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Aristotle’s account in the NicomacheanEthics of the role of pleasure in the good life and the e·ects of pleasure on both character
development and action is complex and di¶cult. Part of this difficulty is generated by Aristotle’s characteristic dialectical approach
to the questions he is interested in asking. He raises possibilities, gathers alternative views, and suggests counter-arguments without always making immediately clear his own precise view. By working on the topic of pleasure in this way, Aristotle makes it clear that he
is reacting to and o·ering his own commentary on an earlier debate on the nature and value of pleasure, with its own series of dialectical moves and counter-moves. In Aristotle’s presentation of the matter in the Nicomachean Ethics, three major philosophical rivals are invoked as participants in the debate: Eudoxus, Speusippus, and Plato.
Before the composition of the Nicomachean Ethics these three had themselves, in all likelihood, been engaged in a discussion of
pleasure whose historical details are now mostly lost, but which probably lies in the background of Plato’s great dialectical work on
pleasure, Philebus.1 For some time, scholars have been interested in finding evidence for Eudoxus’ and Speusippus’ views in Plato’s
work, identifying one or other as the author of a particular position being canvassed by Socrates and Protarchus… free ebook