Ideas of Plato, by Theme

[Greek, 428 - 347 BCE, Athenian pupil of Socrates. Founded Academy in Athens 385. Travelled to Italy and Sicily. Taught Aristotle. Died in Athens.]

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Spiritual qualities only become advantageous with the growth of wisdom
Love follows beauty, wisdom is exceptionally beautiful, so love follows wisdom
The finest branch of wisdom is justice and moderation in ordering states and families
Wisdom makes virtue and true goodness possible
Wisdom is called 'beautiful', because it performs fine works
1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 2. Wise People
Don't assume that wisdom is the automatic consequence of old age
Good people are no different from wise ones
Philosophers become as divine and orderly as possible, by studying divinity and order
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / b. Pre-Socratic philosophy
Plato never mentions Democritus, and wished to burn his books
1. Philosophy / C. History of Philosophy / 2. Ancient Philosophy / c. Classical philosophy
For the truth you need Prodicus's fifty-drachma course, not his one-drachma course
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 1. Philosophy
Can we understand an individual soul without knowing the soul in general?
For relaxation one can consider the world of change, instead of eternal things
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 2. Invocation to Philosophy
The highest ability in man is the ability to discuss unity and plurality in the nature of things
We must fight fiercely for knowledge, understanding and intelligence
Philosophy is the supreme gift of the gods to mortals
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 4. Aims of Philosophy / b. Philosophy as transcendent
Philosophy is a purification of the soul ready for the afterlife
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 4. Aims of Philosophy / e. Philosophy as reason
We shouldn't always follow where the argument leads!
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 6. Despair over Philosophy
Philosophers are always switching direction to something more interesting
Is a gifted philosopher unmanly if he avoids the strife of the communal world?
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Analysis
Understanding mainly involves knowing the elements, not their combinations
A speaker should be able to divide a subject, right down to the limits of divisibility
Whenever you perceive a community of things, you should also hunt out differences in the group
Either a syllable is its letters (making parts as knowable as whole) or it isn't (meaning it has no parts)
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 5. Against Analysis
The desire to split everything into its parts is unpleasant and unphilosophical
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
It is foolish to quarrel with the mind's own reasoning processes
When questions are doubtful we should concentrate not on objects but on ideas of the intellect
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 3. Pure Reason
In investigation the body leads us astray, but the soul gets a clear view of the facts
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
We ought to follow where the argument leads us
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 6. Coherence
A rational account is essentially a weaving together of things with names
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
The greatest misfortune for a person is to develop a dislike for argument
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
Nothing can come to be without a cause
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 4. Contraries
Only one thing can be contrary to something
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 5. Opposites
Opposites are as unlike as possible
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
The ability to take an overview is the distinguishing mark of a dialectician
For Plato, rationality is a vision of and love of a cosmic rational order
A dialectician is someone who knows how to ask and to answer questions
Dialectic is the only method of inquiry which uproots the things which it takes for granted
Good analysis involves dividing things into appropriate forms without confusion
Dialectic should only be taught to those who already philosophise well
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 2. Elenchus
You must never go against what you actually believe
In "Gorgias" Socrates is confident that his 'elenchus' will decide moral truth
We should test one another, by asking and answering questions
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 3. Eristic
People often merely practice eristic instead of dialectic, because they don't analyse the subject-matter
Eristic discussion is aggressive, but dialectic aims to help one's companions in discussion
2. Reason / D. Definition / 2. Aims of Definition
No one want to define 'weaving' just for the sake of weaving
To reveal a nature, divide down, and strip away what it has in common with other things
2. Reason / D. Definition / 4. Real Definition
A primary element has only a name, and no logos, but complexes have an account, by weaving the names
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 3. Value of Truth
Truth heads the list of all things good, for gods and men alike
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
Truths say of what is that it is, falsehoods say of what is that it is not
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / e. Axioms of PL
In mathematics certain things have to be accepted without further explanation
4. Formal Logic / G. Formal Mereology / 1. Mereology
It seems absurd that seeing a person's limbs, the one is many, and yet the many are one
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / a. Names
A name is a sort of tool
A name-giver might misname something, then force other names to conform to it
Things must be known before they are named, so it can't be the names that give us knowledge
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / c. Names as referential
Anyone who knows a thing's name also knows the thing
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 2. Aporiai
How can you seek knowledge of something if you don't know it?
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Numbers / q. Arithmetic
If you add one to one, which one becomes two, or do they both become two?
