In this paper I focus on a passage of Plato’s Laws that so far has been the object of little study (V 731d-732b). In the Laws, the origin of all evil is neither an ontological principle, as in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, nor a simple lack of knowledge (agnoia) or a lack of knowledge combined with the false presumption of knowledge (amathia). Rather, in this passage amathia itself is traced back to “excessive self-love” (sphodra heautou philia). I show that this “excess” has a specific “anthropological” relevance, because it is not limited to the intellectual sphere or to the will, but directly concerns the human way of loving. The thesis that I argue for in this paper is that this “excess” is a possibility implicit in the human being qua aplestos, and should therefore be interpreted in an “anthropological” sense: it does not indicate a simple “lack” of balance, but rather a possibility and a risk to which humans expose themselves when they exceed the homeostatic balance of needs typical of non-human animals. Finally, I trace the various steps of this “anthropology of excess” back to its origin: the image of the leaky jar found in the Gorgias.

ORIGINS OF EVIL AND ANTHROPOLOGY OF EXCESS AMATHIA AND EXCESSIVE PHILAUTIA IN A PASSAGE OF PLATO’S LAWS

guido cusinato
2021-01-01

Abstract

In this paper I focus on a passage of Plato’s Laws that so far has been the object of little study (V 731d-732b). In the Laws, the origin of all evil is neither an ontological principle, as in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, nor a simple lack of knowledge (agnoia) or a lack of knowledge combined with the false presumption of knowledge (amathia). Rather, in this passage amathia itself is traced back to “excessive self-love” (sphodra heautou philia). I show that this “excess” has a specific “anthropological” relevance, because it is not limited to the intellectual sphere or to the will, but directly concerns the human way of loving. The thesis that I argue for in this paper is that this “excess” is a possibility implicit in the human being qua aplestos, and should therefore be interpreted in an “anthropological” sense: it does not indicate a simple “lack” of balance, but rather a possibility and a risk to which humans expose themselves when they exceed the homeostatic balance of needs typical of non-human animals. Finally, I trace the various steps of this “anthropology of excess” back to its origin: the image of the leaky jar found in the Gorgias.
Socrates, Plato, evil, amathia, agnoia, excessive philautia, periagoge, exemplarity, shame, catharsis, aplestos pithos
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1063975
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact