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Title: Planning for pleasure : Plato on hedonist prudentialism
Author: O'Reilly, Katharine R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8503 0216
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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Plato has a sustained interest in pleasure, and he represents Socrates in dialogue with hedonists repeatedly. Usually this is to critique them, and frequently it involves arguing not just that they seek the wrong life, but that they will fail to get the life of pleasure they do seek. Two pressing questions arise: what exactly does Plato take to be the fatal flaw in the hedonists' plans? And, given that flaw, why does he return to the subject of hedonist prudentialism recurrently? In 'Planning for Pleasure: Plato on Hedonist Prudentialism', I confront these interpretive questions by analysing Plato's views on hedonist prudentialism (Chapter One), by looking at specific passages representing confrontations with hedonist views in Protagoras 356b-357e (Chapter Two), Gorgias 492e-493d (Chapter Three), Republic IX 583c-585a (Chapter Four), and Philebus 20b-23a (Chapter Five), and by arguing for an alternative understanding of Plato's attitude to how we relate to pleasure (Conclusion). Against existing characterisations of this development which understand it as increasingly pessimistic about pleasure, I argue instead that Plato develops an increasingly fine-grained conception of pleasure, becoming suspicious of only some types as he goes along, while becoming more enthusiastic about others. His focus shifts to putting ourselves in the right position to accurately judge pleasures and what will please us - a position which, he is increasingly aware, is difficult to occupy. My thesis makes a clear contribution to this debate in providing an alternative to the more sceptical view. I encourage the re-evaluation of familiar texts, and raise new questions and avenues of inquiry. I contribute to current debates about Plato's understanding of the nature and role of pleasure in the good life, and highlight implications relevant to modern discussions of pleasure and prudentialism, in order to show how Plato's views remain philosophically relevant.
Supervisor: Nielsen, Karen Margrethe Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available