Daily arithmetic counts unequal things, but pure arithmetic equalises them
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. Geometry
Geometry can lead the mind upwards to truth and philosophy
It is absurd to define a circle, but not be able to recognise a real one
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 1. Mathematical Platonism / a. For mathematical platonism
We aim for elevated discussion of pure numbers, not attaching them to physical objects
In pure numbers, all ones are equal, with no internal parts
Geometry is not an activity, but the study of unchanging knowledge
We master arithmetic by knowing all the numbers in our soul
One is, so numbers exist, so endless numbers exist, and each one must partake of being
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / c. Against mathematical empiricism
The same thing is both one and an unlimited number at the same time
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / c. Becoming
To become rational, philosophers must rise from becoming into being
The one was and is and will be and was becoming and is becoming and will become
Before the existence of the world there must have been being, space and becoming
The apprehensions of reason remain unchanging, but reasonless sensation shows mere becoming
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / d. Non-being
What does 'that which is not' refer to?
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / e. Being and nothing
If statements about non-existence are logically puzzling, so are statements about existence
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 4. Existence as One
The only movement possible for the One is in space or in alteration
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 8. Criterion for Existence
To be is to have a capacity, to act on other things, or to receive actions
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 1. Nature of Change
How can beauty have identity if it changes?
The best things (gods, healthy bodies, good souls) are least liable to change
There seem to be two sorts of change: alteration and motion
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 8. Stuff / b. Mixtures
Any mixture which lacks measure and proportion doesn't even count as a mixture at all
If a mixture does not contain measure and proportion, it is corrupted and destroyed
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
Reasoning needs to cut nature accurately at the joints
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 2. Reality
Plato's reality has unchanging Parmenidean forms, and Heraclitean flux
Absolute ideas, such as the Good and the Beautiful, cannot be known by us
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 5. Physicalism
Some alarming thinkers think that only things which you can touch exist
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 10. Ontological Commitment / a. Ontological commitment
Whenever there's speech it has to be about something
7. Existence / E. Categories / 2. Categorisation
We only succeed in cutting if we use appropriate tools, not if we approach it randomly
I revere anyone who can discern a single thing that encompasses many things
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 3. Structural Relations
Plato's idea of 'structure' tends to be mathematically expressed
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 2. Need for Universals
You must always mean the same thing when you utter the same name
The plurality of beautiful things must belong to a single class, because they have a single particular character
It takes a person to understand, by using universals, and by using reason to create a unity out of sense-impressions
If you deny that each thing always stays the same, you destroy the possibility of discussion
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / a. Platonic Forms
Diotima said the Forms are the objects of desire in philosophical discourse
Forms are not universals, as they don't cover every general term
Plato moves from Forms to a theory of genera and principles in his later work
It would absurd to think there were abstract Forms for vile things like hair, mud and dirt
If admirable things have Forms, maybe everything else does as well
If absolute ideas existed in us, they would cease to be absolute
The concept of a master includes the concept of a slave
Greatness and smallness must exist, to be opposed to one another, and come into being in things
Good thinkers spot forms spread through things, or included within some larger form
The not-beautiful is part of the beautiful, though opposed to it, and is just as real
Plato's Forms were seen as part of physics, rather than of metaphysics
Something will always be well-made if the maker keeps in mind the eternal underlying pattern
Plato's Forms meant that the sophists only taught the appearance of wisdom and virtue
Craftsmen making furniture refer to the form, but no one manufactures the form of furniture
We would have an overpowering love of knowledge if we had a pure idea of it - as with the other Forms
For knowledge and true opinion to be different there must be Forms; otherwise we are just stuck with sensations
We must have a prior knowledge of equality, if we see 'equal' things and realise they fall short of it
When Diogenes said he could only see objects but not their forms, Plato said it was because he had eyes but no intellect
In addition to the underlying unchanging model and a changing copy of it, there must also be a foundation of all change
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / b. Partaking
Participation is not by means of similarity, so we are looking for some other method of participation
A Form applies to a set of particular things with the same name
Each idea is in all its participants at once, just as daytime is a unity but in many separate places at once
If things are made alike by participating in something, that thing will be the absolute idea
Beautiful things must be different from beauty itself, but beauty itself must be present in each of them
There is only one source for all beauty
If the good is one, is it unchanged when it is in particulars, and is it then separated from itself?
