Callicles, Aristotle, and Aristotle: Philosophy of Pleasure

Callicles, Aristotle, and Aristotle: Philosophy of Pleasure

Looking through Greek philosophy it is inevitable not to come across Callicles preposition of a life an endless supply of pleasure. It is said that Socrates offered Callicles with an example of two men who had many Jars filled with resources hard to find. One filled his jars closed them and kept them in storage well knowing he was well supplied. The other had rotten jars and was forced to fill up his jars each day. Callicles suggested that the life of the second man was worth living considering he had continued flow of pleasure ‘”itching and scratching’. When analyzing Callicles view using Metaphysics Ζ by Aristotle it is clear that his philosophy is in contrast with Calicles. In Metaphysics Ζ, Aristotle introduces the idea of form and matter but indicates that actuality (energeia), is what matters (Preus 24). Through the same concept, it is clear he can relate to Callicles notion of endless pleasure but he indicates that pleasure in itself exists in dunamis. In this case, a dynamic is an influence that a substance has to invoke a change (Taylor 89). Therefore, pleasure in one’s life will cause change that will not more likely make the man store his resources in properly maintained jars. Plato’s, on the other hand, would clearly disagree with Aristotle. To Plato, pleasure is an illusion that is affected by pain, appetite (need for more), fear, as well as the pleasure of ‘evil’ (Irwin 34). It is for this reason he indicates that pleasure is supreme and best when it reflects the gods who can protect from the above negative aspects.

Form a philosophical perspective Plato is spot on. When using the example of the Jars in presenting pleasure it is a fact that life is full of challenges and unknowns and the pleasures enjoyed on one day not the same in another. Life makes the jars rot and spill the daily pleasures away. Therefore, there is a need for recollection other than self-preservation as presented by Aristotle. There is need to seek protection of the pleasure of the day just as much as looking for additional preference.


Works Cited

Irwin, Terence. Plato’s Ethics. Cary: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1994.

Preus, Anthony. Notes on Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle. Binghamton, NY: Global Publications, Institute of Global Cultural Studies, Binghamton University, State University of New York, 1999. Print.

Taylor, C C. W. Pleasure, Mind, and Soul: Selected Papers in Ancient Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Internet resource.