Are you a man or a mollusk? Choosing lives at Plato Philebus 20b-22c

think_create_engage_red1Philosophy Dept. Colloquium 
Verity Harte, Saden Professor of Philosophy and Classics, Yale University
Thursday, February 25, 4 pm.
Performing Arts and Humanities Building Room 441

This talk will focus on a short and relatively self-contained argument in Plato’s Philebus at 20b-22c in which Socrates invites his discussion partner, Protarchus, to consider whether either a life with maximal pleasure but no forms of reason (no understanding, no knowledge, no judgment, no memory) or a life with maximal reason but no pleasure are worthy of choice.

When Protarchus judges that they are not, they agree that this shows both that neither life has the good and, more specifically, that Protarchus was wrong to maintain on behalf of the eponymous Philebus that pleasure is the good. The talk will focus on determining how and how successfully this argument gets to its announced conclusions. At the same time, Prof. Harte will consider why, given its apparent success in settling the dialogue’s official central question, the argument appears where it does out of the blue and does not finish the dialogue. The passage in which the argument occurs offers a good example of the importance, when reading Plato, of distinguishing two conversations: the conversation between the dialogue’s fictional characters and the conversation that Plato opens with his reader by means of that fictional conversation.

Start Date:
Start Time:

End Date:
End Time:

Department Represented:

Venue Name:

Open Year Round:

CTA Text:
CTA Link:

Scroll to Top