Essere umani! Il rispetto delle passioni in Platone


  • Maurizio Migliori



Maurizio Migliori, Platone, Timaeus, Theaetetus, hoti malista


Being human! Plato’s Respect for Passions

The first part of the paper is aimed at highlighting Plato’s dialectic and dynamic view on reality. Everything is at once one and many: this ultimately refers to an underlying binary model, whose written exposition one may find in the Principles which Plato brings into action in the Philebus (as well as in the Timaeus). If all real things are “mixed” in nature, then the original and fundamental function of reality is the pair of opposites “affecting and being affected”: Plato very often hints to this pair, and mentions it explicitly in the Sophist. Since the two terms are interchangeable, the pair is not a rigid one, as the treatment of sensation in the Theaetetus and the role of Necessity in the Timaeus show. In short, resistance itself is a kind of action. The second part of the paper shall focus on human beings. On this level, the above mentioned complex of connections finds expression in the body-soul relationship and the tripartite theory of soul. To be sure, the divine and rational part commands. However, just as Plato neither denies nor eliminates the body’s function, he acknowledges that the “dark horse” cannot be eliminated as well. From this perspective, it becomes crucial to distinguish (according to a multifocal understanding of reality) between the divine point of view on humanity and the human one. From a human perspective, i.e. the perspective of individuals, passions neither can nor have to be rejected. This perspective, which involves a full acceptance of human limitations, explains Plato’s choice to abandon ethical intellectualism, in so far as it enables him to recognize the role of will and, most of all, to acknowledge that pleasures are necessary for human happiness and cannot be renounced. Moreover, even when we consider the highest and most “unilaterally philosophical” aspirations, we should never overlook the words which follow most Plato’s statements: hoti malista, namely «as far as possible, as much as possible».