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Title: Plato on rational pleasure and two sorts of the good life
Author: Koo, Kyo-Sun
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 2626
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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In what kind of relation does “Rational Pleasure”, i.e. the pleasure of learning, possessing, and using knowledge or true beliefs, stand to the good human life? By exploring three Platonic dialogues, namely the 'Phaedo, Republic' and 'Philebus', this dissertation aims both at to achieve three distinct answers to this question, which are worthy of our philosophical attention, and to provide fresh readings of these three dialogues. In summary, this dissertation examines the three Platonic dialogues mentioned in order to scrutinize why and in what sense the good human life contains Rational Pleasure. This dissertation maintains that, although all three mentioned Platonic works are in an agreement that Rational Pleasure does not alone constitute the goodness of the good human life, each of these three dialogues provides us with a different interesting account of how this pleasure relates to the good human life. In particular, this dissertation contends that each dialogue distinguishes two discrete sorts of the good life in its own way, and so we can obtain a richer understanding of what kind of value Rational Pleasure has in the good human life by comparing these different sorts of the good life. First of all, this dissertation argues, the core of the Phaedo’s view on the relation between Rational Pleasure and the good human life is that the best embodied life needs the pleasure of learning because enjoying this pleasure assists one who lives this life to continue living this life. By contrast, the supreme life which is lived by the fully disembodied soul either lacks pleasure or experiences pleasure only temporarily. This means that a kind of Rational Pleasure plays a merely instrumental role in one sort of the good human life, whilst it plays no role in the other sort of the good human life. Hence, this dialogue views that Rational Pleasure does not constitute the goodness of the good human life in general. Second, this dissertation claims that the 'Republic' considers that Rational Pleasure does not have either a constitutive or an instrumental value in two sorts of the good human life, namely in both the life of doing philosophy and in the life of ruling the ideal city. Yet, the dialogue allocates a significant place to Rational Pleasure in the good human life by considering that one’s preference for Rational Pleasure over other kinds of pleasure indicates the supremacy of one’s life in three senses: someone who lives this life (i) arranges one’s own life in accordance with the highest value, (ii) meets the majority of one’s own desires, and (iii) gratifies one’s own desires in the most conducive way to justice. Third, the dissertation maintains that the 'Philebus' distinguishes one kind of the good life, which contains Rational Pleasure, from the other kind of the good life which lacks it, revealing that Rational Pleasure is not even a necessary condition for the goodness of the good life in general. Rational Pleasure is included in the former kind of the good life, which is viable to human beings, not just as an unharmful ingredient of it, but also as a necessary motivator for engaging in the intellectual activities which are the key to living this life. On the other hand, there is no place for Rational Pleasure in the latter kind of the good life, which is viable only to gods, both because gods do not need Rational Pleasure to make their lives good and because gods cannot experience pleasure.
Supervisor: Aufderheide, Joachim ; Tor, Shaul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available