Ethics and the Divine Life in Plato's Philosophy

Journal of Religious Ethics 13 (2):312 - 331 (1985)


Plato's ethics, contrary to the impression recent literature on the topic creates, is basically a system of religious ethics, and I sketch here its main outlines. Since the goal of Plato's philosophy is the achievement of the divine life, his ethics in its most comprehensive sense is the knowledge that this life is our good, along with the knowledge of how our good can be achieved. With the help of passages in Plato's dialogues and other ancient sources I explain briefly Plato's view of the divine life and of two of the three principal paths followed to achieve that life, namely, the path of moral training, which relies on practical wisdom, and the path of contemplation, which relies both on theoretical wisdom, which is developed on the path of dialectic, and on the love of God.

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James Duerlinger
University of Iowa

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