In the Protagoras, Socrates argues that what appears to be akrasia is, in fact, the result of a hedonic illusion: proximate pleasures appear greater than distant ones. On the face of it, his account is puzzling: why should proximate pleasures appear greater than distant ones? Certain interpreters argue that Socrates must be assuming the existence of non-rational desires that cause proximate pleasures to appear inflated. In this paper, I argue that positing non-rational desires fails to explain the hedonic error. However, (...) careful consideration of Socrates’ treatment of appearances reveals that he is not without resources to explain the illusion. I argue that in the Protagoras, appearances are imagistic mental representations that appear true but tend to be false. I suggest that proximate pleasures produce inflated hedonic predictions because we represent them more vividly than distant ones, yielding greater anticipatory pleasure which causes us to overestimate their magnitude. (shrink)
When thinking of Plato’s discussions of virtue, many dialogues come to mind, but, assuredly, the Phaedrus does not. The word ἀρετή is used only six times in the dialogue. Unlike other dialogues, the Phaedrus thematizes neither the general concept of virtue nor any of the particular virtues. Given the centrality of virtue to Plato’s ethics and politics, it is surprising to see little reference to virtue in a dialogue devoted to love and to rhetoric, topics that have deep ethical and (...) political significance. -/- I argue that the Phaedrus makes important contributions to our understanding of virtue in Plato despite the infrequency of references. First, the dialogue juxtaposes competing conceptions of virtue: the “urbane” (cf. 227d) capacity to make things conform to one’s happenstance desires, championed by Lysias, and the “manic” capacity to conform oneself to reality, championed by Socrates. After clarifying that enslavement to pleasure-lust is the underlying condition of soul for Lysianic virtue, Socrates reveals that the non-lover’s “virtue” is, in truth, virtue in name only. Rather, true virtue emerges only when the soul becomes harmoniously ordered under reason’s guidance, a condition which is achieved through the soul’s encounter with beauty. Second, in the process of articulating how true virtue comes to be in the soul, Socrates gives grounds for distinguishing it from “self-restraint” (ἐγκράτεια), a condition of soul whose outward aspect may be indistinguishable from that of virtue. While a soul in which reason does not take the reins may act from self-restraint, it does not yet act from virtue. Third, the dialogue gives us resources for seeing how other people, such as artful rhetoricians, can influence one’s cultivation of virtue. At first glance, Socrates’s claim that artful rhetoricians can “hand over” virtue (270b) seems incompatible with his claim that virtue is unteachable (cf. Meno 86d-99e). However, the dialogue offers some resources for seeing that the unteachability of virtue and the capacity for rhetoricians to “hand over” virtue are not, in fact, incompatible. From these three points, we will see that the Phaedrus offers an intellectualist account of virtue reminiscent of what we see in other dialogues. The intellectualist vision here, however, is one that includes a positive role for the subrational elements of the soul rather than one that excludes them from relevance or actively seeks to suppress them. (shrink)
This paper concerns Plato’s characterization of the body as the soul’s tool. I take perception as an example of the body’s usefulness. I explore the Timaeus’ view that perception provides us with models of orderliness. Then, I argue that perception of confusing sensible objects is necessary for our cognitive development too. Lastly, I consider the instrumentality relationship more generally and its place in Plato’s teleological worldview.
Rad se bavi temom tiranije u Platonovoj filozofiji koja je neraskidivno vezana za Platonovu kritiku demokratije. Stoga, da bi se uopšte moglo govoriti o njegovoj kritici tiranije, u radu će biti prikazana i sva druga društvena uređenja koja on pominje i čija smjenjivanja bivaju odslikana kroz živopisnu paralelu smjene generacija. Izložiću njegov argument zašto su tiranin i tiranija u potpunom opozitu sa njegovom idealnom državom i kraljem filozofom, ali takođe i postaviti mnogobrojna ključna pitanja koja će u radu biti podijeljena (...) u pet cjelina. U prvoj i drugoj cjelini ću govoriti o onome što dovodi do same promjene društvenih uređenja u Platonovoj „Državi“, stavljajući akcenat na prelaz demokratije u tiraniju. U trećem dijelu biće prikazan dopadljivi početak tiranije, da bi potom u četvrtom dijelu bilo riječi o već sasvim uspostavljenoj tiraniji i onome što prof. dr Irina Deretić naziva „povlačenje logosa ili psihopatologija nepravednog tiranina“. Peti dio će poslužiti kao osvrt na razmišljanje o tome da tiranina možda treba i sažaljevati, kako i sam Sokrat govori, a zatim i razmatranje teze Čincia Aruze (engl. Cinzia Arruzza) da je Platonova kritika tiranije zapravo njegova kritika demokratije. (shrink)
Diotima’s speech claims that philosophy ranks among the erōtica. The standard reading of this holds that erōs manifests in philosophical activity. This is puzzling. Eros has a reputation for overpowering the psyche, making reasoning impossible. The major interpretive discussion of this puzzle suggests that Diotima must therefore accept either non-rationalist philosophizing or rationalist erōs. This paper argues for an alternative. The “ancillary activities view” posits that the erōtica do not manifest erōs but are activities undertaken to achieve its telos. On (...) this view, love’s relationship to philosophy is as un-mysterious as wanting something and doing what it takes to get it. (shrink)
