Western Canadian Undergraduate Conference of Philosophy 2011
Although Plato is clear that the good is the utmost end of philosophy, he is rather vague when he describes it and the type of life which possession of the good would obtain. In Republic IX, he claims that the philosopher would live the most pleasant life, with true learning being the greatest pleasure. However, exactly what this would look like is unclear, as Plato is often ambiguous in describing such a life. Some have tried to show how the philosopher, once he has acquired knowledge of the good, continually 'relearns' it, and experiences pleasure in this (Delcomminette, Warren). While this approach works for more mundane pieces of knowledge, careful examination of the nature of the good, and what it means to have possession of the good reveal it to be in a different class. Based on both Plato's account of the nature of the good in Philebus and his 'aviary' model of knowledge in Theaetetus, I argue that, while the philosopher does have the most pleasant life overall, he transcends the need to continually experience the greatest of intellectual pleasures upon completing his knowledge of the good. The nature of the good, when taken with Plato's language of 'grasping' and 'holding' knowledge in the Theaetetus reveals that, once obtained, knowledge of the good is of such a sort that it would never be released from mental grasp, and thus will never be relearned, making the pleasure of learning it a once-only experience.