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Pursuing the GoodEthics and Metaphysics in Plato's Republic$
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Douglas Cairns and Fritz-Gregor Herrmann

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748628117

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748628117.001.0001

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The Good and Mathematics

The Good and Mathematics

(p.251) 12 The Good and Mathematics
Pursuing the Good

Christopher Gill

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter considers the key features of Burnyeat's version of the maximal view of the significance of mathematics for the Platonic idea of good. It identifies certain dangers to which this kind of view is potentially subject (‘Scylla’ and ‘Charybdis’), and outlines two alternative ways of understanding the relationship between ethical and mathematical ideas. The first line of thought explored is that there is a structural analogy between mathematical or metamathematical ideas and ethical ones, by contrast with Burnyeat's claim that the good is ‘one and the same’ in both areas. The second line of thought explored is that the good is conceived as a transcategorical norm or principle. The content of this norm, as in the maximal view represented here by Burnyeat, is the idea of unity or order.

Keywords:   Burnyeat, maximal view, Plato, Scylla, Charybdis, ethical ideas, mathematical ideas, unity, order

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