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Plato, The Dialogues of Plato, vol. 4 (Parmenides, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus) [1892]

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Plato, The Dialogues of Plato translated into English with Analyses and Introductions by B. Jowett, M.A. in Five Volumes. 3rd edition revised and corrected (Oxford University Press, 1892). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/768

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Volume 4 (with 5 dialogues) of a 5 volume edition of Plato by the great English Victorian Greek scholar, Benjamin Jowett. The scholarly apparatus is immense and detailed. The online version preserves the marginal comments of the printed edition and has links to all the notes and comments provided by Jowett.

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The text is in the public domain.

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Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [none]
the DIALOGUES OF PLATO
jowett
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Oxford University Press

Amen House, E.C. 4

London Edinburgh Glasgow Leipzig New York Toronto Melbourne Capetown Bombay Calcutta Madras Shanghai

Humphrey Milford Publisher to the University

Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [none]
THE DIALOGUES OF PLATO
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH ANALYSES AND INTRODUCTIONS
BY B. JOWETT, M.A. master of balliol college regius professor of greek in the university of oxford doctor in theology of the university of leyden
IN FIVE VOLUMES VOL. IV
THIRD EDITION REVISED AND CORRECTED THROUGHOUT, WITH MARGINAL ANALYSES AND AN INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND PROPER NAMES
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
LONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD
Edition: current; Page: [none]

First Edition 1871

Second Edition 1875

Third Edition 1892

Impression of 1931

This impression has been produced photographically from sheets of the Third Edition, and has been printed in Great Britain for the Muston Company, 4 Bell Yard, Temple Bar, W.C. 2, by Lowe & Brydone, London

Edition: current; Page: [none]

CONTENTS

  • PARMENIDES . . . . . . . . . . page 1
  • THEAETETUS . . . . . . . . . . 107
  • SOPHIST . . . . . . . . . . . 281
  • STATESMAN . . . . . . . . . . 409
  • PHILEBUS . . . . . . . . . . . 519
Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [1]

PARMENIDES.

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INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS.

Parmenides. Introduction.

The awe with which Plato regarded the character of ‘the great’ Parmenides has extended to the dialogue which he calls by his name. None of the writings of Plato have been more copiously illustrated, both in ancient and modern times, and in none of them have the interpreters been more at variance with one another. Nor is this surprising. For the Parmenides is more fragmentary and isolated than any other dialogue, and the design of the writer is not expressly stated. The date is uncertain; the relation to the other writings of Plato is also uncertain; the connexion between the two parts is at first sight extremely obscure; and in the latter of the two we are left in doubt as to whether Plato is speaking his own sentiments by the lips of Parmenides, and overthrowing him out of his own mouth, or whether he is propounding consequences which would have been admitted by Zeno and Parmenides themselves. The contradictions which follow from the hypotheses of the one and many have been regarded by some as transcendental mysteries; by others as a mere illustration, taken at random, of a new method. They seem to have been inspired by a sort of dialectical frenzy, such as may be supposed to have prevailed in the Megarian School (cp. Cratylus 346, 407 E, etc.). The criticism on his own doctrine of Ideas has also been considered, not as a real criticism, but as an exuberance of the metaphysical imagination which enabled Plato to go beyond himself. To the latter part of the dialogue we may certainly apply the words in which he himself describes the earlier philosophers in the Sophist (243 A): ‘They went on their way rather regardless of whether we understood them or not.’

The Parmenides in point of style is one of the best of the Platonic writings; the first portion of the dialogue is in no way defective in ease and grace and dramatic interest; nor in the Edition: current; Page: [4] second part, where there was no room for such qualities, is there any want of clearness or precision. The latter half is an exquisite mosaic, of which the small pieces are with the utmost fineness and regularity adapted to one another. Like the Protagoras, Phaedo, and others, the whole is a narrated dialogue, combining with the mere recital of the words spoken, the observations of the reciter on the effect produced by them. Thus we are informed by him that Zeno and Parmenides were not altogether pleased at the request of Socrates that they would examine into the nature of the one and many in the sphere of Ideas, although they received his suggestion with approving smiles. And we are glad to be told that Parmenides was ‘aged but well-favoured,’ and that Zeno was ‘very good-looking’; also that Parmenides affected to decline the great argument, on which, as Zeno knew from experience, he was not unwilling to enter. The character of Antiphon, the half-brother of Plato, who had once been inclined to philosophy, but has now shown the hereditary disposition for horses, is very naturally described. He is the sole depositary of the famous dialogue; but, although he receives the strangers like a courteous gentleman, he is impatient of the trouble of reciting it. As they enter, he has been giving orders to a bridle-maker; by this slight touch Plato verifies the previous description of him. After a little persuasion he is induced to favour the Clazomenians, who come from a distance, with a rehearsal. Respecting the visit of Zeno and Parmenides to Athens, we may observe—first, that such a visit is consistent with dates, and may possibly have occurred; secondly, that Plato is very likely to have invented the meeting (‘You, Socrates, can easily invent Egyptian tales or anything else,’ Phaedrus 275 B); thirdly, that no reliance can be placed on the circumstance as determining the date of Parmenides and Zeno; fourthly, that the same occasion appears to be referred to by Plato in two other places (Theaet. 183 E, Soph. 217 C).

Many interpreters have regarded the Parmenides as a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ of the Eleatic philosophy. But would Plato have been likely to place this in the mouth of the great Parmenides himself, who appeared to him, in Homeric language, to be ‘venerable and awful,’ and to have a ‘glorious depth of mind’? (Theaet. 183 E). It may be admitted that he has ascribed to an Edition: current; Page: [5] Eleatic stranger in the Sophist opinions which went beyond the doctrines of the Eleatics. But the Eleatic stranger expressly criticises the doctrines in which he had been brought up; he admits that he is going to ‘lay hands on his father Parmenides.’ Nothing of this kind is said of Zeno and Parmenides. How then, without a word of explanation, could Plato assign to them the refutation of their own tenets?

The conclusion at which we must arrive is that the Parmenides is not a refutation of the Eleatic philosophy. Nor would such an explanation afford any satisfactory connexion of the first and second parts of the dialogue. And it is quite inconsistent with Plato’s own relation to the Eleatics. For of all the pre-Socratic philosophers, he speaks of them with the greatest respect. But he could hardly have passed upon them a more unmeaning slight than to ascribe to their great master tenets the reverse of those which he actually held.

Two preliminary remarks may be made. First, that whatever latitude we may allow to Plato in bringing together by a ‘tour de force,’ as in the Phaedrus, dissimilar themes, yet he always in some way seeks to find a connexion for them. Many threads join together in one the love and dialectic of the Phaedrus. We cannot conceive that the great artist would place in juxtaposition two absolutely divided and incoherent subjects. And hence we are led to make a second remark: viz. that no explanation of the Parmenides can be satisfactory which does not indicate the connexion of the first and second parts. To suppose that Plato would first go out of his way to make Parmenides attack the Platonic Ideas, and then proceed to a similar but more fatal assault on his own doctrine of Being, appears to be the height of absurdity.

Perhaps there is no passage in Plato showing greater metaphysical power than that in which he assails his own theory of Ideas. The arguments are nearly, if not quite, those of Aristotle; they are the objections which naturally occur to a modern student of philosophy. Many persons will be surprised to find Plato criticizing the very conceptions which have been supposed in after ages to be peculiarly characteristic of him. How can he have placed himself so completely without them? How can he have ever persisted in them after seeing the fatal objections Edition: current; Page: [6] which might be urged against them? The consideration of this difficulty has led a recent critic (Ueberweg), who in general accepts the authorized canon of the Platonic writings, to condemn the Parmenides as spurious. The accidental want of external evidence, at first sight, seems to favour this opinion.

In answer, it might be sufficient to say, that no ancient writing of equal length and excellence is known to be spurious. Nor is the silence of Aristotle to be hastily assumed; there is at least a doubt whether his use of the same arguments does not involve the inference that he knew the work. And, if the Parmenides is spurious, like Ueberweg, we are led on further than we originally intended, to pass a similar condemnation on the Theaetetus and Sophist, and therefore on the Politicus (cp. Theaet. 183 E, Soph. 217). But the objection is in reality fanciful, and rests on the assumption that the doctrine of the Ideas was held by Plato throughout his life in the same form. For the truth is, that the Platonic Ideas were in constant process of growth and transmutation; sometimes veiled in poetry and mythology, then again emerging as fixed Ideas, in some passages regarded as absolute and eternal, and in others as relative to the human mind, existing in and derived from external objects as well as transcending them. The anamnesis of the Ideas is chiefly insisted upon in the mythical portions of the dialogues, and really occupies a very small space in the entire works of Plato. Their transcendental existence is not asserted, and is therefore implicitly denied in the Philebus; different forms are ascribed to them in the Republic, and they are mentioned in the Theaetetus, the Sophist, the Politicus, and the Laws, much as Universals would be spoken of in modern books. Indeed, there are very faint traces of the transcendental doctrine of Ideas, that is, of their existence apart from the mind, in any of Plato’s writings, with the exception of the Meno, the Phaedrus, the Phaedo, and in portions of the Republic. The stereotyped form which Aristotle has given to them is not found in Plato (cp. Essay on the Platonic Ideas in the Introduction to the Meno).

The full discussion of this subject involves a comprehensive survey of the philosophy of Plato, which would be out of place here. But, without digressing further from the immediate subject of the Parmenides, we may remark that Plato is quite serious in his objections to his own doctrines; nor does Socrates attempt to Edition: current; Page: [7] offer any answer to them. The perplexities which surround the one and many in the sphere of the Ideas are also alluded to in the Philebus, and no answer is given to them. Nor have they ever been answered, nor can they be answered by any one else who separates the phenomenal from the real. To suppose that Plato, at a later period of his life, reached a point of view from which he was able to answer them, is a groundless assumption. The real progress of Plato’s own mind has been partly concealed from us by the dogmatic statements of Aristotle, and also by the degeneracy of his own followers, with whom a doctrine of numbers quickly superseded Ideas.

As a preparation for answering some of the difficulties which have been suggested, we may begin by sketching the first portion of the dialogue:—

Analysis.

Jowett1892: 126Cephalus, of Clazomenae in Ionia, the birthplace of Anaxagoras, a citizen of no mean city in the history of philosophy, who is the narrator of the dialogue, describes himself as meeting Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Agora at Athens. ‘Welcome, Cephalus: can we do anything for you in Athens?’ ‘Why, yes: I came to ask a favour of you. First, tell me your half-brother’s name, which I have forgotten—he was a mere child when I was last here;—I know his father’s, which is Pyrilampes.’ ‘Yes, and the name of our brother is Antiphon. But why do you ask?’ ‘Let me introduce to you some countrymen of mine, who are lovers of philosophy; they have heard that Antiphon remembers a conversation of Socrates with Parmenides and Zeno, of which the report came to him from Pythodorus, Zeno’s friend.’ ‘That is quite true.’ ‘And can they hear the dialogue?’ ‘Nothing easier; in the days of his youth he made a careful study of the piece; at present, his thoughts have another direction: he takes after his grandfather, and has given up philosophy for horses.’

Jowett1892: 127‘We went to look for him, and found him giving instructions to a worker in brass about a bridle. When he had done with him, and had learned from his brothers the purpose of our visit, he saluted me as an old acquaintance, and we asked him to repeat the dialogue. At first, he complained of the trouble, but he soon consented. He told us that Pythodorus had described to him the appearance of Parmenides and Zeno; they had come to Athens Edition: current; Page: [8] at the great Panathenaea, the former being at the time about sixty-five years old, aged but well-favoured—Zeno, who was said to have been beloved of Parmenides in the days of his youth, about forty, and very good-looking:—that they lodged with Pythodorus at the Ceramicus outside the wall, whither Socrates, then a very young man, came to see them: Zeno was reading one of his theses, which he had nearly finished, when Pythodorus entered with Parmenides and Aristoteles, who was afterwards one of the Thirty. When the recitation was completed, Socrates requested that the first thesis of the treatise might be read again.’

‘You mean, Zeno,’ said Socrates, ‘to argue that being, if it is many, must be both like and unlike, which is a contradiction; and each division of your argument is intended to elicit a similar absurdity, which may be supposed to follow from the assumption that being is many.’ ‘Such is my meaning.’ ‘I see,’ said Jowett1892: 128Socrates, turning to Parmenides, ‘that Zeno is your second self in his writings too; you prove admirably that the all is one: he gives proofs no less convincing that the many are nought. To deceive the world by saying the same thing in entirely different forms, is a strain of art beyond most of us.’ ‘Yes, Socrates,’ said Zeno; ‘but though you are as keen as a Spartan hound, you do not quite catch the motive of the piece, which was only intended to protect Parmenides against ridicule by showing that the hypothesis of the existence of the many involved greater absurdities than the hypothesis of the one. The book was a youthful composition of mine, which was stolen from me, and therefore I had no choice about the publication.’ ‘I quite believe you,’ said Socrates; ‘but will you answer me a question? I should like to know, whether you would assume an idea of likeness Jowett1892: 129in the abstract, which is the contradictory of unlikeness in the abstract, by participation in either or both of which things are like or unlike or partly both. For the same things may very well partake of like and unlike in the concrete, though like and unlike in the abstract are irreconcileable. Nor does there appear to me to be any absurdity in maintaining that the same things may partake of the one and many, though I should be indeed surprised to hear that the absolute one is also many. For example, I, being many, that is to say, having many parts or Edition: current; Page: [9] members, am yet also one, and partake of the one, being one of seven who are here present (cp. Philebus 14, 15). This is not an absurdity, but a truism. But I should be amazed if there were a similar entanglement in the nature of the ideas themselves, nor Jowett1892: 130can I believe that one and many, like and unlike, rest and motion, in the abstract, are capable either of admixture or of separation.’

Pythodorus said that in his opinion Parmenides and Zeno were not very well pleased at the questions which were raised; nevertheless, they looked at one another and smiled in seeming delight and admiration of Socrates. ‘Tell me,’ said Parmenides, ‘do you think that the abstract ideas of likeness, unity, and the rest, exist apart from individuals which partake of them? and is this your own distinction?’ ‘I think that there are such ideas.’ ‘And would you make abstract ideas of the just, the beautiful, the good?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘And of human beings like ourselves, of water, fire, and the like?’ ‘I am not certain.’ ‘And would you be undecided also about ideas of which the mention will, perhaps, appear laughable: of hair, mud, filth, and other things which are base and vile?’ ‘No, Parmenides; visible things like these are, as I believe, only what they appear to be: though I am sometimes disposed to imagine that there is nothing without an idea; but I repress any such notion, from a fear of falling into an abyss of nonsense.’ ‘You are young, Socrates, and therefore naturally regard the opinions of men; the time will come when philosophy will have a firmer hold of you, and you will not despise even the meanest things. But tell me, is your meaning that things become Jowett1892: 131like by partaking of likeness, great by partaking of greatness, just and beautiful by partaking of justice and beauty, and so of other ideas?’ ‘Yes, that is my meaning.’ ‘And do you suppose the individual to partake of the whole, or of the part?’ ‘Why not of the whole?’ said Socrates. ‘Because,’ said Parmenides, ‘in that case the whole, which is one, will become many.’ ‘Nay,’ said Socrates, ‘the whole may be like the day, which is one and in many places: in this way the ideas may be one and also many.’ ‘In the same sort of way,’ said Parmenides, ‘as a sail, which is one, may be a cover to many—that is your meaning?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And would you say that each man is covered by the whole sail, or by a part only?’ ‘By a part.’ ‘Then the ideas have parts, and the objects partake of a part of them only?’ ‘That seems to Edition: current; Page: [10] follow.’ ‘And would you like to say that the ideas are really divisible and yet remain one?’ ‘Certainly not.’ ‘Would you venture to affirm that great objects have a portion only of greatness transferred to them; or that small or equal objects are small or equal because they are only portions of smallness or equality?’ ‘Impossible.’ ‘But how can individuals participate in ideas, except in the ways which I have mentioned?’ ‘That is not an easy question to answer.’ ‘I should imagine the conception of ideas to Jowett1892: 132arise as follows: you see great objects pervaded by a common form or idea of greatness, which you abstract.’ ‘That is quite true.’ ‘And supposing you embrace in one view the idea of greatness thus gained and the individuals which it comprises, a further idea of greatness arises, which makes both great; and this may go on to infinity.’ Socrates replies that the ideas may be thoughts in the mind only; in this case, the consequence would no longer follow. ‘But must not the thought be of something which is the same in all and is the idea? And if the world partakes in the ideas, and the ideas are thoughts, must not all things think? Or can thought be without thought?’ ‘I acknowledge the unmeaningness of this,’ says Socrates, ‘and would rather have recourse to the explanation that the ideas are types in nature, and that other things partake of them by becoming like them.’ ‘But to become like them is to be comprehended in the same idea; and the likeness of the idea and the individuals implies another Jowett1892: 133idea of likeness, and another without end.’ ‘Quite true.’ ‘The theory, then, of participation by likeness has to be given up. You have hardly yet, Socrates, found out the real difficulty of maintaining abstract ideas.’ ‘What difficulty?’ ‘The greatest of all perhaps is this: an opponent will argue that the ideas are not within the range of human knowledge; and you cannot disprove the assertion without a long and laborious demonstration, which he may be unable or unwilling to follow. In the first place, neither you nor any one who maintains the existence of absolute ideas will affirm that they are subjective.’ ‘That would be a contradiction.’ ‘True; and therefore any relation in these ideas is a relation which concerns themselves only; and the objects which are named after them, are relative to one another only, and have nothing to do with the ideas themselves.’ ‘How do you mean?’ said Socrates. ‘I may illustrate my meaning in this way: Edition: current; Page: [11] one of us has a slave; and the idea of a slave in the abstract is relative to the idea of a master in the abstract; this correspondence of ideas, however, has nothing to do with the particular Jowett1892: 134relation of our slave to us.—Do you see my meaning?’ ‘Perfectly.’ ‘And absolute knowledge in the same way corresponds to absolute truth and being, and particular knowledge to particular truth and being.’ ‘Clearly.’ ‘And there is a subjective knowledge which is of subjective truth, having many kinds, general and particular. But the ideas themselves are not subjective, and therefore are not within our ken.’ ‘They are not.’ ‘Then the beautiful and the good in their own nature are unknown to us?’ ‘It would seem so.’ ‘There is a worse consequence yet.’ ‘What is that?’ ‘I think we must admit that absolute knowledge is the most exact knowledge, which we must therefore attribute to God. But then see what follows: God, having this exact knowledge, can have no knowledge of human things, as we have divided the two spheres, and forbidden any passing from one to the other:—the gods have knowledge and authority in their world only, as we Jowett1892: 135have in ours.’ ‘Yet, surely, to deprive God of knowledge is monstrous.’—‘These are some of the difficulties which are involved in the assumption of absolute ideas; the learner will find them nearly impossible to understand, and the teacher who has to impart them will require superhuman ability; there will always be a suspicion, either that they have no existence, or are beyond human knowledge.’ ‘There I agree with you,’ said Socrates. ‘Yet if these difficulties induce you to give up universal ideas, what becomes of the mind? and where are the reasoning and reflecting powers? philosophy is at an end.’ ‘I certainly do not see my way.’ ‘I think,’ said Parmenides, ‘that this arises out of your attempting to define abstractions, such as the good and the beautiful and the just, before you have had sufficient previous training; I noticed your deficiency when you were talking with Aristoteles, the day before yesterday. Your enthusiasm is a wonderful gift; but I fear that unless you discipline yourself by dialectic while you are young, truth will elude your grasp.’ ‘And what kind of discipline would you recommend?’ ‘The training which you heard Zeno practising; at the same time, I admire your saying to him that you did not care to consider the difficulty in reference to visible objects, but only in relation to ideas.’ Edition: current; Page: [12] ‘Yes; because I think that in visible objects you may easily show any number of inconsistent consequences.’ ‘Yes; and you Jowett1892: 136should consider, not only the consequences which follow from a given hypothesis, but the consequences also which follow from the denial of the hypothesis. For example, what follows from the assumption of the existence of the many, and the counter-argument of what follows from the denial of the existence of the many: and similarly of likeness and unlikeness, motion, rest, generation, corruption, being and not being. And the consequences must include consequences to the things supposed and to other things, in themselves and in relation to one another, to individuals whom you select, to the many, and to the all; these must be drawn out both on the affirmative and on the negative hypothesis,—that is, if you are to train yourself perfectly to the intelligence of the truth.’ ‘What you are suggesting seems to be a tremendous process, and one of which I do not quite understand the nature,’ said Socrates; ‘will you give me an example?’ ‘You must not impose such a task on a man of my years,’ said Parmenides. ‘Then will you, Zeno?’ ‘Let us rather,’ said Zeno, with a smile, ‘ask Parmenides, for the undertaking is a serious one, as he truly says; nor could I urge him to make the attempt, except in a select audience of persons who will understand him.’ The whole party joined in the request.

Introduction.

Here we have, first of all, an unmistakable attack made by the youthful Socrates on the paradoxes of Zeno. He perfectly understands their drift, and Zeno himself is supposed to admit this. But they appear to him, as he says in the Philebus also, to be rather truisms than paradoxes. For every one must acknowledge the obvious fact, that the body being one has many members, and that, in a thousand ways, the like partakes of the unlike, the many of the one. The real difficulty begins with the relations of ideas in themselves, whether of the one and many, or of any other ideas, to one another and to the mind. But this was a problem which the Eleatic philosophers had never considered; their thoughts had not gone beyond the contradictions of matter, motion, space, and the like.

It was no wonder that Parmenides and Zeno should hear the novel speculations of Socrates with mixed feelings of admiration Edition: current; Page: [13] and displeasure. He was going out of the received circle of disputation into a region in which they could hardly follow him. From the crude idea of Being in the abstract, he was about to proceed to universals or general notions. There is no contradiction in material things partaking of the ideas of one and many; neither is there any contradiction in the ideas of one and many, like and unlike, in themselves. But the contradiction arises when we attempt to conceive ideas in their connexion, or to ascertain their relation to phenomena. Still he affirms the existence of such ideas; and this is the position which is now in turn submitted to the criticisms of Parmenides.

To appreciate truly the character of these criticisms, we must remember the place held by Parmenides in the history of Greek philosophy. He is the founder of idealism, and also of dialectic, or, in modern phraseology, of metaphysics and logic (Theaet. 183 E, Soph. 217 C, 241 D). Like Plato, he is struggling after something wider and deeper than satisfied the contemporary Pythagoreans. And Plato with a true instinct recognizes him as his spiritual father, whom he ‘revered and honoured more than all other philosophers together.’ He may be supposed to have thought more than he said, or was able to express. And, although he could not, as a matter of fact, have criticized the ideas of Plato without an anachronism, the criticism is appropriately placed in the mouth of the founder of the ideal philosophy.

There was probably a time in the life of Plato when the ethical teaching of Socrates came into conflict with the metaphysical theories of the earlier philosophers, and he sought to supplement the one by the other. The older philosophers were great and awful; and they had the charm of antiquity. Something which found a response in his own mind seemed to have been lost as well as gained in the Socratic dialectic. He felt no incongruity in the veteran Parmenides correcting the youthful Socrates. Two points in his criticism are especially deserving of notice. First of all, Parmenides tries him by the test of consistency. Socrates is willing to assume ideas or principles of the just, the beautiful, the good, and to extend them to man (cp. Phaedo 98); but he is reluctant to admit that there are general ideas of hair, mud, filth, etc. There is an ethical universal or idea, but is there also a universal of physics?—of the meanest things in the world as well as of Edition: current; Page: [14] the greatest? Parmenides rebukes this want of consistency in Socrates, which he attributes to his youth. As he grows older, philosophy will take a firmer hold of him, and then he will despise neither great things nor small, and he will think less of the opinions of mankind (cp. Soph. 227 A). Here is lightly touched one of the most familiar principles of modern philosophy, that in the meanest operations of nature, as well as in the noblest, in mud and filth, as well as in the sun and stars, great truths are contained. At the same time, we may note also the transition in the mind of Plato, to which Aristotle alludes (Met. 1. 6, 2), when, as he says, he transferred the Socratic universal of ethics to the whole of nature.

The other criticism of Parmenides on Socrates attributes to him a want of practice in dialectic. He has observed this deficiency in him when talking to Aristoteles on a previous occasion. Plato seems to imply that there was something more in the dialectic of Zeno than in the mere interrogation of Socrates. Here, again, he may perhaps be describing the process which his own mind went through when he first became more intimately acquainted, whether at Megara or elsewhere, with the Eleatic and Megarian philosophers. Still, Parmenides does not deny to Socrates the credit of having gone beyond them in seeking to apply the paradoxes of Zeno to ideas; and this is the application which he himself makes of them in the latter part of the dialogue. He then proceeds to explain to him the sort of mental gymnastic which he should practise. He should consider not only what would follow from a given hypothesis, but what would follow from the denial of it, to that which is the subject of the hypothesis, and to all other things. There is no trace in the Memorabilia of Xenophon of any such method being attributed to Socrates; nor is the dialectic here spoken of that ‘favourite method’ of proceeding by regular divisions, which is described in the Phaedrus and Philebus, and of which examples are given in the Politicus and in the Sophist. It is expressly spoken of (p. 135 E) as the method which Socrates had heard Zeno practise in the days of his youth (cp. Soph. 217 C).

The discussion of Socrates with Parmenides is one of the most remarkable passages in Plato. Few writers have ever been able to anticipate ‘the criticism of the morrow’ on their own favourite notions. But Plato may here be said to anticipate the judgment Edition: current; Page: [15] not only of the morrow, but of all after-ages on the Platonic Ideas. For in some points he touches questions which have not yet received their solution in modern philosophy.

The first difficulty which Parmenides raises respecting the Platonic ideas relates to the manner in which individuals are connected with them. Do they participate in the ideas, or do they merely resemble them? Parmenides shows that objections may be urged against either of these modes of conceiving the connection. Things are little by partaking of littleness, great by partaking of greatness, and the like. But they cannot partake of a part of greatness, for that will not make them great, etc.; nor can each object monopolise the whole. The only answer to this is, that ‘partaking’ is a figure of speech, really corresponding to the processes which a later logic designates by the terms ‘abstraction’ and ‘generalization.’ When we have described accurately the methods or forms which the mind employs, we cannot further criticize them; at least we can only criticize them with reference to their fitness as instruments of thought to express facts.

Socrates attempts to support his view of the ideas by the parallel of the day, which is one and in many places; but he is easily driven from his position by a counter illustration of Parmenides, who compares the idea of greatness to a sail. He truly explains to Socrates that he has attained the conception of ideas by a process of generalization. At the same time, he points out a difficulty, which appears to be involved—viz. that the process of generalization will go on to infinity. Socrates meets the supposed difficulty by a flash of light, which is indeed the true answer ‘that the ideas are in our minds only.’ Neither realism is the truth, nor nominalism is the truth, but conceptualism; and conceptualism or any other psychological theory falls very far short of the infinite subtlety of language and thought.

But the realism of ancient philosophy will not admit of this answer, which is repelled by Parmenides with another truth or half-truth of later philosophy, ‘Every subject or subjective must have an object.’ Here is the great though unconscious truth (shall we say?) or error, which underlay the early Greek philosophy. ‘Ideas must have a real existence;’ they are not mere forms or opinions, which may be changed arbitrarily by individuals. But the early Greek philosopher never clearly saw that true Edition: current; Page: [16] ideas were only universal facts, and that there might be error in universals as well as in particulars.

Socrates makes one more attempt to defend the Platonic Ideas by representing them as paradigms; this is again answered by the ‘argumentum ad infinitum.’ We may remark, in passing, that the process which is thus described has no real existence. The mind, after having obtained a general idea, does not really go on to form another which includes that, and all the individuals contained under it, and another and another without end. The difficulty belongs in fact to the Megarian age of philosophy, and is due to their illogical logic, and to the general ignorance of the ancients respecting the part played by language in the process of thought. No such perplexity could ever trouble a modern metaphysician, any more than the fallacy of ‘calvus’ or ‘acervus,’ or of ‘Achilles and the tortoise.’ These ‘surds’ of metaphysics ought to occasion no more difficulty in speculation than a perpetually recurring fraction in arithmetic.

It is otherwise with the objection which follows: How are we to bridge the chasm between human truth and absolute truth, between gods and men? This is the difficulty of philosophy in all ages: How can we get beyond the circle of our own ideas, or how, remaining within them, can we have any criterion of a truth beyond and independent of them? Parmenides draws out this difficulty with great clearness. According to him, there are not only one but two chasms: the first, between individuals and the ideas which have a common name; the second, between the ideas in us and the ideas absolute. The first of these two difficulties mankind, as we may say, a little parodying the language of the Philebus, have long agreed to treat as obsolete; the second remains a difficulty for us as well as for the Greeks of the fourth century before Christ, and is the stumblingblock of Kant’s Kritik, and of the Hamiltonian adaptation of Kant, as well as of the Platonic ideas. It has been said that ‘you cannot criticize Revelation.’ ‘Then how do you know what is Revelation, or that there is one at all,’ is the immediate rejoinder—‘You know nothing of things in themselves.’ ‘Then how do you know that there are things in themselves?’ In some respects, the difficulty pressed harder upon the Greek than upon ourselves. For conceiving of God more under the attribute of knowledge than we do, he was Edition: current; Page: [17] more under the necessity of separating the divine from the human, as two spheres which had no communication with one another.

It is remarkable that Plato, speaking by the mouth of Parmenides, does not treat even this second class of difficulties as hopeless or insoluble. He says only that they cannot be explained without a long and laborious demonstration: ‘the teacher will require superhuman ability, and the learner will be hard of understanding.’ But an attempt must be made to find an answer to them; for, as Socrates and Parmenides both admit, the denial of abstract ideas is the destruction of the mind. We can easily imagine that among the Greek schools of philosophy in the fourth century before Christ a panic might arise from the denial of universals, similar to that which arose in the last century from Hume’s denial of our ideas of cause and effect. Men do not at first recognize that thought, like digestion, will go on much the same, notwithstanding any theories which may be entertained respecting the nature of the process. Parmenides attributes the difficulties in which Socrates is involved to a want of comprehensiveness in his mode of reasoning; he should consider every question on the negative as well as the positive hypothesis, with reference to the consequences which flow from the denial as well as from the assertion of a given statement.

The argument which follows is the most singular in Plato. It appears to be an imitation, or parody, of the Zenonian dialectic, just as the speeches in the Phaedrus are an imitation of the style of Lysias, or as the derivations in the Cratylus or the fallacies of the Euthydemus are a parody of some contemporary Sophist. The interlocutor is not supposed, as in most of the other Platonic dialogues, to take a living part in the argument; he is only required to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in the right places. A hint has been already given that the paradoxes of Zeno admitted of a higher application (pp. 129, 135 E). This hint is the thread by which Plato connects the two parts of the dialogue.

The paradoxes of Parmenides seem trivial to us, because the words to which they relate have become trivial; their true nature as abstract terms is perfectly understood by us, and we are inclined to regard the treatment of them in Plato as a mere straw-splitting, or legerdemain of words. Yet there was a power in them which fascinated the Neoplatonists for centuries afterwards. Something Edition: current; Page: [18] that they found in them, or brought to them—some echo or anticipation of a great truth or error, exercised a wonderful influence over their minds. To do the Parmenides justice, we should imagine similar ἀπορίαι raised on themes as sacred to us, as the notions of One or Being were to an ancient Eleatic. ‘If God is, what follows? if God is not, what follows?’ Or again: If God is or is not the world; or if God is or is not many, or has or has not parts, or is or is not in the world, or in time; or is or is not finite or infinite. Or if the world is or is not; or has or has not a beginning or end; or is or is not infinite, or infinitely divisible. Or again: if God is or is not identical with his laws; or if man is or is not identical with the laws of nature. We can easily see that here are many subjects for thought, and that from these and similar hypotheses questions of great interest might arise. And we also remark, that the conclusions derived from either of the two alternative propositions might be equally impossible and contradictory.

When we ask what is the object of these paradoxes, some have answered that they are a mere logical puzzle, while others have seen in them an Hegelian propaedeutic of the doctrine of Ideas. The first of these views derives support from the manner in which Parmenides speaks of a similar method being applied to all Ideas. Yet it is hard to suppose that Plato would have furnished so elaborate an example, not of his own but of the Eleatic dialectic, had he intended only to give an illustration of method. The second view has been often overstated by those who, like Hegel himself, have tended to confuse ancient with modern philosophy. We need not deny that Plato, trained in the school of Cratylus and Heracleitus, may have seen that a contradiction in terms is sometimes the best expression of a truth higher than either (cp. Soph. 255 ff.). But his ideal theory is not based on antinomies. The correlation of Ideas was the metaphysical difficulty of the age in which he lived; and the Megarian and Cynic philosophy was a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ of their isolation. To restore them to their natural connexion and to detect the negative element in them is the aim of Plato in the Sophist. But his view of their connexion falls very far short of the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being. The Being and Not-being of Plato never merge in each other, though he is aware that ‘determination is only negation.’

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After criticizing the hypotheses of others, it may appear presumptuous to add another guess to the many which have been already offered. May we say, in Platonic language, that we still seem to see vestiges of a track which has not yet been taken? It is quite possible that the obscurity of the Parmenides would not have existed to a contemporary student of philosophy, and, like the similar difficulty in the Philebus, is really due to our ignorance of the mind of the age. There is an obscure Megarian influence on Plato which cannot wholly be cleared up, and is not much illustrated by the doubtful tradition of his retirement to Megara after the death of Socrates. For Megara was within a walk of Athens (Phaedr. 227 E), and Plato might have learned the Megarian doctrines without settling there.

We may begin by remarking that the theses of Parmenides are expressly said to follow the method of Zeno, and that the complex dilemma, though declared to be capable of universal application, is applied in this instance to Zeno’s familiar question of the ‘one and many.’ Here, then, is a double indication of the connexion of the Parmenides with the Eristic school. The old Eleatics had asserted the existence of Being, which they at first regarded as finite, then as infinite, then as neither finite nor infinite, to which some of them had given what Aristotle calls ‘a form,’ others had ascribed a material nature only. The tendency of their philosophy was to deny to Being all predicates. The Megarians, who succeeded them, like the Cynics, affirmed that no predicate could be asserted of any subject; they also converted the idea of Being into an abstraction of Good, perhaps with the view of preserving a sort of neutrality or indifference between the mind and things. As if they had said, in the language of modern philosophy: ‘Being is not only neither finite nor infinite, neither at rest nor in motion, but neither subjective nor objective.’

This is the track along which Plato is leading us. Zeno had attempted to prove the existence of the one by disproving the existence of the many, and Parmenides seems to aim at proving the existence of the subject by showing the contradictions which follow from the assertion of any predicates. Take the simplest of all notions, ‘unity’; you cannot even assert being or time of this without involving a contradiction. But is the contradiction also the final conclusion? Probably no more than of Zeno’s denial of Edition: current; Page: [20] the many, or of Parmenides’ assault upon the Ideas; no more than of the earlier dialogues ‘of search.’ To us there seems to be no residuum of this long piece of dialectics. But to the mind of Parmenides and Plato, ‘Gott-betrunkene Menschen,’ there still remained the idea of ‘being’ or ‘good,’ which could not be conceived, defined, uttered, but could not be got rid of. Neither of them would have imagined that their disputation ever touched the Divine Being (cp. Phil. 22 C). The same difficulties about Unity and Being are raised in the Sophist (250 ff.); but there only as preliminary to their final solution.

If this view is correct, the real aim of the hypotheses of Parmenides is to criticize the earlier Eleatic philosophy from the point of view of Zeno or the Megarians. It is the same kind of criticism which Plato has extended to his own doctrine of Ideas. Nor is there any want of poetical consistency in attributing to the ‘father Parmenides’ the last review of the Eleatic doctrines. The latest phases of all philosophies were fathered upon the founder of the school.

Other critics have regarded the final conclusion of the Parmenides either as sceptical or as Heracleitean. In the first case, they assume that Plato means to show the impossibility of any truth. But this is not the spirit of Plato, and could not with propriety be put into the mouth of Parmenides, who, in this very dialogue, is urging Socrates, not to doubt everything, but to discipline his mind with a view to the more precise attainment of truth. The same remark applies to the second of the two theories. Plato everywhere ridicules (perhaps unfairly) his Heracleitean contemporaries: and if he had intended to support an Heracleitean thesis, would hardly have chosen Parmenides, the condemner of the ‘undiscerning tribe who say that things both are and are not,’ to be the speaker. Nor, thirdly, can we easily persuade ourselves with Zeller that by the ‘one’ he means the Idea; and that he is seeking to prove indirectly the unity of the Idea in the multiplicity of phenomena.

We may now endeavour to thread the mazes of the labyrinth which Parmenides knew so well, and trembled at the thought of them.

The argument has two divisions: There is the hypothesis that

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i. One is.

ii. One is not.

If one is, it is nothing.

If one is not, it is everything.

But is and is not may be taken in two senses:

Either one is one,

Or, one has being,

from which opposite consequences are deduced,

i. a. If one is one, it is nothing (137 C—142 B).

i. b. If one has being, it is all things (142 B—157 B).

To which are appended two subordinate consequences:

i. aa. If one has being, all other things are (157 B—159 B).

i. bb. If one is one, all other things are not (159 B—160 B).

The same distinction is then applied to the negative hypothesis:

ii. a. If one is not one, it is all things (160 B—163 B).

ii. b. If one has not being, it is nothing (163 B—164 B).

Involving two parallel consequences respecting the other or remainder:

ii. aa. If one is not one, other things are all (164 B—165 E).

ii. bb. If one has not being, other things are not (165 E to the end).

Analysis.

Jowett1892: 137‘I cannot refuse,’ said Parmenides, ‘since, as Zeno remarks, we are alone, though I may say with Ibycus, who in his old age fell in love, I, like the old racehorse, tremble at the prospect of the course which I am to run, and which I know so well. But as I must attempt this laborious game, what shall be the subject? Suppose I take my own hypothesis of the one.’ ‘By all means,’ said Zeno. ‘And who will answer me? Shall I propose the youngest? he will be the most likely to say what he thinks, and his answers will give me time to breathe.’ ‘I am the youngest,’ said Aristoteles, ‘and at your service; proceed with your questions.’—The result may be summed up as follows:—

i. a. One is not many, and therefore has no parts, and therefore is not a whole, which is a sum of parts, and therefore has neither beginning, middle, nor end, and is therefore unlimited, and therefore Edition: current; Page: [22] formless, being neither round nor straight, for neither round nor straight can be defined without assuming that they have parts; Jowett1892: 138and therefore is not in place, whether in another which would encircle and touch the one at many points; or in itself, because that which is self-containing is also contained, and therefore not one but two. This being premised, let us consider whether one is capable either of motion or rest. For motion is either change of substance, or motion on an axis, or from one place to another. But the one is incapable of change of substance, which implies that it ceases to be itself, or of motion on an axis, because there would be parts around the axis; and any other motion involves change of place. But existence in place has been already shown to be impossible; and yet more impossible is coming into being in place, which implies partial existence in two places at once, or entire existence neither within nor without the same; and how can this be? And more impossible still is the coming into being either as a whole or parts of that which is neither a whole nor parts. The one, then, is incapable of motion. But neither can Jowett1892: 139the one be in anything, and therefore not in the same, whether itself or some other, and is therefore incapable of rest. Neither is one the same with itself or any other, or other than itself or any other. For if other than itself, then other than one, and therefore not one; and, if the same with other, it would be other, and other than one. Neither can one while remaining one be other than other; for other, and not one, is the other than other. But if not other by virtue of being one, not by virtue of itself; and if not by virtue of itself, not itself other, and if not itself other, not other than anything. Neither will one be the same with itself. For the nature of the same is not that of the one, but a thing which becomes the same with anything does not become one; for example, that which becomes the same with the many becomes many and not one. And therefore if the one is the same with itself, the one is not one with itself; and therefore one and not one. And therefore one is neither other than other, nor the same with itself. Neither will the one be like or unlike itself or other; for likeness is sameness of affections, and the one and the same are different. And one having any affection which is other Jowett1892: 140than being one would be more than one. The one, then, cannot have the same affection with and therefore cannot be like itself Edition: current; Page: [23] or other; nor can the one have any other affection than its own, that is, be unlike itself or any other, for this would imply that it was more than one. The one, then, is neither like nor unlike itself or other. This being the case, neither can the one be equal or unequal to itself or other. For equality implies sameness of measure, as inequality implies a greater or less number of measures. But the one, not having sameness, cannot have sameness of measure; nor a greater or less number of measures, for that would imply parts and multitude. Once more, can one be older or younger than itself or other? or of the same age with itself or other? That would imply likeness and unlikeness, Jowett1892: 141equality and inequality. Therefore one cannot be in time, because that which is in time is ever becoming older and younger than itself, (for older and younger are relative terms, and he who becomes older becomes younger,) and is also of the same age with itself. None of which, or any other expressions of time, whether past, future, or present, can be affirmed of one. One neither is, has been, nor will be, nor becomes, nor has, nor will become. And, as these are the only modes of being, one is not, and is not one. But to that which is not, there is no attribute or Jowett1892: 142relative, neither name nor word nor idea nor science nor perception nor opinion appertaining. One, then, is neither named, nor uttered, nor known, nor perceived, nor imagined. But can all this be true? ‘I think not.’

i. b. Let us, however, commence the inquiry again. We have to work out all the consequences which follow on the assumption that the one is. If one is, one partakes of being, which is not the same with one; the words ‘being’ and ‘one’ have different meanings. Observe the consequence: In the one of being or the being of one are two parts, being and one, which form one whole. And each of the two parts is also a whole, and involves the other, and may be further subdivided into one and being, and is therefore not one but two; and thus one is never one, and in this way Jowett1892: 143the one, if it is, becomes many and infinite. Again, let us conceive of a one which by an effort of abstraction we separate from being: will this abstract one be one or many? You say one only; let us see. In the first place, the being of one is other than one; and one and being, if different, are so because they Edition: current; Page: [24] both partake of the nature of other, which is therefore neither one nor being; and whether we take being and other, or being and one, or one and other, in any case we have two things which separately are called either, and together both. And both are two and either of two is severally one, and if one be added to any of the pairs, the sum is three; and two is an even number, three an odd; and two units exist twice, and therefore there are twice two; and three units exist thrice, and therefore there are thrice three, and taken together they give twice three and thrice two: we have even numbers multiplied into even, and odd into even, and even into odd numbers. But if one is, and both odd and Jowett1892: 144even numbers are implied in one, must not every number exist? And number is infinite, and therefore existence must be infinite, for all and every number partakes of being; therefore being has the greatest number of parts, and every part, however great or however small, is equally one. But can one be in many places and yet be a whole? If not a whole it must be divided into parts and represented by a number corresponding to the number of the parts. And if so, we were wrong in saying that being has the greatest number of parts; for being is coequal and coextensive with one, and has no more parts than one; and so the abstract one broken up into parts by being is many and infinite. But the parts are parts of a whole, and the whole is their containing limit, Jowett1892: 145and the one is therefore limited as well as infinite in number; and that which is a whole has beginning, middle, and end, and a middle is equidistant from the extremes; and one is therefore of a certain figure, round or straight, or a combination of the two, and being a whole includes all the parts which are the whole, and is therefore self-contained. But then, again, the whole is not in the parts, whether all or some. Not in all, because, if in all, also in one; for, if wanting in any one, how in all?—not in some, because the greater would then be contained in the less. But if not in all, nor in any, nor in some, either nowhere or in other. And if nowhere, nothing; therefore in other. The one as a whole, then, is in another, but regarded as a sum of parts is in itself; and is, therefore, both in itself and in another. This being the case, the one is at once both at rest and in motion: at rest, Jowett1892: 146because resting in itself; in motion, because it is ever in other. And if there is truth in what has preceded, one is the same and Edition: current; Page: [25] not the same with itself and other. For everything in relation to every other thing is either the same with it or other; or if neither the same nor other, then in the relation of part to a whole or whole to a part. But one cannot be a part or whole in relation to one, nor other than one; and is therefore the same with one. Yet this sameness is again contradicted by one being in another place from itself which is in the same place; this follows from one being in itself and in another; one, therefore, is other than itself. But if anything is other than anything, will it not be other than other? And the not one is other than the one, and the one than the not one; therefore one is other than all others. But the same and the other exclude one another, and therefore the other can never be in the same; nor can the other be in anything for ever so short a time, as for that time the other will be in the same. And the other, if never in the same, cannot be either in the one or in the not one. And one is not other than not one, either by reason of other or of itself; and therefore they are not Jowett1892: 147other than one another at all. Neither can the not one partake or be part of one, for in that case it would be one; nor can the not one be number, for that also involves one. And therefore, not being other than the one or related to the one as a whole to parts or parts to a whole, not one is the same as one. Wherefore the one is the same and also not the same with the others and also with itself; and is therefore like and unlike itself and the others, and just as different from the others as they are from the one, neither more nor less. But if neither more nor less, equally different; and therefore the one and the others have the same relations. This may be illustrated by the case of names: when you repeat the same name twice over, you mean the same thing; and when you say that the other is other than the one, or the one other than the other, this very word other ([Editor: illegible character]τερον), which is attributed to both, Jowett1892: 148implies sameness. One, then, as being other than others, and other as being other than one, are alike in that they have the relation of otherness; and likeness is similarity of relations. And everything as being other of everything is also like everything. Again, same and other, like and unlike, are opposites: and since in virtue of being other than the others the one is like them, in virtue of being the same it must be unlike. Again, one, as having the same relations, has no difference of relation, and is Edition: current; Page: [26] therefore not unlike, and therefore like; or, as having different relations, is different and unlike. Thus, one, as being the same and not the same with itself and others—for both these reasons and for either of them—is also like and unlike itself and the others. Again, how far can one touch itself and the others? As existing in others, it touches the others; and as existing in itself, touches only itself. But from another point of view, that which touches another must be next in order of place; one, therefore, must be next in order of place to itself, and would therefore be two, and in two places. But one cannot be two, and therefore Jowett1892: 149cannot be in contact with itself. Nor again can one touch the other. Two objects are required to make one contact; three objects make two contacts; and all the objects in the world, if placed in a series, would have as many contacts as there are objects, less one. But if one only exists, and not two, there is no contact. And the others, being other than one, have no part in one, and therefore none in number, and therefore two has no existence, and therefore there is no contact. For all which reasons, one has and has not contact with itself and the others.

Once more, Is one equal and unequal to itself and the others? Suppose one and the others to be greater or less than each other or equal to one another, they will be greater or less or equal by reason of equality or greatness or smallness inhering in them in addition to their own proper nature. Let us begin by assuming smallness to be inherent in one: in this case the inherence is Jowett1892: 150either in the whole or in a part. If the first, smallness is either coextensive with the whole one, or contains the whole, and, if coextensive with the one, is equal to the one, or if containing the one will be greater than the one. But smallness thus performs the function of equality or of greatness, which is impossible. Again, if the inherence be in a part, the same contradiction follows: smallness will be equal to the part or greater than the part; therefore smallness will not inhere in anything, and except the idea of smallness there will be nothing small. Neither will greatness; for greatness will have a greater;—and there will be no small in relation to which it is great. And there will be no great or small in objects, but greatness and smallness will be relative only to each other; therefore the others cannot be greater or less than the one; also the one can neither exceed nor Edition: current; Page: [27] be exceeded by the others, and they are therefore equal to one another. And this will be true also of the one in relation to itself: one will be equal to itself as well as to the others (τ[Editor: illegible character]λλα). Yet one, being in itself, must also be about itself, containing and Jowett1892: 151contained, and is therefore greater and less than itself. Further, there is nothing beside the one and the others; and as these must be in something, they must therefore be in one another; and as that in which a thing is is greater than the thing, the inference is that they are both greater and less than one another, because containing and contained in one another. Therefore the one is equal to and greater and less than itself or other, having also measures or parts or numbers equal to or greater or less than itself or other.

But does one partake of time? This must be acknowledged, if Jowett1892: 152the one partakes of being. For ‘to be’ is the participation of being in present time, ‘to have been’ in past, ‘to be about to be’ in future time. And as time is ever moving forward, the one becomes older than itself; and therefore younger than itself; and is older and also younger when in the process of becoming it arrives at the present; and it is always older and younger, for at any moment the one is, and therefore it becomes and is not older and younger than itself but during an equal time with itself, and is therefore contemporary with itself.

Jowett1892: 153And what are the relations of the one to the others? Is it or does it become older or younger than they? At any rate the others are more than one, and one, being the least of all numbers, must be prior in time to greater numbers. But on the other hand, one must come into being in a manner accordant with its own nature. Now one has parts or others, and has therefore a beginning, middle, and end, of which the beginning is first and the end last. And the parts come into existence first; last of all the whole, contemporaneously with the end, being therefore younger, while the parts or others are older than the one. But, again, the one comes into being in each of the parts as much as in Jowett1892: 154the whole, and must be of the same age with them. Therefore one is at once older and younger than the parts or others, and also contemporaneous with them, for no part can be a part which is not one. Is this true of becoming as well as being? Thus much may be affirmed, that the same things which are older or Edition: current; Page: [28] younger cannot become older or younger in a greater degree than they were at first by the addition of equal times. But, on the other hand, the one, if older than others, has come into being a longer time than they have. And when equal time is added to a longer and shorter, the relative difference between them is diminished. In this way that which was older becomes younger, and that which was younger becomes older, that is to say, younger and older than at first; and they ever become and never have become, for then they would be. Thus the one and others always Jowett1892: 155are and are becoming and not becoming younger and also older than one another. And one, partaking of time and also partaking of becoming older and younger, admits of all time, present, past, and future—was, is, shall be—was becoming, is becoming, will become. And there is science of the one, and opinion and name and expression, as is already implied in the fact of our inquiry.

Yet once more, if one be one and many, and neither one nor many, and also participant of time, must there not be a time at which one as being one partakes of being, and a time when one as not being one is deprived of being? But these two contradictory states cannot be experienced by the one both together: there must be a time of transition. And the transition is a Jowett1892: 156process of generation and destruction, into and from being and not-being, the one and the others. For the generation of the one is the destruction of the others, and the generation of the others is the destruction of the one. There is also separation and aggregation, assimilation and dissimilation, increase, diminution, equalization, a passage from motion to rest, and from rest to motion in the one and many. But when do all these changes take place? When does motion become rest, or rest motion? The answer to this question will throw a light upon all the others. Nothing can be in motion and at rest at the same time; and therefore the change takes place ‘in a moment’—which is a strange expression, and seems to mean change in no time. Which is true also of all the other changes, which likewise take Jowett1892: 157place in no time.

i. aa. But if one is, what happens to the others, which in the first place are not one, yet may partake of one in a certain way? Edition: current; Page: [29] The others are other than the one because they have parts, for if they had no parts they would be simply one, and parts imply a whole to which they belong; otherwise each part would be a part of many, and being itself one of them, of itself, and if a part of all, of each one of the other parts, which is absurd. For a part, if not a part of one, must be a part of all but this one, and if so not a part of each one; and if not a part of each one, not a part of any one of many, and so not of one; and if of none, how of all? Therefore a part is neither a part of many nor of all, but of an absolute and perfect whole or one. And if the others have parts, they must partake of the whole, and must be the whole of which they are the Jowett1892: 158parts. And each part, as the word ‘each’ implies, is also an absolute one. And both the whole and the parts partake of one, for the whole of which the parts are parts is one, and each part is one part of the whole; and whole and parts as participating in one are other than one, and as being other than one are many and infinite; and however small a fraction you separate from them is many and not one. Yet the fact of their being parts furnishes the others with a limit towards other parts and towards the whole; they are finite and also infinite: finite through participation in the one, infinite in their own nature. And as being finite, they are alike; and as being infinite, they are alike; but as being both Jowett1892: 159finite and also infinite, they are in the highest degree unlike. And all other opposites might without difficulty be shown to unite in them.

i. bb. Once more, leaving all this: Is there not also an opposite series of consequences which is equally true of the others, and may be deduced from the existence of one? There is. One is distinct from the others, and the others from one; for one and the others are all things, and there is no third existence besides them. And the whole of one cannot be in others nor parts of it, for it is separated from others and has no parts, and therefore the others have no unity, nor plurality, nor duality, nor any other number, nor any opposition or distinction, such as likeness and unlikeness, Jowett1892: 160some and other, generation and corruption, odd and even. For if they had these they would partake either of one opposite, and this would be a participation in one; or of two opposites, and this would be a participation in two. Thus if one exists, one is Edition: current; Page: [30] all things, and likewise nothing, in relation to one and to the others.

ii. a. But, again, assume the opposite hypothesis, that the one is not, and what is the consequence? In the first place, the proposition, that one is not, is clearly opposed to the proposition, that not one is not. The subject of any negative proposition implies at once knowledge and difference. Thus ‘one’ in the proposition—‘The one is not,’ must be something known, or the words would be unintelligible; and again this ‘one which is not’ is something different from other things. Moreover, this and that, some and other, may be all attributed or related to the one which is not, and which though non-existent may and must have plurality, if the one only is non-existent and nothing else; but if all is not-being there is Jowett1892: 161nothing which can be spoken of. Also the one which is not differs, and is different in kind from the others, and therefore unlike them; and they being other than the one, are unlike the one, which is therefore unlike them. But one, being unlike other, must be like itself; for the unlikeness of one to itself is the destruction of the hypothesis; and one cannot be equal to the others; for that would suppose being in the one, and the others would be equal to one and like one; both which are impossible, if one does not exist. The one which is not, then, if not equal is unequal to the others, and inequality implies great and small, and equality lies between great and small, and therefore the one which is not partakes of equality. Further, the one which is not has being; for that which is true is, and it is true that the one is not. And so the one which is not, if remitting aught of the being of Jowett1892: 162non-existence, would become existent. For not being implies the being of not-being, and being the not-being of not-being; or more truly being partakes of the being of being and not of the being of not-being, and not-being of the being of not-being and not of the not-being of not-being. And therefore the one which is not has being and also not-being. And the union of being and not-being involves change or motion. But how can not-being, which is nowhere, move or change, either from one place to another or in the same place? And whether it is or is not, it would cease to be one if experiencing a change of substance. The one which is not, then, is both in motion and at rest, is altered and unaltered, and Jowett1892: 163 Edition: current; Page: [31] becomes and is destroyed, and does not become and is not destroyed.

ii. b. Once more, let us ask the question, If one is not, what happens in regard to one? The expression ‘is not’ implies negation of being:—do we mean by this to say that a thing, which is not, in a certain sense is? or do we mean absolutely to deny being of it? The latter. Then the one which is not can neither be nor become nor perish nor experience change of substance or place. Jowett1892: 16Neither can rest, or motion, or greatness, or smallness, or equality, or unlikeness, or likeness either to itself or other, or attribute or relation, or now or hereafter or formerly, or knowledge or opinion or perception or name or anything else be asserted of that which is not.

ii. aa. Once more, if one is not, what becomes of the others? If we speak of them they must be, and their very name implies difference, and difference implies relation, not to the one, which is not, but to one another. And they are others of each other not as units but as infinities, the least of which is also infinity, and capable of infinitesimal division. And they will have no unity or number, but only a semblance of unity and number; and the least Jowett1892: 165of them will appear large and manifold in comparison with the infinitesimal fractions into which it may be divided. Further, each particle will have the appearance of being equal with the fractions. For in passing from the greater to the less it must reach an intermediate point, which is equality. Moreover, each particle although having a limit in relation to itself and to other particles, yet it has neither beginning, middle, nor end; for there is always a beginning before the beginning, and a middle within the middle, and an end beyond the end, because the infinitesimal division is never arrested by the one. Thus all being is one at a distance, and broken up when near, and like at a distance and unlike when near; and also the particles which compose being seem to be like and unlike, in rest and motion, in generation and corruption, in contact and separation, if one is not.

ii. bb. Once more, let us inquire, If the one is not, and the others of the one are, what follows? In the first place, the others will Jowett1892: 166not be the one, nor the many, for in that case the one would be Edition: current; Page: [32] contained in them; neither will they appear to be one or many; because they have no communion or participation in that which is not, nor semblance of that which is not. If one is not, the others neither are, nor appear to be one or many, like or unlike, in contact or separation. In short, if one is not, nothing is.

The result of all which is, that whether one is or is not, one and the others, in relation to themselves and to one another, are and are not, and appear to be and appear not to be, in all manner of ways.

Introduction.

I. On the first hypothesis we may remark: first, That one is one is an identical proposition, from which we might expect that no further consequences could be deduced. The train of consequences which follows, is inferred by altering the predicate into ‘not many.’ Yet, perhaps, if a strict Eristic had been present, οἰ̂ος ἀνὴρ εἰ καὶ νν̂ν παρη̂ν, he might have affirmed that the not many presented a different aspect of the conception from the one, and was therefore not identical with it. Such a subtlety would be very much in character with the Zenonian dialectic. Secondly, We may note, that the conclusion is really involved in the premises. For one is conceived as one, in a sense which excludes all predicates. When the meaning of one has been reduced to a point, there is no use in saying that it has neither parts nor magnitude. Thirdly, The conception of the same is, first of all, identified with the one; and then by a further analysis distinguished from, and even opposed to it. Fourthly, We may detect notions, which have reappeared in modern philosophy, e.g. the bare abstraction of undefined unity, answering to the Hegelian ‘Seyn,’ or the identity of contradictions ‘that which is older is also younger,’ etc., cp. 152, or the Kantian conception of an a priori synthetical proposition ‘one is.’

II. In the first series of propositions the word ‘is’ is really the copula; in the second, the verb of existence. As in the first series, the negative consequence followed from one being affirmed to be equivalent to the not many; so here the affirmative consequence is deduced from one being equivalent to the many.

In the former case, nothing could be predicated of the one, but Edition: current; Page: [33] now everything—multitude, relation, place, time, transition. One is regarded in all the aspects of one, and with a reference to all the consequences which flow, either from the combination or the separation of them. The notion of transition involves the singular extra-temporal conception of ‘suddenness.’ This idea of ‘suddenness’ is based upon the contradiction which is involved in supposing that anything can be in two places at once. It is a mere fiction; and we may observe that similar antinomies have led modern philosophers to deny the reality of time and space. It is not the infinitesimal of time, but the negative of time. By the help of this invention the conception of change, which sorely exercised the minds of early thinkers, seems to be, but is not really at all explained. The difficulty arises out of the imperfection of language, and should therefore be no longer regarded as a difficulty at all. The only way of meeting it, if it exists, is to acknowledge that this rather puzzling double conception is necessary to the expression of the phenomena of motion or change, and that this and similar double notions, instead of being anomalies, are among the higher and more potent instruments of human thought.

The processes by which Parmenides obtains his remarkable results may be summed up as follows: (1) Compound or correlative ideas which involve each other, such as, being and not-being, one and many, are conceived sometimes in a state of composition, and sometimes of division: (2) The division or distinction is sometimes heightened into total opposition, e. g. between one and same, one and other: or (3) The idea, which has been already divided, is regarded, like a number, as capable of further infinite subdivision: (4) The argument often proceeds ‘a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter’ and conversely: (5) The analogy of opposites is misused by him; he argues indiscriminately sometimes from what is like, sometimes from what is unlike in them: (6) The idea of being or not-being is identified with existence or non-existence in place or time: (7) The same ideas are regarded sometimes as in process of transition, sometimes as alternatives or opposites: (8) There are no degrees or kinds of sameness, likeness, difference, nor any adequate conception of motion or change: (9) One, being, time, like space in Zeno’s puzzle of Achilles and the tortoise, are regarded sometimes as continuous and sometimes Edition: current; Page: [34] as discrete: (10) In some parts of the argument the abstraction is so rarefied as to become not only fallacious, but almost unintelligible, e. g. in the contradiction which is elicited out of the relative terms older and younger at p. 152: (11) The relation between two terms is regarded under contradictory aspects, as for example when the existence of the one and the non-existence of the one are equally assumed to involve the existence of the many: (12) Words are used through long chains of argument, sometimes loosely, sometimes with the precision of numbers or of geometrical figures.

The argument is a very curious piece of work, unique in literature. It seems to be an exposition or rather a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ of the Megarian philosophy, but we are too imperfectly acquainted with this last to speak with confidence about it. It would be safer to say that it is an indication of the sceptical, hyperlogical fancies which prevailed among the contemporaries of Socrates. It throws an indistinct light upon Aristotle, and makes us aware of the debt which the world owes to him or his school. It also bears a resemblance to some modern speculations, in which an attempt is made to narrow language in such a manner that number and figure may be made a calculus of thought. It exaggerates one side of logic and forgets the rest. It has the appearance of a mathematical process; the inventor of it delights, as mathematicians do, in eliciting or discovering an unexpected result. It also helps to guard us against some fallacies by showing the consequences which flow from them.

In the Parmenides we seem to breathe the spirit of the Megarian philosophy, though we cannot compare the two in detail. But Plato also goes beyond his Megarian contemporaries; he has split their straws over again, and admitted more than they would have desired. He is indulging the analytical tendencies of his age, which can divide but not combine. And he does not stop to inquire whether the distinctions which he makes are shadowy and fallacious, but ‘whither the argument blows’ he follows.

III. The negative series of propositions contains the first conception of the negation of a negation. Two minus signs in arithmetic or algebra make a plus. Two negatives destroy each other. This abstruse notion is the foundation of the Hegelian logic. The mind must not only admit that determination is negation, but must get through negation into affirmation. Whether this process Edition: current; Page: [35] is real, or in any way an assistance to thought, or, like some other logical forms, a mere figure of speech transferred from the sphere of mathematics, may be doubted. That Plato and the most subtle philosopher of the nineteenth century should have lighted upon the same notion, is a singular coincidence of ancient and modern thought.

IV. The one and the many or others are reduced to their strictest arithmetical meaning. That one is three or three one, is a proposition which has, perhaps, given rise to more controversy in the world than any other. But no one has ever meant to say that three and one are to be taken in the same sense. Whereas the one and many of the Parmenides have precisely the same meaning; there is no notion of one personality or substance having many attributes or qualities. The truth seems to be rather the opposite of that which Socrates implies at p. 129: There is no contradiction in the concrete, but in the abstract; and the more abstract the idea, the more palpable will be the contradiction. For just as nothing can persuade us that the number one is the number three, so neither can we be persuaded that any abstract idea is identical with its opposite, although they may both inhere together in some external object, or some more comprehensive conception. Ideas, persons, things may be one in one sense and many in another, and may have various degrees of unity and plurality. But in whatever sense and in whatever degree they are one they cease to be many; and in whatever degree or sense they are many they cease to be one.

Two points remain to be considered: 1st, the connexion between the first and second parts of the dialogue; 2ndly, the relation of the Parmenides to the other dialogues.

I. In both divisions of the dialogue the principal speaker is the same, and the method pursued by him is also the same, being a criticism on received opinions: first, on the doctrine of Ideas; secondly, of Being. From the Platonic Ideas we naturally proceed to the Eleatic One or Being which is the foundation of them. They are the same philosophy in two forms, and the simpler form is the truer and deeper. For the Platonic Ideas are mere numerical differences, and the moment we attempt to distinguish between them, their transcendental character is lost; ideas of justice, Edition: current; Page: [36] temperance, and good, are really distinguishable only with reference to their application in the world. If we once ask how they are related to individuals or to the ideas of the divine mind, they are again merged in the aboriginal notion of Being. No one can answer the questions which Parmenides asks of Socrates. And yet these questions are asked with the express acknowledgment that the denial of ideas will be the destruction of the human mind. The true answer to the difficulty here thrown out is the establishment of a rational psychology; and this is a work which is commenced in the Sophist. Plato, in urging the difficulty of his own doctrine of Ideas, is far from denying that some doctrine of Ideas is necessary, and for this he is paving the way.

In a similar spirit he criticizes the Eleatic doctrine of Being, not intending to deny Ontology, but showing that the old Eleatic notion, and the very name ‘Being,’ is unable to maintain itself against the subtleties of the Megarians. He did not mean to say that Being or Substance had no existence, but he is preparing for the development of his later view, that ideas were capable of relation. The fact that contradictory consequences follow from the existence or non-existence of one or many, does not prove that they have or have not existence, but rather that some different mode of conceiving them is required. Parmenides may still have thought that ‘Being was,’ just as Kant would have asserted the existence of ‘things in themselves,’ while denying the transcendental use of the Categories.

Several lesser links also connect the first and second parts of the dialogue: (1) The thesis is the same as that which Zeno has been already discussing: (2) Parmenides has intimated in the first part, that the method of Zeno should, as Socrates desired, be extended to Ideas: (3) The difficulty of participating in greatness, smallness, equality is urged against the Ideas as well as against the One.

II. The Parmenides is not only a criticism of the Eleatic notion of Being, but also of the methods of reasoning then in existence, and in this point of view, as well as in the other, may be regarded as an introduction to the Sophist. Long ago, in the Euthydemus, the vulgar application of the ‘both and neither’ Eristic had been subjected to a similar criticism, which there takes the form of banter and irony, here of illustration.

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The attack upon the Ideas is resumed in the Philebus, and is followed by a return to a more rational philosophy. The perplexity of the One and Many is there confined to the region of Ideas, and replaced by a theory of classification; the Good arranged in classes is also contrasted with the barren abstraction of the Megarians. The war is carried on against the Eristics in all the later dialogues, sometimes with a playful irony, at other times with a sort of contempt. But there is no lengthened refutation of them. The Parmenides belongs to that stage of the dialogues of Plato in which he is partially under their influence, using them as a sort of ‘critics or diviners’ of the truth of his own, and of the Eleatic theories. In the Theaetetus a similar negative dialectic is employed in the attempt to define science, which after every effort remains undefined still. The same question is revived from the objective side in the Sophist: Being and Not-being are no longer exhibited in opposition, but are now reconciled; and the true nature of Not-being is discovered and made the basis of the correlation of ideas. Some links are probably missing which might have been supplied if we had trustworthy accounts of Plato’s oral teaching.

To sum up: the Parmenides of Plato is a critique, first, of the Platonic Ideas, and secondly, of the Eleatic doctrine of Being. Neither are absolutely denied. But certain difficulties and consequences are shown in the assumption of either, which prove that the Platonic as well as the Eleatic doctrine must be remodelled. The negation and contradiction which are involved in the conception of the One and Many are preliminary to their final adjustment. The Platonic Ideas are tested by the interrogative method of Socrates; the Eleatic One or Being is tried by the severer and perhaps impossible method of hypothetical consequences, negative and affirmative. In the latter we have an example of the Zenonian or Megarian dialectic, which proceeded, not ‘by assailing premises, but conclusions’; this is worked out and improved by Plato. When primary abstractions are used in every conceivable sense, any or every conclusion may be deduced from them. The words ‘one,’ ‘other,’ ‘being,’ ‘like,’ ‘same,’ ‘whole,’ and their opposites, have slightly different meanings, as they are applied to objects of thought or objects of sense—to number, time, place, and to the higher ideas of the reason;—and out of their different meanings this ‘feast’ of contradictions ‘has been provided.’

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The Parmenides of Plato belongs to a stage of philosophy which has passed away. At first we read it with a purely anti-quarian or historical interest; and with difficulty throw ourselves back into a state of the human mind in which Unity and Being occupied the attention of philosophers. We admire the precision of the language, in which, as in some curious puzzle, each word is exactly fitted into every other, and long trains of argument are carried out with a sort of geometrical accuracy. We doubt whether any abstract notion could stand the searching cross-examination of Parmenides; and may at last perhaps arrive at the conclusion that Plato has been using an imaginary method to work out an unmeaning conclusion. But the truth is, that he is carrying on a process which is not either useless or unnecessary in any age of philosophy. We fail to understand him, because we do not realize that the questions which he is discussing could have had any value or importance. We suppose them to be like the speculations of some of the Schoolmen, which end in nothing. But in truth he is trying to get rid of the stumblingblocks of thought which beset his contemporaries. Seeing that the Megarians and Cynics were making knowledge impossible, he takes their ‘catch-words’ and analyzes them from every conceivable point of view. He is criticizing the simplest and most general of our ideas, in which, as they are the most comprehensive, the danger of error is the most serious; for, if they remain unexamined, as in a mathematical demonstration, all that flows from them is affected, and the error pervades knowledge far and wide. In the beginning of philosophy this correction of human ideas was even more necessary than in our own times, because they were more bound up with words; and words when once presented to the mind exercised a greater power over thought. There is a natural realism which says, ‘Can there be a word devoid of meaning, or an idea which is an idea of nothing?’ In modern times mankind have often given too great importance to a word or idea. The philosophy of the ancients was still more in slavery to them, because they had not the experience of error, which would have placed them above the illusion.

The method of the Parmenides may be compared with the process of purgation, which Bacon sought to introduce into philosophy. Plato is warning us against two sorts of ‘Idols of the Edition: current; Page: [39] Den’: first, his own Ideas, which he himself having created is unable to connect in any way with the external world; secondly, against two idols in particular, ‘Unity’ and ‘Being,’ which had grown up in the pre-Socratic philosophy, and were still standing in the way of all progress and development of thought. He does not say with Bacon, ‘Let us make truth by experiment,’ or ‘From these vague and inexact notions let us turn to facts.’ The time has not yet arrived for a purely inductive philosophy. The instruments of thought must first be forged, that they may be used hereafter by modern inquirers. How, while mankind were disputing about universals, could they classify phenomena? How could they investigate causes, when they had not as yet learned to distinguish between a cause and an end? How could they make any progress in the sciences without first arranging them? These are the deficiencies which Plato is seeking to supply in an age when knowledge was a shadow of a name only. In the earlier dialogues the Socratic conception of universals is illustrated by his genius; in the Phaedrus the nature of division is explained; in the Republic the law of contradiction and the unity of knowledge are asserted; in the later dialogues he is constantly engaged both with the theory and practice of classification. These were the ‘new weapons,’ as he terms them in the Philebus, which he was preparing for the use of some who, in after ages, would be found ready enough to disown their obligations to the great master, or rather, perhaps, would be incapable of understanding them.

Numberless fallacies, as we are often truly told, have originated in a confusion of the ‘copula,’ and the ‘verb of existence.’ Would not the distinction which Plato by the mouth of Parmenides makes between ‘One is one’ and ‘One has being’ have saved us from this and many similar confusions? We see again that a long period in the history of philosophy was a barren tract, not uncultivated, but unfruitful, because there was no inquiry into the relation of language and thought, and the metaphysical imagination was incapable of supplying the missing link between words and things. The famous dispute between Nominalists and Realists would never have been heard of, if, instead of transferring the Platonic Ideas into a crude Latin phraseology, the spirit of Plato had been truly understood and appreciated. Upon the term Edition: current; Page: [40] substance at least two celebrated theological controversies appear to hinge, which would not have existed, or at least not in their present form, if we had ‘interrogated’ the word substance, as Plato has the notions of Unity and Being. These weeds of philosophy have struck their roots deep into the soil, and are always tending to reappear, sometimes in new-fangled forms; while similar words, such as development, evolution, law, and the like, are constantly put in the place of facts, even by writers who profess to base truth entirely upon fact. In an unmetaphysical age there is probably more metaphysics in the common sense (i. e. more a priori assumption) than in any other, because there is more complete unconsciousness that we are resting on our own ideas, while we please ourselves with the conviction that we are resting on facts. We do not consider how much metaphysics are required to place us above metaphysics, or how difficult it is to prevent the forms of expression which are ready made for our use from outrunning actual observation and experiment.

In the last century the educated world were astonished to find that the whole fabric of their ideas was falling to pieces, because Hume amused himself by analyzing the word ‘cause’ into uniform sequence. Then arose a philosophy which, equally regardless of the history of the mind, sought to save mankind from scepticism by assigning to our notions of ‘cause and effect,’ ‘substance and accident,’ ‘whole and part,’ a necessary place in human thought. Without them we could have no experience, and therefore they were supposed to be prior to experience—to be incrusted on the ‘I’; although in the phraseology of Kant there could be no transcendental use of them, or, in other words, they were only applicable within the range of our knowledge. But into the origin of these ideas, which he obtains partly by an analysis of the proposition, partly by development of the ‘ego,’ he never inquires—they seem to him to have a necessary existence; nor does he attempt to analyse the various senses in which the word ‘cause’ or ‘substance’ may be employed.

The philosophy of Berkeley could never have had any meaning, even to himself, if he had first analyzed from every point of view the conception of ‘matter.’ This poor forgotten word (which was ‘a very good word’ to describe the simplest generalization of external objects) is now superseded in the vocabulary of physical Edition: current; Page: [41] philosophers by ‘force,’ which seems to be accepted without any rigid examination of its meaning, as if the general idea of ‘force’ in our minds furnished an explanation of the infinite variety of forces which exist in the universe. A similar ambiguity occurs in the use of the favourite word ‘law,’ which is sometimes regarded as a mere abstraction, and then elevated into a real power or entity, almost taking the place of God. Theology, again, is full of undefined terms which have distracted the human mind for ages. Mankind have reasoned from them, but not to them; they have drawn out the conclusions without proving the premises; they have asserted the premises without examining the terms. The passions of religious parties have been roused to the utmost about words of which they could have given no explanation, and which had really no distinct meaning. One sort of them, faith, grace, justification, have been the symbols of one class of disputes; as the words substance, nature, person, of another, revelation, inspiration, and the like, of a third. All of them have been the subject of endless reasonings and inferences; but a spell has hung over the minds of theologians or philosophers which has prevented them from examining the words themselves. Either the effort to rise above and beyond their own first ideas was too great for them, or there might, perhaps, have seemed to be an irreverence in doing so. About the Divine Being Himself, in whom all true theological ideas live and move, men have spoken and reasoned much, and have fancied that they instinctively know Him. But they hardly suspect that under the name of God even Christians have included two characters or natures as much opposed as the good and evil principle of the Persians.

To have the true use of words we must compare them with things; in using them we acknowledge that they seldom give a perfect representation of our meaning. In like manner when we interrogate our ideas we find that we are not using them always in the sense which we supposed. And Plato, while he criticizes the inconsistency of his own doctrine of universals and draws out the endless consequences which flow from the assertion either that ‘Being is’ or that ‘Being is not,’ by no means intends to deny the existence of universals or the unity under which they are comprehended. There is nothing further Edition: current; Page: [42] from his thoughts than scepticism (cp. 135 B, C). But before proceeding he must examine the foundations which he and others have been laying; there is nothing true which is not from some point of view untrue, nothing absolute which is not also relative (cp. Rep. vi. 507).

And so, in modern times, because we are called upon to analyze our ideas and to come to a distinct understanding about the meaning of words; because we know that the powers of language are very unequal to the subtlety of nature or of mind, we do not therefore renounce the use of them; but we replace them in their old connexion, having first tested their meaning and quality, and having corrected the error which is involved in them; or rather always remembering to make allowance for the adulteration or alloy which they contain. We cannot call a new metaphysical world into existence any more than we can frame a new universal language; in thought, as in speech, we are dependent on the past. We know that the words ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ are very far from representing to us the continuity or the complexity of nature or the different modes or degrees in which phenomena are connected. Yet we accept them as the best expression which we have of the correlation of forces or objects. We see that the term ‘law’ is a mere abstraction, under which laws of matter and of mind, the law of nature and the law of the land are included, and some of these uses of the word are confusing, because they introduce into one sphere of thought associations which belong to another; for example, order or sequence is apt to be confounded with external compulsion and the internal workings of the mind with their material antecedents. Yet none of them can be dispensed with; we can only be on our guard against the error or confusion which arises out of them. Thus in the use of the word ‘substance’ we are far from supposing that there is any mysterious substratum apart from the objects which we see, and we acknowledge that the negative notion is very likely to become a positive one. Still we retain the word as a convenient generalization, though not without a double sense, substance, and essence, derived from the two-fold translation of the Greek οὐσἰα.

So the human mind makes the reflection that God is not a person like ourselves—is not a cause like the material causes in nature, nor even an intelligent cause like a human agent—nor an Edition: current; Page: [43] individual, for He is universal; and that every possible conception which we can form of Him is limited by the human faculties. We cannot by any effort of thought or exertion of faith be in and out of our own minds at the same instant. How can we conceive Him under the forms of time and space, who is out of time and space? How get rid of such forms and see Him as He is? How can we imagine His relation to the world or to ourselves? Innumerable contradictions follow from either of the two alternatives, that God is or that He is not. Yet we are far from saying that we know nothing of Him, because all that we know is subject to the conditions of human thought. To the old belief in Him we return, but with corrections. He is a person, but not like ourselves; a mind, but not a human mind; a cause, but not a material cause, nor yet a maker or artificer. The words which we use are imperfect expressions of His true nature; but we do not therefore lose faith in what is best and highest in ourselves and in the world.

‘A little philosophy takes us away from God; a great deal brings us back to Him.’ When we begin to reflect, our first thoughts respecting Him and ourselves are apt to be sceptical. For we can analyze our religious as well as our other ideas; we can trace their history; we can criticize their perversion; we see that they are relative to the human mind and to one another. But when we have carried our criticism to the furthest point, they still remain, a necessity of our moral nature, better known and understood by us, and less liable to be shaken, because we are more aware of their necessary imperfection. They come to us with ‘better opinion, better confirmation,’ not merely as the inspirations either of ourselves or of another, but deeply rooted in history and in the human mind.

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PARMENIDES.

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE.

Cephalus.

Adeimantus.

Glaucon.

Antiphon.

Pythodorus.

Socrates.

Zeno.

Parmenides.

Aristoteles.

Cephalus rehearses a dialogue which is supposed to have been narrated in his presence by Antiphon, the half-brother of Adeimantus and Glaucon, to certain Clazomenians.

Parmenides. Cephalus, Adrimantus. Preface. The request of the Clazomenians.

Jowett1892: 126We had come from our home at Clazomenae to Athens, and met Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Agora. Welcome, Cephalus, said Adeimantus, taking me by the hand; is there anything which we can do for you in Athens?

Yes; that is why I am here; I wish to ask a favour of you.

What may that be? he said.

I want you to tell me the name of your half-brother, which I have forgotten; he was a mere child when I last came hither from Clazomenae, but that was a long time ago; his father’s name, if I remember rightly, was Pyrilampes?

Yes, he said, and the name of our brother, Antiphon; but why do you ask?

Let me introduce some countrymen of mine, I said; they are lovers of philosophy, and have heard that Antiphon was intimate with a certain Pythodorus, a friend of Zeno, and remembers a conversation which took place between Socrates, Zeno, and Parmenides many years ago, Pythodorus having often recited it to him.

Quite true.

And could we hear it? I asked.

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Cephalus, Adeimantus, Antiphon, Socrates, Zeno.

Nothing easier, he replied; when he was a youth he made a careful study of the piece; at present his thoughts run in another direction; like his grandfather Antiphon he is devoted to horses. But, if that is what you want, let us go and look for him; he dwells at Melita, which is quite near, and he has only just left us to go home.

Descriptive.

Accordingly we went to look for him; he was at home, and Jowett1892: 127in the act of giving a bridle to a smith to be fitted. When he had done with the smith, his brothers told him the purpose of our visit; and he saluted me as an acquaintance whom he remembered from my former visit, and we asked him to repeat the dialogue. At first he was not very willing, and complained of the trouble, but at length he consented. He told us that Pythodorus had described to him the appearance of Parmenides and Zeno; they came to Athens, as he said, at the great Panathenaea; the former was, at the time of his visit, about 65 years old, very white with age, but well favoured. Zeno was nearly 40 years of age, tall and fair to look upon; in the days of his youth he was reported to have been beloved by Parmenides. He said that they lodged with Pythodorus in the Ceramicus, outside the wall, whither Socrates, then a very young man, came to see them, and many others with him; they wanted to hear the writings of Zeno, which had been brought to Athens for the first time on the occasion of their visit. These Zeno himself read to them in the absence of Parmenides, and had very nearly finished when Pythodorus entered, and with him Parmenides and Aristoteles who was afterwards one of the Thirty, and heard the little that remained of the dialogue. Pythodorus had heard Zeno repeat them before.

The contention of Zeno is, that being cannot be many, because, if it were, it would be like and unlike at the same time, which is impossible.

When the recitation was completed, Socrates requested that the first thesis of the first argument might be read over again, and this having been done, he said: What is your meaning, Zeno? Do you maintain that if being is many, it must be both like and unlike, and that this is impossible, for neither can the like be unlike, nor the unlike like—is that your position?

Just so, said Zeno.

Socrates, Zeno.

And if the unlike cannot be like, or the like unlike, then according to you, being could not be many; for this would Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [47] involve an impossibility. In all that you say have you any other purpose except to disprove the being of the many? and is not each division of your treatise intended to furnish a separate proof of this, there being in all as many proofs of the not-being of the many as you have composed arguments? Is that your meaning, or have I misunderstood you?

Jowett1892: 128No, said Zeno; you have correctly understood my general purpose.

‘The many are not’ is only another way of expressing the thesis of Parmenides that ‘All is one.’

I see, Parmenides, said Socrates, that Zeno would like to be not only one with you in friendship but your second self in his writings too; he puts what you say in another way, and would fain make believe that he is telling us something which is new. For you, in your poems, say The All is one, and of this you adduce excellent proofs; and he on the other hand says There is no many; and on behalf of this he offers overwhelming evidence. You affirm unity, he denies plurality. And so you deceive the world into believing that you are saying different things when really you are saying much the same. This is a strain of art beyond the reach of most of us.

A misunderstanding.

Yes, Socrates, said Zeno. But although you are as keen as a Spartan hound in pursuing the track, you do not fully apprehend the true motive of the composition, which is not really such an artificial work as you imagine; for what you speak of was an accident; there was no pretence of a great purpose; nor any serious intention of deceiving the world. The truth is, that these writings of mine were meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides against those who make fun of him and seek to show the many ridiculous and contradictory results which they suppose to follow from the affirmation of the one. My answer is addressed to the partisans of the many, whose attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the being of many, if carried out, appears to be still more ridiculous than the hypothesis of the being of one. Zeal for my master led me to write the book in the days of my youth, but some one stole the copy; and therefore I had no choice whether it should be published or not; the motive, however, of writing, was not the ambition of an elder man, but the pugnacity of a young one. This you do not seem to see, Edition: current; Page: [48] Socrates; though in other respects, as I was saying, your notion is a very just one.

Differences between absolute ideas or natures, and the things which partake of them. Socrates, Parmenides.

I understand, said Socrates, and quite accept your account. But tell me, Zeno, do you not further think that there is an idea of likeness in itself, and another idea of unlikeness, Jowett1892: 129which is the opposite of likeness, and that in these two, you and I and all other things to which we apply the term many, participate—things which participate in likeness become in that degree and manner like; and so far as they participate in unlikeness become in that degree unlike, or both like and unlike in the degree in which they participate in both? And may not all things partake of both opposites, and be both like and unlike, by reason of this participation?—Where is the wonder? Now if a person could prove the absolute like to become unlike, or the absolute unlike to become like, that, in my opinion, would indeed be a wonder; but there is nothing extraordinary, Zeno, in showing that the things which only partake of likeness and unlikeness experience both. Nor, again, if a person were to show that all is one by partaking of one, and at the same time many by partaking of many, would that be very astonishing. But if he were to show me that the absolute one was many, or the absolute many one, I should be truly amazed. And so of all the rest: I should be surprised to hear that the natures or ideas themselves had these opposite qualities; but not if a person wanted to prove of me that I was many and also one. When he wanted to show that I was many he would say that I have a right and a left side, and a front and a back, and an upper and a lower half, for I cannot deny that I partake of multitude; when, on the other hand, he wants to prove that I am one, he will say, that we who are here assembled are seven, and that I am one and partake of the one. In both instances he proves his case. So again, if a person shows that such things as wood, stones, and the like, being many are also one, we admit that he shows the coexistence of the one and many, but he does not show that the many are one or the one many; he is uttering not a paradox but a truism. If however, as I just now suggested, some one were to abstract simple notions of like, unlike, one, many, rest, motion, and similar ideas, and then to show that Edition: current; Page: [49] these admit of admixture and separation in themselves, I should be very much astonished. This part of the argument appears to be treated by you, Zeno, in a very spirited manner; but, as I was saying, I should be far more amazed if any one Jowett1892: 130found in the ideas themselves which are apprehended by reason, the same puzzle and entanglement which you have shown to exist in visible objects.

While Socrates was speaking, Pythodorus thought that Parmenides and Zeno were not altogether pleased at the successive steps of the argument; but still they gave the closest attention, and often looked at one another, and smiled as if in admiration of him. When he had finished, Parmenides expressed their feelings in the following words:—

Socrates, he said, I admire the bent of your mind towards philosophy; tell me now, was this your own distinction between ideas in themselves and the things which partake of them? and do you think that there is an idea of likeness apart from the likeness which we possess, and of the one and many, and of the other things which Zeno mentioned?

I think that there are such ideas, said Socrates.

Parmenides asks Socrates whether he would make ideas of all things.

Parmenides proceeded: And would you also make absolute ideas of the just and the beautiful and the good, and of all that class?

Yes, he said, I should.

And would you make an idea of man apart from us and from all other human creatures, or of fire and water?

I am often undecided, Parmenides, as to whether I ought to include them or not.

And would you feel equally undecided, Socrates, about things of which the mention may provoke a smile?—I mean such things as hair, mud, dirt, or anything else which is vile and paltry; would you suppose that each of these has an idea distinct from the actual objects with which we come into contact, or not?

Socrates fears to extend his idealism to mud, dirt, etc.,

Certainly not, said Socrates; visible things like these are such as they appear to us, and I am afraid that there would be an absurdity in assuming any idea of them, although I sometimes get disturbed, and begin to think that there is nothing without an idea; but then again, when I have taken Edition: current; Page: [50] up this position, I run away, because I am afraid that I may fall into a bottomless pit of nonsense, and perish; and so I return to the ideas of which I was just now speaking, and occupy myself with them.

and is rebuked by Parmenides for exhibiting an unphilosophic temper.

Yes, Socrates, said Parmenides; that is because you are still young; the time will come, if I am not mistaken, when philosophy will have a firmer grasp of you, and then you will not despise even the meanest things; at your age, you are too much disposed to regard the opinions of men. But I should like to know whether you mean that there are certain ideas of which all other things partake, and from which they derive their names; that similars, for example, Jowett1892: 131become similar, because they partake of similarity; and great things become great, because they partake of greatness; and that just and beautiful things become just and beautiful, because they partake of justice and beauty?

Yes, certainly, said Socrates, that is my meaning.

Then each individual partakes either of the whole of the idea or else of a part of the idea? Can there be any other mode of participation?

There cannot be, he said.

The whole idea cannot exist in different objects at the same time;

Then do you think that the whole idea is one, and yet, being one, is in each one of the many?

Why not, Parmenides? said Socrates.

Because one and the same thing will exist as a whole at the same time in many separate individuals, and will therefore be in a state of separation from itself.

Nay, but the idea may be like the day which is one and the same in many places at once, and yet continuous with itself; in this way each idea may be one and the same in all at the same time.

I like your way, Socrates, of making one in many places at once. You mean to say, that if I were to spread out a sail and cover a number of men, there would be one whole including many—is not that your meaning?

I think so.

And would you say that the whole sail includes each man, or a part of it only, and different parts different men?

The latter.

Then, Socrates, the ideas themselves will be divisible, and Edition: current; Page: [51] things which participate in them will have a part of them only and not the whole idea existing in each of them?

That seems to follow.

Then would you like to say, Socrates, that the one idea is really divisible and yet remains one?

Certainly not, he said.

nor can objects contain only parts of ideas, for this would equally involve an absurdity. Things cannot become great or equal or small by addition of a part of greatness or equality or smallness.

Suppose that you divide absolute greatness, and that of the many great things, each one is great in virtue of a portion of greatness less than absolute greatness—is that conceivable?

No.

Or will each equal thing, if possessing some small portion of equality less than absolute equality, be equal to some other thing by virtue of that portion only?

Impossible.

Or suppose one of us to have a portion of smallness; this is but a part of the small, and therefore the absolutely small is greater; if the absolutely small be greater, that to which the part of the small is added will be smaller and not greater than before.

How absurd!

Then in what way, Socrates, will all things participate in the ideas, if they are unable to participate in them either as parts or wholes?

Indeed, he said, you have asked a question which is not easily answered.

Well, said Parmenides, and what do you say of another question?

What question?

Ideas are given by generalization.

I imagine that the way in which you are led to assume one Jowett1892: 132idea of each kind is as follows:—You see a number of great objects, and when you look at them there seems to you to be one and the same idea (or nature) in them all; hence you conceive of greatness as one.

Very true, said Socrates.

But the general and its particulars together form a new idea;

And if you go on and allow your mind in like manner to embrace in one view the idea of greatness and of great things which are not the idea, and to compare them, will not another greatness arise, which will appear to be the source of all these?

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It would seem so.

the new idea and its particulars another; and so ad infinitum. It is suggested that the ideas are thoughts only.—This solution is rejected.