The universe is basically an intelligible and unchanging model, and a visible and changing copy of it
Other things are named after the Forms because they participate in them
If there is one Form for both the Form and its participants, they must have something in common
The whole idea of each Form must be found in each thing which participates in it
If things partake of ideas, this implies either that everything thinks, or that everything actually is thought
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / c. Self-predication
If absolute greatness and great things are seen as the same, another thing appears which makes them seem great
Nothing can be like an absolute idea, because a third idea intervenes to make them alike (leading to a regress)
If asked whether justice itself is just or unjust, you would have to say that it is just
If gods are like men, they are just eternal men; similarly, Forms must differ from particulars
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / d. Forms critiques
A Form is a cause of things only in the way that white mixed with white is a cause
The Forms cannot be changeless if they are in changing things
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / a. Individuation
We can grasp whole things in science, because they have a mathematics and a teleology
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Individuation / d. Individuation by haecceity
Doesn't each thing have an essence, just as it has other qualities?
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 6. Nihilism about Objects
If we see everything as separate, we can then give no account of it
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / a. Intrinsic unification
Plato was less concerned than Aristotle with the source of unity in a complex object
Plato sees an object's structure as expressible in mathematics
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
Parts must belong to a created thing with a distinct form
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / c. Unity as conceptual
A thing can become one or many, depending on how we talk about it
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / c. Types of substance
Plato's holds that there are three substances: Forms, mathematical entities, and perceptible bodies
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 5. Composition of an Object
In Parmenides, if composition is identity, a whole is nothing more than its parts
If one object is divided into its parts, someone can then say that one are many and many is one
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / a. Parts of objects
If a word has no parts and has a single identity, it turns out to be the same kind of thing as a letter
Anything which has parts must be one thing, and parts are of a one, not of a many
Plato says only a one has parts, and a many does not
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 8. Parts of Objects / c. Wholes from parts
A sum is that from which nothing is lacking, which is a whole
The whole can't be the parts, because it would be all of the parts, which is the whole
Plato says wholes are either containers, or they're atomic, or they don't exist
It seems that the One must be composed of parts, which contradicts its being one
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 2. Types of Essence
Only universals have essence
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 3. Individual Essences
Things don't have every attribute, and essence isn't private, so each thing has an essence
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 6. Essence as Unifier
Plato and Aristotle take essence to make a thing what it is
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
Is the being or essence of each thing private to each person?
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 9. Ship of Theseus
The ship which Theseus took to Crete is now sent to Delos crowned with flowers
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 6. Identity between Objects
Two things relate either as same or different, or part of a whole, or the whole of the part
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
If we made a perfect duplicate of Cratylus, there would be two Cratyluses
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Things are only knowable if a rational account (logos) is possible
Knowing how to achieve immortality is pointless without the knowledge how to use immortality
Knowledge must be of the permanent unchanging nature of things
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
Expertise is knowledge of the whole by means of the parts
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 3. Value of Knowledge
The only real evil is loss of knowledge
True opinions only become really valuable when they are tied down by reasons
The most important things in life are wisdom and knowledge
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / c. Aim of beliefs
It is impossible to believe something which is held to be false
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / d. Cause of beliefs
How can a belief exist if its object doesn't exist?
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 1. Certainty
How can you be certain about aspects of the world if they aren't constant?
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / b. Recollection doctrine
Seeking and learning are just recollection
If we feel the inadequacy of a resemblance, we must recollect the original
The soul gets its goodness from god, and its evil from previous existence.
People are obviously recollecting when they react to a geometrical diagram
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 6. A Priori from Reason
To achieve pure knowledge, we must get rid of the body and contemplate things with the soul
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 1. Perception
Our senses could have been separate, but they converge on one mind
Perception is infallible, suggesting that it is knowledge
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
Only bird-brained people think astronomy is entirely a matter of evidence
If theory and practice conflict, the best part of the mind accepts theory, so the other part is of lower grade
With what physical faculty do we perceive pairs of opposed abstract qualities?
Thought must grasp being itself before truth becomes possible
You might mistake eleven for twelve in your senses, but not in your mind
True knowledge is of the reality behind sense experience
A soul without understanding is ugly
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / b. Need for justification
As a guide to action, true opinion is as good as knowledge
True belief without knowledge is like blind people on the right road
An inadequate rational account would still not justify knowledge
True opinion without reason is midway between wisdom and ignorance
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 2. Justification Challenges / a. Agrippa's trilemma
Parts and wholes are either equally knowable or equally unknowable
Without distinguishing marks, how do I know what my beliefs are about?
