Autonomy, Integrity and Knowledge in Plato – Advanced Course with Amber Carpenter [Nov 27-Dec 1, 2017]

AUTONOMY, INTEGRITY AND KNOWLEDGE IN PLATO OR AUTONOMY & INTEGRITY THROUGH KNOWLEDGE IN PLATO

With Amber Carpenter

Knowing may not be the good, but apparently it makes us good. Quite possibly knowledge is virtue, or else displaces any need to talk of virtue in the usual way. These outrageous Platonic claims seem indefensible. This course will seek the best possible defence, and in the course of that deepen our understanding of who we are and the importance of reality and integrity in ethical formation. We will first examine Plato’s epistemology, which might be described as recommending we be autologos rather than auto-nomos. We become auto-logos by appreciating the robust standards of complete knowledge as having ultimate authority in our cognitive lives, and therefore in our estimation of the importance, salience, meaning and desirability of whatever perception of the world presents to us. Granting it this authority integrates our cognitive lives, and also our experience as sensate creatures with respect to a reality that is not determined by us. That is to say, aiming at accountability is a practice in integrating ourselves; aiming at comprehensive accountability integrates us comprehensively. A different account of knowledge – one for instance that distinguishes, as Aristotle does, between theoretical and practical knowledge – could not be expected to have the like effect on us; and similarly, restricting the relevant bit of reality to a predefined conception of the human (as at least neo-Aristotelian naturalists do) would not promise the fundamental reorienting that Plato’s knowledge-seeking does. We will close by considering the
expected or promised effect on character of a non-naturalist ethics, such as the Indian Buddhist one, which grants a Platonic sort of priority to knowing impersonal reality, but does not suppose the reality to be known is itself intelligible – nor that knowing consists in accoutability.

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Contact Ryszard Sliwinski for more information on how to participate.

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