Plato’s partition argument infers that the soul has parts from the fact that the soul experiences mental conflict. We consider an ambiguity in the concept of mental conflict. According to the first sense of conflict, a soul is in conflict when it has desires whose satisfaction is logically incompatible. According to the second sense of conflict, a soul is in conflict when it has desires which logically incompatible even when they are unsatisfied. This raises a dilemma: if the mental conflict (...) is supposed to be the latter kind of conflict, then the partition argument is valid but is likely unsound; if it’s supposed to be the former kind, then the partition argument has true premises but is invalid. We explain this dilemma in detail and defend a dispositionalist solution to it. (shrink)
Since antiquity, scholars have observed a structural tension within Plato’s Phaedrus. The dialogue demands order in every linguistic composition, yet it presents itself as a disordered composition. Accordingly, one of the key problems of the Phaedrus is determining which—if any—aspect of the dialogue can supply a unifying thread for the dialogue’s major themes (love, rhetoric, writing, myth, philosophy, etc.). My dissertation argues that “soul-leading” (psuchagōgia)—a rare and ambiguous term used to define the innate power of words—resolves the dialogue’s structural tension. (...) I clarify the conceptual and dramatic features of soul-leading by focusing on the dialogue’s uniquely prevalent use of the semantic network of “leading” and “following.” By continuing to foreground the language and drama of leading and following, I offer a new interpretation of the dialogue as a whole: the Phaedrus is Plato’s articulation of how the soul can be led into communion with reality. Chapter 1 discusses scholarly disputes about the unity of the Phaedrus and proposes that soul-leading adequately satisfies the criteria put forward for what would count as a unifying element. I argue that soul-leading unifies the dialogue both thematically and non-thematically; moreover, soul-leading is a theme capacious enough to account for the other principal contenders for unity put forward. Chapter 2 develops the ambiguous character of soul-leading by examining how the dialogue showcases dangerous forms thereof. Love and language are dangerous when they lead the soul toward goods which can never truly fulfill it. In order to clarify how love and language can mislead the soul, Socrates develops a set of accounts of how the soul is led, both internally and externally, in the three speeches on love. If the soul is to be led into communion with reality (the proper end of soul-leading), it must be led internally by the right part of the soul and externally by the right object of desire. Chapter 3 argues that all souls can, in principle, be harmonized and directed in the way that Chapter 2 requires. I show that Plato’s view of philosophy is neither elitist (i.e., some are intrinsically incapable of philosophy) nor naively essentialist. All can come into communion with reality because all are by nature equipped to do so. While Plato recognizes that there are forces which tend to prohibit one from exercising one’s capability of being rightly led, none of them are intrinsic to human nature. Chapter 4 argues that successful soul-leading require neither the leader nor the follower to be already well-disposed to what’s ultimate in order for the pair to come to a communion with what’s ultimate. Plato’s depiction of soul-leading love shows that love can itself promote the formation needed for both leader and follower to come into contact with reality. Love can do so because it is always already bound up reality in its responsiveness to beauty. Beauty itself calls the lover to itself by shining through the beautiful beloved, who acts as a reminder of transcendent Beauty. The lover mediates this same experience for the beloved. Each comes to desire the other as well as Beauty itself. Chapter 5 argues that the drama of the lovers’ formation mythically depicted in the Palinode (Chapter 4) is written into the drama of the dialogue as a whole. In the relationship between Socrates and Phaedrus, we see an enactment of love’s formative role. Likewise, in the relationship between Phaedrus and Lysias, we see an enactment of the dangerous soul-leading discussed in Chapter 2. My focus on leading and following also allows me to show the thematic significance of the drama’s setting. Chapter 6 articulates the metaphysical conditions under which one can be led into communion with reality. Transcendent Beauty invites us into communion with itself and makes possible our ascent by providing us with divine guides and images which can transport us from our ordinary experiences to the true beings. Beauty accomplishes its work—leading us in a “divine dance” where we follow the gods up to Beauty and back down to each other—through images. When we handle images of reality rightly, they lead our souls into communion with reality. Further, when we have come into communion, we’ll be inspired to be co-workers of Beauty’s soul-leading work. When we articulate reality in language, we create new images that can serve to lead others toward reality. (shrink)
I argue that Plato believes that the soul must be both the principle of motion and the subject of cognition because it moves things specifically by means of its thoughts. I begin by arguing that the soul moves things by means of such acts as examination and deliberation, and that this view is developed in response to Anaxagoras. I then argue that every kind of soul enjoys a kind of cognition, with even plant souls having a form of Aristotelian discrimination (...) (krisis), and that there is therefore no completely unintelligent, evil soul in the cosmos that can explain disorderly motions; as a result, the soul is not the principle of all motion but only motion in the cosmos after it has been ordered by the Demiurge. (shrink)
One puzzling feature of Plato’s Republic is the First City or ‘city of pigs’. Socrates praises the First City as a “true”, “healthy” city, yet Plato abandons it with little explanation. I argue that the problem is not a political failing, as most previous readings have proposed: the First City is a viable political arrangement, where one can live a deeply Socratic lifestyle. But the First City has a psychological corollary, that the soul is simple rather than tripartite. Plato sees (...) this ‘First Soul’ as an inaccurate model of moral psychology, and so rejects it, along with its political analogue. (shrink)
In the Timaeus, human bodies are treated as homeostatic systems, striving to maintain their natural state. This striving constitutes Plato’s explanatory framework for perception: perceptions come about when the equilibrium is shaken, and when it is restored. The article makes two main suggestions: first, that experienced pleasure and pain are grounded in non-experiential departures from and restorations of the natural state. Second, that the striving to maintain the natural state grounds perceptual interests, especially through conscious algesic and hedonic affection. Explanation (...) of what humans find desirable and avoidable in their environment – what they attend to – is a complicated story that in the context of the Timaeus must include the role of human rational abilities. This article, however, only sheds light on its other, very basic aspect: the teleology involved in bodies and how it affects perceptual interests. (shrink)
In Book i of Plato’s Laws, the requisite quality of the leader of a symposium is illustrated through the contrastive example of the seasick steersman. The qualified steersman and the symposiarch should be ‘imperturbable’ (ἀθόρυβος) in the face of the perils of their tasks. Such people are not at all easy to find; yet they are essential if the Athenian’s provocative claim that the symposium is beneficial for paideia is to stand up to scrutiny. In order to illuminate the rare (...) quality of resistance to seasickness, this contribution offers an examination of the metaphors of seasickness and θόρυβος. Both seasickness and θόρυβος can be used as an analogy or metaphor to conceptualize fear, and sources suggest that seasickness is thought to disappear with experience. The challenge is therefore to find people whose experience makes them undaunted to govern the symposium. These, it turns out, are the senior members (50 plus) and law guards of the Dionysiac chorus, which coincides with the symposium. Through their more advanced paideia, they are exposed to the consumption of wine and acquire the necessary familiarity with the practice. Since the symposiarch represents the law guard, it is no surprise that the description of the nocturnal council recalls that of the Dionysiac chorus, including the internal fault line between junior and senior members. The experience acquired by the law guards in the context of their education in the Dionysiac chorus and the nocturnal council therefore effectively rules out the possibility of a seasick steersman. (shrink)
For Plato in the Philebus, envious jealousy (φθόνος) is a state of mind or a disposition of the soul, in which pain is mixed with pleasure, because one affected by envious jealousy is rejoicing at the misfortunes of those around him and being sad at their happiness. For Plato, to reject the envious jealousy is to express his will to establish new relationships between the gods − including universe − and human beings on the one hand, and between human beings (...) on the other, whether individuals or groups. In this context, competition (ἀγών), which played such an important role in the culture of ancient Greece, is evacuated, except, perhaps, from the field of virtue. (shrink)
Emotions ( pathè) such as anger, fear, shame, and envy, but also pity, wonder, love and friendship have long been underestimated in Plato’s philosophy. The aim of Emotions in Plato is to provide a consistent account of the role of emotions in Plato’s psychology, epistemology, ethics and political theory. The volume focuses on three main issues: taxonomy of emotions, their epistemic status, and their relevance for the ethical and political theory and practice. This volume, which is the first edited volume (...) entirely dedicated to emotions in Plato’s philosophy, shows how Plato, in many aspects, was positively interested in these affective states in order to support the rule of reason. (shrink)
In this paper I examine some of the positive epistemic and moral dimensions of anger in Plato’s dialogues. My aim is to show that while Plato is clearly aware that retaliatory anger has negative effects on people’s behavior, the strategy we find in his dialogues is not to eliminate anger altogether; instead, Plato aims to transform or rechannel destructive retaliatory anger into a different, more productive, reformative anger. I argue that this new form of anger plays a crucial positive role (...) in our intellectual and moral development. In relation to our intellectual development, anger is often part of people’s reactions to the Socratic interrogations and it often helps or hinders attempts to acknowledge one’s ignorance and become motivated to learn. For anger to play a positive role in the context of philosophical conversations, Plato suggests its transformation from being an outward-looking and reactive emotion oriented towards retaliation (refutation), into a mostly inward-looking emotion aimed at ones’ own moral and intellectual reform or self-betterment. In relation to our moral progress, anger is strategically linked both to the control of our appetites and to the virtue of courage, so anger is crucial to the psychology of the good citizen. Concretely, anger is needed both for the development of the right opposition to injustice and greed, and for the formation of an adequate sensitivity to justice. (shrink)
