University of California San Diego Philosophy Paper

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Prompts: Please choose one of these 8 options for the prompt
1: In the Philebus, Socrates at one point recalls an argument (which he ‘heard in a dream’ (Philebus 20b)) that shows that neither pleasure nor knowledge is the good. Explain Socrates’ argument for this claim, and either criticize it or defend it from an objection.
In ~2-3 paragraphs, explain Socrates’ argument that neither pleasure nor knowledge is the good, providing quotes and citations as necessary. 
In ~2-3 paragraphs, either criticize Socrates’ argument or defend it from an objection
2: The Phaedrus contains a discussion of the method of collection & division, and in class we discussed that a similar sort of method is used in the Philebus. Why do you think Plato believes that the use of this method is important to investigate pleasure and knowledge in the Philebus?
In ~2-3 paragraph, briefly explain what the method of collection and division consists in, drawing on both the Phaedrus and the Philebus, and explain the extent to which it is used in the Philebus to investigate pleasure and knowledge. 
In ~1-2 paragraphs, explain why you think Plato would think the use of such a method is valuable, drawing on the Philebus and/or the Phaedrus.
In ~2-3 paragraphs, explain whether or not you agree that the use of this method is valuable. 

3: During the Four-Fold Division of everything that exists, Socrates argues that reason belongs in the class of the cause (Philebus 30d-e). Along the way, he claims that the universe has a soul that orders the universe by reason, and that the universe is not governed by random chance. 
In ~2-3 paragraphs explain how Socrates motivates his view that the universe has a soul that orders the universe through reason, citing the text as needed.

In ~2-3 paragraphs,  either criticize Socrates’ view or defend it from an objection.
4: In the Philebus Socrates argues that some anticipatory pleasures can be false. Explain what an anticipatory pleasure is and provide your own example of a false anticipatory pleasure. In the dialogue, Socrates and Protarchus initially disagree on whether false anticipatory pleasures are bad pleasures to have. Explain whether or not you think false anticipatory pleasures are also bad pleasures that people shouldn’t want to experience. 
In ~2-3 paragraphs, explain what Socrates thinks an anticipatory pleasure is, and the sense in which such pleasures can sometimes be false, citing the text as needed.
In ~1 paragraphs, go through and explain your own example of a false anticipatory pleasure. 
In ~2-3 paragraphs, explain why you think false anticipatory pleasures are bad pleasures OR explain why you think they are not bad pleasures. [You should refer your example from the last section]

5:  In the Philebus, Socrates argues that there is a third kind of false pleasure that is even ‘falser’ than the first two he discusses (42c – 44a). Explain what sort of ‘pleasure’ Socrates has in mind, and either criticize Socrates’ view or defend it from an objection.

In 2-3 paragraphs, explain what Socrates has in mind when he claims that there is a third kind of false pleasure even ‘falser’ than the previous kinds discussed, citing the text as needed.
In 2-3 paragraphs, either criticize Socrates’ argument or defend it from an objection.
6: In the Philebus, Socrates argues that certain intense bodily pleasures are mixed with pain. Explain why Socrates thinks that such pleasures are mixed with pain, and give your own example of an intense pleasure that is mixed with pain. Do you think that intense pleasures that are mixed with pain are less desirable than pleasures that are not mixed with pain?

In 2-3 paragraphs, explain why Socrates thinks that certain intense bodily pleasures are mixed with pain, citing the text as needed.     

In 1-2 paragraphs, give your own example of an intense bodily pleasure that is mixed with pain.
In 2-3 paragraphs, explain whether or not you think intense pleasures that are mixed with pain are less desirable than pleasures that are not mixed with pain, solely because they are mixed with pain. Make sure to support your position with clear reasons. 
3: Even though it sounds unintuitive, Socrates argues that watching comedy can give rise to a mixture of pleasure and pain in our souls. Unfortunately, he does not work through a concrete example to make his point clear. Provide an example to support Socrates’ argument, and then criticize or defend Socrates’ argument. 

In ~2-3 paragraphs, explain how Socrates tries to show that those who enjoy comedies experience a mixture of pleasure and pain, citing the text as needed.

In ~1-2 paragraphs, provide a comedy example of comedy or humor in which we experience a mixture of pleasure and pain, and explain how it can support Socrates’ above argument. 
In ~2-3 paragraphs, either criticize or defend the view that watching comedy gives rise to a mixture of pleasure and pain. 
7: In the Philebus, Socrates describes several different kinds of knowledge that differ amongst each other in terms of precision, clarity, accuracy, and purity. Recall that the Gorgias made a distinction between forms of flattery (knacks) and crafts. In your view, how would flattery and craft, as discussed in the Gorgias, be classified within the Philebus’ division of different kinds of knowledge?

In 1-2 paragraphs, briefly explain how Socrates distinguishes different kinds of knowledge in the Philebus, focusing on those aspects needed for your later argument.
In 1-2 paragraphs, briefly explain the difference between flattery and craft in the Gorgias.

In 2-3 paragraphs, explain which kinds of knowledge, as described in the Philebus, you think flattery and craft respectively belong to, clearly explaining why you think they belong there.
8: At the end of the Philebus, Socrates and Protarchus rank pleasure and knowledge against each other, and determine that knowledge & reason are more closely related to the good than pleasure. Knowledge & reason win ‘3rd place’ in the competition for the good, while pleasure comes in last at 5th place. Explain why Socrates and Protarchus rank knowledge & reason more highly than pleasure at the end of the dialogue, and either criticize their reasoning or defend it from an objection.
In ~2-3 paragraphs, explain why Socrates and Protarchus rank knowledge & intelligence more highly than pleasure, citing the text as needed.
In ~2-3 paragraphs, either criticize Socrates and Protarchus’ reasoning or defend it from an objection.

Copyright © 1997. Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
PHILEBUS
Scholars universally agree that this is one of Plato’s last works, along with at
least Laws (about which we have independent testimony that it was a work of
his old age), plus Sophist and Statesman. It was written after Phaedo, Republic, and Phaedrus, and also after Parmenides and Theaetetus. In those
other latest works (as well as Timaeus and Critias, whatever their place in the
order of composition may have been), the principal speaker who directs the discussion’s agenda is not Socrates, but the Athenian visitor (Laws), or the visitor from Elea (Sophist and Statesman), or Timaeus or Critias themselves. Indeed, although he participates actively in the first part of Parmenides,
Socrates is already made to yield center stage there to the dialogue’s namesake—Parmenides calls the tunes. Here, however, Socrates is again fully in
charge. Naturally enough: the topic is again one we readily associate with Socrates in Plato’s ‘Socratic’ dialogues, as well as in Phaedo, Republic, and
Phaedrus: what is ‘the human good’? how will a human being lead the best
life possible? Yet this is a Socrates very sure of his ground, ready to expound
at length difficult metaphysical doctrines, and possessed of a whole theory
about the ingredients of the best life and their proper ordering. He pursues the
discussion much more in the manner of the Visitor of Sophist or Statesman
than in his own manner in either the ‘Socratic’ dialogues or the Republic—
though his fellow discussant is much more ready to throw up opposition to his
ideas than the Visitor’s are in Sophist and Statesman.
We pick up the thread in mediis rebus. In the presence of a company of
young men, Socrates has been disputing with one of them, Philebus, about
what constitutes the good in human life. Is it pleasure, as Philebus had maintained, or knowledge—Socrates’ candidate? (We know nothing of Philebus,
apart from this dialogue: his name means “youth lover” and so pleasure seeker,
and he is presented as himself an attractive young man. He may be purely fictional.) They had ended at loggerheads. Now another young man, Protarchus,
takes over Philebus’ side. (He is addressed at 19b as “son of Callias,” the very
rich Athenian said in Apology 20a to have spent more than anyone else on
the sophists, and at 58a–b he seems to speak as a respectful admirer of Gorιas.)
The discussion now takes a new tack. Socrates will argue, not that the good in
human life is knowledge (not pleasure), but that it is some third thing, in fact
the principle for the proper mixture of knowledge and pleasure—both together—within a life. Knowledge, he will argue, though not the good itself, is
vastly closer and more akin to it than pleasure is. Thus knowledge wins second
prize in the contest, coming far ahead of pleasure in the final accounting.
398
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Philebus
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Copyright © 1997. Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Socrates first insists that neither pleasure nor knowledge is a simple unity;
there are significantly different varieties of each—different ways of being a pleasure or an instance of knowledge—which must be examined first before one
can determine the value of pleasure and knowledge, and so resolve the question
of their respective places in the best life. This leads to a lengthy defense of the
basic philosophical method of looking to unity-in-plurality in coming to understand the nature of anything and to a metaphysical division (not easy to understand) of ‘everything that actually exists now in the universe’ into four basic
categories: the ‘unlimited’, ‘limit’, the ‘mixture’ of these two, and the ‘cause’ of
the mixture. These methodological and metaphysical passages should be studied
alongside the Sophist’s theories about being and not being, and the method of
division exemplified and discussed in Sophist and Statesman. There follows a
delineation and examination of various genera of pleasure and then of knowledge, including a controversial discussion of some pleasures as ‘false’ ones. Finally, we reach the ‘mixed’ life and its ordering principle.
The dialogue ends, as it began, in mediis rebus: Protarchus is not ready to
let Socrates off; more points require to be dealt with. But which ones? That is
left for the reader to ponder.
J.M.C.
SOCRATES: Well, then, Protarchus, consider just what the thesis is that
you are now taking over from Philebus—and what our thesis is that you
are going to argue against, if you find that you do not agree with it. Shall
we summarize them both?
PROTARCHUS: Yes, let’s do that.
SOCRATES: Philebus holds that what is good for all creatures is to enjoy
themselves, to be pleased and delighted, and whatever else goes together
with that kind of thing. We contend that not these, but knowing, understanding, and remembering, and what belongs with them, right opinion
and true calculations, are better than pleasure and more agreeable to all
who can attain them; those who can, get the maximum benefit possible
from having them, both those now alive and future generations. Isn’t that
how we present our respective positions, Philebus?
PHILEBUS: Absolutely, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Do you agree, Protarchus, to take over this thesis that’s now
offered you?
