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Philebus by Plato

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SOCRATES: That you and I must now try to indicate some state and
disposition of the soul, which has the property of making all men happy.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, by all means.

SOCRATES: And you say that pleasure, and I say that wisdom, is such a


SOCRATES: And what if there be a third state, which is better than either?
Then both of us are vanquished--are we not? But if this life, which really
has the power of making men happy, turn out to be more akin to pleasure
than to wisdom, the life of pleasure may still have the advantage over the
life of wisdom.


SOCRATES: Or suppose that the better life is more nearly allied to wisdom,
then wisdom conquers, and pleasure is defeated;--do you agree?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And what do you say, Philebus?

PHILEBUS: I say, and shall always say, that pleasure is easily the
conqueror; but you must decide for yourself, Protarchus.

PROTARCHUS: You, Philebus, have handed over the argument to me, and have
no longer a voice in the matter?

PHILEBUS: True enough. Nevertheless I would clear myself and deliver my
soul of you; and I call the goddess herself to witness that I now do so.

PROTARCHUS: You may appeal to us; we too will be the witnesses of your
words. And now, Socrates, whether Philebus is pleased or displeased, we
will proceed with the argument.

SOCRATES: Then let us begin with the goddess herself, of whom Philebus
says that she is called Aphrodite, but that her real name is Pleasure.

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

SOCRATES: The awe which I always feel, Protarchus, about the names of the
gods is more than human--it exceeds all other fears. And now I would not
sin against Aphrodite by naming her amiss; let her be called what she
pleases. But Pleasure I know to be manifold, and with her, as I was just
now saying, we must begin, and consider what her nature is. She has one
name, and therefore you would imagine that she is one; and yet surely she
takes the most varied and even unlike forms. For do we not say that the
intemperate has pleasure, and that the temperate has pleasure in his very
temperance,--that the fool is pleased when he is full of foolish fancies
and hopes, and that the wise man has pleasure in his wisdom? and how
foolish would any one be who affirmed that all these opposite pleasures are
severally alike!

PROTARCHUS: Why, Socrates, they are opposed in so far as they spring from
opposite sources, but they are not in themselves opposite. For must not
pleasure be of all things most absolutely like pleasure,--that is, like

SOCRATES: Yes, my good friend, just as colour is like colour;--in so far
as colours are colours, there is no difference between them; and yet we all
know that black is not only unlike, but even absolutely opposed to white:
or again, as figure is like figure, for all figures are comprehended under
one class; and yet particular figures may be absolutely opposed to one
another, and there is an infinite diversity of them. And we might find
similar examples in many other things; therefore do not rely upon this
argument, which would go to prove the unity of the most extreme opposites.
And I suspect that we shall find a similar opposition among pleasures.

PROTARCHUS: Very likely; but how will this invalidate the argument?

SOCRATES: Why, I shall reply, that dissimilar as they are, you apply to
them a new predicate, for you say that all pleasant things are good; now
although no one can argue that pleasure is not pleasure, he may argue, as
we are doing, that pleasures are oftener bad than good; but you call them
all good, and at the same time are compelled, if you are pressed, to
acknowledge that they are unlike. And so you must tell us what is the
identical quality existing alike in good and bad pleasures, which makes you
designate all of them as good.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean, Socrates? Do you think that any one who
asserts pleasure to be the good, will tolerate the notion that some
pleasures are good and others bad?

SOCRATES: And yet you will acknowledge that they are different from one
another, and sometimes opposed?

PROTARCHUS: Not in so far as they are pleasures.

SOCRATES: That is a return to the old position, Protarchus, and so we are
to say (are we?) that there is no difference in pleasures, but that they
are all alike; and the examples which have just been cited do not pierce
our dull minds, but we go on arguing all the same, like the weakest and
most inexperienced reasoners? (Probably corrupt.)

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: Why, I mean to say, that in self-defence I may, if I like,
follow your example, and assert boldly that the two things most unlike are
most absolutely alike; and the result will be that you and I will prove
ourselves to be very tyros in the art of disputing; and the argument will
be blown away and lost. Suppose that we put back, and return to the old
position; then perhaps we may come to an understanding with one another.

PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: Shall I, Protarchus, have my own question asked of me by you?

PROTARCHUS: What question?

SOCRATES: Ask me whether wisdom and science and mind, and those other
qualities which I, when asked by you at first what is the nature of the
good, affirmed to be good, are not in the same case with the pleasures of
which you spoke.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: The sciences are a numerous class, and will be found to present
great differences. But even admitting that, like the pleasures, they are
opposite as well as different, should I be worthy of the name of
dialectician if, in order to avoid this difficulty, I were to say (as you
are saying of pleasure) that there is no difference between one science and
another;--would not the argument founder and disappear like an idle tale,
although we might ourselves escape drowning by clinging to a fallacy?

PROTARCHUS: May none of this befal us, except the deliverance! Yet I like
the even-handed justice which is applied to both our arguments. Let us
assume, then, that there are many and diverse pleasures, and many and
different sciences.

SOCRATES: And let us have no concealment, Protarchus, of the differences
between my good and yours; but let us bring them to the light in the hope
that, in the process of testing them, they may show whether pleasure is to
be called the good, or wisdom, or some third quality; for surely we are not
now simply contending in order that my view or that yours may prevail, but
I presume that we ought both of us to be fighting for the truth.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly we ought.

SOCRATES: Then let us have a more definite understanding and establish the
principle on which the argument rests.

PROTARCHUS: What principle?

SOCRATES: A principle about which all men are always in a difficulty, and
some men sometimes against their will.

PROTARCHUS: Speak plainer.

SOCRATES: The principle which has just turned up, which is a marvel of
nature; for that one should be many or many one, are wonderful
propositions; and he who affirms either is very open to attack.

PROTARCHUS: Do you mean, when a person says that I, Protarchus, am by
nature one and also many, dividing the single 'me' into many 'me's,' and
even opposing them as great and small, light and heavy, and in ten thousand
other ways?

