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WHEN PHILOSOPHERS RULE: THE PLATONIC ACADEMY AND STATESMANSHIP

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Abstract:

Most scholars suggest that Plato's academy served as a training ground for future statesmen in order that philosophy might influence politics. Yet scholars deny that later Platonic academies maintained this same political focus. It is assumed that they transformed into monastic asylums, allowing philosophers to escape worldly affairs. This article challenges the conventional reading through an interpretation of a commentary on Plato's Gorgias, written by an Alexandrian Neoplatonist who upholds his predecessor's political focus. He argues that the philosopher must be concerned with the health of regimes and should accomplish this task by teaching statesmen, who can either advise those in power or pursue their own political ambitions.

Keywords: Gorgias; Neo-Platonism; Olympiodorus; Plato; rhetoric; statemanship

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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