Scholars frequently complain that the Philebus lacks unity. One of the most puzzling passages in the dialogue is the introduction of the so-called 'divine method,' which is described in detail (16c–20a), only to be set aside as unnecessary shortly afterwards (20c). I argue that, despite appearances to the contrary, the divine method plays a vital role in the dialogue's lengthy examination of pleasure. The application of the divine method does not result in a systematic and complete division of pleasure into sub-kinds, as one would expect, because Socrates fails to identify a common feature that unifies all pleasures. This negative outcome does not indicate a failure of the divine method, for the method successfully exposes the heterogeneity of pleasure.


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pp. 179-208
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