutic knowledge at all. But while thus making room for what she calls the ‘practical application’ of paideutic knowledge (p. 37), Harte insists that purely philosophical knowledge (or ‘paideutic’ knowledge, as she labels it for reasons internal to the Philebus) would be corrupted if its epistemic norms were to be subordinated to practical norms (p. 41). She writes, in a statement that I shall call the Corruption Claim, that ‘this suggests … that external imposition of a practical aim would in some way corrupt paideutic knowledge’ (p. 41). Harte is rather tentative in her elaboration of the Corruption Claim, inferring it as a suggestion, and developing it by enumerating three such ‘possible corruptions of knowledge’ at which Socrates, she says, ‘hints’. To my mind, none of these three cases is compelling. The first case is the naming of ‘vulgar arithmetic’ as distinct from (as it is subsequently implied) philosophical arithmetic: the very name of ‘the arithmetic of the many’ (as the appellation for the vulgar case is more literally translated: tēn tōn pollōn) being taken by Harte to ‘imply something wrong in one who takes such an approach to arithmetic itself’; the second is a remark by Socrates at 58e4–59b9 that constitutes in her view ‘a criticism of the person who takes himself to be engaged in inquiry into nature but whose focus is on processes of generation and of acting and being affected’. But neither passage implies that the epistemic norms involved in the arithmetic of the many or in the inquiry into becoming are corrupted. Rather, both passages are about the ranking of these forms of epistemic pursuit in the search to identify the purest epistemic discipline. The practitioners of the lower-ranked epistemic pursuits (‘arithmetic of the many’ and study of ‘processes of generation’) are pursuing acceptable practical projects which invoke different epistemic norms, arguably involving a lesser degree of accuracy, from those the corresponding purely philosophical or paideutic projects would do. Now those practitioners may be problematically self-deluded as to their standing in the overall ranking, as the second case in particular implies (‘for even if they think they are studying nature’ (59a2), they are not). But I see in these passages no evidence that their epistemic projects have been, or must necessarily have been, internally corrupted by adopting practical norms, unless being ‘corrupt[ed]’ is understood to mean simply adopting a different and less demanding standard of accuracy, a reading that does not fit with Harte’s eagerness to make room for epistemic projects being put to practical application, which on her view necessarily involves such lessened accuracy. Rather, the practitioners being faulted may simply be mistaking the level of value that their otherwise unexceptionable projects possess. No more persuasive, in my view, is Harte’s third case: Socrates’ failure to rank rhetoric within the search for the purest epistemic discipline of all. She imagines that had he done so, he might have been led to the conclusion that ‘rhetoric is no form of knowledge, but merely a corruption of philosophical dialectic’ (p. 42). But beyond the highly speculative nature of this case (Harte herself acknowledges it as the ‘most speculative’ of the three), the fact that we do find more positive characterizations of a form of valuable rhetoric in the Phaedrus (271a4–272b6), and also briefly in the Politicus (304a1–2), gives us ground for resisting it as necessarily evidence for the Corruption Claim.4 More important to consider than the weakness of these cases is the seriousness of the Corruption Claim itself: to reiterate, ‘that external imposition of a practical aim would in some way corrupt paideutic [philosophical] knowledge’. For this charge, depending on how it is understood, would seem potentially to threaten the value of the knowledge possessed by a statesman or ruler, in so far as such knowledge has an intrinsically practical aim and yet is also a species of philosophical knowledge. Thus the claim could threaten the relationship between knowing and ruling that is central to Plato’s political philosophy, at least in the Politicus, on the view that I and other students of that dialogue have adopted, that its statesman must be a philosopher. So M. M. McCabe (1997, p. 98) has written that ‘If the statesman is the person who knows, he will be the philosopher’, while I have introduced a caveat to this claim by arguing that statecraft should be thought of, not as a job in philosophy, but rather as a ‘job for philosophers’: the taking up of the practical role of ruling, which can only be done properly by a philosopher (Lane 2005, pp. 337–8). Now just what the knowledge of ruling involves and how it relates as a practical project to the epistemic norms of philosophy remain much debated problems. But they are clearly problems that Harte’s Corruption Claim would, if found to be valid in the context of the Politicus, seem to exacerbate. For the implication of her Corruption Claim for Plato’s political philosophy might be stated thus: that the practical norms involved in ruling would in some way corrupt the epistemic norms embodied in philosophy itself. Assessing that implication is the task of the present contribution. I shall argue that the case of statecraft is one in which to be answerable to practical norms alters, without corrupting, the nature of the epistemic norms to which philosophical knowledge is inherently subject.5 Yet Harte’s reading of the Philebus would exclude this very possibility, namely, that a discipline be answerable to both epistemic and practical norms, but the former not thereby be subordinated in a corrupting way to the latter.6 Plato of course has different purposes in these different dialogues, and Harte is right to say that ‘Plato’s distinctions in knowledge often differ according to context’ (p. 39, n.28),7 so that a full resolution of Plato’s all-things-considered view on the uses and values