Then another idea of greatness now comes into view over and above absolute greatness, and the individuals which partake of it; and then another, over and above all these, by virtue of which they will all be great, and so each idea instead of being one will be infinitely multiplied.

But may not the ideas, asked Socrates, be thoughts only, and have no proper existence except in our minds, Parmenides? For in that case each idea may still be one, and not experience this infinite multiplication.

And can there be individual thoughts which are thoughts of nothing?

Impossible, he said.

The thought must be of something?

Yes.

Of something which is or which is not?

Of something which is.

Must it not be of a single something, which the thought recognizes as attaching to all, being a single form or nature?

Yes.

And will not the something which is apprehended as one and the same in all, be an idea?

From that, again, there is no escape.

A fresh attempt. The ideas are patterns, and other things will be like them. But then there will be likeness of the like to the like, and a common idea including both; and so on ad infinitum.

Then, said Parmenides, if you say that everything else participates in the ideas, must you not say either that everything is made up of thoughts, and that all things think; or that they are thoughts but have no thought?

The latter view, Parmenides, is no more rational than the previous one. In my opinion, the ideas are, as it were, patterns fixed in nature, and other things are like them, and resemblances of them—what is meant by the participation of other things in the ideas, is really assimilation to them.

But if, said he, the individual is like the idea, must not the idea also be like the individual, in so far as the individual is a resemblance of the idea? That which is like, cannot be conceived of as other than the like of like.

Impossible.

And when two things are alike, must they not partake of the same idea?

They must.

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And will not that of which the two partake, and which makes them alike, be the idea itself?

Certainly.

Then the idea cannot be like the individual, or the individual like the idea; for if they are alike, some further idea Jowett1892: 133of likeness will always be coming to light, and if that be like anything else, another; and new ideas will be always arising, if the idea resembles that which partakes of it?

Quite true.

Resemblance must be given up.

The theory, then, that other things participate in the ideas by resemblance, has to be given up, and some other mode of participation devised?

It would seem so.

Do you see then, Socrates, how great is the difficulty of affirming the ideas to be absolute?

Yes, indeed.

And, further, let me say that as yet you only understand a small part of the difficulty which is involved if you make of each thing a single idea, parting it off from other things.

What difficulty? he said.

There are many, but the greatest of all is this:—If an opponent argues that these ideas, being such as we say they ought to be, must remain unknown, no one can prove to him that he is wrong, unless he who denies their existence be a man of great ability and knowledge, and is willing to follow a long and laborious demonstration; he will remain unconvinced, and still insist that they cannot be known.

What do you mean, Parmenides? said Socrates.

Ideas would be no longer absolute, if they existed within us. And if without us, then they and their resemblances in our sphere are related among themselves only and not to one another. For example, we must distinguish the individual slave and master in the concrete from the ideas of mastership and slavery in the abstract.

In the first place, I think, Socrates, that you, or any one who maintains the existence of absolute essences, will admit that they cannot exist in us.

No, said Socrates; for then they would be no longer absolute.

True, he said; and therefore when ideas are what they are in relation to one another, their essence is determined by a relation among themselves, and has nothing to do with the resemblances, or whatever they are to be termed, which are in our sphere, and from which we receive this or that name when we partake of them. And the things which are within our sphere and have the same names with them, are likewise Edition: current; Page: [54] only relative to one another, and not to the ideas which have the same names with them, but belong to themselves and not to them.

What do you mean? said Socrates.

I may illustrate my meaning in this way, said Parmenides:—A master has a slave; now there is nothing absolute in the relation between them, which is simply a relation of one man to another. But there is also an idea of mastership in the abstract, which is relative to the idea of slavery in the abstract. These natures have nothing to do with us, nor we Jowett1892: 134with them; they are concerned with themselves only, and we with ourselves. Do you see my meaning?

Yes, said Socrates, I quite see your meaning.

And will not knowledge—I mean absolute knowledge—answer to absolute truth?

Certainly.

And each kind of absolute knowledge will answer to each kind of absolute being?

Yes.

But the knowledge which we have, will answer to the truth which we have; and again, each kind of knowledge which we have, will be a knowledge of each kind of being which we have?

Certainly.

The truth which we have will correspond to the knowledge which we have; and we have no knowledge of the absolute or of the ideas.

But the ideas themselves, as you admit, we have not, and cannot have?

No, we cannot.

And the absolute natures or kinds are known severally by the absolute idea of knowledge?

Yes.

And we have not got the idea of knowledge?

No.

Then none of the ideas are known to us, because we have no share in absolute knowledge?

I suppose not.

Then the nature of the beautiful in itself, and of the good in itself, and all other ideas which we suppose to exist absolutely, are unknown to us?

It would seem so.

I think that there is a stranger consequence still.

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What is it?

Another objection. God above has absolute knowledge. But if so, he cannot have a knowledge of human things, because they are in another sphere.

Would you, or would you not say, that absolute knowledge, if there is such a thing, must be a far more exact knowledge than our knowledge; and the same of beauty and of the rest?

Yes.

And if there be such a thing as participation in absolute knowledge, no one is more likely than God to have this most exact knowledge?

Certainly.

But then, will God, having absolute knowledge, have a knowledge of human things?

Why not?

Because, Socrates, said Parmenides, we have admitted that the ideas are not valid in relation to human things; nor human things in relation to them; the relations of either are limited to their respective spheres.

Yes, that has been admitted.

And if God has this perfect authority, and perfect knowledge, his authority cannot rule us, nor his knowledge know us, or any human thing; just as our authority does not extend to the gods, nor our knowledge know anything which is divine, so by parity of reason they, being gods, are not our masters, neither do they know the things of men.

Yet, surely, said Socrates, to deprive God of knowledge is monstrous.

Jowett1892: 135These, Socrates, said Parmenides, are a few, and only a few of the difficulties in which we are involved if ideas really are and we determine each one of them to be an absolute unity. He who hears what may be said against them will deny the very existence of them—and even if they do exist, he will say that they must of necessity be unknown to man; and he will seem to have reason on his side, and as we were remarking just now, will be very difficult to convince; a man must be gifted with very considerable ability before he can learn that everything has a class and an absolute essence; and still more remarkable will he be who discovers all these things for himself, and having thoroughly investigated them is able to teach them to others.

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I agree with you, Parmenides, said Socrates; and what you say is very much to my mind.

And yet, Socrates, said Parmenides, if a man, fixing his attention on these and the like difficulties, does away with ideas of things and will not admit that every individual thing has its own determinate idea which is always one and the same, he will have nothing on which his mind can rest; and so he will utterly destroy the power of reasoning, as you seem to me to have particularly noted.

Very true, he said.

But, then, what is to become of philosophy? Whither shall we turn, if the ideas are unknown?

I certainly do not see my way at present.

Parmenides has observed Socrates to be untried in dialectic.

Yes, said Parmenides; and I think that this arises, Socrates, out of your attempting to define the beautiful, the just, the good, and the ideas generally, without sufficient previous training. I noticed your deficiency, when I heard you talking here with your friend Aristoteles, the day before yesterday. The impulse that carries you towards philosophy is assuredly noble and divine; but there is an art which is called by the vulgar idle talking, and which is often imagined to be useless; in that you must train and exercise yourself, now that you are young, or truth will elude your grasp.

And what is the nature of this exercise, Parmenides, which you would recommend?

That which you heard Zeno practising; at the same time, I give you credit for saying to him that you did not care to examine the perplexity in reference to visible things, or to consider the question in that way; but only in reference to objects of thought, and to what may be called ideas.

Why, yes, he said, there appears to me to be no difficulty in showing by this method that visible things are like and unlike and may experience anything.

He suggests that the consequences of the not being, as well as of the being of anything, should be considered.

Quite true, said Parmenides; but I think that you should go a step further, and consider not only the consequences which flow from a given hypothesis, but also the consequences Jowett1892: 136which flow from denying the hypothesis; and that will be still better training for you.

What do you mean? he said.

Socrates, Parmenides, Zeno.

I mean, for example, that in the case of this very hypothesis Edition: current; Page: [57] of Zeno’s about the many, you should inquire not only what will be the consequences to the many in relation to themselves and to the one, and to the one in relation to itself and the many, on the hypothesis of the being of the many, but also what will be the consequences to the one and the many in their relation to themselves and to each other, on the opposite hypothesis. Or, again, if likeness is or is not, what will be the consequences in either of these cases to the subjects of the hypothesis, and to other things, in relation both to themselves and to one another, and so of unlikeness; and the same holds good of motion and rest, of generation and destruction, and even of being and not-being. In a word, when you suppose anything to be or not to be, or to be in any way affected, you must look at the consequences in relation to the thing itself, and to any other things which you choose,—to each of them singly, to more than one, and to all; and so of other things, you must look at them in relation to themselves and to anything else which you suppose either to be or not to be, if you would train yourself perfectly and see the real truth.

Socrates asks him to give an example of this process.

That, Parmenides, is a tremendous business of which you speak, and I do not quite understand you; will you take some hypothesis and go through the steps?—then I shall apprehend you better.

Parmenides is at first disinclined to engage in such a laborious pastime; but at the request of the company he proceeds.

That, Socrates, is a serious task to impose on a man of my years.

Then will you, Zeno? said Socrates.

Zeno answered with a smile:—Let us make our petition to Parmenides himself, who is quite right in saying that you are hardly aware of the extent of the task which you are imposing on him; and if there were more of us I should not ask him, for these are not subjects which any one, especially at his age, can well speak of before a large audience; most people are not aware that this roundabout progress through all things is the only way in which the mind can attain truth and wisdom. And therefore, Parmenides, I join in the request of Socrates, that I may hear the process again which I have not heard for a long time.

Parmenides, Zeno, Aristoteles.

When Zeno had thus spoken, Pythodorus, according to Antiphon’s report of him, said, that he himself and Aristoteles Edition: current; Page: [58] and the whole company entreated Parmenides to give an example of the process. I cannot refuse, said Parmenides; and yet I feel rather like Ibycus, who, when in his Jowett1892: 137old age, against his will, he fell in love, compared himself to an old racehorse, who was about to run in a chariot race, shaking with fear at the course he knew so well—this was his simile of himself. And I also experience a trembling when I remember through what an ocean of words I have to wade at my time of life. But I must indulge you, as Zeno says that I ought, and we are alone. Where shall I begin? And what shall be our first hypothesis, if I am to attempt this laborious pastime? Shall I begin with myself, and take my own hypothesis of the one? and consider the consequences which follow on the supposition either of the being or of the not-being of one?

By all means, said Zeno.

And who will answer me? he said. Shall I propose the youngest? He will not make difficulties and will be the most likely to say what he thinks; and his answers will give me time to breathe.

I am the one whom you mean, Parmenides, said Aristoteles; for I am the youngest and at your service. Ask, and I will answer.

i. a. If the one is, it cannot be many, and therefore cannot have parts, or be a whole, because a whole is made up of parts;

Parmenides proceeded: i. a. If one is, he said, the one cannot be many?

Impossible.

Then the one cannot have parts, and cannot be a whole?

Why not?

Because every part is part of a whole; is it not?

Yes.

And what is a whole? would not that of which no part is wanting be a whole?

Certainly.

Then, in either case, the one would be made up of parts; both as being a whole, and also as having parts?

To be sure.

And in either case, the one would be many, and not one?

True.

But, surely, it ought to be one and not many?

It ought.

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Then, if the one is to remain one, it will not be a whole, and will not have parts?

Parmenides, Aristoteles.

No.

and having no parts it cannot have a beginning, middle, and end; nor any limit or form.

But if it has no parts, it will have neither beginning, middle, nor end; for these would of course be parts of it.

Right.

But then, again, a beginning and an end are the limits of everything?

Certainly.

Then the one, having neither beginning nor end, is unlimited?

Yes, unlimited.

And therefore formless; for it cannot partake either of round or straight.

But why?

It is neither circular nor straight;

Why, because the round is that of which all the extreme points are equidistant from the centre?

Yes.

And the straight is that of which the centre intercepts the view of the extremes?

True.

Jowett1892: 138Then the one would have parts and would be many, if it partook either of a straight or of a circular form?

Assuredly.

But having no parts, it will be neither straight nor round?

Right.

it does not exist in any place;

And, being of such a nature, it cannot be in any place, for it cannot be either in another or in itself.

How so?

Because if it were in another, it would be encircled by that in which it was, and would touch it at many places and with many parts; but that which is one and indivisible, and does not partake of a circular nature, cannot be touched all round in many places.

Certainly not.

But if, on the other hand, one were in itself, it would also be contained by nothing else but itself1; that is to say, if it were really in itself; for nothing can be in anything which does not contain it.

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Impossible.

But then, that which contains must be other than that which is contained? for the same whole cannot do and suffer both at once; and if so, one will be no longer one, but two?

True.

Then one cannot be anywhere, either in itself or in another?

No.

it has neither rest nor motion.

Further consider, whether that which is of such a nature can have either rest or motion.

Why not?

Two forms of motion—(1) change of nature; (2) locomotion.

Why, because the one, if it were moved, would be either moved in place or changed in nature; for these are the only kinds of motion.

Yes.

And the one, when it changes and ceases to be itself, cannot be any longer one.

It cannot.

It cannot therefore experience the sort of motion which is change of nature?

Clearly not.

Then can the motion of the one be in place?

Perhaps.

Two forms of locomotion—(a) in a place; (b) from one place to another.

But if the one moved in place, must it not either move round and round in the same place, or from one place to another?

It must.

And that which moves in a circle must rest upon a centre; and that which goes round upon a centre must have parts which are different from the centre; but that which has no centre and no parts cannot possibly be carried round upon a centre?

Impossible.

But perhaps the motion of the one consists in change of place?

Perhaps so, if it moves at all.

The one does not admit of change of nature, nor of either form of locomotion;

And have we not already shown that it cannot be in anything?

Yes.

Then its coming into being in anything is still more impossible; is it not?

I do not see why.

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Why, because anything which comes into being in anything, can neither as yet be in that other thing while still coming into being, nor be altogether out of it, if already coming into being in it.

Certainly not.

And therefore whatever comes into being in another must have parts, and then one part may be in, and another part out of that other; but that which has no parts can never be at one and the same time neither wholly within nor wholly without anything.

True.

And is there not a still greater impossibility in that which has no parts, and is not a whole, coming into being anywhere, Jowett1892: 139since it cannot come into being either as a part or as a whole?

Clearly.

Then it does not change place by revolving in the same spot, nor by going somewhere and coming into being in something; nor again, by change in itself?

Very true.

Then in respect of any kind of motion the one is immoveable?

Immoveable.

Again, the one is never in the same any more than in the other, and is therefore in no place and therefore incapable of rest.

But neither can the one be in anything, as we affirm?

Yes, we said so.

Then it is never in the same?

Why not?

Because if it were in the same it would be in something.

Certainly.

And we said that it could not be in itself, and could not be in other?

True.

Then one is never in the same place?

It would seem not.

But that which is never in the same place is never quiet or at rest?

Never.

One then, as would seem, is neither at rest nor in motion?

It certainly appears so.

Neither will it be the same with itself or other; nor again, other than itself or other.

Edition: current; Page: [62]

How is that?

If other than itself it would be other than one, and would not be one.

True.

Neither otherness nor sameness can be attributed to the one, in reference to itself or other;

And if the same with other, it would be that other, and not itself; so that upon this supposition too, it would not have the nature of one, but would be other than one?

It would.

Then it will not be the same with other, or other than itself?

It will not.

Neither will it be other than other, while it remains one; for not one, but only other, can be other than other, and nothing else.

True.

Then not by virtue of being one will it be other?

Certainly not.

But if not by virtue of being one, not by virtue of itself; and if not by virtue of itself, not itself, and itself not being other at all, will not be other than anything?

Right.

Neither will one be the same with itself.

How not?

Surely the nature of the one is not the nature of the same.

Why not?

It is not when anything becomes the same with anything that it becomes one.

What of that?

Anything which becomes the same with the many, necessarily becomes many and not one.

True.

But, if there were no difference between the one and the same, when a thing became the same, it would always become one; and when it became one, the same?

Certainly.

And, therefore, if one be the same with itself, it is not one with itself, and will therefore be one and also not one.

Surely that is impossible.

And therefore the one can neither be other than other, nor the same with itself.

Edition: current; Page: [63]

Impossible.

And thus the one can neither be the same, nor other, either in relation to itself or other?

No.

nor yet likeness, which is sameness of affections; nor unlikeness,

Neither will the one be like anything or unlike itself or other.

Why not?

Because likeness is sameness of affections.

Yes.

And sameness has been shown to be of a nature distinct from oneness?

That has been shown.

Jowett1892: 140But if the one had any other affection than that of being one, it would be affected in such a way as to be more than one; which is impossible.

True.

Then the one can never be so affected as to be the same either with another or with itself?

Clearly not.

Then it cannot be like another, or like itself?

No.

Nor can it be affected so as to be other, for then it would be affected in such a way as to be more than one.

It would.

That which is affected otherwise than itself or another, will be unlike itself or another, for sameness of affections is likeness.

True.

But the one, as appears, never being affected otherwise, is never unlike itself or other?

Never.

Then the one will never be either like or unlike itself or other?

Plainly not.

nor equality, nor inequality of size;

Again, being of this nature, it can neither be equal nor unequal either to itself or to other.

How is that?

Why, because the one if equal must be of the same measures as that to which it is equal.

True.

And if greater or less than things which are commensurable Edition: current; Page: [64] with it, the one will have more measures than that which is less, and fewer than that which is greater?

Yes.

And so of things which are not commensurate with it, the one will have greater measures than that which is less and smaller than that which is greater.

Certainly.

But how can that which does not partake of sameness, have either the same measures or have anything else the same?

Impossible.

And not having the same measures, the one cannot be equal either with itself or with another?

It appears so.

But again, whether it have fewer or more measures, it will have as many parts as it has measures; and thus again the one will be no longer one but will have as many parts as measures.

Right.

And if it were of one measure, it would be equal to that measure; yet it has been shown to be incapable of equality.

It has.

Then it will neither partake of one measure, nor of many, nor of few, nor of the same at all, nor be equal to itself or another; nor be greater or less than itself, or other?

Certainly.

nor equality or inequality of age;

Well, and do we suppose that one can be older, or younger than anything, or of the same age with it?

Why not?

Why, because that which is of the same age with itself or other, must partake of equality or likeness of time; and we said that the one did not partake either of equality or of likeness?

We did say so.

And we also said, that it did not partake of inequality or unlikeness.

Very true. Jowett1892: 141

How then can one, being of this nature, be either older or younger than anything, or have the same age with it?

In no way.

Edition: current; Page: [65]

Then one cannot be older or younger, or of the same age, either with itself or with another?

Clearly not.

nor time,

Then the one, being of this nature, cannot be in time at all; for must not that which is in time, be always growing older than itself?

Certainly.

And that which is older, must always be older than something which is younger?

True.

Then, that which becomes older than itself, also becomes at the same time younger than itself, if it is to have something to become older than.

What do you mean?

I mean this:—A thing does not need to become different from another thing which is already different; it is different, and if its different has become, it has become different; if its different will be, it will be different; but of that which is becoming different, there cannot have been, or be about to be, or yet be, a different—the only different possible is one which is becoming.

That is inevitable.

But, surely, the elder is a difference relative to the younger, and to nothng else.

True.

Then that which becomes older than itself must also, at the same time, become younger than itself?

Yes.

But again, it is true that it cannot become for a longer or for a shorter time than itself, but it must become, and be, and have become, and be about to be, for the same time with itself?

That again is inevitable.

Then things which are in time, and partake of time, must in every case, I suppose, be of the same age with themselves; and must also become at once older and younger than themselves?

Yes.

But the one did not partake of those affections?

Not at all.

Edition: current; Page: [66]

Then it does not partake of time, and is not in any time?

So the argument shows.

Well, but do not the expressions ‘was,’ and ‘has become,’ and ‘was becoming,’ signify a participation of past time?

nor modes of time.

Certainly.

And do not ‘will be,’ ‘will become,’ ‘will have become,’ signify a participation of future time?

Yes.

And ‘is,’ or ‘becomes,’ signifies a participation of present time?

Certainly.

And if the one is absolutely without participation in time, it never had become, or was becoming, or was at any time, or is now become or is becoming, or is, or will become, or will have become, or will be, hereafter.

Most true.

But these are the only modes of partaking of being, and if they are all denied of it, then the one is not, and has therefore no attribute or relation, etc.

But are there any modes of partaking of being other than these?

There are none.

Then the one cannot possibly partake of being?

That is the inference.

Then the one is not at all?

Clearly not.

Then the one does not exist in such way as to be one; for if it were and partook of being, it would already be; but if the argument is to be trusted, the one neither is nor is one?

True. Jowett1892: 142

But that which is not admits of no attribute or relation?

Of course not.

Then there is no name, nor expression, nor perception, nor opinion, nor knowledge of it?

Clearly not.

Then it is neither named, nor expressed, nor opined, nor known, nor does anything that is perceive it.

So we must infer.

The conclusion is unsatisfactory.

But can all this be true about the one?

I think not.

i. b. If one is, what will follow?

i. b. Suppose, now, that we return once more to the Edition: current; Page: [67] original hypothesis; let us see whether, on a further review, any new aspect of the question appears.

I shall be very happy to do so.

We say that we have to work out together all the consequences, whatever they may be, which follow, if the one is?

Yes.

Then we will begin at the beginning:—If one is, can one be, and not partake of being?

Impossible.

The one which is will partake of being, and will therefore have parts, one and being;

Then the one will have being, but its being will not be the same with the one; for if the same, it would not be the being of the one; nor would the one have participated in being, for the proposition that one is would have been identical with the proposition that one is one; but our hypothesis is not if one is one, what will follow, but if one is:—am I not right?

Quite right.

We mean to say, that being has not the same significance as one?

Of course.

And when we put them together shortly, and say ‘One is,’ that is equivalent to saying, ‘partakes of being’?

Quite true.

and each part has one and being for the parts of itself; and so on ad infinitum.

Once more then let us ask, if one is what will follow. Does not this hypothesis necessarily imply that one is of such a nature as to have parts?

How so?

In this way:—If being is predicated of the one, if the one is, and one of being, if being is one; and if being and one are not the same; and since the one, which we have assumed, is, must not the whole, if it is one, itself be, and have for its parts, one and being?

Certainly.

And is each of these parts—one and being—to be simply called a part, or must the word ‘part’ be relative to the word ‘whole’?

