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This reply of Protagoras looks as though he intended to make a distinction between higher and lower happiness, or between the agreeable and the good; but he does not carry out any such distinction.

μὴ καὶ σὺ κτἑ.: the common notion of agreeable and disagreeable considers only the moment, the passing feeling of desire and aversion. Thus the agreeable can be viewed as harmful (i.e. in its results) and bad, the disagreeable, as beneficial and good. The sophists regarded it as the best gift of fortune, to be able to enjoy the pleasure of the moment without fear of consequences. Protagoras holds himself aloof from this, and follows the common view; for he does not comprehend the Socratic idea, that the truly agreeable is only that which remains such, i.e. the good, and that only ignorance confounds the transient with the permanent. Plato, however, who in this holds the Socratic view, does not bring out its full contrast with that of Protagoras, since he is concerned only to show the obscurity of the sophist upon the very subject matter of his own teaching.

καθ᾽ κτἑ.: const. τὰ ἡδέα κατὰ τοῦτο ἀγαθά ἐστι, καθ᾽ ἡδέα ἐστί, μὴ εἴ τι ἀπ̓ αὐτῶν ἀποβήσεται ἄλλο. κατὰ τοῦτο and εἴ τι . . . ἄλλο are contrasted. “According to the concept itself, I mean without reference to outward consequences.” The emphasis is thus thrown strongly upon the thought that only the concept itself is to be considered, not the consequences of the concrete reality (cf. 353 d). If, with the inferior Mss., we read εἰ μή τι, a single case only is excepted, in which the ἡδέα are not also ἀγαθά. Cf. Phaedo 77 e, where μᾶλλον δὲ μὴ ὡς ἡμῶν δεδιότων is added in order to heighten the contrast of ἴσως ἔνι τις ἐν ἡμῖν παῖς ὅστις φοβεῖται with the preceding ὡς (ἡμῶν) δεδιότων, Crito 47 d πειθόμενοι μὴ τῇ τῶν ἐπαϊόντων δόξῃ, where μή with the words following enhances the contrast between that which we do and that which we ought to do (πείθεσθαι τῇ τῶν ἐπαϊόντων δόξῃ). Cf. also 359 a, ll. 3, 6.

12-One is tempted to believe that this guarded threefold division had actually been made by Protagoras. See on 334 a.

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Plato, Protagoras, 334a
    • Plato, Protagoras, 353d
    • Plato, Protagoras, 359a
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