This article concerns the place of Plato’s eschatology in his philosophy. I argue that the theory of reincarnation appeals to Plato due to its power to explain how non-human animals came to be. Further, the outlines of this theory are entailed by other commitments, such as that embodiment disrupts psychic functioning, that virtue is always rewarded and vice punished, and that the soul is immortal. I conclude by arguing that Plato develops a view of reincarnation as the chief tool that (...) the gods have to ensure that virtue is victorious over vice throughout the whole cosmos. (shrink)
I argue that Plato believes that the soul must be both the principle of motion and the subject of cognition because it moves things specifically by means of its thoughts. I begin by arguing that the soul moves things by means of such acts as examination and deliberation, and that this view is developed in response to Anaxagoras. I then argue that every kind of soul enjoys a kind of cognition, with even plant souls having a form of Aristotelian discrimination (...) (krisis), and that there is therefore no completely unintelligent, evil soul in the cosmos that can explain disorderly motions; as a result, the soul is not the principle of all motion but only motion in the cosmos after it has been ordered by the Demiurge. (shrink)
I argue that, according to Plato, the body is the sole cause of psychic disorders. This view is expressed at Timaeus 86b in an ambiguous sentence that has been widely misunderstood by translators and commentators. The goal of this article is to offer a new understanding of Plato’s text and view. In the first section, I argue that although the body is the result of the gods’ best efforts, their sub-optimal materials meant that the soul is constantly vulnerable to the (...) body’s influences. In the second section, I argue that every psychic disorder is a disruption of the motions of the inner psychic circles by the body; moreover, I defend my translation of 86b. In the final section, I argue that the goal of education is to restore the circles to their original orbits, and I disarm a possible objection that bad education is also a cause of psychic disorder. (shrink)
I argue that Plato thinks that the soul has location, surface, depth, and extension, and that the Timaeus’ composition of the soul out of eight circles is intended literally. A novel contribution is the development of an account of corporeality that denies the entailment that the soul is corporeal. I conclude by examining Aristotle’s objection to the Timaeus’ psychology and then the intellectual history of this reading of Plato.
This paper concerns Plato’s characterization of the body as the soul’s tool. I take perception as an example of the body’s usefulness. I explore the Timaeus’ view that perception provides us with models of orderliness. Then, I argue that perception of confusing sensible objects is necessary for our cognitive development too. Lastly, I consider the instrumentality relationship more generally and its place in Plato’s teleological worldview.
In this article, I argue that online echo chambers are in some cases and in some respects good. I do not attempt to refute arguments that they are harmful, but I argue that they are sometimes beneficial. In the first section, I argue that it is sometimes good to be insulated from views with which one disagrees. In the second section, I argue that the software-design principles that give rise to online echo chambers have a lot to recommend them. Further, (...) the opposing principle, serendipity, could give rise to serious harm, in light of the conclusion of the first section that sometimes we are better off being insulated from some content online. In the third section, I argue that polarization can be a useful tool for inculcating the appropriate attitudes in a person. (shrink)
This article will appear in a special issue dedicated to theme, "the human being in the digital era: awareness, critical thinking and political space in the age of the internet and artificial intelligence." In this article, I consider the way that social-media companies nudge us to spend more time on their platforms, and I argue that, in principle, these nudges are morally permissible: they are not manipulative and do not violate any obvious moral rules. The moral problem, I argue, is (...) not with nudging in principle but is instead with the fact that users are being nudged towards something bad for them. In practice, this often involves being nudged to spend an unhealthy amount of time using a social-media app or being nudged towards content that is bad for us, such as by promoting eating-disorder content to young girls. Since nudging is morally permissible, it is open to these companies to use the same technologies to nudge us towards the good. (shrink)
I argue that Plato thinks that a sunaition is a mere tool used by a soul (or by the cosmic nous) to promote an intended outcome. In the first section, I develop the connection between sunaitia and Plato’s teleology. In the second section, I argue that sunaitia belong to Plato’s theory of the soul as a self-mover: specifically, they are those things that are set in motion by the soul in the service of some goal. I also argue against several (...) popular and long-standing interpretations, namely, that sunaitia correspond to Aristotle’s idea of hypothetical necessity, that sunaitia are the ‘how’ in an explanation (whereas the true cause is the ‘why’), and that Plato’s causal views should be read through Aristotle’s fourfold schema. I conclude the article by surveying the history of sunaitia after Plato’s usage. (shrink)
In this article, I make the case for the continued relevance of Plato’s Timaeus. I begin by sketching Allan Bloom’s picture of the natural sciences today in The Closing of the American Mind, according to which the natural sciences are, objectionably, increasingly specialized and have ejected humans qua humans from their purview. I argue that Plato’s Timaeus, despite the falsity of virtually all of its scientific claims, provides a model for how we can pursue scientific questions in a comprehensive way (...) that stresses their connections to other disciplines, including the humanities, and that puts humanity qua humanity back in the picture. I then argue that being led by Plato’s philosophy to return humanity conceptually to the natural world can improve our thinking regarding climate change and other important environmental crises. (shrink)