The latter.

Then that which is one is both a whole and has a part?

Certainly.

Edition: current; Page: [68]

Again, of the parts of the one, if it is—I mean being and one—does either fail to imply the other? is the one wanting to being, or being to the one?

Impossible.

Thus, each of the parts also has in turn both one and being, and is at the least made up of two parts; and the same principle goes on for ever, and every part whatever has always these two parts; for being always involves one, and one being; so that one is always disappearing, and becoming two.

Certainly. Jowett1892: 143

And so the one, if it is, must be infinite in multiplicity?

Clearly.

Let us take another direction.

What direction?

We say that the one partakes of being and therefore it is?

Yes.

Another argument.

And in this way, the one, if it has being, has turned out to be many?

True.

When one is abstracted from being, they are a pair of differents.

But now, let us abstract the one which, as we say, partakes of being, and try to imagine it apart from that of which, as we say, it partakes—will this abstract one be one only or many?

One, I think.

Let us see:—Must not the being of one be other than one? for the one is not being, but, considered as one, only partook of being?

Certainly.

If being and the one be two different things, it is not because the one is one that it is other than being; nor because being is being that it is other than the one; but they differ from one another in virtue of otherness and difference.

Certainly.

So that the other is not the same—either with the one or with being?

Certainly not.

And therefore whether we take being and the other, or being and the one, or the one and the other, in every Edition: current; Page: [69] such case we take two things, which may be rightly called both.

How so.

In this way—you may speak of being?

Yes.

And also of one?

Yes.

Then now we have spoken of either of them?

Yes.

Transition from one to two,

Well, and when I speak of being and one, I speak of them both?

Certainly.

And if I speak of being and the other, or of the one and the other,—in any such case do I not speak of both?

Yes.

And must not that which is correctly called both, be also two?

Undoubtedly.

And of two things how can either by any possibility not be one?

It cannot.

from odd to even numbers,

Then, if the individuals of the pair are together two, they must be severally one?

Clearly.

And if each of them is one, then by the addition of any one to any pair, the whole becomes three?

Yes.

And three are odd, and two are even?

Of course.

from addition to multiplication.

And if there are two there must also be twice, and if there are three there must be thrice; that is, if twice one makes two, and thrice one three?

Certainly.

There are two, and twice, and therefore there must be twice two; and there are three, and there is thrice, and therefore there must be thrice three?

Of course.

If there are three and twice, there is twice three; and if there are two and thrice, there is thrice two?

Undoubtedly.

Edition: current; Page: [70]

Here, then, we have even taken even times, and odd taken Jowett1892: 144odd times, and even taken odd times, and odd taken even times.

True.

And if this is so, does any number remain which has no necessity to be?

None whatever.

Out of the one that is, has come difference, and from difference number of every sort.

Then if one is, number must also be?

It must.

But if there is number, there must also be many, and infinite multiplicity of being; for number is infinite in multiplicity, and partakes also of being: am I not right?

Certainly.

And if all number participates in being, every part of number will also participate?

Yes.

and number is co-extensive with being

Then being is distributed over the whole multitude of things, and nothing that is, however small or however great, is devoid of it? And, indeed, the very supposition of this is absurd, for how can that which is, be devoid of being?

In no way.

And it is divided into the greatest and into the smallest, and into being of all sizes, and is broken up more than all things; the divisions of it have no limit.

True.

Then it has the greatest number of parts?

Yes, the greatest number.

Is there any of these which is a part of being, and yet no part?

Impossible.

for every single part of being, however small, is one.

But if it is at all and so long as it is, it must be one, and cannot be none?

Certainly.

Then the one attaches to every single part of being, and does not fail in any part, whether great or small, or whatever may be the size of it?

True.

But reflect:—Can one, in its entirety, be in many places at the same time?

No; I see the impossibility of that.

Edition: current; Page: [71]

And if not in its entirety, then it is divided; for it cannot be present with all the parts of being, unless divided.

True.

And that which has parts will be as many as the parts are?

Again, one is in as many places as being, and must therefore be divided into as many parts.

Certainly.

Then we were wrong in saying just now, that being was distributed into the greatest number of parts. For it is not distributed into parts more than the one, but into parts equal to the one; the one is never wanting to being, or being to the one, but being two they are co-equal and co-extensive.

Certainly that is true.

The one itself, then, having been broken up into parts by being, is many and infinite?

True.

The abstract one, as well as the one which is, is both one and many, finite and infinite.

Then not only the one which has being is many, but the one itself distributed by being, must also be many?

Certainly.

Further, inasmuch as the parts are parts of a whole, the Jowett1892: 145one, as a whole, will be limited; for are not the parts contained by the whole?

Certainly.

And that which contains, is a limit?

Of course.

Then the one if it has being is one and many, whole and parts, having limits and yet unlimited in number?

Clearly.

And because having limits, also having extremes?

Certainly.

And if a whole, having beginning and middle and end. For can anything be a whole without these three? And if any one of them is wanting to anything, will that any longer be a whole?

No.

The one, as being a whole and also finite, has a beginning, middle and end, and so partakes of figure.

Then the one, as appears, will have beginning, middle, and end.

It will.

But, again, the middle will be equidistant from the extremes; or it would not be in the middle?

Yes.

Edition: current; Page: [72]

Then the one will partake of figure, either rectilinear or round, or a union of the two?

True.

And if this is the case, it will be both in itself and in another too.

How?

Regarded as the sum of its parts, it is in itself;

Every part is in the whole, and none is outside the whole.

True.

And all the parts are contained by the whole?

Yes.

And the one is all its parts, and neither more nor less than all?

No.

And the one is the whole?

Of course.

But if all the parts are in the whole, and the one is all of them and the whole, and they are all contained by the whole, the one will be contained by the one; and thus the one will be in itself.

That is true.

regarded as a whole, it is in other, because it is not in the parts, neither in one, nor more than one, nor in all,

But then, again, the whole is not in the parts—neither in all the parts, nor in some one of them. For if it is in all, it must be in one; for if there were any one in which it was not, it could not be in all the parts; for the part in which it is wanting is one of all, and if the whole is not in this, how can it be in them all?

It cannot.

Nor can the whole be in some of the parts; for if the whole were in some of the parts, the greater would be in the less, which is impossible.

Yes, impossible.

But if the whole is neither in one, nor in more than one, nor in all of the parts, it must be in something else, or cease to be anywhere at all?

Certainly.

If it were nowhere, it would be nothing; but being a whole, and not being in itself, it must be in another.

Very true.

The one then, regarded as a whole, is in another, but Edition: current; Page: [73] regarded as being all its parts, is in itself; and therefore the one must be itself in itself and also in another.

Certainly.

The one therefore is both at rest and in motion: at rest, if in itself; in motion, if in another.

The one then, being of this nature, is of necessity both at rest and in motion?

How?

The one is at rest since it is in itself, for being in one, and Jowett1892: 146not passing out of this, it is in the same, which is itself.

True.

And that which is ever in the same, must be ever at rest?

Certainly.

Well, and must not that, on the contrary, which is ever in other, never be in the same; and if never in the same, never at rest, and if not at rest, in motion?

True.

Then the one being always itself in itself and other, must always be both at rest and in motion?

Clearly.

And must be the same with itself, and other than itself; and also the same with the others, and other than the others; this follows from its previous affections.

How so?

Four possible relations of two things: (1) sameness, (2) otherness, (3) part and whole, (4) whole and part.

Everything in relation to every other thing, is either the same or other; or if neither the same nor other, then in the relation of a part to a whole, or of a whole to a part.

Clearly.

And is the one a part of itself?

Certainly not.

Since it is not a part in relation to itself it cannot be related to itself as whole to part?

It cannot.

But is the one other than one?

No.

And therefore not other than itself?

Certainly not.

The one stands to itself in the relation of sameness.

If then it be neither other, nor a whole, nor a part in relation to itself, must it not be the same with itself?

Certainly.

But then, again, a thing which is in another place from Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [74] ‘itself,’ if this ‘itself’ remains in the same place with itself, must be other than ‘itself,’ for it will be in another place?

True.

Then the one has been shown to be at once in itself and in another?

Yes.

but, as existing in another place than itself, of otherness.

Thus, then, as appears, the one will be other than itself?

True.

Well, then, if anything be other than anything, will it not be other than that which is other?

Certainly.

The one is proved to be also other than the not-one and so other than other.

And will not all things that are not one, be other than the one, and the one other than the not-one?

Of course.

Then the one will be other than the others?

True.

But, consider:—Are not the absolute same, and the absolute other, opposites to one another?

Of course.

Yet from another point of view neither the one nor the not-one can partake of otherness, and therefore cannot be other than one another.

Then will the same ever be in the other, or the other in the same?

They will not.

If then the other is never in the same, there is nothing in which the other is during any space of time; for during that space of time, however small, the other would be in the same. Is not that true?

Yes.

And since the other is never in the same, it can never be in anything that is.

True.

Then the other will never be either in the not-one, or in the one?

Certainly not.

Then not by reason of otherness is the one other than the not-one, or the not-one other than the one.

No.

Nor by reason of themselves will they be other than one another, if not partaking of the other. Jowett1892: 147

How can they be?

But if they are not other, either by reason of themselves Edition: current; Page: [75] or of the other, will they not altogether escape being other than one another?

They will.

Again, the not-one cannot partake of the one; and therefore it cannot be number; and it cannot be part or whole of the one;

Again, the not-one cannot partake of the one; otherwise it would not have been not-one, but would have been in some way one.

True.

Nor can the not-one be number; for having number, it would not have been not-one at all.

It would not.

Again, is the not-one part of the one; or rather, would it not in that case partake of the one?

It would.

If then, in every point of view, the one and the not-one are distinct, then neither is the one part or whole of the not-one, nor is the not-one part or whole of the one?

No.

and therefore, according to our former table of relations, the one is the same with the not-one, the same with and also other than itself and others.

But we said that things which are neither parts nor wholes of one another, nor other than one another, will be the same with one another:—so we said?

Yes.

Then shall we say that the one, being in this relation to the not-one, is the same with it?

Let us say so.

Then it is the same with itself and the others, and also other than itself and the others.

That appears to be the inference.

And it will also be like and unlike itself and the others?

It is like and unlike itself and other; for one and other are other than one another, yet other in the same degree.

Perhaps.

Since the one was shown to be other than the others, the others will also be other than the one.

Yes.

And the one is other than the others in the same degree that the others are other than it, and neither more nor less?

True.

And if neither more nor less, then in a like degree?

Yes.

And therefore they are affected in the same manner.

In virtue of the affection by which the one is other than others and others in like manner other than it, the one will be affected like the others and the others like the one.

Edition: current; Page: [76]

How do you mean?

I may take as an illustration the case of names: You give a name to a thing?

Yes.

For when we apply the same name, we imply the presence of the same nature.

And you may say the name once or oftener?

Yes.

And when you say it once, you mention that of which it is the name? and when more than once, is it something else which you mention? or must it always be the same thing of which you speak, whether you utter the name once or more than once?

Of course it is the same.

And is not ‘other’ a name given to a thing?

Certainly.

Whenever, then, you use the word ‘other,’ whether once or oftener, you name that of which it is the name, and to no other do you give the name?

True.

Then when we say that the others are other than the one, and the one other than the others, in repeating the word ‘other’ we speak of that nature to which the name is applied, and of no other?

Quite true.

Then the one which is other than others, and the other which is other than the one, in that the word ‘other’ is Jowett1892: 148applied to both, will be in the same condition; and that which is in the same condition is like?

Yes.

One, in that it is other than the others, is shown to be like; and therefore, in that it is the same with the others, to be unlike.

Then in virtue of the affection by which the one is other than the others, every thing will be like every thing, for every thing is other than every thing.

True.

Again, the like is opposed to the unlike?

Yes.

And the other to the same?

True again.

And the one was also shown to be the same with the others?

Yes.

And to be the same with the others is the opposite of being other than the others?

Edition: current; Page: [77]

Certainly.

And in that it was other it was shown to be like?

Yes.

But in that it was the same it will be unlike by virtue of the opposite affection to that which made it like; and this was the affection of otherness.

Yes.

The same then will make it unlike; otherwise it will not be the opposite of the other.

True.

Then the one will be both like and unlike the others; like in so far as it is other, and unlike in so far as it is the same.

Yes, that argument may be used.

And there is another argument.

What?

From another point of view the opposite consequences follow.

In so far as it is affected in the same way it is not affected otherwise, and not being affected otherwise is not unlike, and not being unlike, is like; but in so far as it is affected by other it is otherwise, and being otherwise affected is unlike.

True.

Then because the one is the same with the others and other than the others, on either of these two grounds, or on both of them, it will be both like and unlike the others?

Certainly.

And in the same way as being other than itself and the same with itself, on either of these two grounds and on both of them, it will be like and unlike itself?

Of course.

Again, the one will and will not touch both itself and others.

Again, how far can the one touch or not touch itself and others?—consider.

I am considering.

The one was shown to be in itself which was a whole?

True.

Being in both, it will touch both.

And also in other things?

Yes.

In so far as it is in other things it would touch other things, but in so far as it is in itself it would be debarred from touching them, and would touch itself only.

Clearly.

Then the inference is that it would touch both?

Edition: current; Page: [78]

It would.

But what do you say to a new point of view? Must not that which is to touch another be next to that which it is to touch, and occupy the place nearest to that in which what it touches is situated?

True.

But if contact implies at least two separate things, one cannot touch itself,—for it cannot be two;

Then the one, if it is to touch itself, ought to be situated next to itself, and occupy the place next to that in which itself is?

It ought.

And that would require that the one should be two, and be in two places at once, and this, while it is one, will Jowett1892: 149never happen.

No.

Then the one cannot touch itself any more than it can be two?

It cannot.

or other,—for ‘other’ cannot be ‘one’ thing.

Neither can it touch others.

Why not?

The reason is, that whatever is to touch another must be in separation from, and next to, that which it is to touch, and no third thing can be between them.

True.

Two things, then, at the least are necessary to make contact possible?

They are.

And if to the two a third be added in due order, the number of terms will be three, and the contacts two?

Yes.

And every additional term makes one additional contact, whence it follows that the contacts are one less in number than the terms; the first two terms exceeded the number of contacts by one, and the whole number of terms exceeds the whole number of contacts by one in like manner; and for every one which is afterwards added to the number of terms, one contact is added to the contacts.

True.

Whatever is the whole number of things, the contacts will be always one less.

True.

Edition: current; Page: [79]

But if there be only one, and not two, there will be no contact?

How can there be?

And do we not say that the others being other than the one are not one and have no part in the one?

True.

Then they have no number, if they have no one in them?

Of course not.

Then the others are neither one nor two, nor are they called by the name of any number?

No.

One, then, alone is one, and two do not exist?

Clearly not.

And if there are not two, there is no contact?

There is not.

Then neither does the one touch the others, nor the others the one, if there is no contact?

Certainly not.

For all which reasons the one touches and does not touch itself and the others?

True.

The one is equal and unequal to itself and others;

Further—is the one equal and unequal to itself and others?

How do you mean?

It the one were greater or less than the others, or the others greater or less than the one, they would not be greater or less than each other in virtue of their being the one and the others; but, if in addition to their being what they are they had equality, they would be equal to one another, or if the one had smallness and the others greatness, or the one had greatness and the others smallness—whichever kind had greatness would be greater, and whichever had smallness would be smaller?

Certainly.

Then there are two such ideas as greatness and smallness; for if they were not they could not be opposed to each other and be present in that which is.

How could they?

Jowett1892: 150If, then, smallness is present in the one it will be present either in the whole or in a part of the whole?

Certainly.

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Suppose the first; it will be either co-equal and co-extensive with the whole one, or will contain the one?

Clearly.

equal, because, not partaking of greatness and smallness, it must partake of equality to itself and others:

If it be co-extensive with the one it will be co-equal with the one, or if containing the one it will be greater than the one?

Of course.

But can smallness be equal to anything or greater than anything, and have the functions of greatness and equality and not its own functions?

Impossible.

Then smallness cannot be in the whole of one, but, if at all, in a part only?

Yes.

And surely not in all of a part, for then the difficulty of the whole will recur; it will be equal to or greater than any part in which it is.

Certainly.

Then smallness will not be in anything, whether in a whole or in a part; nor will there be anything small but actual smallness.

True.

Neither will greatness be in the one, for if greatness be in anything there will be something greater other and besides greatness itself, namely, that in which greatness is; and this too when the small itself is not there, which the one, if it is great, must exceed; this, however, is impossible, seeing that smallness is wholly absent.

True.

But absolute greatness is only greater than absolute smallness, and smallness is only smaller than absolute greatness.

Very true.

Then other things are not greater or less than the one, if they have neither greatness nor smallness; nor have greatness or smallness any power of exceeding or being exceeded in relation to the one, but only in relation to one another; nor will the one be greater or less than them or others, if it has neither greatness nor smallness.

Clearly not.

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Then if the one is neither greater nor less than the others, it cannot either exceed or be exceeded by them?

Certainly not.

And that which neither exceeds nor is exceeded, must be on an equality; and being on an equality, must be equal.

Of course.

And this will be true also of the relation of the one to itself; having neither greatness nor smallness in itself, it will neither exceed nor be exceeded by itself, but will be on an equality with and equal to itself.

Certainly.

Then the one will be equal both to itself and the others?

Clearly so.

Unequal to itself,—because it contains and is contained in itself, and is therefore greater and less than itself.

And yet the one, being itself in itself, will also surround and be without itself; and, as containing itself, will be greater Jowett1892: 151than itself; and, as contained in itself, will be less; and will thus be greater and less than itself.

It will.

Now there cannot possibly be anything which is not included in the one and the others?

Of course not.

But, surely, that which is must always be somewhere?

Yes.

But that which is in anything will be less, and that in which it is will be greater; in no otherway can one thing be in another.

True.

Unequal to others,—because it contains and is contained in them, and is therefore greater and less than them.

And since there is nothing other or besides the one and the others, and they must be in something, must they not be in one another, the one in the others and the others in the one, if they are to be anywhere?

That is clear.

But inasmuch as the one is in the others, the others will be greater than the one, because they contain the one, which will be less than the others, because it is contained in them; and inasmuch as the others are in the one, the one on the same principle will be greater than the others, and the others less than the one.

True.

The one, then, will be equal to and greater and less than itself and the others?

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Clearly.

And if it be greater and less and equal, it will be of equal and more and less measures or divisions than itself and the others, and if of measures, also of parts?

Of course.

That which is equal and unequal to itself and others, must be of a number of divisions or parts equal and unequal to itself and others.

And if of equal and more and less measures or divisions, it will be in number more or less than itself and the others, and likewise equal in number to itself and to the others?

How is that?

It will be of more measures than those things which it exceeds, and of as many parts as measures; and so with that to which it is equal, and that than which it is less.

True.

And being greater and less than itself, and equal to itself, it will be of equal measures with itself and of more and fewer measures than itself; and if of measures then also of parts?

It will.

And being of equal parts with itself, it will be numerically equal to itself; and being of more parts, more, and being of less, less than itself?

Certainly.

And the same will hold of its relation to other things; inasmuch as it is greater than them, it will be more in number than them; and inasmuch as it is smaller, it will be less in number; and inasmuch as it is equal in size to other things, it will be equal to them in number.

Certainly.

Once more, then, as would appear, the one will be in number both equal to and more and less than both itself and all other things.

It will.

Does one partake of time and become older and younger, and neither older nor younger than itself and others?

Does the one also partake of time? And is it and does it become older and younger than itself and others, and again, neither younger nor older than itself and others, by virtue of participation in time?

How do you mean?

If one is, being must be predicated of it?

Yes.

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But to be (εɩ̂̓ναι) is only participation of being in present Jowett1892: 152time, and to have been is the participation of being at a past time, and to be about to be is the participation of being at a future time?

The one is, and therefore partakes of time; and since time is always moving forward, it becomes older than itself.

Very true.

Then the one, since it partakes of being, partakes of time?

Certainly.

And is not time always moving forward?

Yes.

Then the one is always becoming older than itself, since it moves forward in time?

Certainly.

And do you remember that the older becomes older than that which becomes younger?

I remember.

But older and younger are relative terms, and therefore that which becomes older than itself must become also younger than itself.

Then since the one becomes older than itself, it becomes younger at the same time?

Certainly.

Thus, then, the one becomes older as well as younger than itself?

Yes.

And it is older (is it not?) when in becoming, it gets to the point of time between ‘was’ and ‘will be,’ which is ‘now’: for surely in going from the past to the future, it cannot skip the present?

No.

One becomes older until it reaches the now or present; then it ceases to become and is older;

And when it arrives at the present it stops from becoming older, and no longer becomes, but is older, for if it went on it would never be reached by the present, for it is the nature of that which goes on, to touch both the present and the future, letting go the present and seizing the future, while in process of becoming between them.

True.

But that which is becoming cannot skip the present; when it reaches the present it ceases to become, and is then whatever it may happen to be becoming.

Clearly.

And so the one, when in becoming older it reaches the present, ceases to become, and is then older.

Certainly.

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And it is older than that than which it was becoming older, and it was becoming older than itself.

Yes.

and also younger.

And that which is older is older than that which is younger?

True.

It always is and becomes older and younger than itself;

Then the one is younger than itself, when in becoming older it reaches the present?

Certainly.

But the present is always present with the one during all its being; for whenever it is it is always now.

Certainly.

Then the one always both is and becomes older and younger than itself?

Truly.

and since it is and becomes during the same time with itself is of the same age, and therefore neither older nor younger than itself.

And is it or does it become a longer time than itself or an equal time with itself?

An equal time.

But if it becomes or is for an equal time with itself, it is of the same age with itself?

Of course.

And that which is of the same age, is neither older nor younger?

No.

Is the one younger or older than other things? The less comes into being before the greater: the one is less than the many or others, and therefore comes into being before them and is older than they.

The one, then, becoming and being the same time with itself, neither is nor becomes older or younger than itself? Jowett1892: 153

I should say not.

And what are its relations to other things? Is it or does it become older or younger than they?

I cannot tell you.

You can at least tell me that others than the one are more than the one—other would have been one, but the others have multitude, and are more than one?

They will have multitude.

And a multitude implies a number larger than one?

Of course.

And shall we say that the lesser or the greater is the first to come or to have come into existence?

The lesser.

Then the least is the first? And that is the one?

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Yes.

Then the one of all things that have number is the first to come into being; but all other things have also number, being plural and not singular.

