The Good and Order: Does the <i>Republic</i> Display an Analogy Between a Science of Ethics and Mathematics?

Rachana Kamtekar

in Pursuing the Good

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748628117
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652488 | DOI:
The Good and Order: Does the Republic Display an Analogy Between a Science of Ethics and Mathematics?

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This chapter comments on the discussion of Christopher Gills in Chapter 12. Gill discusses three ways in which to understand the elusive relationship between ethical ideas and the mathematical terms in which Plato describes them in the Republic. The chapter suggests that the main problem with Gill's proposals is that Plato mentions no separate science of ethics subordinate to dialectic or on a par with mathematics. It seems un-Platonic to think of ethics as a branch of anything. Because these proposals remain at such a great level of generality, it is difficult to judge whether or not they meet the demands of Scylla and Charybdis; that is, the demand for mutual intelligibility between mathematical and ethical ideas, along with determinate mathematical and ethical content.

Keywords: ethical ideas; mathematical ideas; Plato; Republic; ethics; Scylla; Charybdis

Chapter.  1447 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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