The ethics and moral psychology of the Phaedo crucially depend on claims made uniquely about bodily desire. This paper offers an analysis and defense of the account of bodily desire in the dialogue, arguing that bodily desires – desires with their source in processes or conditions of the body – are characterized by three features: motivational pull, assertoric force, and intensity. Desires with these features target the soul’s rational functions with distinctive forms of imprisonment. They target the soul’s capacity to rule with servility; and they target the soul’s capacity for knowledge with confinement in the visible world.
The focus of the paper is that for Plato all kinds of knowing, including sense perception, are acts of distinguishing something (krinein). Emotions and strivings are depending on acts of distinguishing and each part of the soul has a specific way of knowing, feeling and desiring. The thymoeides desires pleasures which arise from the judgement (doxa) of individual abilities and achievements (erga). It is related to the individual cases in which these abilities or achievements are preserved or destroyed. The close relationship between logistikon and thymoeides results from the fact that the thymoeides deals with the sphere of doxa. That’s why it is more open to rational argumentation than the epithymētikon, whose primary sphere is sense perception.
Plato’s tripartite soul plays a central role in his account of justice in the Republic. It thus comes as a surprise to find him apparently abandoning this model at the end of the work, when he suggests that the soul, as immortal, must be simple. I propose a way of reconciling these claims, appealing to neglected features of the city-soul analogy and the argument for the soul’s division. The original true soul, I argue, is partitioned, but in a finer manner than how we encounter it in our everyday lives.
This paper is a defense of the view that existence is a perfection. Anselm’s First Ontological Argument is referred to throughout. Two major objections are advanced: the ‘perfect island’ objection and the ‘perfect devil’ objection. A rebuttal of both, based on Anselm’s reply to Gaunilo, is tendered, but itself faces a major objection. Two lines of defense against this objection are possible. The first is sympathetically explained but it is argued that it ultimately fails. The second, which focuses on the idea of a perfection and a perfect being, is elaborated and defended against a seemingly powerful objection. It is concluded that there is a reasonable interpretation of the claim that existence is a perfection.
The partition of the soul is used extensively, both in Book iv and in Books viii-ix of the Republic, to describe and to explain the structure, growth, and decay, of just and unjust cities and souls. Plato has in mind a single conception of the three parts of the soul, and he expounds it gradually. He recognizes different grades of rationality in desire. These grades help us to understand the roles of the partition of the soul in Plato’s argument.
This essay examines the manner in which Hume challenges the cognitivist and realist intuitions informing our ordinary experience of value by identifying values with mind-dependent feelings and by separating facts from values. However, through a process of interpretive rehearsal of Hume’s arguments in the first two parts of the paper we find that they come under increasing internal strain, which points, contrary to his initial argument about the irreducibly phenomenal aspects of value experience, to the motivational role of reason and to the identification of values, not with mind-dependent feelings, but with dispositional properties of objects. The third and final part of the paper will offer a systematic reconstruction of his arguments with a view to suggesting one possible – descriptivist – alternative to Hume’s initial challenges, which can serve to satisfy the emerging cognitivist and realist needs of his arguments.
Plato’s attitude towards drunkenness (µέθη) is surprisingly positive in the Laws, especially as compared to his negative treatment of intoxication in the Republic. In the Republic, Plato maintains that intoxication causes cowardice and intemperance (3.398e–399e, 3.403e, and 9.571c–573b), while in the Laws, Plato holds that it can produce courage and temperance (1.635b, 1.645d–650a, and 2.665c–672d). This raises the question: Did Plato change his mind, and if he did, why? Ultimately, this paper answers affirmatively and argues that this marks a substantive shift in Plato’s attitude towards anti-rational desires. More precisely, this paper argues that in the Republic, Plato holds that anti-rational desires are always detrimental to health and virtue, while in the Laws, Plato maintains that anti-rational desires can be instrumental to health and virtue.
I argue that Republic presents thumos as a limited, or flawed, principle of psychic unity. My central claim is that Plato both makes this assertion about the necessary limitations of thumos, and can defend it, because he understands thumos as the pursuit of to oikeion, or one’s own. So understood, the thumoetic part divides the world into self and other and pursues the defense of the former from the latter. As a result, when confronted with a conflicting desire, the thumoetic part makes sense of that desire as an irredeemable opponent. That, in turn, precludes the persuasion of desires that Plato sees as necessary for psychic harmony.
I argue that Plato’s account of hunger and thirst in Republic IV, 437d–439a uncovers a general feature of desire: desire has an unqualified and a qualified dimension. This proposal, which I call Two Dimensions, captures recognizable motivational phenomena: being hungry and aiming to determine what one is hungry for, or wanting to study and still figuring out what field it is that one wants to study. Two Dimensions is a fundamental contribution to the theory of desire. It is compatible, I argue, with the better known premise that desire is for the good, because the objects of paradigmatic desires are inherently valuable.