The Good Life Short Answer Responses

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1. Callicles claims that we only have to look at nature to find evidence that it is right for better people to have a greater share than worse people. How does Socrates respond to this argument? Who makes the stronger case? Why?

Socrates firstly exposes Callicles’ use of equivocation, a rhetorical ploy that avoids acknowledgement of an undermining truth while not being literally false, itself. He then accuses Callicles of equating strength with superiority, highlighting an absence of semantic specificity. He goes on to say that a collective is naturally stronger than an individual and it follows that the legislation prescribed by the general populace is a product of both nature and convention. Nature and convention therefore both assert the reverse of Callicles’ arguments, that doing wrong is more contemptible than suffering wrong. Socrates then implements a method of proving the falsehood of Callicles’ standpoint through exposure of its absurdity. According to Callicles’ position, a dietician and coat maker should be in possession of as much food and coats, respectively, as his conduct of character accounts for. Both Callicles and Socrates are heavily dependent on the unvalidated notion that nature and legality constitute objective morality, thus both are fallacious. However, Callicles’ is substantially more fallacious. He, for instance asserts that viewpoints devised by the weak are inherently bad. Socrates, despite failing to erect a particularly solid viewpoint in place of Callicles’, manages to expose the rhetorical ploy and paradox in Callicles’ viewpoint. Socrates therefore makes the stronger case.

2.Explain the ‘leaky jar’ analogy and its implications for leading a good life.

The region of the mind that stores desire is “susceptib[le]” and “[un]stab[le]”. When not given conscious “restrain[t]”, thus being characterized by “insatiability”, this part of the mind may be compared to a “leaky”, thus unquenchable “jar”. Socrates describes this as the mind of the “self-indulgent” man, conveying the baseness and vulgarity of hedonism in its purest form and that the pursuit of fleeting pleasures as one’s prime end leads to an unquenchable thirst. This is synonymous of an infinite succession of ends, never reaching a chief end. The self-disciplined man, conversely, has firm boundaries on his ends, and so he may “rest easy” once he is done “channeling the liquids into his [“intact”] jars”. Plato makes the comparison of the self-indulgent and self-disciplined man by the analogy of “leaky” and “intact” jars, respectively, in order to assert that placing firm boundaries on one’s ends, incidentally acknowledging a chief end, constitutes living well.

3. Explain how ‘every art’, ‘inquiry’, ‘action’ and ‘choice’ is ‘thought to aim at some good’.

Every means that humanity invests in, both moral and immoral, is in the pursuit of some moral end. For instance, the stealing of medicine to ensure one’s or another’s good health is an immoral means in pursuit of a moral end. Moral ends are those which all ends are in pursuit of. Hence, there is no human action or means that escapes moral standpoint or pursuit. There are two types of goods which all human action is founded on: those which are good in themselves or inherently good (ends) and those which are in pursuit of and subordinate to other goods (means). A “greatest good” then exists and it is vital that we uncover the nature of this greatest good. This is the ultimate objective, dictating our behaviours. The chief good is necessarily: final (not preceding or subordinate to any other good) and self-sufficient (a properly basic belief, a proposition that can be deduced from no other proposition).

4. Explain Aristotle’s ‘Function Argument’ and put it in standard form.

Aristotle asserts that the chief good (happiness) must be: final, self-sufficient and the end of an action. He then goes on to say that we could potentially acquire a clearer...
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