Courage and the Spirited Part of the Soul in Plato’s Republic

Philosophers' Imprint 15 (2015)
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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



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Joshua Wilburn
Wayne State University

Citations of this work

Plato on the Role of Anger in Our Intellectual and Moral Development.Marta Jimenez - 2020 - In Laura Candiotto & Olivier Renaut (eds.), Emotions in Plato. Boston: Brill. pp. 285–307.
La función propia de lo thymoeidés en la República.Jose Antonio Gimenez - 2021 - Hypnos. Revista Do Centro de Estudos da Antiguidade 47 (2):123-146.

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