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Akrasia And The Structure Of The Passions In Platos Timaeus

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Chapter Summary

There seems to be a large gap between the Protagoras, which is usually seen as a clear example of so-called Socratic ‘intellectualism’ and the Timaeus. In particular, the Timaeus allows for tripartition of the soul, and consequently, one might think, of psychic conflict and therefore of akrasia, understood as a phenomenon by which intellect, even if knowing what is best, might be overriden by stronger, irrational forces. This chapter explores whether a consistent account of moral psychology can be extracted from the text of the Timaeus and whether the latter upholds the position that knowledge cannot be overcome by the passions. The ‘lack of control’ can be described as an intellectual failure, quite in tune with the Socratic spirit of the Protagoras. Plato seems particularly aware of the effects of physiology on human conduct in the Timaeus.

Keywords: akrasia; intellectual failure; moral psychology; Plato; Protagoras; Socratic spirit; Timaeus; tripartition of soul

10.1163/ej.9789004156708.i-308.32
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