Pain and Pleasure in Plato's Physiology
Couvalis, Spyridon George
Usher, Matthew L
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We trace the development of Plato’s physiology of pleasure and pain from a rudimentary account in the "Gorgias" to a sophisticated account in the "Philebus". In the earlier account Plato treats pains as lacks and pleasures as replenishments. In the later account he treats pleasures and pains as in part object directed mental states. In particular, he treats pains as perceptions of disintegrated states which lack determinate being. We argue that Plato’s later account constitutes a considerable advance on previous theories of pain and on his own earlier theory. However, we point out that modern research has shown that Plato is wrong to identify pains with perceptions of disintegrated states. Nevertheless, we suggest that had Plato known about the results of modern research, he would have been able to say that pains are perceptions of threats of disintegration into the indeterminate.