PROTARCHUS: I am afraid I have to. Fair Philebus has given up on us.
SOCRATES: So we must do everything possible to get through somehow
to the truth about these matters?
PROTARCHUS: We certainly must.
SOCRATES: Come on, then. Here is a further point we need to agree on.
Translated by Dorothea Frede.
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1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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PROTARCHUS: What is that?
SOCRATES: That each of us will be trying to prove some possession or
state of the soul to be the one that can render life happy for all human
beings. Isn’t that so?
PROTARCHUS: Quite so.
SOCRATES: You, that it is pleasure; we, that it is knowledge?
PROTARCHUS: That is so.
SOCRATES: What if it should turn out that there is another possession,
better than either of them? Would the result not be that, if it turns out to
be more closely related to pleasure, we will both lose out against a life
that firmly possesses that, but the life of pleasure will defeat the life
of knowledge?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: And if it is closer to knowledge, then knowledge wins over
pleasure, and pleasure loses? Do you accept this as agreed?
PROTARCHUS: It seems agreeable to me.
SOCRATES: But also to Philebus? Philebus, what do you say?
PHILEBUS: To my mind pleasure wins and always will win, no matter
what. But you must see for yourself, Protarchus.
PROTARCHUS: But now you have handed over the argument to us, Philebus, you can no longer control the agreements we make with Socrates nor
our disagreements.
PHILEBUS: You are right. I absolve myself of all responsibility and now
call the goddess herself as my witness.
PROTARCHUS: We will be your witnesses, too,—that you did say what
you are now saying. As to what follows, Socrates, let us go ahead and try
to push through to a conclusion, with Philebus’ consent or not.
SOCRATES: We must do our best, making our start with the goddess
herself—this fellow claims that though she is called Aphrodite her truest
name is pleasure.
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: I always feel a more than human dread over what names to
use for the gods—it surpasses the greatest fear.1 So now I address Aphrodite
by whatever title pleases her. But as to pleasure, I know that it is complex
and, just as I said, we must make it our starting point and consider carefully
what sort of nature it has. If one just goes by the name it is one single
thing, but in fact it comes in many forms that are in some way even quite
unlike each other. Think about it: we say that a debauched person gets
pleasure, as well as that a sober-minded person takes pleasure in his very
sobriety. Again, we say that a fool, though full of foolish opinions and
hopes, gets pleasure, but likewise a wise man takes pleasure in his wisdom.
But surely anyone who said in either case that these pleasures are like one
another would rightly be regarded as a fool.
1. Cf. Cratylus 400d–401a.
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Philebus
401
PROTARCHUS: Well, yes, Socrates—the pleasures come from opposite
things. But they are not at all opposed to one another. For how could
pleasure not be, of all things, most like pleasure? How could that thing
not be most like itself?
SOCRATES: Just as color is most like color! Really, you surprise me: Colors
certainly won’t differ insofar as every one of them is a color; but we all
know that black is not only different from white but is in fact its very
opposite. And shape is most like shape in the same way. For shape is all
one in genus, but some of its parts are absolutely opposite to one another,
and others differ in innumerable ways. And we will discover many other
such cases. So don’t rely on this argument which makes a unity of all the
things that are most opposed. I am afraid we will find there are some
pleasures that are contrary to others.
PROTARCHUS: Maybe so. But how will this harm our thesis?
SOCRATES: Because you call these unlike things, we will say, by a different
name. For you say that all pleasant things are good. Now, no one contends
that pleasant things are not pleasant. But while most of them are bad but
some good, as we hold, you nevertheless call them all good, even though
you would admit that they are unlike one another if someone pressed the
point. What is the common element in the good and bad pleasures that
allows you to call them all good?
PROTARCHUS: What are you saying, Socrates? Do you think anyone will
agree to this who begins by laying it down that pleasure is the good? Do
you think he will accept it when you say that some pleasures are good
but others are bad?
SOCRATES: But you will grant that they are unlike each other and that
some are opposites?
PROTARCHUS: Not insofar as they are pleasures.
SOCRATES: But really, Protarchus, this takes us back to the same old point.
Are we, then, to say that pleasure does not differ from pleasure, but all
are alike? Don’t the examples just given make the slightest impression on
us? Are we to behave and speak in just the same way as those who are
the most incompetent and at the same time newcomers in such discussions?
PROTARCHUS: What way do you mean?
SOCRATES: This: Suppose I imitate you and dare to say, in defense of my
thesis, that the most unlike thing is of all things most like the most unlike;
then I could say the same thing as you did. But this would make us look
quite childish, and our discussion would founder on the rock. Let us
therefore set it afloat again. Perhaps we can reach a mutual accommodation
if each side accepts a similar stance toward its candidate.
PROTARCHUS: Just tell me how.
SOCRATES: Let me be the one questioned in turn by you.
PROTARCHUS: About what?
SOCRATES: About wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and all the things
that I laid down at the beginning as good, when I tried to answer the
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1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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question what is good. Won’t my answer suffer the same consequences
as your thesis did?
PROTARCHUS: How so?
SOCRATES: Taken all together, the branches of knowledge will seem to
be a plurality, and some will seem quite unlike others. And if some of
them turn out in some way actually to be opposites, would I be a worthy
partner in a discussion if I dreaded this so much that I would deny that
one kind of knowledge can be unlike another? That way our whole discussion would come to an end like that of a fairy tale—with us kept safe and
sound through some absurdity.
PROTARCHUS: We must not let that happen, except the part about our
being kept safe and sound. But I am rather pleased by the fact that our
theses are on the same footing. So let it be agreed that there can be many and
unlike kinds of pleasures, but also many and different kinds of knowledge.
SOCRATES: Well, then, let us not cover up the difference between your
good and mine, Protarchus, but put it right in the middle and brave the
possibility that, when put to a closer scrutiny, it will come to light whether
pleasure should be called the good, or wisdom, or yet a third thing. For
we are not contending here out of love of victory for my suggestion to
win or for yours. We ought to act together as allies in support of the
truest one.
PROTARCHUS: We certainly ought to.
SOCRATES: Let us then give even stronger support to our principle by
an agreement.
PROTARCHUS: What principle?
SOCRATES: The one that creates difficulties for everyone, for some willingly, for some, sometimes, against their will.
PROTARCHUS: Explain this more clearly.
SOCRATES: It is this principle that has turned up here, which somehow
has an amazing nature. For that the many are one and the one many are
amazing statements, and can easily be disputed, whichever side of the
two one may want to defend.
PROTARCHUS: Do you mean this in the sense that someone says that I,
Protarchus, am one by nature but then also says that there are many ‘me’s’
and even contrary ones, when he treats me, who am one and the same,
as tall and short, heavy and light, and endless other such things?
SOCRATES: You, dear Protarchus, are speaking about those puzzles about
the one and many that have become commonplace. They are agreed by
everybody, so to speak, to be no longer even worth touching; they are
considered childish and trivial but a serious impediment to argument if
one takes them on. No more worthy is the following quibble: when someone who first distinguishes a person’s limbs and parts asks your agreement
that all these parts are identical with that unity, but then exposes you to
ridicule because of the monstrosities you have to admit, that the one is
many and indefinitely many, and again that the many are only one thing.
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
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Philebus
403
PROTARCHUS: But what other kinds of such puzzles with respect to the
same principle do you have in mind, Socrates, that have not yet admittedly
become commonplace?
SOCRATES: When, my young friend, the one is not taken from the things
that come to be or perish, as we have just done in our example. For that
is where the sort of one belongs that we were just discussing, which we
agreed is not worthy of scrutiny. But when someone tries to posit man as
one, or ox as one, or the beautiful as one, and the good as one, zealous
concern with divisions of these unities and the like gives rise to controversy.
PROTARCHUS: In what sense?
SOCRATES: Firstly, whether one ought to suppose that there are any such
unities truly in existence. Then again, how they are supposed to be: whether
each one of them is always one and the same, admitting neither of generation nor of destruction; and whether it remains most definitely one and
the same, even though it is afterwards found again among the things that
come to be and are unlimited, so that it finds itself as one and the same
in one and many things at the same time.2 And must it be treated as
dispersed and multiplied or as entirely separated from itself, which would
seem most impossible of all? It is these problems of the one and many,
but not those others, Protarchus, that cause all sorts of difficulties if they
are not properly settled, but promise progress if they are.
PROTARCHUS: Is this the first task we should try our hands at right
now, Socrates?
SOCRATES: So I would say at least.
PROTARCHUS: Take it, then, that we all here are agreed with you about
this. As for Philebus, it might be best not to bother him with questions
any further, but let sleeping dogs lie.
SOCRATES: Quite so. Now, where should we make our entry into that
complex and wide-ranging battle about this controversial issue? Is it not
best to start here?
PROTARCHUS: Where?
SOCRATES: By making the point that it is through discourse that the same
thing flits around, becoming one and many in all sorts of ways, in whatever
it may be that is said at any time, both long ago and now. And this will
never come to an end, nor has it just begun, but it seems to me that this
is an “immortal and ageless” condition3 that comes to us with discourse.
Whoever among the young first gets a taste of it is as pleased as if he had
found a treasure of wisdom. He is quite beside himself with pleasure and
2. Reading Burnet’s text, but replacing his interrogation mark at b4 with a comma, on
the assumption that there are two rather than three problems addressed.
3. Socrates uses the customary epithet of the gods (cf. Iliad viii.539) to show how
serious the problem is. The ambiguity of language, whether words have a unitary and
unchangeable meaning, is a serious problem with a flip side that is exploited by the
boys who make fun of it.
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revels in moving every statement, now turning it to one side and rolling
it all up into one, then again unrolling it and dividing it up. He thereby
involves first and foremost himself in confusion, but then also whatever
others happen to be nearby, be they younger or older or of the same age,
sparing neither his father nor his mother nor anyone else who might listen
to him. He would almost try it on other creatures, not only on human
beings, since he would certainly not spare any foreigner if only he could
find an interpreter somewhere.4
PROTARCHUS: Careful, Socrates, don’t you see what a crowd we are and
that we are all young? And are you not afraid that we will gang up against
you with Philebus if you insult us? Still, we know what you want to say,
and if there are some ways and means to remove this kind of disturbance
from our discussion in a peaceful way, and to show us a better solution
to the problem, then just go ahead, and we will follow you as best we
can. For the present question is no mean thing, Socrates.
