Next to godliness: pleasure and assimilation in God in the Philebus.
Plato's description of the philosopher in the Theaetetus confirms, for many, the suspicion that philosophers are an incompetent breed (172c4-6a1). The philosopher doesn't know how to make his bed or cook a decent meal, isn't sure whether his neighbor is a man or a beast, and is so caught up in heavenly speculation that he finds himself falling into wells. One of Plato's depictions of the philosopher's otherworldly nature stands in an intriguing contrast to the Philebus. The philosopher, he writes, does not know his way to the marketplace (173c9-d2); compare this to the concession in the Philebus that the inexact sciences ought to be included in the best human life, lest we not know our way home (62b8-9). The otherworldly focus of the Theaetetus appears opposed to the decidedly thisworldly, pragmatic focus of the Philebus. While the Theaetetus urges us to flee this world so that we can reside among the gods, the Philebus repeatedly eschews a life that it describes as god-like, the life of pure knowledge, devoid of pleasure. In the Theaetetus, Plato identifies the escape from this world to the divine realm with homoiosis theoi (assimilation to god); this passage serves as the basis for middle Platonists' claims that homoiosis theoi was the telos (end) of the Platonic system. (1) Plato, in fact, urges us to emu late the divine in dialogues ranging from the Symposium through the Laws. (2) Following Annas' and Sedley's (3) seminal papers, homoiosis theoi has received increasing attention among Plato'scholars; none, however, takes up the puzzling inconsistency with the Philebus. (4) Why should Plato'set up a divine ideal in this dialogue, and then reject it as an end worth pursuing?
Plato refers to the purely rational, ahedonic life four times in the Philebus; in the first two passages he ties it explicitly to the divine. The first passage is at 20e1-2c6: after establishing that the lives of knowledge and pleasure must be examined in isolation from one another, Socrates and Protarchus agree that it is the mixed life of pleasure and knowledge that is most choice-worthy. Since it is not sufficient on its own, pleasure does not turn out to be the good; neither, as Protarchus points out, does nous (reason). This is perhaps true of his nous, Socrates retorts, but the true and divine nous is otherwise (22c5-6). Socrates' point is that, although our human natures render the life of reason imperfect for us, the case of the gods may turn out otherwise. In the second passage, at 32d9-3b11, Socrates argues that if deterioration is pain and restitution pleasure, then at some points, living beings will be in a third state, of neither pleasure nor pain. Nothing prevents one who has chosen the life of pure reason from living in this state, and it would not be surprising if this life turned out to be the most divine, theiotatos, since it would be unseemly for gods to experience pleasure or pain (33a8-b11). We might, then, wonder why this is not the best life, why, at the conclusion of the dialogue, Socrates agrees with Protarchus that the life of pure knowledge falls short of the good, not being perfect, sufficient or choice-worthy, and that the mixed life--a life that falls short of the divine--is to be given first honours (61a1-2, 67a2-12). (5)
Addressing this puzzle, Frede has suggested that 'the paradox that the most godlike state is not the best one attainable for human beings' is dissolved by the fact that 'our needy natures do not permit us to live that way.' (6) Even if we chose to avoid pleasure, our merely human constitutions would not permit us to attain the fully ahedonic state. We are creatures who are incomplete and subject to change; for us, being in a state of static perfection is not a realistic goal. (7) We are inevitably going to encounter hunger, thirst, heat, and cold, and the pleasures and pains that go along with them (31e6-2a4). In support of this interpretation, we might note that Plato repeatedly states that the search is for the human good: thus, Socrates seeks to show that nous can render life happy for all men (11d4-6), and is corrected by Protarchus, who reveals that the life of pure reason is not sufficient or desirable for man or animal (22b1-2).
Although Frede's proposal is not without merit, it is somewhat unsatisfying. In other dialogues as well, Plato recognizes that we may not be able to become fully divine, but exhorts us to become as divine as possible; why, then, does he shy from this in the Philebus? Again, the second proposal amounts to the claim that assimilation to god is a flight from our human natures, (8) which the Philebus, a dialogue grounded in an acute awareness of our human capacities, eschews. But other dialogues suggest that it is possible for us to at least partially transcend our human natures; why, then, does Plato not urge us in the Philebus to seek out the divine, ahedonic life to the highest degree possible? Although Plato lets necessary pleasures--such as those due to eating and drinking when needed--into the good mixture (62e8-9), he also admits non-necessary pleasures, those of learning and of perceiving pure colors and shapes (63e3-4, 51b2-5, 51e7-2a1). (9) If these pleasures are not necessary for human life, and if they separate us from the divine, then why include them at all?
One way out of this quandary would be to maintain that these two ideals--the life of god and the mixed life of pleasure and knowledge--are in conflict, and that in opting for the latter in the Philebus, Plato temporarily abandons the former. (10) But what if we could develop an interpretation on which these two ideals converge? In this paper, I attempt to do exactly that. Following Frede, I concede that our mortal natures are such that we cannot live without pleasure or, for that matter, pain. However, I argue that pleasure also plays an integral role in the very processes by which we seek to transcend our merely human natures and become like god. In the first section of my paper, I offer an explanation of why Platonic gods do not experience pleasure: for Plato, all pleasure depends upon the restitution of a lack, and Platonic gods are perfect, and so lack nothing. This implies that it is not pleasure per se that is the source of our inferiority to god, but, rather, the state of prior imperfection and lack which it reveals. What, then, is involved in our becoming like god? In the second part of my paper, I propose that there are two broad models of assimilation to god in the dialogues--becoming virtuous and seeking knowledge. Both of these are processes that bring with them pleasure the former because becoming virtuous is a process of harmonization, the latter, because gaining knowledge is the filling of a lack. (11) In the third part of my paper, I respond to the objection that Phileban gods are not beings beyond pleasure; in the process, I introduce a distinction between pleasure, which is involved in the process of assimilating to god, and fulfillment, which characterizes the divine state. With this analysis in place of the role of pleasure in assimilation to god, we are now in a position to appreciate that the gap between the Philebus and other dialogues is not as deep as it might appear. In the Philebus, too, Plato urges us to become knowledgeable and virtuous, and thereby assimilate to god; however, he also recognizes that the human pursuit of divine perfection requires that we learn and acquire virtue, restitutive processes which are inherently pleasant. Paradoxically, then, in the very process of assimilating to god, we inevitably experience pleasure, and, in this regard, fall short of the fully divine state.
Understanding the connexion of pleasure to homoiosis theoi in the Philebus is of obvious importance for appreciating the internal coherence of the dialogue and its relation to the rest of Plato's corpus. However, I believe that this project has broader significance as well. It will enable us to develop a better sense of Plato's views on the nature of the gods--why are the gods beings beyond pleasure? Furthermore, insofar as the gods are beings in the best possible state, and so, in a sense, constitute a normative ideal for us humans, Plato's conception of divine nature has implications for his view of the human good, of what we ought to aspire to. (12) At the same time, consideration of the role of pleasure in assimilation to god reveals the difficulties inherent in our human condition, as mortals striving, unsuccessfully, to transcend our merely mortal natures.
2. Why are Phileban gods ahedonic?
Why are Phileban gods beyond pleasure? Plato never tells us, only commenting that it would be aschemon, unseemly (33b10). In what follows, I propose that the reason is that to experience pleasure would be at odds with their natures as perfect beings. In order to argue for this claim, however, I must first sketch out what I take to be Plato's view of pleasure in the dialogue. The topic has been the subject of great controversy; given the constraints of space, my treatment can only be cursory. As I understand Plato in the Philebus, he takes all pleasure to either consist in or depend upon the restitution of a lack. (13) Thus, at 31d4-10, Plato offers a preliminary account of pain as the disruption of harmony, pleasure as its restitution: 'When we find the harmony of animals destroyed, there is at the same time a destruction of their nature and the generation of pain ... but if the harmony is restored and there is a return to the animal's nature, then we must say that pleasure comes to be.' This account is reinforced later in the dialogue, when Plato makes quite general statements about pleasure, which indicate that he takes it all to be restitutive. At 53c4-4d7, he repeats, with praise, the view of the sophisticates, that all pleasure is a process of becoming for the sake of some being, and hence does not belong in the class of the good. To claim that pleasure is a generative process for the sake of some good is tantamount to calling it restitutive. Some scholars insist that Plato does not take all pleasures to be restitutive, and therefore places this account in the mouths of the sophisticates to distance himself from their view. (14) But Plato never rebuts nor supplants the sophisticates' account, and, in fact, emphasizes his indebtedness to them (54d6). Earlier, at 43c3-6, Socrates refers, in propria persona, to pleasures as metabolai (changes), which prefigures the sophisticates' analysis of them as geneseis (generations). In building upon his analysis of pleasures as metabolai and responding to the anti-hedonists, Socrates appears to offer a biconditional analysis of pleasure: he states that, when perceptible restoration occurs, there is pleasure (42d5-7, 43b1-c6), and elicits from Protarchus the admission that there is no pleasure without restoration (42d9-e12). He goes on to offer a tripartite analysis that suggests a thorough disjunction between depletion/pain, repletion/pleasure and the neutral state which is neither (44a12-b3); this analysis does not leave room for non-restitutive pleasures. (15) Finally, as Van Riel points out, Plato offers a virtually identical account of pleasure--as the perceptible removal of a disturbance--at Timaeus 64c7-d3. (16) This analysis is prefigured at Republic 585d11, where Plato'states that being filled with what is appropriate to one's nature is pleasure. (17) This implies that the account of pleasure as restitution-based in the Philebus should be taken to be Plato's own considered view.
