Temperance and Epistemic Purity in Plato's Phaedo

Patricia Marechal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper I examine the moral psychology of the Phaedo and argue that the philosophical life in this dialogue is a temperate life, and that temperance consists in exercising epistemic discernment by actively withdrawing assent from incorrect evaluations the body inclines us to make. Philosophers deal with bodily affections by taking a correct epistemic stance. Exercising temperance thus understood is a necessary condition both for developing and strengthening rational capacities, and for fixing accurate beliefs about value. The purification philosophers strive for, and the purifying role of philosophy, should then be understood as a clarificatory act consisting in making one's thoughts clear and withdrawing assent from erroneous evaluative content in our desires and pleasures. Along the way, I argue that philosophers must neither avoid situations and activities that cause bodily affections as much as possible, nor ignore or care little about them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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