The Tragedy and Comedy of Life

Plato’s Philebus


The Tragedy and Comedy of Life


Translated and with Commentary by Seth Benardete
264 pages | 3 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1993
Paper $34.00 ISBN: 9780226042763 Published April 2009

In The Tragedy and Comedy of Life, Seth Benardete focuses on the idea of the good in what is widely regarded as one of Plato’s most challenging and complex dialogues, the Philebus. Traditionally the Philebus is interpreted as affirming the doctrine that the good resides in thought and mind rather than in pleasure or the body. Benardete challenges this view, arguing that Socrates vindicates the life of the mind over the life of pleasure not by separating the two and advocating a strict asceticism, but by mixing pleasure and pain with mind in such a way that the philosophic life emerges as the only possible human life.

Benardete combines a probing and challenging commentary that subtly mirrors and illuminates the complexities of this dialogue with the finest English translation of the Philebus yet available. The result is a work that will be of great value to classicists, philosophers, and political theorists alike.

I. The Tragedy and Comedy of Life
II. Socrates, Protarchus, and Philebus (11a1-12c4)
III. The One and the Many (1)(12c4-14b8)
IV. The One and the Many (2)14c1-15c9)
V. The One and the Many (3): Eidetic Analysis (15d1-17a5)
VI. Notes and Letters (17a6-20b3)
VII. The Good (20b4)-23b6)
VIII. Measure Theory (23b6-27c2)
IX. Cosmology (27c3-31b1)
X. The Seven Overlays (31b2-47d4)
XI. Comedy (47d5-50e2)
XII. Pure Pleasure (50e3-53c3)
XIII. Being and Becoming (53c4-55c3)
XIV. Science and Dialectic (55c4-59c9)
XV. The Mixture (59c10-64c4)
XVI. The Good (64c6-67b13)
Selected Bibliography
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