The Plan of the Statesman

"The Plan of the Statesman," Metis: Revue d'anthropologie du monde grec ancien 7, nos. 1-2 (1992): 25-47. Reprinted in The Argument of the Action, 2000.


It is not easy to follow the argument of the Statesman. Its difficulty seems to be due to the odd lengths of its sections, which are either too short or too long for the matter discussed. The Stranger spends two pages on what Socrates spends two book of the Republic even though it is admitted that almost everything all of us do is for the sake of what is a digression in the Statesman. Weaving takes so long to recount that the Stranger feels compelled to discuss at length the issue of length, but he never gets around to justifying the lengthiness of the section on weaving. Young Socrates is rebuffed when he wished to learn how one can tell part and kind apart; but his mistake, which induced the stranger to distinguish part and kind, gets corrected through an elaborate myth, which, the Stranger acknowledges, for all its extensive bulk, remains incomplete. We seems to be given lessons in the measure of the mean by being offered swatches form the bin of odd lots and sizes. Any attempt to show the inner connection and coherence of the argument of the Statesman must also try to account for the appearance of it has of being the Platonic dialogue with the least pleasing proportions. If a perfect writing is to resemble a living being, a committee must have put together whatever animal the Statesman is.