In Gorgias by Plato, Socrates discusses with Callicles whether it is better to live a life of self-discipline or self-indulgence. Socrates refutes Callicles’ argument that a self-indulgent life makes one happier than a life of self-discipline through several analogies pinpointing the faults in Callicles’ beliefs.

In the passage, Callicles begins to explain his position on self-discipline in relation to a political leader of great power such as a dictator. For such people, he thinks the most shameful thing is to live a life based on justice and self-discipline, stating that if they cannot use their leadership power to their advantage or to their friends’ advantages, then they can never live a truly happy life. Socrates argues against this claim, though, and tries to get Callicles to agree with his view on the situation. He does so by explaining one who lives a life of self-indulgence is equal to a fool who attempts to fill a leaky jar with water. Self-indulgence, in this way, can never allow one to be truly happy, and for this reason, order and self-discipline lead to a much happier life.

At first, it only seemed logical that following one’s desires would lead to a life of the most fulfillment and satisfaction possible. After reading Socrates’ argument, however, it makes more sense that a life of self-discipline, rather than one of self-indulgence, would lead to a happier and just better life in general. Socrates’ beliefs on this subject helped to support the logical claim that sometimes what we want is not as beneficial for our own well being as what we need, meaning an orderly life is better than one based in desire. I really connected to the analogy concerning the jar, for a jar that is disciplined, orderly, and full equates to true fulfillment and satisfaction, while one that leaks and needs to be constantly refilled can never reach a state of true potential and happiness.

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