From Socrates’ claim in the Apology that a good person cannot be harmed to Plato’s characterizations of virtue as godlikeness in later dialogues like the Theaetetus and Timaeus, Platonic virtue seems to be an ideal of invulnerability. One might conclude that Plato would not count as virtues some of the qualities of character that we count as virtues, such as a compassionate disposition or disposition to pity, insofar as such qualities require their possessor to be vulnerable in ways that the (...) gods are not, or insofar as Platonic justice excludes compassion. I argue that while compassion is indeed not a virtue for Plato, the reason is neither that pity is incompatible with godlikeness, for Plato’s gods do pity human beings, nor that justice rules out compassion, for Platonic justice includes pity for the wrongdoer. (shrink)
Imagine that Socrates gets a cavity treatment. The drilling is painful, but he also knows that it is best to get it done and so he stays. Callicles is not so smart. Once the dentist starts drilling, Callicles takes off. I argue that this scenario presents a puzzle that interpreters have missed, namely: why does Socrates have an aversion to pain? To us, this might not be puzzling at all. Socrates, however, believes that we have an aversion only to bad (...) things and that pain is not in fact bad. If Socrates knows that pain is not bad, why does he still feel aversive pain from drilling? I argue that the Protagoras and Hippias Major suggest that pain immediately appears to be bad to us. So even though pain is not in fact bad, it appears and feels that way, and thus even Socrates has an aversion to it. Pain is a felt evaluation. My interpretation contributes to the debates in the literature in two ways. First, it fills an explanatory gap. Interpreters have acknowledged that a Socratic theory of motivation has room for pain aversions as “itches,” but they leave unexplained why we have an aversion to pain, i.e., why those itches itch. Second, I offer an alternative account of Socratic motivation by proposing that pain aversions can motivate some of our actions. (shrink)
Taking Timaeus 42a-b and 69c-72e as a starting point, this paper claims that emotions are rational in Plato only in a derivative sense. First, what we call “emotions” are, in the Timaeus, a complex state not only of “mind”, but of the compound “body and soul”, or, rather of the “incarnate soul”; in this sense, they are non-rational for they derive from necessity. Second, in the framework of a psycho-physiological account, emotions are, prima facie, irrational affections, insofar as they may (...) prevent reason from working properly. Third, it is true, however, that there are some emotions that actually help the reason to command, but the cognitive dimension that is commonly found within emotions comes from a distinct and separate power, δόξα, that makes these emotions display a kind of derivative “rationality”. With such a psycho-physiological explanation, the Timaeus can better explain how to rationalize our actions and ways of being through these intermediate states, by bypassing the apparently natural process that goes from sense-perception to what is found pleasant or painful and by giving these emotions their proper (though extrinsic) object of value. (shrink)
This paper argues that the educational and social practices of Plato’s Laws are deeply concerned with the citizens’ affective relationship both to the ideals of the city and to other persons. Two kinds of love – eros (roughly, passionate love or desire) and philia (roughly, friendship) are central to this enterprise. We are familiar with the idea that virtue is not just a matter of doing the right thing, but doing it with the appropriate feelings and desires; so, too, for (...) virtuous citizenship: what is required is both passionate devotion towards the ideals of the city (eros) and an orientation towards other persons (philia), in which citizens are recognized as equals and acknowledged as persons of worth and value, such that one is moved to treat them as deserving of goods and opportunity. Citizens learn this not, or not solely, through grasping principles of ‘equality’ and ‘justice’, but by communal experiences in which they take pleasure and which cultivate a certain kind of love. (shrink)
This paper defends a reading of eikasia—the lowest kind of cognition in the Divided Line—as a kind of empirical cognition that Plato appeals to when explaining, among other things, the origin of ethical error. The paper has two central claims. First, eikasia with respect to, for example, goodness or justice is not different in kind to eikasia with respect to purely sensory images like shadows and reflections: the only difference is that in the first case the sensory images include representations (...) of value properties. Second, eikasia is not the bare awareness of images or simply a label for an error (mistaking image for original) but a kind of empirical, image-confined cognition, and one that has an important part to play in characterising the cognitive abilities of the non-rational parts of the soul. (shrink)
There is a wide consensus among scholars that Plato’s Socrates is wrong to trust in reason and argument as capable of converting people to the life of philosophy. In this paper, I argue for the opposite. I show that Socrates employs a more sophisticated strategy than is typically supposed. Its key component is the use of philosophical argument not to lead an interlocutor to rationally conclude that he must change his way of life but rather to cause a certain affective (...) experience, one that can be effective at changing his beliefs about how best to live. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the translation of a line in Plato's description of the ‘greatest accusation’ against imitative poetry, Republic 606a3–b5. This line is pivotal in Plato's account of how poetry corrupts its audience and is one of the Republic's most complex and interesting applications of his partite psychology, but it is misconstrued in most recent translations, including the most widely used. I argue that an examination of the text and reflections on Platonic psychology settle the translation decisively.
