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Politics and Medicine: Plato’s Final Word Part I: Sphilosopher-Rulers and the Laws: Thing of the Past or (Un)Expected Return?

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image of Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought

Recently the view that Plato moves from optimism to pessimism concerning the best sociopolitical condition has come under attack. The present article concurs that this disjunction is too simplistic and finds emphasis on the regulative status of the Republic’s ideal of unity to be salutary. It diverges, however, on how to interpret it thus construed and the implications of its status as regulative for the Republic’s tie to the Laws where human governance is concerned. While unity through aretē remains the guiding telos of Magnesia, the route through which it is sought diverges substantially from that of Kallipolis. This article demonstrates that it stretches the notion beyond all reasonable limits to call the Laws’ unity an approximation of the Republic’s and its infrastructure for communal maintenance, above all, the nocturnal council, the approximation of philosopher-rulers for which the earlier dialogue calls.


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