Interpreters who deny that Plato views all pleasure as restitutive, typically concede that this is how he understands most bodily pleasures, but maintain that anticipatory pleasures and the pure pleasures of perception cannot be subsumed under this model. (18) However, if Plato did not take such pleasures to be restitutive, then it would be odd for him to approvingly restate the sophisticates' account of all pleasure as restitution-dependent at 53c4-4d7, after he has introduced these two kinds of pleasure. Furthermore, it is not the case that these pleasures cannot be subsumed under the restitutive model. When Plato initially introduces anticipatory pleasures, he presents them as the anticipations of restitutive pleasures (32b9-c2). At the very least, then, they are dependent upon pleasures of restitution; Frede has argued that the anticipatory pleasures themselves may involve some form of psychic restitution. (19) In the case of the pure pleasures of perception, Plato's phrasing allows for the possibility that these are restitutive. He lists the pure pleasures as 'those related to colours said to be beautiful, to shapes and smells and sounds, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (the ones which have imperceptible and painless lacks and which provide perceptible and pleasureful fillings, 51b5-7); the last phrase can be taken to be epexegetical, revealing the entire category of pure pleasures to be preceded by imperceptible and painless lacks. (20) Timaeus 46e7-7c6 reveals that Plato does hold that certain perceptual processes play a restitutive role in returning the revolutions of our souls to harmony; furthermore, at 65a1-6, he gives smell as a paradigmatic example of the sort of pleasure that involves perceptible repletion but imperceptible depletion.
With this analysis in place, let us return to the question of why Phileban gods cannot be pleased. Pleasure, according to Plato, is a process whereby some need--felt or unfelt--is satisfied; should the gods experience pleasure, they would reveal themselves to have been lacking, and so less than divine. In this regard, it will be helpful to take a closer look at the sophisticates' analysis of pleasure. On this analysis, pleasure does not belong to the category of the good, because it is always a process of generation for the sake of some being. Thus, pleasures such as eating, drinking, and learning are always for the sake of some end state: being in a sound bodily condition and possessing knowledge. Platonic gods, however, do not lack any goods; consequently, they do not undergo the restitutive processes of gaining these goods, and do not experience pleasure. At Republic 381b1-c9, Plato objects to poetic depictions of divine transmogrification, (21) since the gods are in the best possible state and this would imply that they voluntarily enter into a worse state. Similarly, in the Symposium, Plato argues that Eros cannot be a god, since he is the desire for beautiful and good things; the gods are happy, and so, by definition, eternally possess the beautiful and good and lack nothing (202c6-11); he later adds that none of the gods philosophei (philosophizes), because they are already wise (204a1-2), a claim echoed at Phaedrus 278d3-6. This view of divine nature as self-sufficient is also present in the Timaeus: Plato'specifies that the universe is a happy god because it lacks nothing and is fully satisfied by its knowledge of and friendship with itself (34a8-b9).
Even if Platonic gods do not experience pleasure, one might wonder whether they are incapable of it. The evidence is unclear. Plato's discussion in the Symposium suggests that he views it as a necessary condition of being a god that one possess beautiful and good things and hence be beyond restitution. Again, in the Third Letter, Plato claims that to experience pleasure would be para phusin (against nature) for god (315c1-3). Although Plato's argument in the Republic appears motivationally based--no one, let alone a god, would choose to enter into a worse condition--his statement that gods are best in every way (381b4) supports the claim that being in the best possible condition is part of divine nature. Perhaps, then, should the gods ever enter a worse state, they would cease to be divine.
For our purposes, the upshot of this discussion is as follows. Gods do not experience pleasure because pleasure consists in or depends upon the restitution of a lack, and gods are beings who lack nothing. (22) Humans, by contrast, are hedonic beings. However, it is not pleasure per se that is the source of our inferiority; rather, it is what pleasure implies, that we have lacks that need to be filled. Pleasure, then, turns out to be a consequential good, since it consists in perceptible restitutions which enable us to approximate the divine state of completion. (23) We are inferior to gods, because we cannot live lives exempt from pleasure and pain, and hence from lacks which require replenishment.
3. Why is assimilation to god pleasureful in the Philebus?.
Although our susceptibility to pleasure highlights our inferiority to the gods, as I shall argue in the following section, Plato's view of pleasure is not unqualifiedly negative. In fact, it is precisely through undergoing certain pleasant restitutive processes that we come to approximate the divine state. Before explaining why our assimilation to the divine state is necessarily pleasant, however, I must first offer a brief analysis of what Plato means by homoiosis theoi. In the dialogues, we can uncover five models of homoiosis theoi, which I shall call the isolationist, mimetic-contemplative, direct-contemplative, ruling, and aretaic models. (24)
As the digression in the Theaetetus demonstrates, one way that Plato understands homoiosis theoi is as flight from this world. Specifically, it is the philosopher's intellect (dianoia) which flees to a realm of pure philosophical activity (173e2-4a2). Call this the isolationist model, the model in which we come to resemble god by isolating our intellect from earthly concerns, and thereby from the body and the lower parts of the soul. Sedley maintains that this causes us to resemble god insofar as we solely identify with and isolate our intellect, the divine element within us. (25) The isolationist model is present in the Phaedo, when Plato claims that the soul is akin to the divine and can come to live with the gods by gathering itself by itself and doing philosophy (80e2-1a9). Similarly, in the Timaeus, Plato calls reason the divine part within us and states that we can partake of immortality as much as humanly possible by ignoring mortal concerns and devoting ourselves to philosophy (90a2-c6). In devoting ourselves to philosophy, we come to resemble the gods in another way as well, by engaging in the same activity as them; call this the mimetic-contemplative model.In the Phaedrus, Plato presents the gods as contemplating the forms, then states that the soul which imitates god best contemplates the forms as well (248a1-5); our grasp of the forms is what enables us to avoid incarnation. On the third model, the direct-contemplative model, we resemble the gods not simply because we share in their contemplative activity, but because they are what we contemplate. Beholding the divine affects our souls such that they become similar to the gods'.At Timaeus 90c6-d5, Plato writes that we should redirect the revolutions of our heads which were thrown off course at birth, by learning the harmonies and revolutions of the universe and so bringing our understanding into conformity with its objects. The idea seems to be that our intellects can come to assume the perfect motions of the heavens as a direct result of observing them. (26)
The first three models of homoiosis theoi focus on intellectual activity as a means to approaching the divine but, in fact, Plato predominantly presents the gods as engaged in ordering the universe and as contemplating the forms for the sake of ruling (Phdr 246e4-6, Ti 29a2-b1, Lg 900d2-3, etc.). In the Timaeus (42d5-3a6, 69c3-6), Plato describes the subsidiary gods as imitating the demiurge in the activity of crafting mortal beings, signaling that ordering reality is a mode of imitating the divine. (27) Like the subsidiary gods, we, too, can imitate god through ordering and ruling--hence my fourth model, the ruling model. In particular, we can govern our cities, our fellow-citizens and, most importantly, ourselves. Thus, at Phaedo 79e8-80a9, Plato claims that the soul is like the divine because it rules over the body, and at Timaeus 41c6-8, that the rational part of the soul deserves the name 'immortal' because it is divine and rules within those willing to follow justice. Finally, there is the most significant and frequently emphasized model of homoiosis theoi in Plato, the aretaic model.It is closely related to its predecessor; through ruling ourselves, we not only mimic the ordering activity of god, but we also make our souls resemble his in virtue. In the Republic, Plato claims that the gods favor those who make themselves as like god as a human can be through adopting a virtuous way of life (613a7-b1). We see a similar sentiment in the Laws, where Plato claims that sensible men ought to follow god, making their characters resemble his through becoming moderate (716c1-d4). (28)
Broadly speaking, within these five models of homoiosis theoi, we can detect two strands: models centered on virtue and models centered on contemplation. Although Plato does not explicitly refer to either the aretaic or the intellectual forms of homoiosis theoi in the Philebus as such, he does link the acquisition of virtue and knowledge to the divine. Since these inevitably involve pleasure, the processes whereby we imitate god turn out to separate us from a fully divine, ahedonic existence.
We can uncover a reference to the aretaic model of homoiosis theoi in a parallel developed between human and cosmic nous (30a3-8). The core function of cosmic nous is to order the universe; in that case, we come to resemble nous by ordering ourselves. Thus, at 59d10-e3, Socrates likens himself and Protarchus to demiourgoi (craftsmen), creating the best possible mixture of pleasure and knowledge; presumably each of us is to engage in this demiurgic function in crafting a good life for himself. The connexion to the divine is further established at 61b11-c2, when Socrates prays to Hephaestus, Dionysus, or whichever god presides over mixtures, for assistance in mixing together the good life. Finally, at 39e10-11, Plato claims that the man who is just, pious, and good in all respects is theophiles (god-loved); compare this to the Republic and Laws, where Plato maintains that the gods love those who resemble them in virtue (612e5-13b1, 716c1-d4). What about knowledge? At 16c5, Plato calls the method of diairesis (division) a gift from the gods, and describes the men of old with knowledge of the one and the many as closer to the gods than ourselves. At the conclusion of the dialogue, he refers to knowledge of the forms as a theia episteme (divine knowledge, 62b3-4).
So the two models of homoiosis theoi we have uncovered--focused on knowledge and virtue--appear at least compatible with the Philebus.At the same time, each of these is explicitly linked to pleasure. In the case of virtue, Plato writes that the pleasures that serve virtue and follow it everywhere are included in the mixture of the good life (63e4-7). In the case of knowledge, Plato assigns the fifth rank of the good to the pure pleasures associated with knowledge and perception (66c4-6).
