translated by Benjamin 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.
Soc. Philebus was saying that enjoyment and pleasure and delight,
and the class of feelings akin to them, are a good to every living
being, whereas I contend, that not these, but wisdom and
intelligence and memory, and their kindred, right opinion and true
reasoning, are better and more desirable than pleasure for all who are
able to partake of them, and that to all such who are or ever will
be they are the most advantageous of all things. Have I not given,
Philebus, a fair statement of the two sides of the argument?
Philebus Nothing could be fairer, Socrates.
Soc. And do you, the position which is assigned to you?
Pro. I cannot do otherwise, since our excellent Philebus has left
Soc. Surely the truth about these matters ought, by all means, to be
Soc. Shall we further agree-
Pro. To what?
Soc. That you and I must now try to indicate some state and
disposition of the soul, which has the property of making all men
Pro. Yes, by all means.
Soc. And you say that pleasure and I say that wisdom, is such a
Soc. And what if there be a third state, which is better than
either? Then both of us are vanquished-are we not? But if this life,
which really has the power of making men happy, turn out to be more
akin to pleasure than to wisdom, the life of pleasure may still have
the advantage over the life of wisdom.
Soc. Or suppose that the better life is more nearly allied to
wisdom, then wisdom conquers, and pleasure is defeated;-do you agree?
Soc. And what do you say, Philebus?
Phi. I say; and shall always say, that pleasure is easily the
conqueror; but you must decide for yourself, Protarchus.
Pro. You, Philebus, have handed over the argument to me, and have no
longer a voice in the matter?
Phi. True enough. Nevertheless I would dear myself and deliver my
soul of you; and I call the goddess herself to witness that I now do
Pro. You may appeal to us; we too be the witnesses of your words.
And now, Socrates, whether Philebus is pleased or displeased, we
will proceed with the argument.
Soc. Then let us begin with the goddess herself, of whom Philebus
says that she is called Aphrodite, but that her real name is Pleasure.
Pro. Very good.
Soc. The awe which I always feel, Protarchus, about the names of the
gods is more than human-it exceeds all other fears. And now I would
not sin against Aphrodite by naming her amiss; let her be called
what she pleases. But Pleasure I know to be manifold, and with her, as
I was just now saying, we must begin, and consider what her nature is.