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akrasia


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(Greek, incontinence)

The condition in which while knowing what it would be best to do, one does something else. The phenomenon intrigued Plato and Aristotle, because if we accept the Socratic equation between knowing a thing to be good and desiring it, then it becomes difficult to see how akrasia is possible. Yet the phenomenon evidently exists. Less optimistic philosophies find it equally hard to see how strength of will is possible. Akrasia is commonly translated as weakness of will, although that properly includes general irresolution or infirmity of purpose, which is rather different.

Subjects: Philosophy


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