Plato on Pleasures Mixed with Pains: an Asymmetrical Account

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In this paper I aim to show that the restoration model of pleasure as we find it in Plato’s Gorgias, Republic, Timaeus, and Philebus contain a common psychological core, despite the substantial developments and greater sophistication in the later works. I argue that, contrary to the scholarly consensus, all four dialogues take the necessary condition for pain to be a state of imbalance or disharmony rather than a process of destruction or deterioration. Given that the necessary condition for pleasure is a process of restoration, it follows that the restoration model offers a strikingly asymmetrical account of pleasure and pain. This unorthodox interpretation of pain is not only favoured by the textual evidence but is also more charitable, as it attributes to Plato a more plausible view of impure pleasures, a more realistic account of desire, and a more compelling argument for the greater pleasantness of the philosophical life.
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Archival date: 2019-11-12
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