Finding the Good Life in Symposium

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Finding the Good Life in Symposium 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. Philosophers, too, have their own interpretation. Plato alludes to the philosopher's good life when he uses the phrase "my greatest pleasure." The inherent subjectivity of the word "my" tells the reader that philosophical conversation may not necessarily be everyone's greatest pleasure. "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). The casual observer may believe that these lines, spoken by Apollodorus, are trite, offering little more than some humor to begin Symposium. However, a well-learned reader will read between the lines and quickly realize that, embedded within the words of the passage lies a plethora of ideas that are integral 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 that philosophers lead. 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. Philosophers, too, have their own interpretation. Plato alludes to the philosopher's good life ... ... middle of paper ... ... not only to listen to the ideas of others, but to make a judgment about those ideas after they have been heard. In offering the judgment of the philospher's good life being the best one, Plato enticed his readers to attend his academy, one goal of his book. The ultimate idea of the passage, and indeed the book as a whole, is to for one to keep an open mind to hear the opinions of others, and for one to divulge one's own opinions for the betterment of society. After these opinions have been heard, thought through, and fully realized, individuals have the capacity to make decisions for the good of themselves and those around them. When these intellectual, spiritual decisions are made correctly, human beings can begin to live the good life. Works Cited: Plato. Symposium. Trans. Alexander Nehemas & Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1989.
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