SOCRATES: Those, Protarchus, are the common and acknowledged paradoxes
about the one and many, which I may say that everybody has by this time
agreed to dismiss as childish and obvious and detrimental to the true
course of thought; and no more favour is shown to that other puzzle, in
which a person proves the members and parts of anything to be divided, and
then confessing that they are all one, says laughingly in disproof of his
own words: Why, here is a miracle, the one is many and infinite, and the
many are only one.

PROTARCHUS: But what, Socrates, are those other marvels connected with
this subject which, as you imply, have not yet become common and

SOCRATES: When, my boy, the one does not belong to the class of things
that are born and perish, as in the instances which we were giving, for in
those cases, and when unity is of this concrete nature, there is, as I was
saying, a universal consent that no refutation is needed; but when the
assertion is made that man is one, or ox is one, or beauty one, or the good
one, then the interest which attaches to these and similar unities and the
attempt which is made to divide them gives birth to a controversy.

PROTARCHUS: Of what nature?

SOCRATES: In the first place, as to whether these unities have a real
existence; and then how each individual unity, being always the same, and
incapable either of generation or of destruction, but retaining a permanent
individuality, can be conceived either as dispersed and multiplied in the
infinity of the world of generation, or as still entire and yet divided
from itself, which latter would seem to be the greatest impossibility of
all, for how can one and the same thing be at the same time in one and in
many things? These, Protarchus, are the real difficulties, and this is the
one and many to which they relate; they are the source of great perplexity
if ill decided, and the right determination of them is very helpful.

PROTARCHUS: Then, Socrates, let us begin by clearing up these questions.

SOCRATES: That is what I should wish.

PROTARCHUS: And I am sure that all my other friends will be glad to hear
them discussed; Philebus, fortunately for us, is not disposed to move, and
we had better not stir him up with questions.

SOCRATES: Good; and where shall we begin this great and multifarious
battle, in which such various points are at issue? Shall we begin thus?


SOCRATES: We say that the one and many become identified by thought, and
that now, as in time past, they run about together, in and out of every
word which is uttered, and that this union of them will never cease, and is
not now beginning, but is, as I believe, an everlasting quality of thought
itself, which never grows old. Any young man, when he first tastes these
subtleties, is delighted, and fancies that he has found a treasure of
wisdom; in the first enthusiasm of his joy he leaves no stone, or rather no
thought unturned, now rolling up the many into the one, and kneading them
together, now unfolding and dividing them; he puzzles himself first and
above all, and then he proceeds to puzzle his neighbours, whether they are
older or younger, or of his own age--that makes no difference; neither
father nor mother does he spare; no human being who has ears is safe from
him, hardly even his dog, and a barbarian would have no chance of escaping
him, if an interpreter could only be found.

PROTARCHUS: Considering, Socrates, how many we are, and that all of us are
young men, is there not a danger that we and Philebus may all set upon you,
if you abuse us? We understand what you mean; but is there no charm by
which we may dispel all this confusion, no more excellent way of arriving
at the truth? If there is, we hope that you will guide us into that way,
and we will do our best to follow, for the enquiry in which we are engaged,
Socrates, is not unimportant.

SOCRATES: The reverse of unimportant, my boys, as Philebus calls you, and
there neither is nor ever will be a better than my own favourite way, which
has nevertheless already often deserted me and left me helpless in the hour
of need.

PROTARCHUS: Tell us what that is.

SOCRATES: One which may be easily pointed out, but is by no means easy of
application; it is the parent of all the discoveries in the arts.

PROTARCHUS: Tell us what it is.

SOCRATES: A gift of heaven, which, as I conceive, the gods tossed among
men by the hands of a new Prometheus, and therewith a blaze of light; and
the ancients, who were our betters and nearer the gods than we are, handed
down the tradition, that whatever things are said to be are composed of one
and many, and have the finite and infinite implanted in them: seeing,
then, that such is the order of the world, we too ought in every enquiry to
begin by laying down one idea of that which is the subject of enquiry; this
unity we shall find in everything. Having found it, we may next proceed to
look for two, if there be two, or, if not, then for three or some other
number, subdividing each of these units, until at last the unity with which
we began is seen not only to be one and many and infinite, but also a
definite number; the infinite must not be suffered to approach the many
until the entire number of the species intermediate between unity and
infinity has been discovered,--then, and not till then, we may rest from
division, and without further troubling ourselves about the endless
individuals may allow them to drop into infinity. This, as I was saying,
is the way of considering and learning and teaching one another, which the
gods have handed down to us. But the wise men of our time are either too
quick or too slow in conceiving plurality in unity. Having no method, they
make their one and many anyhow, and from unity pass at once to infinity;
the intermediate steps never occur to them. And this, I repeat, is what
makes the difference between the mere art of disputation and true

PROTARCHUS: I think that I partly understand you Socrates, but I should
like to have a clearer notion of what you are saying.

SOCRATES: I may illustrate my meaning by the letters of the alphabet,
Protarchus, which you were made to learn as a child.

PROTARCHUS: How do they afford an illustration?

SOCRATES: The sound which passes through the lips whether of an individual
or of all men is one and yet infinite.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And yet not by knowing either that sound is one or that sound is
infinite are we perfect in the art of speech, but the knowledge of the
number and nature of sounds is what makes a man a grammarian.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And the knowledge which makes a man a musician is of the same


SOCRATES: Sound is one in music as well as in grammar?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And there is a higher note and a lower note, and a note of equal
pitch:--may we affirm so much?


SOCRATES: But you would not be a real musician if this was all that you
knew; though if you did not know this you would know almost nothing of


SOCRATES: But when you have learned what sounds are high and what low, and
the number and nature of the intervals and their limits or proportions, and
the systems compounded out of them, which our fathers discovered, and have
handed down to us who are their descendants under the name of harmonies;
and the affections corresponding to them in the movements of the human
body, which when measured by numbers ought, as they say, to be called
rhythms and measures; and they tell us that the same principle should be
applied to every one and many;--when, I say, you have learned all this,
then, my dear friend, you are perfect; and you may be said to understand
any other subject, when you have a similar grasp of it. But the infinity
of kinds and the infinity of individuals which there is in each of them,
when not classified, creates in every one of us a state of infinite
ignorance; and he who never looks for number in anything, will not himself
be looked for in the number of famous men.

PROTARCHUS: I think that what Socrates is now saying is excellent,

PHILEBUS: I think so too, but how do his words bear upon us and upon the

SOCRATES: Philebus is right in asking that question of us, Protarchus.

PROTARCHUS: Indeed he is, and you must answer him.

SOCRATES: 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. And now let us return
for an illustration of our principle to the case of letters.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: Some god or divine man, who in the Egyptian legend is said to
have been Theuth, observing that the human voice was infinite, first
distinguished in this infinity a certain number of vowels, and then other
letters which had sound, but were not pure vowels (i.e., the semivowels);
these too exist in a definite number; and lastly, he distinguished a third
class of letters which we now call mutes, without voice and without sound,
and divided these, and likewise the two other classes of vowels and
semivowels, into the individual sounds, and told the number of them, and
gave to each and all of them the name of letters; and observing that none
of us could learn any one of them and not learn them all, and in
consideration of this common bond which in a manner united them, he
assigned to them all a single art, and this he called the art of grammar or

PHILEBUS: The illustration, Protarchus, has assisted me in understanding
the original statement, but I still feel the defect of which I just now

SOCRATES: Are you going to ask, Philebus, what this has to do with the

PHILEBUS: Yes, that is a question which Protarchus and I have been long

SOCRATES: Assuredly you have already arrived at the answer to the question
which, as you say, you have been so long asking?


SOCRATES: Did we not begin by enquiring into the comparative eligibility
of pleasure and wisdom?

PHILEBUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And we maintain that they are each of them one?


SOCRATES: And the precise question to which the previous discussion
desires an answer is, how they are one and also many (i.e., how they have
one genus and many species), and are not at once infinite, and what number
of species is to be assigned to either of them before they pass into
infinity (i.e. into the infinite number of individuals).

PROTARCHUS: That is a very serious question, Philebus, to which Socrates
has ingeniously brought us round, and please to consider which of us shall
answer him; there may be something ridiculous in my being unable to answer,
and therefore imposing the task upon you, when I have undertaken the whole
charge of the argument, but if neither of us were able to answer, the
result methinks would be still more ridiculous. Let us consider, then,
what we are to do:--Socrates, if I understood him rightly, is asking
whether there are not kinds of pleasure, and what is the number and nature
of them, and the same of wisdom.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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

SOCRATES: In what way?

PHILEBUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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.

PHILEBUS: What is that?

SOCRATES: 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:--Am I not right?


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Capital, Socrates; pray go on as you propose.

SOCRATES: But, let us first agree on some little points.

PROTARCHUS: What are they?

SOCRATES: Is the good perfect or imperfect?

PROTARCHUS: The most perfect, Socrates, of all things.

SOCRATES: And is the good sufficient?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, certainly, and in a degree surpassing all other things.

SOCRATES: 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 is not accompanied by good.

PROTARCHUS: That is undeniable.

SOCRATES: Now let us part off the life of pleasure from the life of
wisdom, and pass them in review.

PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

SOCRATES: And will you help us to test these two lives?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then answer.


SOCRATES: Would you choose, Protarchus, to live all your life long in the
enjoyment of the greatest pleasures?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly I should.

SOCRATES: Would you consider that there was still anything wanting to you
if you had perfect pleasure?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: Reflect; would you not want wisdom and intelligence and
forethought, and similar qualities? would you not at any rate want sight?

PROTARCHUS: Why should I? Having pleasure I should have all things.

SOCRATES: Living thus, you would always throughout your life enjoy the
greatest pleasures?


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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?


SOCRATES: But is such a life eligible?

PROTARCHUS: I cannot answer you, Socrates; the argument has taken away
from me the power of speech.

SOCRATES: We must keep up our spirits;--let us now take the life of mind
and examine it in turn.

PROTARCHUS: And what is this life of mind?

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: Neither life, Socrates, appears eligible to me, nor is likely,
as I should imagine, to be chosen by any one else.

SOCRATES: What would you say, Protarchus, to both of these in one, or to
one that was made out of the union of the two?

PROTARCHUS: Out of the union, that is, of pleasure with mind and wisdom?

SOCRATES: Yes, that is the life which I mean.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: But do you see the consequence?

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly that seems to be true.

SOCRATES: And now have I not sufficiently shown that Philebus' goddess is
not to be regarded as identical with the good?

PHILEBUS: Neither is your 'mind' the good, Socrates, for that will be open
to the same objections.

SOCRATES: 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 Philebus, 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: Well, but had we not better leave her now, and not pain her by
applying the crucial test, and finally detecting her?

PROTARCHUS: Nonsense, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Why? because I said that we had better not pain pleasure, which
is an impossibility?

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: Heavens! 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?

PROTARCHUS: Of course you must.

SOCRATES: Let us be very careful in laying the foundation.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: Let us divide all existing things into two, or rather, if you do
not object, into three classes.

PROTARCHUS: Upon what principle would you make the division?

SOCRATES: Let us take some of our newly-found notions.

PROTARCHUS: Which of them?

SOCRATES: Were we not saying that God revealed a finite element of
existence, and also an infinite?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Let us assume these two principles, and also a third, which is
compounded out of them; but I fear that I am ridiculously clumsy at these
processes of division and enumeration.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean, my good friend?

SOCRATES: I say that a fourth class is still wanted.

PROTARCHUS: What will that be?

SOCRATES: Find the cause of the third or compound, and add this as a
fourth class to the three others.

PROTARCHUS: And would you like to have a fifth class or cause of
resolution as well as a cause of composition?

SOCRATES: Not, I think, at present; but if I want a fifth at some future
time you shall allow me to have it.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: If you would explain to me a little more about them, perhaps I
might be able to follow you.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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?
for if they had an end, the more and less would themselves have an end.

PROTARCHUS: That is most true.

SOCRATES: Ever, as we say, into the hotter and the colder there enters a
more and a less.


SOCRATES: Then, says the argument, there is never any end of them, and
being endless they must also be infinite.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, Socrates, that is exceedingly true.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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--


SOCRATES: 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?


SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Excellent, Socrates.

SOCRATES: And now what nature shall we ascribe to the third or compound

PROTARCHUS: You, I think, will have to tell me that.

SOCRATES: Rather God will tell you, if there be any God who will listen to
my prayers.

PROTARCHUS: Offer up a prayer, then, and think.

SOCRATES: I am thinking, Protarchus, and I believe that some God has
befriended us.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean, and what proof have you to offer of what you
are saying?

SOCRATES: I will tell you, and do you listen to my words.


SOCRATES: Were we not speaking just now of hotter and colder?


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: In the class of the infinite, you mean?

SOCRATES: Yes; and now mingle this with the other.

PROTARCHUS: What is the other.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean by the class of the finite?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: I understand; you seem to me to mean that the various
opposites, when you mingle with them the class of the finite, takes certain

SOCRATES: Yes, that is my meaning.


SOCRATES: Does not the right participation in the finite give health--in
disease, for instance?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, certainly.

SOCRATES: Or, again, when cold and heat prevail, does not the introduction
of them take away excess and indefiniteness, and infuse moderation and

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And from a like admixture of the finite and infinite come the
seasons, and all the delights of life?

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Her ways are much to my mind, Socrates.

SOCRATES: You will observe that I have spoken of three classes?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, I think that I understand you: you mean to say that the
infinite is one class, and that the finite is a second class of existences;
but what you would make the third I am not so certain.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: And the finite or limit had not many divisions, and we readily
acknowledged it to be by nature one?


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: I understand.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, certainly; for how can there be anything which has no

SOCRATES: And is not the agent the same as the cause in all except name;
the agent and the cause may be rightly called one?

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: 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?


SOCRATES: The agent or cause always naturally leads, and the patient or
effect naturally follows it?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then the cause and what is subordinate to it in generation are
not the same, but different?


SOCRATES: Did not the things which were generated, and the things out of
which they were generated, furnish all the three classes?


SOCRATES: And the creator or cause of them has been satisfactorily proven
to be distinct from them,--and may therefore be called a fourth principle?

PROTARCHUS: So let us call it.

SOCRATES: Quite right; but now, having distinguished the four, I think
that we had better refresh our memories by recapitulating each of them in

PROTARCHUS: By all means.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: 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?


SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: I dare say.

SOCRATES: We said, if you remember, that the mixed life of pleasure and
wisdom was the conqueror--did we not?


SOCRATES: And we see what is the place and nature of this life and to what
class it is to be assigned?

PROTARCHUS: Beyond a doubt.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: 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?

PHILEBUS: Let me hear.

SOCRATES: Have pleasure and pain a limit, or do they belong to the class
which admits of more and less?

PHILEBUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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.

PHILEBUS: You magnify, Socrates, the importance of your favourite god.

SOCRATES: And you, my friend, are also magnifying your favourite goddess;
but still I must beg you to answer the question.

PROTARCHUS: Socrates is quite right, Philebus, and we must submit to him.

PHILEBUS: And did not you, Protarchus, propose to answer in my place?

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: You did, indeed, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Yet the answer is easy, since all philosophers assert with one
voice that mind is the king of heaven and earth--in reality they are
magnifying themselves. And perhaps they are right. But still I should
like to consider the class of mind, if you do not object, a little more

PHILEBUS: Take your own course, Socrates, and never mind length; we shall
not tire of you.

SOCRATES: Very good; let us begin then, Protarchus, by asking a question.

PROTARCHUS: What question?

SOCRATES: Whether all this which they call the universe is left to the
guidance of unreason and chance medley, or, on the contrary, as our fathers
have declared, ordered and governed by a marvellous intelligence and

PROTARCHUS: Wide asunder are the two assertions, illustrious Socrates, for
that which you were just now saying to me appears to be blasphemy; but the
other assertion, that mind orders all things, is worthy of the aspect of
the world, and of the sun, and of the moon, and of the stars and of the
whole circle of the heavens; and never will I say or think otherwise.

SOCRATES: Shall we then agree with them of old time in maintaining this
doctrine,--not merely reasserting the notions of others, without risk to
ourselves,--but shall we share in the danger, and take our part of the
reproach which will await us, when an ingenious individual declares that
all is disorder?

PROTARCHUS: That would certainly be my wish.

SOCRATES: Then now please to consider the next stage of the argument.

PROTARCHUS: Let me hear.

SOCRATES: We see that the elements which enter into the nature of the
bodies of all animals, fire, water, air, and, as the storm-tossed sailor
cries, 'land' (i.e., earth), reappear in the constitution of the world.

PROTARCHUS: The proverb may be applied to us; for truly the storm gathers
over us, and we are at our wit's end.

SOCRATES: There is something to be remarked about each of these elements.

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: Only a small fraction of any one of them exists in us, and that
of a mean sort, and not in any way pure, or having any power worthy of its
nature. One instance will prove this of all of them; there is fire within
us, and in the universe.


SOCRATES: And is not our fire small and weak and mean? But the fire in
the universe is wonderful in quantity and beauty, and in every power that
fire has.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: And is the fire in the universe nourished and generated and
ruled by the fire in us, or is the fire in you and me, and in other
animals, dependent on the universal fire?

PROTARCHUS: That is a question which does not deserve an answer.

SOCRATES: Right; and you would say the same, if I am not mistaken, of the
earth which is in animals and the earth which is in the universe, and you
would give a similar reply about all the other elements?

PROTARCHUS: Why, how could any man who gave any other be deemed in his

SOCRATES: I do not think that he could--but now go on to the next step.
When we saw those elements of which we have been speaking gathered up in
one, did we not call them a body?


SOCRATES: And the same may be said of the cosmos, which for the same
reason may be considered to be a body, because made up of the same

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: But is our body nourished wholly by this body, or is this body
nourished by our body, thence deriving and having the qualities of which we
were just now speaking?

PROTARCHUS: That again, Socrates, is a question which does not deserve to
be asked.

SOCRATES: Well, tell me, is this question worth asking?

PROTARCHUS: What question?

SOCRATES: May our body be said to have a soul?


SOCRATES: And whence comes that soul, my dear Protarchus, unless the body
of the universe, which contains elements like those in our bodies but in
every way fairer, had also a soul? Can there be another source?

PROTARCHUS: Clearly, Socrates, that is the only source.

SOCRATES: Why, yes, Protarchus; for surely we cannot imagine that of the
four classes, the finite, the infinite, the composition of the two, and the
cause, the fourth, which enters into all things, giving to our bodies
souls, and the art of self-management, and of healing disease, and
operating in other ways to heal and organize, having too all the attributes
of wisdom;--we cannot, I say, imagine that whereas the self-same elements
exist, both in the entire heaven and in great provinces of the heaven, only
fairer and purer, this last should not also in that higher sphere have
designed the noblest and fairest things?

PROTARCHUS: Such a supposition is quite unreasonable.

SOCRATES: Then if this be denied, should we not be wise in adopting the
other view and maintaining that there is in the universe a mighty infinite
and an adequate limit, of which we have often spoken, as well as a
presiding cause of no mean power, which orders and arranges years and
seasons and months, and may be justly called wisdom and mind?

PROTARCHUS: Most justly.

SOCRATES: And wisdom and mind cannot exist without soul?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: And in the divine nature of Zeus would you not say that there is
the soul and mind of a king, because there is in him the power of the
cause? And other gods have other attributes, by which they are pleased to
be called.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: Do not then suppose that these words are 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.


SOCRATES: And they furnish an answer to my enquiry; for they imply that
mind is the parent of that class of the four which we called the cause of
all; and I think that you now have my answer.

PROTARCHUS: I have indeed, and yet I did not observe that you had

SOCRATES: A jest is sometimes refreshing, Protarchus, when it interrupts

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: I think, friend, that we have now pretty clearly set forth the
class to which mind belongs and what is the power of mind.


SOCRATES: And the class to which pleasure belongs has also been long ago


SOCRATES: And let us remember, too, of both of them, (1) that mind was
akin to the cause and of this family; and (2) that pleasure is infinite and
belongs to the class which neither has, nor ever will have in itself, a
beginning, middle, or end of its own.

PROTARCHUS: I shall be sure to remember.

SOCRATES: We must next examine what is their place and under what
conditions they are generated. And we will begin with pleasure, since her
class was first examined; and yet pleasure cannot be rightly tested apart
from pain.

PROTARCHUS: If this is the road, let us take it.

SOCRATES: I wonder whether you would agree with me about the origin of
pleasure and pain.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: I mean to say that their natural seat is in the mixed class.

PROTARCHUS: And would you tell me again, sweet Socrates, which of the
aforesaid classes is the mixed one?

SOCRATES: I will, my fine fellow, to the best of my ability.

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

SOCRATES: Let us then understand the mixed class to be that which we
placed third in the list of four.

PROTARCHUS: That which followed the infinite and the finite; and in which
you ranked health, and, if I am not mistaken, harmony.

SOCRATES: Capital; and now will you please to give me your best attention?

PROTARCHUS: Proceed; I am attending.

SOCRATES: I say that when the harmony in animals is dissolved, there is
also a dissolution of nature and a generation of pain.

PROTARCHUS: That is very probable.

SOCRATES: And the restoration of harmony and return to nature is the
source of pleasure, if I may be allowed to speak in the fewest and shortest
words about matters of the greatest moment.

PROTARCHUS: I believe that you are right, Socrates; but will you try to be
a little plainer?

SOCRATES: Do not obvious and every-day phenomena furnish the simplest

PROTARCHUS: What phenomena do you mean?

SOCRATES: Hunger, for example, is a dissolution and a pain.


SOCRATES: Whereas eating is a replenishment and a pleasure?


SOCRATES: Thirst again is a destruction and a pain, but the effect of
moisture replenishing the dry place is a pleasure: once more, the
unnatural separation and dissolution caused by heat is painful, and the
natural restoration and refrigeration is pleasant.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And the unnatural freezing of the moisture in an animal is pain,
and the natural process of resolution and return of the elements to their
original state is pleasure. And would not the general proposition seem to
you to hold, that the destroying of the natural union of the finite and
infinite, which, as I was observing before, make up the class of living
beings, is pain, and that the process of return of all things to their own
nature is pleasure?

PROTARCHUS: Granted; what you say has a general truth.

SOCRATES: Here then is one kind of pleasures and pains originating
severally in the two processes which we have described?


SOCRATES: Let us next assume that in the soul herself there is an
antecedent hope of pleasure which is sweet and refreshing, and an
expectation of pain, fearful and anxious.

PROTARCHUS: Yes; this is another class of pleasures and pains, which is of
the soul only, apart from the body, and is produced by expectation.

SOCRATES: Right; for in the analysis of these, pure, as I suppose them to
be, the pleasures being unalloyed with pain and the pains with pleasure,
methinks that we shall see clearly whether the whole class of pleasure is
to be desired, or whether this quality of entire desirableness is not
rather to be attributed to another of the classes which have been
mentioned; and whether pleasure and pain, like heat and cold, and other
things of the same kind, are not sometimes to be desired and sometimes not
to be desired, as being not in themselves good, but only sometimes and in
some instances admitting of the nature of good.

PROTARCHUS: You say most truly that this is the track which the
investigation should pursue.

SOCRATES: Well, then, assuming that pain ensues on the dissolution, and
pleasure on the restoration of the harmony, let us now ask what will be the
condition of animated beings who are neither in process of restoration nor
of dissolution. And mind what you say: I ask whether any animal who is in
that condition can possibly have any feeling of pleasure or pain, great or

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: Then here we have a third state, over and above that of pleasure
and of pain?

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And do not forget that there is such a state; it will make a
great difference in our judgment of pleasure, whether we remember this or
not. And I should like to say a few words about it.

PROTARCHUS: What have you to say?

SOCRATES: Why, you know that if a man chooses the life of wisdom, there is
no reason why he should not live in this neutral state.

PROTARCHUS: You mean that he may live neither rejoicing nor sorrowing?

SOCRATES: Yes; and if I remember rightly, when the lives were compared, no
degree of pleasure, whether great or small, was thought to be necessary to
him who chose the life of thought and wisdom.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, certainly, we said so.

SOCRATES: Then he will live without pleasure; and who knows whether this
may not be the most divine of all lives?

PROTARCHUS: If so, the gods, at any rate, cannot be supposed to have
either joy or sorrow.

SOCRATES: Certainly not--there would be a great impropriety in the
assumption of either alternative. But whether the gods are or are not
indifferent to pleasure is a point which may be considered hereafter if in
any way relevant to the argument, and whatever is the conclusion we will
place it to the account of mind in her contest for the second place, should
she have to resign the first.


SOCRATES: The other class of pleasures, which as we were saying is purely
mental, is entirely derived from memory.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: I must first of all analyze memory, or rather perception which
is prior to memory, if the subject of our discussion is ever to be properly
cleared up.

PROTARCHUS: How will you proceed?

SOCRATES: Let us imagine affections of the body which are extinguished
before they reach the soul, and leave her unaffected; and again, other
affections which vibrate through both soul and body, and impart a shock to
both and to each of them.


SOCRATES: And the soul may be truly said to be oblivious of the first but
not of the second?

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

SOCRATES: When I say oblivious, do not suppose that I mean forgetfulness
in a literal sense; for forgetfulness is the exit of memory, which in this
case has not yet entered; and to speak of the loss of that which is not yet
in existence, and never has been, is a contradiction; do you see?


SOCRATES: Then just be so good as to change the terms.

PROTARCHUS: How shall I change them?

SOCRATES: Instead of the oblivion of the soul, when you are describing the
state in which she is unaffected by the shocks of the body, say


SOCRATES: And the union or communion of soul and body in one feeling and
motion would be properly called consciousness?

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: Then now we know the meaning of the word?


SOCRATES: And memory may, I think, be rightly described as the
preservation of consciousness?


SOCRATES: But do we not distinguish memory from recollection?

PROTARCHUS: I think so.

SOCRATES: And do we not mean by recollection the power which the soul has
of recovering, when by herself, some feeling which she experienced when in
company with the body?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And when she recovers of herself the lost recollection of some
consciousness or knowledge, the recovery is termed recollection and

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: There is a reason why I say all this.

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: I want to attain the plainest possible notion of pleasure and
desire, as they exist in the mind only, apart from the body; and the
previous analysis helps to show the nature of both.

PROTARCHUS: Then now, Socrates, let us proceed to the next point.

SOCRATES: There are certainly many things to be considered in discussing
the generation and whole complexion of pleasure. At the outset we must
determine the nature and seat of desire.

PROTARCHUS: Ay; let us enquire into that, for we shall lose nothing.

SOCRATES: Nay, Protarchus, we shall surely lose the puzzle if we find the

PROTARCHUS: A fair retort; but let us proceed.

SOCRATES: Did we not place hunger, thirst, and the like, in the class of

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And yet they are very different; what common nature have we in
view when we call them by a single name?

PROTARCHUS: By heavens, Socrates, that is a question which is not easily
answered; but it must be answered.

SOCRATES: Then let us go back to our examples.

PROTARCHUS: Where shall we begin?

SOCRATES: Do we mean anything when we say 'a man thirsts'?


SOCRATES: We mean to say that he 'is empty'?

PROTARCHUS: Of course.

SOCRATES: And is not thirst desire?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, of drink.

SOCRATES: Would you say of drink, or of replenishment with drink?

PROTARCHUS: I should say, of replenishment with drink.

SOCRATES: Then he who is empty desires, as would appear, the opposite of
what he experiences; for he is empty and desires to be full?

PROTARCHUS: Clearly so.

SOCRATES: But how can a man who is empty for the first time, attain either
by perception or memory to any apprehension of replenishment, of which he
has no present or past experience?

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

SOCRATES: And yet he who desires, surely desires something?

PROTARCHUS: Of course.

SOCRATES: He does not desire that which he experiences, for he experiences
thirst, and thirst is emptiness; but he desires replenishment?


SOCRATES: Then there must be something in the thirsty man which in some
way apprehends replenishment?

PROTARCHUS: There must.

SOCRATES: And that cannot be the body, for the body is supposed to be


SOCRATES: The only remaining alternative is that the soul apprehends the
replenishment by the help of memory; as is obvious, for what other way can
there be?

PROTARCHUS: I cannot imagine any other.

SOCRATES: But do you see the consequence?

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: That there is no such thing as desire of the body.


SOCRATES: Why, because the argument shows that the endeavour of every
animal is to the reverse of his bodily state.


SOCRATES: And the impulse which leads him to the opposite of what he is
experiencing proves that he has a memory of the opposite state.


SOCRATES: And the argument, having proved that memory attracts us towards
the objects of desire, proves also that the impulses and the desires and
the moving principle in every living being have their origin in the soul.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: The argument will not allow that our body either hungers or
thirsts or has any similar experience.

PROTARCHUS: Quite right.

SOCRATES: Let me make a further observation; the argument appears to me to
imply that there is a kind of life which consists in these affections.

PROTARCHUS: Of what affections, and of what kind of life, are you

SOCRATES: I am speaking of being emptied and replenished, and of all that
relates to the preservation and destruction of living beings, as well as of
the pain which is felt in one of these states and of the pleasure which
succeeds to it.


SOCRATES: And what would you say of the intermediate state?

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean by 'intermediate'?

SOCRATES: I mean when a person is in actual suffering and yet remembers
past pleasures which, if they would only return, would relieve him; but as
yet he has them not. May we not say of him, that he is in an intermediate

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Would you say that he was wholly pained or wholly pleased?

PROTARCHUS: Nay, I should say that he has two pains; in his body there is
the actual experience of pain, and in his soul longing and expectation.

SOCRATES: What do you mean, Protarchus, by the two pains? May not a man
who is empty have at one time a sure hope of being filled, and at other
times be quite in despair?

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And has he not the pleasure of memory when he is hoping to be
filled, and yet in that he is empty is he not at the same time in pain?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then man and the other animals have at the same time both
pleasure and pain?

PROTARCHUS: I suppose so.

SOCRATES: But when a man is empty and has no hope of being filled, there
will be the double experience of pain. You observed this and inferred that
the double experience was the single case possible.

PROTARCHUS: Quite true, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Shall the enquiry into these states of feeling be made the
occasion of raising a question?

PROTARCHUS: What question?

SOCRATES: Whether we ought to say that the pleasures and pains of which we
are speaking are true or false? or some true and some false?

PROTARCHUS: But how, Socrates, can there be false pleasures and pains?

SOCRATES: And how, Protarchus, can there be true and false fears, or true
and false expectations, or true and false opinions?

PROTARCHUS: I grant that opinions may be true or false, but not pleasures.

SOCRATES: What do you mean? I am afraid that we are raising a very
serious enquiry.

PROTARCHUS: There I agree.

SOCRATES: And yet, my boy, for you are one of Philebus' boys, the point to
be considered, is, whether the enquiry is relevant to the argument.


SOCRATES: No tedious and irrelevant discussion can be allowed; what is
said should be pertinent.


SOCRATES: I am always wondering at the question which has now been raised.


SOCRATES: Do you deny that some pleasures are false, and others true?

PROTARCHUS: To be sure I do.

SOCRATES: Would you say that no one ever seemed to rejoice and yet did not
rejoice, or seemed to feel pain and yet did not feel pain, sleeping or
waking, mad or lunatic?

PROTARCHUS: So we have always held, Socrates.

SOCRATES: But were you right? Shall we enquire into the truth of your

PROTARCHUS: I think that we should.

SOCRATES: Let us then put into more precise terms the question which has
arisen about pleasure and opinion. Is there such a thing as opinion?


SOCRATES: And such a thing as pleasure?


SOCRATES: And an opinion must be of something?


SOCRATES: And a man must be pleased by something?

PROTARCHUS: Quite correct.

SOCRATES: And whether the opinion be right or wrong, makes no difference;
it will still be an opinion?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And he who is pleased, whether he is rightly pleased or not,
will always have a real feeling of pleasure?

PROTARCHUS: Yes; that is also quite true.

SOCRATES: Then, how can opinion be both true and false, and pleasure true
only, although pleasure and opinion are both equally real?

PROTARCHUS: Yes; that is the question.

SOCRATES: You mean that opinion admits of truth and falsehood, and hence
becomes not merely opinion, but opinion of a certain quality; and this is
what you think should be examined?


SOCRATES: And further, even if we admit the existence of qualities in
other objects, may not pleasure and pain be simple and devoid of quality?


SOCRATES: But there is no difficulty in seeing that pleasure and pain as
well as opinion have qualities, for they are great or small, and have
various degrees of intensity; as was indeed said long ago by us.

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

SOCRATES: And if badness attaches to any of them, Protarchus, then we
should speak of a bad opinion or of a bad pleasure?

PROTARCHUS: Quite true, Socrates.

SOCRATES: And if rightness attaches to any of them, should we not speak of
a right opinion or right pleasure; and in like manner of the reverse of

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And if the thing opined be erroneous, might we not say that the
opinion, being erroneous, is not right or rightly opined?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And if we see a pleasure or pain which errs in respect of its
object, shall we call that right or good, or by any honourable name?

PROTARCHUS: Not if the pleasure is mistaken; how could we?

SOCRATES: And surely pleasure often appears to accompany an opinion which
is not true, but false?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly it does; and in that case, Socrates, as we were
saying, the opinion is false, but no one could call the actual pleasure

SOCRATES: How eagerly, Protarchus, do you rush to the defence of pleasure!

PROTARCHUS: Nay, Socrates, I only repeat what I hear.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: There must be a very great difference, between them.

SOCRATES: Then, now let us proceed to contemplate this difference.

PROTARCHUS: Lead, and I will follow.

SOCRATES: Well, then, my view is--

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: We agree--do we not?--that there is such a thing as false, and
also such a thing as true opinion?


SOCRATES: And pleasure and pain, as I was just now saying, are often
consequent upon these--upon true and false opinion, I mean.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And do not opinion and the endeavour to form an opinion always
spring from memory and perception?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Might we imagine the process to be something of this nature?

PROTARCHUS: Of what nature?

SOCRATES: An object may be often seen at a distance not very clearly, and
the seer may want to determine what it is which he sees.

PROTARCHUS: Very likely.

SOCRATES: Soon he begins to interrogate himself.

PROTARCHUS: In what manner?

SOCRATES: He asks himself--'What is that which appears to be standing by
the rock under the tree?' This is the question which he may be supposed to
put to himself when he sees such an appearance.


SOCRATES: To which he may guess the right answer, saying as if in a
whisper to himself--'It is a man.'

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

SOCRATES: Or again, he may be misled, and then he will say--'No, it is a
figure made by the shepherds.'


SOCRATES: And if he has a companion, he repeats his thought to him in
articulate sounds, and what was before an opinion, has now become a

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: But if he be walking alone when these thoughts occur to him, he
may not unfrequently keep them in his mind for a considerable time.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: Well, now, I wonder whether you would agree in my explanation of
this phenomenon.

PROTARCHUS: What is your explanation?

SOCRATES: I think that the soul at such times is like a book.


SOCRATES: Memory and perception meet, and they and their attendant
feelings seem to almost to write down words in the soul, and when the
inscribing feeling writes truly, then true opinion and true propositions
which are the expressions of opinion come into our souls--but when the
scribe within us writes falsely, the result is false.

PROTARCHUS: I quite assent and agree to your statement.

SOCRATES: I must bespeak your favour also for another artist, who is busy
at the same time in the chambers of the soul.

PROTARCHUS: Who is he?

SOCRATES: The painter, who, after the scribe has done his work, draws
images in the soul of the things which he has described.

PROTARCHUS: But when and how does he do this?

SOCRATES: When a man, besides receiving from sight or some other sense
certain opinions or statements, sees in his mind the images of the subjects
of them;--is not this a very common mental phenomenon?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And the images answering to true opinions and words are true,
and to false opinions and words false; are they not?


SOCRATES: If we are right so far, there arises a further question.

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: Whether we experience the feeling of which I am speaking only in
relation to the present and the past, or in relation to the future also?

PROTARCHUS: I should say in relation to all times alike.

SOCRATES: Have not purely mental pleasures and pains been described
already as in some cases anticipations of the bodily ones; from which we
may infer that anticipatory pleasures and pains have to do with the future?

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: And do all those writings and paintings which, as we were saying
a little while ago, are produced in us, relate to the past and present
only, and not to the future?

PROTARCHUS: To the future, very much.

SOCRATES: When you say, 'Very much,' you mean to imply that all these
representations are hopes about the future, and that mankind are filled
with hopes in every stage of existence?


SOCRATES: Answer me another question.

PROTARCHUS: What question?

SOCRATES: A just and pious and good man is the friend of the gods; is he

PROTARCHUS: Certainly he is.

SOCRATES: And the unjust and utterly bad man is the reverse?


SOCRATES: And all men, as we were saying just now, are always filled with

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And these hopes, as they are termed, are propositions which
exist in the minds of each of us?


SOCRATES: And the fancies of hope are also pictured in us; a man may often
have a vision of a heap of gold, and pleasures ensuing, and in the picture
there may be a likeness of himself mightily rejoicing over his good


SOCRATES: And may we not say that the good, being friends of the gods,
have generally true pictures presented to them, and the bad false pictures?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: The bad, too, have pleasures painted in their fancy as well as
the good; but I presume that they are false pleasures.


SOCRATES: The bad then commonly delight in false pleasures, and the good
in true pleasures?

PROTARCHUS: Doubtless.

SOCRATES: Then upon this view there are false pleasures in the souls of
men which are a ludicrous imitation of the true, and there are pains of a
similar character?

PROTARCHUS: There are.

SOCRATES: And did we not allow that a man who had an opinion at all had a
real opinion, but often about things which had no existence either in the
past, present, or future?

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

SOCRATES: And this was the source of false opinion and opining; am I not


SOCRATES: And must we not attribute to pleasure and pain a similar real
but illusory character?

PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: I mean to say that a man must be admitted to have real pleasure
who is pleased with anything or anyhow; and he may be pleased about things
which neither have nor have ever had any real existence, and, more often
than not, are never likely to exist.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, Socrates, that again is undeniable.

SOCRATES: And may not the same be said about fear and anger and the like;
are they not often false?


SOCRATES: And can opinions be good or bad except in as far as they are
true or false?

PROTARCHUS: In no other way.

SOCRATES: Nor can pleasures be conceived to be bad except in so far as
they are false.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: Well, of pleasures which are corrupt and caused by corruption we
will hereafter speak, if we care to continue the enquiry; for the present I
would rather show by another argument that there are many false pleasures
existing or coming into existence in us, because this may assist our final

PROTARCHUS: Very true; that is to say, if there are such pleasures.

SOCRATES: I think that there are, Protarchus; but this is an opinion which
should be well assured, and not rest upon a mere assertion.

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

SOCRATES: Then now, like wrestlers, let us approach and grasp this new


SOCRATES: We were maintaining a little while since, that when desires, as
they are termed, exist in us, then the body has separate feelings apart
from the soul--do you remember?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, I remember that you said so.

SOCRATES: And the soul was supposed to desire the opposite of the bodily
state, while the body was the source of any pleasure or pain which was


SOCRATES: Then now you may infer what happens in such cases.

PROTARCHUS: What am I to infer?

SOCRATES: That in such cases pleasures and pains come simultaneously; and
there is a juxtaposition of the opposite sensations which correspond to
them, as has been already shown.


SOCRATES: And there is another point to which we have agreed.

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: That pleasure and pain both admit of more and less, and that
they are of the class of infinites.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly, we said so.

SOCRATES: But how can we rightly judge of them?

PROTARCHUS: How can we?

SOCRATES: Is it our intention to judge of their comparative importance and
intensity, measuring pleasure against pain, and pain against pain, and
pleasure against pleasure?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, such is our intention, and we shall judge of them

SOCRATES: Well, take the case of sight. Does not the nearness or distance
of magnitudes obscure their true proportions, and make us opine falsely;
and do we not find the same illusion happening in the case of pleasures and

PROTARCHUS: Yes, Socrates, and in a degree far greater.

SOCRATES: Then what we are now saying is the opposite of what we were
saying before.

PROTARCHUS: What was that?

SOCRATES: Then the opinions were true and false, and infected the
pleasures and pains with their own falsity.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: But now it is the pleasures which are said to be true and false
because they are seen at various distances, and subjected to comparison;
the pleasures appear to be greater and more vehement when placed side by
side with the pains, and the pains when placed side by side with the

PROTARCHUS: Certainly, and for the reason which you mention.

SOCRATES: And suppose you part off from pleasures and pains the element
which makes them appear to be greater or less than they really are: you
will acknowledge that this element is illusory, and you will never say that
the corresponding excess or defect of pleasure or pain is real or true.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: Next let us see whether in another direction we may not find
pleasures and pains existing and appearing in living beings, which are
still more false than these.

PROTARCHUS: What are they, and how shall we find them?

SOCRATES: If I am not mistaken, I have often repeated that pains and aches
and suffering and uneasiness of all sorts arise out of a corruption of
nature caused by concretions, and dissolutions, and repletions, and
evacuations, and also by growth and decay?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, that has been often said.

SOCRATES: And we have also agreed that the restoration of the natural
state is pleasure?


SOCRATES: But now let us suppose an interval of time at which the body
experiences none of these changes.

PROTARCHUS: When can that be, Socrates?

SOCRATES: Your question, Protarchus, does not help the argument.

PROTARCHUS: Why not, Socrates?

SOCRATES: Because it does not prevent me from repeating mine.

PROTARCHUS: And what was that?

SOCRATES: Why, Protarchus, admitting that there is no such interval, I may
ask what would be the necessary consequence if there were?

PROTARCHUS: You mean, what would happen if the body were not changed
either for good or bad?


PROTARCHUS: Why then, Socrates, I should suppose that there would be
neither pleasure nor pain.

SOCRATES: Very good; but still, if I am not mistaken, you do assert that

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