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6 - Puppets on strings: Moral psychology in Laws Books 1 and 2

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2010

Christopher Bobonich
Affiliation:
Stanford University, California
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Summary

PREFACE: PLATO ON THE NATURE OF PLEASURE

Pleasure in Plato is a highly controversial issue. The controversy is not just over the evaluation of pleasure within Plato's ethics, that is, whether he regards it as an overall good or bad thing, but what he takes the nature of pleasure to be. There is conflicting evidence on this issue in the different dialogues. This is in itself not particularly disturbing, because there is conflicting evidence on most central concepts in Plato's philosophy. One of the main reasons for such diaphonia is that Plato never speaks in his own name and lets different speakers express different views at different occasions, including Socrates himself. Another, equally important reason lies in the fact that Plato's writings, as far as we know, reflect over fifty years of authorship. Whether one favours a unitary, a developmentalist, or a revisionist reading of Plato, there are bound to be differences, at least in approach and perspective. But in the case of pleasure there is more than that. There is clearly some change, if not revision. Since the spectrum of Plato's views on this issue may be important for the evaluation of the role assigned to pleasure and its counterpart, pain, in the Laws, a brief overview of Plato's different treatments of pleasure is apposite, an overview that must necessarily remain superficial and at the same time controversial because Plato treats this concept in different ways and from different angles.

Type
Chapter
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Plato's 'Laws'
A Critical Guide
, pp. 108 - 126
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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