SOCRATES: It certainly is not, my boys, as Philebus is wont to address
you. Indeed, there is not, nor could there be, any way that is finer than
the one I have always admired, although it has often escaped me and left
me behind, alone and helpless.
PROTARCHUS: What is this way? Let us have it.
SOCRATES: It is not very difficult to describe it, but extremely difficult to
use. For everything in any field of art that has ever been discovered has
come to light because of this. See what way I have in mind.
PROTARCHUS: Please do tell us.
SOCRATES: It is a gift of the gods to men, or so it seems to me, hurled
down from heaven by some Prometheus along with a most dazzling fire.
And the people of old, superior to us and living in closer proximity to the
gods, have bequeathed us this tale, that whatever is said to be consists of
one and many, having in its nature limit and unlimitedness. Since this is
the structure of things, we have to assume that there is in each case always
one form for every one of them, and we must search for it, as we will
indeed find it there. And once we have grasped it, we must look for two,
as the case would have it, or if not, for three or some other number. And
we must treat every one of those further unities in the same way, until it
is not only established of the original unit that it is one, many and unlimited,
but also how many kinds it is. For we must not grant the form of the
unlimited to the plurality before we know the exact number of every
plurality that lies between the unlimited and the one. Only then is it
permitted to release each kind of unity into the unlimited and let it go.
The gods, as I said, have left us this legacy of how to inquire and learn
4. This description of the exploitation of the problem by naughty boys recalls strikingly
(even in the words used) Socrates’ explanation of why boys should not have access to
dialectic (R. 539b). The image there is of a dog tearing around and shredding things to
pieces, while here Socrates seems to be thinking of the spreading out or rolling together
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
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Philebus
405
and teach one another. But nowadays the clever ones among us make a
one, haphazardly, and a many, faster or slower than they should; they go
straight from the one to the unlimited and omit the intermediates. It is
these, however, that make all the difference as to whether we are engaged
with each other in dialectical or only in eristic discourse.
PROTARCHUS: Some of what you said I think I understand in some way,
Socrates, but of some I still need further clarification.
SOCRATES: What I mean is clear in the case of letters, and you should
take your clue from them, since they were part of your own education.
PROTARCHUS: How so?
SOCRATES: The sound that comes out of the mouth is one for each and
every one of us, but then it is also unlimited in number.
PROTARCHUS: No doubt.
SOCRATES: Neither of these two facts alone yet makes us knowledgeable,
neither that we know its unlimitedness nor its unity. But if we know how
many kinds of vocal sounds there are and what their nature is, that makes
every one of us literate.
PROTARCHUS: Very true.
SOCRATES: And the very same thing leads to the knowledge of music.
PROTARCHUS: How is that?
SOCRATES: Sound is also the unit in this art, just as it was in writing.
PROTARCHUS: Yes, right.
SOCRATES: We should posit low and high pitch as two kinds, and equal
pitch as a third kind. Or what would you say?
PROTARCHUS: Just that.
SOCRATES: But you could not yet claim knowledge of music if you knew
only this much, though if you were ignorant even about that, you would
be quite incompetent in these matters, as one might say.
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: But you will be competent, my friend, once you have learned
how many intervals there are in high pitch and low pitch, what character
they have, by what notes the intervals are defined, and the kinds of
combinations they form—all of which our forebears have discovered and
left to us, their successors, together with the names of these modes of
harmony. And again the motions of the body display other and similar
characteristics of this kind, which they say should be measured by numbers
and called rhythms and meters. So at the same time they have made us
realize that every investigation should search for the one and many. For
when you have mastered these things in this way, then you have acquired
expertise there, and when you have grasped the unity of any of the other
things there are, you have become wise about that. The boundless multitude, however, in any and every kind of subject leaves you in boundless
of dough (or perhaps wool). Cf. also the remarks on the feasts for young boys and latelearners in Sophist 252a–c.
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ignorance, and makes you count for nothing and amount to nothing, since
you have never worked out the amount and number of anything at all.
PROTARCHUS: For my part, I think that Socrates has explained all this
very well, Philebus.
PHILEBUS: I agree as far as this question itself goes. But of what use is
all this talk to us, and what is its purpose?
SOCRATES: Philebus is right, Protarchus, when he asks us this question.
PROTARCHUS: Good, so please answer him.
SOCRATES: I will do so when I have gone a little further into the subject
matter. Just as someone who has got hold of some unity or other should
not, as we were saying, immediately look for the unlimited kind but first
look for some number, so the same holds for the reverse case. For if he is
forced to start out with the unlimited, then he should not head straight
for the one, but should in each case grasp some number that determines
every plurality whatever, and from all of those finally reach the one. Let
us again make use of letters to explain what this means.
PROTARCHUS: In what way?
SOCRATES: The way some god or god-inspired man discovered that vocal
sound is unlimited, as tradition in Egypt claims for a certain deity called
Theuth. He was the first to discover that the vowels in that unlimited
variety are not one but several, and again that there are others that are
not voiced, but make some kind of noise, and that they, too, have a number.
As a third kind of letters he established the ones we now call mute. After
this he further subdivided the ones without sound or mutes down to every
single unit. In the same fashion he also dealt with the vowels and the
intermediates, until he had found out the number for each one of them,
and then he gave all of them together the name “letter.” And as he realized
that none of us could gain any knowledge of a single one of them, taken
by itself without understanding them all, he considered that the one link
that somehow unifies them all and called it the art of literacy.
PHILEBUS: Protarchus, I understood this even better than what came
before, at least how it hangs together. But I still find that this explanation
now suffers from the same defect as your earlier one.
SOCRATES: You are wondering again what the relevance of it all is, Philebus?
PHILEBUS: Right, that is what I and Protarchus have been wanting to see
for quite a while.
SOCRATES: But have you not already under your nose what you both, as
you say, have long wanted to see?
PHILEBUS: How could that be?
SOCRATES: Did we not embark on an investigation of knowledge and
pleasure, to find out which of the two is preferable?
PHILEBUS: Yes, indeed.
SOCRATES: And we do say that each of them is one.
PHILEBUS: Right.
SOCRATES: This is the very point in question to which our preceding
discussion obliges us to give an answer: to show how each of them is one
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Philebus
407
and many, and how instead of becoming unlimited straightaway, each
one of them acquires some definite number before it becomes unlimited.
PROTARCHUS: Socrates has plunged us into a considerable problem, Philebus, by leading us around, I don’t know how, in some kind of circle. But
make up your mind which of us should answer the present question. It
would seem quite ridiculous that I, who had volunteered to take over the
thesis from you as your successor, should now hand it back to you because
I don’t have an answer to this question. But it would be even more ridiculous if neither of us could answer it. So what do you think we should do?
Socrates seems to be asking whether there are kinds of pleasures or not,
and how many there are, and of what sort they are. And the same set of
questions applies to knowledge.
SOCRATES: You speak the truth, son of Callias. Unless we are able to do
this for every kind of unity, similarity, sameness, and their opposite, in
the way that our recent discussion has indicated, none of us will ever turn
out to be any good at anything.
PROTARCHUS: I am afraid that this is so. But while it is a great thing for
the wise man to know everything, the second best is not to be mistaken
about oneself, it seems to me. What prompts me to say that at this point?
I will tell you. You, Socrates, have granted this meeting to all of us, and
yourself to boot, in order to find out what is the best of all human possessions. Now, Philebus advocated that it is pleasure, amusement, enjoyment,
and whatever else there is of this kind. You on the contrary denied this
for all of them, but rather proposed those other goods we willingly and
with good reason keep reminding ourselves of, so that they can be tested
as they are lying side by side in our memory. You claim, it seems, that
the good that should by right be called superior to pleasure, at least, is
reason, as well as knowledge, intelligence, science, and everything that is
akin to them, which must be obtained, rather than Philebus’ candidates.
Now, after both these conflicting positions have been set up against each
other, we threatened you in jest that we would not let you go home before
the deliberation of these questions had reached its satisfactory limit. But
since you made a promise and committed yourself to us, we therefore
insist, like children, that there is no taking back a gift properly given. So
give up this way of turning against us in the discussion here.
SOCRATES: What way are you talking about?
PROTARCHUS: Your way of plunging us into difficulties and repeating
questions to which we have at present no proper answer to give you. But
we should not take it that the aim of our meeting is universal confusion;
if we cannot solve the problem, you must do it, for you promised. It is
up to you to decide whether for this purpose you need to divide off
different kinds of pleasure and knowledge or can leave that out, if you
are able and willing to show some other way to settle the issues of our controversy.
SOCRATES: At least there is no longer anything terrible in store for poor
me, since you said it this way. For the clause “if you are willing” takes
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away all further apprehension. In addition, some memory has come to my
mind that one of the gods seems to have sent me to help us.
PROTARCHUS: How is that and what about?
SOCRATES: It is a doctrine that once upon a time I heard in a dream—or
perhaps I was awake—that I remember now, concerning pleasure and
knowledge, that neither of the two is the good, but that there is some third
thing which is different from and superior to both of them. But if we can
clearly conceive now that this is the case, then pleasure has lost its bid for
victory. For the good could no longer turn out to be identical with it. Right?
PROTARCHUS: Right.
SOCRATES: So we will not have to worry any longer, I think, about the
division of the kinds of pleasure. But further progress will show this
more clearly.
PROTARCHUS: Very well said; just push on.
SOCRATES: There are some small matters we ought to agree on first,
though.
PROTARCHUS: What are they?
SOCRATES: Whether the good is necessarily bound to be perfect or not
perfect.
PROTARCHUS: But surely it must be the most perfect thing of all, Socrates!
SOCRATES: Further: must the good be sufficient?
PROTARCHUS: How could it fail to be that? This is how it is superior to
everything else there is.
SOCRATES: Now, this point, I take it, is most necessary to assert of the
good: that everything that has any notion of it hunts for it and desires to
get hold of it and secure it for its very own, caring nothing for anything
else except for what is connected with the acquisition of some good.