Why does Plato take knowledge and virtue to be tied to pleasure? In his discussion of pure pleasures, Plato proposes that there is a pleasure of learning, which results from being filled with knowledge (51e7-2b8); the pleasure is pure because there is no corresponding pain due to the depletion of knowledge. This analysis bears a strong resemblance to Republic 585a8-e4, where Plato claims that knowledge produces the truest pleasure because it fills an emptiness in the soul matching hunger in the body, but the sustenance it provides is not mere food, but true being. (29) For us, then, the process by which we gain knowledge and come to resemble the gods is a pleasurable filling. The gods do not experience such pleasure because, as Plato tells us in the Symposium, they are in a state of perpetual knowledge and so do not philosophein (philosophize/love wisdom, 204a1-2); (30) we, by contrast, must constantly maintain our knowledge through study (207e1-8a7).
On my analysis, it is significant that Plato never describes contemplation as pleasant in the Philebus; for him, pleasure is only associated with the process of gaining knowledge. (31) In opposition to my position, Gosling and Taylor have argued that the Philebus represents an advance in Plato's analysis of pleasure, since he admits pleasures of knowing, as well as of learning; they further speculate that the pleasures of knowing cannot be subsumed into the replenishment model. (32) However, as I have argued above, there is no evidence that Plato allows for non-restitutive pleasures in the Philebus. Furthermore, Plato's primary references to intellectual pleasure, at 51e7-2b8 and 66c4-6, both link it to learning and hence restitution. The first passage does so explicitly; it occurs in the context of Plato's discussion of the pure pleasures, and, in it, he speaks of tas peri ta mathemata hedonas (the pleasures related to learning). In this passage, Plato treats the pleasures of learning as restitutive, since they consist in one's ignorance being displaced by knowledge. Although Plato describes pleasure as following knowledge (epistemais) in the second passage, his phrasing clearly refers back to the earlier discussion of the pure pleasures of learning: he calls this pleasure one of 'the pleasures we set apart and defined as painless, calling them the pure pleasures of the soul itself.' Given that, in the passage on pure pleasures, the only intellectual pleasure proposed is that of learning, and that it is classified as restitutive, when Plato'speaks here of pleasure following knowledge, he must mean the pleasure which results from the acquisition of knowledge. (33)
To turn to our second mode of homoiosis theoi, Plato never explains why the acquisition of virtue should be pleasureful. However, in mentioning the pleasures pertaining to virtue, Plato distinguishes them from the pure pleasures (63e4); this indicates that they must be impure pleasures, pleasures that consist in the replenishment of a felt lack. (34) What sort of replenishment might Plato have in mind? Throughout the dialogues, Plato treats virtue as a harmonious state of the soul; (35) correspondingly, to become virtuous is to have psychic discord replaced with order. In the Philebus, Plato writes that the imposition of limit on the unlimited and the consequent establishment of harmony produce many beautiful things in the soul, presumably virtues (26b6-7), and he later develops a link between symmetria (symmetry) and virtue (64e6-7). At 31d4-9, Plato claims that the disintegration of harmony is pain, its reestablishment pleasure. If to become virtuous is to become harmonized, then, so long as this process is perceptible, it will inevitably be pleasant.
4. Pleasure versus fulfillment
Before concluding, I would like to turn to a very significant objection to my interpretation. What if Platonic gods can experience pleasure? (36) In that case, the tension which I have been attempting to resolve between the Philebus and other dialogues would be entirely diffused. The pursuit of pleasure which Plato advocates in the Philebus would not, after all, be opposed to assimilation to god, since gods, too, would be hedonic beings. There are, in fact, four passages in the Platonic corpus which can be taken to imply that gods can experience pleasure. The first passage is at Phaedrus 247d1-4, where Plato describes the gods as feasting upon their vision of the forms, rejoicing (agapan) and feeling wonderful (eupathein). The second is at Timaeus 37c6-7: the demiurge, upon seeing his creation set in motion is delighted (agasthai) and rejoices (euphrainesthai). (37) At Laws 739d6-e1, Plato uses the same term as in the Timaeus passage, euphrainesthai, to describe the condition the gods would be in if they inhabited a city with communal ownership, as he does at 796b6-c2, when he describes Athena as rejoicing in the play of the chorus. (38)
There is a simple solution to this objection: while Plato may countenance hedonic gods in other dialogues, he quite explicitly excludes this possibility in the Philebus. Plato'states at 22c5-6 and at 33a8-b11 that the life of the gods is not one of pleasure, but consists solely of reason; in the second of these two passages, he claims that it would be unseemly for gods to be pleased. Thus, whatever Plato's view of divine nature in other dialogues, in the Philebus, he takes the gods to be ahedonic, and this is all I need to generate my problematic. Furthermore, this view of divine nature is not unique to the Philebus. In the Laws, Plato claims that god is in a state between pleasure and pain, and that those who wish to live like god should aspire to such a state (792c8-d7). (39) In the Third Letter, (40) he states that to wish pleasure unto god is to enjoin him contrary to his nature, since the divine is far removed from pleasure and pain (315c1-3). (41,42) In the Timaeus, in describing the process whereby the gods craft mortal soul, Plato writes that they mix in pleasure, a terrible but necessary affectation and evil's most potent lure (69c5-d1); this implies that pleasure is not a feature of divine soul, since divine soul lacks a mortal component. Plato's proscription of pleasure in these passages appears more deliberate than his passing references to the gods as pleased in the passages I adduced earlier; it occurs in the context of explicit statements about divine nature. It is therefore open to me to maintain that in the earlier passages, Plato is being sloppy, and that his considered view is that gods are beings beyond pleasure.
Rather than adopting this solution, I intend to investigate whether these passages can be made consistent. My reasons for this are twofold. First, Plato does not tend to be a sloppy writer; we should therefore be troubled by the seeming inconsistency between his claims. This inconsistency cannot be resolved along chronological lines, for the apparently contradictory statements occur within works assumed to be from the same period (43) and even within the same works: thus, while Plato describes gods as beings beyond pleasure in the Laws, he also apparently twice refers to them as pleased. How can this be? My second motive for exploring this tension is more philosophically based, and more pertinent to the central aim of this paper. My proposed solution shall be that in the passages where Plato appears to describe the gods as pleased, he actually has another state in mind--fulfillment. This distinction between pleasure and fulfillment is philosophically rich, and it shall prove crucial, in the conclusion of this paper, to developing a nuanced understanding of exactly what we aim at when we seek to approximate the divine state.
How might we go about reinterpreting the passages that appear to describe the gods as pleased? The first thing to note is that Plato never actually puts it in these terms. In none of these passages does Plato actually use the word, hedesthai (to be pleased), to describe the state of the gods. In the Philebus, Plato typically uses hedone and its cognates for pleasure, coupled with terpsis and chara and their cognates (e.g., 11b4-5, 19c7). The words used in the passages under discussion are agapan, eupathein, agasthai, and euphrainesthai. This provides prima facie evidence that in these passages, Plato may not be referring to the same psychic state, hedone, which he denies the gods in the Philebus.
In fact, Plato draws an explicit distinction between hedesthai and euphrainesthai on two occasions. As early as the Gorgias, he has Prodicus distinguish the two, suggesting that euphrainesthai is the superior state, connected to wisdom, while hedesthai pertains to bodily urges (337c1-4). In the Timaeus, Plato contrasts the hedone harmonious sounds produce in fools with the euphrosune they engender in the wise by creating divine harmonies in their souls (80b5-8); euphrosune is, again, superior to hedone, and is linked to wisdom and psychic harmony. Significantly, euphrainesthai is the exact term used in three of our problematic passages: Timaeus 37c6-7, and Laws 739d6-e1 and 796b6-c2. In the Timaeus passage, Plato also uses the expression agasthai to describe the reaction of the demiurge upon beholding the universe in motion. The central sense of agasthai is to admire; given that the demiurge is observing the universe, this seems a reasonable translation. Our remaining passage, Phaedrus 247d1-4, uses the terms agapan and eupathein; while these can signify to be pleased, they can also carry the milder senses of to be content and to be well off. (44)
My proposal, then, is that the reason Plato does not use hedone in these passages is that hedone is always the restitution of some lack; the state attributed to the gods, described as euphrainesthai, eupathein, and agapan, is something different. What could it be, if not pleasure? Here, we see an intriguing parallel to the Symposium. In the Symposium, Plato is adamant that the gods, as perfect beings, do not experience desire, since desire implies lack. At the same time, given that they necessarily are in stable and unending possession of all that is good, he describes them as happy ( eudaimones, 202c6-d7). (45) This implies that there is a state befitting beings who are perfect, and hence impervious to restitutive processes: happiness, or, as I shall refer to it, fulfillment. All pleasure either consists in or depends upon a process of replenishment, and is therefore at odds with divine perfection. Fulfillment, on the other hand, might be thought of as a state of well-being in which one lacks nothing, a state that would be perfectly appropriate for the gods. We see the contrast between pleasure and happiness brought out in the Gorgias, for example, where Plato contrasts the life of the man whose jars are full with that of the man whose jars are leaky (493a1-4a5). The former is devoid of restitutive pleasure, but is also happiest, since it is self-sufficient and satisfied with itself (hikanos kai exarkountos echonta, 493c7); Plato goes on to maintain that being pleased and doing well (eu prattein) are distinct (497a3-4). (46) Plato maintains this distinction in the Philebus when, at 11d4-6, he centers the dialogue on the question of whether knowledge or pleasure is best able to render life happy for all: hedone is treated as conceptually distinct from eudaimonia. (47)
Apart from the Symposium, there are two further passages where Plato seems to characterize the gods in terms of fulfillment. First, at Timaeus 34a8-b9, Plato writes that the demiurge made the kosmos complete and self-sufficient, in need of nothing apart from itself, its own knowledge of and friendship with itself sufficing, a happy god. This is of a piece with my proposal that Platonic gods, lacking nothing, exist in a perpetual state of well-being, blessedness, and fulfillment, although not of pleasure. Second, at Laws 792c8-d5, when Plato writes that, in our attempt to assimilate to god, we must become aloof from pleasure and pain and pursue the insensate state, he writes that we must [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (we must joyfully embrace the middle state, which just now I said was called gentle). It is significant that we enter this state of joyfulness precisely in the process of eschewing pleasure and assimilating to god.