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 3. Internal or External / a. Pro-internalism
A rational account involves giving an image, or analysis, or giving a differentiating mark
A rational account might be seeing an image of one's belief, like a reflection in a mirror
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / a. Foundationalism
Maybe primary elements can be named, but not receive a rational account
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / b. Pro-coherentism
A rational account of a wagon would mean knowledge of its hundred parts
13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 3. Reliabilism / a. Reliable knowledge
Say how many teeth the other has, then count them. If you are right, we will trust your other claims
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
There can't be any knowledge if things are constantly changing
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 5. Dream Scepticism
What evidence can be brought to show whether we are dreaming or not?
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
You don't need to learn what you know, and how do you seek for what you don't know?
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 6. Relativism Critique
Clearly some people are superior to others when it comes to medicine
Do the gods also hold different opinions about what is right and honourable?
If you claim that all beliefs are true, that includes beliefs opposed to your own
How can a relativist form opinions about what will happen in the future?
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 5. Anomalies
If the apparent facts strongly conflict with probability, it is in everyone's interests to suppress the facts
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / b. Aims of explanation
A good explanation totally rules out the opposite explanation (so Forms are required)
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / f. Causal explanations
To investigate the causes of things, study what is best for them
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / e. Questions about mind
Is the function of the mind management, authority and planning - or is it one's whole way of life?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 2. Psuché
Plato says the soul is ordered by number
Soul causes the body to live, and gives it power to breathe and to be revitalized
Psychic conflict is clear if appetite is close to the body and reason fairly separate
There is a third element to the mind - spirit - lying between reason and appetite
The soul is self-motion
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 5. Unity of Mind
The mind has parts, because we have inner conflicts
The soul seems to have an infinity of parts
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 8. Brain
Do we think and experience with blood, air or fire, or could it be our brain?
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 7. Seeing Resemblance
Everything resembles everything else up to a point
16. Persons / B. Concept of the Self / 1. Essential Self
Only the gods stay unchanged; we replace our losses with similar acquisitions
One soul can't be more or less of a soul than another
16. Persons / B. Concept of the Self / 5. Persistence of Self
We call a person the same throughout life, but all their attributes change
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Free Will Theories / b. Determinism
No one wants to be bad, but bad men result from physical and educational failures, which they do not want or choose
19. Language / F. Communication / 1. Rhetoric
Rhetoric can produce conviction, but not educate people about right and wrong
Plato's whole philosophy may be based on being duped by reification - a figure of speech
An excellent speech seems to imply a knowledge of the truth in the mind of the speaker
The question of whether or not to persuade comes before the science of persuasion
'Phaedrus' pioneers the notion of philosophical rhetoric
Rhetoric is irrational about its means and its ends
The 'Republic' is a great work of rhetorical theory
Only a good philosopher can be a good speaker
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 1. Intention to Act / b. Types of intention
All activity aims at the good
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 2. Acting on Beliefs / a. Acting on beliefs
We avoid evil either through a natural aversion, or because we have acquired knowledge
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / b. Intellectualism
If goodness needs true opinion but not knowledge, you can skip the 'examined life'
No one willingly and knowingly embraces evil
Courage is knowing what should or shouldn't be feared
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 3. Beauty
If goodness involves moderation and proportion, then it seems to be found in beauty
What is fine is always difficult
Beauty and goodness are the same
Beauty is harmony with what is divine, and ugliness is lack of such harmony
A soul which lacks understanding is ugly
People who value beauty above virtue insult the soul by placing the body above it
Love of ugliness is impossible
Beauty is the clearest and most lovely of the Forms
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Natural Beauty
Stage two is the realisation that beauty of soul is of more value than beauty of body
Progress goes from physical beauty, to moral beauty, to the beauty of knowledge, and reaches absolute beauty
Non-physical beauty can only be shown clearly by speech
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 8. The Arts / a. Music
Music has harmony like the soul, and serves to reorder disharmony within us
Music is a knowledge of love in the realm of harmony and rhythm
21. Aesthetics / B. Nature of Art / 8. The Arts / b. Poetry
Without the surface decoration, poetry shows only appearances and nothing of what is real
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 2. Artistic Representation
Representation is two steps removed from the truth
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 6. Value of Art
Truth is closely related to proportion
Artists should be excluded from a law-abiding community, because they destroy the rational mind
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 10. Art and Morality
What is fine is the parent of goodness
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Fact and value
Plato measured the degree of reality by the degree of value
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / b. Altruism
The just man does not harm his enemies, but benefits everyone
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / c. Love
Love assists men in achieving merit and happiness
Love is desire for perpetual possession of the good
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / d. Fine deeds
A good person is bound to act well, and this brings happiness
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / e. Self interest
Is it natural to simply indulge our selfish desires?
