(17) Against the Socratic dictum that "none of the wise men considers that anybody ever willingly errs," (18) which provides inspiration for the Stoic conception of moral purpose (prohairesis), Aeschylus paints an akratic
picture of human nature when he has Prometheus declare: "Of my own will, yes, of my own will I erred--I will not deny it." (19) If critics of the rationalist traditions in Western thought are correct, then moral failure cannot be due to an intellectual error alone.
I will do so by offering an interpretation of the relation between Aristotle's account of akratic
ignorance in Nicomachean Ethics 7 and the emphasis at the beginning of book 7 on the necessity of going through perplexity ([phrase omitted]) when inquiring into akrasia.
Aristotle describes the incontinent or akratic
man who consciously neglects the reasons that ought to inform his action while instead pursuing the worse action with simultaneous regret at his own weakness.
(1) Whether there are possible circumstances in which it is rational to be radically akratic
is controversial: although many epistemologists vindicate a "non-akrasia constraint" on rationality, there have been some noteworthy defenses of the opposite view.
(in philosophical terms, they are akratic
Certainly, agents in the cases above are not merely being akratic
: it is not as though egoists, or prisoners in the prisoner's dilemma, are being weak willed when they refuse to help others do what they ought to do.
We take akratic
actors' failure to act in rational ways towards ostensibly desired and worthy ends to be a reflection of unworthy dispositions.
I specifically demonstrate that Coetzee's texts present cynical self-doubt as an intellectualisation of akratic
failure (weakness of will).
It is a dilatory akratic
distribution that renders time indeterminate and possibly interminable.
In chapter six he discusses akratic
action and ends the book with a discussion of "quality of will" theories of agency familiar from Strawson, Wallace, and Frankfurt.
(66) Bobonich moves even further when he argues that not only is Partition Theory (67) not employed to explain akratic
action, but it is for the most part abandoned in the moral psychology of the Laws.
Ignoring for a moment the problem of the akratic
will, one must acknowledge that these businesspersons may now wish to be ascetic but then later feel differently.