PROTARCHUS: There is no way of denying this.
SOCRATES: So let us put the life of pleasure and the life of knowledge on
trial, and reach some verdict by looking at them separately.
PROTARCHUS: In what way do you mean?
SOCRATES: Let there be neither any knowledge in a life of pleasure, nor
any pleasure in that of knowledge. For if either of the two is the good,
then it must have no need of anything in addition. But if one or the other
should turn out to be lacking anything, then this can definitely no longer
be the real good we are looking for.
PROTARCHUS: How could it be?
SOCRATES: So shall we then use you as our test case to try both of them?
PROTARCHUS: By all means.
SOCRATES: Then answer me.
PROTARCHUS: Go ahead.
SOCRATES: Would you find it acceptable to live your whole life in enjoyment of the greatest pleasures?
PROTARCHUS: Why, certainly!
SOCRATES: And would you see yourself in need of anything else if you
had secured this altogether?
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Philebus
409
PROTARCHUS: In no way.
SOCRATES: But look, might you not have some need of knowledge, intelligence, and calculation, or anything else that is related to them?5
PROTARCHUS: How so? If I had pleasure I would have all in all!
SOCRATES: And living like that you could enjoy the greatest pleasures
throughout your life?
PROTARCHUS: Why should I not?
SOCRATES: Since you would not be in possession of either reason, memory,
knowledge, or true opinion, must you not be in ignorance, first of all,
about this very question, whether you were enjoying yourself or not, given
that you were devoid of any kind of intelligence?
PROTARCHUS: Necessarily.
SOCRATES: Moreover, due to lack of memory, it would be impossible for
you to remember that you ever enjoyed yourself, and for any pleasure to
survive from one moment to the next, since it would leave no memory.
But, not possessing right judgment, you would not realize that you are
enjoying yourself even while you do, and, being unable to calculate, you
could not figure out any future pleasures for yourself. You would thus
not live a human life but the life of a mollusk or of one of those creatures
in shells that live in the sea. Is this what would happen, or can we think
of any other consequences besides these?
PROTARCHUS: How could we?
SOCRATES: But is this a life worth choosing?
PROTARCHUS: Socrates, this argument has left me absolutely speechless
for the moment.
SOCRATES: Even so, let us not give in to weakness; let us in turn rather
inspect the life of reason.
PROTARCHUS: What kind of life do you have in mind?
SOCRATES: Whether any one of us would choose to live in possession of
every kind of intelligence, reason, knowledge, and memory of all things,
while having no part, neither large nor small, of pleasure or of pain, living
in total insensitivity of anything of that kind.
PROTARCHUS: To me at least neither of these two forms of life seems
worthy of choice, nor would it to anyone else, I presume.
SOCRATES: But what about a combination of both, Protarchus, a life that
results from a mixture of the two?
PROTARCHUS: You mean a mixture of pleasure with reason and intelligence?
SOCRATES: Right, those are the ingredients I mean.
PROTARCHUS: Everybody would certainly prefer this life to either of the
other two, without exception.
SOCRATES: Do we realize what the upshot of this new development in
our discussion is?
5. Accepting the deletion of ta deonta.
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PROTARCHUS: Certainly, that of the three lives offered to us, two are not
sufficient or worthy of choice for either man or animal.
SOCRATES: As far as they are concerned, is it then not clear at least, that
neither the one nor the other contained the good, since otherwise it would
be sufficient, perfect, and worthy of choice for any of the plants and animals
that can sustain them, throughout their lifetime? And if anyone among us
should choose otherwise, then he would do so involuntarily, in opposition
to what is by nature truly choiceworthy, from ignorance or some unfortunate necessity.
PROTARCHUS: It certainly looks that way.
SOCRATES: Enough has been said, it seems to me, to prove that Philebus’
goddess and the good cannot be regarded as one.6
PHILEBUS: Nor is your reason the good, Socrates, and the same complaint
applies to it.
SOCRATES: It may apply to my reason, Philebus, but certainly not to the
true, the divine reason, I should think. It is in quite a different condition.
But now I am not arguing that reason ought to get first prize over and
against the combined life; we have rather to look and make up our minds
about the second prize, how to dispose of it. One of us may want to give
credit for the combined life to reason, making it responsible, the other to
pleasure. Thus neither of the two would be the good, but it could be
assumed that one or the other of them is its cause. But I would be even
more ready to contend against Philebus that, whatever the ingredient in
the mixed life may be that makes it choiceworthy and good, reason is
more closely related to that thing and more like it than pleasure; and if
this can be upheld, neither first nor second prize could really ever be
claimed for pleasure. She will in fact not even get as much as third prize,
if we can put some trust in my insight for now.
PROTARCHUS: By now it seems to me indeed that pleasure has been
defeated as if knocked down by your present arguments, Socrates. In her
fight for victory, she has fallen. And as for reason, we may say that it
wisely did not compete for first prize, for it would have suffered the
same fate. But if pleasure were also deprived of second prize, she would
definitely be somewhat dishonored in the eyes of her own lovers, nor
would she seem as fair to them as before.
SOCRATES: What, then? Had we not better leave her alone now, rather
than subject her to the most exacting test and give her pain by such
an examination?
PROTARCHUS: You talk nonsense, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Why, because I said the impossible, “giving pain to pleasure”?
PROTARCHUS: Not only that, but because you don’t realize that not one
among us would let you go before you have carried the discussion of these
questions to its end.
6. See 12b ff.
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Philebus
411
SOCRATES: Oh dear, Protarchus, then a long discussion lies ahead of us,
and not exactly an easy one either at this point. For it seems that, in the
battle about the second prize for reason, a different device will be needed,
different armament as it were, from that used in our previous discussion,
though it may partly be the same. Are we to proceed?
PROTARCHUS: Of course.
SOCRATES: Let us be very careful about the starting point we take.
PROTARCHUS: What kind of starting point?
SOCRATES: Let us make a division of everything that actually exists now
in the universe into two kinds, or if this seems preferable, into three.
PROTARCHUS: Could you explain on what principle?
SOCRATES: By taking up some of what has been said before.
PROTARCHUS: Like what?
SOCRATES: We agreed earlier that the god had revealed a division of
what is into the unlimited and the limit.7
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: Let us now take these as two of the kinds, while treating the
one that results from the mixture of these two as our third kind. But I must
look like quite a fool with my distinctions into kinds and enumerations!
PROTARCHUS: What are you driving at?
SOCRATES: That we seem to be in need of yet a fourth kind.
PROTARCHUS: Tell us what it is.
SOCRATES: Look at the cause of this combination of those two together,
and posit it as my fourth kind in addition to those three.
PROTARCHUS: Might you not also be in need of a fifth kind that provides
for their separation?
SOCRATES: Perhaps, but I do not think so, at least for now. But if it turns
out that I need it, I gather you will bear with me if I should search for a
fifth kind.
PROTARCHUS: Gladly.
SOCRATES: Let us first take up three of the four, and since we observe
that of two of them, both are split up and dispersed into many, let’s make
an effort to collect those into a unity again, in order to study how each of
them is in fact one and many.
PROTARCHUS: If you could explain all that more clearly, I might be able
to follow you.
SOCRATES: What I mean is this: The two kinds are the ones I referred to
just now, the unlimited and what has limit. That the unlimited in a way
is many I will try to explain now. The treatment of what has limit will
have to wait a little longer.
PROTARCHUS: Let it wait.
SOCRATES: Attention, then. The matter I am asking you to attend to is
difficult and controversial, but attend to it nevertheless. Check first in the
case of the hotter and the colder whether you can conceive of a limit, or
7. See 16c.
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whether the ‘more and less’ do not rather reside in these kinds, and while
they reside in them do not permit the attainment of any end. For once an
end has been reached, they will both have been ended as well.
PROTARCHUS: Very true.
SOCRATES: We are agreed, then, that the hotter and the colder always
contain the more and less.
PROTARCHUS: Quite definitely.
SOCRATES: Our argument forces us to conclude that these things never
have an end. And since they are endless, they turn out to be entirely unlimited.
PROTARCHUS: Quite strongly so, Socrates.
SOCRATES: You have grasped this rather well, Protarchus, and remind
me rightly with your pronouncement of ‘strongly’ that it and equally its
counterpart ‘gently’ are of the same caliber as the more and less. Wherever
they apply, they prevent everything from adopting a definite quantity; by
imposing on all actions the qualification ‘stronger’ relative to ‘gentler’ or
the reverse, they procure a ‘more and less’ while doing away with all
definite quantity. We are saying now, in effect, that if they do not abolish
definite quantity, but let quantity and measurement take a foothold in the
domain of the more and less, the strong and mild, they will be driven out
of their own territory. For once they take on a definite quantity, they would
no longer be hotter and colder. The hotter and equally the colder are
always in flux and never remain, while definite quantity means standstill
and the end of all progression. The upshot of this argument is that the
hotter, together with its opposite, turn out to be unlimited.
PROTARCHUS: That seems to be its result, Socrates, although, as you said
yourself, it is difficult to follow in these matters. But if they are repeated
again and again, perhaps both questioner and respondent may end up in
a satisfactory state of agreement.
SOCRATES: A good idea; let us carry it out. But consider whether, to avoid
the needless length of going through a complete survey of all cases, the
following indication may serve to mark out the nature of the unlimited.
PROTARCHUS: What indication do you have in mind?
SOCRATES: Whatever seems to us to become ‘more and less’, or susceptible
to ‘strong and mild’ or to ‘too much’ and all of that kind, all that we
ought to subsume under the genus of the unlimited as its unity. This is
in compliance with the principle we agreed on before, that for whatever
is dispersed and split up into a multitude, we must try to work out its
unifying nature as far as we can, if you remember.
PROTARCHUS: I do remember.
SOCRATES: But look now at what does not admit of these qualifications
but rather their opposites, first of all ‘the equal’ and ‘equality’ and, after
the equal, things like ‘double’, and all that is related as number to number
or measure to measure: If we subsume all these together under the heading
of ‘limit’, we would seem to do a fair job. Or what do you say?
