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Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 43$
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Brad Inwood

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199666164

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199666164.001.0001

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Akrasia And Self‐Rule In Plato's Laws

Akrasia And Self‐Rule In Plato's Laws

(p.24) (p.25) Akrasia And Self‐Rule In Plato's Laws
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 43

Joshua Wilburn

Oxford University Press

This paper challenges the commonly held view that Plato acknowledges and accepts the possibility of akrasia in the Laws. It offers a new interpretation of the image of the divine puppet in Book 1 - the passage often read as an account of akratic action -- and shows 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). The paper examines key discussions in the Laws in order to show how Plato makes use of this broader notion of self-rule throughout the dialogue, and argues that nothing Plato says in the Laws commits him to the possibility of akrasia. One significant consequence of this 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 this reading, is not incompatible with the Republic's tripartite theory of the soul.

Keywords:   Plato, akrasia, Laws, soul, tripartition, moral psychology, rule, puppet, education, golden cord

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