In this part of Plato’s Gorgias, Socrates and Callicles debate whether self-discipline or self-indulgence makes for greater happiness. Callicles believes the answer to be self-indulgence, as he trusts that “we shouldn’t restrain our desires if we’re going to fulfill our potential, but should let them grow as large as possible and then do whatever it takes to satisfy them” (432e). Furthermore, Callicles thinks people that need nothing (like the self-disciplined person) are not happy. Socrates apposes this idea, and attempts to explain why he disagrees with Callicles by using an analogy with jars. He illustrates a scenario in which a self-controlled person and a self-indulgent person have a multitude of jars filled with rare liquids. Both people obtain the liquids at the same level of difficulty, yet the self-indulgent one has cracked jars that cause the liquids to leak out. Thus, this person must spend a lot of time keeping the jars filled by repeating the process. If he fails to do so, he will suffer horribly. Socrates uses the difference of the jars and their effects to clarify the difference between the lives of a self-indulgent person and a self-disciplined person. He is conveying the message that the jar without any cracks allows its owner to continue on with a sense of satisfaction and without worry. The owner of the cracked jars can never reach his full potential because he is too consumed by the task of refilling the jars.

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