of knowledge in all of his dialogues, or even only these two, is beyond the scope of this paper (and some would say impossible for hermeneutical reasons). Moreover, it is striking that the Philebus itself does not focus on politics despite its pervasive ethical concerns.8 Nevertheless, in drawing out Plato’s views on the uses and value of knowledge, the special case of statecraft surely deserves its important standing and so justifies the project of the present contribution: an evaluation of Harte’s Corruption Claim as transplanted to the concerns of the Politicus. II Classifying Forms of Knowledge in the Philebus and Politicus. The immediate context for Harte’s remark (quoted above) that ‘Plato’s distinctions in knowledge often differ according to context’ is her brief comparison of the contrasting categorizations of forms of knowledge that the Philebus and the Politicus offer. As she observes, these do not line up with each other; nor do either of them line up with the categorization offered in the Sophist, which is the dramatic prequel to the Politicus, a dialogue which shares the same dominant speaker as the Politicus and provides a framing question for the project of the latter. Nevertheless, the Philebus and Politicus use enough related vocabulary and examples that a further elaboration of them in tandem is instructive. After reviewing the Philebus’ demiurgic/paideutic distinction as Harte interprets it, I shall suggest that the Politicus eschews that distinction in favour of introducing a differently conceived kind of knowledge (‘discernment’), which is contrasted with what we might call the first-order exercise of makings or doings, but which potentially includes instances of what we might call the second-order commanding (in tandem with judging) of such makings and doings.9 Thus, in place of purely paideutic knowledge as in the Philebus, the Politicus gives us a kind of knowledge that is likewise philosophical, but which includes some more specific kinds of knowledge that are inherently relevant to issuing commands about what is to be done in specific situations. As we shall see, a distinction between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ is inadequate to capture this complex picture, and Plato introduces different terminology accordingly. In the Philebus, what Harte labels the demiurgic kind of knowledge is introduced as one kind of knowledge concerned with ta pragmata, namely, the ‘craft-like (dēmiourgikon)’ branch.10 This is contrasted with what she labels the ‘paideutic’ kind of knowledge, introduced as likewise concerned with ta pragmata but involved specifically in ‘education (paideia) and nurture (trophē)’. Harte interprets the paideutic branch as the kind of knowledge in which ‘the epistemic norms are paramount’. She elaborates it via a parallel with the Protagoras (312b2–4), in which it is suggested that free youth study writing, kithara playing, and gymnastics, not for the sake of technē,11 but rather for the sake of their general paideia. One might wish to hear more from Harte about just how and why the goals of paideia and trophē, linked as they are to developmental changes, should be thought to be connected to purely epistemic norms. As it stands, the question of paideia is linked at the end of Harte’s paper to her very interesting reflections on identification between a person and her paideutic knowledge, to which I shall return. Having made the demiurgic versus paideutic distinction, Socrates in the Philebus then jumps to a move whose connection with that preceding distinction has to be inferred. He offers an internal ranking (that is, a ranking in relation to one another) of various instances of the category of manual crafts (cheirotechnikai) that are presumably cases of demiurgic knowledge. And he does so by separating out the role of ‘counting, measuring, and weighing’ within them from their other procedures and operations, a move that leads him to elevate ‘carpentry’ (including shipbuilding and housebuilding) as a more accurate and so superior craft compared to other crafts, among them medicine, farming, navigation, and military strategy (all of which are, strikingly, implied to be manual crafts as well). Arithmetic and the other measuring disciplines are then separated out as ‘most accurate’ within this group, but immediately divided into two kinds: on the one hand, the kind of arithmetic used in counting by ‘the many’, on the other (as the subsequent parallel to two kinds of geometry implies), the kind of arithmetic practised by philosophers. Protarchus, Socrates’ interlocutor here, is happy to accept this distinction (albeit that in his enthusiastic paean to the philosophical varieties as ‘infinitely superior … in precision and truth’ he may performatively violate the very stricture on measure that he is intending to celebrate). Socrates then goes on to rank dialectic above even the philosophical forms of these disciplines. I shall return to the epistemic norms and values that play a role throughout these rankings below. In contrast, the Politicus offers a different initial distinction between kinds of knowledge: between ‘“action-involving” (praktikē) and “purely discerning” (gnōstikē) forms of knowledge’, as per Harte’s gloss (p. 39, n.28).12 Her translation of gnōstikē here as ‘purely discerning’, the branch under which kingship will eventually be classed,13 is I think almost exactly right, and superior to most published translations, which mainly offer variations on ‘theoretical’ which are then opposed to ‘practical’:14 I would emend to ‘discerning’ simpliciter rather than ‘purely discerning’, for reasons explained below.15 Indeed, the translation ‘discerning’ also offers a clue to a more refined understanding of the issues at stake than is suggested by Harte’s own language elsewhere in her paper of ‘application’ (of course, in the context of the Philebus), the latter being typically in thrall to an assumed set of relations between theory and practice that