Each of us will be trying to prove some condition or state of the soul to be the one that can render life happy for all human beings. - You that it is pleasure, we that it is knowledge.
Although the main topic of the Philebus, the rivalry between pleasure and knowledge as candidates for the dignity of the highest good in human life, is a familiar one from the early Socratic dialogues on, for the wider congregation of Plato's admirers the Philebus to this very day remains largely terra incognita. It is regarded as one of the late and difficult dialogues, an area for the specialist who has mastered the intricacies of the late Platonic doctrine that we find more alluded to than explained in the Parmenides, the Theaetetus, and the Sophist. What frightens the student of Plato's ethics off the territory is most of all the long “dialectico-metaphysical preface” of the Philebus (14c-31b). For the first quarter of the dialogue is filled with a rather complex discussion of dialectical procedure, dealing with “the one and many,” and with a new kind of ontological classification that is, at least at first sight, more bewildering than enlightening and may exhaust the reader's patience before he has even penetrated to the lengthy discussion of different sorts of pleasures that starts at 31b and fills most of the rest of the dialogue.
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