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Desire and motivation in Plato’s republic and a few other dialogues

Kampalios, Georgios (2008) Desire and motivation in Plato’s republic and a few other dialogues. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



My thesis concerns Plato's theory of human motivation and action in the Republic. My aim is to try to investigate how and to what extend the tripartite division of the soul into reason, appetite and spirit explains human action and behaviour. I shall concentrate mostly on the appetitive part of the soul and discuss how and in which cases this part affects the character and the dispositions of human beings. In my first part (ch.1-2) I investigate the nature of this part of the soul arguing that it is totally deprived of any kind of cognition and incapable of motivating actions on its own without the involvement of reason. In my second part (ch.3-5) I present an analysis of the story of Leontius in R. IV which illustrates an instance of human behaviour that seems to suggest that the desires of the appetitive part can motivate action despite reason's resistance. Then I discuss the role that Plato attributes to appetite in his description of unjust souls and the way that the appetitive part is related to reason in the soul of the non-virtuous person. Finally through my discussion of the ideal soul of the philosopher I sketch the minimal role that the desiring part has in human motivation and ethical perfection. In the last part (ch.6) I provide a brief account of the so-called 'Socratic' thesis of human motivation as it appears in the Protagoras. My point is that despite some apparent differences the two theories have a substantial similarity.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:27

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