would be infelicitous in the context of the Politicus. For that language brings with it an assumption, to wit, that practical norms will always be of less epistemic precision and accuracy than purely epistemic norms, an assumption that I shall call into question below.16 Such talk of ‘application’, with its assumption that theory is more precise than practice (which plays a role in Harte’s own argument, as I argue below), could not in my view do justice to the distinctive and arguably innovative moves that Plato is making in his choice in the Politicus of ‘discerning’ versus ‘action-involving’ as the overall framework for the divisions leading to an account of statecraft, and in the subsequent division of ‘discerning’ to include ‘commanding’ as one of its branches. Let me explain. Begin with the fact that there are no instances before Plato of the term gnōstikē, nor is it used anywhere in his work other than in the Politicus.17 As with other -ikē terms that Plato seems to have coined (setting aside the possibility that earlier coinages by others have been lost),18 here he seems to be introducing a new term in order to pick out a kind of knowledge that might have been discounted or misunderstood in existing vocabulary. And this turns out to be a branch of knowledge that is called gnōstikē, best translated (by following Harte while dropping her caveat of ‘purely’) as ‘discerning’: a kind of knowledge the novel name of which prepares us for its innovative content. That division has been set up by an inductive introduction by the dialogue’s dominant speaker, an unnamed Eleatic Visitor.19 On the one hand, he invokes arithmetic and some of its kindred (suggeneis) technai as being stripped or bare (psilos) of practical actions, serving to provide ‘discerning’ alone (to … gnōnai, the aorist active infinitive of gignōsthai used as a verbal noun or gerund, translating this word with Harte). On the other, he invokes those technai [implied] ‘involved in carpentry and manufacture as a whole (sumpasan cheirourgian)’ which ‘acquire their knowledge (epistēmē) naturally through practical actions, and use it to complete those material objects [lit., bodies] they cause to come into being from not having been before’ (Plt. 258d4–6, d8–e2, Rowe translation modified). Arguably, the Greek in the latter case suggests the naturalness (embodied in the word sumphuton) of a process in which these latter technai acquire their knowledge through the very process of engaging in the practical actions that define them. Indeed, comparing the Philebus’ treatment of arithmetic as naturally containing two kinds, demiurgic and paideutic or philosophical, with the Politicus on arithmetic here suggests that arithmetic may in the Politicus be stripped of its otherwise potential practical relevance simply to serve the illustrative purposes of providing a case of ‘discerning’ alone.20 So the Visitor gives us ‘discerning’ on the one hand, denuded (psilos) of practical actions, and ‘manufacture’ on the other, which naturally acquires knowledge through the making of new products. Now the possibility that psilos can mean, not just naturally bare, but ‘stripped of’, suggests that the idea of ‘discerning knowledge’ is not to be conceived of as necessarily divorced from practice from the outset—which is why the overarching characterization of ‘discerning knowledge’ should not already be translated as ‘purely discerning’, which could imply that as a whole, its role is to discern and only to discern. Indeed such a mischaracterization would obscure the basis on which the class of gnōstikē epistēmē is subsequently divided into two further kinds. On the one hand are those instances (such as calculation) that have the ergon (job or task or role) only of judging their epistemic objects. These could be called cases of ‘purely judging’ (though they could also be understood, if we wanted to transpose Harte’s original adverbial label to this more appropriate branch of the division, as cases of ‘purely discerning’). On the other are those instances—exemplified by the master builder in light of her distinctive kind of knowledge—who not only judge but also (it would seem, on the basis of their judging) assign tasks to other workers, and do not complete their own work until those subordinates complete theirs. The two parts of this division within gnōstikē epistēmē (discerning knowledge) are then labelled ‘judging’ (to … kritikon) on the one hand, in contrast to ‘directing’ or, as I shall rather translate (with support, if somewhat circular, from the lexicon), ‘commanding’ (to … epitaktikon), on the other. Now while epitaktikē is labelled ‘commanding knowledge’, its role crucially includes judging along with commanding. The two activities are yoked together as equally constitutive of this kind of knowledge. And the sequence suggests that the judging is not simply to be registered as an epistemic observation, but is to be expressed in the form of commands. There is no suggestion here that the practical norms that commanding must involve will corrupt or subordinate the epistemic norms involved in the judging, which (in these cases) can be expressed in the form of commands. So the picture that the Visitor gives us here is not that there is theoretical knowledge which can be sometimes applied, nor that there is an epistemic project that would be corrupted if subjected to practical norms. Rather, discernment is already such as to be command-apt, as it were. We might compare Plato’s view here to the claim by Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson that knowledge of the same proposition can be ‘ascribed’ to an agent ‘under different guises’, one of which is a ‘practical mode of presentation’, in which, characteristically, ‘possession of it is related in complex ways to dispositional states’ (Stanley and Williamson 2001, pp. 429–30). Without committing Plato to the controversial view that there is no special ‘knowing how’ (only species of ‘knowing that’) which Stanley