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)
In this paper I challenge the commonly held view that Plato acknowledges and accepts the possibility of akrasia in the Laws. I offer a new interpretation of the image of the divine puppet in Book 1 - the passage often read as an account of akratic action -- and I show that it is not intended as an illustration of akrasia at all. Rather, it provides the moral psychological background for the text by illustrating a broader notion of self-rule as (...) a virtuous condition of the soul (and lack of self-rule as a vicious condition). I examine key discussions in the Laws in order to show how Plato makes use of this broader notion of self-rule throughout the dialogue, and I argue that nothing Plato says in the Laws commits him to the possibility of akrasia. One significant consequence of my interpretation of the puppet passage is that it avoids the need to posit developmentalism in Plato's late views about the embodied human soul, as some recent commentators have done: the moral psychology of the Laws, on my reading, is not incompatible with the Republic's tripartite theory of the soul. (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)
Socrates’ admirers and successors in the fourth century and beyond often felt the need to explain Socrates’ reputed relationship with Alcibiades, and to defend Socrates against the charge that he was a corrupting influence on Alcibiades. In this paper I examine Plato’s response to this problem and have two main aims. First, I will argue in Section 2 that (...) central points: that motivations associated with the spirited part of the soul play a decisive role in moral education, particularly in the case of exceptionally ambitious and talented individuals; and that the democratic Many themselves, not Socrates, are primarily responsible for the corruption of promising young men like Alcibiades. These points are connected, moreover: the Many exert a moral influence on the young by shaping and exploiting their spirited motivations. I aim to show that Plato develops and dramatizes this diagnosis of the problem of Alcibiades in three earlier dialogues—Protagoras, Gorgias, and Symposium—as well as in Book 6 of the Republic. My second main claim will be that the psychological and educational theories of the Republic are informed by Plato’s diagnosis of the problem of Alcibiades, and that they are conceived, at least in part, as a solution to that problem. (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 this paper I argue that, despite what many commentators have concluded, Plato’s division of three psychological “causes” of criminal behavior at Laws 863b1-e3 (anger, pleasure, and ignorance) is not intended to invoke the tripartite theory of the soul. I suggest that the focus of the division is on an alternative moral psychological picture, one which is better suited to the criminal penology of Book 9. However, I argue, this alternative picture is nonetheless consistent with tripartite theory.