In sum, then, since the evidence from other dialogues suggesting that the gods experience pleasure is mixed, at best, and given that on the most natural reading of the Philebus, Plato claims that the gods do not experience pleasure, in the absence of overriding evidence to the contrary, it seems reasonable to take Plato at his word and allow that, in the Philebus at least, the gods are ahedonic. In discussing the passages that appear to suggest that Platonic gods can experience pleasure, we have uncovered an intriguing refinement to Plato's position. Although gods cannot experience pleasure, they are fulfilled. While pleasure is the filling of a lack, fulfillment is a state of well-being and blessedness in which one lacks nothing; as it were, fulfillment is what pleasure is for. But if we are to aspire to the state of fulfillment, then we must accept pleasure as its necessary precursor, for pleasure resides in the very processes by which we become fulfilled. (48)
5. Is homoiosis theoi a coherent telos for man?
I began this paper with a puzzle: how can Plato characterize the ahedonic life as divine in the Philebus, while simultaneously claiming that the best life for man is pleasureful? Has he temporarily rejected homoiosis theoi as man's telos or, worse yet, fallen into inadvertent self-contradiction? My goal was to provide an interpretation of the Philebus that would render it of a piece with the rest of his corpus. My solution was to propose that the two modes of assimilation to god--learning and moral cultivation--are processes that necessarily involve pleasure. It is precisely because Plato wishes for us to strive to become as like god as possible in these regards, and because he recognizes that the processes of our assimilation are pleasureful, that he includes pleasure as a constituent of the best human life. (49) In aspiring to the condition of the gods, we aim at achieving, as far as possible, a state of perfection and completeness, in which we no longer experience pleasure, but rather fulfillment. Thus, while pleasure is not an intrinsic good--after all, in some sense, we wish to transcend it--it does have consequential value in bringing us closer to the divine. (50) Of course, insofar as we can never fully and stably achieve the divine state of fulfillment, we will never cease to undergo pleasant restitutive processes--there is always more knowledge and virtue to be gained. (51)
Ultimately, the Philebus strikes me as not so much opposed to the dialogues enjoining us to pursue homoiosis theoi as differing in focus. In dialogues such as the Theaetetus, where Plato exhorts us to imitate the gods, he highlights the ways in which we can come to resemble them. The Philebus, of course, is a dialogue about pleasure, and, here, Plato's eye is on how we are incapable of the ahedonic state of the gods. Another way of thinking of the issue is to note, following Russell, (52) that when Plato urges us to emulate god, he typically adds the rider, to the degree possible'. (53) We see such a qualification in the Philebus, when the sophisticates refer to the superiority of the ahedonic life of wisdom, hos hoion te katharotata, as free from pleasure and pain as we can make it (55a7-8). Perhaps part of the gap between the Philebus and other dialogues lies in which side of this caveat is emphasized: while in the Theaetetus, Republic, and Laws, Plato emphasizes how much we can come to resemble god, in the Philebus, Plato's focus is on how far we fall short--after all, if we were gods, we would not have to strive to be like them. Surprisingly, although the Philebus appears to be an optimistic dialogue, focused on the happy human life, it contains a pessimistic tinge. Of course, for many of us, the fact that knowledge and virtue can be gained at all, and that they are to be gained with pleasure, as well as hard work, turns out to be occasion for relief and delight, and hardly a cause for regret.
In the final section of this paper, I will attempt to draw out some broader implications of and problems with Plato's view. I will begin by considering the sense in which mortal beings can aim at assimilation to the divine, and conclude by raising concerns about the coherence and desirability of homoiosis theoi as man's telos. Generally speaking, my interpretation relies on a conception of human nature as imperfect. (54) If we could become permanently and unchangingly virtuous and knowing, then, once we got past the initial generative pleasures, like the gods, we too would be in a pleasureless, albeit fulfilled, state. What precludes such a possibility, I believe, is that human nature is inherently unstable and imperfect. In the Symposium, Plato claims that we do not possess knowledge in the unchanging manner of the gods, but must constantly replenish it, through study (207e1-8a7). (55) In the Phaedrus, controlling our souls' horses and sustaining a vision of the forms is a precarious and arduous task, requiring constant vigilance (248a1-6). In the Timaeus, Plato writes that our souls are crafted by the en-uranian gods to ensure their inferiority (41c2-6); the orbits of our souls are liable to become askew, and require adjustment (47b5-c4). Being human, we necessarily possess mortal as well as immortal souls (70e4-5); our mortal souls are the seats of pleasure and pain, which Plato calls terrible but necessary affectations (69c8-d2). All of this suggests that we are doomed to lives in which we must repeatedly ascend to the sight of the forms, if we are even able, and in which we must constantly attend to our psychic constitutions, struggling to regain and maintain inner harmony.
Given this view of human nature, we might wonder what to make of homoiosis theoi as man's telos. How can a mortal being coherently aim at achieving the divine state, a goal he cannot realistically hope to achieve? In the Timaeus, Plato writes that, should a man become wholly absorbed in his appetites and ambitions, so far as it is possible for a man to become completely mortal, he will not fail in this;' conversely, if he devotes himself to knowledge, to the extent that human nature can partake of immortality, he will not fail in this' (90b1-c4). For Plato, humans occupy a sort of limbo between the mortal and the divine, incapable of being a full citizen of either realm. In what sense, then, can such a creature's telos be assimilation to god?
In order to untangle this difficulty, we should consider further what it is that Plato urges us to aim at. What, exactly, is meant by the phrase, homoiosis theoi? As Chantraine observes, there is an ambiguity in the -sis suffix, which can be used to designate both process and end-state. (56) Thus, homoiosis can mean both the process of assimilation and the resultant state of similarity. (57) This ambiguity is present in Plato; there are three instances of homoiosis in his corpus, two in the former sense (Epin 990d3, Tht 176b1), one in the latter (R 454c9). Even when Plato uses homoiosis and its cognates in the latter sense, at times, he appears to mean complete similarity, as in the Republic passage, while on other occasions, he has in mind a relation of looser resemblance (e.g., R 510a9-10; Lg 964d5-7). (58) Thus, on the face of it, it is not clear whether, in enjoining us to assimilate to god, Plato intends that we aim at the process of becoming like god, the end-state of being similar to god, or the end-state of being identical to god.
If we consider the passages in which Plato discusses assimilating to god, it emerges that he focuses primarily on the first option. In the Theaetetus, Plato writes, One must try to flee as quickly as possible from here to there. Flight is homoiosis theoi as much as possible, for homoiosis theoi is becoming (genesthai) just and pious with wisdom' (176a9-b2). Here, homoiosis theoi is identified with becoming as like god as possible. In the Laws, he writes that one who wishes to become dear to god should do his best to become (gignesthai) like him (716c6-d1), and, in the Republic,he states that the gods do not neglect those who, cultivating virtue in themselves, become just (dikaios gignesthai), and become as like god as possible ( homoiousthai theoi, 613a7-b1). As these passages demonstrate, when Plato recommends that we emulate god, he typically qualifies this with the proviso that we do so to the degree possible. This partially resolves the tension I alluded to earlier; while it would be absurd for mortal creatures to aim at being gods, they can aim at becoming as divine as their natures permit.
Of course, if we aim at becoming like god, this is because we ultimately aspire to the end-state, being as like god as possible. However, there is an added layer of complexity: since we can never achieve knowledge and virtue in a stable way, we must never cease to aim at becoming like god, i.e. knowledgeable and virtuous. Furthermore, while, in a sense, the ideal is a state of divine perfection, what we, as humans, pursue is a mortal proxy thereof. (59) Thus, in the Phaedrus, Plato writes that the philosopher, keeping his memory as close as possible (kata dunamin) to those objects, proximity to which makes the gods divine, and using these reminders correctly, becomes truly perfect (teleos ontos gignetai, 249c4-8). Perfection, for us humans, falls short of full divinity--while the gods contemplate the forms directly and with ease, we must recollect them from a distance. Similarly, in the Timaeus, Plato calls bringing the human mind into conformity (exomoiosai) with the movements of the universe the fulfillment of the best life offered by the gods to man for the present and future time (90d1-8). Even when our minds fully approximate the cosmic motions, we are still only granted a human sort of perfection, not a divine existence. Given these considerations, the human telos turns out to be bifurcated: we aim at becoming like god for the sake of being as similar to god as possible; this end-state falls short of full resemblance and, furthermore, requires that we constantly undergo processes of becoming, of acquiring and maintaining virtue and knowledge.
