Translation: B. Jowett

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.

Part of the series on:
The Dialogues of Plato
Early dialogues:
EuthyphroFirst Alcibiades
Hippias MajorHippias Minor
Transitional & middle dialogues:
Later middle dialogues:
The RepublicPhaedrus
Late dialogues:
The SophistThe Statesman
Of doubtful authenticity:
MinosRival Lovers
Second AlcibiadesTheages

SOCRATES: 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.

SOCRATES: And do you, Protarchus, accept the position which is assigned to

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

SOCRATES: Surely the truth about these matters ought, by all means, to be

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Shall we further agree--


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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, by all means.

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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And what do you say, Philebus?

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Not in so far as they are pleasures.

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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

PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?

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

PROTARCHUS: What question?

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly we ought.

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

PROTARCHUS: What principle?

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

PROTARCHUS: Speak plainer.

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Of what nature?

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

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

SOCRATES: That is what I should wish.

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

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


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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Tell us what that is.

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

PROTARCHUS: Tell us what it is.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: How do they afford an illustration?

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

SOCRATES: I will; but you must let me make one little remark first about
these matters; I was saying, that he who begins with any individual unity,
should proceed from that, not to infinity, but to a definite number, and
now I say conversely, that he who has to begin with infinity should not
jump to unity, but he should look about for some number representing a
certain quantity, and thus out of all end in one. And now let us return
for an illustration of our principle to the case of letters.

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

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


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

PHILEBUS: Certainly.

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


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

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

SOCRATES: Most true, O son of Callias; and the previous argument showed
that if we are not able to tell the kinds of everything that has unity,
likeness, sameness, or their opposites, none of us will be of the smallest
use in any enquiry.

PROTARCHUS: That seems to be very near the truth, Socrates. Happy would
the wise man be if he knew all things, and the next best thing for him is
that he should know himself. Why do I say so at this moment? I will tell
you. You, Socrates, have granted us this opportunity of conversing with
you, and are ready to assist us in determining what is the best of human
goods. For when Philebus said that pleasure and delight and enjoyment and
the like were the chief good, you answered--No, not those, but another
class of goods; and we are constantly reminding ourselves of what you said,
and very properly, in order that we may not forget to examine and compare
the two. And these goods, which in your opinion are to be designated as
superior to pleasure, and are the true objects of pursuit, are mind and
knowledge and understanding and art, and the like. There was a dispute
about which were the best, and we playfully threatened that you should not
be allowed to go home until the question was settled; and you agreed, and
placed yourself at our disposal. And now, as children say, what has been
fairly given cannot be taken back; cease then to fight against us in this

SOCRATES: In what way?

PHILEBUS: Do not perplex us, and keep asking questions of us to which we
have not as yet any sufficient answer to give; let us not imagine that a
general puzzling of us all is to be the end of our discussion, but if we
are unable to answer, do you answer, as you have promised. Consider, then,
whether you will divide pleasure and knowledge according to their kinds; or
you may let the matter drop, if you are able and willing to find some other
mode of clearing up our controversy.

SOCRATES: If you say that, I have nothing to apprehend, for the words 'if
you are willing' dispel all my fear; and, moreover, a god seems to have
recalled something to my mind.

PHILEBUS: What is that?

SOCRATES: I remember to have heard long ago certain discussions about
pleasure and wisdom, whether awake or in a dream I cannot tell; they were
to the effect that neither the one nor the other of them was the good, but
some third thing, which was different from them, and better than either.
If this be clearly established, then pleasure will lose the victory, for
the good will cease to be identified with her:--Am I not right?


SOCRATES: And there will cease to be any need of distinguishing the kinds
of pleasures, as I am inclined to think, but this will appear more clearly
as we proceed.

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What are they?

SOCRATES: Is the good perfect or imperfect?

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

SOCRATES: And is the good sufficient?