PROTARCHUS: A very fair job, Socrates.
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Philebus
413
SOCRATES: Very well, then. But what nature shall we ascribe to the third
kind, the one that is the mixture of the two?
PROTARCHUS: You will have to answer that question for me, I think.
SOCRATES: A god rather, if any of them should listen to my prayers.
PROTARCHUS: So say your prayer, and wait for the result.
SOCRATES: I am waiting, and indeed I have the feeling that one of the
gods is favorably disposed to us now, Protarchus.
PROTARCHUS: What do you mean by that, and what evidence have you?
SOCRATES: I certainly will tell you, but you follow closely what I say.
PROTARCHUS: Just go on.
SOCRATES: We called something hotter and colder just now, didn’t we?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: Now add dryer and wetter to them, and more and less, faster
and slower, taller and shorter, and whatever else we have previously
collected together as the one kind that has the nature of taking on the
‘more and less’.
PROTARCHUS: You mean the nature of the unlimited?
SOCRATES: Yes. Now take the next step and mix with it the class of
the limit.
PROTARCHUS: Which one?
SOCRATES: The very one we have so far omitted to collect together, the
class that has the character of limit, although we ought to have given unity
to it, just as we collected together the unlimited kind. But perhaps it will
come to the same thing even now if, through the collection of these two
kinds, the unity of the former kind becomes conspicuous too.
PROTARCHUS: What kind do you mean, and how is this supposed to work?
SOCRATES: The kind that contains equal and double, and whatever else
puts an end to the conflicts there are among opposites, making them
commensurate and harmonious by imposing a definite number on them.
PROTARCHUS: I understand. I have the impression that you are saying
that, from such mixture in each case, certain generations result?
SOCRATES: Your impression is correct.
PROTARCHUS: Then go on with your explanation.
SOCRATES: Is it not true that in sickness the right combination of the
opposites establishes the state of health?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: And does not the same happen in the case of the high and
the low, the fast and the slow, which belong to the unlimited? Is it not
the presence of these factors in them8 which forges a limit and thereby
creates the different kinds of music in their perfection?
PROTARCHUS: Beautiful!
SOCRATES: And once engendered in frost and heat, limit takes away their
excesses and unlimitedness, and establishes moderation and harmony in
that domain?
8. Retaining eggignomena in the text at 26a3, and leaving out the colon after tauta.
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PROTARCHUS: Quite.
SOCRATES: And when the unlimited and what has limit are mixed together, we are blessed with seasons and all sorts of fine things of that kind?
PROTARCHUS: Who could doubt it?
SOCRATES: And there are countless other things I have to pass by in
silence: With health there come beauty and strength, and again in our soul
there is a host of other excellent qualities. It is the goddess herself, fair
Philebus, who recognizes how excess and the overabundance of our wickedness allow for no limit in our pleasures and their fulfillment, and she
therefore imposes law and order as a limit on them. And while you may
complain that this ruins them, I by contrast call it their salvation. How
does this strike you, Protarchus?
PROTARCHUS: This fits my own intuitions, Socrates.
SOCRATES: These, then, are the three kinds I spoke of, if you see what
I mean.
PROTARCHUS: I think I’ve got it. It seems to me that you are referring to
the unlimited as one kind, to the limit within things as the other, second
kind. But I still do not sufficiently understand what you mean by the third.
SOCRATES: You are simply overwhelmed by the abundance of the third
kind,9 my admirable friend. Although the class of the unlimited also displays a multiplicity, it preserved at least the appearance of unity, since it
was marked out by the common character of the more and less.
PROTARCHUS: That is true.
SOCRATES: About limit, on the other hand, we did not trouble ourselves,10
neither that it has plurality nor whether it is one by nature.
PROTARCHUS: Why should we have done so?
SOCRATES: No reason. But see what I mean by the third kind: I treat all
the joint offspring of the other two kinds as a unity, a coming-into-being
created through the measures imposed by the limit.
PROTARCHUS: I understand.
SOCRATES: But now we have to look at the fourth kind we mentioned
earlier, in addition to these three. Let this be our joint investigation. See
now whether you think it necessary that everything that comes to be comes
to be through some cause?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly, as far as I can see. How could anything come
to be without one?
SOCRATES: And is it not the case that there is no difference between the
nature of what makes and the cause, except in name, so that the maker and
the cause would rightly be called one?
PROTARCHUS: Right.
9. Lit., “of the genesis of the third [kind]”: The third kind is described just below as a
“coming-into-being,” lit. “genesis into [a?] being.” See further 53c–55d below, where the
word for “genesis” is translated “(process of) generation.”
10. Adopting the insertion of hoti before polla at d4.
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Philebus
415
SOCRATES: But what about what is made and what comes into being,
will we not find the same situation, that they also do not differ except
in name?
PROTARCHUS: Exactly.
SOCRATES: And isn’t it the case that what makes is always leading in the
order of nature, while the thing made follows since it comes into being
through it?
PROTARCHUS: Right.
SOCRATES: Therefore the cause and what is subservient to the cause in
a process of coming to be are also different and not the same?
PROTARCHUS: How should they be?
SOCRATES: It follows, then, that what comes to be and that from which
it is produced represent all three kinds?
PROTARCHUS: Very true.
SOCRATES: We therefore declare that the craftsman who produces all
these must be the fourth kind, the cause, since it has been demonstrated
sufficiently that it differs from the others?
PROTARCHUS: It certainly is different.
SOCRATES: Now that the four kinds have been distinguished, it seems
right to go through them one by one, for memory’s sake.
PROTARCHUS: Of course.
SOCRATES: As the first I count the unlimited, limit as the second, afterwards in third place comes the being which is mixed and generated out
of those two. And no mistake is made if the cause of this mixture and
generation is counted as number four?
PROTARCHUS: How could there be one?
SOCRATES: Now, let’s see, what is going to be our next point after this,
and what concern of ours got us to this point? Was it not this? We were
wondering whether second prize should be awarded to pleasure or to
knowledge, wasn’t that it?11
PROTARCHUS: It was indeed.
SOCRATES: On the basis of our fourfold distinction we may now perhaps
be in a better position to come to a decision about the first and the second
prize, the issue that started our whole debate.
PROTARCHUS: Perhaps.
SOCRATES: Let us continue, then. We declared the life that combines
pleasure and knowledge the winner. Didn’t we?
PROTARCHUS: We did.
SOCRATES: Should we not take a look at this life and see what it is and
to which kind it belongs?
PROTARCHUS: Nothing to prevent us.
SOCRATES: We will, I think, assign it to the third kind, for it is not a
mixture of just two elements but of the sort where all that is unlimited is
11. See 22a ff.
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tied down by limit.12 It would seem right, then, to make our victorious
form of life part of that kind.
PROTARCHUS: Very right.
SOCRATES: That is settled, then. But how about your kind of life, Philebus,
which is pleasant and unmixed? To which of the established kinds should
it by right be assigned? But before you make your pronouncement, answer
me the following question.
PHILEBUS: Just tell me!
SOCRATES: Do pleasure and pain have a limit, or are they of the sort that
admit the more and less?
PHILEBUS: Certainly the sort that admit the more, Socrates! For how could
pleasure be all that is good if it were not by nature boundless in plenty
and increase?
SOCRATES: Nor would, on the other hand, pain be all that is bad, Philebus!
So we have to search for something besides its unlimited character that
would bestow on pleasures a share of the good. But take note that pleasure13
is thereby assigned to the boundless. As to assigning intelligence, knowledge, and reason to one of our aforesaid kinds, how can we avoid the
danger of blasphemy, Protarchus and Philebus? A lot seems to hinge on
whether or not we give the right answer to this question.
PHILEBUS: Really now, you are extolling your own god, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Just as you extoll that goddess of yours, Philebus. But the
question needs an answer, nevertheless.
PROTARCHUS: Socrates is right in this, Philebus; we must obey him.
PHILEBUS: Didn’t you choose to speak instead of me?
PROTARCHUS: Quite. But now I am at a loss, and I entreat you, Socrates,
to act as our spokesman, so that we do not misstate the case of your
candidate and thus introduce a false note into the discussion.
SOCRATES: Your obedient servant, Protarchus, especially since it is not a
very difficult task. But did my playful exaltation really confuse you, as
Philebus claims, when I asked to what kind reason and knowledge belonged?
PROTARCHUS: It certainly did, Socrates.
SOCRATES: It is easy to settle, nevertheless. For all the wise are agreed,
in true self-exaltation, that reason is our king, both over heaven and earth.
And perhaps they are justified. But let us go into the discussion of this
class itself at greater length, if you have no objections.
PROTARCHUS: Discuss it in whichever way you like, Socrates, and don’t
be apologetic about longwindedness; we will not lose patience.
SOCRATES: Well said. Let us proceed by taking up this question.
PROTARCHUS: What question?
SOCRATES: Whether we hold the view that the universe and this whole
world order are ruled by unreason and irregularity, as chance would have
12. Reading mikton ekeino.
13. Accepting the correction of touto at 28a3 and retaining the mss. reading of estō.
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Philebus
417
it, or whether they are not rather, as our forebears taught us, governed
by reason and by the order of a wonderful intelligence.
PROTARCHUS: How can you even think of a comparison here, Socrates?
What you suggest now is downright impious, I would say. The only
account that can do justice to the wonderful spectacle presented by the
cosmic order of sun, moon, and stars and the revolution of the whole
heaven, is that reason arranges it all, and I for my part would never waver
in saying or believing it.
SOCRATES: Is this what you want us to do, that we should not only
conform to the view of earlier thinkers who professed this as the truth,
repeating without any risk what others have said, but that we should share
their risk and blame if some formidable opponent denies it and argues
that disorder rules?
PROTARCHUS: How could I fail to want it?
SOCRATES: Well, then, now face up to the consequences of this position
that we have to come to terms with.
PROTARCHUS: Please tell me.
SOCRATES: We somehow discern that what makes up the nature of the
bodies of all animals—fire, water, and air, “and earth!,” as storm-battered
sailors say—are part of their composition.
PROTARCHUS: Very much so. We are indeed battered by difficulties in
our discussion.
