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By Jill Budny McCormick

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Extra info for The education of the irrational in Plato's ''Laws''

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40 One of the central arguments Strauss offers in support of his conclusion regarding the sub-Socratic nature of Magnesia is based upon his theory regarding the rule of intelligence. According to Strauss, intelligence is the “sole rightful ruler,” and a completely rational city consists of a philosopher exercising tyrannical power since he alone rules according to true logos (86-87). Any attempt to weaken the authority of intelligence in a political community by limiting its power or by mixing this form of rule with other elements goes against nature because it involves a lowering of that which is highest (86-87, 9).

Although he recognizes that Plato incorporates rational arguments in his paideia and that he wants his citizens to comprehend their laws by “reason and judgment,” he accuses Plato of abandoning this principle in practice (472). In Saunders‟s view, Plato illegitimately “cultivates” the “consent of the governed” (472). Despite his use of the language of persuasion, Saunders concludes that Plato exerts such pressure upon his citizens that he actually forces them to think as he wishes (472).

Given this understanding of the purpose of the Laws, Morrow provides a historical interpretation of the dialogue in order to judge the quality of Plato‟s craftsmanship. Morrow argues that unless one understands the actual “historical materials” that Plato had to work with, one cannot distinguish between that which is original “Platonic invention” and that which is “received practice” in the plan for Magnesia (12). Therefore, in the first section of his text Morrow reviews the historical states of Crete, Sparta, and Athens in order to understand the origin and purpose of their various institutions and practices.

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