Ordine e cura: la legge nella concezione platonica del sé


  • Milena Bontempi




Milena, Bontempi, order, care, conception of the Self


Order and Care: the Law in Plato’s Conception of the Self

The paper focuses on the relationship between the care of the self and politics. The notions of “care” and “law” both belong to the field of techne. Plato connects them to one another through the idea of order (taxis). Epimeleia involves autonomy from nature (i.e. rationality), exercise and discipline: when the soul is the aim of the care, the proper name for the last two aspects is nomos. The laws of a city should be read as a way of modelling the souls qua exercises for them. But the laws can be considered as exercises for the soul in this sense only if you assume that the relationship with other people is the key factor setting up the individual’s identity. Hence, the laws represent an exercise for the soul also in a further sense: the consideration of the legal order enables us to acknowledge the differences in human nature; thus, if the others are a constitutive part of the identity, that consideration should be taken as an essential step in the care of the self. This leads us to consider the contemplation of good examples of virtue (s. the paideia of young people in Republic) as only one moment in this path. It must be completed with an effective, practical experience with the human beings, i.e. with both good and bad natures. This is a really political approach: the relationship with other people is seen as problematic, but also as precisely the problem which should be individually faced to reach the arete. So, we can conclude that the care of the self includes the care of the others and that of the polis (the perspective of the lawgiver). This involves some notable consequences about the theoretical and the practical side of the intellect.