Lee, John Mason
The essays presented in this thesis are all concerned in some way with Plato's views on pleasure, However I have not hesitated to discuss both topics and particular arguments
which, strictly speaking, are ancillary to this central theme, The order followed is this. In Chapter I, I discuss first of all the influence of contemporary medical theory on fifth- and fourth-century Greek ethics, I then mention the views of Prodicus on the semantics of pleasure, and argue that
his distinctions were...[Show more] not necessarily mere quibbles: Greek ethical writers needed, and lacked, an enjoyment-exhilaration
distinction (of the sort drawn nowadays by authors like Ryle), and one might possibly have been founded on Prodicus's semantics,
Next I discuss the family of akrasia idioms and their possible origin, together with the anti-hedonist bias of some of the
pre-Platonists. I argue that the status of 'pleasure' in the 'overcome by pleasure' idiom is doubtful: that it is not clear
whether 'pleasure' is supposed to function as an intentional or a non-intentional motive word - in other words, whether
pleasure is taken to be a goal, or an impulse, or neither of these things, Finally I discuss the Socratic paradoxes, arguing
that the paradox S2 ('No one errs willingly') does not represent a Corollary of the paradox S1 ('Virtue is knowledge'), and indeed that the two paradoxes are inconsistent if 'knowledge' is taken in its everyday sense of 'craft-expertise': I suggest also that S1 may have been something of a commonplace in the intellectual circles of Socrates' day, while S2, with 'err' used in the sense of 'do evil' or 'do injustice' was distinctively socratic. I have added three supplementary notes. In Chapter II, I discuss the Protagoras. While not completely ruling out the possibility that the Protagoras is a hedonist dialogue, I suggest that it is more plausible to take the hedonism of the Protagoras as akin to that of the~. hedonism in both dialogues being regarded by Plato as a sort of moral deuteros plous - as a second-best way of exhorting people who lack dialectical ability. I suggest also that some
of the contributions to the discussion of both main speakers indicate that Plato is probing the basis of ordinary (as opposed
to philosophic) morality. Other points made in Chapter II are these. Plato is not putting fallacious arguments into the mouth
of Socrates. The hedonist thesis propounded by Socrates is convertible ('All pleasant things are good and all good things
are pleasant'). Socrates is probably not sponsoring the hedonist thesis (though I despair of ever being certain about this}.
Socrates could have disproved the theory of akrasia without invoking hedonism. It may be that Protagoras has a vested interest in opposing the theory of akrasia, insofar at least as the practice of rhetoric encourages
ordinary people to hold it, Since it attacks the worth of episteme or knowledge, and he is a pedlar of knowledge.
Notes are appended on the minor arguments for the identity of the virtues, and on some other points. Chapter III deals with the Gorgias and the Phaedo. I give a brief exposition of the argument of the Gorgias,
and discuss the dialectical proofs of the non-identity of pleasure and goodness. I suggest that the hedonist thesis is shown no mercy in the Gorgias because, 'while in the
hands of honourable men like Protagoras, it can even be a power for good, in the hands of moral morons like Callicles, it cannot but be a power for evil'. I suggest also that
the dialectical proofs apply to pleasure generally, and not just to profligate pleasure. The extreme anti-hedonism of
the Phaedo is noted. Chapter IV opens with a statement of the hygienic theory
of pleasure, put together from the Republic, the Timaeus, and the Philebus. I follow this statement with a brief criticism of the theory. The theory (i) permits of no distinction between the mere perception of a restorative process and the enjoyment of it, and (ii) assuming a distinction between
bodily and mental pleasure, permits no uniform account to be given of mental pleasure. This statement and criticism is
followed by a brief discussion of the account of pleasure in the ninth book of the Republic. The Republic is to some extent
an antidote to the Phaedo: the Phaedo sponsors a two-level view of morality (ordinary morality and philosophic morality)
and repudiates pleasure along with lower-level morality; the Republic continues this sponsorship, but devises a true or superior type of pleasure to accompany higher-level morality. Chapter V deals with the Philebus to 31. I consider in particular the statement of dialectical method in these pages. I suggest that the dialectical method of the Divine Gift (16c foll.) and the Kinds of Beings (23c foll.) represents an
attempt to apply the procedures of harmonics to collection and division, and that Plato has in mind those cases in which kinds
may be said to 'overlap' and (possibly) those cases in which difference in kind is constituted by difference of degree.
Plato's immediate purpose in introducing this material is to provide a metaphysical basis for the theory of the mixed life.
In Chapter VI two aspects of the second half (31 foll.) of the Philebus are dealt with. I discuss first the treatment of mental concepts. This discussion is intended to indicate the rationale of the theory that anticipatory pleasures and pains can be true or false: they can be said to be true or
false because their content is expressible as a set of judgements; and I add some remarks designed to suggest in what respect
wicked anticipatory pleasures are false. I discuss secondly the importance of the type of 'falsity' which arises when the
natural state or phusis of a creature is wrongly dubbed leasure. Chapter VII is devoted to pleasure in the Laws, and to
the Conclusion of the thesis as a whole.
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