Author: RAPHAEL WOOLF

This paper explores the deep dualism, metaphysical and epistemological, between Forms and particulars in Plato’s work. It both argues that the dualism exists and offers a hypothesis, concerning Plato’s view of the criteria for thinking of an object, to explain it. The paper concludes that while these criteria are indeed stringent, they nonetheless allow the possibility that we can still think of, and know, individuals.

In: Méthexis
Author: Raphael Woolf

Abstract

To what extent is possession of truth considered a good thing in the Republic? Certain passages of the dialogue appear to regard truth as a universal good, but others are more circumspect about its value, recommending that truth be withheld on occasion and falsehood disseminated. I seek to resolve this tension by distinguishing two kinds of truths, which I label 'philosophical' and 'non-philosophical'. Philosophical truths, I argue, are considered unqualifiedly good to possess, whereas non-philosophical truths are regarded as worth possessing only to the extent that possession conduces to good behaviour in those who possess them. In the non-philosophical arena it is an open question, to be determined on a case-by-case basis, whether falsehood is more efficacious in furthering this practical aim than truth.

In: Phronesis
Author: Raphael Woolf

Abstract

Relatively little attention has been paid to Socrates' argument against akrasia in Plato's Protagoras as an example of Socratic method. Yet seen from this perspective the argument has some rather unusual features: in particular, the presence of an impersonal interlocutor ("the many") and the absence of the crisp and explicit argumentation that is typical of Socratic elenchus. I want to suggest that these features are problematic, considerably more so than has sometimes been supposed, and to offer a reading of the argument that accounts for them. My reading revolves around the connections between Socratic method, consistency and akrasia. I argue that Socrates' discussion of akrasia aims at exposing the interlocutor's inconsistency, and to this extent is typical of Socratic inquiry; but it is also untypical, insofar as Socrates' chief concern here is with the inconsistency between an interlocutor's statements and his actions (what I call "word-deed inconsistency") rather than, as more usually, inconsistency among an interlocutor's various statements ("word-word inconsistency"). I use this reading to show how the akrasia argument, despite its untypical features, is not just a variant, but in an important way a paradigm, of Socratic method.

In: Phronesis
Author: Raphael Woolf

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of whether or not Epicurus was a psychological hedonist. Did he, that is, hold that all human action, as a matter of fact, has pleasure as its goal? Or was he just an ethical hedonist, asserting merely that pleasure ought to be the goal of human action? I discuss a recent forceful attempt by John Cooper to answer the latter question in the affirmative, and argue that he fails to make his case. There is considerable evidence in favour of a psychological reading of Epicurean hedonism, evidence that includes some of the very texts that Cooper cites in support of the ethical reading.

In: Phronesis
In: Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy