Beck, Martha C. Books

Dr. Martha C. Beck is a Professor of Philosophy at Lyon College, Arkansas. She earned her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr College.

Autobiography of a Mid-Western Methodist Woman (b. 1953): What It Was Like to Be an American in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century
2008 0-7734-5085-8
The spiritual odyssey of a woman whose personal experiences offer insights into the ideas and values of the progressive Christian tradition, and of the classical philosophers, most notably Plato and Aristotle. This book contains thirty-five black and white photographs.

Interpreting Sophocles’ Philoctetes through Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy. How Do We Educate People to Be Wise?
2008 0-7734-5185-4
This book applies many of the categories in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, Poetics and Rhetoric to the three main characters in Sophocles’ play, Philoctetes: Neoptolemus, Odysseus and Philoctetes. All three characters act at extremes in relation to the virtues of courage, anger, truthfulness and shame. Their relationships to each other are also flawed in various ways, and each character commits injustices as they abuse the power they have over each other. They all have good reasons for their actions but still make the wrong decisions. Their happiness is determined by their actions and choices not by their opinions. Aristotle’s list of the prominent character-traits in young people, middle-aged people and the old in the Rhetoric are applied in this book to Neoptolemus, the youth, Odysseus, the middle-aged ruler, and Philoctetes, an old man. Aristotle’s criteria for tragedy in the Poetics are applied to Sophocles’ play as a whole. Both Aristotle and Sophocles believe there exists universal standards for a well-lived life and universal patterns in the ways people fail to live well. Both Aristotle and Sophocles believe that the purpose of tragedy is to educate audience members, with the ultimate goal of this kind of education being practical wisdom (phronesis).

Plato’s Self-Corrective Development of the Concepts of Soul, Forms and Immortality in Three Arguments of the Phaedo
2000 0-7734-7950-3
Scholars agree that the proofs for immortality of the soul in Plato’s Phaedo are unconvincing. Many scholars think Plato was unaware of any flaws. This study argues both that the proofs are ultimately unconvincing and that Plato was aware of the problems. Only three of the arguments for immortality include a discussion of the forms? this study argues, first, that the view of forms, soul and immortality in each argument is internally consistent. Next, each argument contains three significantly different views of forms, soul and immortality. Third, each argument is a refinement of the previous view, rather than a radical rejection of it. Even the last argument in the Phaedo, however is inadequate. The Phaedo is shown as a truly dialectical philosophical conversation about the immortality of the soul.

Quest for Wisdom in Plato and Carl Jung. A Comparative Study of the Healers of the Soul
2008 0-7734-5177-3
This is an application of Jung to a reading of the texts of Plato and demonstrates how a psychoanalytic practice can provide a framework for textual analysis. This pursuit also reveals how the analysis of these thinkers has much to say about liberal arts education.

Tragedy and the Philosophical Life
2006 0-7734-5923-5
These books respond to Martha Nussbaum’s interpretation of Plato in The Fragility of Goodness: luck and ethics in Greek tragedy and philosophy. The author focuses her arguments on three issues: 1) Plato’s views did not change as radically as Dr. Nussbaum claims; 2) Plato is not anti-tragic; and 3) Plato’s dialogues go beyond tragedy, both in their form and in their content, without being anti-tragic. These books present a unique view of the philosophical life as a path out of tragedy and a unique understanding of how the character of Socrates exemplifies that life.