Moral Education and Moral Degeneration in Plato's "Republic"

Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania (1997)

The moral virtue of the auxiliary guardians in Plato's Republic is a state of soul which is inferior to philosophical knowledge, but greatly superior to the pseudo-virtue of mere right opinion or accidentally right action. This dissertation investigates the virtue of the auxiliary guardians, especially in relation to the Republic's account of moral psychology, moral education, and moral degeneration. An original interpretation of spiritedness is offered, as competitiveness and a desire for dominance. The apparent diversity in spiritedness is explained as a consequence of the necessity that dominance and competitiveness be expressed in terms of some secondary value. The guardians' education and training involve habits of thought as well as habits of conduct and expression. The harmony of soul which is the auxiliary guardians' moral virtue is shown to be an approximation of the state of soul of the philosopher. For the musical and poetic education which the auxiliary guardians receive gives rise to a sort of moral and aesthetic paradigm, which is parallel to the paradigm which the philosophers possess by virtue of their knowledge of the Form of the Good. The marriage lie and the particular degenerative power of tragic poetry are discussed.
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