Plato on the Enslavement of Reason

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):382-394 (2020)
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In Republic 8–9, Socrates describes four main kinds of vicious people, all of whose souls are “ruled” by an element other than reason, and in some of whom reason is said to be “enslaved.” What role does reason play in such souls? In this paper, I argue, based on Republic 8–9 and related passages, and in contrast to some common alternative views, that for Plato the “enslavement” of reason consists in this: instead of determining for itself what is good, reason is forced to desire and pursue as good a goal determined by the soul’s ruler.

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Mark Johnstone
McMaster University


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