Hedonism and the Pleasureless Life in Plato's Philebus in: Phronesis Volume 45 Issue 4 Year
Print publication date: Print ISBN Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April DOI: /acprof:oso/ 1 Online dating has lost much of its stigma, and a majority of Americans now say online dating is a good way to meet people. When we first studied online dating. Online Publication Date: 01 Jan At the very end of Plato's Philebus Socrates and Protarchus place the goods of a human life in a hierarchy (66ab ).
Let us consider, then, what we are to do: Most true, O son of Callias; and the previous argument showed that if we are not able to tell the kinds of everything that has unity, likeness, sameness, or their opposites, none of us will be of the smallest use in any enquiry. That seems to be very near the truth, Socrates. Happy would the wise man be if he knew all things, and the next best thing for him is that he should know himself.
Why do I say so at this moment? I will tell you. You, Socrates, have granted us this opportunity of conversing with you, and are ready to assist us in determining what is the best of human goods. For when Philebus said that pleasure and delight and enjoyment and the like were the chief good, you answered-No, not those, but another class of goods; and we are constantly reminding ourselves of what you said, and very properly, in order that we may not forget to examine and compare the two.
And these goods, which in your opinion are to be designated as superior to pleasure, and are the true objects of pursuit, are mind and knowledge and understanding and art and the like.
There was a dispute about which were the best, and we playfully threatened that you should not be allowed to go home until the question was settled; and you agreed, and placed yourself at our disposal. And now, as children say, what has been fairly given cannot be taken back; cease then to fight against us in this way. Do not perplex us, and keep asking questions of us to which we have not as yet any sufficient answer to give; let us not imagine that a general puzzling of us all is to be the end of our discussion, but if we are unable to answer, do you answer, as you have promised.
Consider, then, whether you will divide pleasure and knowledge according to their kinds; or you may let the matter drop, if you are able and willing to find some other mode of clearing up our controversy.
The Ranking of the Goods at Philebus 66ab in: Phronesis Volume 55 Issue 2 Year
If you say that, I have nothing to apprehend, for the words "if you are willing" dispel all my fear; and, moreover, a god seems to have recalled something to my mind. I remember to have heard long ago certain discussions about pleasure and wisdom, whether awake or in a dream I cannot tell; they were to the effect that neither the one nor the other of them was the good, but some third thing, which was different from them, and better than either. If this be clearly established, then pleasure will lose the victory, for the good will cease to be identified with her: And there will cease to be any need of distinguishing the kinds of pleasures, as I am inclined to think, but this will appear more clearly as we proceed.
Capital, Socrates; pray go on as you propose. But, let us first agree on some little points. Is the good perfect or imperfect? The most perfect, Socrates, of all things.
And is the good sufficient? Yes, certainly, and in a degree surpassing all other things. And no one can deny that all percipient beings desire and hunt after good, and are eager to catch and have the good about them, and care not for the attainment of anything which its not accompanied by good. Now let us part off the life of pleasure from the life of wisdom, and pass them in review.
Let there be no wisdom in the life of pleasure, nor any pleasure in the life of wisdom, for if either of them is the chief good, it cannot be supposed to want anything, but if either is shown to want anything, then it cannot really be the chief good.
And will you help us to test these two lives? Would you choose, Protarchus, to live all your life long in the enjoyment of the greatest pleasures? Would you consider that there was still anything wanting to you if you had perfect pleasure? Reflect; would you not want wisdom and intelligence and forethought, and similar qualities?
Having pleasure I should have all things. Living thus, you would always throughout your life enjoy the greatest pleasures? But if you had neither mind, nor memory, nor knowledge, nor true opinion, you would in the first place be utterly ignorant of whether you were pleased or not, because you would be entirely devoid of intelligence.
And similarly, if you had no memory you would not recollect that you had ever been pleased, nor would the slightest recollection of the pleasure which you feel at any moment remain with you; and if you had no true opinion you would not think that you were pleased when you were; and if you had no power of calculation you would not be able to calculate on future pleasure, and your life would be the life, not of a man, but of an oyster or pulmo marinus.
Could this be otherwise? But is such a life eligible? I cannot answer you, Socrates; the argument has taken away from me the power of speech. We must keep up our spirits;-let us now take the life of mind and examine it in turn. And what is this life of mind?
The Ranking of the Goods at Philebus 66a-67b
I want to know whether any one of us would consent to live, having wisdom and mind and knowledge and memory of all things, but having no sense of pleasure or pain, and wholly unaffected by these and the like feelings? Neither life, Socrates, appears eligible to me, or is likely, as I should imagine, to be chosen by any one else.
What would you say, Protarchus, to both of these in one, or to one that was made out of the union of the two? Out of the union, that is, of pleasure with mind and wisdom? Yes, that is the life which I mean. There can be no difference of opinion; not some but all would surely choose this third rather than either of the other two, and in addition to them. But do you see the consequence? To be sure I do. The consequence is, that two out of the three lives which have been proposed are neither sufficient nor eligible for man or for animal.
Then now there can be no doubt that neither of them has the good, for the one which had would certainly have been sufficient and perfect and eligible for every living creature or thing that was able to live such a life; and if any of us had chosen any other, he would have chosen contrary to the nature of the truly eligible, and not of his own free will, but either through ignorance or from some unhappy necessity.
Certainly that seems to be true. And now have I not sufficiently shown that Philebus, goddess is not to be regarded as identical with the good? Neither is your "mind" the good, Socrates, for that will be open to the same objections. Perhaps, Philebus, you may be right in saying so of my "mind"; but of the true, which is also the divine mind, far otherwise.
However, I will not at present claim the first place for mind as against the mixed life; but we must come to some understanding about the second place. For you might affirm pleasure and I mind to be the cause of the mixed life; and in that case although neither of them would be the good, one of them might be imagined to be the cause of the good. And I might proceed further to argue in opposition to Phoebus, that the element which makes this mixed life eligible and good, is more akin and more similar to mind than to pleasure.
And if this is true, pleasure cannot be truly said to share either in the first or second place, and does not, if I may trust my own mind, attain even to the third. Truly, Socrates, pleasure appears to me to have had a fall; in fighting for the palm, she has been smitten by the argument, and is laid low. I must say that mind would have fallen too, and may therefore be thought to show discretion in not putting forward a similar claim. And if pleasure were deprived not only of the first but of the second place, she would be terribly damaged in the eyes of her admirers, for not even to them would she still appear as fair as before.
Well, but had we not better leave her now, and not pain her by applying the crucial test, and finally detecting her? Yes, and more than that, because you do not seem to be aware that none of us will let you go home until you have finished the argument. Protarchus, that will be a tedious business, and just at present not at all an easy one.
For in going to war in the cause of mind, who is aspiring to the second prize, I ought to have weapons of another make from those which I used before; some, however, of the old ones may do again.
And must I then finish the argument? Of course you must. Let us be very careful in laying the foundation. Let us divide all existing things into two, or rather, if you do not object, into three classes. Upon what principle would you make the division? Let us take some of our newly-found notions. Were we not saying that God revealed a finite element of existence, and also an infinite? Let us assume these two principles, and also a third, which is compounded out of them; but I fear that am ridiculously clumsy at these processes of division and enumeration.
What do you mean, my good friend? I say that a fourth class is still wanted. What will that be? Find the cause of the third or compound, and add this as a fourth class to the three others. And would you like to have a fifth dass or cause of resolution as well as a cause of composition? Not, I think, at present; but if I want a fifth at some future time you shall allow me to have it. Let us begin with the first three; and as we find two out of the three greatly divided and dispersed, let us endeavour to reunite them, and see how in each of them there is a one and many.
If you would explain to me a little more about them, perhaps I might be able to follow you. Well, the two classes are the same which I mentioned before, one the finite, and the other the infinite; I will first show that the infinite is in a certain sense many, and the finite may be hereafter discussed.
And now consider well; for the question to which I invite your attention is difficult and controverted. When you speak of hotter and colder, can you conceive any limit in those qualities? Does not the more and less, which dwells in their very nature, prevent their having any end? That is most true. Ever, as we say, into the hotter and the colder there enters a more and a less. Then, says the argument, there is never any end of them, and being endless they must also be infinite. Yes, Socrates, that is exceedingly true.
Yes, my dear Protarchus, and your answer reminds me that such an expression as "exceedingly," which you have just uttered, and also the term "gently," have the same significance as more or less; for whenever they occur they do not allow of the existence of quantity-they are always introducing degrees into actions, instituting a comparison of a more or a less excessive or a more or a less gentle, and at each creation of more or less, quantity disappears.
For, as I was just now saying, if quantity and measure did not disappear, but were allowed to intrude in the sphere of more and less and the other comparatives, these last would be driven out of their own domain. When definite quantity is once admitted, there can be no longer a "hotter" or a "colder" for these are always progressing, and are never in one stay ; but definite quantity is at rest, and has ceased to progress. Which proves that comparatives, such as the hotter, and the colder, are to be ranked in the class of the infinite.
Your remark certainly, has the look of truth, Socrates; but these subjects, as you were saying, are difficult to follow at first. I think however, that if I could hear the argument repeated by you once or twice, there would be a substantial agreement between us.
Yes, and I will try to meet your wish; but, as I would rather not waste time in the enumeration of endless particulars, let me know whether I may not assume as a note of the infinite- Pro.
I want to know whether such things as appear to us to admit of more or less, or are denoted by the words "exceedingly," "gently," "extremely," and the like, may not be referred to the class of the infinite, which is their unity, for, as was asserted in the previous argument, all things that were divided and dispersed should be brought together, and have the mark or seal of some one nature, if possible, set upon them-do you remember?
And all things which do not admit of more or less, but admit their opposites, that is to say, first of all, equality, and the equal, or again, the double, or any other ratio of number and measure-all these may, I think, be rightly reckoned by us in the class of the limited or finite; what do you say? And now what nature shall we ascribe to the third or compound kind? You, I think, will have to tell me that. Rather God will tell you, if there be any God who will listen to my prayers.
Offer up a prayer, then, and think. I am thinking, Protarchus, and I believe that some God has befriended us. What do you mean, and what proof have you to offer of what you are saying? I will tell you, and do you listen to my words. Were we not speaking just now of hotter and colder? Add to them drier, wetter, more, less, swifter, slower, greater, smaller, and all that in the preceding argument we placed under the unity of more and less.
In the class of the infinite, you mean? Yes; and now mingle this with the other. What is the other. The class of the finite which we ought to have brought together as we did the infinite; but, perhaps, it will come to the same thing if we do so now;-when the two are combined, a third will appear.
What do you mean by the class of the finite? The class of the equal and the double, and any class which puts an end to difference and opposition, and by introducing number creates harmony and proportion among the different elements.
I understand; you seem to me to mean that the various opposites, when you mingle with them the class of the finite, takes certain forms. Yes, that is my meaning. Does not the right participation in the finite give health-in disease, for instance? And whereas the high and low, the swift and the slow are infinite or unlimited, does not the addition of the principles aforesaid introduce a limit, and perfect the whole frame of music?
Or, again, when cold and heat prevail, does not the introduction of them take away excess and indefiniteness, and infuse moderation and harmony? And from a like admixture of the finite and infinite come the seasons, and all the delights of life?
I omit ten thousand other things, such as beauty and health and strength, and the many beauties and high perfections of the soul: O my beautiful Philebus, the goddess, methinks, seeing the universal wantonness and wickedness of all things, and that there was in them no limit to pleasures and self-indulgence, devised the limit of law and order, whereby, as you say, Philebus, she torments, or as I maintain, delivers the soul-What think you, Protarchus?
Her ways are much to my mind, Socrates. You will observe that I have spoken of three classes? Yes, I think that I understand you: That is because the amazing variety of the third class is too much for you, my dear friend; but there was not this difficulty with the infinite, which also comprehended many classes, for all of them were sealed with the note of more and less, and therefore appeared one.
And the finite or limit had not many divisions, and we ready acknowledged it to be by nature one? Yes, indeed; and when I speak of the third class, understand me to mean any offspring of these, being a birth into true being, effected by the measure which the limit introduces.
Still there was, as we said, a fourth class to be investigated, and you must assist in the investigation; for does not everything which comes into being, of necessity come into being through a cause? Yes, certainly; for how can there be anything which has no cause? And is not the agent the same as the cause in all except name; the agent and the cause may be rightly called one?
And the same may be said of the patient, or effect; we shall find that they too differ, as I was saying, only in name-shall we not? The agent or cause always naturally leads, and the patient or effect naturally follows it? Then the cause and what is subordinate to it in generation are not the same, but different?
Did not the things which were generated, and the things out of which they were generated, furnish all the three classes?
And the creator or cause of them has been satisfactorily proven to be distinct from them-and may therefore be called a fourth principle? So let us call it. Quite right; but now, having distinguished the four, I think that we had better refresh our memories by recapitulating each of them in order. Then the first I will call the infinite or unlimited, and the second the finite or limited; then follows the third, an essence compound and generated; and I do not think that I shall be far wrong in speaking of the cause of mixture and generation as the fourth.
And now what is the next question, and how came we hither? Were we not enquiring whether the second place belonged to pleasure or wisdom?
And now, having determined these points, shall we not be better able to decide about the first and second place, which was the original subject of dispute? We said, if you remember, that the mixed life of pleasure and wisdom was the conqueror-did we not? And we see what is the place and nature of this life and to what class it is to be assigned? This is evidently comprehended in the third or mixed class; which is not composed of any two particular ingredients, but of all the elements of infinity, bound down by the finite, and may therefore be truly said to comprehend the conqueror life.
And what shall we say, Philebus, of your life which is all sweetness; and in which of the aforesaid classes is that to be placed? Perhaps you will allow me to ask you a question before you answer? Have pleasure and pain a limit, or do they belong to the class which admits of more and less?
They belong to the class which admits of more, Socrates; for pleasure would not be perfectly good if she were not infinite in quantity and degree.
Nor would pain, Philebus, be perfectly evil. And therefore the infinite cannot be that element which imparts to pleasure some degree of good.
But now-admitting, if you like, that pleasure is of the nature of the infinite-in which of the aforesaid classes, O Protarchus and Philebus, can we without irreverence place wisdom and knowledge and mind?
And let us be careful, for I think that the danger will be very serious if we err on this point. You magnify, Socrates, the importance of your favourite god.
And you, my friend, are also magnifying your favourite goddess; but still I must beg you to answer the question. Socrates is quite right, Philebus, and we must submit to him. And did not you, Protarchus, propose to answer in my place? Certainly I did; but I am now in a great strait, and I must entreat you, Socrates, to be our spokesman, and then we shall not say anything wrong or disrespectful of your favourite.
I must obey you, Protarchus; nor is the task which you impose a difficult one; but did I really, as Philebus implies, disconcert you with my playful solemnity, when I asked the question to what class mind and knowledge belong? In the Philebus Plato does not privilege the philosophers and the philosophical life as he does in the Republic; instead, he focuses on the happy state of mind in general.
Not only that, Plato seems to take a more lenient stance towards the condition humaine than in many other dialogues when he acknowledges that pleasure, as a genus, is an integral part of the human life. Pleasure is not summarily condemned as a disturbance of the mind by the body, as it is in the Phaedo. Instead, Plato works out a set of criteria that allows him to distinguish, in loving detail, between different kinds of pleasures.
Pleasure as such turns out to be both a necessary and a positive element in human life, because it acts as an incentive to supplement both physical and psychological needs and as an incentive to aim for completion and self-fulfillment in a moral and intellectual sense. Furthermore, Plato in the Philebus admits to the good life all rational capacities, the arts and sciences, both exact or inexact. The result of this investigation is summed up in the final depiction of the good life as a mixture of true and pure pleasures with knowledge of all kinds Phlb.
They concern the need to distinguish between good and bad pleasures of both mind and body and the need to reflect on the care to integrate the good ones in a life that is satisfactory in both an emotional and an intellectual way.
Moral actions are not separated explicitly from other forms of production such as ship- or house-building, but are assigned sundry and all to the class of what comes-into-being Phlb. The injunction that all such products must possess the right measure and limit does nothing to provide such a limit. Plato makes no attempt to mitigate his ontological parsimoniousness and terminological austerity stands. But this is true of many of other dialogues that recommend to readers the care for their souls.
More to the point: As in his other dialogues, Plato seems to assume that human reason is well equipped to deal with both the realm of the unchangeable and the realm of the contingent by understanding both what is the case and what is to be done and that there is the same kind of uncertainty on both sides.
It may well be that Plato had answers to all the questions that he does not settle in the Philebus. But there is no point in settling these questions for him by a kind of paramythia that is as imprecise as it is copious and that italizises the central concepts in every second sentence. Find the cause of the third or compound, and add this as a fourth class to the three others. Let us take some of our newly-found notions.Philebus by PLATO (FULL Audiobook)
Do not then suppose that these words philebus online dating rashly spoken by us, O Protarchus, for they are in harmony with the testimony of those who said of old time that mind rules the universe. But the fire in the universe is wonderful in quantity and beauty, and in every power that fire has. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here. Philebus online dating what you say has a general truth.
While there is a distinct and substantial difference between Old Comedy Aristophanes and New Menanderthe existence and nature of Middle Comedy remains a matter of debate. I mean to say that their natural seat is philebus online dating the mixed class.
And is there no difference, my friend, between that pleasure which is associated with right opinion and knowledge, and that which is often found in all of us associated with falsehood and ignorance? How do you mean? But if this be true, the life to which I was just now referring again appears. Socrates and Protarchos agree that "the body of the universe had a soulsince that body has the same elements as ours, only in every way superior". Offer up a prayer, then, and think.
Having pleasure I should have all things. Nay, Socrates, that is the very opposite of truth; for no one would call pleasures and pains bad because they are false, but by reason of some other great corruption to which they are liable. I will; but you must let me make one little remark first about these matters; I was saying, that he who begins with any individual unity, should proceed from that, not to infinity, but to a definite number, and now I say conversely, that he who has to begin with infinity should not jump to unity, but he should look about for some number representing a certain quantity, and thus out of all end in one.
Indeed he is, and you must answer him.