Mawby, Helen Margaret Clare
Courage and the soul in Plato.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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In the Introduction I briefly lay out the history of the value terms that I will be considering in my thesis and consider the philosophical relevance of the development of such values in the 5th century. The infiltration of modern ideas of morality into what was considered to be good to the Greeks has a great influence on the literature and philosophy of this period. Plato prioritises these quiet moral virtues, but also tries to hang on to some of what had come before, and thus faces difficulties with his moral theory. I will show that courage presents Plato with an acute difficulty when attempting to develop a consistent ethical theory.
In Chapter 2 I look at the Protagoras where the main issues about courage that Plato will continue to discuss throughout his life are introduced. The questions of the extent to which the virtues can be taught and the unity of the virtues are introduced early on. What follows is an attempt to explain and justify the Socratic idea that the virtues are co-dependent and that they all in some way boil down to knowledge. In Chapter 3 on the Laches I will show that the discussion focuses more particularly on the virtue of courage and is mostly a more sophisticated attempt to understand courage than the one presented in the Protagoras.
In the following three chapters (4-6) I examine the position taken in the Republic in detail, which I take to be more representative of the Platonic rather than Socratic position. Plato’s psychological model – which includes direct influence from the lower soul – is a more reasonable interpretation of the internal workings of the agent than the simpler model in the early dialogues of the only direct motivator being beliefs or knowledge.
The chapter on the Laws considers the idea that some of the apparent differences between the Republic and the Laws are due to Plato’s growing realisation that courage will not be assimilated into a unified ethical theory of the type that he wishes to propose.
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