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Therapy and Theory Reconstructed: Plato and his Successors


When we speak of philosophy and therapy, or of philosophy as therapy, the usual intent is to suggest that ‘philosophizing’ is or should be a way to clarify the mind or purify the soul. While there may be little point in arguing with psychoses or deeply-embedded neuroses our more ordinary misjudgements, biases and obsessions may be alleviated, at least, by trying to ‘see things clearly and to see them whole’, by carefully identifying premises and seeing what they – rationally – support, and by seeking to eliminate the residual influence of premises that we have long since, rationally, dismissed. I don't intend to argue with this account – though of course it may be as well to remember that ‘philosophizing’ may have more dangerous effects. It is not obvious that philosophical argument will always help us ‘see things straight’, and the Athenian democracy was not altogether wrong to think that some of Socrates' followers or pupils learnt quite the wrong things from him.

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Stephen R. L. Clark , Aristotle's Man: Speculations upon Aristotelian Anthropology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), pp. 174-90

Richard Joyce points out in ‘Theistic Ethics and the Euthyphro Dilemma’, Journal of Religious Ethics 30 (2002), pp. 4975

Mark J. Edwards In Defense of Euthyphro’, American Journal of Philology 121 (2000), pp. 213224

Mark McPherran in ‘Piety, Justice, and the Unity of Virtue’. Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (2000), pp. 299328)

Greg Whitlock Concealing the misconduct of one's own father: Confucius and Plato on a question of filial piety’: Journal of Chinese Philosophy 21 (1994), pp. 113137

Rui Zhu What if the Father Commits a Crime?’, Journal of the History of Ideas 63 (2002), pp. 117

Mark L. McPherran , ‘Socratic Piety in the Euthyphro’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 23 (1985), pp. 283309

Marjorie O'Rourke Boyle , ‘Pure of Heart: From Ancient Rites to Renaissance Plato’, Journal of the History of Ideas 63 (2002), pp. 4162

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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