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[505a] by attacking the argument. I suspect it is rather the latter. For you have often heard1 that the greatest thing to learn is the idea of good2 by reference to which3 just things4 and all the rest become useful and beneficial. And now I am almost sure you know that this is what I am going to speak of and to say further that we have no adequate knowledge of it. And if we do not know it, then, even if without the knowledge of this we should know all other things never so well, you are aware that it would avail us nothing, [505b] just as no possession either is of any avail5 without the possession of the good. Or do you think there is any profit6 in possessing everything except that which is good, or in understanding all things else apart from the good while understanding and knowing nothing that is fair and good7?” “No, by Zeus, I do not,” he said.

“But, furthermore, you know this too, that the multitude believe pleasure8 to be the good, and the finer9 spirits intelligence or knowledge.10” “Certainly.” “And you are also aware, my friend, that those who hold this latter view are not able to point out what knowledge11 it is but are finally compelled to say that it is the knowledge of the good.” “Most absurdly,” he said. “Is it not absurd,” [505c] said I, “if while taunting us with our ignorance of the good they turn about and talk to us as if we knew it? For they say it is the knowledge of the good,12 as if we understood their meaning when they utter13 the word ‘good.'” “Most true,” he said. “Well, are those who define the good as pleasure infected with any less confusion14 of thought than the others? Or are not they in like manner15 compelled to admit that there are bad pleasures16?” “Most assuredly.” “The outcome is, I take it, that they are admitting [505d] the same things to be both good and bad, are they not?” “Certainly.” “Then is it not apparent that there are many and violent disputes17 about it?” “Of course.” “And again, is it not apparent that while in the case of the just and the honorable many would prefer the semblance18 without the reality in action, possession, and opinion, yet when it comes to the good nobody is content with the possession of the appearance but all men seek the reality, and the semblance satisfies nobody here?” [505e] “Quite so,” he said. “That, then, which every soul pursues19 and for its sake does all that it does, with an intuition20 of its reality, but yet baffled21 and unable to apprehend its nature adequately, or to attain to any stable belief about it as about other things,22 and for that reason failing of any possible benefit from other things,—

1 Plato assumed that the reader will understand that the unavailing quest for “the good” in the earlier dialogues is an anticipation of the idea of good. Cf. Vol. I. on 476 A and What Plato Said, p. 71. Wilamowitz, Platon, i. p. 567, does not understand.

2 Cf. 508 E, 517 C, Cratyl. 418 E. Cf. Phileb. 64 E and What Plato Said, p. 534, on Phaedo 99 A. Plato is unwilling to confine his idea of good to a formula and so seems to speak of it as a mystery. It was so regarded throughout antiquity (cf. Diog. Laert. iii. 27), and by a majority of modern scholars. Cf. my Idea of Good in Plato's Republic, pp. 188-189, What Plato Said, pp. 72, 230-231, Introd. Vol. I. pp. xl-xli, and Vol. II. pp. xxvii, xxxiv.

3 Lit. “the use of which,” i.e. a theory of the cardinal virtues is scientific only if deduced from an ultimate sanction or ideal.

4 The omission of the article merely gives a vaguely generalizing color. It makes no difference.

5 For the idiom οὐδὲν ὄφελος Cf. Euthyph. 4 E, Lysis 208 E, 365 B, Charm. 155 E, etc.

6 Cf. 427 A, Phaedr. 275 C, Cratyl. 387 A, Euthyd. 288 E, Laws 751 B, 944 C, etc.

7 καλὸν δὲ καὶ ἀγαθόν suggests but does not mean καλοκἀγαθόν in its half-technical sense. The two words fill out the rhythm with Platonic fulness and are virtual synonyms. Cf. Phileb. 65 A and Symp. 210-211 where because of the subject the καλόν is substituted for the ἀγαθόν.

