This paper examines the discussion about false pleasures in the Philebus (36 c3-44 a11). After stressing the crucial importance of this discussion in the economy of the dialogue, it attempts to identify the problematic locus of the possibility of true or false pleasures. Socrates points to it by means of an analogy between pleasure and doxa. Against traditional interpretations, which reduce the distinction drawn in this passage to a distinction between doxa and pleasure on the one hand and their object on the other, it is argued that, rather, Socrates distinguishes between the mere fact of having a doxa or a pleasure, on the one hand, and the content of these acts, on the other hand. Consequently, the possibility for a pleasure to be false does not concern its relation to an object, but the affective content which defines it. In order to show how the affective content of a pleasure can be false, it is necessary to examine the three species of false pleasures described by Socrates in their relation to appearance and imagination. Appearance is not identical with perception for Plato: it consists in a mixture of perception and doxa. As for imagination, it consists in "illustrating" a doxa present in the soul by means of a "quasi-perception". It is the presence of a doxa in each of these processes which makes it possible for them to be true or false, while mere perception cannot be either true or false. It is then argued that according to the Philebus pleasure can be false precisely because its affective content is not a mere perception, but either an appearance or an imagination.
In this article, I examine the way Aristotle makes use of the methods Plato labelled as "dialectic". After suggesting a unified interpretation of Plato’s dialectic, I show that Aristotle makes room for them not inside the context of demonstrative science, but at the level of the investigation concerning the principles of such a science. These principles are, for the most part, definitions; and Plato’s dialectical methods are designed to search for and obtain definitions. Although Aristotle, contrary to Plato, seems to distinguish between dialectic and philosophy, he relates both to the same capacity, and he suggests that their methods are identical up to a certain point. Moreover, the cognitive state corresponding to dialectic is, for Aristotle as for Plato, intelligence (nous). Nevertheless, there remain important differences between Plato and Aristotle on this issue: while the dialogical dimension of dialectic is for Plato constitutive of philosophy and implies that the philosophical thought is a perpetual motion, it is according to Aristotle what distinguishes dialectic from philosophy, which must for its part come to a rest; and while philosophy presupposes a rupture with sensation according to Plato, Aristotle envisages it in continuity with sensible experience.
Introduction à l’agathologie platonicienne
Sylvain Dr. Delcomminette
Edited by Sylvain Delcomminette, Pieter d'Hoine and Marc-Antoine Gavray
This volume thus aims to shed light on the surviving commentaries and their sources, as well as on less familiar aspects of the history of the Phaedo’s ancient reception. By doing so, it may help to clarify what ancient interpreters of Plato can and cannot offer their contemporary counterparts.