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Definitions and Paradigms: Laches' First Definition

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image of Phronesis

Laches' first definition is rejected because it is somehow formally inadequate, but it is not clear exactly how this is so. On my interpretation, the failure of this definition cannot be explained by reference to the distinction between universals and particulars. Rather, it provides a paradigm of courage, which is inadequate because it fails to make clear how it is to be projected into other, non-paradigmatic cases. The definition is interesting because it articulates essential elements of the dominant moral tradition, including both its normative content (it is is too conservative and aristocratic) and its form (it is sustained by a certain limited canon of ideals, idols, and images of excellence). Socrates' elenchus of this definition thus amounts to a challenge to this tradition.


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