and Williamson defend, much less to a view of knowledge which is reducible to knowledge of individual propositions, it is illuminating to consider his view of (some kinds of) discerning knowledge as inherently command-apt in its light. Commanding can fruitfully be thought of as involving a disposition that arises in a practical mode of presentation of a certain kind of knowledge, the philosophical knowledge that is involved in ruling. Neither for Stanley and Williamson21 nor for Plato in the Politicus is there any reason to believe that in being connected to certain dispositions, such as the disposition to command, a kind of knowledge would become subject to practical norms that must corrupt the epistemic norms proper. Now to say that a form of knowledge is command-apt does not imply that the person possessing that knowledge must or will always be in a position to issue actual commands. The Visitor had made this clear just after introducing the initial distinction between action-involving and discerning kinds of knowledge, when he first identified the statesman, king, slave-master, and manager of a household as possessing a single kind of expertise, and then went on to insist that anyone in possession of the relevant knowledge (here called ‘kingship’, basilikē), whether happening ‘to be a ruler or a private citizen’, will ‘in all circumstances, in virtue of his possession of the expertise itself … correctly be addressed as king (basilikos)’ (Plt. 259b3–5).22 Interestingly, the two illustrations offered by the Visitor (from which he infers this general claim) both involve someone who is engaged in giving advice as to what commands should be issued, albeit being themselves not engaged in public affairs. The one case is a doctor practicing privately or independently (idiōteuōn) who advises another doctor who is (in contrast) engaged in the affairs of the civic body (tis tōn dēmosieuontōn iatrōn) (Plt. 259a1–4); the other, a ‘person who is clever at giving advice to a king of a country, although he is himself a private individual (idiōtēs)’ (259a6–8). In both cases we might think of advising as the giving of hypothetical commands, such that the advisor formulates the very commands that he advises should be issued. The Visitor does not clarify whether the same form of address (that is, the same name of ‘king’ or basilikos) would be correct if the person in question were not exercising the knowledge in question at all in the formulation of at least hypothetical commands, instead, say, simply sitting passively by. However, we are perhaps to infer that the crucial question in defining a form of commanding knowledge as such is whether one is engaged in issuing commands, either actual or hypothetical, that express one’s discernment. Commanding knowledge need not be expressed in actual commands, but it seems—at least so far as these illustrations suggest—that it must be not only command-apt but command-expressed, whether the commands are actual or hypothetical (that is, in the form of advice). The crucial question is not whether one is oneself able to perform the actions that are commanded (or whose command is advised), but only whether one is able either to issue those commands or to formulate them in advising their issuance.23 Before exploring the implications for the relation between theory and practice of the arguments that I have been making, I close this section by observing that ‘discerning’ for the Visitor (which he goes on to gloss as gnōstikē epistēmē) is in its first introduction stripped of any mention of a paideutic dimension in an educative or developmental sense. When gnōstikē epistēmē is illustrated by the technē of calculation or logistikē (259e1), the latter is described in objective terms focused on its function alone, with no reference to its impact on the soul of the knower. As this suggests, the Politicus shows no concern with the paideia of the statesman,24 even though it is deeply concerned with the nature of that knower’s knowledge or epistēmē. Indeed, while Harte omits any further elaboration of Socrates’ original mention of trophē from her account of paideutic knowledge, she could bolster that account further by observing that Socrates’ willingness to include not only education in the sense of study, training and acculturation (paideia), but also the bodily nurture, as one might say care and feeding, that is usually associated with trophē, supports her view that the focus throughout her chosen part of the Philebus is on the person who is, and indeed on how s/he becomes, a knower, rather than solely on kinds of knowledge themselves. In contrast, the Politicus is silent about the paideutic role of knowledge, giving no attention to the psychological predispositions or the education necessary to attain the requisite knowledge for the role of the statesman. I would say that the statesman is, in that dialogue, treated as a cipher who is so interchangeable with the form of knowledge defining that role as to make discussion of breeding and education simply irrelevant. The Philebus’ interest in the ethics of knowing as the ethics of being a knower, and all the more so the ethics of becoming one, finds no echo in the statesman defined purely in terms of the content of his knowledge in the Politicus—while conversely, the Politicus’ concern with politics finds no echo in the silence about that subject in the Philebus. III Against the Theoretical and Practical Divide In the Politicus we have found no distinction between ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical’ that would be well elucidated by a notion of ‘application’, and indeed, I have defended ‘discerning’ as a better translation of gnōstikē epistēmē than ‘theoretical’ would be. More generally, we have seen that the Philebus gives us a single contrast where the Politicus gives us a double one. Both begin their contrasts with a focal case of handicraft production. The Philebus counterposes to this a single counterpart of philosophical