Diotima's eudaemonism: Intrinsic value and rational motivation in Plato's symposium

Phronesis 54 (4-5):297-325 (2009)

Authors
Ralph Wedgwood
University of Southern California
Abstract
This paper gives a new interpretation of the central section of Plato's Symposium (199d-212a). According to this interpretation, the term "καλóν", as used by Plato here, stands for what many contemporary philosophers call "intrinsic value"; and "love" (ἔρως) is in effect rational motivation , which for Plato consists in the desire to "possess" intrinsically valuable things - that is, according to Plato, to be happy - for as long as possible. An explanation is given of why Plato believes that "possessing" intrinsically valuable things, at least for mortals like us, consists in actively creating instantiations of the intrinsic values, both in oneself and in the external world, and in knowing and loving these intrinsic values and their instantiations. Finally, it is argued that this interpretation reveals that Plato's "eudaemonism" is a different and more defensible doctrine than many commentators believe.
Keywords SYMPOSIUM   PLATO   INTRINSIC VALUE   EUDAEMONISM   RATIONAL MOTIVATION
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DOI 10.1163/003188609x12486562883093
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What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
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Choosing Rationally and Choosing Correctly.Ralph Wedgwood - 2003 - In Sarah Stroud & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality. Oxford University Press. pp. 201--229.

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