Nussbaum, Martha, and Rosalind Hursthouse. Plato on Commensurability and Desire

1984, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 58: 55-96.

Diversifying Syllabi: Plato’s belief in the commensurability of values (shared by modern utilitarians) ultimately “cuts very deep: taken seriously, it will transform our passions as well as our decision-making, giving emotions such as love, fear, grief, and hence the ethical problems that are connected with them, an altogether different character” (56). The upshot is that “certain proposals in ethics and social choice theory that present themselves as innocuous extensions of ordinary belief and practice could actually lead, followed and lived with severity and rigor, to the end of human life as we currently know it” (56).

Comment: The text is useful in teaching ethics, especially as a critique of utilitarianism. It can also be used as a reading in history of philosophy classes focusing on ancient ethics. It is rather long, but can be used in excerpts. The paper is largely reprinted in Nussbaum's Fragility of Goodness.

Osborne, Catherine, and . Eros Unveiled: Plato and the God of Love

1994, Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s note: This unique book challenges the traditional distinction between eros, the love found in Greek thought, and agape, the love characteristic of Christianity. Focusing on a number of classic texts, including Plato’s Symposium and Lysis, Aristotle’s Ethics and Metaphysics, and famous passages in Gregory of Nyssa, Origen, Dionysius the Areopagite, Plotinus, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, the author shows that Plato’s account of eros is not founded on self-interest. In this way, she restores the place of erotic love as a Christian motif, and unravels some longstanding confusions in philosophical discussions of love.

Comment: The author’s view represents a new approach to ancient views on eros and its place in the Christian tradition. It is suitable for undergraduate or postgraduate courses on Ethics and Ancient Philosophy. Perfect as a secondary reading for students working on Plato's Symposium and Lysis, or Aristotle's Ethics and Metaphysics.