SOCRATES: Come, now, and realize that the following applies to all constituents that belong to us.
PROTARCHUS: What is it?
SOCRATES: That the amount of each of these elements in us is small and
insignificant, that it does not possess in the very least the purity or the
power that is worthy of its nature. Take one example as an illustration
representative for all. There is something called fire that belongs to us,
and then again there is fire in the universe.
PROTARCHUS: No doubt.
SOCRATES: And is not the fire that belongs to us small in amount, feeble
and poor, while the fire in the universe overwhelms us by its size and
beauty and by the display of all its power?
PROTARCHUS: What you say is very true.
SOCRATES: But what about this? Is the fire in the universe generated,
nourished, and ruled by the fire that belongs to us, or is it not quite the
reverse, that your heat and mine, and that in every animal, owe all this
to the cosmic fire?
PROTARCHUS: It is not even worth answering that question.
SOCRATES: Right. And I guess you will give the same answer about the
earth here in the animals when it is compared to earth in the universe,
and likewise about the other elements I mentioned a little earlier. Is that
your answer?
PROTARCHUS: Who could answer differently without seeming insane?
SOCRATES: No one at all. But now see what follows. To the combination
of all these elements taken as a unit we give the name “body,” don’t we?
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PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: Now, realize that the same holds in the case of what we call
the ordered universe. It will turn out to be a body in the same sense, since
it is composed of the same elements.
PROTARCHUS: What you say is undeniable.
SOCRATES: Does the body of the universe as a whole provide for the
sustenance of what is body in our sphere, or is it the reverse, and the
universe possesses and derives all the goods enumerated from ours?
PROTARCHUS: That too is a question not worth asking, Socrates.
SOCRATES: But what about the following, is this also a question not
worth asking?
PROTARCHUS: Tell me what the question is.
SOCRATES: Of the body that belongs to us, will we not say that it has a soul?
PROTARCHUS: Quite obviously that is what we will say.
SOCRATES: But where does it come from, unless the body of the universe
which has the same properties as ours, but more beautiful in all respects,
happens to possess a soul?
PROTARCHUS: Clearly from nowhere else.
SOCRATES: We surely cannot maintain this assumption, with respect to
our four classes (limit, the unlimited, their mixture, and their cause—which
is present in everything): that this cause is recognized as all-encompassing
wisdom, since among us it imports the soul and provides training for the
body and medicine for its ailments and in other cases order and restitution,
but that it should fail to be responsible for the same things on a large scale
in the whole universe (things that are, in addition, beautiful and pure),
for the contrivance of what has so fair and wonderful a nature.
PROTARCHUS: That would make no sense at all.
SOCRATES: But if that is inconceivable, we had better pursue the alternative
account and affirm, as we have said often, that there is plenty of the
unlimited in the universe as well as sufficient limit, and that there is, above
them, a certain cause, of no small significance, that orders and coordinates
the years, seasons, and months, and which has every right to the title of
wisdom and reason.
PROTARCHUS: The greatest right.
SOCRATES: But there could be no wisdom and reason without a soul.
PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.
SOCRATES: You will therefore say that in the nature of Zeus there is the
soul of a king, as well as a king’s reason, in virtue of this power displayed
by the cause, while paying tribute for other fine qualities in the other
divinities, in conformity with the names by which they like to be addressed.
PROTARCHUS: Very much so.
SOCRATES: Do not think that we have engaged in an idle discussion here,
Protarchus, for it comes as a support for the thinkers of old who held the
view that reason is forever the ruler over the universe.
PROTARCHUS: It certainly does.
SOCRATES: It also has provided an answer to my query, that reason
belongs to that kind which is the cause of everything. But that was one
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Philebus
419
of our four kinds. So there you already have the solution to our problem
in your hands.
PROTARCHUS: I have indeed, and quite to my satisfaction, although at
first I did not realize that you were answering.
SOCRATES: Sometimes joking is a relief from seriousness.
PROTARCHUS: Well said.
SOCRATES: By now, dear friend, we have arrived at a satisfactory explanation of the class that reason belongs to and what power it has.
PROTARCHUS: Quite so.
SOCRATES: And as to pleasure, it became apparent quite a while ago what
class it belongs to.
PROTARCHUS: Definitely.
SOCRATES: Let us firmly keep it in mind about both of them, that reason
is akin to cause and is part of that family, while pleasure itself is unlimited
and belongs to the kind that in and by itself neither possesses nor will
ever possess a beginning, middle, or end.
PROTARCHUS: We will keep it in mind, how could we help it?
SOCRATES: After this we must next find out in what kind of thing each
of them resides and what kind of condition makes them come to be when
they do. Let us take pleasure first, for just as we searched for the class it
belongs to first, so we start our present investigation with it. But again,
we will not be able to provide a satisfactory examination of pleasure if
we do not study it together with pain.
PROTARCHUS: If that is the direction we have to take, then let’s go that way.
SOCRATES: Do you share my view about their generation?
PROTARCHUS: What view?
SOCRATES: Pleasure and pain seem to me by nature to arise together in
the common kind.
PROTARCHUS: Could you remind us once again, Socrates, which of those
you mentioned you called the common kind?
SOCRATES: As far as I can, my most esteemed friend.
PROTARCHUS: That is noble of you.
SOCRATES: By the common kind, we meant the one that was number
three on our list of four.
PROTARCHUS: You mean the one you introduced after the unlimited and
the limited, the one that included health, and also harmony, I believe?
SOCRATES: Excellently stated. But now try to put your mind to this as
much as possible.
PROTARCHUS: Just go on.
SOCRATES: What I claim is that when we find the harmony in living
creatures disrupted, there will at the same time be a disintegration of their
nature and a rise of pain.
PROTARCHUS: What you say is very plausible.
SOCRATES: But if the reverse happens, and harmony is regained and the
former nature restored, we have to say that pleasure arises, if we must
pronounce only a few words on the weightiest matters in the shortest
possible time.
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PROTARCHUS: I believe that you are right, Socrates, but why don’t we try
to be more explicit about this very point?
SOCRATES: Well, is it not child’s play to understand the most ordinary
and well-known cases?
PROTARCHUS: What cases do you mean?
SOCRATES: Hunger, I take it, is a case of disintegration and pain?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: And eating, the corresponding refilling, is a pleasure?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: But thirst is, once again, a destruction and pain, while the
process that fills what is dried out with liquid is pleasure? And, further,
unnatural separation and dissolution, the affection caused by heat, is pain,
while the natural restoration of cooling down is pleasure?
PROTARCHUS: Very much so.
SOCRATES: And the unnatural coagulation of the fluids in an animal
through freezing is pain, while the natural process of their dissolution or
redistribution is pleasure. To cut matters short, see whether the following
account seems acceptable to you. When the natural combination of limit
and unlimitedness that forms a live organism, as I explained before, is
destroyed, this destruction is pain, while the return towards its own nature,
this general restoration, is pleasure.
PROTARCHUS: So be it, for it seems to provide at least an outline.
SOCRATES: Shall we then accept this as one kind of pleasure and pain,
what happens in either of these two kinds of processes?
PROTARCHUS: Accepted.
SOCRATES: But now accept also the anticipation by the soul itself of these
two kinds of experiences; the hope before the actual pleasure will be
pleasant and comforting, while the expectation of pain will be frightening
and painful.
PROTARCHUS: This turns out then to be a different kind of pleasure and
pain, namely the expectation that the soul experiences by itself, without
the body.
SOCRATES: Your assumption is correct. In both these cases, as I see it at least,
pleasure and pain will arise pure and unmixed with each other, so that it
will become apparent as far as pleasure is concerned whether its whole class
is to be welcomed or whether this should rather be the privilege of one of
the other classes which we have already discussed. Pleasure and pain may
rather turn out to share the predicament of hot and cold and other such things
that are welcome at one point but unwelcome at another, because they are
not good, but it happens that some of them do occasionally assume a beneficial nature.
PROTARCHUS: You are quite right if you suggest that this must be the
direction to take if we want to find a solution to what we are looking
for now.
SOCRATES: First, then, let us take a look together at the following point.
If it truly holds, as we said, that their disintegration constitutes pain, but
restoration is pleasure, what kind of state should we ascribe to animals
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Philebus
421
when they are neither destroyed nor restored; what kind of condition is
this? Think about it carefully, and tell me: Is there not every necessity that
the animal will at that time experience neither pain nor pleasure, neither
large nor small?
PROTARCHUS: That is indeed necessary.
SOCRATES: There is, then, such a condition, a third one, besides the one
in which one is pleased or in which one is in pain?
PROTARCHUS: Obviously.
SOCRATES: Make an effort to keep this fact in mind. For it makes quite
a difference for our judgment of pleasure whether we remember that there
is such a state or not. But we had better give it a little more consideration,
if you don’t mind.
PROTARCHUS: Just tell me how.
SOCRATES: You realize that nothing prevents the person who has chosen
the life of reason from living in this state.
PROTARCHUS: You mean without pleasure and pain?
SOCRATES: It was one of the conditions agreed on in our comparison of
lives that the person who chooses the life of reason and intelligence must
not enjoy pleasures either large or small.
PROTARCHUS: That was indeed agreed on.
SOCRATES: He may then live in this fashion, and perhaps there would
be nothing absurd if this life turns out to be the most godlike.
PROTARCHUS: It is at any rate not likely that the gods experience either
pleasure or the opposite.
SOCRATES: It is certainly not likely. For either of these states would be
quite unseemly in their case. But this is a question we had better take up
again later if it should be relevant to our discussion, but let us count it as
an additional point in favor of reason in the competition for second prize,
even if we cannot count it in that for first prize.
PROTARCHUS: A very good suggestion.
SOCRATES: But now as for the other kind of pleasure, of which we said
that it belongs to the soul itself. It depends entirely on memory.
PROTARCHUS: In what way?
SOCRATES: It seems we have first to determine what kind of a thing
memory is; in fact I am afraid that we will have to determine the nature
of perception even before that of memory, if the whole subject matter is
to become at all clear to us in the right way.
PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?
SOCRATES: You must realize that some of the various affections of the
body are extinguished within the body before they reach the soul, leaving
it unaffected. Others penetrate through both body and soul and provoke
a kind of upheaval that is peculiar to each but also common to both of them.
