Pathos, Pleasure and the Ethical Life in Aristippus

Journal of Ancient Philosophy (2009)
  Copy   BIBTEX


For many of the ancient Greek philosophers, the ethical life was understood to be closely tied up with important notions like rational integrity, self-control, self-sufficiency, and so on. Because of this, feeling or passion (pathos), and in particular, pleasure, was viewed with suspicion. There was a general insistence on drawing up a sharp contrast between a life of virtue on the one hand and one of pleasure on the other. While virtue was regarded as rational and as integral to advancing one’s well-being or happiness and safeguarding one’s autonomy, pleasure was viewed as largely irrational and as something that usually undermines a life of reason, self-control and self-sufficiency. I want to try to show that the hedonist Aristippus of Cyrene, a student and contemporary of Socrates, was unique in not drawing up such a sharp contrast. Aristippus, I argue, might be seen to be challenging the conception of passion and pleasure connected to loss of self-control and hubristic behavior. Not only do I try to show that pleasure according to Aristippus is much more comprehensive or inclusive than it is usually taken to be, but that a certain kind of control and self-possession actually play an important part in his conception of pleasure and in his hedonism as a whole.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 80,001

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Pleasure in Plato's Phaedo.Kristian Urstad - 2010 - Philosophy Pathways 151.
The Argument of the Philebus.Joe McCoy - 2007 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 12 (1):1-16.
Plato on pleasure and the good life.Daniel C. Russell - 2005 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Malicious pleasure evaluated: Is pleasure an unconditional good?Irwin Goldstein - 2003 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 84 (1):24–31.
Pleasure and Illusion in Plato.Jessica Moss - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (3):503 - 535.
Socrates, pleasure, and value.George Rudebusch - 1999 - New York: Oxford University Press.


Added to PP

72 (#178,016)

6 months
1 (#478,598)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Kristian Urstad
Douglas College

References found in this work

Plato's ethics.Terence Irwin - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.
A history of Greek philosophy.W. K. C. Guthrie - 1962 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Greeks on pleasure.Justin Cyril Bertrand Gosling & Christopher Charles Whiston Taylor - 1982 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by C. C. W. Taylor.

View all 20 references / Add more references