08. June 2021

Dr. Rhodes Pinto

Dr. Rhodes Pinto (Stanford University) will give a talk on “Soul’s Harmonious Unity? Plato on the Principle of All Motion”


In several places, Plato famously argues that the soul is the first cause of all motion and that, to serve as the first cause, soul is self-moved. Aristotle takes specific aim at this doctrine, objecting that self-motion cannot occur for an indivisible entity since it violates the law of non-contradiction: one and the same thing is acting and being acted upon in the same respect at the same time. Modern scholarship has fallen in line with Aristotle, accepting that soul as self-mover is a true unity in Plato and regarding Aristotle’s objection as fatal. I will unseat this prevailing view by revealing an explicit recognition in a variety of locations in the Platonic corpus that there must—in line with Aristotle’s objection—be some difference between mover and moved. Granting, then, that Plato would not violate his own commitments on motion, I will argue for how Plato articulated a view of soul as a  “compromise” unity through appeal to mixture and musical harmony theory whereby soul—and indeed only soul—can legitimately function as a self-mover.

This talk will take place on Zoom on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 20:00 CET; please contact Ms. Diana Gleiss if you wish to attend.