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HĒDONĒ. Plato’s Philosophy of Pleasure

Subject and Keywords:

Plato   pleasure


The book contains of five chapters. In Chapter I, it is answered the question, what is the philosophy and what is its place in the psycho-physical structure of the human being. The main subject of the analysis is the dialogue Philebus, but the (re)construction is also supplemented by appealing to the other texts (Republic, Theaetetus). The pleasure is a sensation, which come out as the effect of action taken on basis of some desire. The desire can be provoked by the bodily or psychical factor. Its appearing is very often a symptom of the lost of natural stability of the given structure (soul, body) and the pleasure is sensed, when the structure is restored to the proper state. But a possibility to feel pleasures called “pure” can show that the pleasure come into being not only with the process of restoration, but it is also – in some cases – present as some condition named “joy”. In Chapter II, the analyses concentrate on the dialogue Gorgias and the polemic with Prodicus and Callicles. I show that Plato aspires to prove two things. In the case of the discussion with Prodicus it is attempted to compel him to give an assent that some not corporeal exists. The sophist, if he would be fully convinced, should reach to the conclusion that there are not only the bodily but also the non-bodily pleasures. In the case of the dialogue with Callicles Plato tries to point out that the extreme subjectivism is not the philosophy worthy of an acceptance. According to Plato Callicles seems to prefer the emotional aspect of the human being to the rational one. Similarly to Prodicus the sophist does not accept any division of the pleasures as well, and the purely emotional and subjective attitude to the reality allows him to fulfil all his desires and to draw the maximum pleasure from it. For Plato such attitude is nothing else as to perpetrate a hybris. In Chapter III, I show, how Plato divide the pleasures (i.e. pure, impure, mixed, true, false and so on) and what role play the divisions in the texts of dialogues. The Chapter IV is devoted to the question of the so-called “hedonic calculus”. This conception is developed in the Phaedo and the Protagoras. The analysis of the texts allow to find that if Plato would seriously consider to apply such calculus, it could be probably used only towards the pleasures through the senses. In Chapter V, I put forward the educational and political dimension of pleasure in Plato’s philosophy. The main analysed texts are – naturally – the Republic and Laws. Plato shows clearly, how significant role plays the pleasure both in a individual human life (from birth to a death) and in the society. It seems to be important that it permits to judge the moral state of a individual person and the state and to justify philosophically this judgement.

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Oficyna Naukowa PFF

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ISBN 978–83–64208–13–3





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Copyright by Artur Pacewicz & Polskie Forum Filozoficzne

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