Suppose that there is an epistemic capacity useful to call by the name of understanding, as something on the same level as knowledge in general, but importantly distinct therefrom. Now suppose that one can know what is good without knowing why something is good, or know why things would be good without knowing what, in particular, answers to such a "why." That is, there are those who know not "what the situation calls for," who are weak-minded when it comes to "reading the room." (Kant mentions such an intellectual distinction when he speaks of wit, I think; he says something about people who have a good stock of correct principles in their heads, but who are relatively lost when it comes to the art of applying general rules to local cases.)

So instead of mere knowledge being sufficient to block akrasia, we instead have it that one would have to fully know and fully understand what is right or wrong, good or evil, in order to avoid falling prey to weakness-of-the-will? Can this picture of the matter be adapted to e.g. Donald Davidson's all-things-considered/all-out distinction in his theory of practical judgment? To quote some writing on that:

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On the other hand, the above makes Davidson's distinction sound more like a difference internal to understanding, rather than an equivalent of the knowledge/understanding difference itself. I.e., it seems as if the person who goes so far as to judge something all-things-considered, but fails to move to all-out judgment, is deficient in understanding specifically.

Corollary: acedia can be represented as some sort of reciprocal of akrasia. One involves knowing what is wrong but acting wrongly, the other involves knowing what more would be good to bring about but not acting to bring about more good. So if we have both the knowledge/understanding and ATC/AO distinctions in play, here, are these such as to help explain only akrasia, or akrasia and acedia together?

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    Indeed understanding is an extremely protean concept in philosophy not unlike doxastic belief, and contrary to Bacon knowledge perhaps is not really power for the akrasia or acedia since it's not of the logical form of material conditionals or categories at least for its most practical PF Bayesian subset. ATC/AOcategorical imperative like evaluative understanding is always hard with respect to either nature or other agents, and situated internal understanding could come in levels of cumulative hierarchy. Ergo mere knowledge isn't sufficient to block both akrasia and its antonym acedia... Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 6:18

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The concepts of akrasia ("ακρασία") and acedia ("ἀκηδία") - in the context that they are discussed by Greek philosophers (including Socrates and Aristotle) - are related to (as part of their definition, both in the context and as words) a diverse group of "sub-concepts" such as joy, recreation, pleasure, euphoria, ethos ... (more related to emotional and spiritual/soul-type of properties than of mind) so it does not seem that they can be grounded down to just a knowledge/understanding ontological framework; you need something more that this.

  • Isn't Davidson's analysis part of that "more than this"? Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 19:19
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    Yes, it seems so; the concept of "will" he speaks about is a common factor in these "sub-concepts", but it is not enough. You have to expand the ontology with all the terms:entities of these philosophers, ie. the Greek language. It's not a matter of translation; their ontology is merged with the semantics of their language. Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 19:49
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    If you are trying to incorporate concepts related to emotions and to the soul into a logical framework, I believe it's not possible. Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 20:04
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    I should note that when I first noticed the reciprocity of acedia and akrasia, it was in connection with the Old(?) English words "akrasie" and "accidie," and I thought up the start of a little poem about them: "Accidie and Akrasie did stand upon a hill / and there they've stood, and there they'll stand / until they've had their fill..." although I never figured out a nifty way to finish the poem... Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 22:13
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    If it is of any help I suggest ancient Greek Theogony. There are God/goddess that express these entities in concrete form. For example goddess "ανάγκη" which is something like necessity, has the properties of the concept of it. Similarly there are the "αρετές"-virtues+ and "πάθη"-passions+; of the latter are akrasia and acedia... Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 22:21

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