Suppose, then, that we aim at becoming for the sake of being. What motivational role does this imply for pleasure? Pleasure, I have argued, is to be identified with the restitutive processes by which we come to resemble god, fulfillment, with the state of completion and perfection that characterizes god. In that case, do we aim at pleasure or fulfillment? On the one hand, insofar as we are rational, we ought to aspire, as far as possible, to the state of fulfillment that characterizes god. In that case, our telos is a state of maximal fulfillment (although this will fall short of the state of complete fulfillment that characterizes god); pleasure will thus have solely instrumental value for us. On the other hand, given Plato's belief in the imperfection of human nature, he must hold that we ought never to cease pursuing pleasurable restitutive processes. Furthermore, Plato's view of human motivation implies that we are motivated precisely by the pleasure inhering in these restitutive processes. In the Laws, he writes that our lives are all bound by nature between pleasure and pain, and that anyone who wishes for some existence beyond these is ignorant of actual lives (733d2-6). (60) This coincides with Plato's claims in the Philebus that the pleasureless life is not choiceworthy for man (22a9-b8, 61a1-2). This, however, reveals a deep tension in Plato's position. How can he espouse this view of motivation, while urging us to aspire, as far as possible, to a state of ahedonic perfection? If we are truly driven by pleasure, then, curiously, we will wish to avoid the stable, ahedonic state of the gods, to which we are supposedly drawn by the restitutive pleasures of becoming virtuous and wise. Our preference ought to be to repeatedly forget what we know and fall from virtue, so as to experience the restitutive pleasures of learning and becoming good all over again. (61) But such a brand of hedonism seems inherently unstable; surely part of what makes acquiring knowledge and virtue worthwhile is that we value these end-states for their own sakes. If we did not recognize the end-states to have value, to constitute our good and to be ends worth stably securing, then their pursuit would be meaningless. We would turn out to be exactly like the fools criticized by the sophisticates for preferring a life of becoming to one of being (54e1-5a8); we would be the equivalents of the stonecurlews of the Gorgias, except instead of filling our leaky buckets with pleasures of the body, we would pursue their epistemic and moral equivalents. (62)
Perhaps in raising this difficulty, I am giving Plato'short shrift. If the distinction I carved between pleasure and fulfillment holds, and if fulfillment is indeed the better of the two, then perhaps we can learn to aspire to the latter, and, as far as possible, eschew the former. While we might welcome restitutive pleasures for the sake of the state of repletion they offer, we could learn to value the state of repletion above all else, and wish that it might persist to the extent possible, even at the expense of the pleasures of restitution. (63) However, it is not clear to me that Plato, at least in his late period, thinks it possible for us to shake off our hedonic natures in this manner. In that case, he leaves us in a difficult position. If we do not undergo the sort of conversion that I have described, in which we come to recognize that pleasure lacks intrinsic value, we will risk pursuing it at the expense of the end-state, which constitutes our objective good. Furthermore, we will be in a state of deep delusion about what our good consists in. However, the best we can hope for, it seems, is to recognize that pleasure lacks true value, but to continue to be driven by it, nonetheless. On the one hand, this will be helpful--in seeking to be like god, we must constantly undergo the process of becoming like god, and pleasure can serve as a powerful motivator. On the other hand, the result might be alienating--although we would still find ourselves driven by the desire for pleasure, we would simultaneously experience a sense of detachment, viewing pleasure from the outside, as something that, although it has a hold on us, lacks intrinsic worth. We would exhibit a sort of motivational deviance, driven to act by pleasure, even though we do not recognize this as, in itself, constituting a normative reason for action. Moran has recently suggested that should such estrangement persistently characterize our relations to ourselves, we might even cease to count as agents. (64)
Suppose, though, that it were possible for us to shake off our hedonic natures and, furthermore, to assimilate fully to god. Where would this leave us? Would this really be a goal worth pursuing? The ahedonic state of the gods, who possess permanent and complete knowledge and virtue, seems dull, alienating and unattractive. In discussing the Makropulos case, Williams raises a general problem for immortality: perhaps, if our lives were infinitely long, we would eventually be left with no categorical desires, nothing to strive for; in that case, life would no longer be worth living. (65) So too, Nozick, in describing the transformation machine, proposes that some of us would choose not to enter it, because we would be left with nothing to try for: Would there be anything left for us to do? Do some theological views place God outside of time because an omniscient omnipotent being couldn't fill up his days?' (66) Could it be that if we succeeded in becoming fully like god, our lives would be utterly devoid of meaning? We are the sorts of creatures who need something to strive for to make life fulfilling. Granted, if we could become fully divine, then we could not possibly find our state of static perfection wanting (after all, that would imply a lack, leaving us with something to desire!). But should we become fully divine, then we would cease to be ourselves. Given that full apotheosis is not a goal which Plato thinks we can achieve, he urges us to aim at becoming as like god as possible, not at being god. However, we surely cannot be wholehearted about the former unless we see the latter as the best possible state, as a telos worth approximating to the highest degree possible. But it is difficult to imagine that being a Platonic god is an end any human would wish upon himself. (67)
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(1) E.g. Alcinous, Didaskalikos, 28 1. To be precise, Alcinous describes the telos as homoiosis theoi kata to dunaton; as I shall argue in the concluding section of this paper, this caveat is significant. Perhaps a few preliminary words are in order on my understanding of homoiosis theoi. As I argue in the final section of this paper, the word, homoiosis, and Plato's use of it, are ambiguous between the process of becoming like and the end-state of likeness. This ambiguity is telling: since Plato does not think that we can succeed in becoming fully like god, the best we can do is to try to be as like god as possible, an aim the realization of which lies in our pursuing processes of becoming like god (learning and becoming virtuous). In that case, both descriptions of our aim --being as like god as possible, and becoming like god--turn out to be apposite.
(2) The primary passages that accord an important ethical role to following or imitating god are Alc 1 133c1-6; Lg 716b8-d4, 792c8-d5, 906a7-b3; Phd 80e2-1a10, 82b10-c1; Phdr 248a1-c5, 249c4-d3, 252d1-3c2; R 500c9-d1, 501b1-7, 613a4b1; Smp 207c9-8b4; Tht 176a8-b3; Ti 47b5-c4, 90b1-d7.
(3) Annas (1999); Sedley (1999).
(4) Note that the apparent inconsistency between the two dialogues requires that we assume that Plato takes the philosophical life described in the digression of the Theaetetus to be the best human life; this assumption is supported by Plato's comments at, e.g., Tht 176a8-b3.
(5) The remaining two passages are at 43b1-c6 and 54d4-5a8. These four passages might give rise to the following question: although Plato maintains that no one would choose the ahedonic life, is his view that no one could choose such a life and, further, that, even if one could choose it, no one could live it? As I maintain in the conclusion of this paper, Plato is committed to the view that humans are, by nature, motivated by pleasure, and, further, cannot avoid undergoing pleasureful restitutive processes such as being heated and cooled; in that case, while he might allow that certain deviant or ignorant humans might choose the ahedonic life, they certainly could not live it. However, the passage at 32d9-3b11 might seem to suggest otherwise; Plato writes that nothing prevents the one who chooses the life of wisdom from living in the ahedonic state. Hackforth (1945), 63, n. 2 and Waterfield (1982), 88, n. 1 have suggested that the one choosing such a life must be a god, since it is not possible for humans to live without experiencing pleasure or pain. An alternate response is to note that Plato justifies his claim concerning the possibility of the ahedonic life in terms of the original conditions of the investigation into the choice of lives, the requirement that each life be considered on its own (33b2-4). However, when Plato discusses the life of pure pleasure, he makes clear that it is not a human life (21c6-8); surely it is not possible for humans to live without ever having beliefs (21b6-9). In that case, the pure life of reason should similarly be taken to be hypothetical, and not to represent a livable possibility for human beings; compare Socrates' comment at 42e1-8 that whether or not the ahedonic life is possible is irrelevant to determining what it would consist in.
(6) Frede (1993), 33, n. 2. See also Russell (2005), 148; Russell argues that for us, assimilation to god must involve pleasure because we are meant to assimilate to god as the humans we are, and humans are necessarily hedonic creatures.
(7) Note that, while Frede (1993), lxix claims that we cannot attain the divine, ahedonic state, she does allow for the possibility that we should aspire to it, nonetheless. However, the overall thrust of Frede's interpretation emphasizes that the good life for man is to be found in this world, not in flight from our human natures (lxi-ii). In what follows, I focus on this aspect of Frede's interpretation.
(8) A complication: though homoiosis theoi is, in a sense, a flight from our merely mortal natures, it is at the same time a recovery of our real selves. In the Phaedrus (24a6-7), as in Republic X (588c7-e1), Plato depicts the rational element of the soul as a human; this suggests that to identify solely with reason is, paradoxically, to become truly human. See Lovibond (1991), 54-5.
(9) Frede (1993), 76 n. 2; Gosling (1975), 133; and Hackforth (1945), 128 all take the necessary pleasures to be confined to those attendant upon the satisfaction of physical needs required for survival, such as the pleasures of alleviating hunger and thirst. Of course, even these pleasures, for humans, involve an intellectual component: awareness of the process of replenishment which one is undergoing (21a14-c8). Thus, my point is not that reason plays no role in necessary pleasures but, rather, that certain purely intellectual pleasures--say, the pleasure of mathematical enquiry--are to be included in the best life, though they are non-necessary.