8 So Polus and Callicles in the Gorgias and later the Epicureans and Cyrenaics. Cf. also What Plato Said, p. 131; Eurip.Hippol. 382οἱ δ᾽ ἡδονὴν προθέντες ἀντὶ τοῦ καλοῦ, and on 329 A-B. There is no contradiction here with the Philebus. Plato does not himself say that either pleasure or knowledge is the good.

9 κομψοτέροις is very slightly if at all ironical here. Cf. the American “sophisticated” in recent use. See too Theaet. 156 A, Aristot.Eth. Nic 1905 a 18οἱ χαρίεντες.

10 Plato does not distinguish synonyms in the style of Prodicus (Cf. Protag. 337 A ff.) and Aristotle (Cf. Eth. Nic. 1140-1141) when the distinction is irrelevant to his purpose.

11 Cf. Euthyd. 281 D, Theaet. 288 D f., Laws 961 E περὶ τί νοῦς. See Unity of Plato's Thought, n. 650. The demand for specification is frequent in the dialogues. Cf. Euthyph. 13 D, Laches 192 E, Gorg. 451 A, Charm. 165 C-E, Alc. I. 124 E ff.

12 There is no “the” in the Greek. Emendations are idle. Plato is supremely indifferent to logical precision when it makes no difference for a reasonably intelligent reader. Cf. my note on Phileb. 11 B-C in Class. Phil. vol. iii. (1908) pp. 343-345.

13 φθέγξωνται logically of mere physical utterance (Cf. Theaet. 157 B), not, I think, as Adam says, of high-sounding oracular utterance.

14 Lit. “wandering,” the mark of error. Cf. 484 B, Lysis 213 E, Phaedo 79 C, Soph. 230 B, Phaedr. 263 B, Parmen. 135 E, Laws 962 D.

15 καὶ οὗτοι is an illogical idiom of over-particularization. The sentence begins generally and ends specifically. Plato does not care, since the meaning is clear. Cf. Protag. 336 C, Gorg. 456 C-D, Phaedo 62 A.

16 A distinct reference to Callicles' admission in Gorgias 499 Bτὰς μὲν βελτίους ἡδονάς, τὰς δὲ χείρους cf. 499 C, Rep. 561 C, and Phileb. 13 Cπάσας ὁμοίας εἶναι. Stenzel's notion (Studien zur Entw. d. Plat. Dialektik, p. 98) that in the PhilebusPlato “ist von dem Standpunkt des Staates 503 C weit entfernt” is uncritical. the Republic merely refers to the GorgiasTo show that the question is disputed and the disputants contradict themselves.

17 ἀμφισβητήσεις is slightly disparaging, Cf. Theaet. 163 C, 158 C, 198 C, Sophist 233 B, 225 B, but less so than ἐρίζειν in Protag. 337 A.

18 Men may deny the reality of the conventional virtues but not of the ultimate sanction, whatever it is. Cf. Theaet. 167 C, 172 A-B, and Shorey in Class. Phil. xvi (1921) pp. 164-168.

19 Cf. Gorg. 468 Bτὸ ἀγαθὸν ἄρα διώκοντες, 505 A-B, Phileb. 20 D, Symp. 206 A, Euthyd. 278 E, Aristot.Eth. Nic. 1173 a, 1094 a οὗ πάντα ἐφίεται, Zeller, Aristot. i. pp. 344-345, 379, Boethius iii. 10, Dante, Purg. xvii. 127-129.

20 Cf. Phileb. 64 Aμαντευτέον. Cf. Arnold's phrase, God and the Bible, chap. i. p. 23 “approximate language thrown out as it were at certain great objects which the human mind augurs and feels after.”

21 As throughout the minor dialogues. Cf. What Plato Said, p. 71.

22 Because, in the language of Platonic metaphysics, it is the παρουσία τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ that makes them good; but for the practical purpose of ethical theory, because they need the sanction. Cf. Introd. p. xxvii, and Montaigne i. 24 “Toute aultre science est dommageable à celuy qui n'a Ia science de la bonté.”

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