9th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Ravasio

Elisa Ravasio

Hannah in Plato’s Cave: Does Politics Need a Philosophical Method?

The choice to compare Arendt and Plato might seem to be bold, since Arendt accuses Plato to have killed politics. She moves her critics from a detailed reading of the allegory of the cave in the Republic (514a ff.). Who wants to rule must know his citizens’ issues and desires, while the platonic philosopher stays out of the cave: contemplating (theōrein), he does not know what is better for politics and is struck dumb in front of Ideas that cannot be discussed through the dialegesthai. Arendt charges Plato to level all doxai introducing absolute criterions in the human world, since he would not want the philosophers killed as Socrates was. I think that Plato and Arendt converge as far as both believe that men have to consider their ethical values, in order to make better their political lives. This possibility can be achieved thanks to the dialogue, first within ourselves, then with others. Arendt shows how thinking and then judging are the most important actions for a political improvement: who thinks looking for a revaluation of politics has to exchange opinions with the other polite. I believe that in these Arendtian reflections we can find the trait d’union with Plato: in his dialogues, he shows that the exchange of doxai is the best method to succeed in setting up good politics.