I wonder what you thought of this penultimate paragraph from Roslyn Weiss' excellent review of Dominic Scott's Meno book:
I close with one final problem that I believe bears mentioning, namely, the assimilation of the beneficial to the instrumental. Scott contends that there is no final good in the Meno, that, indeed, such goods are conspicuously absent from this dialogue (155). It seems to me that for Socrates good things, that is, things that are intrinsically good, also have the effect of making other things good, yet such goods are not on that account "instrumental." Painful surgery might qualify as an instrumental good, but neither virtue nor knowledge does. For Socrates, even that good that is most widely agreed to be his ultimate good, happiness, is nevertheless "profitable": "It is not profitable (lusitelei) to be wretched but to be happy" (Rep. 1.354a). Good things, even final goods, are beneficial and profitable. They are not, however, instrumental.To my mind this paragraph reverberated with this paragraph from the recent review, by Suzanne Obdrzalek, of the Penner and Rowe book in the same series:
In examining the central passage of the dialogue (216c-221d), P & R address the question, what is the first friend. P & R reject minimalist readings, according to which it is whatever we happen to desire for its own sake, proposing, instead, that it is wisdom. Their evidence for this claim is highly indirect. At the end of the Menexenus interchange, Socrates professes delight at Lysis' philosophia; P & R take this to indicate that wisdom is what is truly philon. Later, Socrates connects the good to the useful (220c)--this signals a backwards reference to the Lysis discussion, where it was established that wisdom makes one useful. At the close of the dialogue, Socrates links the good with what is oikeion; again, this harkens back to the opening, where wisdom is shown to make things he^metera. Since Plato never actually states that wisdom is the first friend, P & R are forced to rely on minute details of the text. However, these do not entirely support their case. For example, in the Lysis discussion, wisdom is what makes things useful, but is not identified with the useful (i.e. the good). Again, Socrates claims that wisdom makes things he^metera, but the first friend is what is oikeion, not what makes things oikeia. These details suggest that wisdom is a means to the first friend and therefore not the first friend, which is the end of all desire.What do you think? Does it make sense to say that X makes Y good, and X may be desired (in part) because it makes Y good, and yet for all that X is the ultimate good (because it is 'beneficial', merely, not instrumental to anything else)?