Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life

Paperback | October 4, 2007

byDaniel Russell

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Daniel Russell examines Plato's subtle and insightful analysis of pleasure and explores its intimate connections with his discussions of value and human psychology. Russell offers a fresh perspective on how good things bear on happiness in Plato's ethics, and shows that, for Plato, pleasurecannot determine happiness because pleasure lacks a direction of its own. Plato presents wisdom as a skill of living that determines happiness by directing one's life as a whole, bringing about goodness in all areas of one's life, as a skill brings about order in its materials. The 'materials' ofthe skill of living are, in the first instance, not things like money or health, but one's attitudes, emotions, and desires where things like money and health are concerned. Plato recognizes that these 'materials' of the psyche are inchoate, ethically speaking, and in need of direction from wisdom.Among them is pleasure, which Plato treats not as a sensation but as an attitude with which one ascribes value to its object. However, Plato also views pleasure, once shaped and directed by wisdom, as a crucial part of a virtuous character as a whole. Consequently, Plato rejects all forms ofhedonism, which allows happiness to be determined by a part of the psyche that does not direct one's life but is among the materials to be directed. At the same time, Plato is also able to hold both that virtue is sufficient for happiness, and that pleasure is necessary for happiness, not as anaddition to one's virtue, but as a constituent of one's whole virtuous character itself. Plato therefore offers an illuminating role for pleasure in ethics and psychology, one to which we may be unaccustomed: pleasure emerges not as a sensation or even a mode of activity, but as an attitude - one ofthe ways in which we construe our world - and as such, a central part of every character.

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Daniel Russell examines Plato's subtle and insightful analysis of pleasure and explores its intimate connections with his discussions of value and human psychology. Russell offers a fresh perspective on how good things bear on happiness in Plato's ethics, and shows that, for Plato, pleasurecannot determine happiness because pleasure la...

Daniel Russell is at Wichita State University, Kansas.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.71 inPublished:October 4, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199229791

ISBN - 13:9780199229796

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Pleasure and the good life1. Goodnes and the good life: the Euthydemus2. Pleasure, virtue, and happiness in the Gorgias3. Pleasure as a conditional good in the Phaedo4. Pleasure and moral psychology in Republic IV and IX5. The Philebus I: virtue, value, and 'likeness to God'6. The Philebus II: pleasure transformed7. Pleasure, value, and moral psychology in the Republic, Laws, and TimaeusEpilogue: Pleasure and happiness in Plato's Protagoras

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition ... [Daniel Russell] finds considerably more coherence and philosophical interest than others have before him ... Anyone working in the field of ancient philosophy will want to own this book... It is not just that Russell develops his own views well, but he alsohas the gift of expressing others' or other possible views rigorously and fairly. This is a book to which I will return again and again; like all good academic books, it forces the reader to refine his own views.'Robin Waterfield, Bryn Mawr Classical Review