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

SOCRATES: And no one can deny that all percipient beings desire and hunt
after good, and are eager to catch and have the good about them, and care
not for the attainment of anything which is not accompanied by good.

PROTARCHUS: That is undeniable.

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

PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?

SOCRATES: Let there be no wisdom in the life of pleasure, nor any pleasure
in the life of wisdom, for if either of them is the chief good, it cannot
be supposed to want anything, but if either is shown to want anything, then
it cannot really be the chief good.

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Then answer.


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly I should.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

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

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

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


SOCRATES: But if you had neither mind, nor memory, nor knowledge, nor true
opinion, you would in the first place be utterly ignorant of whether you
were pleased or not, because you would be entirely devoid of intelligence.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And similarly, if you had no memory you would not recollect that
you had ever been pleased, nor would the slightest recollection of the
pleasure which you feel at any moment remain with you; and if you had no
true opinion you would not think that you were pleased when you were; and
if you had no power of calculation you would not be able to calculate on
future pleasure, and your life would be the life, not of a man, but of an
oyster or 'pulmo marinus.' Could this be otherwise?


SOCRATES: But is such a life eligible?

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

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

PROTARCHUS: And what is this life of mind?

SOCRATES: I want to know whether any one of us would consent to live,
having wisdom and mind and knowledge and memory of all things, but having
no sense of pleasure or pain, and wholly unaffected by these and the like

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: There can be no difference of opinion; not some but all would
surely choose this third rather than either of the other two, and in
addition to them.

SOCRATES: But do you see the consequence?

PROTARCHUS: To be sure I do. The consequence is, that two out of the
three lives which have been proposed are neither sufficient nor eligible
for man or for animal.

SOCRATES: Then now there can be no doubt that neither of them has the
good, for the one which had would certainly have been sufficient and
perfect and eligible for every living creature or thing that was able to
live such a life; and if any of us had chosen any other, he would have
chosen contrary to the nature of the truly eligible, and not of his own
free will, but either through ignorance or from some unhappy necessity.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly that seems to be true.

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

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

SOCRATES: Perhaps, Philebus, you may be right in saying so of my 'mind';
but of the true, which is also the divine mind, far otherwise. However, I
will not at present claim the first place for mind as against the mixed
life; but we must come to some understanding about the second place. For
you might affirm pleasure and I mind to be the cause of the mixed life; and
in that case although neither of them would be the good, one of them might
be imagined to be the cause of the good. And I might proceed further to
argue in opposition to Philebus, that the element which makes this mixed
life eligible and good, is more akin and more similar to mind than to
pleasure. And if this is true, pleasure cannot be truly said to share
either in the first or second place, and does not, if I may trust my own
mind, attain even to the third.

PROTARCHUS: Truly, Socrates, pleasure appears to me to have had a fall; in
fighting for the palm, she has been smitten by the argument, and is laid
low. I must say that mind would have fallen too, and may therefore be
thought to show discretion in not putting forward a similar claim. And if
pleasure were deprived not only of the first but of the second place, she
would be terribly damaged in the eyes of her admirers, for not even to them
would she still appear as fair as before.

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

PROTARCHUS: Nonsense, Socrates.

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, and more than that, because you do not seem to be aware
that none of us will let you go home until you have finished the argument.

SOCRATES: Heavens! Protarchus, that will be a tedious business, and just
at present not at all an easy one. For in going to war in the cause of
mind, who is aspiring to the second prize, I ought to have weapons of
another make from those which I used before; some, however, of the old ones
may do again. And must I then finish the argument?

PROTARCHUS: Of course you must.

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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

PROTARCHUS: Upon what principle would you make the division?

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

PROTARCHUS: Which of them?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean, my good friend?

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

PROTARCHUS: What will that be?

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Let us begin with the first three; and as we find two out of the
three greatly divided and dispersed, let us endeavour to reunite them, and
see how in each of them there is a one and many.

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

SOCRATES: Well, the two classes are the same which I mentioned before, one
the finite, and the other the infinite; I will first show that the infinite
is in a certain sense many, and the finite may be hereafter discussed.


SOCRATES: And now consider well; for the question to which I invite your
attention is difficult and controverted. When you speak of hotter and
colder, can you conceive any limit in those qualities? Does not the more
and less, which dwells in their very nature, prevent their having any end?
for if they had an end, the more and less would themselves have an end.

PROTARCHUS: That is most true.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, Socrates, that is exceedingly true.

SOCRATES: Yes, my dear Protarchus, and your answer reminds me that such an
expression as 'exceedingly,' which you have just uttered, and also the term
'gently,' have the same significance as more or less; for whenever they
occur they do not allow of the existence of quantity--they are always
introducing degrees into actions, instituting a comparison of a more or a
less excessive or a more or a less gentle, and at each creation of more or
less, quantity disappears. For, as I was just now saying, if quantity and
measure did not disappear, but were allowed to intrude in the sphere of
more and less and the other comparatives, these last would be driven out of
their own domain. When definite quantity is once admitted, there can be no
longer a 'hotter' or a 'colder' (for these are always progressing, and are
never in one stay); but definite quantity is at rest, and has ceased to
progress. Which proves that comparatives, such as the hotter and the
colder, are to be ranked in the class of the infinite.

PROTARCHUS: Your remark certainly has the look of truth, Socrates; but
these subjects, as you were saying, are difficult to follow at first. I
think however, that if I could hear the argument repeated by you once or
twice, there would be a substantial agreement between us.

SOCRATES: Yes, and I will try to meet your wish; but, as I would rather
not waste time in the enumeration of endless particulars, let me know
whether I may not assume as a note of the infinite--


SOCRATES: I want to know whether such things as appear to us to admit of
more or less, or are denoted by the words 'exceedingly,' 'gently,'
'extremely,' and the like, may not be referred to the class of the
infinite, which is their unity, for, as was asserted in the previous
argument, all things that were divided and dispersed should be brought
together, and have the mark or seal of some one nature, if possible, set
upon them--do you remember?


SOCRATES: And all things which do not admit of more or less, but admit
their opposites, that is to say, first of all, equality, and the equal, or
again, the double, or any other ratio of number and measure--all these may,
I think, be rightly reckoned by us in the class of the limited or finite;
what do you say?

PROTARCHUS: Excellent, Socrates.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


SOCRATES: Add to them drier, wetter, more, less, swifter, slower, greater,
smaller, and all that in the preceding argument we placed under the unity
of more and less.

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What is the other.

SOCRATES: The class of the finite which we ought to have brought together
as we did the infinite; but, perhaps, it will come to the same thing if we
do so now;--when the two are combined, a third will appear.

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

SOCRATES: The class of the equal and the double, and any class which puts
an end to difference and opposition, and by introducing number creates
harmony and proportion among the different elements.

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

SOCRATES: Yes, that is my meaning.


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And whereas the high and low, the swift and the slow are
infinite or unlimited, does not the addition of the principles aforesaid
introduce a limit, and perfect the whole frame of music?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: I omit ten thousand other things, such as beauty and health and
strength, and the many beauties and high perfections of the soul: O my
beautiful Philebus, the goddess, methinks, seeing the universal wantonness
and wickedness of all things, and that there was in them no limit to
pleasures and self-indulgence, devised the limit of law and order, whereby,
as you say, Philebus, she torments, or as I maintain, delivers the soul.--
What think you, Protarchus?

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

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

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

SOCRATES: That is because the amazing variety of the third class is too
much for you, my dear friend; but there was not this difficulty with the
infinite, which also comprehended many classes, for all of them were sealed
with the note of more and less, and therefore appeared one.


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


SOCRATES: Yes, indeed; and when I speak of the third class, understand me
to mean any offspring of these, being a birth into true being, effected by
the measure which the limit introduces.

PROTARCHUS: I understand.

SOCRATES: Still there was, as we said, a fourth class to be investigated,
and you must assist in the investigation; for does not everything which
comes into being, of necessity come into being through a cause?

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And the same may be said of the patient, or effect; we shall
find that they too differ, as I was saying, only in name--shall we not?


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: So let us call it.

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

PROTARCHUS: By all means.

SOCRATES: Then the first I will call the infinite or unlimited, and the
second the finite or limited; then follows the third, an essence compound
and generated; and I do not think that I shall be far wrong in speaking of
the cause of mixture and generation as the fourth.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: And now what is the next question, and how came we hither? Were
we not enquiring whether the second place belonged to pleasure or wisdom?


SOCRATES: And now, having determined these points, shall we not be better
able to decide about the first and second place, which was the original
subject of dispute?

PROTARCHUS: I dare say.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Beyond a doubt.

SOCRATES: This is evidently comprehended in the third or mixed class;
which is not composed of any two particular ingredients, but of all the
elements of infinity, bound down by the finite, and may therefore be truly
said to comprehend the conqueror life.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: And what shall we say, Philebus, of your life which is all
sweetness; and in which of the aforesaid classes is that to be placed?
Perhaps you will allow me to ask you a question before you answer?

PHILEBUS: Let me hear.

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

PHILEBUS: They belong to the class which admits of more, Socrates; for
pleasure would not be perfectly good if she were not infinite in quantity
and degree.

SOCRATES: Nor would pain, Philebus, be perfectly evil. And therefore the
infinite cannot be that element which imparts to pleasure some degree of
good. But now--admitting, if you like, that pleasure is of the nature of
the infinite--in which of the aforesaid classes, O Protarchus and Philebus,
can we without irreverence place wisdom and knowledge and mind? And let us
be careful, for I think that the danger will be very serious if we err on
this point.

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly I did; but I am now in a great strait, and I must
entreat you, Socrates, to be our spokesman, and then we shall not say
anything wrong or disrespectful of your favourite.

SOCRATES: I must obey you, Protarchus; nor is the task which you impose a
difficult one; but did I really, as Philebus implies, disconcert you with
my playful solemnity, when I asked the question to what class mind and
knowledge belong?

PROTARCHUS: You did, indeed, Socrates.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What question?

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: That would certainly be my wish.

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

PROTARCHUS: Let me hear.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

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

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

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

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

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What question?

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


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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Such a supposition is quite unreasonable.

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

PROTARCHUS: Most justly.

SOCRATES: And wisdom and mind cannot exist without soul?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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


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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: I shall be sure to remember.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Proceed; I am attending.

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

PROTARCHUS: That is very probable.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What phenomena do you mean?

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


SOCRATES: Whereas eating is a replenishment and a pleasure?


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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

PROTARCHUS: What have you to say?

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, certainly, we said so.

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

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

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


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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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

PROTARCHUS: How will you proceed?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: How shall I change them?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

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


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


SOCRATES: But do we not distinguish memory from recollection?

PROTARCHUS: I think so.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: A fair retort; but let us proceed.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

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

SOCRATES: Then let us go back to our examples.

PROTARCHUS: Where shall we begin?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Of course.

SOCRATES: And is not thirst desire?

PROTARCHUS: Yes, of drink.

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

PROTARCHUS: I should say, of replenishment with drink.

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

PROTARCHUS: Clearly so.

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

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

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

PROTARCHUS: Of course.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: There must.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: I cannot imagine any other.

SOCRATES: But do you see the consequence?

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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


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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Quite right.

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

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

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


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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean by 'intermediate'?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: I suppose so.

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

PROTARCHUS: Quite true, Socrates.

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

PROTARCHUS: What question?

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: There I agree.

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


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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: To be sure I do.

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

PROTARCHUS: So we have always held, Socrates.

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

PROTARCHUS: I think that we should.

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


SOCRATES: And such a thing as pleasure?


