Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. John Thorp


Plato's Statesman comprises three parts: method, myth, and politics. Scholars tend to pivot around any one of these, but seldom address how they fit together. My thesis argues for unity to the dialogue. The method, myth, and politics of the Statesman are connected by a common theme: the correct management of the parts of a whole. Each section in the dialogue concerns the appropriate management of the parts of something. The myth describes a time during which the cosmos was steered by a divine helmsman. By superintending the whole, the helmsman ensured that the parts were correctly organized. The method in the Statesman divides general kinds into their parts. The interlocutors discuss rules for ensuring that the divisions are made correctly, and in this way, the method of division concerns the ability to accurately arrange the parts of a whole. In breaking an important rule concerning the method of division, however, the interlocutors are alluding to the political theory discussed at the end of the dialogue where an argument is made that a true statesman is not bound by the law. Furthermore, genuine statesmanship involves the ability to correct weave together the disparate elements of a city. In the absence of statesmen, cities can only imitate the rule of statesmanship, much as the cosmos imitates the motion of the divine helmsman in the myth when it is left to its own devices. Thus, each part of the dialogue intersects with the others. And what unifies each of these parts is just that each them concerns the ability to unify disparate parts.