Why not more philosophers legislators

Études platoniciennes

1The aim of this extensive work is to determine the systematic place of philosophical legislation in Plato's thought. Seubert's key to this is the determination of justice as an "inner act" (entos practice rep. 443c10-d1), from which he derives two questions: What connects “inner action” with the philosopher's position on the laws in Apology and Crito? How does the search for an epitome of justice in accordance with the inner act behave Politeia and Nomoi to legislation?

2In the first part ("Polis, Virtue and Law" 62-215) Seubert shows - after an overview of pre-Platonic legal thought based mainly on the work of R. Hirzel - that the concern for one's own soul addressed in the early Socrates dialogues ( which he interprets as 'self-legislation') is a prerequisite for philosophical legislation, since only in self-examination and self-insight is the justice that enables concern for the polis to be revealed. That, on the other hand, the polis can only exist on the basis of the law that is understood becomes clear in Apologyin which the legal law that is the foundation of democracy appears as a condition of the philosophical way of life.

3the Politeia is the subject of the second and third part of the thesis. After the failure of the Techne-Arete analogy as a means of determining justice in Rep. I. ("Techne, Arete and Nature" 216-268) moves in the third part ("Law, Inner Action and Idea" 269-469) the determination of justice as an "inner act" in the center. Starting from the assumption that the foundation of the Seubert discovers that justice has legal character in the idea of ​​the good itself Politeia three “Legislation”. The first legislative act concerns the Paideia of the Guardians (Rep. IIIII). Its provisions have the character of a law, but are based on an "invisible" model, namely virtue. For the connection between justice and legislation it is significant that justice in the polis only affects external actions, while “doing what is one's own” also refers to the prudent handling of one's own soul as an “inner act” (443c10-d2). In the second legislative document (Rep. V.) a polis is designed according to the eidos of good. For the philosopher who must strive for the most complete elaboration of justice (Rep. 504d), namely, its determination as an inner act is not sufficient; only the idea of ​​the good can indicate the correct measure of the just. Only those who are knowledgeable about this good are qualified to guard the constitution of the polis. The third piece of legislation applies to the philosopher's paideia (Rep. VII). It is only in it that the meaning of the earlier discussions about the education of the guards is revealed, because it is only the knowledge of the idea of ​​the good that ultimately establishes why education in the `` good '' politeia must remain unchanged. For the philosopher, “inner action” means keeping the state in order with the help of this archetype of the good (540a9-b1). In the encounter with the figure of the righteous and wise, who acts as a legislator, the “ordinary” citizen can also gain an eidetic view of virtue and participate in it. In the final myth, the genus of legislation is transcended by a poetic parenesis, which, in addition to the bliss, does not conceal the suffering of the righteous, but understands it as an exercise in the right choice of life (cf. Rep. 618e; 619d). Suffering is the last touchstone of the inner workings of philosophy.

4The subject of the fourth part ("The being of the law. The outline of the problem in the 'Nomoi" "470-638) are the Nomoi. Against the background of the Politicos evaluates Seubert Nomoi as the draft of a legal script obtained from real insight, the meaning of which he sees with a formulation by L. Strauss in the fact that the philosophical foundation of the law can become the foundation of philosophy. Legislation as the true politics of the philosopher (cf. Rep. 501a-b) has to bring the knowledge of the unrestricted good and just to manifestation under historically variable circumstances. In the Nomoi corresponds to the idea that 'all virtue' must be the purpose of the law (631a).

5 Fundamental to the legal concept of Nomoi is, according to Seubert, the duplicity of divine and human origin (60). The instruction of the Doric legislators by Apollon or Zeus is, as a divine original foundation, the "initially true", which in the archeology of Nom. I-III is visited. As the author of legislation, God must be placed above everything; but stand next to him tyche and kairos as coincidental forces of existence (cf. 709b7ff.). The divine is above all the basis of philosophical legislation. Because the order character of the laws is based on the rational order of the cosmos resulting from the divine movement (Nom. X). By preparing astronomy and stereometry for the vision of the cosmos, they receive one in the Politeia lack of cosmological alignment. Seubert recognizes in Nomoi X a precursor of the religio naturalis, "a cosmic presence of the divine in the world" as a visible self-movement of divine reason, which the knower assimilates. In addition, the common approach to the gods in the sense of a religio civilis justifies citizenship in general. In this respect, the cosmological and psychagogical theology complements the Nomoi the fixing of the beginning in the idea of ​​the good in the Politeia (612).