In this paper, I explore two possible readings of Republic IV, 439c2-d8, and of Plato’s claim that the just soul is governed by its rational element. My aim is to argue against a “desiderative” interpretation of the passage, according to which the motivational strength of rational desires depends on a set of desires given in advance and produced independently of reason. As an alternative, I advance a “cognitivist” reading according to which the rational desires of the just soul have as (...) its ultimate source a knowledge about the nature of goodness and happiness, with its own motivational force. Finally, I argue for a reinterpretation of 439a4-b1, a passage that, at first sight, seems to contradict my analysis of 439c2-d8. (shrink)
I offer a reading of the two conceptions of the good found in Plato’s Protagoras: the popular conception—‘the many’s’ conception—and Socrates’ conception. I pay particular attention to the three kinds of goods Socrates introduces: (a) bodily pleasures like food, drink, and sex; (b) instrumental goods like wealth, health, or power; and (c) virtuous actions like courageously going to war. My reading revises existing views about these goods in two ways. First, I argue that the many are only ‘hedonists’ in a (...) very attenuated sense. They do not value goods of kind (b) simply as means to pleasures of kind (a); rather, they have fundamentally different attitudes to (a) and (b). Second, the hedonism that Socrates’ defends includes a distinction between kinds of pleasures: (a) bodily pleasures and (c) the pleasures of virtuous actions. This distinction between kinds of pleasures—some that do and some that do not exert the ‘power of appearance’—allows Socrates to address one of the central beliefs in the popular conception of akrasia, namely that it involves a special kind of unruly desire: non-rational appetites for pleasures like food, drink, or sex. Socrates replaces the motivational push of non-rational appetites with the epistemic pull of the appearance of immediate pleasures like food, drink, and sex. (shrink)
Plato’s tripartite soul plays a central role in his account of justice in the Republic. It thus comes as a surprise to find him apparently abandoning this model at the end of the work, when he suggests that the soul, as immortal, must be simple. I propose a way of reconciling these claims, appealing to neglected features of the city-soul analogy and the argument for the soul’s division. The original true soul, I argue, is partitioned, but in a finer manner (...) than how we encounter it in our everyday lives. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer a new interpretation of Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium. Though Plato deliberately draws attention to the significance of Aristophanes’ speech in relation to Diotima’s (205d-206a, 211d), it has received relatively little philosophical attention. Critics who discuss it typically treat it as a comic fable, of little philosophical merit (e.g. Guthrie 1975, Rowe 1998), or uncover in it an appealing and even romantic treatment of love that emphasizes the significance of human individuals as love-objects to be (...) valued for their own sakes (e.g. Dover 1966, Nussbaum 1986). Against the first set of interpreters, I maintain that Aristophanes’ speech is of the utmost philosophical significance to the dialogue; in it, he sets forth a view of eros as a state of lack and a corresponding desire for completion, which is the starting-point for Diotima’s subsequent analysis. Against the second, I argue that Aristophanes’ speech contains a profoundly pessimistic account of eros. Far from being an appreciative response to the individuality of the beloved, eros, for Aristophanes, is an irrational urge, incapable of satisfaction. It is this irrationality that precludes Aristophanes’ lovers from achieving the partial satisfaction of erotic desire that is open to their Socratic counterparts through their relationship to the forms. (shrink)
Die Autorin eröffnet mit ihrer Untersuchung zu Platons «Politeia» einen Weg, ambivalente Darstellungen in die Literatur des idealen Staates zu integrieren. Sie bezieht hierbei auch den Rahmen von Platons Psychologie, Epistemologie und Kunstkritik mit ein. Platon bewertet Literatur im Hinblick auf ihren erzieherischen Nutzen. Die Charakterformung verlangt eine Lenkung durch eindeutige Beispiele. Ambivalenzen sind ein Risiko, da sie die nicht-rationalen Seelenteile zu falschem Streben anleiten. Eine paradoxe Verknüpfung von Gegensätzen zeigt der Vernunft, dass sie Eigenschaften nur in den Ideen adäquat (...) erfassen kann. Der Band hält fest, dass die Integration von Ambivalenzen sinnvoll sein kann, sofern Stilmittel eine negative Beeinflussung verhindern. (shrink)
I advocate an ad hominem reading of the hedonism that appears in the final argument of the Protagoras. I that attribute hedonism both to the Many and to Protagoras, but my focus is on the latter. I argue that the Protagoras in various ways reflects Plato’s view that the sophist is an inevitable advocate for, and himself implicitly inclined toward, hedonism, and I show that the text aims through that characterization to undermine Protagoras’ status as an educator. One of my (...) objectives in the course of my arguments is to explore connections between the final argument of the Protagoras and the Man-Measure Doctrine as it is developed in the Theaetetus. (shrink)
In this paper we argue that Socrates is a cognitivist about emotions, but then ask how the beliefs that constitute emotions can come into being, and why those beliefs seem more resistant to change through rational persuasion than other beliefs.
