Plato's dialogues can be read as a carefully staged exhibition and investigation of paideia, education in the broadest sense, including all that affects the formation of character and mind. The twentieth century textbook Plato — the Plato of the Myth of the Cave and the Divided Line, the ascent to the Good through Forms and Ideas — is but one of his elusive multiple authorial personae, each taking a different perspective on his investigations. As its focused problems differ, each Platonic (...) dialogue exhibits a somewhat different model for learning; each adds a distinctive dimension to Plato's fully considered counsel for education. Setting aside the important difficult questions about the chronological sequence in which the dialogues were written and revised, we can trace the argumentative rationale of Plato's fully considered views on paideia, on who should be educated by whom for what, on the stages and presuppositions of different kinds of learning. Those views are inextricably connected with his views about the structure of the soul, about the virtues and the politeia that can sustain a good life; and about cosmology and metaphysics. (shrink)
Akrasia is not always --or only-- a solitary failure to act on a person's judgment of what is, all things considered, best. Nor is it always a species of moral or ethical failure prompted by a form of irrationality. It is often prompted by social support and sustained by structuring political institutions.
We are well served, both practically and morally, by moral and ethical diversity. Moral deliberation requires the collaboration of distinctive perspectives: consequentialist, deontological, perfectionist considerations each contribute significant dimensions in determining what is good and what is right; virtue theory highlights the development of reliable ethical character.
As Elster suggests in his chapter 'Contradictions of the Mind', in Logic and Society, akrasia and self-deception represent the most common psychological functions for a person in conflict and contradiction. This article develops the theme of akrasia and conflict. Section I says what akrasia is not. Section II describes the character of the akrates, analyzing the sorts of conflicts to which he is subject and describing the sources of his debilities. A brief account is then given of the attractions of (...) the akratic alternative: its power to focus or dominate the agent's attention; its being strongly habitual; its having the pull of social streaming: following the charismatic leader, the mechanisms of sympathetic or antipathetic infection, the models of role casting. Following these strategies is by no means pathological: these are relatively automatic (though still voluntary) psychological functions. That is precisely their power and attraction: they provide the conflicted akrates with an action solution, though not one that accords with his preferred judgment. (shrink)
In this paper the view is presented that self?knowledge has no special status; its varieties constitute distinctive classes, differing from one another more sharply than each does from analogous knowledge of others. Most cases of self?knowledge are best understood contextually, subsumed under such other activities as decision?making and socializing. First person, present tense ?reports? of sensations, intentions, and thoughts are primarily adaptively expressive, only secondarily truth?functional. The last section sketches some of the disadvantages, as well as some of the advantages, (...) of being the sort of animal that is capable of treating itself as an object, to be known as others are known. (shrink)
In Part I, I consider the normal contexts of assertions of belief and declarations of intentions, arguing that many action-guiding beliefs are accepted uncritically and even pre-consciously. I analyze the function of avowals as expressions of attempts at self-transformation. It is because assertions of beliefs are used to perform a wide range of speech acts besides that of speaking the truth, and because there is a large area of indeterminacy in such assertions, that self-deception is possible. In Part II, I (...) analyze the conditions of self-deception, and discuss the grounds on which it is regarded as irrational, even when particular instances may be beneficial. I consider some of the classical analyses of the motives for self-deception, and attempt to give an account of the occasions in which it is likely to occur. In the final section, I discuss the complex organization of the self that is presupposed by the phenomena of self-deception. (shrink)