Volume 12, Issue 1, Fall 2007
The Argument of the Philebus
This essay explores Socrates’ argumentative strategy in the Philebus, which is a response to the view that pleasure is the good. Socrates leads his interlocutors
through a series of steps in order to demonstrate to them the “conditions and dispositions of soul” upon which hedonism rests. Socrates’ aim is not to refute the claim that pleasure is a good, but rather to show the dependence of the experience of pleasure on intellect and the other elements of the life of mind. In this manner, Socrates is able to show the superiority of the life of mind, or philosophy, in terms that are intelligible to the pleasure-seeker.