Platonic Ethics

C. C. W. Taylor

in Pleasure, Mind, and Soul

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780199226399
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191710209 | DOI:
 Platonic Ethics

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This chapter examines the principal themes of Plato's ethical thought, distinguishing three phases: i) the theory of the early dialogues; ii) the theory of the Republic; and iii) developments subsequent to the Republic. Phase i was discussed in Chapter 9. In phase ii, Plato seeks to show that justice benefits the individual via revisionary accounts both of social justice and of justice as an individual virtue, the latter seen as consisting in the optimal organization of the parts of the soul. In phase iii, the principal development is an increased emphasis on the distinction between the rational part of the soul (identified with the person) and the non-rational parts. A constant theme of all three phases is the attempt to ground morality in human nature, the differences stemming from changes in Plato's conception of what that nature is.

Keywords: cognitive account; virtue; Socratic paradoxes; social justice; individual justice; tri-partite soul; rational soul; non-rational soul

Chapter.  13976 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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