Malice and the Ridiculous as Self-ignorance: A Dialectical Argument in Philebus 47d-50e

Southwest Philosophy Review 33 (1):83-94 (2017)
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Abstract: In the Philebus, Socrates constructs a dialectical argument in which he purports to explain to Protarchus why the pleasure that spectators feel when watching comedy is a mixture of pleasure and pain. To do this he brings in phthonos (malice or envy) as his prime example (47d-50e). I examine the argument and claim that Socrates implicitly challenges Protarchus’ beliefs about himself as moderate and self-knowing. I discuss two reasons to think that more is at stake in the argument than the mixed pleasure and pain of comic malice.
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