Plato and Aristotle on the Criterion of Real Pleasures

C. C. W. Taylor

in Pleasure, Mind, and Soul

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780199226399
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191710209 | DOI:
 Plato and Aristotle on the Criterion of Real Pleasures

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines the attempts by Plato and Aristotle to establish which, among the great variety of pleasures, are genuine pleasures, as opposed to not being pleasures at all, or being pleasures only in some qualified sense. Both appeal to the judgement of a certain type of person as authoritative, but the types of person are different. In Republic Book IX, Plato argues that the philosopher's judgement is authoritative because he excels other types of person in intelligence, reason, and experience of the various types of pleasure. It is argued that this argument fails because only a devotee of a given type of pleasure has the appropriate experience of it, and the philosopher cannot be a devotee of the pleasures of the body and of ambition. Aristotle's criterion in the Nicomachean Ethics is the judgement of the person in sound condition, including physical and psychological health, but he is unable to identify the appropriately sound condition independently of the person's having the right kind of pleasures. He appears to suggest in the Eudemian Ethics that it may be possible to identify genuine pleasures independently of anyone's judgement by direct appeal to the proper functioning of human nature.

Keywords: criterion; pleasure; intelligence; reason; experience; qualified and unqualified predicates; human nature; ergon; function

Chapter.  7010 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.