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The Social Aspect in Plato’s Ethics: The Significance of Human Beings’ Social Nature in Approaching Justice, Wisdom, and Partnership
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Metaphysics.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation explores whether or to what extent the notion that humans are social animals influences Plato’s ethics. The goal is to develop a line of interpreting Plato that is broadly zoological-based; a line that I call the social approach. It ascribes to Plato the view that the right sort of social interaction is necessary for, or even a part of, happiness or human flourishing. While Aristotle is the one credited in the research literature with a conception of happiness that takes seriously the idea that human beings are social animals, this thesis argues that Plato’s morality of happiness is based on a specific zoological-based view of human beings. This view arises from the observation that Plato compares human beings to social insects living and flourishing in collectives. The dissertation is primarily concerned with Plato’s Euthydemus, Republic, and Statesman. It is argued that Plato understands human beings’ as social by nature, and that this forms a feasible starting point for approaching his philosophy (chapter 1). The social approach is further developed and tested in three separate secondary discussions within contemporary interpretations. These concern Plato’s notion of justice, wisdom, and partnership. It is argued that for Plato, justice is an intrinsic good that is not merely a property of the soul and its internal relations, but something that ties people together in mutually beneficial relations (chapter 2); that social interaction is a part of wisdom, as a virtue, and, consequently, of the good life (chapter 3); and that the right sort of partnership is not only necessary for survival, but also a part of happiness (chapter 4).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University , 2016. , 207 p.
Keyword [en]
Plato, ethics, justice, wisdom, partnership, happiness, eudaimonia, politikos, Statesman, Republic, Euthydemus, social, human nature, social approach
National Category
Research subject
Philosophy, with specialization in history of philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-291444ISBN: 978-91-506-2553-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-291444DiVA: diva2:925717
Public defence
2016-08-22, Ihresalen, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2016-05-27 Created: 2016-05-02 Last updated: 2016-05-27

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