The Laws of Plato is the longest dialogue Plato has written. It has been recognized as the most complete exposition of philosophy. The exposition featured the terms found below. The terms are defined accompanied by a quote or passage from The Laws of Plato. All of these terms offer a philosophical view of Plato on how to live life.
The term Aidos means shame and can be interchangeably used the Greek word “aischune” (Plato 518). It is well said in the passage “when there is fear, there is awe.” The term can be used with awe when Athenian does not emphasize the divine sources for the awesome sense of shame.
As such, it was mentioned that the Spartans had a temple dedicated to Fear as follows “And they honor Fear not as one of those demonic things they wish to ward off as harmful, but rather because they believe that it is fear which especially holds their regime together.” Furthermore, aidos or shame follows to sophrosune in the myth recalled by Protagoras.
The word Sophrosune means the sovereignty of law wherein one voluntarily accepts laws impose upon the social order. Thus, the sovereignty of law is mutually interdependent with the term sophrosune. Plato associates sophrosune to the control of pleasure and the appetites. When both of these definitions are related to each other, it teaches how to have self-control. It is argued by Plato that the greatest victory is over one’s own self. Books I and II discuss sophrosune and how institutions of the state can benefit from the sovereignty of the law to promote inner harmony.
The term Thumos primarily means anger or proud spiritedness. Plato teaches how spiritedness should be used knowing that it has limitations. His passage discusses how future citizens who nurture thumos “honor their own more than the truth”. It is understood that thumos caters to an overweening pride of men leading them to think that they are better than their superiors.
Choreia, for Plato, means dancing and singing. “for when mothers have children who suffer from insomnia and want to go to sleep, lull them to rest, they bring them not stillness, but this very movement, for they rock them carelessly in their arms [they bring them] not silence, but melody, “en-aulize” the children just as Bacchantes out of their senses, by using this cure of movement as singing and dancing [choreia] and musia.” Plato makes sense with the use of Choreia by referring to the education of emotions through the act of choreia.
Another term is Marsyas who is the fourth and central in the list of seven inventors. He was a satyr who invented the first music for the aulos. He challenged Apollo to a musical duel but had lost. He was flayed alive for his imprudence of claiming his new music was superior to Apollonian.
The next term is Mimesis is related to the representation of nature or other forms of imitation. Plato shared that musical tune and rhythm are mimetic. It is of great importance that the young must have a taste for the better music to sing and dance.
Another term is Poiesis that means no claim upon the truth or is an imitation or mimesis. Both mimesis and poiesis are similar to one another. The quote found in the Law of Plato that relates to imitation is “[Poetical] imitation imitates men performing actions either forced or voluntary, and believing that they are either successful or not in these actions, and feeling pain or pleasure as a result of it all.”
The term Nomos means the written and unwritten law. It can also mean authoritative way, tradition, custom, or habit. Manner and moral are also associated to this term. It is quoted as “He must not appear even to wish to talk to the young; initially at least, he must applaud the nomos that forbids the young to ask questions.” It implies that the nomos is the guide and set of rules for all, especially the young, to follow.
The word that defines nemesis is anger and righteous indignation. The term nemesis is personified as a goddess. It is depicted in the passage saying “Nemesis, the messenger of Justice, has been set to keep watch over everyone in this regard.” The term was fully explained on how parents can have a spirited anger towards their son who they believe is doing them an injustice. But when they pass away, the grandest burial must be given to them. Thus, the law of Plato under nemesis denotes that the younger generation must pay back his greatest debts to the elderly.
Lastly, the term physis means norms that exist by nature. Physis is an opposite of nomos that pertains to norms that exist by convention or law. Plato defines physis as the natural or divine laws that exist on the ideal plane together such as justice, or the Ten Commandments. He discusses how Athens in the 5th century progressed political theory by shifting philosophy form cosmology to human concerns, including whether norms exist through physis (nature) or nomos (law or convention).