Faces of irrationality in Euripides: on Medea's Irrationality

O Que Nos Faz Pensar 43 (27):237-272 (2018)
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In Nascimento (2015) I criticized the thesis defended in Irwin (1983) according to which two of the most famous characters in Euripides’ plays, Phaedra and Medea, could be said to exemplify akratic behavior and, in the case of Phaedra, even to explain it. In that article, I’ve pointed out several weakness in these thesis in order to justify my disagreement. I also suggested that, although there was no reason why we should stop looking for examples and explanations of akratic behavior in Euripides’ plays, that should not be the only kind of irrational behavior we ought to be interested in finding there. In this paper, I argue that Medea actually instantiates a form of irrational behavior that is different from akratic behavior. The argument that follows is divided in four parts. After a brief introduction (section I), I clarify what sort of irrationality I believe to be instantiated by Medea’s behavior using Michael Bratman’s theory of plan stability (section II). Then, I analyze Euripides’ text in order to show why I think we should say that Medea does display that kind of irrationality (section III). The paper concludes with a brief summary of the argument (section IV).
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