Philosophy Colloquium
Kelsey Gipe
University of Maryland
To Act as One's Own Enemy

In Republic I, Plato makes the following claim about how injustice works in us: “[Injustice] will make [the individual] incapable of acting because of inner faction and not being of one mind with himself; second, it will make him his own enemy as well as the enemy of just people (Republic 352a 1-8).” But what would it mean for an individual's being unjust to (1) cause disharmony within that individual to the point that she is incapable of action and (2) cause that individual to become an enemy of herself? Christine Korsgaard argues that we cannot act at all (in the sense of acting as agents) unless we are acting as a unified person. But if Korsgaard is correct, in what sense could we ever truly act as our own enemies? I will argue that Korsgaard's requirements on what is constitutive of action are too stringent, and that one need not be internally unified in order to act as an agent. (I hold that I need not abandon a constitutional account of the soul/self in order to do this.) I will then present an account of how factionalization in one's soul/self leads an agent to act as her own enemy by obscuring her perception of the good. I will ultimately argue that, consistent with Plato's constitutional model of the soul, there is an order and internal consistency that is necessary for an agent to function justly and correctly, but this order is not necessary in order for an agent to act at all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
3:30pm

SQH 1105