In Search for the Missing – Justice and Motivation Cover Image

Taisnīgums un motivācija Platona darbā Valsts
In Search for the Missing – Justice and Motivation

Author(s): Laura Bitiniece
Subject(s): Philosophy
Published by: Latvijas Universitātes Filozofijas un socioloģijas institūts

Summary/Abstract: The aim of the article is to explain some controversial points concerning justice in Plato’s Republic, revealing the possibility to expand the interpretation of justice. In order to achieve this justice is explained as (a) a correspondence between agent and her function and (b) as a motivational dynamis, trying to find ground for separating these two meanings and/or expanding meaning (a) with meaning (b). If the analyses did provide sufficient reason for expanding the interpretation of justice in Plato’s Republic, that is, to accept at the very least the possibility of justice linked with motivation, this would offer us the missing part in the interpretation of Plato’s philosophy, namely what motivates people to be just and how is justice related to other virtues. Several steps are taken. At first, the author uses the functional theory of Gerasimos Xenophon Santas as a methodological approach to Plato’s moral psychology (part The Basic Features of Functional Theory), providing basis for describing justice as correspondence (part Justice as Correspondence), and introduces the notion of dynamis in relation to justice (part Justice and Dynamis). The argument leads to the question of the nature of arete or virtue, seen both as cognitive (here and further: related to knowledge about good and evil) and dispositional (related to dynamis) phenomena (part The Nature of Virtue) and to the main question about motivation. Part Motivation and the Good draws attention to the question whether the good is perceived only and exceptionally through rational deliberation and knowledge. The article tries to expand the meaning of justice into the field of motivation, proposing novel subjects for further research. Firstly, justice is seen as a holistic virtue that is not completely understood only through knowledge. It follows that justice becomes the central concern of Plato’s Republic, being the dynamis which enables other virtues to appear and which sustains them. Secondly, justice introduces the possibility to see virtuous motivation in the light of non-cognitive (or not exceptionally cognitive) force. To support this, the author explains the relation between the good and the beautiful, showing how the good can be perceived through the beautiful prior to any cognitive content. In addition, it is noted that for the reason to grasp the good (in a cognitive way) it is necessary to function in the best possible way – and this is achieved through enabling the just order in the soul. The relation between the just and the beautiful is proposed as a major topic for subsequent article, as there are some striking structural similarities concerning teleological principle. Therefore it is possible to sketch an interpretation according to which justice undertakes both the role of motivator, enabling a certain correspondence/ order to arise, and the role of sustainer of this order, helping the reason to carry on when it reaches the knowledge of good and evil.

  • Issue Year: XVI/2013
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 38-63
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: Latvian