SOCRATES: And an opinion must be of something?


SOCRATES: And a man must be pleased by something?

PROTARCHUS: Quite correct.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes; that is also quite true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes; that is the question.

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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Quite true, Socrates.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOCRATES: And is there no difference, my friend, between that pleasure
which is associated with right opinion and knowledge, and that which is
often found in all of us associated with falsehood and ignorance?

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Lead, and I will follow.

SOCRATES: Well, then, my view is--

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Of what nature?

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

PROTARCHUS: Very likely.

SOCRATES: Soon he begins to interrogate himself.

PROTARCHUS: In what manner?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

PROTARCHUS: What is your explanation?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: I quite assent and agree to your statement.

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

PROTARCHUS: Who is he?

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

PROTARCHUS: But when and how does he do this?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

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

PROTARCHUS: To the future, very much.

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


SOCRATES: Answer me another question.

PROTARCHUS: What question?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly he is.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Doubtless.

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

PROTARCHUS: There are.

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

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: How do you mean?

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, Socrates, that again is undeniable.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: In no other way.

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

PROTARCHUS: Nay, Socrates, that is the very opposite of truth; for no one
would call pleasures and pains bad because they are false, but by reason of
some other great corruption to which they are liable.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, I remember that you said so.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: What am I to infer?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly, we said so.

SOCRATES: But how can we rightly judge of them?

PROTARCHUS: How can we?

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What was that?

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, that has been often said.

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


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

PROTARCHUS: When can that be, Socrates?

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

PROTARCHUS: Why not, Socrates?

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

PROTARCHUS: And what was that?

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

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


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

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, and their words are of no mean authority.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: The latter alternative is the true one.

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


SOCRATES: A better and more unexceptionable way of speaking will be--


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

PROTARCHUS: That, Socrates, is the more correct mode of speaking.

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

PROTARCHUS: What life?

SOCRATES: The life which we affirmed to be devoid either of pain or of

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

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

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

SOCRATES: But if so, the negation of pain will not be the same with

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: 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?

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

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

SOCRATES: Now, can that which is neither be either gold or silver?

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And do they think that they have pleasure when they are free
from pain?

PROTARCHUS: They say so.

SOCRATES: And they must think or they would not say that they have

PROTARCHUS: I suppose not.

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

PROTARCHUS: But they are undoubtedly of distinct natures.

SOCRATES: 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?

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

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

PROTARCHUS: And who may they be?

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


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

PROTARCHUS: And would you, Socrates, have us agree with them?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Well said.

SOCRATES: 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.

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

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: In that every one will agree.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: How will that be?

SOCRATES: Why, because we might be tempted to answer, 'When we are in

PROTARCHUS: Yes, that is the natural answer.

SOCRATES: Well, but are not those pleasures the greatest of which mankind
have the greatest desires?


SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: That is obvious as soon as it is said.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: I think I follow you.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And ought we not to select some of these for examination, and
see what makes them the greatest?

PROTARCHUS: To be sure we ought.

SOCRATES: Take the case of the pleasures which arise out of certain

PROTARCHUS: What disorders?

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

PROTARCHUS: What pleasures?

SOCRATES: 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

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

SOCRATES: I did not introduce the argument, O 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

PROTARCHUS: Then we had better proceed to analyze this family of

SOCRATES: You mean the pleasures which are mingled with pain?


SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: How is that?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: That description is very true to nature.

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


SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, indeed.

SOCRATES: He will say of himself, and others will say 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.

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

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: I believe that to be quite true.

SOCRATES: There still remains one other sort of admixture of pleasures and

PROTARCHUS: What is that?

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

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


SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, there is a natural connexion between them.

SOCRATES: And you remember also how at the sight of tragedies the
spectators smile through their tears?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly I do.

SOCRATES: And are you aware that even at a comedy the soul experiences a
mixed feeling of pain and pleasure?

PROTARCHUS: I do not quite understand you.

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

PROTARCHUS: There is, I think.

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


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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And ignorance, and what is termed clownishness, are surely an

PROTARCHUS: To be sure.

SOCRATES: From these considerations learn to know the nature of the


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: You mean, Socrates, 'Know thyself.'

SOCRATES: I do; and the opposite would be, 'Know not thyself.'

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And now, O Protarchus, try to divide this into three.

PROTARCHUS: Indeed I am afraid that I cannot.

SOCRATES: Do you mean to say that I must make the division for you?

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

SOCRATES: Are there not three ways in which ignorance of self may be

PROTARCHUS: What are they?

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, that is a very common error.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Of course.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, that is by far the commonest delusion.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And may not all this be truly called an evil condition?

PROTARCHUS: Very evil.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: How can we make the further division which you suggest?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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,

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

SOCRATES: Well, then, let us examine the nature of envy.


SOCRATES: Is not envy an unrighteous pleasure, and also an unrighteous

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: There is nothing envious or wrong in rejoicing at the
misfortunes of enemies?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

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

PROTARCHUS: Undoubtedly.

SOCRATES: Did we not say that ignorance was always an evil?


SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: They are ridiculous.

SOCRATES: And do we not acknowledge this ignorance of theirs to be a

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And do we feel pain or pleasure in laughing at it?

PROTARCHUS: Clearly we feel pleasure.

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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.

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

SOCRATES: 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?


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


SOCRATES: Then many other cases still remain?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Excellent.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Then what pleasures, Socrates, should we be right in
conceiving to be true?

SOCRATES: True pleasures are those which are given by beauty of colour and
form, and most 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

PROTARCHUS: Once more, Socrates, I must ask what you mean.

SOCRATES: 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
or 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?

PROTARCHUS: I am trying to understand, Socrates, and I hope that you will
try to make your meaning clearer.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Yes, there are such pleasures.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: I understand.

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

PROTARCHUS: And this is the case.

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

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

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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Quite right, Socrates.

SOCRATES: Still there is something more to be considered about pleasures.

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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

PROTARCHUS: Why do you ask, Socrates?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

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

PROTARCHUS: What instance shall we select?

SOCRATES: Suppose that we first of all take whiteness.

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Clearly that which is most unadulterated.

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


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Perfectly right.

SOCRATES: There is no need of adducing many similar examples in
illustration of the argument about pleasure; 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.

PROTARCHUS: Assuredly; and the instance you have given is quite

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: What do they mean?

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

PROTARCHUS: Ask, and I will answer.

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

PROTARCHUS: What manner of natures are they?

SOCRATES: The one majestic ever, the other inferior.

PROTARCHUS: You speak riddles.

SOCRATES: You have seen loves good and fair, and also brave lovers of

PROTARCHUS: I should think so.

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

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

SOCRATES: 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).

PROTARCHUS: Your many repetitions make me slow to understand.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very likely.

SOCRATES: Here are two new principles.

PROTARCHUS: What are they?

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

PROTARCHUS: I readily accept from you both generation and essence.

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

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


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

SOCRATES: I mean, O 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.

PROTARCHUS: Why do you not answer yourself, Socrates?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Assuredly.

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


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Most certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Quite right.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Assuredly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Of whom are you speaking, and what do they mean?

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: That is certainly what they appear to think.

SOCRATES: And is not destruction universally admitted to be the opposite
of generation?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Nothing, Socrates, can be more irrational than all this.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: Knowledge has two parts,--the one productive, and the other


SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: Let us separate the superior or dominant elements in each of

PROTARCHUS: What are they, and how do you separate them?

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

PROTARCHUS: Not much, certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Nothing more, assuredly.

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: How is that?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Very true, Socrates.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Let us make that division.

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

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

SOCRATES: Certainly, Protarchus; but are not these also distinguishable
into two kinds?

PROTARCHUS: What are the two kinds?

