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Journal Articles Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought Year : 2020

Le gouvernement de l’homme royal dans le Politique : une utopie assumée

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Abstract

The object of this article, which analyses Statesman 291a1-303d3, is to show how the good, the object of politics qua knowledge, makes the regime with which it is associated a utopia. The good cannot be actualized anywhere in the sensible realm, because no city can be governed without laws, and the laws define what is good most often for the greatest number. A government of the good, without laws, is a utopia, but the laws, to the extent that they aim at the common interest, are in themselves the imprint of the good. I defend the thesis, at first sight paradoxical, that the true politicians are not those who know the good and imitate it, but those who recognise the utility of laws and agree to submit themselves to their authority. Thus Plato dismisses all existing regimes as sophistic regimes where power is exercised in the interest of the rulers and not of the ruled. Not every regime, however, bears the imprint of the good equally. By making politics a branch of knowledge, Plato imposes a numerical criterion on the classification of regimes; he crosses the criterion of number with that of law. I therefore argue for another paradox: the best possible regime is a monarchy in which the rulers obey the laws, the best existing regime is none other than democracy.
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Dates and versions

hal-03199445 , version 1 (15-04-2021)

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Anne Balansard. Le gouvernement de l’homme royal dans le Politique : une utopie assumée. Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought, 2020, 37, pp.421 - 434. ⟨10.1163/20512996-12340292⟩. ⟨hal-03199445⟩
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