Volume 56, Issue 3, September 2016
Explaining Hope in Plato’s Philebus
My aim in this paper is to illustrate the significance of hope (elpis, elpizein) in Plato’s Philebus and to indicate topics under this heading that invite further investigation. Even though there is some scholarship treating the issue of hope in the Philebus, there is no study solely devoted to this topic. By providing such a study I intend to fill this lacuna and to show that examining this topic is valuable because it develops our understanding of the good life. In this essay I maintain that the Philebus defines hope as (1) a pleasure of the soul that (2) anticipates pleasure as certain, (3) may be true or false, (4) may be pure or impure, and (5) involves memory. I proceed chronologically through the Philebus’s discussions of hope and make every effort to treat each of the aforementioned components of the definition separately. In so doing I explain why certain topics, such as the relationship between pure intellectual hope and philosophical activity, invite further investigation.