10 Slices
Medium 9780253008824

9: Psychology for the Legislated

Sara Brill Indiana University Press ePub

THE ATHENIAN'S TURN to penal law begins with a lament that such legislation is necessary in Magnesia (853b). However, he quickly acknowledges that they are humans legislating for humans, and that the account of human nature and the human soul they have been developing reveals the necessity for laws of the sort they are about to create. The structure of these laws is informed by another early agreement, namely, that the account of the soul that informs the legislators’ approach to legislating is to be shared with the legislated (645b–c). As we have seen, the preludes that are appended to laws are treated as a powerful vehicle for conveying this civically salutary conception and attitude toward soul. This chapter will argue that the preludes attached to penal law are particularly vivid instantiations of this psychology for the legislated. We will begin with the prelude to temple robbing, a piece of legislation which directly precedes and motivates the distinction between injury and injustice that so shapes Magnesian homicide law, and which promotes precisely the attitude toward violent action that is encapsulated by the religious language of pollution. From there we will move on to discuss the legislation pertaining to homicide and the impiety of the young in order to analyze the implicit accounts of soul contained therein.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253008824

2: The Body-like Soul

Sara Brill Indiana University Press ePub

SOCRATES'S AND HIS interlocutors’ extended investigation of the soul's immortality begins as a more thorough telling, a (70b), of an opinion about death that Socrates playfully presented as his apologia of his confidence in the face of death (63b). That it is the defense's conception of the soul that is particularly problematic is suggested by Cebes, who objects that the soul's endurance beyond death is in need of further discussion (70a–b). Socrates's eager agreement to offer a more thorough story inaugurates the first of four logoi about immortality (70b).

This first logos inherits a definition of death which Socrates, as we have observed, gives in his initial defense with a noteworthy nonchalance: death is the separation of soul and body (64c). Throughout the discussions of soul's immortality, Socrates draws out and reframes a number of assumptions about the nature of this separation. However, the Phaedo's depiction of Socrates speaking with friends who are at once eager to philosophize and grieving the looming loss of their friend opens an investigation not only of assumptions about what death is, but also of how to properly comport oneself toward mortality, whether one's own or that of others. That is, the conversation about immortality is directed not only at death but also at grief, and at marking out what should be grieved and how. This dimension is perhaps made most explicit during the interlude on misology (88e–91c), but it is at work early on in the dialogue as well in, for instance, the care Plato takes to describe the curious blend of affect had by Socrates's interlocutors (58e–59a). With the first logos, Socrates begins to contend with his interlocutors’ assumptions about death and their attitudes toward grief by trying to wrest death away from an association with utter destruction.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253008824

8: Psychology for Legislators

Sara Brill Indiana University Press ePub

IN THE FIRST book of the Laws, the Athenian Stranger and his interlocutors turn to discuss the best form of civic education, one that would provide for the well-being of citizens. They conceive of education in terms that merit comparison with Republic: education is a matter of becoming good (634e, 644a), and requires a training in pleasures and desire (643c) that includes the turning of one's erotic impulses toward that which one is studying (643e). In the Republic, as we have seen, it is the plasticity of young souls that is taken to recommend the supervision of poets and the determination of which tales are suitable to tell. In the Laws the first detailed account of psychic plasticity, that is, of the factors that shape the soul and give character to a human life, occurs in the form of an image introduced in order to clarify the Athenian's assertion that those capable of ruling themselves are good, while those incapable of so ruling are bad (644b): the infamous image of the living being as a puppet of the gods (644d–645c). What unfolds in the course of this image-making is an account of the legislative subject, the being for whom laws are enacted.1 This being is constituted by the tense interaction between an array of demands and capacities, figured in the image as sinews or cords. Several of the most powerful of these cords are described as follows: pleasure and pain, two “foolish and antagonistic counselors” (644c); opinions () about the future, hopes, which, when they anticipate pain are called “fear” and when they anticipate pleasure, “confidence”; and calculation (), capable of determining which opinions are good and which are bad (644c–d). Populated by a plurality of competing affections, the human being is a loose and tenuous conglomerate whose actions are the result of a tense mechanics of pulling and pushing. One such cord—calculation—is capable of adjudicating between the competing demands of the others and directing action on the basis of the good. However, this particular cord exerts its attraction and influence in a gentler manner than the others, and thus requires aid. When calculation becomes the shared opinion of the city, it is called law (644d, 645a).2

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253008824

1: Socratic Prothumia

Sara Brill Indiana University Press ePub

SOCRATES'S DEFENSE OF the calmness with which he confronts his death unfolds within a theological framework with which he has a vital, if also uneasy, relationship. Indeed, he is granted the opportunity of giving this defense because of a delay in his execution due to a religious observation: the citywide observance of a vow to Apollo, involving a ritual mission to Delos in memory of Theseus, prohibits the civic pollution that accompanies executions. Further, Socrates's attempts to give both an account of himself and of the “true” philosopher are shaped by the need to determine both of these entities’ stances toward the theology he outlines very early on in the dialogue. With respect to the dialogue's psychology, this theological framework provides a number of the dominant conceptual and linguistic tools through which soul is investigated; consequently it will be necessary to outline this framework in detail. At the same time, Plato's depiction of the uneasiness Socrates feels about certain elements of this theology provides an important orientation toward this framework that neither rejects it nor uncritically appropriates it.1 Instead, the Phaedo illustrates that for Plato it is incumbent upon the investigator of the soul to make apparent the conceptual and linguistic apparatus through which soul is interrogated. Insofar as theology provides one such lens, this theology must be made explicit and subject to scrutiny, and this is precisely what Plato has Socrates do.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253008824

4: City and Soul

Sara Brill Indiana University Press ePub

THE MAJORITY OF the conversation that comprises the Republic occurs because Socrates is trapped by his own piety: unable to hear justice slandered, he agrees to defend the just life by showing the effects of justice and injustice on the soul. Glaucon and Adeimantus offer a number of formulations of this task. Glaucon desires to hear what the powers of justice and injustice are when they are in the soul, alone and by themselves, stripped of their wages and consequences (358b). Adeimantus, observing that no one has adequately argued that injustice is the greatest evil a soul can possess and justice, correspondingly, the greatest good (366e), fills in his brother's argument. He calls attention to the effect on the soul of the customary opinion that justice is good but hard, namely, the development of the belief that happiness is best attained by gaining the reputation for justice while cultivating the unscrupulous advantage-gaining of the unjust (365a–366b). He twice asks Socrates not only to show that justice is stronger than injustice, but also what each does to the person who has them (367b, e).1

See All Chapters

See All Slices