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Full text of "Ancient Classic Texts before 400 B.C."

360 BC 
PHILEBUS 
by Plato 
translated by Benjamin Jowett 
PHILEBUS 

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: SOCRATES; PROTARCHUS; PHILEBUS. 

Socrates. Observe, Protarchus, the nature of the position which 
you are now going to take from Philebus, and what the other position 
is which I maintain, and which, if you do not approve of it, is to 
be controverted by you. Shall you and I sum up the two sides? 

Protarchus. By all means. 

Soc. Philebus was saying that enjoyment and pleasure and delight, 
and the class of feelings akin to them, are a good to every living 
being, whereas I contend, that not these, but wisdom and 
intelligence and memory, and their kindred, right opinion and true 
reasoning, are better and more desirable than pleasure for all who are 
able to partake of them, and that to all such who are or ever will 
be they are the most advantageous of all things. Have I not given, 
Philebus, a fair statement of the two sides of the argument? 

Philebus Nothing could be fairer, Socrates. 

Soc. And do you, the position which is assigned to you? 

Pro. I cannot do otherwise, since our excellent Philebus has left 
the field. 

Soc. Surely the truth about these matters ought, by all means, to be 
ascertained. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Shall we further agree- 
Pro. To what? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Yes, by all means. 

Soc. And you say that pleasure and I say that wisdom, is such a 
state? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. True. 

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

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And what do you say, Philebus? 

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

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

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

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

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

Pro. Very good. 

Soc. 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! 

Pro. 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 himself? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Very likely; but how will this invalidate the argument? 

Soc. Why, I shall reply, that dissimilar as they are, you apply to 
them a now 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. 

Pro. 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? 

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

Pro. Not in so far as they are pleasures. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. What do you mean? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. How do you mean? 

Soc. Shall I, Protarchus, have my own question asked of me by you? 

Pro. What question? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. What do you mean? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. May none of this befall 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. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Certainly we ought. 

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

Pro. What principle? 

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

Pro. Speak plainer. 

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. 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. 

Pro. But what, Socrates, are those other marvels connected with this 
subject which, as you imply, have not yet become common and 
acknowledged? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Of what nature? 

Soc. 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 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. 

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

Soc. That is what I should wish. 

Pro. 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. 

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



Pro. How? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Tell us what that is. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Tell us what it is. 

Soc. 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 dialectic. 

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

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

Pro. How do they afford an illustration? 

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

Pro. Very true. 



Soc. 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. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. And the knowledge which makes a man a musician is of the same 
kind . 

Pro. How so? 

Soc. Sound is one in music as well as in grammar? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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 
music . 

Pro. Nothing. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. I think that what Socrates is now saying is excellent, 
Philebus . 

Phi. I think so too, but how do his words bear upon us and upon 
the argument? 

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

Pro. Indeed he is, and you must answer him. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. What do you mean? 

Soc. 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, 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 letters. 

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

Soc. Are you going to ask, Philebus, what this has to do with the 
argument? 



Phi. Yes, that is a question which Protarchus and I have been long 
asking . 

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

Phi. How so? 

Soc. Did we not begin by enquiring into the comparative 
eligibility of pleasure and wisdom? 

Phi. Certainly. 

Soc. And we maintain that they are each of them one? 

Phi. True. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. Most true, 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. 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. In what way? 

Phi. 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. 

Soc. 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. 

Phi. What is that? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Capital, Socrates; pray go on as you propose. 

Soc. But, let us first agree on some little points. 

Pro. What are they? 

Soc. Is the good perfect or imperfect? 

Pro. The most perfect, Socrates, of all things. 

Soc. And is the good sufficient? 

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

Soc. 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. 

Pro. That is undeniable. 

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

Pro. How do you mean? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Impossible. 

Soc. And will you help us to test these two lives? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Then answer. 

Pro. Ask. 

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

Pro. Certainly I should. 

Soc. Would you consider that there was still anything wanting to you 
if you had perfect pleasure? 

Pro. Certainly not. 

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

Pro. Why should I? Having pleasure I should have all things. 

Soc. Living thus, you would always throughout your life enjoy the 
greatest pleasures? 

Pro. I should. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro . No . 

Soc. But is such a life eligible? 

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

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

Pro. And what is this life of mind? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Neither life, Socrates, appears eligible to me, or is likely, 
as I should imagine, to be chosen by any one else. 

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

Pro. Out of the union, that is, of pleasure with mind and wisdom? 

Soc. Yes, that is the life which I mean. 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. But do you see the consequence? 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Certainly that seems to be true. 

Soc. And now have I not sufficiently shown that Philebus, goddess is 
not to be regarded as identical with the good? 

Phi. Neither is your "mind" the good, Socrates, for that will be 
open to the same objections. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. 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 . 

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

Pro. Nonsense, Socrates. 

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

Pro. 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 . 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Of course you must. 

Soc. Let us be very careful in laying the foundation. 



Pro. What do you mean? 

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

Pro. Upon what principle would you make the division? 

Soc. Let us take some of our newly-found notions. 

Pro. Which of them? 

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

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. What do you mean, my good friend? 

Soc. I say that a fourth class is still wanted. 

Pro. What will that be? 

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

Pro. And would you like to have a fifth dass or cause of 
resolution as well as a cause of composition? 

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

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. 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. 

Pro. I agree. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. That is most true. 

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

Pro . Yes . 

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

Pro. Yes, Socrates, that is exceedingly true. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. 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 . 

Soc. 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. What? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Excellent, Socrates. 

Soc. And now what nature shall we ascribe to the third or compound 
kind? 

Pro. You, I think, will have to tell me that. 

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

Pro. Offer up a prayer, then, and think. 

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

Pro. What do you mean, and what proof have you to offer of what 
you are saying? 

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

Pro. Proceed. 

Soc. Were we not speaking just now of hotter and colder? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. In the class of the infinite, you mean? 

Soc. Yes; and now mingle this with the other. 

Pro. What is the other. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. What do you mean by the class of the finite? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. 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 . 

Soc. Yes, that is my meaning. 

Pro. Proceed. 

Soc. Does not the right participation in the finite give health-in 
disease, for instance? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Yes, certainly. 

Soc. Or, again, when cold and heat prevail, does not the 
introduction of them take away excess and indef initeness, and infuse 
moderation and harmony? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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



Pro. Most true. 

Soc. I omit ten thousand other things, such as beauty and health and 
strength, and the many beauties and high perfections of the soul: 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? 

Pro. Her ways are much to my mind, Socrates. 

Soc. You will observe that I have spoken of three classes? 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. 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 . 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And the finite or limit had not many divisions, and we ready 
acknowledged it to be by nature one? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. I understand. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Yes, certainly; for how can there be anything which has no 
cause? 

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

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro . We shall . 

Soc. The agent or cause always naturally leads, and the patient or 
effect naturally follows it? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro. True. 

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

Pro . Yes . 

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

Pro. So let us call it. 

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

Pro. By all means. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. We were. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. I dare say. 

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

Pro. True. 

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

Pro . Beyond a doubt . 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. 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? 

Phi. Let me hear. 

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

Phi. 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. 

Soc. 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, 
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. 

Phi. You magnify, Socrates, the importance of your favourite god. 

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

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

Phi. And did not you, Protarchus, propose to answer in my place? 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. You did, indeed, Socrates. 

Soc. 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 fully. 

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

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

Pro. What question? 

Soc. 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 wisdom. 

Pro. 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. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. That would certainly be my wish. 

Soc. Then now please to consider the next stage of the argument. 

Pro. Let me hear. 

Soc. 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. 

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

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

Pro. What is it? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. 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 . 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. That is a question which does not deserve an answer. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Why, how could any man who gave any other be deemed in his 
senses? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. We did. 

Soc. 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 
elements . 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. 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? 

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

Soc. Well, tell me, is this question worth asking? 

Pro. What question? 

Soc. May our body be said to have a soul? 

Pro. Clearly. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Clearly, Socrates, that is the only source. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Such a supposition is quite unreasonable. 



Soc. 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? 

Pro. Most justly. 

Soc. And wisdom and mind cannot exist without soul? 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. Do not then suppose that these words are rashly spoken by us, 
Protarchus, for they are in harmony with the testimony of those who 
said of old time that mind rules the universe. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. I have indeed, and yet I did not observe that you had answered. 

Soc. A jest is sometimes refreshing, Protarchus, when it 
interrupts earnest. 

Pro. Very true. 

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

Pro. True. 

Soc. And the class to which pleasure belongs has also been long 
ago discovered? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. I shall be sure to remember. 

Soc. 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 ever 

Pro. If this is the road, let us take it. 

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

Pro. What do you mean? 

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

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

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

Pro. Very good. 

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

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

Soc. Capital; and now will you please to give me your best 
attention? 

Pro. Proceed; I am attending. 

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

Pro. That is very probable. 

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. Do not obvious and every-day phenomena furnish the simplest 



illustration? 

Pro. What phenomena do you mean? 

Soc. Hunger, for example, is a dissolution and a pain. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. Whereas eating is a replenishment and a pleasure? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Granted; what you say has a general truth. 

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

Pro. Good. 

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. 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 small? 

Pro. Certainly not. 

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

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. What have you to say? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. You mean that he may live neither rejoicing nor sorrowing? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Yes, certainly, we said so. 

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

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



Soc. 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. 

Pro. Just so. 

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

Pro. What do you mean? 

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

Pro. How will you proceed? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Granted. 

Soc. And the soul may be truly said to be oblivious of the first but 
not of the second? 

Pro. Quite true. 

Soc. When I say oblivious, do not suppose that I mean 
f orgetf ulness in a literal sense; for f orgetf ulness 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? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. Then just be so good as to change the terms. 

Pro. How shall I change them? 

Soc. 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 
unconsciousness . 

Pro. I see. 

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

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. Then now we know the meaning of the word? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. And memory may, I think, be rightly described as the 
preservation of consciousness? 

Pro. Right. 

Soc. But do we not distinguish memory from recollection? 

Pro. I think so. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And when she recovers of herself the lost recollection of 
some consciousness or knowledge, the recovery is termed recollection 
and reminiscence? 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. There is a reason why I say all this. 

Pro. What is it? 

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. 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. 

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

Soc. Nay, Protarchus, we shall surely lose the puzzle if we find the 
answer . 



Pro. A fair retort; but let us proceed. 

Soc. Did we not place hunger, thirst, and the like, in the class 
of desires? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

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

Soc. Then let us go back to our examples. 

Pro. Where shall we begin? 

Soc. Do we mean anything when we say "a man thirsts"? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. We mean to say that he "is empty"? 

Pro. Of course. 

Soc. And is not thirst desire? 

Pro. Yes, of drink. 

Soc. Would you say of drink, or of replenishment with drink? 

Pro. I should say, of replenishment with drink. 

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

Pro. Clearly so. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Impossible. 

Soc. And yet he who desires, surely desires something? 

Pro. Of course. 

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

Pro. True. 

Soc. Then there must be something in the thirsty man which in some 
way apprehends replenishment? 

Pro. There must. 

Soc. And that cannot be the body, for the body is supposed to be 
emptied? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. I cannot imagine any other. 

Soc. But do you see the consequence? 

Pro. What is it? 

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

Pro. Why so? 

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

Pro . Yes . 

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

Pro. True. 

Soc. 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 . 

Pro. Most true. 

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

Pro. Quite right. 

Soc. 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 . 

Pro. Of what affections, and of what kind of life, are you speaking? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And what would you say of the intermediate state? 

Pro. What do you mean by "intermediate"? 

Soc. 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 state? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Would you say that he was wholly pained or wholly pleased? 

Pro. 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 . 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Then man and the other animals have at the same time both 
pleasure and pain? 

Pro. I suppose so. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Quite true, Socrates. 

Soc. Shall the enquiry into these states of feeling be made the 
occasion of raising a question? 

Pro. What question? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. But how, Socrates, can there be false pleasures and pains? 

Soc. And how, Protarchus, can there be true and false fears, or true 
and false expectations, or true and false opinions? 

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

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

Pro. There I agree. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Surely. 

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

Pro. Right. 

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

Pro. How so? 

Soc. Do you deny that some pleasures are false, and others true? 

Pro. To be sure I do. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. So we have always held, Socrates. 

Soc. But were you right? Shall we enquire into the truth of your 
opinion? 

Pro. I think that we should. 

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

Pro. Yes. 



Soc. And such a thing as pleasure? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. And an opinion must of something? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And a man must be pleased by something? 

Pro. Quite correct. 

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

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro. Yes; that is also quite true. 

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

Pro. Yes; that is the question. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro . Yes . 

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

Pro. Clearly. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Quite true. 

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

Pro. Quite true, Socrates. 

Soc. 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 rightness? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Not if the pleasure is mistaken; how could we? 

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

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

Soc. How eagerly, Protarchus, do you rush to the defence of 
pleasure ! 

Pro. Nay, Socrates, I only repeat what I hear. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. There must be a very great difference, between them. 

Soc. Then, now let us proceed to contemplate this difference. 

Pro. Lead, and I will follow. 

Soc. Well, then, my view is- 

Pro. What is it? 

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

Pro . Yes . 

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

Pro. Very true. 

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



Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Might we imagine the process to be something of this nature? 

Pro. Of what nature? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Very likely. 

Soc. Soon he begins to interrogate himself. 

Pro. In what manner? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. True. 

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

Pro. Very good. 

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

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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 
proposition . 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Very true. 

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

Pro. What is your explanation? 

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

Pro. How so? 

Soc. 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 . 

Pro. I quite assent and agree to your statement their 

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

Pro. Who is he? 

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

Pro. But when and how does he do this? 

Soc. 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 phenomenom? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro. They are. 

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

Pro. What is it? 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. I should say in relation to all times alike. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. 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? 



Pro. To the future, very much. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Exactly. 

Soc. Answer me another question. 

Pro. What question? 

Soc. A just and pious and good man is the friend of the gods; is 
he not? 

Pro. Certainly he is. 

Soc. And the unjust and utterly bad man is the reverse? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And all men, as we were saying just now, are always filled with 
hopes? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. 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 fortune. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Certainly. 

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

Pro. They are. 

Soc. The bad then commonly delight in false pleasures, and the 
good in true pleasures? 

Pro. Doubtless. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. There are. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Quite true. 

Soc. And this was the source of false opinion and opining; am I 
not right? 

Pro . Yes . 

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

Pro. How do you mean? 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Yes, Socrates, that again is undeniable. 

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

Pro. Quite so. 

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

Pro. In no other way. 

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

Pro. 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. 

Soc. Well, of pleasures which are 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 decision. 

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

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

Pro. Very good. 

Soc. Then now, like wrestlers, let us approach and grasp this new 
argument . 

Pro. Proceed. 

Soc. 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? 

Pro. Yes, I remember that you said so. 

Soc. 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 experienced. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. Then now you may infer what happens in such cases. 

Pro. What am I to infer? 

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

Pro. Clearly. 

Soc. And there is another point to which we have agreed. 

Pro. What is it? 

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

Pro. Certainly, we said so. 

Soc. But how can we rightly judge of them? 

Pro. How can we? 

Soc. It is our intention to judge of their comparative importance 
and intensity, measuring pleasure against pain, and pain against pain, 
and pleasure against pleasure? 

Pro. Yes, such is our intention, and we shall judge of them 
accordingly. 

Soc. 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 pains? 

Pro. Yes, Socrates, and in a degree far greater. 

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

Pro. What was that? 

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

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. 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 pleasures. 

Pro. Certainly, and for the reason which you mention. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. 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. 

Pro. What are they, and how shall we find them? 



Soc. 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? 

Pro. Yes, that has been often said. 

Soc. And we have also agreed that the restoration of the natural 
state is pleasure? 

Pro. Right. 

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

Pro. When can that be, Socrates? 

Soc. Your question, Protarchus, does not help the argument. 

Pro. Why not, Socrates? 

Soc. Because it does not prevent me from repeating mine. 

Pro. And what was that? 

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

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

Soc. Yes. 

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

Soc. Very good; but still, if I am not mistaken, you do assert 
that we must always be experiencing one of them; that is what the wise 
tell us; for, say they, all things are ever flowing up and down. 

Pro. Yes, and their words are of no mean authority. 

Soc. Of course, for they are no mean authorities themselves; and I 
should like to avoid the brunt of their argument. Shall I tell you how 
I mean to escape from them? And you shall be the partner of my flight. 

Pro. How? 

Soc. To them we will say: "Good; but are we, or living things in 
general, always conscious of what happens to us-for example, of our 
growth, or the like? Are we not, on the contrary, almost wholly 
unconscious of this and similar phenomena?" You must answer for them. 

Pro. The latter alternative is the true one. 

Soc. Then we were not right in saying, just now, that motions 
going up and down cause pleasures and pains? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. A better and more unexceptionable way of speaking will be- 
Pro. What? 

Soc. If we say that the great changes produce pleasures and pains, 
but that the moderate and lesser ones do neither. 

Pro. That, Socrates, is the more correct mode of speaking. 

Soc. But if this be true, the life to which I was just now referring 
again appears . 

Pro. What life? 

Soc. The life which we affirmed to be devoid either of pain or of 
joy. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. We may assume then that there are three lives, one pleasant, 
one painful, and the third which is neither; what say you? 

Pro. I should say as you do that there are three of them. 

Soc. But if so, the negation of pain will not be the same with 
pleasure . 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. Then when you hear a person saying, that always to live without 
pain is the pleasantest of all things, what would you understand him 
to mean by that statement? 

Pro. I think that by pleasure he must mean the negative of pain. 

Soc. Let us take any three things; or suppose that we embellish a 
little and call the first gold, the second silver, and there shall 
be a third which is neither. 

Pro. Very good. 

Soc. Now, can that which is neither be either gold or silver? 



Pro. Impossible. 

Soc. No more can that neutral or middle life be rightly or 
reasonably spoken or thought of as pleasant or painful. 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. And yet, my friend, there are, as we know, persons who say 
and think so. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And do they think that they have pleasure when they are free 
from pain? 

Pro. They say so. 

Soc. And they must think or they would not say that they have 
pleasure . 

Pro. I suppose not. 

Soc. And yet if pleasure and the negation of pain are of distinct 
natures, they are wrong. 

Pro. But they are undoubtedly of distinct natures. 

Soc. Then shall we take the view that they are three, as we were 
just now saying, or that they are two only-the one being a state of 
pain, which is an evil, and the other a cessation of pain, which is of 
itself a good, and is called pleasant? 

Pro. But why, Socrates, do we ask the question at all? I do not 
see the reason. 

Soc. You, Protarchus, have clearly never heard of certain enemies of 
our friend Philebus. 

Pro. And who may they be? 

Soc. Certain persons who are reputed to be masters in natural 
philosophy, who deny the very existence of pleasure. 

Pro. Indeed. 

Soc. They say that what the school of Philebus calls pleasures are 
all of them only avoidances of pain. 

Pro. And would you, Socrates, have us agree with them? 

Soc. Why, no, I would rather use them as a sort of diviners, who 
divine the truth, not by rules of art, but by an instinctive 
repugnance and extreme detestation which a noble nature has of the 
power of pleasure, in which they think that there is nothing sound, 
and her seductive influence is declared by them to be witchcraft, 
and not pleasure. This is the use which you may make of them. And when 
you have considered the various grounds of their dislike, you shall 
hear from me what I deem to be true pleasures . Having thus examined 
the nature of pleasure from both points of view, we will bring her 
up for judgment. 

Pro. Well said. 

Soc. Then let us enter into an alliance with these philosophers 
and follow in the track of their dislike. I imagine that they would 
say something of this sort; they would begin at the beginning, and ask 
whether, if we wanted to know the nature of any quality, such as 
hardness, we should be more likely to discover it by looking at the 
hardest things, rather than at the least hard? You, Protarchus, 
shall answer these severe gentlemen as you answer me. 

Pro. By all means, and I reply to them, that you should look at 
the greatest instances . 

Soc. Then if we want to see the true nature of pleasures as a class, 
we should not look at the most diluted pleasures, but at the most 
extreme and most vehement? 

Pro. In that every one will agree. 

Soc. And the obvious instances of the greatest pleasures, as we have 
often said, are the pleasures of the body? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And are they felt by us to be or become greater, when we are 
sick or when we are in health? And here we must be careful in our 
answer, or we shall come to grief. 

Pro. How will that be? 

Soc. Why, because we might be tempted to answer, "When we are in 
health." 



Pro. Yes, that is the natural answer. 

Soc. Well, but are not those pleasures the greatest of which mankind 
have the greatest desires? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And do not people who are in a fever, or any similar illness, 
feel cold or thirst or other bodily affections more intensely? Am I 
not right in saying that they have a deeper want and greater 
pleasure in the satisfaction of their want? 

Pro. That is obvious as soon as it is said. 

Soc. Well, then, shall we not be right in saying, that if a person 
would wish to see the greatest pleasures he ought to go and look, 
not at health, but at disease? And here you must distinguish : -do not 
imagine that I mean to ask whether those who are very ill have more 
pleasures than those who are well, but understand that I am speaking 
of the magnitude of pleasure; I want to know where pleasures are found 
to be most intense. For, as I say, we have to discover what is 
pleasure, and what they mean by pleasure who deny her very existence. 

Pro. I think I follow you. 

Soc. You will soon have a better opportunity of showing whether 
you do or not, Protarchus . Answer now, and tell me whether you see, 
I will not say more, but more intense and excessive pleasures in 
wantonness than in temperance? Reflect before you speak. 

Pro. I understand you, and see that there is a great difference 
between them; the temperate are restrained by the wise man's 
aphorism of "Never too much, " which is their rule, but excess of 
pleasure possessing the minds of fools and wantons becomes madness and 
makes them shout with delight. 

Soc. Very good, and if this be true, then the greatest pleasures and 
pains will clearly be found in some vicious state of soul and body, 
and not in a virtuous state. 

Pro. Certainly. 
Soc. And ought we not to select some of these for examination, and 
see what makes them the greatest? 

Pro. To be sure we ought. 

Soc. Take the case of the pleasures which arise out of certain 
disorders . 

Pro. What disorders? 

Soc. The pleasures of unseemly disorders, which our severe friends 
utterly detest. 

Pro. What pleasures? 

Soc. Such, for example, as the relief of itching and other 
ailments by scratching, which is the only remedy required. For what in 
Heaven's name is the feeling to be called which is thus produced in 
us?-Pleasure or pain? 

Pro. A villainous mixture of some kind, Socrates, I should say. 

Soc. I did not introduce the argument, Protarchus, with any 
personal reference to Philebus, but because, without the consideration 
of these and similar pleasures, we shall not be able to determine 
the point at issue. 

Pro. Then we had better proceed to analyze this family of pleasures. 

Soe. You mean the pleasures which are mingled with pain? 

Pro. Exactly. 

Soc. There are some mixtures which are of the body, and only in 
the body, and others which are of the soul, and only in the soul; 
while there are other mixtures of pleasures with pains, common both to 
soul and body, which in their composite state are called sometimes 
pleasures and sometimes pains . 

Pro. How is that? 

Soc. Whenever, in the restoration or in the derangement of nature, a 
man experiences two opposite feelings; for example, when he is cold 
and is growing warm, or again; when he is hot and is becoming cool, 
and he wants to have the one and be rid of the other; -the sweet has 
a bitter, as the common saying is, and both together fasten upon him 
and create irritation and in time drive him to distraction. 



Pro. That description is very true to nature. 

Soc. And in these sorts of mixtures the pleasures and pains are 
sometimes equal, and sometimes one or other of them predominates? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. Of cases in which the pain exceeds the pleasure, an example 
is afforded by itching, of which we were just now speaking, and by the 
tingling which we feel when the boiling and fiery element is within, 
and the rubbing and motion only relieves the surface, and does not 
reach the parts affected; then if you put them to the fire, and as a 
last resort apply cold to them, you may often produce the most intense 
pleasure or pain in the inner parts, which contrasts and mingles 
with the pain or pleasure, as the case may be, of the outer parts; and 
this is due to the forcible separation of what is united, or to the 
union of what is separated, and to the juxtaposition of pleasure and 
pain . 

Pro. Quite so. 

Soc. Sometimes the element of pleasure prevails in a man, and the 
slight undercurrent of pain makes him tingle, and causes a gentle 
irritation; or again, the excessive infusion of pleasure creates an 
excitement in him, -he even leaps for joy, he assumes all sorts of 
attitudes, he changes all manner of colours, he gasps for breath, 
and is quite amazed, and utters the most irrational exclamations. 

Pro. Yes, indeed. 

Soc. He will say of himself, and others will of him, that he is 
dying with these delights; and the more dissipated and 
good-for-nothing he is, the more vehemently he pursues them in every 
way; of all pleasures he declares them to be the greatest; and he 
reckons him who lives in the most constant enjoyment of them to be the 
happiest of mankind. 

Pro. That, Socrates, is a very true description of the opinions of 
the majority about pleasures. 

Soc. Yes, Protarchus, quite true of the mixed pleasures, which arise 
out of the communion of external and internal sensations in the 
body; there are also cases in which the mind contributes an, 
opposite element to the body, whether of pleasure or pain, and the two 
unite and form one mixture. Concerning these I have already 
remarked, that when a man is empty he desires to be full, and has 
pleasure in hope and pain in vacuity. But now I must further add 
what I omitted before, that in all these and similar emotions in which 
body and mind are opposed (and they are innumerable) , pleasure and 
pain coalesce in one. 

Pro. I believe that to be quite true. 

Soc. There still remains one other sort of admixture of pleasures 
and pains . 

Pro. What is that? 

Soc. The union which, as we were saying, the mind often 
experiences of purely mental feelings. 

Pro. What do you mean? 

Soc. Why, do we not speak of anger, fear, desire, sorrow, love, 
emulation, envy, and the like, as pains which belong to the soul only? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. And shall we not find them also full of the most wonderful 
pleasures? need I remind you of the anger 

Which stirs even a wise man to violence, 
And is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb? 

And you remember how pleasures mingle with pains in lamentation and 
bereavement? 

Pro. Yes, there is a natural connection between them. 

Soc. And you remember also how at the sight of tragedies the 
spectators smile through their tear? 

Pro. Certainly I do. 

Soc. And are you aware that even at a comedy the soul experiences 



a mixed feeling of pain and pleasure? 

Pro. I do not quite understand you. 

Soc. I admit, Protarchus, that there is some difficulty in 
recognizing this mixture of feelings at a comedy. 

Pro. There is, I think. 

Soc. And the greater the obscurity of the case the more desirable 
the examination of it because the difficulty in detecting other 
cases of mixed pleasures and pains will be less. 

Pro. Proceed. 

Soc. I have just mentioned envy; would you not call that a pain of 
the soul? 

Pro. Yes 

Soc. And yet the envious man finds something in the misfortunes of 
his neighbours at which he is pleased? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And ignorance, and what is termed clownishness, are surely an 
evil? 

Pro. To be sure. 

Soc. From these considerations learn to know the nature of the 
ridiculous . 

Pro. Explain. 

Soc. The ridiculous is in short the specific name which is used to 
describe the vicious form of a certain habit; and of vice in general 
it is that kind which is most at variance with the inscription at 
Delphi . 

Pro. You mean, Socrates, "Know thyself." 

Soc. I do; and the opposite would be, "Know not thyself." 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And now, Protarchus, try to divide this into three. 

Pro. Indeed I am afraid that I cannot. 

Soc. Do you mean to say that I must make the division for you? 

Pro. Yes, and what is more, I beg that you will. 

Soc. Are there not three ways in which ignorance of self may be 
shown? 

Pro. What are they? 

Soc. In the first place, about money; the ignorant may fancy himself 
richer than he is. 

Pro. Yes, that is a very common error. 

Soc. And still more often he will fancy that he is taller or 
fairer than he is, or that he has some other advantage of person which 
he really has not. 

Pro. Of course. 

Soc. And yet surely by far the greatest number err about the goods 
of the mind; they imagine themselves to be much better men than they 
are . 

Pro. Yes, that is by far the commonest delusion. 

Soc. And of all the virtues, is not wisdom the one which the mass of 
mankind are always claiming, and which most arouses in them a spirit 
of contention and lying conceit of wisdom? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And may not all this be truly called an evil condition? 

Pro . Very evil . 

Soc But we must pursue the division a step further, Protarchus, if 
we would see in envy of the childish sort a singular mixture of 
pleasure and pain. 

Pro. How can we make the further division which you suggest? 

Soc. All who are silly enough to entertain this lying conceit of 
themselves may of course be divided, like the rest of mankind, into 
two classes-one having power and might; and the other the reverse. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Let this, then, be the principle of division; those of them who 
are weak and unable to revenge themselves, when they are laughed at, 
may be truly called ridiculous, but those who can defend themselves 
may be more truly described as strong and formidable; for ignorance in 



the powerul is hateful and horrible, because hurtful to others both in 
reality and in fiction, but powerless ignorance may be reckoned, and 
in truth is, ridiculous. 

Pro. That is very true, but I do not as yet see where is the 
admixture of pleasures and pains. 

Soc. Well, then, let us examine the nature of envy. 

Pro. Proceed. 

Soc. Is not envy an unrighteous pleasure, and also an unrighteous 
pain? 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. There is nothing envious or wrong in rejoicing at the 
misfortunes of enemies? 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. But to feel joy instead of sorrow at the sight of our 
friends' misfortunes-is not that wrong? 

Pro. Undoubtedly. 

Soc. Did we not say that ignorance was always an evil? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And the three kinds of vain conceit in our friends which we 
enumerated-the vain conceit of beauty, of wisdom, and of wealth, are 
ridiculous if they are weak, and detestable when they are powerful: 
May we not say, as I was saying before, that our friends who are in 
this state of mind, when harmless to others, are simply ridiculous? 

Pro. They are ridiculous. 

Soc. And do we not acknowledge this ignorance of theirs to be a 
misfortune? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And do we feel pain or pleasure in laughing at it? 

Pro. Clearly we feel pleasure. 

Soc. And was not envy the source of this pleasure which we feel at 
the misfortunes of friends? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Then the argument shows that when we laugh at the folly of 
our friends, pleasure, in mingling with envy, mingles with pain, for 
envy has been acknowledged by us to be mental pain, and laughter is 
pleasant; and so we envy and laugh at the same instant. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And the argument implies that there are combinations of 
pleasure and pain in lamentations, and in tragedy and comedy, not only 
on the stage, but on the greater stage of human life; and so in 
endless other cases. 

Pro. I do not see how any one can deny what you say, Socrates, 
however eager he may be to assert the opposite opinion. 

Soc. I mentioned anger, desire, sorrow, fear, love, emulation, envy, 
and similar emotions, as examples in which we should find a mixture of 
the two elements so often named; did I not? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. We may observe that our conclusions hitherto have had reference 
only to sorrow and envy and anger. 

Pro. I see. 

Soc. Then many other cases still remain? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And why do you suppose me to have pointed out to you the 
admixture which takes place in comedy? Why but to convince you that 
there was no difficulty in showing the mixed nature of fear and love 
and similar affections; and I thought that when I had given you the 
illustration, you would have let me off, and have acknowledged as a 
general truth that the body without the soul, and the soul without the 
body, as well as the two united, are susceptible of all sorts of 
admixtures of pleasures and pains; and so further discussion would 
have been unnecessary. And now I want to know whether I may depart; or 
will you keep me here until midnight? I fancy that I may obtain my 
release without many words; -if I promise that to-morrow I will give 
you an account of all these cases. But at present I would rather 



sail in another direction, and go to other matters which remain to 
be settled, before the judgment can be given which Philebus demands. 

Pro. Very good, Socrates; in what remains take your own course. 

Soc. Then after the mixed pleasures the unmixed should have their 
turn; this is the natural and necessary order. 

Pro. Excellent. 

Soc. These, in turn, then, I will now endeavour to indicate; for 
with the maintainers of the opinion that all pleasures are a cessation 
of pain, I do not agree, but, as I was saying, I use them as 
witnesses, that there are pleasures which seem only and are not, and 
there are others again which have great power and appear in many 
forms, yet are intermingled with pains, and are partly alleviations of 
agony and distress, both of body and mind. 

Pro. Then what pleasures, Socrates, should we be right in conceiving 
to be true? 

Soc. True pleasures are those which are given by beauty of colour 
and form, and most of of those which arise from smells; those of 
sound, again, and in general those of which the want is painless and 
unconscious, and of which the fruition is palpable to sense and 
pleasant and unalloyed with pain. 

Pro. Once more, Socrates, I must ask what you mean. 

Soc. My meaning is certainly not obvious, and I will endeavour to be 
plainer. I do not mean by beauty of form such beauty as that of 
animals or pictures, which the many would suppose to be my meaning; 
but, says the argument, understand me to mean straight lines and 
circles, and the plane solid figures which are formed out of them by 
turning-lathes and rulers and measurers of angles; for these I 
affirm to be not only relatively beautiful, like other things, but 
they are eternally and absolutely beautiful, and they have peculiar 
pleasures, quite unlike the pleasures of scratching. And there are 
colours which are of the same character, and have similar pleasures; 
now do you understand my meaning? 

Pro. I am trying to understand, Socrates, and I hope that you will 
try to make your meaning dearer. 

Soc. When sounds are smooth and clear, and have a single pure 
tone, then I mean to say that they are not relatively but absolutely 
beautiful, and have natural pleasures associated with them. 

Pro. Yes, there are such pleasures. 

Soc. The pleasures of smell are of a less ethereal sort, but they 
have no necessary admixture of pain; and all pleasures, however and 
wherever experienced, which are unattended by pains, I assign to an 
analogous class. Here then are two kinds of pleasures. 

Pro. I understand. 

Soc. To these may be added the pleasures of knowledge, if no 
hunger of knowledge and no pain caused by such hunger precede them. 

Pro. And this is the case. 

Soc. Well, but if a man who is full of knowledge loses his 
knowledge, are there not pains of forgetting? 

Pro. Not necessarily, but there may be times of reflection, when 
he feels grief at the loss of his knowledge. 

Soc. Yes, my friend, but at present we are enumerating only the 
natural perceptions, and have nothing to do with reflection. 

Pro. In that case you are right in saying that the loss of knowledge 
is not attended with pain. 

Soc. These pleasures of knowledge, then, are unmixed with pain; 
and they are not the pleasures of the many but of a very few. 

Pro. Quite true. 

Soc. And now, having fairly separated the pure pleasures and those 
which may be rightly termed impure, let us further add to our 
description of them, that the pleasures which are in excess have no 
measure, but that those which are not in excess have measure; the 
great, the excessive, whether more or less frequent, we shall be right 
in referring to the class of the infinite, and of the more and less, 
which pours through body and soul alike; and the others we shall refer 



to the class which has measure. 

Pro. Quite right, Socrates. 

Soc. Still there is something more to be considered about pleasures. 

Pro. What is it? 

Soc. When you speak of purity and clearness, or of excess, 
abundance, greatness and sufficiency, in what relation do these 
terms stand to truth? 

Pro. Why do you ask, Socrates? 

Soc. Because, Protarchus, I should wish to test pleasure and 
knowledge in every possible way, in order that if there be a pure 
and impure element in either of them, I may present the pure element 
for judgment, and then they will be more easily judged of by you and 
by me and by all of us. 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. Let us investigate all the pure kinds; first selecting for 
consideration a single instance. 

Pro. What instance shall we select? 

Soc. Suppose that we first of all take whiteness. 

Pro. Very good. 

Soc. How can there be purity in whiteness, and what purity? Is 
that purest which is greatest or most in quantity, or that which is 
most unadulterated and freest from any admixture of other colours? 

Pro. Clearly that which is most unadulterated. 

Soc. True, Protarchus; and so the purest white, and not the greatest 
or largest in quantity, is to be deemed truest and most beautiful? 

Pro. Right. 

Soc. And we shall be quite right in saying that a little pure 
white is whiter and fairer and truer than a great deal that is mixed. 

Pro. Perfectly right. 

Soc. There is no need of adducing many similar examples in 
illustration of the argument about pleasures; one such is sufficient 
to prove to us that a small pleasure or a small amount of pleasure, if 
pure or unalloyed with pain, is always pleasanter and truer and fairer 
than a great pleasure or a great amount of pleasure of another kind. 

Pro. Assuredly; and the instance you have given is quite sufficient. 

Soc. But what do you say of another question : -have we not heard that 
pleasure is always a generation, and has no true being? Do not certain 
ingenious philosophers teach this doctrine, and ought not we to be 
grateful to them? 

Pro. What do they mean? 

Soc. I will explain to you, my dear Protarchus, what they mean, by 
putting a question . 

Pro. Ask, and I will answer. 

Soc. I assume that there are two natures, one self-existent, and the 
other ever in want of something. 

Pro. What manner of natures are they? 

Soc. The one majestic ever, the other inferior. 

Pro. You speak riddles. 

Soc. You have seen loves good and fair, and also brave lovers of 
them. 

Pro. I should think so. 

Soc. Search the universe for two terms which are like these two 
and are present everywhere. 

Pro. Yet a third time I must say, Be a little plainer, Socrates. 

Soc. There is no difficulty, Protarchus; the argument is only in 
play, and insinuates that some things are for the sake of something 
else (relatives), and that other things are the ends to which the 
former class subserve (absolutes) . 

Pro. Your many repetitions make me slow to understand. 

Soc. As the argument proceeds, my boy, I dare say that the meaning 
will become clearer. 

Pro. Very likely. 

Soc. Here are two new principles. 

Pro. What are they? 



Soc. One is the generation of all things, and the other is essence. 

Pro. I readily accept from you both generation and essence. 

Soc. Very right; and would you say that generation is for the sake 
of essence, or essence for the sake of generation? 

Pro. You want to know whether that which is called essence is, 
properly speaking, for the sake of generation? 

Soc. Yes. 

Pro. By the gods, I wish that you would repeat your question. 

Soc. I mean, my Protarchus, to ask whether you would tell me 
that ship-building is for the sake of ships, or ships for the sake 
of ship-building? and in all similar cases I should ask the same 
question . 

Pro. Why do you not answer yourself, Socrates? 

Soc. I have no objection, but you must take your part. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. My answer is, that all things instrumental, remedial, material, 
are given to us with a view to generation, and that each generation is 
relative to, or for the sake of, some being or essence, and that the 
whole of generation is relative to the whole of essence. 

Pro. Assuredly. 

Soc. Then pleasure, being a generation, must surely be for the 
sake of some essence? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And that for the sake of which something else is done must be 
placed in the class of good, and that which is done for the sake of 
something else, in some other class, my good friend. 

Pro. Most certainly. 

Soc. Then pleasure, being a generation, will be rightly placed in 
some other class than that of good? 

Pro. Quite right. 

Soc. Then, as I said at first, we ought to be very grateful to him 
who first pointed out that pleasure was a generation only, and had 
no true being at all; for he is clearly one who laughs at the notion 
of pleasure being a good. 

Pro. Assuredly. 

Soc. And he would surely laugh also at those who make generation 
their highest end. 

Pro. Of whom are you speaking, and what do they mean? 

Soc. I am speaking of those who when they are cured of hunger or 
thirst or any other defect by some process of generation are delighted 
at the process as if it were pleasure; and they say that they would 
not wish to live without these and other feelings of a like kind which 
might be mentioned. 

Pro. That is certainly what they appear to think. 

Soc. And is not destruction universally admitted to be the 
opposite of generation? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Then he who chooses thus, would choose generation and 
destruction rather than that third sort of life, in which, as we 
were saying, was neither pleasure nor pain, but only the purest 
possible thought. 

Pro. He who would make us believe pleasure to be a good is 
involved in great absurdities, Socrates. 

Soc. Great, indeed; and there is yet another of them. 

Pro. What is it? 

Soc. Is there not an absurdity in arguing that there is nothing good 
or noble in the body, or in anything else, but that good is in the 
soul only, and that the only good of the soul is pleasure; and that 
courage or temperance or understanding, or any other good of the soul, 
is not really a good?-and is there not yet a further absurdity in 
our being compelled to say that he who has a feeling of pain and not 
of pleasure is bad at the time when he is suffering pain, even 
though he be the best of men; and again, that he who has a feeling 
of pleasure, in so far as he is pleased at the time when he is 



pleased, in that degree excels in virtue? 

Pro. Nothing, Socrates, can be more irrational than all this. 

Soc. And now, having subjected pleasure to every sort of test, let 
us not appear to be too sparing of mind and knowledge: let us ring 
their metal bravely, and see if there be unsoundness in any part, 
until we have found out what in them is of the purest nature; and then 
the truest elements both of pleasure and knowledge may be brought up 
for judgment. 

Pro. Right. 

Soc. Knowledge has two parts-the one productive, and the other 
educational? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And in the productive or handicraft arts, is not one part 
more akin to knowledge, and the other less; and may not the one part 
be regarded as the pure, and the other as the impure? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Let us separate the superior or dominant elements in each of 
them. 

Pro. What are they, and how do you separate them? 

Soc. I mean to say, that if arithmetic, mensuration, and weighing be 
taken away from any art, that which remains will not be much. 

Pro. Not much, certainly. 

Soc. The rest will be only conjecture, and the better use of the 
senses which is given by experience and practice, in addition to a 
certain power of guessing, which is commonly called art, and is 
perfected by attention and pains. 

Pro. Nothing more, assuredly. 

Soc. Music, for instance, is full of this empiricism; for sounds are 
harmonized, not by measure, but by skilful conjecture; the music of 
the flute is always trying to guess the pitch of each vibrating 
note, and is therefore mixed up with much that is doubtful and has 
little which is certain. 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. And the same will be found to hold good of medicine and 
husbandry and piloting and generalship. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. The art of the builder, on the other hand, which uses a 
number of measures and instruments, attains by their help to a greater 
degree of accuracy than the other arts. 

Pro. How is that? 

Soc. In ship-building and house-building, and in other branches of 
the art of carpentering, the builder has his rule, lathe, compass, 
line, and a most ingenious machine for straightening wood. 

Pro. Very true, Socrates. 

Soc. Then now let us divide the arts of which we were speaking 
into two kinds-the arts which, like music, are less exact in their 
results, and those which, like carpentering, are more exact. 

Pro. Let us make that division. 

Soc. Of the latter class, the most exact of all are those which we 
just now spoke of as primary. 

Pro. I see that you mean arithmetic, and the kindred arts of 
weighing and measuring. 

Soc. Certainly, Protarchus; but are not these also distinguishable 
into two kinds? 

Pro. What are the two kinds? 

Soc. In the first place, arithmetic is of two kinds, one of which is 
popular, and the other philosophical. 

Pro. How would you distinguish them? 

Soc. There is a wide difference between them, Protarchus; some 
arithmeticians reckon unequal units; as for example, two armies, two 
oxen, two very large things or two very small things. The party who 
are opposed to them insist that every unit in ten thousand must be the 
same as every other unit. 

Pro. Undoubtedly there is, as you say, a great difference among 



the votaries of the science; and there may be reasonably supposed to 
be two sorts of arithmetic. 

Soc. And when we compare the art of mensuration which is used in 
building with philosophical geometry, or the art of computation 
which is used in trading with exact calculation, shall we say of 
either of the pairs that it is one or two? 

Pro. On the analogy of what has preceded, I should be of opinion 
that they were severally two. 

Soc. Right; but do you understand why I have discussed the subject? 

Pro. I think so, but I should like to be told by you. 

Soc. The argument has all along been seeking a parallel to pleasure, 
and true to that original design, has gone on to ask whether one 
sort of knowledge is purer than another, as one pleasure is purer than 
another . 

Pro. Clearly; that was the intention. 

Soc. And has not the argument in what has preceded, already shown 
that the arts have different provinces, and vary in their degrees of 
certainty? 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. And just now did not the argument first designate a 
particular art by a common term, thus making us believe in the unity 
of that art; and then again, as if speaking of two different things, 
proceed to enquire whether the art as pursed by philosophers, or as 
pursued by non philosophers, has more of certainty and purity? 

Pro. That is the very question which the argument is asking. 

Soc. And how, Protarchus, shall we answer the enquiry? 

Pro. Socrates, we have reached a point at which the difference 
of clearness in different kinds of knowledge is enormous. 

Soc. Then the answer will be the easier. 

Pro. Certainly; and let us say in reply, that those arts into 
which arithmetic and mensuration enter, far surpass all others; and 
that of these the arts or sciences which are animated by the pure 
philosophic impulse are infinitely superior in accuracy and truth. 

Soc. Then this is your judgment; and this is the answer which, 
upon your authority, we will give to all masters of the art of 
misinterpretation? 

Pro. What answer? 

Soc. That there are two arts of arithmetic, and two of 
mensuration; and also several other arts which in like manner have 
this double nature, and yet only one name. 

Pro. Let us boldly return this answer to the masters of whom you 
speak, Socrates, and hope for good luck. 

Soc. We have explained what we term the most exact arts or sciences. 

Pro. Very good. 

Soc. And yet, Protarchus, dialectic will refuse to acknowledge us, 
if we do not award to her the first place. 

Pro. And pray, what is dialectic? 

Soc. Clearly the science which has to do with all that knowledge 
of which we are now speaking; for I am sure that all men who have a 
grain of intelligence will admit that the knowledge which has to do 
with being and reality, and sameness and unchangeableness, is by far 
the truest of all. But how would you decide this question, Protarchus? 

Pro. I have often heard Gorgias maintain, Socrates, that the art 
of persuasion far surpassed every other; this, as he says, is by far 
the best of them all, for to it all things submit, not by 
compulsion, but of their own free will. Now, I should not like to 
quarrel either with you or with him. 

Soc. You mean to say that you would like to desert, if you were 
not ashamed? 

Pro. As you please. 

Soc. May I not have led you into a misapprehension? 

Pro. How? 

Soc. Dear Protarchus, I never asked which was the greatest or best 
or usefullest of arts or sciences, but which had clearness and 



accuracy, and the greatest amount of truth, however humble and 
little useful an art. And as for Gorgias, if you do not deny that 
his art has the advantage in usefulness to mankind, he will not 
quarrel with you for saying that the study of which I am speaking is 
superior in this particular of essential truth; as in the comparison 
of white colours, a little whiteness, if that little be only pure, was 
said to be superior in truth to a great mass which is impure. And 
now let us give our best attention and consider well, not the 
comparative use or reputation of the sciences, but the power or 
faculty, if there be such, which the soul has of loving the truth, and 
of doing all things for the sake of it; let us search into the pure 
element of mind and intelligence, and then we shall be able to say 
whether the science of which I have been speaking is most likely to 
possess the faculty, or whether there be some other which has higher 
claims . 

Pro. Well, I have been considering, and I can hardly think that 
any other science or art has a firmer grasp of the truth than this. 

Soc. Do you say so because you observe that the arts in general 
and those engaged in them make use of opinion, and are resolutely 
engaged in the investigation of matters of opinion? Even he who 
supposes himself to be occupied with nature is really occupied with 
the things of this world, how created, how acting or acted upon. Is 
not this the sort of enquiry in which his life is spent? 

Pro. True. 

Soc. He is labouring, not after eternal being, but about things 
which are becoming, or which will or have become. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. And can we say that any of these things which neither are nor 
have been nor will be unchangeable, when judged by the strict rule 
of truth, ever become certain? 

Pro. Impossible. 

Soc. How can anything fixed be concerned with that which has no 
fixedness? 

Pro. How indeed? 

Soc. Then mind and science when employed about such changing 
things do not attain the highest truth? 

Pro. I should imagine not. 

Soc. And now let us bid farewell, a long farewell, to you or me or 
Philebus or Gorgias, and urge on behalf of the argument a single 
point . 

Pro. What point? 

Soc. Let us say that the stable and pure and true and unalloyed 
has to do with the things which are eternal and unchangeable and 
unmixed, or if not, at any rate what is most akin to them has; and 
that all other things are to be placed in a second or inferior class. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. And of the names expressing cognition, ought not the fairest to 
be given to the fairest things? 

Pro. That is natural. 

Soc. And are not mind and wisdom the names which are to be 
honoured most? 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. And these names may be said to have their truest, and most 
exact application when the mind is engaged in the contemplation of 
true being? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And these were the names which I adduced of the rivals of 
pleasure? 

Pro. Very true, Socrates. 

Soc. In the next place, as to the mixture, here are the ingredients, 
pleasure and wisdom, and we may be compared to artists who have 
their materials ready to their hands. 

Pro . Yes . 

Soc. And now we must begin to mix them? 



Pro. By all means. 

Soc. But had we not better have a preliminary word and refresh our 
memories? 

Pro. Of what? 

Soc. Of that which I have already mentioned. Well says the 
proverb, that we ought to repeat twice and even thrice that which is 
good. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Well then, by Zeus, let us proceed, and I will make what I 
believe to be a fair summary of the argument. 

Pro. Let me hear. 

Soc. Philebus says that pleasure is the true end of all living 
beings, at which all ought to aim, and moreover that it is the chief 
good of all, and that the two names "good" and "pleasant" are 
correctly given to one thing and one nature; Socrates, on the other 
hand, begins by denying this, and further says, that in nature as in 
name they are two, and that wisdom partakes more than pleasure of 
the good. Is not and was not this what we were saying, Protarchus? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And is there not and was there not a further point which was 
conceded between us? 

Pro. What was it? 

Soc. That the good differs from all other things. 

Pro. In what respect? 

Soc. In that the being who possesses good always everywhere and in 
all things has the most perfect sufficiency, and is never in need of 
anything else. 

Pro. Exactly. 

Soc. And did we not endeavour to make an imaginary separation of 
wisdom and pleasure, assigning to each a distinct life, so that 
pleasure was wholly excluded from wisdom, and wisdom in like manner 
had no part whatever in pleasure? 

Pro. We did. 

Soc. And did we think that either of them alone would be sufficient? 

Pro. Certainly not. 

Soc. And if we erred in any point, then let any one who will, take 
up the enquiry again and set us right; and assuming memory and 
wisdom and knowledge and true opinion to belong to the same class, let 
him consider whether he would desire to possess or acquire-I will 
not say pleasure, however abundant or intense, if he has no real 
perception that he is pleased, nor any consciousness of what he feels, 
nor any recollection, however momentary, of the feeling, -but would 
he desire to have anything at all, if these faculties were wanting 
to him? And about wisdom I ask the same question; can you conceive 
that any one would choose to have all wisdom absolutely devoid of 
pleasure, rather than with a certain degree of pleasure, or all 
pleasure devoid of wisdom, rather than with a certain degree of 
wisdom? 

Pro. Certainly not, Socrates; but why repeat such questions any 
more? 

Soc. Then the perfect and universally eligible and entirely good 
cannot possibly be either of them? 

Pro. Impossible. 

Soc. Then now we must ascertain the nature of the good more or 
less accurately, in order, as we were saying, that the second place 
may be duly assigned. 

Pro. Right. 

Soc. Have we not found a road which leads towards the good? 

Pro . What road? 

Soc. Supposing that a man had to be found, and you could discover in 
what house he lived, would not that be a great step towards the 
discovery of the man himself? 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. And now reason intimates to us, as at our first beginning, that 



we should seek the good, not in the unmixed life but in the mixed. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. There is greater hope of finding that which we are seeking in 
the life which is well mixed than in that which is not? 

Pro. Far greater. 

Soc. Then now let us mingle, Protarchus, at the same time offering 
up a prayer to Dionysus or Hephaestus, or whoever is the god who 
presides over the ceremony of mingling. 

Pro. By all means. 

Soc. Are not we the cup-bearers? and here are two fountains which 
are flowing at our side: one, which is pleasure, may be likened to a 
fountain of honey; the other, wisdom, a sober draught in which no wine 
mingles, is of water unpleasant but healthful; out of these we must 
seek to make the fairest of all possible mixtures. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Tell me first; -should we be most likely to succeed if we 
mingled every sort of pleasure with every sort of wisdom? 

Pro. Perhaps we might. 

Soc. But I should be afraid of the risk, and I think that I can show 
a safer plan. 

Pro. What is it? 

Soc. One pleasure was supposed by us to be truer than another, and 
one art to be more exact than another. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. There was also supposed to be a difference in sciences; some of 
them regarding only the transient and perishing, and others the 
permanent and imperishable and everlasting and immutable; and when 
judged by the standard of truth, the latter, as we thought, were truer 
than the former. 

Pro. Very good and right. 

Soc. If, then, we were to begin by mingling the sections of each 
class which have the most of truth, will not the union suffice to give 
us the loveliest of lives, or shall we still want some elements of 
another kind? 

Pro. I think that we ought to do what you suggest. 

Soc. Let us suppose a man who understands justice, and has reason as 
well as understanding about the true nature of this and of all other 
things . 

Pro. We will suppose such a man. 

Soc. Will he have enough of knowledge if he is acquainted only 
with the divine circle and sphere, and knows nothing of our human 
spheres and circles, but uses only divine circles and measures in 
the building of a house? 

Pro. The knowledge which is only superhuman, Socrates, is ridiculous 
in man. 

Soc. What do you mean? Do you mean that you are to throw into the 
cup and mingle the impure and uncertain art which uses the false 
measure and the false circle? 

Pro. Yes, we must, if any of us is ever to find his way home. 

Soc. And am I to include music, which, as, I was saying just now, is 
full of guesswork and imitation, and is wanting in purity? 

Pro. Yes, I think that you must, if human life is to be a life at 
all. 

Soc. Well, then, suppose that I give way, and, like a doorkeeper who 
is pushed and overborne by the mob, I open the door wide, and let 
knowledge of every sort stream in, and the pure mingle with the 
impure? 

Pro. I do not know, Socrates, that any great harm would come of 
having them all, if only you have the first sort. 

Soc. Well, then, shall I let them all flow into what Homer 
poetically terms "a meeting of the waters"? 

Pro. By all means. 

Soc. There-I have let him in, and now I must return to the 
fountain of pleasure. For we were not permitted to begin by mingling 



in a single stream the true portions of both according to our original 
intention; but the love of all knowledge constrained us to let all the 
sciences flow in together before the pleasures. 

Pro. Quite true. 

Soc. And now the time has come for us to consider about the 
pleasures also, whether we shall in like manner let them go all at 
once, or at first only the true ones. 

Pro. It will be by far the safer course to let flow the true ones 
first . 

Soc. Let them flow, then; and now, if there are any necessary 
pleasures, as there were arts and sciences necessary, must we not 
mingle them? 

Pro. Yes, the necessary pleasures should certainly be allowed to 
mingle . 

Soc. The knowledge of the arts has been admitted to be innocent 
and useful always; and if we say of pleasures in like manner that 
all of them are good and innocent for all of us at all times, we 
must let them all mingle? 

Pro. What shall we say about them, and what course shall we take? 

Soc. Do not ask me, Protarchus; but ask the daughters of pleasure 
and wisdom to answer for themselves. 

Pro. How? 

Soc. Tell us, beloved-shall we call you pleasures or by some other 
name?-would you rather live with or without wisdom? I am of opinion 
that they would certainly answer as follows: 

Pro. How? 

Soc. They would answer, as we said before, that for any single class 
to be left by itself pure and isolated is not good, nor altogether 
possible; and that if we are to make comparisons of one class with 
another and choose, there is no better companion than knowledge of 
things in general, and likewise the perfect knowledge, if that may be, 
of ourselves in every respect. 

Pro. And our answer will be: -In that ye have spoken well. 

Soc. Very true. And now let us go back and interrogate wisdom and 
mind: Would you like to have any pleasures in the mixture? And they 
will reply: -"What pleasures do you mean?" 

Pro. Likely enough. 

Soc. And we shall take up our parable and say: Do you wish to have 
the greatest and most vehement pleasures for your companions in 
addition to the true ones? "Why, Socrates," they will say, "how can 
we? seeing that they are the source of ten thousand hindrances to 
us; they trouble the souls of men, which are our habitation, with 
their madness; they prevent us from coming to the birth, and are 
commonly the ruin of the children which are born to us, causing them 
to be forgotten and unheeded; but the true and pure pleasures, of 
which you spoke, know to be of our family, and also those pleasures 
which accompany health and temperance, and which every Virtue, like 
a goddess has in her train to follow her about wherever she 
goes, -mingle these and not the others; there would be great want of 
sense in any one who desires to see a fair and perfect mixture, and to 
find in it what is the highest good in man and in the universe, and to 
divine what is the true form of good-there would be great want of 
sense in his allowing the pleasures, which are always in the company 
of folly and vice, to mingle with mind in the cup. "-Is not this a very 
rational and suitable reply, which mind has made, both on her own 
behalf, as well as on the behalf of memory and true opinion? 

Pro. Most certainly. 

Soc. And still there must be something more added, which is a 
necessary ingredient in every mixture. 

Pro. What is that? 

Soc. Unless truth enter into the composition, nothing can truly be 
created or subsist. 

Pro. Impossible. 

Soc. Quite impossible; and now you and Philebus must tell me whether 



anything is still wanting in the mixture, for to my way of thinking 
the argument is now completed, and may be compared to an incorporeal 
law, which is going to hold fair rule over a living body. 

Pro. I agree with you, Socrates. 

Soc. And may we not say with reason that we are now at the vestibule 
of the habitation of the good? 

Pro. I think that we are. 

Soc. What, then, is there in the mixture which is most precious, and 
which is the principal cause why such a state is universally beloved 
by all? When we have discovered it, we will proceed to ask whether 
this omnipresent nature is more akin to pleasure or to mind. 

Pro. Quite right; in that way we shall be better able to judge. 

Soc. And there is no difficulty in seeing the cause which renders 
any mixture either of the highest value or of none at all. 

Pro. What do you mean? 

Soc. Every man knows it. 

Pro. What? 

Soc. He knows that any want of measure and symmetry in any mixture 
whatever must always of necessity be fatal, both to the elements and 
to the mixture, which is then not a mixture, but only a confused 
medley which brings confusion on the possessor of it. 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. And now the power of the good has retired into the region of 
the beautiful; for measure and symmetry are beauty and virtue all 
the world over. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. Also we said that truth was to form an element in the mixture. 

Pro. Certainly. 

Soc. Then, if we are not able to hunt the good with one idea only, 
with three we may catch our prey; Beauty, Symmetry, Truth are the 
three, and these taken together we may regard as the single cause of 
the mixture, and the mixture as being good by reason of the infusion 
of them. 

Pro. Quite right. 

Soc. And now, Protarchus, any man could decide well enough whether 
pleasure or wisdom is more akin to the highest good, and more 
honourable among gods and men. 

Pro. Clearly, and yet perhaps the argument had better be pursued 
to the end. 

Soc. We must take each of them separately in their relation to 
pleasure and mind, and pronounce upon them; for we ought to see to 
which of the two they are severally most akin. 

Pro. You are speaking of beauty, truth, and measure? 

Soc. Yes, Protarchus, take truth first, and, after passing in review 
mind, truth, pleasure, pause awhile and make answer to yourself-as 
to whether pleasure or mind is more akin to truth. 

Pro. There is no need to pause, for the difference between them is 
palpable; pleasure is the veriest impostor in the world; and it is 
said that in the pleasures of love, which appear to be the greatest, 
perjury is excused by the gods; for pleasures, like children, have not 
the least particle of reason in them; whereas mind is either the 
same as truth, or the most like truth, and the truest. 

Soc. Shall we next consider measure, in like manner, and ask whether 
pleasure has more of this than wisdom, or wisdom than pleasure? 

Pro. Here is another question which may be easily answered; for I 
imagine that nothing can ever be more immoderate than the transports 
of pleasure, or more in conformity with measure than mind and 
knowledge . 

Soc. Very good; but there still remains the third test: Has mind a 
greater share of beauty than pleasure, and is mind or pleasure the 
fairer of the two? 

Pro. No one, Socrates, either awake or dreaming, ever saw or 
imagined mind or wisdom to be in aught unseemly, at any time, past, 
present, or future. 



Soc. Right. 

Pro. But when we see some one indulging in pleasures, perhaps in the 
greatest of pleasures, the ridiculous or disgraceful nature of the 
action makes us ashamed; and so we put them out of sight, and 
consign them to darkness, under the idea that they ought not to meet 
the eye of day. 

Soc. Then, Protarchus, you will proclaim everywhere, by word of 
mouth to this company, and by messengers bearing the tidings far and 
wide, that pleasure is not the first of possessions, nor yet the 
second, but that in measure, and the mean, and the suitable, and the 
like, the eternal nature has been found. 

Pro. Yes, that seems to be the result of what has been now said. 

Soc. In the second class is contained the symmetrical and 
beautiful and perfect or sufficient, and all which are of that family. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. And if you reckon in the third dass mind and wisdom, you will 
not be far wrong, if I divine aright. 

Pro. I dare say. 

Soc. And would you not put in the fourth class the goods which we 
were affirming to appertain specially to the soul-sciences and arts 
and true opinions as we called them? These come after the third class, 
and form the fourth, as they are certainly more akin to good than 
pleasure is. 

Pro. Surely. 

Soc. The fifth class are the pleasures which were defined by us as 
painless, being the pure pleasures of the soul herself, as we termed 
them, which accompany, some the sciences, and some the senses. 

Pro. Perhaps. 

Soc. And now, as Orpheus says, 

With the sixth generation cease the glory of my song. 

Here, at the sixth award, let us make an end; all that remains is to 
set the crown on our discourse. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. Then let us sum up and reassert what has been said, thus 
offering the third libation to the saviour Zeus. 

Pro. How? 

Soc. Philebus affirmed that pleasure was always and absolutely the 
good. 

Pro. I understand; this third libation, Socrates, of which you 
spoke, meant a recapitulation. 

Soc. Yes, but listen to the sequel; convinced of what I have just 
been saying, and feeling indignant at the doctrine, which is 
maintained, not by Philebus only, but by thousands of others, I 
affirmed that mind was far better and far more excellent, as an 
element of human life, than pleasure. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. But, suspecting that there were other things which were also 
better, I went on to say that if there was anything better than 
either, then I would claim the second place for mind over pleasure, 
and pleasure would lose the second place as well as the first. 

Pro. You did. 

Soc. Nothing could be more satisfactorily shown than the 
unsatisfactory nature of both of them. 

Pro. Very true. 

Soc. The claims both of pleasure and mind to be the absolute good 
have been entirely disproven in this argument, because they are both 
wanting in self-sufficiency and also in adequacy and perfection. 

Pro. Most true. 

Soc. But, though they must both resign in favour of another, mind is 
ten thousand times nearer and more akin to the nature of the conqueror 
than pleasure. 

Pro. Certainly. 



Soc. And, according to the judgment which has now been given, 
pleasure will rank fifth. 

Pro. True. 

Soc. But not first; no, not even if all the oxen and horses and 
animals in the world by their pursuit of enjoyment proclaim her to 
be so; -although the many trusting in them, as diviners trust in birds, 
determine that pleasures make up the good of life, and deem the 
lusts of animals to be better witnesses than the inspirations of 
divine philosophy. 

Pro. And now, Socrates, we tell you that the truth of what you 
have been saying is approved by the judgment of all of us. 

Soc. And will you let me go? 

Pro. There is a little which yet remains, and I will remind you of 
it, for I am sure that you will not be the first to go away from an 
argument . 

-THE END-