Powers of the Soul – A Very Different Theory of Justice

“While the Greeks were no strangers to the notion of external power… they conceived of such external power as having its sources in the soul of individuals and collectives.”

Contemporary philosophical (as well as political, sociological and psychological) accounts of power focus on the exercise of power within given social conditions. From such perspectives power and its exercise, is largely a matter of external concern – the power of the media, the power of governments, of law, of politics and so on. However, certain writers in the ancient world of the West conceived of power and powers quite differently. They conceived of power as essentially located in virtues of the soul – internal power. While the Greeks were no strangers to the notion of external power (think of Thucydides’ Melian Dialogues) they conceived of such external power as having its sources in the soul of individuals and collectives. In the presentation Professor Thomas Brian Mooney addresses some dimensions of the internal nature of power and provides some suggestions as to what a theory of justice might look like starting from this vantage point – a very different theory of justice than those prevalent in the contemporary world.


Professor Thomas Brian Mooney

Thomas Brian Mooney is Professor of Philosophy and Head of School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Charles Darwin University.

His major research interests are in Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy and Ancient Philosophy, and recent books include Aquinas, Education and the East (2014), Understanding Teaching and Learning (2012), Meaning and Morality: Essays on the Philosophy of Julius Kovesi (2013) and Critical and Creative Thinking (McGraw Hill: Forthcoming 2014).

Originally from the North of Ireland, he completed his BA and MA from The Queen’s University, Belfast before moving to Australia to continue his doctoral work, being awarded his PhD in 1993 on the Philosophy of Love and Friendship at La Trobe University. Since then has taught at a number of Australian institutions including Melbourne University, Deakin University, Swinburne University, Edith Cowan University, and the University of Notre Dame. He has also taught at the University of Ghana, and prior to his current post, was at Singapore Management University.

Professor Mooney was a Keynote Speaker at The Asian Conference on Ethics, Religion & Philosophy 2015 (ACERP2015) in Osaka, Japan.

Posted by Thaddeus Pope

Born and raised in Brighton, England, Thaddeus Pope is an experienced commercial and editorial photographer with a BA in Photography from the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Thaddeus’s duties at IAFOR include overseeing the design, media and marketing output of the organisation, as well as producing photo-essays, short documentaries and other visual content for IAFOR and its publications, including THINK. In January 2015, Thaddeus was named as the Creative Director of the IAFOR Documentary Photography Award. tpope@iafor.org (in English)