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Plato and the Invention of Life$
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Michael Naas

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279678

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279678.001.0001

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The Lifelines of the Statesman

The Lifelines of the Statesman

(p.17) Chapter 1 The Lifelines of the Statesman
Plato and the Invention of Life

Michael Naas

Fordham University Press

Chapter 1 looks at Plato’s attempt, in the opening pages of the Statesman (257a–267b), to discover the essence of the statesman through the method known as diairesis, that is, through the philosophical exercise of drawing lines. While it might seem that these lines between not only various species of natural beings (especially human and animal) but different kinds of man-made objects or activities (such as statesmanship) are merely conventional, the dialogue demonstrates that they are in fact already drawn in nature and that the discourse that follows them must be just as natural, indeed just as organic, as the objects they try to define (the logos as zōon). In addition to asking about the place where Plato draws the line between life and its others, human life and its others, the chapter interrogates Plato’s repeated use of animal metaphors to characterize the very method of philosophy—the dialogue as hunt, diairesis as animal sacrifice, Platonic forms as “natural species,” and so on.

Keywords:   diairesis, human life, life, Plato, The Statesman, statesmanship

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