If we were invisible, would the just man become like the unjust?
Clever criminals do well at first, but not in the long run
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / a. Form of the Good
For Plato we abandon honour and pleasure once we see the Good
Goodness makes truth and knowledge possible
Bad is always destructive, where good preserves and benefits
Neither intellect nor pleasure are the good, because they are not perfect and self-sufficient
Every person, and every activity, aims at the good
Good has the same role in the world of knowledge as the sun has in the physical world
The good is beautiful
The main aim is to understand goodness, which gives everything its value and advantage
The good involves beauty, proportion and truth
The sight of goodness leads to all that is fine and true and right
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / b. Types of good
Good first, then beauty, then reason, then knowledge, then pleasure
Plato's legacy to European thought was the Good, the Beautiful and the True
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / d. Good as virtue
If a person is good they will automatically become happy
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / e. Good as knowledge
Only knowledge of some sort is good
Pleasure is commonly thought to be the good, though the more ingenious prefer knowledge
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / f. Good as pleasure
Pleasure is better with the addition of intelligence, so pleasure is not the good
In slaking our thirst the goodness of the action and the pleasure are clearly separate
Good should be the aim of pleasant activity, not the other way round
Even people who think pleasure is the good admit that there are bad pleasures
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
An action is only just if it is performed by someone with a just character and outlook
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / h. Good as benefit
Some things are good even though they are not beneficial to men
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / i. Moral luck
Attempted murder is like real murder, but we should respect the luck which avoided total ruin
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / b. Eudaimonia
Happiness is secure enjoyment of what is good and beautiful
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
One should exercise both the mind and the body, to avoid imbalance
Plato decided that the virtuous and happy life was the philosophical life
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / a. Nature of pleasure
Some of the pleasures and pains we feel are false
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / b. Types of pleasure
A small pure pleasure is much finer than a large one contaminated with pain
Nice smells are intensive, have no preceding pain, and no bad after-effect
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / c. Value of pleasure
The good must be sufficient and perfect, and neither intellect nor pleasure are that
People tend only to disapprove of pleasure if it leads to pain, or prevents future pleasure
It is unlikely that the gods feel either pleasure or pain
Some pleasures are not good, and some pains are not evil
Philosophers are concerned with totally non-physical pleasures
Reason, memory, truth and wisdom are far better than pleasure, for those who can attain them
Would you prefer a life of pleasure without reason, or one of reason without pleasure?
Most pleasure is release from pain, and is therefore not worthwhile
Pleasure is certainly very pleasant, but it doesn't follow that all pleasures are good
It would be strange if the gods rewarded those who experienced the most pleasure in life
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / d. Sources of pleasure
There are three types of pleasure, for reason, for spirit and for appetite
We feel pleasure when we approach our natural state of harmony
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / e. Role of pleasure
Good and bad people seem to experience equal amounts of pleasure and pain
It is a mistake to think that the most violent pleasure or pain is therefore the truest reality
Intense pleasure and pain are not felt in a good body, but in a worthless one
Everything that takes place naturally is pleasant
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / f. Dangers of pleasure
In a fool's mind desire is like a leaky jar, insatiable in its desires, and order and contentment are better
If happiness is the satisfaction of desires, then a life of scratching itches should be happiness
Pleasure-seekers desperately seek illusory satisfaction, like filling a leaky vessel
Excessive pleasure deranges people, making the other virtues impossible
The conquest of pleasure is the noblest victory of all
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
To understand morality requires a soul
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / b. Defining ethics
I suggest that we forget about trying to define goodness itself for the time being
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / d. Ethical theory
What knowledge is required to live well?