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

PROTARCHUS: How would you distinguish them?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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?

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

SOCRATES: Right; but do you understand why I have discussed the subject?

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

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Clearly; that was the intention.

SOCRATES: And has not the argument in what has preceded, already shown
that the arts have different provinces, and vary in their degrees of

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: That is the very question which the argument is asking.

SOCRATES: And how, Protarchus, shall we answer the enquiry?

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

SOCRATES: Then the answer will be the easier.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: Then this is your judgment; and this is the answer which, upon
your authority, we will give to all masters of the art of

PROTARCHUS: What answer?

SOCRATES: 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.

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Very good.

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

PROTARCHUS: And pray, what is dialectic?

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: 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

SOCRATES: You mean to say that you would like to desert, if you were not

PROTARCHUS: As you please.

SOCRATES: May I not have led you into a misapprehension?


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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?


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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

SOCRATES: How can anything fixed be concerned with that which has no

PROTARCHUS: How indeed?

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

PROTARCHUS: I should imagine not.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: What point?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And of the names expressing cognition, ought not the fairest to
be given to the fairest things?

PROTARCHUS: That is natural.

SOCRATES: And are not mind and wisdom the names which are to be honoured


SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And these were the names which I adduced of the rivals of

PROTARCHUS: Very true, Socrates.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: And now we must begin to mix them?

PROTARCHUS: By all means.

SOCRATES: But had we not better have a preliminary word and refresh our


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Let me hear.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And is there not and was there not a further point which was
conceded between us?

PROTARCHUS: What was it?

SOCRATES: That the good differs from all other things.

PROTARCHUS: In what respect?

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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?


SOCRATES: And did we think that either of them alone would be sufficient?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly not, Socrates; but why repeat such questions any

SOCRATES: Then the perfect and universally eligible and entirely good
cannot possibly be either of them?

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

SOCRATES: 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


SOCRATES: Have we not found a road which leads towards the good?

PROTARCHUS: What road?

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.


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

PROTARCHUS: Far greater.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: By all means.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: Perhaps we might.

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

PROTARCHUS: What is it?

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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Very good and right.

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: I think that we ought to do what you suggest.

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: We will suppose such a man.

SOCRATES: 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

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

SOCRATES: 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?

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

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes, I think that you must, if human life is to be a life at

SOCRATES: 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?

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

SOCRATES: Well, then, shall I let them all flow into what Homer poetically
terms 'a meeting of the waters'?

PROTARCHUS: By all means.

SOCRATES: There--I have let them 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.

PROTARCHUS: Quite true.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: It will be by far the safer course to let flow the true ones

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

PROTARCHUS: Yes; the necessary pleasures should certainly be allowed to

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: What shall we say about them, and what course shall we take?

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


SOCRATES: Tell us, O 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:


SOCRATES: 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.

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

SOCRATES: 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?'

PROTARCHUS: Likely enough.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: Most certainly.

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

PROTARCHUS: What is that?

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

PROTARCHUS: Impossible.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: I agree with you, Socrates.

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

PROTARCHUS: I think that we are.

SOCRATES: 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.

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

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

PROTARCHUS: What do you mean?

SOCRATES: Every man knows it.


SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: 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


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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Quite right.

SOCRATES: 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.

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

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: You are speaking of beauty, truth, and measure?

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: 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.

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

PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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?

PROTARCHUS: 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.


PROTARCHUS: 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.

SOCRATES: 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.

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

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


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

PROTARCHUS: I dare say.

SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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.


SOCRATES: 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.


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


SOCRATES: Philebus affirmed that pleasure was always and absolutely the

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

SOCRATES: 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


SOCRATES: 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.


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

PROTARCHUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: 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.

PROTARCHUS: Most true.

SOCRATES: 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

PROTARCHUS: Certainly.

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


SOCRATES: 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.

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

SOCRATES: And will you let me go?

PROTARCHUS: 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

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