What Is the Good Life?

Topics: Plato, Philosophy, Socrates Pages: 4 (1289 words) Published: October 15, 2007
What is the "Good Life"? There are many different interpretations of what the "good life" truly is. Individualists believe that the "good life" is pleasing oneself; while utilitarians believe that the "good life" is acting for the good of the rest of society and others. Philosophers also have their own interpretations. One philosopher that has his own interpretation is Plato in the Symposium. Plato portrays to the philosopher's "good life" when he uses the phrase "my greatest pleasure." The choice of the word "my" tells the reader that philosophical conversation may not necessarily be everyone's greatest pleasure but just his own. "…After all, my greatest pleasure comes from philosophical conversation, even if I'm only a listener, whether or not I think it will be to my advantage. All other talk, especially the talk of rich businessmen like you, bores me to tears, and I'm sorry for you and your friends because you think your affairs are important when really they're totally trivial" (Symposium 173C-D, pg 2). The casual observer may believe that these lines, spoken by Apollodorus, are corny, offering just some humor to begin The Symposium. However, a student of World of Ideas or a well-learned reader will read between the lines and quickly realize that, in between the words of the passage lies a large amount of ideas that are essential to the work as a whole. The two primary ideas which stem from the preceding passage are the philosopher's view of the good life and the very different lives and thoughts that philosophers lead.

Again, there are many different interpretations of what the "good life" truly is. In the choice between the words "my" and "the", Plato could have used the word "the," but he chose not to, because he realized not all people believe that their "good life" is the same as the philosopher's "good life". The diversity of opinions is evident throughout the symposium, as each philosopher has a very different speech that is based on his or...

Cited: Plato. Symposium. Trans. Alexander Nehemas & Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1989.
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