At Republic 580a Socrates and Glaucon agree that the tyrant is necessarily friendless. More than identifying a consequence of the tyrant’s unjust behaviour, the epithet ‘aphilos’ appears to register a certain failing within the tyrannical character himself, manifested in the account of how he lives. Whilst it is tempting to explain this failing by appeal to the tyrant’s characteristic desires, I argue that we need to take a diachronic view and look at how the tyrant has developed. Importantly, this developmental history-gleaned from a comparative reading of the education and nurture of the guardians of the ideal city—does not offer mere supplemental information about how the tyrant has become the way he is, but rather offers a fresh perspective on the source of the tyrant’s aphilia and the relation between this and his characteristic desires. The upshot, I believe, is a richer view of the tyrannical character and the nature of his pathology, and a new appreciation of the role of philia in Plato’s account of moral development.
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The Seminar will take place in the Ryle Room. Colleagues and students who are unable to attend in person are welcome to join remotely, via Microsoft Teams, by clicking this link. You will be redirected to a page in which you will be prompted to sign in with your Oxford SSO.
Workshop in Ancient Philosophy Convenors: Ursula Coope, Simon Shogry and Luca Castagnoli