knowledge, while the Politicus counterposes a broad class of epistemic discernment, which is then subdivided further into pure judging versus judging-plus-commanding. The result is that the relevant divisions in the Politicus involve two steps where in the Philebus we have only one, and that those in the Politicus cannot be made sense of in terms of a distinction between theoretical and practical, since what would have to correspond to the former involves elements that might naturally be understood as corresponding to the latter. This is the case of the kind of knowledge called ‘commanding’, which is relevant to practice and involves discerning in what I have called a practical guise, even though it is distinguished from the actions and productive activities that it may command but not itself practise. The Politicus gives us ‘commanding’ as a form of knowledge that is practice-relevant only because and in so far as it refrains from doing or producing anything itself other than issuing its commands (so that the related Aristotelian distinction between production and action is likewise elided). It can be called neither simply ‘theoretical’ nor simply ‘practical’ in any of the usual meanings of those terms. It remains to complete our assessment of Harte’s Philebus’ categories in reference to the case of the Politicus, by exploring how practical norms might figure in such judging-plus-commanding, and whether they must corrupt the epistemic norms involved in that same activity. Harte’s own discussion of the question of application of epistemic disciplines to practical projects in the Philebus is framed entirely in terms of the lesser precision that disciplines such as engineering, answerable to practical norms, require and involve, compared to the higher standard of ‘the epistemic norm of accuracy’ sought by the paideutic or philosophical disciplines that remain answerable only to epistemic norms (Harte 2018, p. 35). She illustrates this by appeal to the idea of engineering tolerances (p. 35). But in the Eleatic Visitor’s defining of the statesman along the path of discerning knowledge, which turns out to be the kind that marries judging to commanding, the relevant norms are introduced as the norms of due measure that are said to be necessary for the technai to produce the fine and good in their products, and likewise for the inquiry into the statesman itself to reach its target (Plt. 284a5–c3; Lane 1998, p. 128). And these epistemic norms in the Politicus capture dimensions of knowledge, such as the knowledge of the kairos or the opportune moment, which would arguably be lacking from philosophical knowledge that was not oriented to a disposition to command. If, as the Visitor later suggests, the problem of the domain of political action, and indeed of any domain of action, is the infinite flux and variability of circumstances (Plt. 294a10–b6; Lane 1998, pp. 149–50; Carpenter 2015, p. 200), the solution that he offers is not a blurring or lessening of epistemic norms of philosophy, but rather an expansion of the applicable epistemic norms to include temporal and situational knowledge. The knowledge of statecraft will involve homing in on precisely the right action to be taken at any given moment and in the given circumstances or situation in the form of knowledge of the kairos (Lane 1998, pp. 125–36, 139–46, 171–202; see also Márquez 2007, pp. 32–3). Are these norms practical or epistemic? It would seem to be impossible to decide between those two classifications. The norms are defined in epistemic terms: ‘what is in due measure (to metrion), what is fitting (to prepon), the right moment (ton kairion), what is as it ought to be (to deon)—everything that removes itself from the extremes to the middle’ (Plt. 284e5–8). And they are said to be essential to the progress of philosophical inquiry. But they are said equally—and indeed in the same breath—to be essential to the productive or action-involving activities of the technai. The epistemic and the productive, the latter being subject to the overall direction of commanding knowledge, on this view both involve the same norms. Indeed the comparison between philosophical inquiry and the technai made throughout the Politicus is itself striking and instructive for our question, for it would seem that both must again involve norms that are practical as well as epistemic. So at key points in the progress of the dialogue’s inquiry, standards of sufficiency and clarity are invoked that seem to be both practical and epistemic, as in the retrospective criticism that the Visitor offers of the story or myth: that its account of the statesman may seem to be ‘adequate’ (hikanōs) but has not yet achieved ‘clarity’ (enargeia) (Plt. 277b1–c3; Lane 1998, pp. 125–6). Elsewhere the Visitor describes his own account of measurement as ‘finely (kalōs) and sufficiently (hikanōs)’ completed (Plt. 284d1–3), his phrasing suggesting once again that the epistemic and the practical cannot easily be distinguished in the assessments, or the project of inquiry, of the dialogue. And the Visitor even anticipates that at some future point the norms of due measure will be needed for the purpose of inquiry into ‘the precise truth itself’, or more literally, the accurate itself (auto takribes) (Plt. 284d1–2).25 The philosophical inquiry into statecraft is at once an epistemic project and a practical one, or as I have written elsewhere, ‘Method and politics in the Statesman [Politicus] become one’ (Lane 1998, p. 202). Now it may be true that in any given situation a statesman may have to modify her discernment in issuing commands that are appropriate to a second-best situation. Jeremy Reid has made this point to me, suggesting the interesting example of private property being the solution for the second-best city of Magnesia in the Laws, even though a statesman-legislator instituting such a solution might know that the best regime would lack private property, at least for the rulers.26 And this might