Philosophy Job Candidate Talk
Philosophy Candidate to give talk titled: The Irrational Part of the Soul: Reflections on Spirit, Appetite & Tragedy
Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Time: 12:00 pm
Duration: 1 hour
Location: Leighton #402
Sponsored by: Philosophy
Contact: Sandy Saari, x4232
The Irrational Part of the Soul: Reflections on Spirit, Appetite & Tragedy
Have you ever eaten a third helping of your favorite cake, despite knowing that it would be in your best interest to refrain? Have you ever lost your temper, despite knowing that it would better serve you to remain composed? If you are human (and I will assume that you are), you have firsthand experience of weakness of will, commonly referred to by its Greek name, “akrasia."
For the Socrates of Plato's Republic, akrasia explains more than our propensity to break our New Year's resolutions. It also reveals the very structure of the human soul. The human soul is divided. The so-called “rational part” desires that which reason calculates to be best; and the so-called “irrational part” desires, feels and evenbelieves in ways that are irresponsive to reasoning. Hence, in Plato's view, the behavior of the akratic is best explained by appeal to her divided soul; she eats the third slice of cake, because her irrational part “overpowers” her rational part.
I aim to clarify the nature of the irrational part of the soul, through uniting the psychological theories of Book IX and Book X and in the process, I uncover some interesting features of Plato's critique of contemporary Greek tragedy, which is said to corrupt audiences by strengthening their irrational part.