Ancient Models of Mind: Studies in Human and Divine by Andrea Nightingale, David Sedley

By Andrea Nightingale, David Sedley

How does god imagine? How, preferably, does a human brain functionality? needs to a niche stay among those paradigms of rationality? Such questions exercised the best old philosophers, together with these featured during this booklet: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and Plotinus. This quantity includes a sequence of reports by way of top students, revisiting key moments of historic philosophy and highlighting the subject of human and divine rationality in either ethical and cognitive psychology. the amount is a tribute to A.A. lengthy, and displays a number of topics of his personal paintings.

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This kind of self-knowledge, like that of Plato’s early Socrates, has an ethical dimension. But the self-knowledge of Plato’s contemplative philosopher differs from Socrates, whose “self-referential awareness” leads him to see that he lacks knowledge. Plato’s philosopher does possess at least some “divine” knowledge (though he may, when seeing one Form, be aware that he does not know other Forms, especially the Form of the Good). Indeed, it is precisely because the contemplative philosopher has achieved knowledge of some aspect of reality that he can understand his own nature in relation to these Beings.

With regard to Gorgias b and to the Socratic dialogues in general, Vlastos writes as follows: Here desire for happiness is strictly self-referential: it is the agent’s desire for his own happiness and that of no one else. This is so deep-seated an assumption that it is simply taken for granted: no argument is ever given for it in the Platonic corpus. (Vlastos : , n. ” Does Plato assume this? Does the scholar herself make this assumption? A prior question will be, what justifies the inference from the prudential principle to the purported doctrine of Socratic egoism?

Thus Socrates’ highly idiosyncratic persona (and Phaedrus’ more ordinary personality) affect our interpretation of the dialogue as a whole and the account of the soul in particular. And the same can be said about the other dialogues which discuss the soul (in mythic or analytic discourse). Socrates’ personal search for wisdom and self-knowledge is placed in a fruitful interaction with his accounts of the contemplative activities of impersonal philosophical souls. Let us look again at the myth in the Phaedrus, where Socrates describes a man and boy engaging in a philosophical love affair on earth.

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