mean that her commands would not wear on their face evidence of the full discernment that she possesses. But this is better understood not as the corruption of epistemic norms by practical norms, but rather as issuing commands that express precise knowledge of what the kairos of the situation demands. What distinguishes the statesman from the philosopher as a matter of definition will be not the statesman’s tolerance of less epistemic accuracy, but rather only the statesman’s role in ruling, the task of issuing commands to subordinates and overseeing their completion (Lane 2005). On Plato’s picture, there is no reason to think that this involves practical norms that are less, or differently, demanding, from the epistemic norms that continue to apply, much less any inevitable corruption of epistemic norms by practical ones, even when or because commands are formulated with the kairos of a given situation in mind. IV A Value for a Knower in Being a Ruler? Let us return to the original problem, which was Harte’s concern that the ‘external imposition of a practical aim’ would corrupt philosophical (or, in her Philebus-focused terminology, ‘paideutic’) knowledge, a concern that I have sought to transplant for evaluation in relation to the concerns (foreign to her own main concern) of the Politicus. In light of the argument that I have developed above, we should think of statecraft, not as a case of ‘external imposition of a practical aim’, but rather as the natural expression or realization of the knowledge of the philosopher in the giving of commands. In the Politicus, ruling is presented not as an external imposition but a turning to a different task, a task that will define the job of statecraft (like that of master builder or architect, to be sure), but that counts as the taking up of a new role rather than being burdened or imposed upon in an old one. But what then of the shift of norms that worries Harte in the context of the Philebus discussion? As we saw, the evidence from the Philebus itself that Harte offered for her Corruption Claim was rather weak. And while the limitation of accuracy and precision that she finds in the epistemic application to practical projects in the Philebus may hold true of some kinds of practice (such as engineering), in the domain of politics by contrast we have seen reason to think that the accuracy required in Plato’s understanding of statecraft as discernment that links judging to commanding, is no less than the accuracy involved in judging alone. Indeed the political context, and the context of action generally, requires a dimension of precision in commanding the realization of the good in time that accurately hones itself in reference to temporality (and the situational more broadly), in a way that philosophical knowledge stripped of its relevance to practice might not need to achieve. Finally, then, we may return to Harte’s illuminating emphasis on the Philebus’ ‘value for a knower in being a knower’ (emphases in the original). Is there anywhere in Plato likewise a value for a knower in being a ruler, or, in the language of the Politicus, a statesman, someone possessing the knowledge of kingship or statecraft, and so someone who advises on commands if not issuing them herself? I have argued that the Politicus treats its ideal statesman as a cipher, engaging neither with the demands of her education and psychology nor with the question of the value she may or may not gain from acting to command and not only to judge. The statesman is identified with her knowledge, but not for the sake of any psychological benefit that she is said to gain therein. In the Republic, of course, the question of whether there is a value for the knower (the philosopher) in being a ruler is both profound and difficult to resolve. In the Politicus, there may be no value for the knower in being a ruler, but neither is being a ruler to be construed as the ‘external imposition of a practical aim’. Rather, the Politicus provides a case for which the Philebus distinction may not allow: that a form of knowledge can be answerable to practical norms in a way that does not subordinate or corrupt the epistemic norms to which it is inherently answerable.27 Footnotes 1 All references to ‘Harte’ below are to this paper, as are all page references unless otherwise specified. 2 The ethical dimension of the dialogue’s project here is also highlighted by Carpenter (2015, p. 195): ‘Knowledges are being ranked with respect to one another, and with respect to what perfect knowing consists in, because this should somehow inform us about the good life, and the good in life.’ 3 I follow Harte’s translations of the Philebus and Protagoras, and Rowe’s corrected translation of the Politicus (Rowe 1999; also contained in Cooper 1997), except where noted. While I have previously published on the dialogue called in Latin the Politicus under its usual English title of the Statesman, herein I follow Harte in using the Latin title. 4 This point stands notwithstanding the affinities between the Gorgias and Philebus here which Harte remarks (and also credits to Whiting 2014), and likewise between the Republic and Philebus (which she remarks and also credits to Carpenter 2015inter alios). 5 I take it that statecraft would in the framework of the Politicus be inherently so answerable, rather than becoming so answerable only in certain contexts. 6 I owe this formulation to Verity Harte in her exceptionally helpful comments on a previous draft of this contribution. 7 Harte rightly cites Plt. 258b7–11 as itself making this very point, and also cites the relevant discussion in Delcomminette (2006, p. 513 n.1). 8 I owe this point to Verity Harte in private communication. 