Appetites and Emotions in Plato’s Early and Middle Dialogues

What sorts of logical or nomological connections can be found between the appetites and emotions in the moral psychology presented in Plato's early and middle dialogues?

Project Abstract

In Plato’s Protagoras, Socrates clearly indicates that he is a cognitivist about the emotions—in other words, he believes that emotions are in some way constituted by cognitive states.  It is perhaps because of this that some scholars have claimed that Socrates believes that the only way to change how others feel about things is to engage them in rational discourse, since that is the only way, such scholars claim, to change another’s beliefs.  But Plato also depicts Socrates as also responsive to, and as having various non-rational strategies for dealing with, the many ways in which emotions can cloud our judgment and lead us into poor decision-making.  Plato’s critique of the arts, in the 10thBook of the Republic, for example, indicates a close link between our emotions (and how these are manipulated by the arts) and our basic appetitive urges.

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