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Plato's eudaemonism in middle period dialogues: A metaethical approach

Masaya Honda, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

In this dissertation, I investigate, with a metaethical concern, Plato’s eudaemonism in his middle period dialogues, the Symposium, the Phaedo, and the Republic. In these dialogues, on the one hand, Plato inquires into what the most valuable life is. On the other hand, his philosophical concern goes beyond this—that is, he further develops a correct account of morality in relation to the nature of human motivation and the nature of practical reason. ^ Interestingly, Plato develops entirely different theories of morality, motivation, and practical reason in the above three dialogues. In the Symposium, he explains that the good is the object of our tendency (eros [desire]) to seek our own survival in a fully prosperous organic whole to which we belong. Accordingly, for him, a moral judgment (‘an action [x] is good’) is justified just in case a correct principle of growth shows that x contributes to this purpose. In contrast, in the Phaedo, he explains that the good is the object of our tendency ( nous [reason]) to seek understanding and truth of things in general. Accordingly, for him, a moral judgment is justified just in case a correct principle of being and becoming shows that x contributes to this purpose. Finally, in the Republic, he holds that the good is the object of both tendencies (eros and nous), which frequently conflict with each other. However, he holds that nous pursues the most intelligible human practices that are in conformity with humanity and humanity involves pursuing our own survival in a fully prosperous organic whole, which is the object of eros. Thus, for him, the conflicts will be dissolved just in case we come to know what humanity is and act in conformity with the knowledge. ^ In this dissertation, thus, I show why and how Plato develops his theories as I described above. This will contribute not only to illuminate a complication of his eudaemonism but also to make his eudaemonism prima facie plausible as his metaethical theories support it. ^

Subject Area

Ethics|Philosophy

Recommended Citation

Honda, Masaya, "Plato's eudaemonism in middle period dialogues: A metaethical approach" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3559492.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3559492

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