Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is that all?

photo by Magnus Bråth
My last post may have seemed rather a let-down. At least, one KTL reader ("Proud Father") thought so:
I must confess, I was expecting something a bit more climactic after all this build-up. But let's see: Cephalus doesn't understand benefit because he thinks he knows what benefit is? His understanding is too morally ambivalent. (And "benefit" is such an elusive concept that we can almost assume someone is wrong who claims to know confidently what it is.)
But we're not done here. Many questions remain to be answered:
  • What is the nature of Cephalus's ignorance of benefit? Is he "morally ambivalent," as PF suggests? Or morally complacent, as others (e.g., Annas) have asserted? Does it matter?
  • Does the refutation do more than draw attention to a flaw in Cephalus's understanding? Or is it more than self-knowledge? Or is it self-knowledge of a sort which is intrinsically more than itself?
    • How can we learn anything from someone else's self-knowledge?
    • Does wisdom regarding benefit require this kind of self-knowledge?
  • Is the refutation of Cephalus dialectical?
    • If so, what is the nature of the dialectical transition? From seeming benefit to real benefit? From partial justice to comprehensive justice? Or what?
    • In whom does the dialectical transition take place? (I still need to give my reasons for thinking that Cephalus does not flee for fear of being affected by the dialectic.)
Hang tight, dear readers! I've got every spare ounce of brain-juice cogitating on all of these questions, just for you.