9 In drawing this first-order versus second-order distinction, I mean only to distinguish between a given set of makings and doings, on the one hand, and the discerning, which may also include commanding, in relation to any of that set of makings and doings, on the other. Of course, discerning and commanding are themselves doings, but they are excluded from any such set. 10 Each branch is more strictly constituted by a grouping of knowledges given a common label, rather than being conceived as a unified kind. But it is easier in English to speak of two different kinds of knowledge than to continually reinforce the point that each kind has multiple instances within it. 11 That is, I think, not for the sake of the wage-earning that practice of such a technē as a dēmiourgos would enable; for the centrality of wage-earning to the social usage of technē in classical Greece, see Hulme Kozey (forthcoming). Amber Carpenter (2015, p. 197) also adduces a relevant distinction from Rep. 525d2, contrasting activities pursued for the sake of knowing (gnōrizein, the same verb that the Politicus will use for what I will translate as ‘discerning’), with activities pursued for the sake of trade. In this article I follow Harte’s terminology in speaking of the technai as ‘crafts’ or ‘arts’, though I am inclined to hold with Hulme Kozey (forthcoming) that often a better translation, all things considered, will be ‘professions’. 12 Burnyeat (2011, p. 11) observes that technē in Plato generally contrasts with gnōsis. 13 Note however that in making this classification, the Visitor earlier introduces a caveat of some kind with mallon at 259c10, indicating that the placing of kingship under gnōstikē as opposed to praktikē is a matter of degree, or somewhere on a spectrum, rather than an absolute categorization. 14 Consider these representative translations of gnōstikē at this point in the dialogue (for example in 259c10): Brisson and Pradeau (2003): ‘la science cognitive’ (versus ‘la science pratique’); Giorgini (2005): ‘l’arte conoscitiva’; Rowe (1995): ‘the theoretical kind of knowledge’; Rowe (1999): ‘the theoretical sort of knowledge’. 15 There is local textual support for ‘purely discerning’, in that this kind of knowledge is said in its general introduction to be ‘solely’ or ‘only’ such (monon, Plt. 258e5). But including ‘purely’ in the label for discernment as a whole occludes the subsequent division. 16 Indeed, the demiurgic kind of knowledge in the Philebus can only be thought of as practical (if we so translate dēmiourgikon) in a sense that would blur any Aristotelian (and later, derivative, Arendtian) distinction between practice and production, a distinction that finds no purchase in Plato generally (Márquez 2007, p. 38 n.13). Márquez (2007, pp. 32–3) stresses that ‘Plato does not conceive of the relationship between theory and practice as essentially one between general rules and their application in particular circumstances’ (emphasis in original). 17 I owe this point and other background for this paper to unpublished research by Jeremy Reid, used by his permission here. 18 I have noted this point elsewhere (Lane 2013, p. 55): ‘[W]hile we have learned from Christopher Rowe (1995, p. 1) to emphasize the importance of the Statesman’s possible coinage of politikos and the expertise-signaling of the -ikos, -ikê endings, it is equally important to observe that Plato did not reserve his coinage of such expert nomenclature for his own favored forms of political expertise. He is likewise one of the two classical sources identified in the authoritative classical dictionary [better: ‘lexicon’] Liddell, Scott, and Jones (lsj) for stratēgikē, and the only classical source cited by lsj for dikastikē, rhētoreia and rhētorikē … This concerted linguistic innovation, some of which is prefigured in the Gorgias or also practiced in the Phaedrus, is a clue to the conceptual innovation which Plato is arguably also practicing in those dialogues and most extensively here.’ 19 I adopt the term ‘dominant speaker’ from Blondell (2002). 20 Some of the Visitor’s inductive examples in the Politicus are very close to those used by Socrates to illustrate the demiurgic kind of knowledge in the Philebus. For instance, manufacture or cheirourgia in the Politicus is at least semantically closely related to cheirotechnikai in the Philebus, and the respective formulations are used as generalizations in each. But in the Politicus, arithmetic begins as discerning only (but is arguably already implicitly confined therein to the ‘purely discerning’ or ‘judging’ sub-kind of discernment), whereas in the Philebus, it consists of two internally differentiated varieties, one on each side of the demiurgic/paideutic line. 21 The remark in the text refers to the joint article by Stanley and Williamson (2001). Stanley has elsewhere (2005) defended the view that ‘what makes true belief into knowledge is not entirely an epistemic matter’, where by ‘epistemic’ he means ‘truth-conducive factors’, but rather that ‘practical interests’ [emphasis in original], also glossed as ‘practical investment in the truth or falsity of [someone’s] beliefs’, also play a role (2005, p. 2). The relationship of this broader view to Plato’s in the Politicus is too complex to evaluate here, though it is worth noting that Stanley draws as an inference from his own arguments the claim ‘that the distinction between practical and theoretical rationality is less clear than one might wish’ (p. 2). 22 I have reordered the syntax in the translation and modified Rowe’s translation of the word basilikos, which he translates as ‘an expert in kingship’. Márquez (2007, pp. 41–2) finds problematic the parallel between the statesman and the slaveholder or householder, and likewise makes much of the fact that ‘to command is not necessarily to be obeyed’ (p. 47). Both points show him too ready to see the focus on command as a weakness in the dialogue, rather than, as I do, an analytical strength. 