Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Arpad Szakolczai
2020 July
Modern Leaders: Between Charisma and Trickery
The virtues of leadership: Beyond the pleasure principle
London and New York
In Press
Optional Fields
Plato’s The Statesman is a dialogue devoted to questions of leadership, thus offers a particularly helpful contrast to Weber’s term ‘charisma’. It is centrally concerned with problematising the idea that leaders must be elected by majority popular vote. The main thesis of this paper is that Plato has undergone a quite significant reorientation of his own work at a late stage in his life; and that the Statesman reproduces, in a dramatised form, the experience itself that provoked this reorientation, in two crucial passages of the dialogue (291a–b and 303c–d). This experience focuses on the recognition that all contemporary democratic politicians in Athens are not real statesmen, rather obsessed with the search for pleasures, as if centaurs or satyrs, mimetically reflecting the ephemeral desires of the populace, instead of guiding them towards the good life; and that this is due to the pleasure principle with which the Sophists infected the public life of the city. According to Plato, the problem is that such pleasure principle, as a kind of attracting vacuum, ends up becoming the underlying basis of the majority vote idea. This recognition is the Archimedean point from which the late work of Plato can be properly understood.
Agnes Horvath, Arpad Szakolczai and Manussos Marangudakis
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