I suspect that no one who is skeptical of this conclusion will be convinced of the contrary on the basis of the evidence presented here. In any event, Reshotko's overarching aim is to demystify Socrates' ethical theory by transcending the tendency "of contemporary readers to place an unwarranted overlay of post-Kantian morality back onto Plato's text. It can be approached using one's appreciation of what the world is like and how one can work within the constraints that nature places upon us … in order to change it.
Beyond the introduction , the book divides into three parts: Socrates' theory of motivation , Socrates' theory of value , and Socrates' view of happiness and of the relation between virtue and happiness The central argument of part one is that anachronistic assumptions about epistemology and desire hinder understanding of Socrates' conception of desire.
Descartes' view that the content of our psychological states is incorrigible and Frege's view that the object of an intentional verb is the sense rather than the reference of the term have both left legacies that compel current belief that we know what we desire and whether we are happy. In contrast, Reshotko defends the interpretation that, for Socrates, everyone desires the actual good, genuine happiness, regardless of whether they know what that is. Reshotko speaks of this as the Dominance theory of desire. Beyond the Dominance theory, Socrates is a psychological egoist; that is, he maintains that everyone aims to do what is in his or her self-interest.
Furthermore, Socrates believes that all desire is rational; that is, everyone always does what they believe is the best means to the best end. Consequently, everyone always pursues their genuine happiness.
The problem is that few understand how to achieve genuine happiness. Enter Socrates, who has a theory that explains the most promising means to achieve genuine happiness. According to Socrates' theory of value, there are two sorts of good: Both are unconditional goods. But happiness is a "self-generated" good in that it "derives its value strictly from its inherent properties;" whereas virtue is an "other-generated" good in that it derives its value from happiness, precisely from its conduciveness to happiness.
For example, wealth, used viciously, conduces to misery.
Socratic Virtue: Making the Best of the Neither-Good-Nor-Bad
The relation between virtue and happiness, in which Socrates is interested, is not one of definition or conceptuality. Thus, questions about the logical necessity or sufficiency of virtue for happiness -- common among Plato scholars of the last few decades -- are misguided. Rather, Socrates maintains that, given the way the world works, happiness can only be pursued through the pursuit of virtue.
In other words, the relation between virtue and happiness is nomological and contingent. Consequently, although Socrates' theory is not prescriptive, given that everyone wants to become as happy as possible, the description of the theory "persuades those who understand it to endeavor to become as virtuous as possible.
Demystification of Socratic ethics is completed in chapters eight and nine where Reshotko unveils the identities of virtue and happiness. In chapter eight, she argues that virtue is identical to knowledge, indeed, to the "scientific" knowledge of happiness or human advantage. This science "is simply the science of how to use that which is yielded by all the other sciences in order to produce happiness, by understanding that happiness is the goal of a human life, and what happiness is.
Modal pleasures are "things done in a certain way … effortlessly or without boredom, or are approached in a certain way, or have a particular value to a person.
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By contrast, sensate pleasures are the feelings that result from what is done. So much by way of an overview. Readers interested in slightly more amplification can find Reshotko's summary of her argument on pages I move now to criticism.
To begin, let me clarify that I have strong views on the texts that Reshotko discusses. I have my own book and twenty articles on the subject. More often than not, I have reached different conclusions from Reshotko's. Now, it should be emphasized that to the extent that Reshotko's contribution is original, its originality largely comes from its assemblage of parts, not from the parts themselves.
Reshotko by no means conceals her debts, but the magnitude of those debts is rather striking. Reshotko was a student of Penner's at Madison; in the book she identifies him as her mentor. Part one of the book is essentially an elaboration of Penner's views. Reshotko says so herself: Part one is seventy pages.
Additionally, Reshotko's view of happiness as modal pleasure in chapter nine depends upon the work of Rudebusch Socrates, Pleasure, and Value , OUP, , especially chapters six through ten. In one respect, it is refreshing to see a scholar earnestly and candidly building on the work of others, in contrast merely to criticizing. Google Books no proxy Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy. On Unendorsed Association and Human Behaviour. Socrates on Reason, Appetite and Passion: A Response to Thomas C.
Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, Socratic Moral Psychology. Ethical Expertise and Self-Knowledge.
Socratic Virtue: Making the Best of the Neither-Good-Nor-Bad by Naomi Reshotko
Reed - - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 2: Smith - - Analytic Philosophy 53 2: Morris - - Heythrop Journal 55 1: Desire and Motivation in Plato: Issues in the Psychology of the Early Dialogues and the "Republic". Glenn Lesses - - Dissertation, Indiana University. Making the Best of the Neither-Good-nor-Bad. Clerk Shaw - - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 1: Robin Waterfield - - Heythrop Journal 49 3: Senn - - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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Morrison - - Polis 18 Desire and Understanding in Plato's Philosophy of Education. Aristotle's Dialogue with Socrates: On the Nicomachean Ethics. Ronna Burger - - University of Chicago Press.
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