By David Wolfsdorf

The major topics in historical Philosophy sequence presents concise books, written by way of significant students and obtainable to non-specialists, on very important subject matters in historical philosophy that stay of philosophical curiosity this present day. during this quantity Professor Wolfsdorf undertakes the 1st exploration of historical Greek philosophical conceptions of enjoyment relating to modern conceptions. The booklet presents vast assurance of the traditional fabric, from pre-Platonic to outdated Stoic remedies; and within the modern interval, from international conflict II to the current. exam of the character of delight in historic philosophy principally happened inside moral contexts. within the modern interval, the subject has, to a better volume, been pursued inside of philosophy of brain and psychology. This divergence displays the dominant philosophical preoccupations of the days. yet Wolfsdorf argues that a few of the remedies are complementary. certainly, the Greeks' examinations of delight have been incisive, their debates lively and their effects have enduring price for modern dialogue.

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Aristippus In contrast to Antisthenes, Aristippus of Cyrene (c. 435–356), another associate of Socrates, was an ethical hedonist. That is, Aristippus held that human life is good insofar as it is pleasant. Precisely what sort of hedonist Aristippus was, however, is difficult to determine. A number of ancient thinkers vilified Aristippus for maintaining that bodily or somatic pleasures are the only things of intrinsic value. For example, the Roman politician and philosopher Cicero (106–143) criticizes Aristippus for treating human beings as though they were irrational animals: Aristippus appears to think that we have no soul, just a body.

Let me make two general points about Plato’s dialogues here that bear on our discussions of his various treatments of pleasure. First, Plato’s dialogues are commonly divided into three chronological periods: early, middle, and late. According to this division, Gorgias and Hippias Major are early, Republic is middle, and Timaeus and Philebus are late. My discussions in this and the next chapter will occasionally conform to this chronological order. To that extent, then, I believe there are some important chronological developments in Plato’s thinking about pleasure.

6) This passage seems to bring Aristippus’ position closer to Democritus’ than to the sorts of base, depraved, foolish, or belly-pleasure seeking that Prodicus, Antisthenes, and Democritus all respectively criticize. In particular, Democritus and Aristippus seem to share an emphasis on 22 Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy humanity’s inability or at least limited ability to control their environments and instead on the importance of adapting oneself to changing and unpredictable circumstances.

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