Plato's Ethics / Edition 1

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This exceptional book examines and explains Plato's answer to the normative question, "How ought we to live?" It discusses Plato's conception of the virtues; his views about the connection between the virtues and happiness; and the account of reason, desire, and motivation that underlies his arguments about the virtues. Plato's answer to the epistemological question, "How can we know how we ought to live?" is also discussed. His views on knowledge, belief, and inquiry, and his theory of Forms, are examined, insofar as they are relevant to his ethical view. Terence Irwin traces the development of Plato's moral philosophy, from the Socratic dialogues to its fullest exposition in the Republic. Plato's Ethics discusses Plato's reasons for abandoning or modifying some aspects of Socratic ethics, and for believing that he preserves Socrates' essential insights. A brief and selective discussion of the Statesmen, Philebus, and Laws is included. Replacing Irwin's earlier Plato's Moral Theory (Oxford, 1977), this book gives a clearer and fuller account of the main questions and discusses some recent controversies in the interpretation of Plato's ethics. It does not presuppose any knowledge of Greek or any extensive knowledge of Plato.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Many will regard the new work as one of the better places to begin their background reading on the ethics of Plato....Recommended."—Choice

"Plato's Ethics is a model of how to enter into another's mind by making full use of one's own. Reflective readers will gain many insights into Plato's philosophy, and into the art of doing ancient philosophy."—Ancient Philosophy

"...Plato's Ethics is an exceptionally coherent and cogent book. Its arguments set a standard of clarity worthy of emulation by champions and critics alike, and I suspect this book will appear as a regular entry in bibliographies for some time,"—E.E. Benitez, The Review of Metaphysics

"Plato's Moral Theory was one of the classic works of ancient philosophy scholarship of this century and Plato's Ethics should be at least as influential. Its clarity, rigor, and philosophical sophistication and imagination are rarely matched even by the best work in the history of philosophy."—The Philosophical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195086454
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/12/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Terence Irwin is Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University and author of several books on ancient philosophy, including Classical Thought (Oxford, 1988), Aristotle's First Principles (Oxford, 1988), and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (1985).

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Table of Contents

1 Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues 3
2 Socrates' Method 17
3 Socrates' Arguments about the Virtues 31
4 Socrates: From Happiness to Virtue 52
5 Difficulties for Socrates 65
6 The Protagoras 78
7 The Argument of the Gorgias 95
8 Implications of the Gorgias 111
9 Socratic Method and Socratic Ethics: The Meno 127
10 The Theory of Forms 148
11 Republic I 169
12 Republic II: Objections to Justice 181
13 Republic IV: The Division of the Soul 203
14 Republic IV: The Virtues 223
15 Republic IV: Justice and Happiness 244
16 Republic V-VII 262
17 Republic VIII-IX on Justice 281
18 Platonic Love 298
19 Pleasure, Intelligence, and the Good 318
20 Reason and Virtue 339
Notes 355
References 393
Index Locorum 407
Index Nominum 419
General Index 423
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