Editor's note: After blind peer review, this paper was selected for reading at the University of Dayton's 10th annual Philosophy Colloquium, held Feb. 27-28, 1981.

The casual reader of the Republic may not notice that the primary purpose of the whole dialogue is to discuss happiness rather than virtue; more precisely the purpose is to discuss what consequences various conceptions of justice or manners of life have for our understanding of what happiness is. This purpose is explicitly stated in Book V just prior to the introduction of the philosopher-king at 472c: "Our purpose was, with these models (of justice and injustice) before us, to see how they turned out as regards happiness and its opposite."

In this paper I wish to challenge an orthodoxy of Platonic scholarship regarding happiness. The orthodoxy is that in the Republic what Plato means by happiness is either psychic harmony or something sufficiently caused by psychic harmony. Against this view I will argue rather that Plato views happiness as being sufficiently caused by one's fulfilling one's social function, that Plato is viewing happiness as something quite close to what we would call job satisfaction, or a sense of our realizing ourselves through our work. I shall argue (section I) that this view of happiness is stated in the opening two pages of Book IV (419a-421d), and that it is restated in the discussion of pleasure in Book IX (585d-586e). These passages are the only passages in the dialogue where happiness is introduced as a subject of analysis (419a, 576d-e). I will draw some political consequences of Plato's view of happiness (section II) and show how the view bears on the structure and purpose of the dialogue (section III).



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