(10) Note that if there is a shift in Plato's position, it cannot be accounted for on chronological grounds, since Plato advocates homoiosis theoi in the Laws and Timaeus, dialogues widely assumed to be from the same period as the Philebus. At this point, it will be helpful to state my assumptions concerning the chronology of Plato's dialogues. I believe the Philebus to be a late dialogue, of the same period as the Sophist, Statesman, Timaeus, Critias and Laws. I therefore make use of Plato's claims in these dialogues, especially the Timaeus and Laws, to shed light on his views of divine nature and pleasure in the Philebus. I take the Phaedrus and Theaetetus to most likely post-date the Republic but pre-date the Philebus. In this paper, I assume that some of Plato's positions remain relatively unchanged across his corpus, such as his view of human nature as inherently imperfect and divine nature as perfect, and his elevation of homoiosis theoi as our telos (note the range of works advocating homoiosis theoi in n. 2, above). At the same time, I believe that Plato's position shifts significantly in certain areas: for example, his hostility towards bodily pleasure in the Phaedo is significantly tempered by the time we get to the Laws. For a defense of the late dating of the Philebus, see Frede (1996), 213-16; for a contrary view, see Waterfield (1980). For a more general discussion of the chronology of the dialogues, see, e.g., Brandwood (1992) and Kraut (1992).
(11) Evans (2007) offers a helpful contrast between final goods and subsidiaries, which allows for an intellectualist interpretation of the Philebus, according to which knowledge is a final good, pleasure a subsidiary which necessarily accompanies human (although not divine) intellectual activity. Frede (1992), 440, develops a similar position, calling pleasure a remedial good. Frede's position in this piece resembles my own, to the extent that she proposes that certain pleasures are part of the good human life as they amount to restitutions needed to bring us close to a state of perfection (455-6); Frede, however, does not pursue this thesis in relation to homoiosis theoi.
(12) As I emphasize in the final section of this paper, Plato is committed to a conception of human nature as necessarily imperfect; consequently, we are incapable of becoming fully like god. What we aim at is therefore becoming as like god as possible. Nonetheless, this aim implies that we take the gods to be beings in the best possible condition; it is in this sense that they constitute a normative ideal for us humans. For Plato, it is an essential part of human nature that we strive to be more than human. This relates to an intriguing aspect of the psychology of aspiration. It is ordinarily assumed that I cannot desire what I take to be impossible for myself to achieve. However, certain cases are ambiguous on this issue (for a general defense of the view that I can desire what I know I cannot achieve, see Schroeder , 16-20). For example, it seems that I might desire to be perfectly virtuous, while recognizing that this is a goal which I can never fully realize. This is importantly different from merely desiring to be as virtuous as I can be; solely desiring the latter might risk miring me in complacency, while desiring the former, though it leaves me susceptible to frustration, might enable me to achieve a degree of perfection that would have been unachievable to me had I not wished for this unattainable end. Thus while, strictly speaking, what we desire is to become as like god as possible, given that we do not know how far we can come to resemble god, and that we take the gods to be beings in the best possible condition, there is also a looser sense in which we can be said to desire, or at least wish for, being fully like god.
(13) For arguments in favor of this view see, e.g., Frede (1992), Hampton (1990) and Van Riel (1999); for arguments contra, see, e.g., Carone (2000), Gosling (1975), Gosling and Taylor (1982), and Hackforth (1945).
(14) Carone (2000), 264-6; Gosling (1975), 210; Hackforth (1945), 105-7. Note, though, that Plato frequently assigns arguments he endorses to other, unnamed sources. For example, the anti-hedonist position in the Gorgias is attributed to an unnamed sophos (493a1-2). Carone argues that the pure pleasures cannot be geneseis, since they are included in the final ranking of the good (269). However, the fifth class of the good includes the pure pleasure of learning, which Plato clearly states is restitutive, although it proceeds from an unfelt lack (51a7-2a3).
(15) Although Socrates does not explicitly state at 44a12-b3 that pleasure and pain are repletion and depletion, he presents his tripartite analysis as the conclusion of his argument from 42c5 to 44c5, that pleasure is not merely the absence of pain, but involves perceptible repletion (for the stronger identity claim, see, e.g., 42d5-7).
(16) Van Riel (1999), 300, n. 4.
(17) Cf.R 583e9-10, where Plato claims that the generation of pleasure is a kinesis.
(18) See, e.g., Carone (2000), 267-9; Gosling (1975) 122, 210-11; and Gosling and Taylor (1982), 136, 140.
(19) Frede (1992), 445-6. Note that at Republic 584c9-11, Plato appears to treat the pleasure of anticipating bodily pleasure as itself a relief from pain.
(20) See Frede (1993), 60. Carone (2000), 267, n. 19, opposes this reading.
(21) Cf. Plt 269d5-6.
(22) If one allows that a distinction is made in the Philebus between two classes of deity, en-uranian and transcendent, then, in the case of the latter, a further reason can be adduced for why it cannot experience pleasure. (Interpreters who grant this distinction include Hackforth (1936), 8-9; Menn (1995), 6-13; Mohr (1985), 173; and Robinson (1995), 143. Those who oppose it include Carone (2005), 90-9; Frede (1993), 26-8; Gosling (1975), 98-9; Ostenfeld (1982), 238; and Teloh (1981), 187-8. Given the extent of the interpretive controversy, it would be beyond the scope of this paper to enter into this debate.) Transcendent nous is not in a soul, but is the cause of nous coming to inhere in the world-soul. Given that pleasure is a psychic state, it would therefore be conceptually incoherent for transcendent nous to experience pleasure.
(23) See Frede (1992), 440.
(24) Duerlinger (1985), 321 distinguishes three paths of assimilation to god: moral training, dialectic, and contemplation. However, I see no reason for distinguishing the latter two.
(25) Sedley (1999), 320. See also Annas (1999), 58. For the claim that reason is the faculty in us most resembling god, see, e.g., Alc 1 133c4.
(26) Sedley (1999), 316-18, provides a particularly helpful discussion of this mode of homoiosis theoi in the Timaeus. See also Rutenber (1946), 62-3, for a more general discussion of the relation of contemplation to assimilation to god.
(27) Of course, this specific form of ordering is not one in which we can imitate god. As Plato'states at Ti 68d2-7, god alone has the ability to mix the colors and make a unity out of a plurality, and anyone ignorant of this is ignorant of the difference between human and divine nature; cf. Sph 265b4-e6. Note that in the Sophist passage, Plato does allow for a human form of production, only specifying that we cannot be credited with producing living beings and elemental bodies. See Russell (2005), 149 and Mahoney (2005), 81.
(28) My discussion of the aretaic model of homoiosis theoi might raise a worry: perhaps it does not even make sense to treat the cultivation of virtue as a mode of assimilation to god, since gods are beings beyond virtue. Perhaps, then, when Plato exhorts us to imitate god in virtue, what he has in mind are not the moral virtues per se, but, rather, intellectualized abstractions of these. In that case, the aretaic model could be collapsed into the first three models, which center on intellectual activity. To this, I would respond, first, by allowing that the gods may have virtues in a radically different way than ourselves. Perhaps, following Plotinus, we should allow that our relation to divine virtue is not one of copy to copy, but rather of copy to paradigm (1 2 2 1-10). Divine nous, in particular, may just be what it is to be rational; we imitate nous by coming to possess rationality ourselves. Alternately, the gods may be virtuous in the sense of causes of virtue, through their role in ordering the universe and making it good. We can come to resemble them by becoming good, as well as by being causes of goodness in ourselves and others.
One might further object that, setting aside the Phaedrus, it seems inapt to view divine soul as partite (see R 611b5-7); much of Plato's analysis of virtue, however, treats it as the harmonization of the parts of the soul. Granting this, I would maintain that Plato retains a role for external, non-structural virtues, virtues manifest in excellent conduct. If we look at how Plato characterizes divine virtue, it is primarily in these terms. In the Critias, Plato writes that the gods received their due portions of the earth without strife, and objects to the notion that the gods might try to seize what belongs to others (109b1-5). In the Laws, while arguing that the gods providentially care for everything in the universe, the stranger asks what it means to say that the gods are good (900d5-6). He replies that it means that they are moderate, rational, and courageous, then argues that if they failed to care for all creation, this would be a sign of ignorance, laziness, and cowardice (902d7-3a3). He later adds that the gods cannot be corrupted through bribes to flout justice, since they are not the moral inferiors of the average man or of dogs (906c8-7a9). In this passage, the gods are depicted as just in an entirely conventional manner and, in fact, in exactly the same manner as humans.
(29) It might appear that there is a strong disanalogy between the Philebus and Republic passages, since in the former Plato'stipulates that the pleasure of learning is not preceded by a hunger for learning, while, in the latter, Plato compares the emptiness of the soul which lacks knowledge to hunger. However, in the Philebus passage, Plato explicitly treats the pleasure of learning as one of being filled with knowledge (52a5), and even allows that one can be pained by a loss of knowledge, although he insists that the pain caused by one's awareness of his lack of knowledge be considered extraneous to the pleasure of learning itself (52b2-3). (Plato's caveat strikes me as arbitrary, and as solely motivated by the desire to treat the pleasure of learning as pure and hence unmixed with pain.) Furthermore, in the Republic passage, Plato never explicitly states that the pleasure of learning is preceded by pain, only that it is preceded by lack; it is therefore open to him to maintain, as in the Philebus, that the lack is unfelt. Note that Plato appears to claim in the Republic that the pleasure of learning is pure and therefore unmixed with pain, or felt depletion: he specifies at 583b3-4 that only the pleasures of the wise are pure, at 585b12 that the pleasure of learning participates in pure being, and at 586a1-6 that only those who possess reason and virtue experience pure pleasure.
(30) Gosling and Taylor (1982), 122-5 propose that Plato does not see this in the Symposium, since he does not properly distinguish between processes of repletion and states of replenishment in his middle period; they appear to view the consequence, that the gods, being fully wise, do not take pleasure in knowledge, as a weakness of Plato's view.
