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Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life$
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Daniel Russell

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199282846.001.0001

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Pleasure, Value, and Moral Psychology in the Republic, Laws, and Timaeus

Pleasure, Value, and Moral Psychology in the Republic, Laws, and Timaeus

(p.205) 7 Pleasure, Value, and Moral Psychology in the Republic, Laws, and Timaeus
Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life

Daniel Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In the so-called agreement model of psychic conformity, the passions do not retain their former character, only under tighter rein, but take on a new character altogether. In the competing control model, the passions may conform to reason, but they never change their character so as to cooperate with reason, just as a trained lion conforms to the commands of a tamer whose direction it is never capable of internalizing and cooperating. This chapter argues that these two models appear together in Plato for the simple reason that each captures, in its own way, aspects of our psychology Plato finds too important to ignore. It is further argued that without a psychological model of the agent as a whole, Plato lacks the psychological underpinnings for an account of virtue as the transformation of the agent as a whole, and thus for an account of happiness that is holistic rather than dimensional, consisting not in one's flourishing in some dimension of one's life but in one's flourishing as a harmoniously integrated whole. Consequently, Plato offers a compelling ethical and value-theoretical account of pleasure as a conditional good that is rationally incorporated by practical intelligence, but lacks an adequate unified psychology of the affective and rational activities of the soul to underwrite that ethical and value-theoretical account.

Keywords:   psychic conformity, Plato, agreement model, control model, reason, desire, Republic

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