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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 2008

Ancient Philosophy

Fulvia De Luise
Pages 41-49
DOI: 10.5840/wcp22200821182

The Philosopher’s Pleasure
A Matter of Style?

The subject I intend to discuss deals with a problem which is central in the debate of ancient greek philosophy: the quest for happiness as the final end, the highest good for a human being. Fixing in the achievement of a life worth living the strategic aim of actions, ancient philosophers tried to define as well what a man should desire for himself to fully develop all the capabilities which lie inside human nature. On the one side they proposed major normative models of wisdom, on the other side they gave an important practical indication: the “care of the self”, as a self-control discipline that aims to build a virtuous form of subjectivity, that is able to design and deserve the eudaimonia. In this context, my analysis will focus on the issue of pleasure. The hedone surely represents the critical point of all happiness models of Socratic origin, centred in different ways on the practice of the “care of the self”. While this practical proposal appears to be a complex and demanding alternative in the search for a life worth living, the hedonistic way seems to be much easier and simpler, as far as pleasure is intended as an unequivocal sign of goodness and wellness, immediately recognisable in the experience of happiness. The hedonism of the many appears to the philosophers as a serious menace to society and to the individual, because it conveys unlimited desires and interior disharmony, though, on the other hand, it not possible to deny the value of pleasure without making philosophical happiness unattractive. In the field of the important contemporary re-evaluation of bios models of ancient philosophers (Hadot, Foucault, Nussbaum, Annas) to test their strength and operative capabilities in human subject’s condition in the present days, I would like to outline a comparison between Plato’s and Aristotle’s views on the dilemmas set by pleasure in the enterprise of self-construction: their positions appear, as usual, close and at the same time opposite in the well-known “gigantomachy”.