PROTARCHUS: I realize that.
SOCRATES: Are we fully justified if we claim that the soul remains oblivious of those affections that do not penetrate both, while it is not oblivious
of those that penetrate both?
PROTARCHUS: Of course we are justified.
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SOCRATES: But you must not so misunderstand me as to suppose I meant
that this ‘obliviousness’ gave rise to any kind of forgetting. Forgetting is
rather the loss of memory, but in the case in question here no memory
has yet arisen. It would be absurd to say that there could be the process
of losing something that neither is nor was in existence, wouldn’t it?
PROTARCHUS: Quite definitely.
SOCRATES: You only have to make some change in names, then.
PROTARCHUS: How so?
SOCRATES: Instead of saying that the soul is oblivious when it remains
unaffected by the disturbances of the body, now change the name of what
you so far called obliviousness to that of nonperception.
PROTARCHUS: I understand.
SOCRATES: But when the soul and body are jointly affected and moved
by one and the same affection, if you call this motion perception, you would
say nothing out of the way.
PROTARCHUS: You are right.
SOCRATES: And so we know by now what we mean by perception?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: So if someone were to call memory the ‘preservation of perception’, he would be speaking correctly, as far as I am concerned.
PROTARCHUS: Rightly so.
SOCRATES: And do we not hold that recollection differs from memory?
PROTARCHUS: Perhaps.
SOCRATES: Does not their difference lie in this?
PROTARCHUS: In what?
SOCRATES: Do we not call it ‘recollection’ when the soul recalls as much
as possible by itself, without the aid of the body, what she had once
experienced together with the body? Or how would you put it?
PROTARCHUS: I quite agree.
SOCRATES: But on the other hand, when, after the loss of memory of
either a perception or again a piece of knowledge, the soul calls up this
memory for itself, we also call all these events recollection.
PROTARCHUS: You are right.
SOCRATES: The point for the sake of which all this has been said is
the following.
PROTARCHUS: What is it?
SOCRATES: That we grasp as fully and clearly as possible the pleasure
that the soul experiences without the body, as well as the desire. And
through a clarification of these states, the nature of both pleasure and
desire will somehow be revealed.
PROTARCHUS: Let us now discuss this as our next issue, Socrates.
SOCRATES: It seems that in our investigation we have to discuss many points
about the origin of pleasure and about all its different varieties. For it looks
as if we will first have to determine what desire is and on what occasion
it arises.
PROTARCHUS: Let us determine that, then. We have nothing to lose.
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Philebus
423
SOCRATES: We will certainly lose something, Protarchus; by discovering
what we are looking for now, we will lose our ignorance about it.
PROTARCHUS: You rightly remind us of that fact. But now let us try to
return to the further pursuit of our subject.
SOCRATES: Are we agreed now that hunger and thirst and many other
things of this sort are desires?
PROTARCHUS: Quite in agreement.
SOCRATES: But what is the common feature whose recognition allows us
to address all these phenomena, which differ so much, by the same name?
PROTARCHUS: Heavens, that is perhaps not an easy thing to determine,
Socrates, but it must be done nevertheless.
SOCRATES: Shall we go back to the same point of departure?
PROTARCHUS: What point?
SOCRATES: When we say “he is thirsty,” we always have something
in mind?
PROTARCHUS: We do.
SOCRATES: Meaning that he is getting empty?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: But thirst is a desire?
PROTARCHUS: Yes, the desire for drink.
SOCRATES: For drink or for the filling with drink?
PROTARCHUS: For the filling with drink, I think.
SOCRATES: Whoever among us is emptied, it seems, desires the opposite
of what he suffers. Being emptied, he desires to be filled.
PROTARCHUS: That is perfectly obvious.
SOCRATES: But what about this problem? If someone is emptied for the
first time, is there any way he could be in touch with filling, either through
sensation or memory, since he has no experience of it, either in the present
or ever in the past?
PROTARCHUS: How should he?
SOCRATES: But we do maintain that he who has a desire desires something?
PROTARCHUS: Naturally.
SOCRATES: He does, then, not have a desire for what he in fact experiences.
For he is thirsty, and this is a process of emptying. His desire is rather
of filling.
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: Something in the person who is thirsty must necessarily somehow be in contact with filling.
PROTARCHUS: Necessarily.
SOCRATES: But it is impossible that this should be the body, for the body
is what is emptied out.
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: The only option we are left with is that the soul makes contact
with the filling, and it clearly must do so through memory. Or could it
make contact through anything else?
PROTARCHUS: Clearly through nothing else.
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SOCRATES: Do we understand, then, what conclusions we have to draw
from what has been said?
PROTARCHUS: What are they?
SOCRATES: Our argument forces us to conclude that desire is not a matter
of the body.
PROTARCHUS: Why is that?
SOCRATES: Because it shows that every living creature always strives
towards the opposite of its own experience.
PROTARCHUS: And very much so.
SOCRATES: This impulse, then, that drives it towards the opposite of its
own state signifies that it has memory of that opposite state?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: By pointing out that it is this memory that directs it towards
the objects of its desires, our argument has established that every impulse,
and desire, and the rule over the whole animal is the domain of the soul.
PROTARCHUS: Very much so.
SOCRATES: Our argument will, then, never allow that it is our body that
experiences thirst, hunger, or anything of that sort.
PROTARCHUS: Absolutely not.
SOCRATES: There is yet a further point we have to consider that is connected with these same conditions. For our discussion seems to me to
indicate that there is a form of life that consists of these conditions.
PROTARCHUS: What does it consist of, and what form of life are you
talking about?
SOCRATES: It consists of filling and emptying and all such processes as
are related to both the preservation and the destruction of animals. And
when one of us is in either of the two conditions, he is in pain, or again
he experiences pleasure, depending on the nature of these changes.
PROTARCHUS: That is indeed what happens.
SOCRATES: But what if someone finds himself in between these two affections?
PROTARCHUS: What do you mean by “in between”?
SOCRATES: When he is pained by his condition and remembers the pleasant things that would put an end to the pain, but is not yet being filled.
What about this situation? Should we claim that he is then in between
these two affections, or not?
PROTARCHUS: We should claim that.
SOCRATES: And should we say that the person is altogether in pain
or pleasure?
PROTARCHUS: By heaven, he seems to me to be suffering a twofold pain;
one consists in the body’s condition, the other in the soul’s desire caused
by the expectation.
SOCRATES: How do you mean that there is a twofold pain, Protarchus?
Does it not sometimes happen that one of us is emptied at one particular
time, but is in clear hope of being filled, while at another time he is, on
the contrary, without hope?
PROTARCHUS: It certainly happens.
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Philebus
425
SOCRATES: And don’t you think that he enjoys this hope for replenishment
when he remembers, while he is simultaneously in pain because he has
been emptied at that time?
PROTARCHUS: Necessarily.
SOCRATES: This is, then, the occasion when a human being and other
animals are simultaneously undergoing pain and pleasure.
PROTARCHUS: It seems so.
SOCRATES: But what if he is without hope of attaining any replenishment
when he is emptied? Is not that the situation where this twofold pain
occurs, which you have just come across and simply taken to be twofold?
PROTARCHUS: That is quite undeniable, Socrates.
SOCRATES: Now let us apply the results of our investigation of these
affections to this purpose.
PROTARCHUS: What is it?
SOCRATES: Shall we say that these pains and pleasures are true or false,
or rather that some of them are true, but not others?
PROTARCHUS: But how could there be false pleasures or pains, Socrates?
SOCRATES: Well, how could there be true or false fears, true or false
expectations, true or false judgments, Protarchus?
PROTARCHUS: For judgments I certainly would be ready to admit it, but
not for the other cases.
SOCRATES: What is that you are saying? I am afraid we are stirring up
a weighty controversy here.
PROTARCHUS: You are right.
SOCRATES: But if it is relevant to what we were discussing before, you
worthy son of that man, it ought to be taken up.
PROTARCHUS: Perhaps, in that case.
SOCRATES: We have to forego any excursions here or any discussion of
whatever side issues are not directly relevant to our topic.
PROTARCHUS: Right.
SOCRATES: But tell me this, for I have lived in continued perplexity about
the difficulty we have come across now. What is your view? Are there not
false pleasures, as well as true ones?
PROTARCHUS: How should there be?
SOCRATES: Do you really want to claim that there is no one who, either
in a dream or awake, either in madness or any other delusion, sometimes
believes he is enjoying himself, while in reality he is not doing so, or
believes he is in pain while he is not?
PROTARCHUS: We all assume that this is indeed the case, Socrates.
SOCRATES: But rightly so? Should we not rather take up the question
whether or not this claim is justified?
PROTARCHUS: We should take it up, as I at least would say.
SOCRATES: Let us try to achieve more clarity about what we said concerning pleasure and judgment. Is there something we call judging?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: And is there also taking pleasure?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
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SOCRATES: But there is also what the judgment is about?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: And also what the pleasure is about?
PROTARCHUS: Very much so.
SOCRATES: But what makes a judgment, whether it judges rightly or not,
cannot be deprived of really making a judgment.
PROTARCHUS: How should it?
SOCRATES: And what takes pleasure, whether it is rightly pleased or not,
can obviously never be deprived of really taking pleasure.
PROTARCHUS: Yes, that is also the case.
SOCRATES: But what we have to question is how it is that judgment is
usually either true or false, while pleasure admits only truth, even though
in both cases there is equally real judgment and real pleasure.
PROTARCHUS: We have to question that.
SOCRATES: Is it that judgment takes on the additional qualification of true
and false and is thus not simply judgment, but also has either one of these
two qualities? Would you say that is a point we have to look into?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: And furthermore, whether quite generally certain things allow
extra qualifications, while pleasure and pain are simply what they are and
do not take on any qualifications. About that we also have to come to
an agreement.
PROTARCHUS: Obviously.
SOCRATES: But at least it is not difficult to see that they, too, take on
qualifications. For we said earlier that both of them, pleasures as well as
pains, can be great and small, and also have intensity.
PROTARCHUS: We certainly did.