In his exciting new book, Plato’s Anti-hedonism and the Protagoras, J. Clerk Shaw paints a masterful portrait of the Athenian majority, or “the many,” as portrayed by Plato not just in the Protagoras (as the title advertises), but throughout the Platonic corpus. Shaw offers an incisive diagnosis of popular “double-think,” which balances the incoherent complex of commitments to hedonism (the view the pleasure is the good), to the possibility of akrasia (weakness of will) and to the belief that injustice is (...) prudent, i.e. in one’s own self-interest to do. Shaw also puts the dialectical context of the Protagoras to good use in identifying the double-talk that Protagoras is forced into by his own conflicting claims and commitments. The central thesis I question is that the sophists have internalized the opinions of the many, thus absorbing conventional morality as their own as opposed to waking the tightrope of popular opinion. Certainly the sophists’ currency is the opinions of the many, reflecting their own views back to them, and this creates difficulties and tensions in their stances (not least because they are reflecting the incoherent double-think that Shaw so beautifully brings out). However, all this can be true independently of the possibility of the sophists’ actually internalizing the views of the many, i.e. without speculating about their psychology at all. I argue that this thesis of Shaw’s is not necessary for his core insights about the many, and (likewise) that we can resist two other interpretative moves he makes. Shaw’s readings of the Protagoras—of Socrates as committed to spirit (thumos), and of the argument that akrasia is ignorance and courage is wisdom as independent of the commitment to hedonis—reveal his sympathies for a so-called “unitarian” interpretation of Plato, which takes the corpus to provide a unified doctrine rather than reflecting the author’s intellectual development. Here too, I suggest, Shaw’s insights can be preserved without running afoul of this interpretive disagreement. (shrink)
In book 9 of Plato's Republic, Socrates describes the nature and origins of the ‘tyrannical man’, whose soul is said to be ‘like’ a tyrannical city. In this paper, I examine the nature of the ‘government’ that exists within the tyrannical man's soul. I begin by demonstrating the inadequacy of three potentially attractive views sometimes found in the literature on Plato: the view that the tyrannical man's soul is ruled by his ‘lawless’ unnecessary appetites, the view that it is ruled (...) by sexual desire, and the view that it is ruled by a lust for power. I then present my own account. On the view I defend, the tyrannical man's soul is to be understood as ruled by a single, persistent, powerful desire for bodily pleasure: as much as he can get, and however he can get it. Finally, I show how understanding the tyrannical man's soul in the way I recommend helps resolve some commonly expressed concerns about this part of the Republic. I suggest, on this basis, that Plato's procedure in constructing his catalogue o.. (shrink)
Despite Diotima’s irresistible virtues and attractiveness across the millennia, she spells trouble for philosophy. It is not her fault that she has been misunderstood, nor is it Plato’s. Rather, I suspect, each era has made of Diotima what it desired her to be. Her malleability is related to the assumption that Plato invented her, that she is a mere literary fiction, licensing the imagination to do what it will. In the first part of my paper, I argue against three contemporary (...) ‘majority views’ about Diotima that I regard as false. The first is that we can be certain she is fictional;1 a second is that Diotima is our best evidence for Plato’s feminism; the third, that she is Plato’s mouthpiece for the higher mysteries in the Symposium. After I have set aside what I regard as false, I proceed in the second half of my paper to develop Diotima’s positive contribution to philosophical psychology, her naturalistic account of the psyche as mortal, unified, and developmental. Whether the view Plato assigns to her is one that he held I do not pretend to know; but it is a powerful, defensible, and coherent view that inspired positive aspects of Freudian psychology in the twentieth century. Freud’s insight, in fact, makes clear how erōs can be developed in relation to the bad as well as the good. (shrink)
In the Gorgias, Socrates argues that just punishment, though painful, benefits the unjust person by removing injustice from her soul. This paper argues that Socrates thinks the true judge (i) will never use corporal punishment, because such procedures do not remove injustice from the soul; (ii) will use refutations and rebukes as punishments that reveal and focus attention on psychological disorder (= injustice); and (iii) will use confiscation, exile, and death to remove external goods that facilitate unjust action.
