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[341d] “A ruler of sailors.” “We don't, I fancy, have to take into account the fact that he actually sails in the ship, nor is he to be denominated a sailor. For it is not in respect of his sailing that he is called a pilot but in respect of his art and his ruling of the sailors.” “True,” he said. “Then for each of them1 is there not a something that is for his advantage?” “Quite so.” “And is it not also true,” said I, “that the art naturally exists for this, to discover and provide for each his advantage?” “Yes, for this.” “Is there, then, for each of the arts any other advantage than to be perfect as possible2?”

1 Plato, like Herodotus and most idiomatic and elliptical writers, is content if his antecedent can be fairly inferred from the context. Cf. 330 Cτοῦτο, 373 C, 396 B, 598 Cτεχνῶν, Protagoras 327 C.

2 Pater, Plato and Platonism, p. 242, fancifully cites this for “art for art's sake.” See Zeller, p. 605. Thrasymachus does not understand what is meant by saying that the art (=the artist qua artist) has no interest save the perfection of its (his) own function. Socrates explains that the body by its very nature needs art to remedy its defects (Herodotus i. 32, Lysis 217 B). But the nature of art is fulfilled in its service, and it has no other ends to be accomplished by another art and so on ad infinitum. It is idle to cavil and emend the text, because of the shift from the statement (341 D) that art has no interest save its perfection, to the statement that it needs nothing except to be itself (342 A-B). The art and the artist qua artist are ideals whose being by hypothesis is their perfection.

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