(31) See Frede (1992), 453.
(32) Gosling and Taylor (1982), 139; they cite 66c4-6, which I discuss in what follows, in support. They do not invoke 12c8-d4, although it might appear to further support their interpretation. Here, Socrates argues, contra Protarchus, that pleasures vary in kind: the debauche takes pleasure in his debauchery, the moderate man in his moderation, the ignorant, in his ignorant hopes and beliefs, the wise in his wisdom. One might take this to imply that being moderate or wise, and not just becoming these, is a source of pleasure. However, this passage occurs very early in the dialogue, its purpose to convince Protarchus that pleasures vary in kind and are not all good per se.In that case, Socrates' description of the pleasures of moderation and wisdom needn'tbe taken to represent his considered view; this statement precedes his subtle and complex analysis of pleasure as restitution-based. Furthermore, the two contrasts Plato develops, between the pleasures of the moderate and the immoderate and those of the wise and the fool, clearly look forward to passages later in the dialogue, where Plato analyses each pleasure in terms of restitution. At 45d3-e7, arguing that the strongest pleasures are felt by the debauched, Socrates develops a contrast between the sophron bios (moderate life) and the life of excess (hubris). The immoderate man is driven to madness by his intense pleasures, while the moderate man is governed by the maxim, nothing in excess.' Plato is not opposing the pleasures of having one's soul in an orderly or disorderly condition, so much as the pleasures pertaining to the characteristic activities of each type; he goes on to describe the immoderate as one given to the pleasure of scratching and its ilk. Thus, the pleasures of the moderate will include eating and drinking in moderation and pursuing lawful sexual acts, pleasures forced upon him by the exigencies of corporeal existence, and which he pursues under the governance of a moderate, well-ordered soul. To turn to the second opposition, Plato characterizes the pleasures of the ignorant as those taken in his ignorant hopes and beliefs (anoeton doxon kai elpidon). This looks forward to Plato's discussion of true and false anticipatory pleasures at 40a3-d5. Thus, the corresponding pleasures of the wise must be true anticipatory pleasures (cf. 40b2-4); for Plato, these pleasures are the anticipations of restitutive pleasures (32b6-c2), and arise due to a current state of neediness (35e9-6b9).
(33) This passage in fact echoes Lg 667c5-6, where Plato writes that pleasure follows (parakolouthein) learning.
(34) Plato's reference to pleasure following (sunakolouthein) virtue in this passage directly parallels his description of intellectual pleasure as following (hepesthai) knowledge at 66c4-6; the idea is that the pleasure results from gaining virtue. Frede (1993), 78, n.1, has an additional, helpful observation on this passage. Plato writes that the best human life should include the pleasures which, becoming attendants (opadoi)to complete virtue, as if it were a god, follow it everywhere.' As Frede notes, this calls to mind the image in the Phaedrus, where those who were once attendants (opadoi)of Zeus strive to become as like the god as they can (252c3-3c2). This suggests that the pleasures which follow the goddess, virtue, are those involved in seeking to become as virtuous as possible.
(35) E.g., Grg 506d2-e2; Phd 93c3-8; R 443d3-4a2, 444d3-e2.
(36) This line of argument is best developed in Carone (2000).
(37) Plato also uses agasthai at Symposium 180b1, when Phaedrus claims that the gods are more delighted when a beloved loves his lover than the opposite. Since this claim is put in the mouth of Phaedrus, and not Socrates or Diotima, I do not include it in my list of passages, though my later comments on the use of agasthai, to the effect that it can mean admire,' as well as delight in,' apply here as well.
(38) One might also include Lg 896e8-7b5, where Plato, describing the motions by which soul moves the heavens, earth, and sea, includes rejoicing (chairein). If soul here is identical to world-soul, then Plato is claiming that world-soul can experience pleasure. However, if we look at the passage in its entirety, it seems utterly implausible that Plato could have world-soul in mind. He writes, 'So soul, through its own motions, drives everything in the heavens and on earth and in the sea. The names of its motions are wish, reflection, forethought, counsel, opinion true and false, joy and grief, confidence and fear, hate and love.' Given Plato's characterization of divine nature throughout his corpus, it seems inconceivable that world-soul, a god, could experience many of the motions on this list, such as grief, fear and false belief. When taken in conjunction with passages such as 903e3-4c9, it seems most plausible to understand Plato as describing the motions by which all kinds of soul--cosmic, human, animal --can initiate motion. Those who wish to identify soul in this passage with worldsoul must rely on the contested phrase at 897b1-2. However, the major manuscripts give [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] although its meaning is obscure, Pangle (1979) attempts to do it justice, rendering it, soul takes as a helper intelligence--god, in the correct sense, for the gods.' In order to extract the claim that soul here is a god, one would have to follow Saunders (in Cooper 1997) and Dies (1956) in adopting the marginal emendation of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], so that [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] would refer back to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; given that soul's motions include pain, fear and false belief, this option strikes me as unattractive.
(39) Rutenber (1946), 71-3 advances a highly unusual reading of this passage, taking it to advocate moderation, rather than the elimination of pleasure and pain. Rutenber's analysis depends upon taking to meson to signify the mean. However, comparison to R 583c7-8 and Phlb 43e8-9 indicate that to meson must be taken here to mean the middle state, i.e. the state between pleasure and pain, which is ahedonic (for further discussion of the Republic passage, see Butler , 293-7). This passage presents me with a separate interpretive difficulty: why does Plato urge us here to pursue the ahedonic state, a goal which he rejects in the Philebus? This is particularly odd, since throughout the Laws, Plato is extremely realistic about human nature and its tendency to be motivated by pleasure and pain (732e4-7), and, in fact, assigns a crucial role to pleasure in moral education (e.g., 653a5-c4).
(40) Obviously there are doubts about the authenticity of the letters; at the very least, this passage indicates what some of Plato's followers took his position to be on divine nature.
(41) There is a potential tension between the passages in the Laws and the Third Letter. According to the former, the gods are between pleasure and pain, while according to the latter, they are far from them. While the middle state is defined in terms of the absence of pleasure and pain, and so is, in a sense, located within the pleasure/pain continuum, to be far from pleasure and pain suggests that one exists completely outside of this continuum. Perhaps these can be made consistent by allowing that the middle state could itself be viewed as far from either extreme; whatever we make of Plato's spatial metaphors, the important upshot for my purposes is that, according to both passages, the gods are not subject to pleasure or pain.
(42) The Epinomis contains a similar sentiment, claiming that god is far removed from pleasure and pain, and is only concerned with knowing and thinking (985a5-7). Although this dialogue is presumed to be spurious, it can at least be taken to reflect how near neo-Platonists understood Plato.
(43) With the exception of the Phaedrus, which I take to be middle-late; this may account for a difficulty it presents for my interpretation--see n. 44, below.
(44) See Liddell, Scott and Jones s.v. agapao and eupatheo. De Vries (1969), 137, in his commentary on the Phaedrus, objects to Hackforth's translation of eupathei as prospers, citing Republic 347c7 as evidence that in Plato, eupathein means to enjoy. However, it strikes me that both passages can be read either way. In the Republic passage, after all, Plato's point is that good men do not rule for the sake of benefits, such as honor or wealth; this is strongly compatible with taking eupathein to mean to prosper.
To my mind, the more serious concern with the Phaedrus passage is not that it uses words which must be taken as synonymous with hedesthai, but, rather, that its depiction of the gods suggests that they undergo restitution. The gods in the Phaedrus do not contemplate perpetually, but only sporadically. Plato twice states that the gods feed upon (trephontai) the forms; this calls to mind the analysis of the pleasure of learning as the filling of a psychic hunger in the Republic (585a8-e4). Even if what the gods experience here is not identical to pleasure, this passage still challenges my overall argument: I claim that the gods cannot experience pleasure because this would imply that they suffer from a prior lack, but here the gods are depicted as subject to sporadic intellectual replenishment. Hackforth (1985), 80, responds to this by proposing that this aspect of Plato's account should be taken as merely allegorical. One would wish to know more about why Plato resorts to an allegory so at odds with the rest of his theology. My conjecture is that in the Phaedrus, Plato presents the gods as exemplars for how we ought to live our lives as mortals, balancing contemplation with care of the soul, and that this passage should not be taken to represent his considered view of divine nature. The defense of such a claim is, of course, far beyond the scope of this paper (but see my 2012). At the very least, these considerations suggest that Plato's presentation of the gods as undergoing restitution in the Phaedrus is not of a piece with his late theology, and should not be taken to apply to the Philebus.
(45) This parallels an implicit distinction between eros and philia: although gods, lacking in nothing, are immune to eros, they feel philia towards the truly virtuous (212a5-6). While eros is a state of neediness and desire, philia, perhaps, should be understood as a state of appreciation and affection.
(46) Gosling and Taylor (1982), 70-1, maintain that, in the Gorgias, Plato'solely responds to Callicles' conception of pleasure as the repletion of a bodily lack, and that his criticism of hedonism need not apply to the form of enlightened hedonism which he defends in the Protagoras. While it would be beyond the scope of this paper to fully address Gosling and Taylor's reading of the Gorgias, I should emphasize that if, in the Gorgias, Plato takes enlightened hedonism to be a correct account of the good, then it is odd that he does not mention it. Although one might maintain that the reason for this is that the dialogue is aporetic, it is striking that Socrates repeatedly affirms that pleasure is not to be identified with the happiness and the good--see, e.g., 495d2-e1, 497a3-5, 497d5-6, and 500d6-8. Furthermore, Socrates' criticism of pleasure at 492e7-4b7 focuses on its connection to filling; if all pleasures are, as I contend, processes of replenishment, then Socrates would not allow that even intellectual pleasures are intrinsically good. Later, when Socrates does draw a distinction between good and bad pleasures, he does not treat good pleasures as intrinsically good, but rather as instrumental means to other goods, such as bodily health (499c6-500a6). Finally, it is worth noting that at 507b8-d1, Socrates does appear to offer an account in propria persona of what makes a life go well--having one's soul be wellordered and hence virtuous. At any rate, what is significant for my purposes is that in the passage I cite, Plato introduces a state of repletion and satisfaction, a state which makes a life happiest, and which does not explicitly involve pleasure.