In this paper I examine the account of courage offered in Books 3 and 4 of the Republic and consider its relation to the account of courage and cowardice found in the final argument of the Protagoras. I defend two main lines of thought. The first is that in the Republic Plato does not abandon the Protagoras’ view that all cases of cowardice involve mistaken judgment or ignorance about what is fearful. Rather, he continues to treat cowardly behavior as an (...) indication that, at least at the time of action, the agent lacked correct belief about what is best and least fearful. The evidence for this view will include an argument that what it means for the thumoeides to ‘preserve what is announced by rational accounts’ in the Republic is for it to prevent the fluctuation or corruption of reasoning under the deceptive influence of appetite. Second, I will argue that the Protagoras anticipates this account of courage in important ways. In particular, it draws attention to the problematic instability of belief and adumbrates the need for something like the spirited element of our psychology. According to my interpretation, the Republic’s account of courage is an elaboration or supplementation of the Protagoras’ account, rather than a rejection of it. (shrink)
Contains essays on topics in moral philosophy from Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism and Plotinus. See the review at NDPR for detailed descriptions http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/virtue-and-happiness-essays-in-honour-of-julia-annas/.
In this book, author Gene Fendt shows how Plato's Republic provides a liturgical purification for the political and psychic delusions of democratic readers, even as Socrates provides the same for his interlocutors at the festival of Bendis. Each of the several characters is analyzed in accord with Book Eight's 6 geometrically possible kinds of character showing how their answers and failures in the dialogue exhibit the particular kind of movement and blindness predictable for the type.
In book 10 of the Republic we find a new argument for the division of the soul. The argument’s structure is similar to the arguments in book 4 but, unlike those arguments, it centres on a purely cognitive conflict: believing and disbelieving the same thing, at the same time. The argument presents two interpretive difficulties. First, it assumes that a conflict between a belief and an appearance—e.g. disbelieving that a stick partially immersed in water is, as it appears, bent—entails a (...) conflict between beliefs. Prima facie, there is only one belief, the belief that contradicts the appearance. Second, it is unclear what parts of the soul Plato intends to divide between: some argue that it is, as in book 4, a partition between a rational and a non-rational part; others argue that it is a new partition between a higher and a lower subdivision of the rational part. This paper offers solutions to both difficulties through an analysis of what Plato means by φαινόμενα, ‘appearances’, and δόξαι, ‘beliefs’. It is argued, first, that the relevant appearances are entirely sensory but nonetheless sufficiently belief-like to (a) warrant being called δόξαι and (b) oppose, by themselves, our beliefs; there is no need for a third mental state, a belief that assents to the appearance. A second claim concerns a central line in the argument, 602e4–6, that has served as the primary evidence that the partition is within the rational part of the soul. Those who wish to avoid this conclusion generally resort to alternative, and less natural, translations of 602e4–6. It is argued that this is unnecessary: once we have correctly understood sensory appearances, we see that the standard translation of 602e4–6 in fact entails a division between a rational and a non-rational part of the soul. (shrink)
In the tripartite psychology of the Republic, Plato characterizes the “spirited” part of the soul as the “ally of reason”: like the auxiliaries of the just city, whose distinctive job is to support the policies and judgments passed down by the rulers, spirit’s distinctive “job” in the soul is to support and defend the practical decisions and commands of the reasoning part. This is to include not only defense against external enemies who might interfere with those commands, but also, and (...) most importantly, defense against unruly appetites within the individual’s own soul.1 Spirit, according to this picture, is by nature reason’s faithful auxiliary in the soul, while appetite is always a potential enemy to be watched .. (shrink)
Republic 554c-d—where the oligarchic individual is said to restrain his appetites ‘by compulsion and fear’, rather than by persuasion or by taming them with speech—is often cited as evidence that the appetitive part of the soul can be ‘persuaded’. I argue that the passage does not actually support that conclusion. I offer an alternative reading and suggest that appetite, on Plato’s view, is not open to persuasion.
