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DISTANT GOALS: SECOND-BEST IMITATION IN PLATO'S LAWS

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Political theorists remain divided on the question of Plato's utopianism. Some associate his dialogues with an uncompromising vision of the human good, one that Plato is thought to build into blueprints that he would have humanity implement as far as possible. Others read Plato as a brilliant critic of utopian thinking and insist that his blueprints are not to be understood as normative paradigms at all, but rather as self-destructive parodies. This article develops a third approach to Plato's utopianism by turning to the treatment of 'imitation' (mimesis) in the Laws. I argue that the Laws requires a distinction between three ways in which an imitation might resemble its 'model' (paradeigma). Attending to this distinction adds credence to the view that, for Plato, the good in speech must be 'revised' in order to find satisfactory expression in human deeds.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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