Savoring the Good for Its Own Sake (Summer in the Republic 66)

Savoring the Good for Its Own Sake (Summer in the Republic 66) August 13, 2018

Sometimes there is a good time that is not fancy, but comes simply, quietly, and sweetly. Once in a busy week, full of big events and things to do, I experienced a bit of joy. Listening to an excellent reading of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the Lamb and Flag (the best of the Oxford pubs used by the Inklings) with Hope, one of our college students, and other Saint Constantine School families was good. There was joy, a simple pleasure that left no unpleasant aftertaste, regret, or things to do.

One might think the atmosphere (which was great!) was the reason for the goodness, but not so. I have experienced this gentle pleasure in my backyard with friends. We sit, have a think, and enjoy the pleasure of good cheer.

My dad hosts what he calls Celtic Evensong on many Sundays where there is good drink, sometimes a pipe, and always popcorn. We talk some talk and sometimes big things come of this, though not always. Sometimes the talk is just talk amongst friends and family. This is sweet.

Plato mentions this category of pleasure in Republic. An insightful student asks:

Is there some kind of good we ought to strive for, not because we expect it to bring about profitable results but simply because we value the good for its own sake? Joy might be an example, or those sorts of harmless pleasures that leave nothing behind except the memory of enjoyment.

Socrates responds:

These are good pleasures to savor.

As I reflect on these times, I wonder how to find this simple joy more often. I am not foolish enough to think that one can command joy. The moment comes and then goes, however, there are circumstances that make joy more likely to make an appearance. Plato consistently presents good times, joy, that comes from conversation between friends who are together.

This cannot be done online, good cheer cannot be shared here.

Joy often is found with family and friends.

I am blessed in liking to be with my family and in having friends I do not deserve. The mere pleasure of their company is a frequent precursor to joy.

Joy is simple, quiet.

You cannot buy joy, just pandemonium. Joy comes in rooms with human scale sound and little complexity. Gardening with a chum can bring joy, because there is a simple, quiet task and companionship.

Joy is often present with good cheer: comfortable amounts of food and drink.

The art of hosting joyfully is not lost so long as people can read The Little White Horse or any book by Tolkien. Gluttony and drunkenness cut off good cheer and make joy impossible. The elaborate party with a theme can be good, but joy rarely can find space. Joy comes with comfort.

Joy slides in during some small, pleasant task. 

Read a book together and every so often, joy will come. The task distracts us from the worries of the moment and so we relax. An angry or anxious man will not know joy until the anger or anxiety ends.

We should strive for joy-the good that leaves nothing behind but the memory of enjoyment. 


*I begin an informal summer reading of Republic using Scott/Sterling (a new translation for me). Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9. Part 10. Part 11. Part 12. Part 13. Part 14. Part 15. Part 16. Part 17. Part 18. Part 19. Part 20. Part 21. Part 22. Part 23. Part 24. Part 25. Part 26. Part 27. Part 28. Part 29. Part 30. Part 31. Part 32. Part 33. Part 34. Part 35. Part 36. Part 37. Part 38. Part 39. Part 40. Part 41. Part 42. Part 43. Part 44. Part 45. Part 45.5. Part 46. Part 47. Part 48. Part 49. Part 50. Part 51. Part 52. Part 52.5. Part 53. Part 54. Part 55. Part 56. Part 57. Part 58. Part 59. Part 60. Part 61. Part 62. Part 63. Part 64. Part 65. Part 66.

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