Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Ralph Cudworth, Socrates and Thomas Jefferson

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5 ideas

20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / d. Weakness of will
No one willingly commits an evil or base act [Socrates]
     Full Idea: I am fairly certain that no wise man believes anyone sins willingly or willingly perpetrates any evil or base act.
     From: Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]), quoted by Plato - Protagoras 345e
Socrates did not accept the tripartite soul (which permits akrasia) [Vlastos on Socrates]
     Full Idea: Xenophon indirectly indicates that he does not associate Socrates in any way with the tripartite psychology of the 'Republic', for within that theory akrasia would be all too possible.
     From: comment on Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Gregory Vlastos - Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher p.102
The common belief is that people can know the best without acting on it [Socrates]
     Full Idea: Most people think there are many who recognise the best but are unwilling to act on it.
     From: Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]), quoted by Plato - Protagoras 352d
People do what they think they should do, and only ever do what they think they should do [Socrates, by Xenophon]
     Full Idea: There is no one who knows what they ought to do, but thinks that they ought not to do it, and no one does anything other than what they think they ought to do.
     From: report of Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Xenophon - Memorabilia of Socrates 4.6.6
     A reaction: This is Socrates' well-known rejection of the possibility of weakness of will (akrasia - lit. 'lack of control'). Aristotle disagreed, and so does almost everyone else. Modern smokers seem to exhibit akrasia. I have some sympathy with Socrates.
Socrates was shocked by the idea of akrasia, but observation shows that it happens [Aristotle on Socrates]
     Full Idea: Socrates thought it a shocking idea that when a man actually has knowledge in him something else should overmaster it, ..but this is glaringly inconsistent with the observed facts.
     From: comment on Socrates (reports of career [c.420 BCE]) by Aristotle - Nichomachean Ethics 1145b24
     A reaction: Aristotle seems very confident, but it is not at all clear (even to the agent) what is going on when apparent weakness of will occurs (e.g. breaking a diet). What exactly does the agent believe at the moment of weakness?