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / c. Ethical intuitionism
Plato never refers to examining the conscience
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / e. Human nature
The two ruling human principles are the natural desire for pleasure, and an acquired love of virtue
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / g. Will to power
Moral rules are made by the weak members of humanity
Justice is merely the interests of the stronger party
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
As religion and convention collapsed, Plato sought morals not just in knowledge, but in the soul
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
We should behave well even if invisible, for the health of the mind
Wickedness is an illness of the soul
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 2. Hedonism
A life of pure pleasure with no intellect is the life of a jellyfish
Hedonists must say that someone in pain is bad, even if they are virtuous
Is the happiest state one of sensual, self-indulgent freedom?
If you lived a life of maximum pleasure, would you still be lacking anything?
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 1. Contractarianism
Isn't it better to have a reputation for goodness than to actually be good?
Morality is a compromise, showing restraint, to avoid suffering wrong without compensation
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 3. Promise Keeping
Surely you don't return a borrowed weapon to a mad friend?
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 4. Value of Authority
Is right just the interests of the powerful?
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 5. Free Rider
Sin first, then sacrifice to the gods from the proceeds
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
Plato, unusually, said that theoretical and practical wisdom are inseparable
'Arete' signifies lack of complexity and a free-flowing soul
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
If something has a function then it has a state of being good
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Should we avoid evil because it will bring us bad consequences?
Every crime is the result of excessive self-love
For Plato, virtue is its own reward
Virtue is a concord of reason and emotion, with pleasure and pain trained to correct ends
Is the supreme reward for virtue to be drunk for eternity?
Reason impels us towards excellence, which teaches us self-control
The only slavery which is not dishonourable is slavery to excellence
The first step on the right path is the contemplation of physical beauty when young
A serious desire for moral excellence is very rare indeed
The only worthwhile life is one devoted to physical and moral perfection
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
Socrates is contradicting himself in claiming virtue can't be taught, but that it is knowledge
Virtue is the aim of all laws
Is virtue taught, or achieved by practice, or a natural aptitude, or what?
Socrates did not believe that virtue could be taught
Protagoras contradicts himself by saying virtue is teachable, but then that it is not knowledge
If virtue is a type of knowledge then it ought to be taught
It seems that virtue is neither natural nor taught, but is a divine gift
If we punish wrong-doers, it shows that we believe virtue can be taught
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / e. Character
I would rather be a victim of crime than a criminal
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / f. The Mean
The arts produce good and beautiful things by preserving the mean
Something which lies midway between two evils is better than either of them
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / h. Right feelings
Goodness is mental health, badness is mental sickness
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
The Guardians must aim to discover the common element in the four cardinal virtues
Even if virtues are many and various, they must have something in common to make them virtues
How can you know part of virtue without knowing the whole?
True goodness requires mental unity and harmony
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / a. Virtues
A good community necessarily has wisdom, courage, self-discipline and morality
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / b. Temperance
If absence of desire is happiness, then nothing is happier than a stone or a corpse
Self-indulgent desire makes friendship impossible, because it makes a person incapable of co-operation
Excessive laughter and tears must be avoided
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / c. Justice
Do most people praise self-discipline and justice because they are too timid to gain their own pleasure?
Injustice is the mastery of the soul by bad feelings, even if they do not lead to harm
A criminal is worse off if he avoids punishment
Simonides said morality is helping one's friends and harming one's enemies
Justice is granting the equality which unequals deserve
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / d. Courage
Being unafraid (perhaps through ignorance) and being brave are two different things
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / b. Health
The popular view is that health is first, good looks second, and honest wealth third
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
War aims at the acquisition of wealth, because we are enslaved to the body
Virtue and great wealth are quite incompatible
The best people are produced where there is no excess of wealth or poverty
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / d. Friendship
People say that friendship exists only between good men
Bad people are never really friends with one another
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 2. Sexual Morality
While sex is very pleasant, it should be in secret, as it looks contemptible
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
People need society because the individual has too many needs
25. Society / B. The State / 1. Purpose of a State
As with other things, a good state is organised and orderly
All exchanges in a community are for mutual benefit
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
After a taste of mutual harm, men make a legal contract to avoid it
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / c. Despotism
Totalitarian states destroy friendships and community spirit
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites
Reluctant rulers make a better and more unified administration
Only rule by philosophers of integrity can keep a community healthy
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
A good citizen won't be passive, but will redirect the needs of the state
25. Society / C. Political Doctrines / 7. Communitarianism
Education in virtue produces citizens who are active but obedient
Is there anything better for a community than to produce excellent people?
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 1. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights
Sound laws achieve the happiness of those who observe them
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / a. Grounds of equality
Do most people like equality because they are second-rate?