In books 8 and 9 of Plato’s Republic, Socrates provides a detailed account of the nature and origins of four main kinds of vice found in political constitutions and in the kinds of people that correspond to them. The third of the four corrupt kinds of person he describes is the ‘democratic man’. In this paper, I ask what ‘rules’ in the democratic man’s soul. It is commonly thought that his soul is ruled in some way by its appetitive part, (...) or by a particular class of appetitive desires. I reject this view, and argue instead that his soul is ruled by a succession of desires of a full range of different kinds. I show how this view helps us better understand Plato’s depiction of corrupt souls in the Republic more generally, and with it his views on the rule of the soul, appetitive desire, and the nature of vice. (shrink)
This dissertation is a study of appetite in Plato’s Timaeus, Republic and Phaedrus. In recent research is it often suggested that Plato considers appetite (i) to pertain to the essential needs of the body, (ii) to relate to a distinct set of objects, e.g. food or drink, and (iii) to cause behaviour aiming at sensory pleasure. Exploring how the notion of appetite, directly and indirectly, connects with Plato’s other purposes in these dialogues, this dissertation sets out to evaluate these ideas. (...) By asking, and answering, three philosophically and interpretatively crucial questions, individually linked to the arguments of the dialogues, this thesis aims to show (i) that the relationship between appetite and the body is not a matter of survival, and that appetite is better understood in terms of excess; (ii) that appetite is multiform and cannot be defined in terms of a distinct set of objects; and (iii) that appetite, in Plato, can also pertain to non-sensory objects, such as articulated discourse. -/- Chapter one asks what the universe can teach us about embodied life. It argues that Plato, in the Timaeus, works with an important link between the universe and the soul, and that the account of disorder, irrationality and multiformity identifying a pre-cosmic condition of the universe provides a key to understanding the excessive behaviour and condition of a soul dominated by appetite. -/- Chapter two asks why the philosophers of the Republic’s Kallipolis return to the cave, and suggests that Plato’s notion of the noble lie provides a reasonable account of this. By exploring the Republic’s ideas of education, poetry and tradition, it argues that appetite – a multiform and appearance oriented source of motivation – is an essential part of this account. -/- Chapter three asks why Socrates characterizes the speeches of the Phaedrus as deceptive games. It proposes that this question should be understood in the light of two distinctions: one between playful and serious discourse and one between simple and multiform. It argues that the speeches of the Phaedrus are multiform games, and suggests that appetite is the primary source of motivation of the soul addressed, personified by Phaedrus. -/- . (shrink)
In the Republic, Plato argues that the soul has three distinct parts or elements, each an independent source of motivation: reason, spirit, and appetite. In this paper, I argue against a prevalent interpretation of the motivations of the spirited part and offer a new account. Numerous commentators argue that the spirited part motivates the individual to live up to the ideal of being fine and honorable, but they stress that the agent's conception of what is fine and honorable is determined (...) by social norms. I argue that while it is correct to hold that spirit aims to be fine and honorable, it is not the case that the agent’s conception of what it is to be fine and honorable is determined by social norms. Instead, there is a fact of the matter about what it is to be fine and honorable, and it is this fact that shapes the individual’s conception of the fine and honorable. I argue that being fine and honorable involves living up to your rational views about how you should behave, despite appetitive temptations to the contrary. I claim that this condition of the soul is the basis of a variety of interrelated admirable traits, some with moral and others with aesthetic connotations. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that although the Republic’s tripartite theory of the soul is not explicitly endorsed in Plato’s late work the Laws, it continues to inform the Laws from beneath the surface of the text. In particular, I argue that the spirited part of the soul continues to play a major role in moral education and development in the Laws (as it did in earlier texts, where it is characterized as reason’s psychic ‘ally’). I examine the programs of (...) musical and gymnastic education in the Laws and highlight parallels to the accounts of the spirited part of the soul and its role in moral education and virtue that are offered in Republic and Timaeus. I also examine the educational role given to the laws themselves in Magnesia, and I suggest that the education provided through them is largely directed at the spirited part of the soul as well. (shrink)
Plato's account of the tripartite soul is a memorable feature of dialogues like the Republic, Phaedrus and Timaeus: it is one of his most famous and influential yet least understood theories. It presents human nature as both essentially multiple and diverse - and yet somehow also one - divided into a fully human 'rational' part, a lion-like 'spirited part' and an 'appetitive' part likened to a many-headed beast. How these parts interact, how exactly each shapes our agency and how they (...) are affected by phenomena like erôs and education is complicated and controversial. The essays in this book investigate how the theory evolves over the whole of Plato's work, including the Republic, Phaedrus and Timaeus, and how it was developed further by important Platonists such as Galen, Plutarch and Plotinus. They will be of interest to a wide audience in philosophy and classics. (shrink)
I argue that Plato holds a medical model of virtue as health which does not have themorally unacceptable implications which have led some to describe it as authoritarian.This model, which draws on the educational virtues of the elenchos, lacks anyimplication that all criminals are mad or all mad people criminals – this implication beingat the source of many criticisms of Plato’s analogy of virtue and health. After setting upthe analogy and the model, I defend my argument against two objections. The (...) firstclaims that Plato's picture of virtue as health is unacceptable because it entails that vice isa defect and therefore that criminals are all mad. The second resists Kenny'sinterpretation but does so by attacking its first premise, i.e. that Plato believes virtue issome kind of health. I reply that both objections are misguided. (shrink)
This chapter examines Plato's moral psychology in the Phaedrus. It argues against interpreters such as Burnyeat and Nussbaum that Plato's treatment of the soul is increasingly pessimistic: reason's desire to contemplate is at odds with its obligation to rule the soul, and psychic harmony can only be secured by violently suppressing the lower parts of the soul.