For Seubert, the neuralgic point of the legislation is criminal law, because it has "shameful" features (605). It is “cleaned” by shifting the statute-based laws to the internal act of the perpetrator, whereby in the sense of Nomoi X the step from the external conditioning of the human being to the self-movement of the soul is taken (607). In this way the philosophical legislator tries to transform the divine origin of the law into a nomothesy that is appropriate to human nature. When the soul realizes that both the cosmos and itself follow the divine self-movement, the divine and human origin of the laws in criminal law converge for Seubert (607).

7The conclusion (639-666) is a look at Polybios and Cicero. For Polybius, the excellence of the ancient Roman constitution is no longer based on a divine original foundation, but on the mixture of the constitution; the historian and statesman, who chooses the right form of rule, takes the place of the philosopher king. In Ciceros De legibus on the other hand, Seubert finds a concept of law that approaches the level of Plato. Both the reference to the divine control of the universe (De leg. 2.16) as well as the connection of the law with the beauty of the universe in Somnium scipionis (De rep. 6) give the law a cosmogonic-noetic foundation by exposing the god-like animated movement of the cosmos and soul, which Polybius believed he could forego.

8Even if not all of Seubert's observations are new, the basic idea of ​​the book is original and convincing (one can, however, doubt that the punitive function “contaminates” the law; after all, punishment is a trait of the divine: Nom. 716a; 904c ff.). A special gain arises for the Nomoi, which Seubert saw as a subsequent development of the in the Apology thematized specific legal relationship, which only gains its unmistakable form through the inner action in the doctrine of the soul (637). Read in this way, the dialogue loses the status of a late work that is incommensurable to the rest of Platonic oeuvre and takes on a supporting function within Plato's political philosophy.

In addition, the book's yield lies in the haunting interpretations of the dialogues in which Seubert reveals the Platonic concept of law. However, it is not always easy to keep an eye on the central theme when working through the extensive chapters. For this, however, the reader is repeatedly compensated by illuminating insights and memorable formulations. The defense seems to me to be particularly successful

10Platons against the criticism of Aristotle (341-2), the interpretation of the middle part of the Politeia and the relationship of the three parables to one another (370-389) or the interpretation of the theology of Nomoi (613-629). Seubert also never loses sight of the tectonics of the dialogues, the deeper meaning of which he works out through accurate observations.

Unfortunately, the book contains a number of misinterpretations in detail, at least some of which are corrected here. On p. 308: It is not the poets who compel the audience, but the legislature compels the poets to sing about the convergence of virtue and happiness. - On p. 515: The "Speech of the Many" (Nom. 627d2) is not the homo-mensura sentence, but the refusal to call a city where the bad are victorious as "inferior to themselves". - On p. 549: The divine Dike does not punish through human justice, but through the pernicious consequences of excess for the individual and the polis (Nom. 716a). - On p. 551 and 665: In the parable Nom. 734e is precisely the solid (not: hard!) Wire that stands for the upbringing of civil servants, the more important. - On p. 567: The sex drive is the last to break out after hunger and thirst (cf. Nom. 782e). - On p. 602: Two years of exile applies to killing in anger (thymos), not for killing out of desire (epithymia). - On p. 605: Exclusion from the nomima (Nom. 871a) is not an exile. - On p. 592 and 630: The Euthynen have nothing to do with the judiciary or the nocturnal assembly. - On p. 626: The “order of fate” only applies to the change of location, but not to the nature of the soul (cf. Nom. 904b-c). - On p. 644: There dianomai (Minos 317d-e) “Allocations”, not “Instructions”, means there is no allusion to the Proömien of the law. - On p. 663: The accusation against Plato comes from Laktanz, not from Cicero (De rep. 4.5 is a testimony of lactance).

12Seubert consistently uses Schleiermacher's translation, even where it is difficult to understand or crooked (e.g. “worthier” for Kreitton Gorg. 488b-c). What translation he did not translate for Schleiermacher's Nomoi is used, the reader does not find out, so that it remains unclear on whose account the Nomoi-To go part of piling up inaccurate translations.

In addition to numerous typographical errors, a host of incorrect Greek quotations are annoying. Often incorrect noun and verb forms are formed; one reads throughout ophelios instead of ophelimos, Epikia instead of Epieikeia, elenchtisch instead of articulating table, Melitos instead of Meletos, the scope (but always the nomos) and the / of the Epinomis; the Latin goes with it strictu sensu. It is not uncommon for an inappropriate Greek text to be written out for the German translation; one of the most glaring cases of this kind is the interpretation of the comparative cheirous (P. 220) or the mixture of schole (Leisure) and Muse (p. 581). Homer is not spared from this either: that Odysseus on his wanderings the law (nomon), is explored on p. 70 with the Greek text of Od. 1.3 occupied, but instead nomon the text variant noon offers.

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