Men and women should qualify equally for honours on merit
Friendship is impossible between master and slave, even if they are made equal
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 3. Social Equality / d. Economic equality
Does nature imply that it is right for better people to have greater benefits?
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / a. Education principles
Bad governments prevent discussion, and discourage the study of virtue
Mathematics has the widest application of any subject on the curriculum
To gain knowledge, turn away from the world of change, and focus on true goodness
Dialectic is the highest and most important part of the curriculum
Children's games should channel their pleasures into adult activity
Control of education is the key office of state, and should go to the best citizen
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / b. Aims of education
Intelligence is the result of rational teaching; true opinion can result from irrational persuasion
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / c. Teaching
Didactic education is hard work and achieves little
The best way to educate the young is not to rebuke them, but to set a good example
Education is channelling a child's feelings into the right course before it understands why
Compulsory intellectual work never remains in the mind
Only a great person can understand the essence of things, and an even greater person can teach it
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 1. Nature
The creator of the cosmos had no envy, and so wanted things to be as like himself as possible
The cosmos must be unique, because it resembles the creator, who is unique
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 2. Natural Purpose
Creation is not for you; you exist for the sake of creation
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 3. Natural Function
A thing's function is what it alone can do, or what it does better than other things
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 1. Basis of Nature
Everything partakes of the One in some way
Some things do not partake of the One
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 2. The Unlimited
The unlimited has no shape and is endless
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / d. Beginning of time
Time came into existence with the heavens, so that there will be a time when they can be dissolved
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 4. Time / i. Time and change
Heavenly movements gave us the idea of time, and caused us to inquire about the heavens
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / a. Causation
There are two types of cause, the necessary and the divine
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / b. Types of cause
Fancy being unable to distinguish a cause from its necessary background conditions!
27. Natural Reality / A. Physics / 1. Matter / c. Atoms
We must consider the four basic shapes as too small to see, only becoming visible in large numbers
27. Natural Reality / C. Biology / 5. Species
The natural offspring of a lion is called a 'lion' (but what about the offspring of a king?)
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 1. Cosmology
Clearly the world is good, so its maker must have been concerned with the eternal, not with change
If the Earth is spherical and in the centre, it is kept in place by universal symmetry, not by force
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 2. Beginning
If the prime origin is destroyed, it will not come into being again out of anything
If the cosmos is an object of perception then it must be continually changing
Movement is transmitted through everything, and it must have started with self-generated motion
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 2. Divine Nature
Even the gods love play
Only divine things can always stay the same, and bodies are not like that
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 3. Divine Perfections
Gods are not lovers of wisdom, because they are already wise
The mind of God is fully satisfied and happy with a vision of reality and truth
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
It seems that the gods love things because they are pious, rather than making them pious by loving them
Is what is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because they love it? (the 'Euthyphro Question')
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / c. God is the good
God must be the epitome of goodness, and we can only approach a divine state by being as good as possible
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / d. God decrees morality
In 'The Laws', to obey the law is to be obey god
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 7. God Reflecting Humanity
We cannot conceive of God, so we have to think of Him as an immortal version of ourselves
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 1. Ontological Proof
We couldn't discuss the non-existence of the One without knowledge of it
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 1. Cosmological Proof
Self-movers are clearly superior to things moved, so they must initiate all movement
There must be a soul to originate movement, which is presumably the soul that originates good rather than evil
The motion of the sun is from a soul within it, or a soul touching it, or a supernatural force
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 2. Teleological Proof
Soul must be the cause of all the opposites, such as good and evil or beauty and ugliness
The universe is ordered and moves in perfect circles, showing that a good soul originated it
28. God / E. Attitudes to God / 3. Deism
If the gods are non-existent or indifferent, why bother to deceive them?
28. God / E. Attitudes to God / 4. Atheism
There isn't a single reason for positing the existence of immortal beings
If astronomical movements are seen as necessary instead of by divine will, this leads to atheism
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 1. Immortality
Whether the soul pre-exists our body depends on whether it contains the ultimate standard of reality
Soul is always in motion, so it must be self-moving and immortal
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 2. Soul
Something is unlikely to be immortal if it is imperfectly made from diverse parts
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 1. Problem of Evil
There must always be some force of evil ranged against good
29. Religion / F. Problem of Evil / 4. Natural Evil
God is responsible for the good things, but we must look elsewhere for the cause of the bad things