(47) An anonymous referee has suggested that this passage need not imply that happiness and pleasure are distinct if we allow that Plato's question is whether knowledge or pleasure causes a life to be happier; this is compatible with a life's happiness consisting in its overall pleasantness. Although I am intrigued by this proposal, it is important to note that at the conclusion of the dialogue, when Socrates asks Protarchus whether knowledge or pleasure is more responsible for the goodness of the wellmixed life, he specifies three features that account for the goodness of mixtures: beauty, proportion and truth (64e5-5a5). He does not mention pleasantness as a feature which renders a life well-mixed and hence good; he goes on to assign pleasure to the fifth and last rank of the good, after intelligence (66c4-6). Thus, while there is no direct evidence that Plato identifies happiness with pleasantness in the dialogue, there is at least some evidence suggesting that he takes them to be distinct.
(48) One might maintain that perhaps the gods can be pleased in a radically different way than ourselves; even if, for humans, pleasure always implies restitution, perhaps the gods are capable of some non-restitutive form of pleasure (I owe this suggestion to an anonymous referee). In fact, this proposal comes very close to my own; however, rather than contrasting human and divine forms of pleasure, I treat the divine state as distinct from pleasure, referring to it as fulfillment. I believe that this better reflects Plato's usage, since Plato only uses hedone to refer to restitutive pleasures, and that it captures the fact that the two states are importantly distinct: fulfillment is what pleasurable restitutive processes aim at.
(49) In referring to pleasure as a constituent of the best human life, I do not mean to suggest that it makes a non-causal contribution to the best life in the way that, say, a healthy foot is a constituent of a healthy body (for this example and discussion of the way in which certain constituents of the good can have non-instrumental value, see Irwin , 193). Pleasure is a constituent of the good life, not because it possesses intrinsic value, but because we are the sorts of beings who must undergo pleasure in order to secure whatever intrinsic goods we are capable of.
(50) In maintaining that, in the Philebus, Plato does not treat pleasure as an intrinsic, but solely as a consequential good, I am obviously entering an area of vigorous interpretive controversy. Those who share my view include Evans (2007); Frede (1992), 440, 454; (1993), xliii, lvi, (1996), 236; Hampton (1990), 74; Van Riel (1999), 308; and Waterfield (1982), 86, n. 1. Opponents include Carone (2000); Cooper (1999), 160-1; and Irwin (1995), 336. Although constraints ofspace prevent me from fully engaging with this debate, I believe that, in arguing that Plato endorses the sophisticates' analysis of all pleasure as a process of becoming for the sake of being, I have provided significant support for my position. Furthermore, my arguments concerning the role of pleasure in assimilation to god offer new evidence for this reading of Plato. If the gods are beings in the best possible condition, and constitute a normative ideal towards which we should aspire, and if they are in an ahedonic state, then this suggests that we ought not to aim at pleasure per se. Furthermore, if pleasure characterizes the processes by which we approximate the divine condition, then this implies that it has consequential value. While I do not take Plato to be a hedonist, it is important not to diminish the value which Plato places on pleasure--after all, at 44c5-d2 he criticizes the anti-hedonists for their refusal to acknowledge anything healthy about pleasure. Pleasure does have consequential value for Plato; furthermore, as I argue in what follows, since humans can never stably attain the state of perfect knowledge and virtue that characterizes the gods, pleasures of replenishment will always play a key role in the best human life.
An anonymous referee has objected to my position on the grounds that other dialogues suggest that Plato does not view pleasure as having solely consequential value. In particular, according to the three-fold classification of goods in the Republic, pleasure belongs to the class of things desired for their own sakes (357b4-8). However, this classification of pleasure is Glaucon's, and is not explicitly endorsed by Socrates (see Ferrari , 15-19). Furthermore, Glaucon's claim is that pleasure is something we choose for its own sake; this can be taken as a statement about what humans desire, rather than about the objective goodness of pleasure. We are hedonic creatures who are driven by pleasure and pain, and are inclined to desire pleasure for its own sake; this is compatible with pleasure only being objectively choiceworthy insofar as it constitutes a process of replenishment. Plato's views on the relation of pleasure to the good in the Republic are complex, but it is worth noting that at 581e6-8, he distinguishes a life's being pleasantest from its being best (see also Rowe , 105-6, and White , 226, 233-4).
(51) Note that even if the best human life is largely made up of pleasant restitutive processes, insofar as we are rational, these are not themselves our telos: what we aim at is knowing, not learning. To aim at learning for its own sake would be, on Plato's view, perverse. I discuss this and related issues further in what follows.
(52) Russell (2005), 148; see also Rutenber (1946), 38-9.
(53) E.g., R 613b1, Tht 176b1-2, Ti 90c2-3. See also Phd 65e7-a5, 67a3-4; R 383c4-5, 500d1; Phdr 253a3-5; Lg 716c6-d1.
(54) Here I concur with Frede (1992), 440, 453-4; see also Frede (1986). For an opposing view, see McPherran (1996), 292-7, and (2006), 246-7. I agree with McPherran that awareness of the separation between human ignorance and divine wisdom is central to Socratic humility, and, furthermore, that Plato urges us to become aware of the potential for divine wisdom within us. However, to my mind, McPherran (1996), 295, overstates Plato's optimism: while McPherran is correct that Plato raises the possibility of a philosophical grasp of the forms in the Symposium and Republic, Plato's guarded phrasings at Smp 209e5-10a2 and R 505c2-d8 suggest doubts concerning our prospects of attaining this state.
(55) See also Tht. 153b9-c1 for the same claim, though the attribution of the Heraclitean thesis to Plato is controversial--see Burnyeat (1990), 8-9.
(56) Chantraine (1933), 286-8.
(57) See Liddell, Scott, and Jones, s.v. homoiosis.
(58) See Rutenber (1946), 18-25.
(59) This sort of distinction comes out most clearly at Symposium 207c9-8b4, where Plato treats reproduction as the mortal form of immortality, as well as in the Timaeus, where he writes that the demiurge created time as a moving image of eternity, in order to make the universe as everlasting as possible (37d1-7).
(60) Cf. Lg 733a9-b3, where Plato'states that humans do not want the pleasureless and painless state if it involves the loss of pleasure.
(61) This statement requires refinement. As an anonymous referee has pointed out, Plato emphasizes at 21b6-c8 that without reason, memory, and knowledge, we could never experience many forms of pleasure, nor could we calculate about how to obtain future pleasures; furthermore, if we were utterly lacking in moderation, we would be unable to deploy the self-control needed to maximize long-term pleasure. (Irwin's , 333-5, discussion of this point is particularly helpful.) This is clearly correct --we do require a basic level of self-mastery, as well as some reasoning ability and know-how in order to be maximally efficient hedonists. However, this leaves much knowledge and virtue untouched. For example, imagine that one's sole aim in life were pleasure, and that one achieved one's moment of most intense pleasure while proving the Goldbach conjecture. One might reasonably regret that this moment cannot be repeated, and seek some way (perhaps by destroying one's notes) that one might forget the proof, so that one could repeat the ecstasy of discovery over and over.
(62) Gosling (1975), 210-11, 220-1, raises a similar objection; he responds to it by taking Plato to distance himself from the view of the sophisticates, and to hold that their analysis does not apply to the pleasure of knowledge.
(63) MacIntyre (1984), 188-90 offers a helpful illustration of this sort of motivational conversion. A child might initially be bribed by candy into playing chess, and hence be motivated by a good external to chess, the pleasure of consuming the candy. However, eventually, through playing chess, the child might come to value chess for goods internal to it, such as its analytical rigor. MacIntyre's overall analysis, however, owes more to Aristotle than to Plato, since he holds that pleasure can reside in the excellent exercise of a capacity, and hence be internal to the activity (197).
(64) Moran (2001), chs. 3-4, esp. 126-7. These issues of motivation are, of course, difficult to untangle, since pleasure just is restitution, and hence is identical to that which gives us a normative reason for action, the process of becoming like god. The worry is that we might be inclined to primarily pursue restitutive processes qua pleasureful; for our motivations to be fully rational and consistent, we ought to pursue restitution for the sake of the ensuing state of repletion.
(65) B. Williams (1973). Williams is, of course, a desire-satisfaction theorist, not a hedonist, but since, for Plato, the ahedonic state is good precisely because it entails the complete absence of desire, Williams' concern is to the point.
(66) Nozick (1974), 44. The transformation machine is a vamped-up experience machine, which not only produces in you the experience of living any life you please, but also makes you into whatever sort of person you wish to be.
(67) I am grateful to audiences at the Work in Progress Group of the Claremont Colleges and at the Eighth Symposium Platonicum at Trinity College in Dublin for the opportunity to present this paper; an earlier version appeared in the Symposium's volume of selected papers. I would also like to thank my anonymous referee, Paul Hurly, Brad Inwood, and Chuck Young for their generous and insightful comments on this paper.
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