23 On this point I agree with Márquez (2007, p. 34), in his elaboration of the distinction that he (I think misleadingly) calls ‘the distinction between theoretical and practical forms of knowledge’ in the Politicus: he contends that ‘one cannot have the knowledge of a wrestler without being able to do the moves of wrestling with one’s body, or of a carpenter without being able to handle a hammer, which makes them practical arts; whereas one can be a wrestling coach even if one is unable to do the moves of wrestling due to some physical disability, or a supervisor of carpenters (an ἀρχιτέκτων) even if one is unable to lift a finger’. I would clarify that the crucial issue is that the coach and the supervisor of carpenters, or master builder, must both be able to issue the relevant commands. Contrast two examples offered by Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson, in the course of their effort to refute Gilbert Ryle’s general contention that ‘knowing how’ involves an ability, and indeed that ‘knowing how’ is a distinct category of knowledge: they argue that ‘a ski instructor may know how to perform a certain complex stunt, without being able to perform it herself’, and that ‘a master pianist who loses both of her arms in a tragic car accident still knows how to play the piano’ (2001, p. 416). Their claim is that the ski instructor unable to perform a complex stunt has the very same knowledge as the skier who is able to perform it, whereas the Politicus suggests that the knowledge of the ‘supervisor of carpenters’ or master builder is a different kind of knowledge from that of the person who is able to do the actual building with her hands. 24 PaceMárquez (2007), who is silent on this point, even while arguing that the dialogue is concerned with the soul rather than the body of the statesman. In contrast, M. M. McCabe (1994, 2000) has fruitfully called our attention to Plato’s concern with the development of knowers as central to his account of knowledge. 25 Here I wish to correct my contention (Lane 1998, pp. 130–1) that the Visitor is contrasting akribeia with due measure, rather than connecting them. 26 Personal communication of February 2018, on file with the author. 27 I am most grateful to Verity Harte for providing a stimulating paper as the basis for our symposium, and also for helping me to formulate this precise issue as the one at stake between us, as well as for long-standing conversations about these questions. I am indebted to Antony Hatzistavrou, Guy Longworth, M. M. McCabe, and Jeremy Reid for comments in relation to the present contribution, and in some cases for conversations over many years; to Reid for research conducted to advance our shared interest in them; and to him along with the other students in the linked graduate seminars on the Politicus (under the name of the Statesman) that I taught at Princeton in Spring 2015, together with all the other presenters and participants in the workshop in which those seminars culminated. References Blondell Ruby 2002: The Play of Character in Plato’s Dialogues . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Brisson Luc, Jean-François Pradeau (eds. and trans.) 2003: Platon. Le Politique . Paris: Flammarion. Burnyeat Myles F. 2011: ‘Episteme’. In Benjamin Morison, Katerina Ierodiakonou (eds.), Episteme, etc.: Essays in Honour of Jonathan Barnes , pp. 1– 29. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Carpenter Amber D. 2015: ‘ Ranking Knowledge in the Philebus’. Phronesis , 60( 2), pp. 180– 205. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Cooper J. M. (ed.) 1997: Plato: Complete Works . Indianapolis: Hackett. Delcomminette Sylvain 2006: Le Philèbe de Platon: Introduction à l'agathologie Platonicienne . Leiden: Brill. Giorgini Giovanni (ed. and trans.) 2005: Platone, Politico . Milan: Rizzoli. Harte Verity 2018: ‘Plato’s Philebus and Some “Value of Knowledge” Problems’. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 92, pp. 27–48. Hulme Kozey Emily forthcoming: ‘Another Peri Technes Literature: Inquiries about One’s Craft at Dodona’. To appear in Greece and Rome. Lane M. S. [Melissa] 1998: Method and Politics in Plato’s Statesman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lane M. S. [Melissa] 2005: ‘“Emplois pour philosophes”: L’art politique et l’Étranger dans le Politique à la lumière de Socrate et du philosophe dans le Théétète’. Translated by Fulcran Teisserenc. Les Études philosophiques , 3, pp. 325– 45. Lane M. S. [Melissa] 2013: ‘Political Expertise and Political Office in Plato’s Statesman: The Statesman’s Rule (Archein) and the Subordinate Magistracies (Archai)’. In Aleš Havlíček, Jakub Jirsa, Karel Thein (eds.), Plato’s Statesman: Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium Platonicum Pragense , pp. 51– 79. Prague: oikoymenh. McCabe Mary Margaret 1994: Plato’s Individuals . Princeton, nj: Princeton University Press. McCabe Mary Margaret 1997: ‘ Chaos and Control: Reading Plato’s Politicus’. Phronesis , 41, pp. 94– 117. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS McCabe Mary Margaret 2000: Plato and His Predecessors: The Dramatisation of Reason . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Márquez Xavier 2007: ‘ Theory and Practice in Plato’s Statesman’. Ancient Philosophy , 27( 1), pp. 31– 53. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Rowe C. J. (ed. and trans.) 1995: Plato: Statesman . Warminster: Aris and Phillips. Rowe C. J.(ed. and trans.) 1999: Plato: Statesman . Indianapolis: Hackett. Corrected version of the 1995 translation, also available in Cooper 1997. Stanley Jason 2005: Knowledge and Practical Interests . Oxford: Clarendon Press. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Stanley Jason, Timothy Williamson 2001: ‘ Knowing How’. Journal of Philosophy , 98( 8), pp. 411– 44. Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Whiting Jennifer 2014: ‘Fools’ Pleasures in Plato’s Philebus’. In Lee Mi-Kyoung (ed.), Strategies of Argument: Essays in Ancient Ethics, Epistemology and Logic . New York: Oxford University Press. © 2018 The Aristotelian Society This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume – Oxford University Press
Published: Jun 4, 2018
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera