Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst (1982)

In this dissertation, I focus on the hedonism in Plato's Protagoras and Gorgias, paying close, but not exclusive, attention to the recent discussion by Terence Irwin in his Plato's Moral Theory and his translation of and commentary on the Gorgias. ;I argue that there is a genuine ethical hedonism discussed in the Protagoras, but that we are not forced by considerations in the Protagoras to ascribe that hedonism to Socrates. Furthermore, I argue, contra Irwin, that Socrates is not committed to hedonism by his earlier ethical views. In fact, I suggest, hedonism plays no real role in the logical structure of the main argument in the dialogue ;In the Gorgias Socrates is clearly out to attack some version of hedonism. This attack consists of two arguments: one attempting to show that pleasure has a property which goodness lacks, the other attempting to show that the identification of goodness and pleasure has unacceptable ethical consequences. When properly formulated, neither argument is successful against hedonism, but at best only against an identification of the good person with the pleased person, a doctrine which is logically independent from the first. There are, however, some passages in the Gorgias which suggest an argument whereby Plato may have supposed a refutation of this latter doctrine constituted a refutation of hedonism. I examine a number of ways in which the resulting argument is unsuccessful. ;In general, I argue that Socrates is not committed to accepting hedonism in the Protagoras, and hence, that there is no need to view these two dialogues as reflecting a fundamental change in Platonic ethics. We need not say that Plato's ethical views were based on hedonism in the Protagoras and based on its rejection in the Gorgias. Rather, both dialogues work toward standard Socratic doctrines such as the unity of the virtues and the happiness of the good person
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The Hedonism in Plato's Protagoras.J. P. Sullivan - 1961 - Phronesis 6 (1):10 - 28.
Knowledge and Hedonism in Plato's Protagoras.M. Dyson - 1976 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 96:32-45.
Hedonism in the Protagoras.Henry G. Wolz - 1967 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 5 (3):205-217.
The Technical Conception of Virtue.George Klosko - 1981 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (1):95-102.

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