Beyond Pleasure: Plato and the Good

Abstract

In Republic IX, Plato claims that the philosopher would live the most pleasant life, learning being the greatest pleasure. However, Plato is not explicit as to what the life of an accomplished philosopher would be like. Some have posited that the philosopher, once he has acquired knowledge of the good, continually relearns it, experiencing residual pleasure in this. While this approach works for ordinary pieces of knowledge, Plato's description of the nature of the good puts it in another class. Looking to the aviary model of coming to know in the Theaetetus, I argue that, while the philosopher does have the most pleasant life overall and experiences ordinary pleasures in ways that no one else can, he transcends the ability experience the greatest of intellectual pleasures upon completing his knowledge of the good. Once obtained, knowledge of the good is of such a sort that it would never be released from mental grasp, making the pleasure of learning it a once-only experience.

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Nick Maki
Grand Valley State University

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