Sophrosune and Mania: The Rise and Study of Moral Psychology

Dissertation, Duke University (2000)

Elizabeth Schiltz
College of Wooster
In the Phaedrus, Plato asserts that divine erotic mania is not an "invariable evil," but enables the philosopher to ascend to the forms and attain "true knowledge," On this view of the best life, this mania has value---it is even "superior" to sophrosume. This dissertation argues that this Phaedrus account should be read as a work in moral psychology. ;To this end, this dissertation considers the development of the ways of thinking about the individual, behavior, and ethics in Greek thought before Plato, and argues that Homer, Aeschylus, and Euripides display a movement from an externalist to an internalist view. This movement, then, continues in the Charmides, Protagoras, and Gorgias, as Plato develops an increasingly complex moral psychology. Further, this internalist movement is revealed in a consideration of the concepts of sophrosune and mania, and in the development of a view of mania as an intensification of desire. ;Next, this dissertation argues that the failure of the Gorgias response to Callicles issues in the Republic's complex moral psychology---in an internalist view and justification of the best life. The Republic , account, however, results in a view on which excessive desires for the pleasures of wisdom may result in mania. Finally, then, the Symposium and the Phaedrus are read as attempts to construct a moral psychology which is both accurate and able to avoid this wisdom/mania difficulty. ;The Phaedrus, then, represents the result of the development and refinements of the internalist approach in Plato's thought. Plato provides a revised, complex psychology, which issues in a view on which the soul's proper goal---the apprehension of the forms---requires both the direction of reason and the motivational energy of the irrational elements. On this account, divine erotic mania---eros-doubled, as both the reason and desire are engaged---represents the method for attaining this knowledge. ;Thus, this dissertation concludes that the Phaedrus may be read as the culmination of the internalist movement toward moral psychology; that the dialogue extraordinary assertions about mania and sophrosune are part of a new view and justification of the best life
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