This is a passage from one of Ted-ed articles. I think both 'placate' and 'benign' have a positive meaning respectively while 'unthinking stupor' has a negative implication. The sentence doesn't make sense to me. What does the sentence mean?

One of the most important applications of music in Ancient Greek society is found in the belief that music can affect a person's ethos. A word we still use today, ethos is a person's guiding beliefs or personal ethics, the way that one behaves towards oneself and others.

The Greek philosopher Plato, one of the most famous and influential Greek thinkers of the time, asserted that music had a direct effect on a person's ethos. Certain kinds of music could incite a person to violence while others could placate a person into a benign, unthinking stupor.

According to Plato, only very specific types of music were beneficial to a person's ethos. One should only listen to music that promotes intelligence, self-discipline, and courage, and all other kinds of music must be avoided. Furthermore, Plato fervently denounced any music that deviated from established musical conventions, fearing that doing so would lead to the degradation of the standards of civilization, the corruption of youth, and eventually complete and utter anarchy.

source : https://ed.ted.com/lessons/music-and-creativity-in-ancient-greece-tim-hansen

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    If Plato favoured music that promotes intelligence, self-discipline, and courage why should he be complimentary about the use of music which stupefies? Perhaps there is an implied word missing from "while others could placate a [violent] person into a benign, unthinking stupor". – Weather Vane May 26 '18 at 22:37
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    I would feel kind of dubious about any piece of text or other material whose author felt the need to tell me that Plato was a "famous and influential Greek thinker" – Michael Harvey May 26 '18 at 23:18
  • This question would be better if it focused on the English usage regarding the phrase in question, rather than get pulled off to another topic. Really, it is only necessary to quote that paragraph. Also, some research into the meanings of placate and benign would be helpful, rather than just describing them as positive or negative. – user3169 May 27 '18 at 1:46

I think that this question is off-topic because is not about English Language Learning, it is about History and Philosophy. You may find another Stack Exchange site that fits better your needs. This text belongs in a comment but I need some extra space to show my opinion.

I have watched the entire video and it can be resumed with two phrases:

  • Ancient Greek rich people - for example, philosophers like Plato - gave a lot of importance to music.

  • English language take some words from Ancient Greek like music and harmony.

No offence intended.

You have to study texts from Plato himself to find out what he really said about music.

P.S. I think like you, the sentence doesn't make sense in relation with the other premises.

| improve this answer | |
  • Ah, you're right. I appreciate your comment. – Lifeispicnic May 27 '18 at 1:03

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