Masterly Pursuits #3: Nolan Reisen

[Part of an ongoing series on Master’s Essay candidates that begins here.]

  • Working title/topic of your essay?

I don’t have a title yet, but I’m working on an interpretation of Plato’s Charmides. The main question of the Charmides is “What is moderation?” so I imagine my title will be something along those lines.

  • Texts used?

I’m using the Charmides pretty much exclusively, though I’ve also been reading some other Platonic dialogues for more context.

  • Why this topic?

Moderation is a decidedly less sexy virtue than the others and so is not often studied seriously today (compare modern study of the Charmides to the Republic). Still, it appears to be an important quality to consider when leading a gentlemanly life; perhaps, too, it is important to consider in the best life, the philosophic life. Further, what can moderation tell us about virtue more generally? Moderation would seem to lead to the good things in life, but I want to examine more in-depth how that may actually be the case.

  • What’s the most interesting/funny/random fact you’ve discovered so far?

Socrates is discussing moderation with two future tyrants. Furthermore, one of these men threatens Socrates with violence if he does not educate him to be moderate. What in the world is going on in the dramatic context of this dialogue?

  • What aspect of the Oral Examination are you most excited for/most dreading?

I haven’t thought too much yet about the defense! I think I do well under pressure so I’m sure it will be exhilarating, but it is a bit nerve-wracking to try to anticipate any question they may throw at you.

  • What do you hope to do after graduating St. John’s?

I’ll be applying to PhD programs with the eventual goal of being a professor. Wish me luck!


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