This essay approaches the interpretation of truth and true pleasure in Plato’s Philebus from the perspective of Socrates’ discussion of the false pleasures, the anticipated pleasures, the passions, the sensible pure pleasures, and the pure pleasures of learning. This discussion illuminates an eidetic-normative structure that causes, or is ultimately responsible for, the proper recognition of proportion and symmetry through which a life can be gathered into a unity from within as lived. False mixed pleasures, it is argued, present to embodied perspectives a specific sense of the unlimited that, while in fact false, nonetheless imitates self-sufficiency and completeness. By first distinguishing between false pleasures based on judgment and the false pleasures based on appearance, Sanday shows that the false appearance of pleasure errantly tracks the good. In the capacity false pleasure has to supplant truth, an account of truth is revealed that at once deepens and corrects the Phileban and Calliclean perversion of the good.
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Eric Sanday is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. He has published extensively on Plato, including a recent book, A Study of Dialectic in Plato’s Parmenides (Northwestern University Press, 2015), a co-edited collection (with Greg Recco), Plato’s Laws: Force and Truth in Politics (Indiana University Press, 2013), and “Challenging the Established Order: Socrates’ Perversion of Callicles’ Position in Plato’s Gorgias,” Epoché (2012). Among his current projects are a co-edited (with Sean Kirkland) Companion to Ancient Greek Philosophy, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press, and a contribution to a volume on Plato’s Statesman, edited by John Sallis and entitled “Philosophical Method in Plato’s Statesman.”
Eric Sanday, “Truth and Pleasure in the Philebus,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 36:2 (2015), pp. 347–70.