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Plato And Enkrateia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to determine the reasons why Plato, on the one hand, attributes no importance to enkrateia in his early dialogues and, on the other hand, partially rehabilitates this notion in his middle and late dialogues. The interlocutors of the Charmides propose six different definitions of sôphrosunê: rather curiously, none of these definitions refers to sôphrosunê understood as enkrateia, that is, as self-mastery with regard to corporeal pleasures and desires. The comparison of the respective conceptions that Plato and Xenophon have of the basilikê tekhnê seems to confirm Plato’s indifference with regard to enkrateia. The divergence between the Protagoras and the Gorgias would tend to confirm the hypothesis that the rehabilitation of enkrateia coincides with the recognition of the possibility of akrasia. The chapter tries to bring to light the main indications and reasons for Plato’s reconciliation with the vocabulary of enkrateia.

Keywords: basilikê tekhnê; akrasia; Charmides; enkrateia rehabilitation; Gorgias; Plato; Protagoras ; sôphrosunê; Xenophon



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