Monday, September 7, 2020
Plenary – Chapel

The Challenge of Callicles

Given that we have these desires, what do we do with them? Would fulfillment of those desires amount to your vision of the good life? How should one pursue one’s desires? As a starting point, we will look at an example of the view of a group of people in ancient Greece called Sophists and Rhetoricians, particularly a character in Plato’s Gorgias named Callicles. Callicles seems to view happiness in terms of the fulfillment of one’s desires, and extends this to claim that we are happier if we have stronger desires (so long as we are able to fulfill them). Power is the ability to get what we desire, to accomplish what we purpose, and rhetoric (the ability to persuade others to do what one wants) is the most powerful tool for gaining and exercising power. Socrates raises a number of critical questions about this vision, and claims that the fundamental choice in life is between this Sophistic attitude and that of the philosopher.

Before Class

After Class