Psychology and the inculcation of virtue in plato’s laws

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A Puzzle About Physical Education Although Aristotle says that Plato's educational recommendations in the Laws are pretty much the same as in the Republic (PoliticsII.6.1265a6–8), one striking difference in the Laws is its emphasis on a lifelong regime of gymnastics or prescribed physical movement: the Athenian says that pregnant mothers are to take exercise so that the fetus they are carrying is moved about (789a–93e); from the age of three to six, children must play at wrestling and dancing (814e–16e); thereafter, they are to dance (as well as sing) in the chorus of the Muses until the age of twenty, when they graduate to the chorus of Apollo (664c), in which they participate until they reach old age and retire to the chorus of Dionysus (653d, 665a, 666b, 670b, 812b–c). They also train in fighting (813d–e). But what is the value of all this physical activity? The answer to this question is surprisingly elusive, and trying to answer it takes us to the heart of the psychology of Plato's late dialogues. Let us begin with two passages in the Laws that suggest a direction for our investigation. In the first, the Athenian is commending the practice of rocking distressed babies to calm them. whenever mothers want their children to sleep when they are having trouble falling asleep, they bring to them not rest but, the opposite, motion, always shaking them in their arms, not in silence but with a song, exactly as if they were charming their children with flute-playing as in the cures of ecstatic Bacchics, using this dance of motion and the Muse … Both these affections [viz. the crying child's and the Bacchics'] are fear, and fear comes through some bad disposition of the soul. […]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPlato's Laws: A Critical Guide
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages127-148
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780511781483, 9780521884631
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Fingerprint

Chorus
Psychology
Dance
Bacchic
Muse
Plato
Dancing
Children's Play
Education
Old Age
Dionysus
Disposition
Physical Education
Affection
Flute
Physical
Physical Activity
Apollo
Exercise
Aristotle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Kamtekar, R. . (2010). Psychology and the inculcation of virtue in plato’s laws. In Plato's Laws: A Critical Guide (pp. 127-148). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511781483.008

Psychology and the inculcation of virtue in plato’s laws. / Kamtekar, Rachana -.

Plato's Laws: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2010. p. 127-148.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Kamtekar, R 2010, Psychology and the inculcation of virtue in plato’s laws. in Plato's Laws: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press, pp. 127-148. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511781483.008
Kamtekar R. Psychology and the inculcation of virtue in plato’s laws. In Plato's Laws: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press. 2010. p. 127-148 https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511781483.008
Kamtekar, Rachana -. / Psychology and the inculcation of virtue in plato’s laws. Plato's Laws: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2010. pp. 127-148
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