Mariana Beatriz Noé

Mariana Beatriz Noé completed her Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. in Classical Studies at Columbia University. In her doctoral dissertation, Virtue and Change in Plato’s Laws, she shows that Plato’s metaphysics in the Laws commits him to a particular account of virtue and political leadership. In the first chapter, she argues that Plato’s cosmological-metaphysical proposal in the Laws characterizes human beings as Dependent Self-Movers; we participate both in bodily movement (Other Movement) and psychic movement (Self/Other Movement). Since bodily movement is always dependent, human beings are partly passive, weak, and inherently vulnerable to corruption. In the second chapter of her dissertation, she turns to the ethical implications of a dependent nature. Humans cannot attain perfect virtue; only divine beings can possess unqualified virtue. This does not mean, however, that perfect virtue plays no part in organizing our lives. It serves as a regulative ideal for mortal beings. In the third and last chapter, she shows that even the highest-standing officials in the city must make an ongoing effort to sustain virtues; none of them possesses perfect virtue. An analogous consideration applies to the laws; they can attain a high level of goodness, but they inherit the temporal and imperfect nature of their human creators. Her account explains why the city depends on an intricate system of examination and testing. She shows, however, that Plato makes a proposal we can appreciate: rather than defend the superior standing of rulers, he argues for political accountability. This need to hold leaders accountable is the political manifestation of the type of virtue human beings can attain, one that is non-ideal. Dissertation committee: Katja Vogt (Chair), Gareth Williams, Dhananjay Jagannathan, Kathy Eden, and Susan Sauvé Meyer. Email Mariana Beatriz Noé.