Colloquium 3

Colloquium 3 I. Introduction: Human and Divine Goods In the Laws, Plato distinguishes between two kinds of goods: "human" goods and "divine" goods. This distinction is fundamental to the ethi- cal and political theory of the Laws. Since Plato is a eudaimonist, he holds that for every agent, the ultimate end of all her rational actions is her own greatest happiness. Happiness, in turn, consists in the agent's possession and use of various goods. The distinction between human and divine goods articulates Plato's conception of happiness by estab- lishing relations of priority and dependence among the goods that peo- ple can strive for and acquire. Thus it provides Plato with the outlines of a theory of goods, that is, a theory about how human beings should value the various sorts of things they may possess and use. And since the correct ultimate end of the city's laws and social institutions is to make the citizens as happy as possible, this theory of goods helps to give content to that ultimate political end. In order to understand this theory of goods more clearly, we should begin by considering the two passages in which Plato states and elaborates the distinction between human http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy Online Brill

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright 1997 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1059-986X
eISSN
2213-4417
D.O.I.
10.1163/2213441795X00075
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

I. Introduction: Human and Divine Goods In the Laws, Plato distinguishes between two kinds of goods: "human" goods and "divine" goods. This distinction is fundamental to the ethi- cal and political theory of the Laws. Since Plato is a eudaimonist, he holds that for every agent, the ultimate end of all her rational actions is her own greatest happiness. Happiness, in turn, consists in the agent's possession and use of various goods. The distinction between human and divine goods articulates Plato's conception of happiness by estab- lishing relations of priority and dependence among the goods that peo- ple can strive for and acquire. Thus it provides Plato with the outlines of a theory of goods, that is, a theory about how human beings should value the various sorts of things they may possess and use. And since the correct ultimate end of the city's laws and social institutions is to make the citizens as happy as possible, this theory of goods helps to give content to that ultimate political end. In order to understand this theory of goods more clearly, we should begin by considering the two passages in which Plato states and elaborates the distinction between human

Journal

Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy OnlineBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1995

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