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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 Shepherd and the Weaver: A Foucauldian Fable

The Shepherd and the Weaver: A Foucauldian Fable

(p.73) Chapter 3 The Shepherd and the Weaver: A Foucauldian Fable
Plato and the Invention of Life

Michael Naas

Fordham University Press

This chapter considers Michel Foucault’s provocative but very selective reading of the central myth of the Statesman in his 1977–78 seminar Security, Territory, Population. Contra Foucault, who claims that Plato never adhered to the pastoral model of governing, that is, the model of the ruler as shepherd, and that he in fact definitively rejects this model in the Statesman in favor of the model of the ruler as weaver, this chapter demonstrates that a more complex relation between the models, as between the two ages, is required. Though Plato never puts it in exactly this way, the statesman in the Age of Zeus is indeed a weaver, but he is a weaver who must, through his weaving, imitate the shepherd in the Age of Kronos. Hence the model for the statesman as weaver, that is, the model for the statesman understood through an image of technical production within the city, must always remain, in a way that will have everything to do with the question of life, the statesman as shepherd in a time before technology and before the city.

Keywords:   Michel Foucault, mimesis, pastoral power, Plato, Statesman

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