They have.

And since it came into being first it must be supposed to have come into being prior to the others, and the others later; and the things which came into being later, are younger than that which preceded them? And so the other things will be younger than the one, and the one older than other things?

True.

What would you say of another question? Can the one have come into being contrary to its own nature, or is that impossible?

Impossible.

The one has parts and comes into being with the last of them:

And yet, surely, the one was shown to have parts; and if parts, then a beginning, middle and end?

Yes.

And a beginning, both of the one itself and of all other things, comes into being first of all; and after the beginning, the others follow, until you reach the end?

Certainly.

And all these others we shall affirm to be parts of the whole and of the one, which, as soon as the end is reached, has become whole and one?

Yes; that is what we shall say.

and therefore it is younger than the others. But again, each part is one,

But the end comes last, and the one is of such a nature as to come into being with the last; and, since the one cannot come into being except in accordance with its own nature, its nature will require that it should come into being after the others, simultaneously with the end.

Clearly.

Then the one is younger than the others and the others older than the one.

That also is clear in my judgment.

Well, and must not a beginning or any other part of the one or of anything, if it be a part and not parts, being a part, be also of necessity one?

Certainly.

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and one comes into being together with each part, and so the one is neither older nor younger than the others but coeval.

And will not the one come into being together with each part—together with the first part when that comes into being, and together with the second part and with all the rest, and will not be wanting to any part, which is added to any other part until it has reached the last and become one whole; it will be wanting neither to the middle, nor to the first, nor to the last, nor to any of them, while the process of becoming is going on?

True.

Then the one is of the same age with all the others, so that if the one itself does not contradict its own nature, it will be neither prior nor posterior to the others, but simultaneous; and according to this argument the one will be neither older Jowett1892: 154nor younger than the others, nor the others than the one, but according to the previous argument the one will be older and younger than the others and the others than the one.

Certainly.

Again, nothing can become older or younger than it was at first in relation to something else, if an equal amount of time be added to both. This is true of the one and the other.

After this manner then the one is and has become. But as to its becoming older and younger than the others, and the others than the one, and neither older nor younger, what shall we say? Shall we say as of being so also of becoming, or otherwise?

I cannot answer.

But I can venture to say, that even if one thing were older or younger than another, it could not become older or younger in a greater degree than it was at first; for equals added to unequals, whether to periods of time or to anything else, leave the difference between them the same as at first.

Of course.

Then that which is, cannot become older or younger than that which is, since the difference of age is always the same; the one is and has become older and the other younger; but they are no longer becoming so.

True.

And the one which is does not therefore become either older or younger than the others which are.

No.

But consider whether they may not become older and younger in another way.

In what way?

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Just as the one was proven to be older than the others and the others than the one.

And what of that?

If the one is older than the others, it has come into being a longer time than the others.

Yes.

But if an equal time be added to a greater and less, the relative difference between them diminishes; and so the one, which is older, will by such addition become younger than the others, and they in turn older than it.

But consider again; if we add equal time to a greater and a less time, will the greater differ from the less time by an equal or by a smaller portion than before?

By a smaller portion.

Then the difference between the age of the one and the age of the others will not be afterwards so great as at first, but if an equal time be added to both of them they will differ less and less in age?

Yes.

And that which differs in age from some other less than formerly, from being older will become younger in relation to that other than which it was older?

Yes, younger.

And if the one becomes younger the others aforesaid will become older than they were before, in relation to the one.

Certainly.

Then that which had become younger becomes older relatively to that which previously had become and was older; Jowett1892: 155it never really is older, but is always becoming, for the one is always growing on the side of youth and the other on the side of age. And in like manner the older is always in process of becoming younger than the younger; for as they are always going in opposite directions they become in ways the opposite to one another, the younger older than the older, and the older younger than the younger. They cannot, however, have become; for if they had already become they would be and not merely become. But that is impossible; for they are always becoming both older and younger than one another: the one becomes younger than the others because it was seen to be older and prior, and the others become older than the one because they came into being later; and in the same way the others are in the same relation to the one, because they were seen to be older and prior to the one.

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That is clear.

Inasmuch then, as one thing does not become older or younger than another, in that they always differ from each other by an equal number, the one cannot become older or younger than the others, nor the others than the one; but inasmuch as that which came into being earlier and that which came into being later must continually differ from each other by a different portion—in this point of view the others must become older and younger than the one, and the one than the others.

Certainly.

For all these reasons, then, the one is and becomes older and younger than itself and the others, and neither is nor becomes older or younger than itself or the others.

Certainly.

But since the one partakes of time, and partakes of becoming older and younger, must it not also partake of the past, the present, and the future?

Of course it must.

Then the one was and is and will be, and was becoming and is becoming and will become?

Certainly.

And there is and was and will be something which is in relation to it and belongs to it?

True.

And since we have at this moment opinion and knowledge and perception of the one, there is opinion and knowledge and perception of it?

Quite right.

Then there is name and expression for it, and it is named and expressed, and everything of this kind which appertains to other things appertains to the one.

Certainly, that is true.

Opposites cannot be predicated of the same thing at the same time.

Yet once more and for the third time, let us consider: If the one is both one and many, as we have described, and is neither one nor many, and participates in time, must it not, in as far as it is one, at times partake of being, and in as far as it is not one, at times not partake of being?

Certainly.

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But can it partake of being when not partaking of being, or not partake of being when partaking of being?

Impossible.

The one must therefore partake of being and not-being and assume and relinquish them at different times.

Then the one partakes and does not partake of being at different times, for that is the only way in which it can partake and not partake of the same.

True.

Jowett1892: 156And is there not also a time at which it assumes being and relinquishes being—for how can it have and not have the same thing unless it receives and also gives it up at some time?

Impossible.

And the assuming of being is what you would call becoming?

I should.

How does the change take place?

And the relinquishing of being you would call destruction?

I should.

The one then, as would appear, becomes and is destroyed by taking and giving up being.

Certainly.

And being one and many and in process of becoming and being destroyed, when it becomes one it ceases to be many, and when many, it ceases to be one?

Certainly.

And as it becomes one and many, must it not inevitably experience separation and aggregation?

Inevitably.

And whenever it becomes like and unlike it must be assimilated and dissimilated?

Yes.

And when it becomes greater or less or equal it must grow or diminish or be equalized?

True.

And when being in motion it rests, and when being at rest it changes to motion, it can surely be in no time at all?

How can it?

But that a thing which is previously at rest should be afterwards in motion, or previously in motion and afterwards at rest, without experiencing change, is impossible.

Impossible.

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And surely there cannot be a time in which a thing can be at once neither in motion nor at rest?

There cannot.

But neither can it change without changing.

True.

When then does it change; for it cannot change either when at rest, or when in motion, or when in time?

It cannot.

As the one is always partaking of one of two opposites, the transition takes place in a moment.

And does this strange thing in which it is at the time of changing really exist?

What thing?

Nature of the moment.

The moment. For the moment seems to imply a something out of which change takes place into either of two states; for the change is not from the state of rest as such, nor from the state of motion as such; but there is this curious nature which we call the moment lying between rest and motion, not being in any time; and into this and out of this what is in motion changes into rest, and what is at rest into motion.

So it appears.

And the one then, since it is at rest and also in motion, will change to either, for only in this way can it be in both. And in changing it changes in a moment, and when it is changing it will be in no time, and will not then be either in motion or at rest.

It will not.

And it will be in the same case in relation to the other Jowett1892: 157changes, when it passes from being into cessation of being, or from not-being into becoming—then it passes between certain states of motion and rest, and neither is nor is not, nor becomes nor is destroyed.

Very true.

And on the same principle, in the passage from one to many and from many to one, the one is neither one nor many, neither separated nor aggregated; and in the passage from like to unlike, and from unlike to like, it is neither like nor unlike, neither in a state of assimilation nor of dissimilation; and in the passage from small to great and equal and back again, it will be neither small nor great, nor equal, nor in a state of increase, or diminution, or equalization.

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True.

All these, then, are the affections of the one, if the one has being.

Of course.

The affections of the others, if the one is.

i. aa. But if one is, what will happen to the others—is not that also to be considered?

Yes.

Let us show then, if one is, what will be the affections of the others than the one.

Let us do so.

Things other than one are not the one, and yet they participate in the one; for the others are parts of a whole which is one.

Inasmuch as there are things other than the one, the others are not the one; for if they were they could not be other than the one.

Very true.

Nor are the others altogether without the one, but in a certain way they participate in the one.

In what way?

Because the others are other than the one inasmuch as they have parts; for if they had no parts they would be simply one.

Right.

And parts, as we affirm, have relation to a whole?

So we say.

And a whole must necessarily be one made up of many; and the parts will be parts of the one, for each of the parts is not a part of many, but of a whole.

How do you mean?

If anything were a part of many, being itself one of them, it will surely be a part of itself, which is impossible, and it will be a part of each one of the other parts, if of all; for if not a part of some one, it will be a part of all the others but this one, and thus will not be a part of each one; and if not a part of each one, it will not be a part of any one of the many; and not being a part of any one, it cannot be a part or anything else of all those things of none of which it is anything.

Clearly not.

Then the part is not a part of the many, nor of all, but is of a certain single form, which we call a whole, being one Edition: current; Page: [92] perfect unity framed out of all—of this the part will be a part.

Certainly.

Again, each part is not only a part but also a perfect whole in itself.

If, then, the others have parts, they will participate in the whole and in the one.

True.

Then the others than the one must be one perfect whole, having parts.

Certainly.

And the same argument holds of each part, for the part must participate in the one; for if each of the parts is a part, Jowett1892: 158this means, I suppose, that it is one separate from the rest and self-related; otherwise it is not each.

True.

But when we speak of the part participating in the one, it must clearly be other than one; for if not, it would not merely have participated, but would have been one; whereas only the one itself can be one.

Very true.

The whole and the part are both one, and therefore they must participate in the one and be other than the one, and more than one and infinite in number.

Both the whole and the part must participate in the one; for the whole will be one whole, of which the parts will be parts; and each part will be one part of the whole which is the whole of the part.

True.

And will not the things which participate in the one, be other than it?

Of course.

And the things which are other than the one will be many; for if the things which are other than the one were neither one nor more than one, they would be nothing.

True.

But, seeing that the things which participate in the one as a part, and in the one as a whole, are more than one, must not those very things which participate in the one be infinite in number?

How so?

Let us look at the matter thus:—Is it not a fact that in partaking of the one they are not one, and do not partake of the one at the very time when they are partaking of it?

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Clearly.

They do so then as multitudes in which the one is not present?

Very true.

And if we were to abstract from them in idea the very smallest fraction, must not that least fraction, if it does not partake of the one, be a multitude and not one?

It must.

The others unlimited and also limited in their nature,

And if we continue to look at the other side of their nature, regarded simply, and in itself, will not they, as far as we see them, be unlimited in number?

Certainly.

And yet, when each several part becomes a part, then the parts have a limit in relation to the whole and to each other, and the whole in relation to the parts.

Just so.

The result to the others than the one is that the union of themselves and the one appears to create a new element in them which gives to them limitation in relation to one another; whereas in their own nature they have no limit.

That is clear.

both as whole and parts.

Then the others than the one, both as whole and parts, are infinite, and also partake of limit.

Certainly.

Wherefore also they are like and unlike.

Then they are both like and unlike one another and themselves.

How is that?

Inasmuch as they are unlimited in their own nature, they are all affected in the same way.

True.

And inasmuch as they all partake of limit, they are all affected in the same way.

Of course.

But inasmuch as their state is both limited and unlimited, they are affected in opposite ways.

Yes.

Jowett1892: 159And opposites are the most unlike of things.

Certainly.

Considered, then, in regard to either one of their affections, they will be like themselves and one another; considered in Edition: current; Page: [94] reference to both of them together, most opposed and most unlike.

That appears to be true.

Then the others are both like and unlike themselves and one another?

True.

And they are the same and also different from one another, and in motion and at rest, and experience every sort of opposite affection, as may be proved without difficulty of them, since they have been shown to have experienced the affections aforesaid?

True.

A reversal of former conclusions.

i. bb. Suppose, now, that we leave the further discussion of these matters as evident, and consider again upon the hypothesis that the one is, whether the opposite of all this is or is not equally true of the others.

By all means.

Then let us begin again, and ask, If one is, what must be the affections of the others?

Let us ask that question.

Must not the one be distinct from the others, and the others from the one?

Why so?

Why, because there is nothing else beside them which is distinct from both of them; for the expression ‘one and the others’ includes all things.

Yes, all things.

One and the others are never in the same, for there is nothing outside them in which they can jointly partake, and therefore they must be always distinct.

Then we cannot suppose that there is anything different from them in which both the one and the others might exist?

There is nothing.

Then the one and the others are never in the same?

True.

Then they are separated from each other?

Yes.

And we surely cannot say that what is truly one has parts?

Impossible.

Then the one will not be in the others as a whole, nor as part, if it be separated from the others, and has no parts?

Impossible.

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Then there is no way in which the others can partake of the one, if they do not partake either in whole or in part?

It would seem not.

Then there is no way in which the others are one, or have in themselves any unity?

There is not.

And the others being separated from the one cannot be either one or many.

Nor are the others many; for if they were many, each part of them would be a part of the whole; but now the others, not partaking in any way of the one, are neither one nor many, nor whole, nor part.

True.

Then the others neither are nor contain two or three, if entirely deprived of the one?

True.

Nor can they be opposites; for they cannot partake of two things if they cannot partake of one.

Then the others are neither like nor unlike the one, nor is likeness and unlikeness in them; for if they were like and unlike, or had in them likeness and unlikeness, they would have two natures in them opposite to one another.

That is clear.

But for that which partakes of nothing to partake of two things was held by us to be impossible?

Impossible.

The others without the one = o.

Jowett1892: 160Then the others are neither like nor unlike nor both, for if they were like or unlike they would partake of one of those two natures, which would be one thing, and if they were both they would partake of opposites which would be two things, and this has been shown to be impossible.

True.

Therefore they are neither the same, nor other, nor in motion, nor at rest, nor in a state of becoming, nor of being destroyed, nor greater, nor less, nor equal, nor have they experienced anything else of the sort; for, if they are capable of experiencing any such affection, they will participate in one and two and three, and odd and even, and in these, as has been proved, they do not participate, seeing that they are altogether and in every way devoid of the one.

The one is all things; but also nothing (141 E. 142).

Very true.

Therefore if one is, the one is all things, and also nothing, both in relation to itself and to other things.

Certainly.

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ii. a. Well, and ought we not to consider next what will be the consequence if the one is not?

Yes; we ought.

If the one is not, what then?

What is the meaning of the hypothesis—If the one is not; is there any difference between this and the hypothesis—If the not one is not?

There is a difference, certainly.

Is there a difference only, or rather are not the two expressions—if the one is not, and if the not one is not, entirely opposed?

They are entirely opposed.

And suppose a person to say:—If greatness is not, if smallness is not, or anything of that sort, does he not mean, whenever he uses such an expression, that ‘what is not’ is other than other things?

To be sure.

What is the meaning of ‘the one which is not’?

And so when he says ‘If one is not’ he clearly means, that what ‘is not’ is other than all others; we know what he means—do we not?

Yes, we do.

It sometimes means other than or different from other things; and therefore has difference, etc.

When he says ‘one,’ he says something which is known; and secondly something which is other than all other things; it makes no difference whether he predicate of one being or not-being, for that which is said ‘not to be’ is known to be something all the same, and is distinguished from other things.

Certainly.

Then I will begin again, and ask: If one is not, what are the consequences? In the first place, as would appear, there is a knowledge of it, or the very meaning of the words, ‘if one is not,’ would not be known.

True.

Secondly, the others differ from it, or it could not be described as different from the others?

Certainly.

Difference, then, belongs to it as well as knowledge; for in speaking of the one as different from the others, we do not speak of a difference in the others, but in the one.

Clearly so.

Moreover, the one that is not is something and partakes of relation to ‘that,’ and ‘this,’ and ‘these,’ and the like, and is an Edition: current; Page: [97] attribute of ‘this’; for the one, or the others than the one, could not have been spoken of, nor could any attribute or relative of the one that is not have been or been spoken of, nor could it have been said to be anything, if it did not partake of ‘some,’ or of the other relations just now mentioned.

True.

Being, then, cannot be ascribed to the one, since it is not; Jowett1892: 161but the one that is not may or rather must participate in many things, if it and nothing else is not; if, however, neither the one nor the one that is not is supposed not to be, and we are speaking of something of a different nature, we can predicate nothing of it. But supposing that the one that is not and nothing else is not, then it must participate in the predicate ‘that,’ and in many others.

Certainly.

It is unlike the others, and must therefore have likeness to itself.

And it will have unlikeness in relation to the others, for the others being different from the one will be of a different kind.

Certainly.

And are not things of a different kind also other in kind?

Of course.

And are not things other in kind unlike?

They are unlike.

And if they are unlike the one, that which they are unlike will clearly be unlike them?

Clearly so.

Then the one will have unlikeness in respect of which the others are unlike it?

That would seem to be true.

And if unlikeness to other things is attributed to it, it must have likeness to itself.

How so?

If the one have unlikeness to one, something else must be meant; nor will the hypothesis relate to one; but it will relate to something other than one?

Quite so.

But that cannot be.

No.

Then the one must have likeness to itself?

It must.

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Again, it is not equal to the others; for if it were equal, then it would at once be and be like them in virtue of the equality; but if one has no being, then it can neither be nor be like?

It cannot.

The one which is not is unequal to the others and the others to it.

But since it is not equal to the others, neither can the others be equal to it?

Certainly not.

And things that are not equal are unequal?

True.

And they are unequal to an unequal?

Of course.

But partaking of inequality, it partakes also of greatness and smallness, and therefore of equality which lies between them;

Then the one partakes of inequality, and in respect of this the others are unequal to it?

Very true.

And inequality implies greatness and smallness?

Yes.

Then the one, if of such a nature, has greatness and smallness?

That appears to be true.

And greatness and smallness always stand apart?

True.

Then there is always something between them?

There is.

And can you think of anything else which is between them other than equality?

No, it is equality which lies between them.

Then that which has greatness and smallness also has equality, which lies between them?

That is clear.

Then the one, which is not, partakes, as would appear, of greatness and smallness and equality?

Clearly.

it must surely partake of being in a sense;

Further, it must surely in a sort partake of being?

How so?

It must be so, for if not, then we should not speak the truth in saying that the one is not. But if we speak the truth, clearly we must say what is. Am I not right?

Yes. Jowett1892: 162

And since we affirm that we speak truly, we must also affirm that we say what is?

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Certainly.

for not-being implies being and being implies not-being.

Then, as would appear, the one, when it is not, is; for if it were not to be when it is not, but1 were to relinquish something of being, so as to become not-being, it would at once be.

Quite true.

Then the one which is not, if it is to maintain itself, must have the being of not-being as the bond of not-being, just as being must have as a bond the not-being of not-being in order to perfect its own being; for the truest assertion of the being of being and of the not-being of not-being is when being partakes of the being of being, and not of the being of not-being—that is, the perfection of being; and when not-being does not partake of the not-being of not-being but of the being of not-being—that is the perfection of not-being.

Most true.

Since then what is partakes of not-being, and what is not of being, must not the one also partake of being in order not to be?

Certainly.

Then the one, if it is not, clearly has being?

Clearly.

And has not-being also, if it is not?

Of course.

But to be both, it must change from one to the other, and therefore be in motion.

But can anything which is in a certain state not be in that state without changing?

Impossible.

Then everything which is and is not in a certain state, implies change?

Certainly.

And change is motion—we may say that?

Yes, motion.

And the one has been proved both to be and not to be?

Yes.

And therefore is and is not in the same state?

Yes.

Thus the one that is not has been shown to have motion also, because it changes from being to not-being?

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That appears to be true.

But surely if it is nowhere among what is, as is the fact, since it is not, it cannot change from one place to another?

Impossible.

How can it change? Not (a) by change of place, nor (b) by revolving in the same place.

Then it cannot move by changing place?

No.

Nor can it turn on the same spot, for it nowhere touches the same, for the same is, and that which is not cannot be reckoned among things that are?

It cannot.

Then the one, if it is not, cannot turn in that in which it is not?

No.

nor (c) by change of nature.

Neither can the one, whether it is or is not, be altered into other than itself, for if it altered and became different from itself, then we could not be still speaking of the one, but of something else?

True.

It is therefore unmoved;

But if the one neither suffers alteration, nor turns round in the same place, nor changes place, can it still be capable of motion?

Impossible.

and being unmoved, it must be at rest.

Now that which is unmoved must surely be at rest, and that which is at rest must stand still?

Certainly.

Then the one that is not, stands still, and is also in motion?

That seems to be true.

But motion implies alteration.

But if it be in motion it must necessarily undergo alteration, for anything which is moved, in so far as it is moved, is Jowett1892: 163no longer in the same state, but in another?

Yes.

Then the one, being moved, is altered?

Yes.

And, further, if not moved in any way, it will not be altered in any way?

No.

Then, in so far as the one that is not is moved, it is altered, but in so far as it is not moved, it is not altered?

Right.

Then the one that is not is altered and is not altered?

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That is clear.

The one that is not becomes and is destroyed, and neither becomes nor is destroyed.

And must not that which is altered become other than it previously was, and lose its former state and be destroyed; but that which is not altered can neither come into being nor be destroyed?

Very true.

And the one that is not, being altered, becomes and is destroyed; and not being altered, neither becomes nor is destroyed; and so the one that is not becomes and is destroyed, and neither becomes nor is destroyed?

True.

ii. b. And now, let us go back once more to the beginning, and see whether these or some other consequences will follow.

Let us do as you say.

If one is not, what then?

If one is not, we ask what will happen in respect of one? That is the question.

Yes.

‘Is not’ implies absence of being in the most absolute sense.

Do not the words ‘is not’ signify absence of being in that to which we apply them?

Just so.

And when we say that a thing is not, do we mean that it is not in one way but is in another? or do we mean, absolutely, that what is not has in no sort or way or kind participation of being?

Quite absolutely.

Then, that which is not cannot be, or in any way participate in being?

It cannot.

The one which is not cannot either have or lose or assume being.

And did we not mean by becoming, and being destroyed, the assumption of being and the loss of being?

Nothing else.

And can that which has no participation in being, either assume or lose being?

Impossible.

The one then, since it in no way is, cannot have or lose or assume being in any way?

True.

