The Craft of Ruling in Plato's "Euthydemus" and "Republic"

Phronesis 48 (1):1 - 28 (2003)
We will investigate the relation between the notion of the craft of ruling in the "Euthydemus" and in the "Republic". In the "Euthydemus", Socrates' search for an account of wisdom leads to his identifying it as the craft of ruling in the city. In the "Republic", the craft of ruling in the city is the virtue of wisdom in the city and the analogue of wisdom in the soul. Still, the craft of ruling leads to aporia in the former dialogue while in the latter it is a central feature of Socrates' account of justice -- both in the city and in the soul. Some commentators hold that the aporia at the end of the second protreptic interlude of the "Euthydemus" shows that Socrates' account of wisdom is fatally flawed and must be rejected. However, the difficulty for this position is that the craft of ruling from the "Euthydemus" is a hardy notion that plays an extremely important role in the "Republic". Indeed, reflecting this fact, other commentators hold that the aporia is solved in the "Republic". Still, what is so far missing is an analysis that clearly shows the way to this solution in the "Republic". In what follows, we will analyze the two protreptic inter-ludes in the "Euthydemus" in order to see how the aporia arises. As we shall see, Socrates presents the aporia as a labyrinth. Indeed, it is a labyrinth with a little noticed step that -- once it is noticed -- shows the way out. The result will be that the aporia of the "Euthydemus" points to a solution in which ruling in the soul implies a command of one's appetites and emotions
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