The art of the good life
Plato’s Gorgias and the technicity of ethics
Keywords:Plato, Gorgias, artifice, techne, ethics
Plato’s Gorgias sees Socrates frequently compare justice to the practice of a techné. This comparison has traditionally been taken to express the so-called doctrine of Socratic intellectualism, according to which knowledge of the good necessarily leads to living a good life. But such interpretations overlook how crucial techn? is to Socrates’ conception of justice — justice is not merely analogous to techn? but governed by the same logos. What we find is thus not so much an argument for a particular moral psychology, as it is an account of an inherent technicity of ethics. This article uncovers Plato’s account of ethics’ relationship with artifice, both in Gorgias and The Republic as well as in the ethical philosophy of Aristotle, suggesting that the question of ethics and artifice has always held high importance in Western philosophy, and that we should regard it with the same importance today.
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