Plato’s Philebus continues to fascinate us with its reflections on what it means to live a good life by aiming at the right combination of pleasure and knowledge. In this book, Cristina Ionescu argues that mediation is a central theme in the dialogue. Whether we talk about mediating between distinct ontological levels, between steps of reasoning, between pleasure and knowledge, between distinct types of pleasure, or between concrete circumstances and ideals, the steps in between remain essential to a good life. Focusing on ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical aspects of the dialogue, Ionescu occasionally steps beyond the letter of the text, while remaining faithful to its spirit, as she tries to illuminate what is only hinted at.
“Offering a genuinely new and profound interpretation, this is one of the most exciting and readable books on the Philebus I have encountered. It contributes very significantly to the field of ancient ethics, and Plato’s ethics in particular. It also speaks very powerfully to perennial ethical and axiological concerns. Readers will almost certainly find Ionescu’s close exegeses and her provocative speculative insights to be responsible yet creative, textually grounded yet inspired. Everywhere philosophically interesting, this book seems to me a force to be reckoned with.” — John V. Garner, author of The Emerging Good in Plato’s Philebus
Cristina Ionescu is Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. She is the author of Plato’s Meno: An Interpretation.