Seekers of Wisdom, Lovers of Truth: A Study of Plato's Philosopher
AuthorJenkins, Michelle Kristine
AdvisorAnnas, Julia E.
Committee ChairAnnas, Julia E.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn this dissertation I look at a series of portraits of Plato’s philosopher throughout the corpus. I argue that there are three central components in his account of the philosopher: (1) having certain motivations, (2) having a certain sort of nature, and (3) engaging in a set of characteristic activities. All three features emerge in the early dialogues in the figure of Socrates. There we see that the philosopher is motivated by a deep and enduring love of wisdom and a desire to seek it. In addition, he has traits of character and intellect that make him well suited to the pursue the wisdom. And he engages in certain activities that has as its aim attaining knowledge. While this basic picture of the philosopher emerges in the early dialogues, it gets fleshed out and developed more fully in later dialogues and, in particular in the Republic with the figure of the philosopher ruler. There we see the close relationship between the philosopher’s character and intellectual pursuits and how both his character and pursuits are shaped through courses in education. And, in the Republic, the philosopher does actually succeed in his pursuit of knowledge. The knowledge he comes to have shapes his character, affecting the sorts of things he values and resulting in philosophical virtue. In the Theaetetus we see a portrait of a philosopher who, while sharing the same nature and pursuits as the philosopher ruler of the Republic, is born in an unjust city. Here the philosopher withdraws from the political and instead lives a private life, pursuing those interests and questions that are conducive to virtue. Finally, in the Sophist and Statesman, we find the philosopher in the figure of the Eleatic Visitor, as he develops accounts of the sophist and statesman. Here, Plato’s focus shifts from the philosopher’s nature to his activities as the Eleatic Visitor proposes, teaches, and uses a new method of inquiry - the method of collection. It is here where we see Plato articulate just how one goes about developing the systematic and defensible accounts necessary for the knowledge that the philosopher so desires.