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Monday, August 18, 2014

Plato on Thymos

The training of the body is directly related to the development of a fundamental aspect of the human psyche: what Plato, that pre-eminent teacher of teaching, called thymos. In English we don’t have a word for this concept, but it encompasses both bravery and the urge for glory. Perhaps the closest we have is “spiritedness,” as in “a spirited competitor.” Plato knew that thymos is a marvelous quality that needs to be developed and strengthened, especially in those who represent the community as soldiers...

In “The Republic,” Plato seeks to correct the values of Homer’s warriors. Courage, he tells us, is not being absolutely fearless, the way Achilles is. Courage is knowing what and what not to be afraid of. Knowing: Plato believes that reason should always rule the drive for glory. He thinks we should never risk turning ourselves into beasts by letting our hunger for glory rule us, even for a moment.

Read it all here.

Related reading: Nubian Warriors

1 comment:

  1. Right, yet Peter Benson says that Plato's use of Thymos does not include the desire for public recognition. I don't think that is correct.