SOCRATES: But if some bad state should attach itself to any of them, then
we would say that the judgment becomes a bad one, and the pleasure
becomes bad too, Protarchus?
PROTARCHUS: Naturally, Socrates.
SOCRATES: But what if some rightness or the opposite of rightness are
added to something, would we not call the judgment right, if it were right,
and the pleasure too?
PROTARCHUS: Necessarily.
SOCRATES: And if a mistake is made about the object of judgment, then
we say that the judgment that makes that mistake is not right and does
not judge rightly?
PROTARCHUS: How could it?
SOCRATES: But what if we notice that a pain or pleasure is mistaken in
what it is pleased or pained about, shall we then call it right or proper or
give it other names of praise?
PROTARCHUS: That would be impossible, if indeed pleasure should be mistaken.
SOCRATES: As to pleasure, it certainly often seems to arise in us not with
a right, but with a false, judgment.
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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Philebus
427
PROTARCHUS: Of course. But what we call false in this case at that point
is the judgment, Socrates; nobody would dream of calling the pleasure
itself false.
SOCRATES: You certainly put up a spirited defense for pleasure now, Protarchus!
PROTARCHUS: Not at all; I only repeat what I hear.
SOCRATES: Is there no difference between the pleasure that goes with
right judgment and knowledge and the kind that often comes to any of
us with false judgment and ignorance?
PROTARCHUS: There’s probably no small difference.
SOCRATES: So let us turn to inspect the difference between them.
PROTARCHUS: Lead on where you like.
SOCRATES: I lead you this way.
PROTARCHUS: What way?
SOCRATES: Of our judgment we say that it is sometimes false, and sometimes true?
PROTARCHUS: It is.
SOCRATES: And as we said just now, these are often accompanied by
pleasure and pain. I am talking of true and false judgment.
PROTARCHUS: That’s right.
SOCRATES: And is it not memory and perception that lead to judgment
or the attempt to come to a definite judgment, as the case may be?
PROTARCHUS: Indeed.
SOCRATES: Do we agree that the following must happen here?
PROTARCHUS: What?
SOCRATES: Wouldn’t you say that it often happens that someone who
cannot get a clear view because he is looking from a distance wants to
make up his mind about what he sees?
PROTARCHUS: I would say so.
SOCRATES: And might he then not again raise another question for
himself?
PROTARCHUS: What question?
SOCRATES: “What could that be that appears to stand near that rock under
a tree?”—Do you find it plausible that someone might say these words to
himself when he sets his eyes on such appearances?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: And might he not afterwards, as an answer to his own
question, say to himself, “It is a man,” and in so speaking, would get it
right?
PROTARCHUS: No doubt.
SOCRATES: But he might also be mistaken and say that what he sees is
a statue, the work of some herdsmen?
PROTARCHUS: Very likely.
SOCRATES: But if he were in company, he might actually say out loud to
his companion what he had told himself, and so what we earlier called
judgment would turn into an assertion?
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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PROTARCHUS: To be sure.
SOCRATES: Whereas if he is alone, he entertains this thought by himself,
and sometimes he may even resume his way for quite a long time with
the thought in his mind?
PROTARCHUS: No doubt.
SOCRATES: But look, do you share my view on this?
PROTARCHUS: What view?
SOCRATES: That our soul in such a situation is comparable to a book?
PROTARCHUS: How so?
SOCRATES: If memory and perceptions concur with other impressions at
a particular occasion, then they seem to me to inscribe words in our soul,
as it were. And if what is written is true, then we form a true judgment
and a true account of the matter. But if what our scribe writes is false,
then the result will be the opposite of the truth.
PROTARCHUS: I quite agree, and I accept this way of putting it.
SOCRATES: Do you also accept that there is another craftsman at work in
our soul at the same time?
PROTARCHUS: What kind of craftsman?
SOCRATES: A painter who follows the scribe and provides illustrations
to his words in the soul.
PROTARCHUS: How and when do we say he does this work?
SOCRATES: When a person takes his judgments and assertions directly
from sight or any other sense-perception and then views the images he
has formed inside himself, corresponding to those judgments and assertions. Or is it not something of this sort that is going on in us?
PROTARCHUS: Quite definitely.
SOCRATES: And are not the pictures of the true judgments and assertions
true, and the pictures of the false ones false?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: If we have been right with what we have said so far, let us
in addition come to terms about this question.
PROTARCHUS: What about?
SOCRATES: Whether these experiences are necessarily confined to the past
and the present, but are not extended into the future.
PROTARCHUS: They should apply equally to all the tenses: past, present,
and future.
SOCRATES: Now, did we not say before, about the pleasures and pains
that belong to the soul alone, that they might precede those that go through
the body? It would therefore be possible that we have anticipatory pleasures and pains about the future.
PROTARCHUS: Undeniably.
SOCRATES: And are those writings and pictures which come to be in us,
as we said earlier, concerned only with the past and the present, but not
with the future?
PROTARCHUS: Decidedly with the future.
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from ucsd on 2022-06-01 05:57:42.
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Philebus
429
SOCRATES: If you say ‘decidedly’, is it because all of them are really
hopes for future times, and we are forever brimful of hopes, throughout
our lifetime?
PROTARCHUS: Quite definitely.
SOCRATES: Well, then, in addition to what has been said now, also answer
this question.
PROTARCHUS: Concerning what?
SOCRATES: Is not a man who is just, pious, and good in all respects, also
loved by the gods?
PROTARCHUS: How could he fail to be?
SOCRATES: But what about someone who is unjust and in all respects
evil? Isn’t he that man’s opposite?
PROTARCHUS: Of course.
SOCRATES: And is not everyone, as we just said, always full of many
hopes?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: There are, then, assertions in each of us that we call hopes?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
SOCRATES: But there are also those painted images. And someone often
envisages himself in the possession of an enormous amount of gold and
of a lot of pleasures as a consequence. And in addition, he also sees, in
this inner picture himself, that he is beside himself with delight.
PROTARCHUS: What else!
SOCRATES: Now, do we want to say that in the case of good people these
pictures are usually true, because they are dear to the gods, while quite
the opposite usually holds in the case of wicked ones, or is this not what
we ought to say?
PROTARCHUS: That is just what we ought to say.
SOCRATES: And wicked people nevertheless have pleasures painted in
their minds, even though they are somehow false?
PROTARCHUS: Right.
SOCRATES: So wicked people as a rule enjoy false pleasures, but the good
among mankind true ones?
PROTARCHUS: Quite necessarily so.
SOCRATES: From what has now been said, it follows that there are false
pleasures in human souls that are quite ridiculous imitations of true ones,
and also such pains.
PROTARCHUS: There certainly are.
SOCRATES: Now, it was agreed that whoever judges anything at all is
always really judging, even if it is not about anything existing in the present,
past, or future.
PROTARCHUS: Right.
SOCRATES: And these were, I think, the conditions that produce a false
judgment and judging falsely, weren’t they?
PROTARCHUS: Yes.
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
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SOCRATES: But should we not also grant to pleasures and pains a condition
that is analogous in these ways?
PROTARCHUS: In what ways?
SOCRATES: In the sense that whoever has any pleasure at all, however
ill-founded it may be, really does have pleasure, even if sometimes it is
not about anything that either is the case or ever was the case, or often
(or perhaps most of the time) refers to anything that ever will be the case.
PROTARCHUS: That also must necessarily be so.
SOCRATES: And the same account holds in the case of fear, anger, and
everything of that sort, namely that all of them can at times be false?
PROTARCHUS: Certainly.
SOCRATES: Well, then, do we have any other way of distinguishing between bad and good judgments than their falsity?
PROTARCHUS: We have no other.
SOCRATES: Nor, I presume, will we find any other way to account for
badness in the case of pleasures unless they are false.
PROTARCHUS: What you say is quite the opposite of the truth, Socrates!
It is not at all because they are false that we regard pleasures or pains as
bad, but because there is some other grave and wide-ranging kind of
badness involved.
SOCRATES: But let us discuss bad pleasures and what badness there is in
their case a little later, if we still feel like it. Now we have to take up false
pleasures in another sense and show that there is a great variety that arise
and are at work in us. This argument will perhaps come in handy later,
when we have to make our decisions.
PROTARCHUS: That may well be so, at least if there are any such pleasures.
SOCRATES: There certainly are, Protarchus; I at least am convinced. But until
this is our accepted opinion, we cannot leave this conviction unexamined.
PROTARCHUS: Right.
SOCRATES: So let us get ready like athletes to form a line of attack around
this problem.
PROTARCHUS: Here we go.
SOCRATES: We did say a short while ago in our discussion, as we may
recall, that when what we call desires are in us, then body and soul part
company and have each their separate experiences.
PROTARCHUS: We do remember, that was said before.
SOCRATES: And wasn’t it the soul that had desires, desires for conditions
opposite to the actual ones of the body, while it was the body that undergoes
the pain or the pleasure of some affection?
PROTARCHUS: That was indeed so.
SOCRATES: Draw your conclusions as to what is going on here.
PROTARCHUS: You tell me.
SOCRATES: What happens is this: Under these circumstances pains and
pleasures exist side by side, and there are simultaneously opposite perceptions of them, as we have just made clear.
PROTARCHUS: Yes, that is clear.
Plato. Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper, and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated,
1997. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from ucsd on 2022-06-01 05:57:42.
Copyright © 1997. Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Philebus
431
SOCRATES: But did we not also discuss this point and come to an agreement how to settle it earlier?
PROTARCHUS: What point?
SOCRATES: That the two of them, both pleasure and pain, admit the more
and less and belong to the unlimited kind?
PROTARCHUS: That was what we said. What about it?
SOCRATES: Do we have any means of making a right decision about
these matters?
PROTARCHUS: Where and in what respect?
SOCRATES: In the case where we intend to come to a decision about any
of them in such circumstances, which one is greater or smaller, or which
one is more intensive or stronger: pain compared to pleasure, or pain
compared to pain, or pleasure to pleasure.
PROTARCHUS: Yes, these questions do arise, and that is what we want
to decide.
SOCRATES: Well, then, does it happen only to eyesight that seeing objects
from afar or close by distorts the truth and causes false judgments? …
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