To be delivered at the 3d Symposium Platonicum
Bristol, August 1992
The Conflict among Virtues in the Statesman
Plato seems to be committed in a number of dialogues to the view that all perfections are «united». When writing the Statesman, our philosopher is keen on maintaining that not only is it not the case that all perfections are identical, but, moreover, some perfections do in fact clash with others, which means that a thing can possess one of them only to the extent it lacks the opposite perfection. However the Statesman's main purpose and thrust is likely to be that of emphasizing the necessity of some unity among opposite qualities.
The significance of such a contention can be set off against what will become the Aristotelian (and in effect the commonly received) view on the topic. In the Statesman Plato recognizes that in each case there is some desirable mean between the extremes, but where it lies changes according to circumstances. Trying to secure that convenient mean doesn't debar us from loking upon the extremes under consideration as virtues or perfections themselves.