September 14

Monday, September 14, 2020
Plenary – Chapel

Doing What you Want: Plato's Early Moral Psychology

We will examine another section of the Gorgias, the discussion between Socrates and Polus. (From which quotes from last time were taken.) Socrates presents a variation on means-ends analysis that distinguishes between “what we want” and “what we see fit to do”. We will try to interpret this distinction, and make explicit the psychological theories of motivation and action that Socrates seems to be suggesting, comparing them with some contemporary approaches, and seeing how Socrates argues, based on this moral psychology, that virtue consists in knowledge of the good and that no one does evil willingly.

  • Understand Socrates’ claims about “what we want” and “what we see fit to do”
  • Understand Socrates’ argument that virtue is knowledge of the good and that no one does evil willingly
  • Become familiar with the concept of moral psychology, and its relation to theories of the good life
  • Practice critically examining a philosophical theory
  • See connections between ancient text and contemporary theories

Before Class

  • N/A
  • Try to explain the distinction between “doing what you want” and “doing what you see fit”, and the claim that what we want is “the good”. Is this another candidate for a “final end”, like Aristotle’s eudaimonia?  How is this different from saying the final end is eudaimonia?
  • How does Socrates make a case for the conclusions that virtue is knowledge of the good and that no one does evil willingly?

After Class

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