The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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In the Republic, Socrates describes the good as the end of all human action: “Every soul pursues the good and does what it does for its sake. It divines that the good is something but it is perplexed and cannot adequately grasp what it is or acquire the sort of stable beliefs it has about other things, and so it misses the benefits, if any, that even those other things may give.” I wish to examine how humans act for the sake of the good in the sections of the Republic following this passage. Human action is oriented toward the good in several distinct ways, one of which is illustrated by the procedures of mathematics in pursuing knowledge: without intending to achieve insight into forms such as the square itself, we can act for the sake of achieving this end.


Andrew Payne presented “Studying Mathematics for the Sake of the Good” to the Society at its meeting with the Eastern Division in 2007.

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