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Socrates On Akrasia, Knowledge, And The Power Of Appearance

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Chapter Summary

In the Protagoras discussion it is not clear just why some things have the power of appearance at all. Nor is it clear in what way the metrêtikê technê ‘makes the appearances lose their power.’ This chapter tries to clarify both issues and in doing so criticizes two different ways of understanding Socrates’ moral psychology. It argues, contrary to what is usually said, that, for Socrates, ‘the power of appearance’ is tied to the psychological agency of the appetites and passions. There is another even more difficult problem for the traditional interpretation of Socrates’ intellectualism about motivation, the denial of akrasia discussion in the Protagoras. Devereux maintains that knowledge makes the dunamis tou phainomenou lose its power because knowledge is always stronger than the nonrational desire that causes something to appear good. Devereux argues that Socrates’ moral psychology is importantly different from that of either Plato or Aristotle.

Keywords: akrasia; Aristotle; Devereux; dunamis tou phainomenou; metrêtikê technê; moral psychology; Plato; power of appearance; Protagoras; Socrates’ intellectualism



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