Then the one that is not, since it in no way partakes of being, neither perishes nor becomes?

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No.

Then it is not altered at all; for if it were it would become and be destroyed?

True.

nor be altered nor be in motion,

But if it be not altered it cannot be moved?

Certainly not.

nor yet at rest.

Nor can we say that it stands, if it is nowhere; for that which stands must always be in one and the same spot?

Of course.

Then we must say that the one which is not never stands still and never moves?

Neither.

It has no attributes and no conditions of any kind.

Nor is there any existing thing which can be attributed to it; for if there had been, it would partake of being? Jowett1892: 164

That is clear.

And therefore neither smallness, nor greatness, nor equality, can be attributed to it?

No.

Nor yet likeness nor difference, either in relation to itself or to others?

Clearly not.

Well, and if nothing should be attributed to it, can other things be attributed to it?

Certainly not.

And therefore other things can neither be like or unlike, the same, or different in relation to it?

They cannot.

Nor can what is not, be anything, or be this thing, or be related to or the attribute of this or that or other, or be past, present, or future. Nor can knowledge, or opinion, or perception, or expression, or name, or any other thing that is, have any concern with it?

No.

Then the one that is not has no condition of any kind?

Such appears to be the conclusion.

Again, If one is not, what happens to the others?

ii. aa. Yet once more; if one is not, what becomes of the others? Let us determine that.

Yes; let us determine that.

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The others must surely be; for if they, like the one, were not, we could not be now speaking of them.

True.

But to speak of the others implies difference—the terms ‘other’ and ‘different’ are synonymous?

True.

Other implies difference; it cannot mean other than the one; and therefore the others are other than each other.

Other means other than other, and different, different from the different?

Yes.

Then, if there are to be others, there is something than which they will be other?

Certainly.

And what can that be?—for if the one is not, they will not be other than the one.

They will not.

Then they will be other than each other; for the only remaining alternative is that they are other than nothing.

True.

and each of them, though devoid of the one, appears to be one.

And they are each other than one another, as being plural and not singular; for if one is not, they cannot be singular, but every particle of them is infinite in number; and even if a person takes that which appears to be the smallest fraction, this, which seemed one, in a moment evanesces into many, as in a dream, and from being the smallest becomes very great, in comparison with the fractions into which it is split up?

Very true.

And in such particles the others will be other than one another, if others are, and the one is not?

Exactly.

And will there not be many particles, each appearing to be one, but not being one, if one is not?

True.

And it would seem that number can be predicated of them if each of them appears to be one, though it is really many?

It can.

And there will seem to be odd and even among them, which will also have no reality, if one is not?

Yes.

And there will appear to be a least among them; and even Edition: current; Page: [104] this will seem large and manifold in comparison with the Jowett1892: 165many small fractions which are contained in it?

Certainly.

And each particle will be imagined to be equal to the many and little; for it could not have appeared to pass from the greater to the less without having appeared to arrive at the middle; and thus would arise the appearance of equality.

Yes.

And having neither beginning, middle, nor end, each separate particle yet appears to have a limit in relation to itself and other.

How so?

Because, when a person conceives of any one of these as such, prior to the beginning another beginning appears, and there is another end, remaining after the end, and in the middle truer middles within but smaller, because no unity can be conceived of any of them, since the one is not.

Very true.

And so all being, whatever we think of, must be broken up into fractions, for a particle will have to be conceived of without unity?

Certainly.

When seen at a distance the others appear to be one; when near, many and infinite.

And such being when seen indistinctly and at a distance, appears to be one; but when seen near and with keen intellect, every single thing appears to be infinite, since it is deprived of the one, which is not?

Nothing more certain.

Then each of the others must appear to be infinite and finite, and one and many, if others than the one exist and not the one.

They must.

Then will they not appear to be like and unlike?

In what way?

Just as in a picture things appear to be all one to a person standing at a distance, and to be in the same state and alike?

True.

But when you approach them, they appear to be many and different; and because of the appearance of the difference, different in kind from, and unlike, themselves?

True.

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And so must the particles appear to be like and unlike themselves and each other.

Certainly.

And must they not be the same and yet different from one another, and in contact with themselves, although they are separated, and having every sort of motion, and every sort of rest, and becoming and being destroyed, and in neither state, and the like, all which things may be easily enumerated, if the one is not and the many are?

Most true.

If one is not and the others are, what then? The others are not one and therefore not many.

ii. bb. Once more, let us go back to the beginning, and ask if the one is not, and the others of the one are, what will follow.

Let us ask that question.

In the first place, the others will not be one?

Impossible.

Nor will they be many; for if they were many one would be contained in them. But if no one of them is one, all of them are nought, and therefore they will not be many.

True.

If there be no one in the others, the others are neither many nor one.

Jowett1892: 166They are not.

Again, if the others appear to be one or many they must in some sense partake of not-being; but this is not the case.

Nor do they appear either as one or many.

Why not?

Because the others have no sort or manner or way of communion with any sort of not-being, nor can anything which is not, be connected with any of the others; for that which is not has no parts.

True.

Nor is there an opinion or any appearance of not-being in connexion with the others, nor is not-being ever in any way attributed to the others.

No.

Then if one is not, there is no conception of any of the others either as one or many; for you cannot conceive the many without the one.

You cannot.

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Then if one is not, the others neither are, nor can be conceived to be either one or many?

It would seem not.

Nor as like or unlike?

No.

Nor are they like or unlike, the same or different.

Nor as the same or different, nor in contact or separation, nor in any of those states which we enumerated as appearing to be;—the others neither are nor appear to be any of these, if one is not?

True.

Then may we not sum up the argument in a word and say truly: If one is not, then nothing is?

Certainly.

Let thus much be said; and further let us affirm what seems to be the truth, that, whether one is or is not, one and the others in relation to themselves and one another, all of them, in every way, are and are not, and appear to be and appear not to be.

Most true.

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THEAETETUS.

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INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS.

Theaetetus. Introduction.

Some dialogues of Plato are of so various a character that their relation to the other dialogues cannot be determined with any degree of certainty. The Theaetetus, like the Parmenides, has points of similarity both with his earlier and his later writings. The perfection of style, the humour, the dramatic interest, the complexity of structure, the fertility of illustration, the shifting of the points of view, are characteristic of his best period of authorship. The vain search, the negative conclusion, the figure of the mid-wives, the constant profession of ignorance on the part of Socrates, also bear the stamp of the early dialogues, in which the original Socrates is not yet Platonized. Had we no other indications, we should be disposed to range the Theaetetus with the Apology and the Phaedrus, and perhaps even with the Protagoras and the Laches.

But when we pass from the style to an examination of the subject, we trace a connexion with the later rather than with the earlier dialogues. In the first place there is the connexion, indicated by Plato himself at the end of the dialogue, with the Sophist, to which in many respects the Theaetetus is so little akin. (1) The same persons reappear, including the younger Socrates, whose name is just mentioned in the Theaetetus (147 C); (2) the theory of rest, which at p. 133 D Socrates has declined to consider, is resumed by the Eleatic Stranger; (3) there is a similar allusion in both dialogues to the meeting of Parmenides and Socrates (Theaet. 183 E, Soph. 217); and (4) the inquiry into not-being in the Sophist supplements the question of false opinion which is raised in the Theaetetus. (Compare also Theaet. 168 A, 210, and Soph. 230 B; Theaet. 174 D, E, and Soph. 227 A; Theaet. 188 E, and Soph. 237 D; Theaet. 179 A, and Soph. 233 B; Theaet. 172 D, Soph. 253 C, for parallel turns of thought.) Secondly, the later date of the Edition: current; Page: [110] dialogue is confirmed by the absence of the doctrine of recollection and of any doctrine of ideas except that which derives them from generalization and from reflection of the mind upon itself. The general character of the Theaetetus is dialectical, and there are traces of the same Megarian influences which appear in the Parmenides, and which later writers, in their matter of fact way, have explained by the residence of Plato at Megara. Socrates disclaims the character of a professional eristic (164 C), and also, with a sort of ironical admiration, expresses his inability to attain the Megarian precision in the use of terms (197 A). Yet he too employs a similar sophistical skill in overturning every conceivable theory of knowledge.

The direct indications of a date amount to no more than this: the conversation is said to have taken place when Theaetetus was a youth, and shortly before the death of Socrates. At the time of his own death he is supposed to be a full-grown man. Allowing nine or ten years for the interval between youth and manhood, the dialogue could not have been written earlier than 390, when Plato was about thirty-nine years of age. No more definite date is indicated by the engagement in which Theaetetus is said to have fallen or to have been wounded, and which may have taken place any time during the Corinthian war, between the years 390–387. The later date which has been suggested, 369, when the Athenians and Lacedaemonians disputed the Isthmus with Epaminondas, would make the age of Theaetetus at his death forty-five or forty-six. This a little impairs the beauty of Socrates’ remark, that ‘he would be a great man if he lived.’

In this uncertainty about the place of the Theaetetus, it seemed better, as in the case of the Republic, Timaeus, Critias, to retain the order in which Plato himself has arranged this and the two companion dialogues. We cannot exclude the possibility which has been already noticed in reference to other works of Plato, that the Theaetetus may not have been all written continuously; or the probability that the Sophist and Politicus, which differ greatly in style, were only appended after a long interval of time. The allusion to Parmenides at 183, compared with Sophist 217, would probably imply that the dialogue which is called by his name was already in existence; unless, indeed, we suppose the passage in which the allusion occurs to have been inserted afterwards. Edition: current; Page: [111] Again, the Theaetetus may be connected with the Gorgias, either dialogue from different points of view containing an analysis of the real and apparent (Schleiermacher); and both may be brought into relation with the Apology as illustrating the personal life of Socrates. The Philebus, too, may with equal reason be placed either after or before what, in the language of Thrasyllus, may be called the Second Platonic Trilogy. Both the Parmenides and the Sophist, and still more the Theaetetus, have points of affinity with the Cratylus, in which the principles of rest and motion are again contrasted, and the Sophistical or Protagorean theory of language is opposed to that which is attributed to the disciple of Heracleitus, not to speak of lesser resemblances in thought and language. The Parmenides, again, has been thought by some to hold an intermediate position between the Theaetetus and the Sophist; upon this view, Soph. 250 foll. may be regarded as the answer to the problems about One and Being which have been raised in the Parmenides. Any of these arrangements may suggest new views to the student of Plato; none of them can lay claim to an exclusive probability in its favour.

The Theaetetus is one of the narrated dialogues of Plato, and is the only one which is supposed to have been written down. In a short introductory scene, Euclides and Terpsion are described as meeting before the door of Euclides’ house in Megara. This may have been a spot familiar to Plato (for Megara was within a walk of Athens), but no importance can be attached to the accidental introduction of the founder of the Megarian philosophy. The real intention of the preface is to create an interest about the person of Theaetetus, who has just been carried up from the army at Corinth in a dying state. The expectation of his death recalls the promise of his youth, and especially the famous conversation which Socrates had with him when he was quite young, a few days before his own trial and death, as we are once more reminded at the end of the dialogue. Yet we may observe that Plato has himself forgotten this, when he represents Euclides as from time to time coming to Athens and correcting the copy from Socrates’ own mouth. The narrative, having introduced Theaetetus, and having guaranteed the authenticity of the dialogue (cp. Symposium, Phaedo, Parmenides), is then dropped. No further use is made of the device. As Plato himself remarks, who in this as in some other minute Edition: current; Page: [112] points is imitated by Cicero (De Amicitia, c. 1), the interlocutory words are omitted.

Theaetetus, the hero of the battle of Corinth and of the dialogue, is a disciple of Theodorus, the great geometrician, whose science is thus indicated to be the propaedeutic to philosophy. An interest has been already excited about him by his approaching death, and now he is introduced to us anew by the praises of his master Theodorus. He is a youthful Socrates, and exhibits the same contrast of the fair soul and the ungainly face and frame, the Silenus mask and the god within, which are described in the Symposium. The picture which Theodorus gives of his courage and patience and intelligence and modesty is verified in the course of the dialogue. His courage is shown by his behaviour in the battle, and his other qualities shine forth as the argument proceeds. Socrates takes an evident delight in ‘the wise Theaetetus,’ who has more in him than ‘many bearded men’; he is quite inspired by his answers. At first the youth is lost in wonder, and is almost too modest to speak (151 E), but, encouraged by Socrates, he rises to the occasion, and grows full of interest and enthusiasm about the great question. Like a youth (162 D), he has not finally made up his mind, and is very ready to follow the lead of Socrates, and to enter into each successive phase of the discussion which turns up. His great dialectical talent is shown in his power of drawing distinctions (163 E), and of foreseeing the consequences of his own answers (154 D). The enquiry about the nature of knowledge is not new to him; long ago he has felt the ‘pang of philosophy,’ and has experienced the youthful intoxication which is depicted in the Philebus (p. 15). But he has hitherto been unable to make the transition from mathematics to metaphysics. He can form a general conception of square and oblong numbers (p. 148), but he is unable to attain a similar expression of knowledge in the abstract. Yet at length (p. 185) he begins to recognize that there are universal conceptions of being, likeness, sameness, number, which the mind contemplates in herself, and with the help of Socrates is conducted from a theory of sense to a theory of ideas.

There is no reason to doubt that Theaetetus was a real person, whose name survived in the next generation. But neither can any importance be attached to the notices of him in Suidas and Proclus, which are probably based on the mention of him in Plato. Edition: current; Page: [113] According to a confused statement in Suidas, who mentions him twice over, first, as a pupil of Socrates, and then of Plato, he is said to have written the first work on the Five Solids. But no early authority cites the work, the invention of which may have been easily suggested by the division of roots, which Plato attributes to him, and the allusion to the backward state of solid geometry in the Republic (vii. 528 B). At any rate, there is no occasion to recall him to life again after the battle of Corinth, in order that we may allow time for the completion of such a work (Müller). We may also remark that such a supposition entirely destroys the pathetic interest of the introduction.

Theodorus, the geometrician, had once been the friend and disciple of Protagoras, but he is very reluctant to leave his retirement and defend his old master. He is too old to learn Socrates’ game of question and answer, and prefers the digressions to the main argument, because he finds them easier to follow. The mathematician, as Socrates says in the Republic, is not capable of giving a reason in the same manner as the dialectician (vii. 531 D, E), and Theodorus could not therefore have been appropriately introduced as the chief respondent. But he may be fairly appealed to, when the honour of his master is at stake. He is the ‘guardian of his orphans,’ although this is a responsibility which he wishes to throw upon Callias, the friend and patron of all Sophists, declaring that he himself had early ‘run away’ from philosophy, and was absorbed in mathematics. His extreme dislike to the Heraclitean fanatics, which may be compared with the dislike of Theaetetus (155 E) to the materialists, and his ready acceptance of the noble words of Socrates (175, 176), are noticeable traits of character.

The Socrates of the Theaetetus is the same as the Socrates of the earlier dialogues. He is the invincible disputant, now advanced in years, of the Protagoras and Symposium; he is still pursuing his divine mission, his ‘Herculean labours,’ of which he has described the origin in the Apology; and he still hears the voice of his oracle, bidding him receive or not receive the truant souls. There he is supposed to have a mission to convict men of self-conceit; in the Theaetetus he has assigned to him by God the functions of a man-midwife, who delivers men of their thoughts, and under this character he is present throughout the dialogue. He is the true prophet who has an insight into the natures of men, Edition: current; Page: [114] and can divine their future (142 C); and he knows that sympathy is the secret power which unlocks their thoughts. The hit at Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, who was specially committed to his charge in the Laches, may be remarked by the way. The attempt to discover the definition of knowledge is in accordance with the character of Socrates as he is described in the Memorabilia, asking What is justice? what is temperance? and the like. But there is no reason to suppose that he would have analyzed the nature of perception, or traced the connexion of Protagoras and Heracleitus, or have raised the difficulty respecting false opinion. The humorous illustrations, as well as the serious thoughts, run through the dialogue. The snubnosedness of Theaetetus, a characteristic which he shares with Socrates, and the man-midwifery of Socrates, are not forgotten in the closing words. At the end of the dialogue, as in the Euthyphro, he is expecting to meet Meletus at the porch of the king Archon; but with the same indifference to the result which is everywhere displayed by him, he proposes that they shall reassemble on the following day at the same spot. The day comes, and in the Sophist the three friends again meet, but no further allusion is made to the trial, and the principal share in the argument is assigned, not to Socrates, but to an Eleatic stranger; the youthful Theaetetus also plays a different and less independent part. And there is no allusion in the Introduction to the second and third dialogues, which are afterwards appended. There seems, therefore, reason to think that there is a real change, both in the characters and in the design.

The dialogue is an enquiry into the nature of knowledge, which is interrupted by two digressions. The first is the digression about the midwives, which is also a leading thought or continuous image, like the wave in the Republic, appearing and reappearing at intervals. Again and again we are reminded that the successive conceptions of knowledge are extracted from Theaetetus, who in his turn truly declares that Socrates has got a great deal more out of him than ever was in him. Socrates is never weary of working out the image in humorous details,—discerning the symptoms of labour, carrying the child round the hearth, fearing that Theaetetus will bite him, comparing his conceptions to wind-eggs, asserting an hereditary right to the occupation. There is also a Edition: current; Page: [115] serious side to the image, which is an apt similitude of the Socratic theory of education (cp. Repub. vii. 518 D, Sophist 230), and accords with the ironical spirit in which the wisest of men delights to speak of himself.

The other digression is the famous contrast of the lawyer and philosopher. This is a sort of landing-place or break in the middle of the dialogue. At the commencement of a great discussion, the reflection naturally arises, How happy are they who, like the philosopher, have time for such discussions (cp. Rep. v. 450)! There is no reason for the introduction of such a digression; nor is a reason always needed, any more than for the introduction of an episode in a poem, or of a topic in conversation. That which is given by Socrates is quite sufficient, viz. that the philosopher may talk and write as he pleases. But though not very closely connected, neither is the digression out of keeping with the rest of the dialogue. The philosopher naturally desires to pour forth the thoughts which are always present to him, and to discourse of the higher life. The idea of knowledge, although hard to be defined, is realised in the life of philosophy. And the contrast is the favourite antithesis between the world, in the various characters of sophist, lawyer, statesman, speaker, and the philosopher,—between opinion and knowledge,—between the conventional and the true.

The greater part of the dialogue is devoted to setting up and throwing down definitions of science and knowledge. Proceeding from the lower to the higher by three stages, in which perception, opinion, reasoning are successively examined, we first get rid of the confusion of the idea of knowledge and specific kinds of knowledge,—a confusion which has been already noticed in the Lysis, Laches, Meno, and other dialogues. In the infancy of logic, a form of thought has to be invented before the content can be filled up. We cannot define knowledge until the nature of definition has been ascertained. Having succeeded in making his meaning plain, Socrates proceeds to analyze (1) the first definition which Theaetetus proposes: ‘Knowledge is sensible perception.’ This is speedily identified with the Protagorean saying, ‘Man is the measure of all things;’ and of this again the foundation is discovered in the perpetual flux of Heracleitus. The relativeness of sensation is then developed at length, and for a Edition: current; Page: [116] moment the definition appears to be accepted. But soon the Protagorean thesis is pronounced to be suicidal; for the adversaries of Protagoras are as good a measure as he is, and they deny his doctrine. He is then supposed to reply that the perception may be true at any given instant. But the reply is in the end shown to be inconsistent with the Heraclitean foundation, on which the doctrine has been affirmed to rest. For if the Heraclitean flux is extended to every sort of change in every instant of time, how can any thought or word be detained even for an instant? Sensible perception, like everything else, is tumbling to pieces. Nor can Protagoras himself maintain that one man is as good as another in his knowledge of the future; and ‘the expedient,’ if not ‘the just and true,’ belongs to the sphere of the future.

And so we must ask again, What is knowledge? The comparison of sensations with one another implies a principle which is above sensation, and which resides in the mind itself. We are thus led to look for knowledge in a higher sphere, and accordingly Theaetetus, when again interrogated, replies (2) that ‘knowledge is true opinion.’ But how is false opinion possible? The Megarian or Eristic spirit within us revives the question, which has been already asked and indirectly answered in the Meno: ‘How can a man be ignorant of that which he knows?’ No answer is given to this not unanswerable question. The comparison of the mind to a block of wax, or to a decoy of birds, is found wanting.

But are we not inverting the natural order in looking for opinion before we have found knowledge? And knowledge is not true opinion; for the Athenian dicasts have true opinion but not knowledge. What then is knowledge? We answer (3), ‘True opinion, with definition or explanation.’ But all the different ways in which this statement may be understood are set aside, like the definitions of courage in the Laches, or of friendship in the Lysis, or of temperance in the Charmides. At length we arrive at the conclusion, in which nothing is concluded.

There are two special difficulties which beset the student of the Theaetetus: (1) he is uncertain how far he can trust Plato’s account of the theory of Protagoras; and he is also uncertain (2) how far, and in what parts of the dialogue, Plato is expressing his own opinion. The dramatic character of the work renders the answer to both these questions difficult.

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1. In reply to the first, we have only probabilities to offer. Three main points have to be decided: (a) Would Protagoras have identified his own thesis, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ with the other, ‘All knowledge is sensible perception’? (b) Would he have based the relativity of knowledge on the Heraclitean flux? (c) Would he have asserted the absoluteness of sensation at each instant? Of the work of Protagoras on ‘Truth’ we know nothing, with the exception of the two famous fragments, which are cited in this dialogue, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ and, ‘Whether there are gods or not, I cannot tell.’ Nor have we any other trustworthy evidence of the tenets of Protagoras, or of the sense in which his words are used. For later writers, including Aristotle in his Metaphysics, have mixed up the Protagoras of Plato, as they have the Socrates of Plato, with the real person.

Returning then to the Theaetetus, as the only possible source from which an answer to these questions can be obtained, we may remark, that Plato had ‘The Truth’ of Protagoras before him, and frequently refers to the book. He seems to say expressly, that in this work the doctrine of the Heraclitean flux was not to be found (p. 152); ‘he told the real truth’ (not in the book, which is so entitled, but) ‘privately to his disciples,’—words which imply that the connexion between the doctrines of Protagoras and Heracleitus was not generally recognized in Greece, but was really discovered or invented by Plato. On the other hand, the doctrine that ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ is expressly identified by Socrates with the other statement, that ‘What appears to each man is to him;’ and a reference is made to the books in which the statement occurs;—this Theaetetus, who has ‘often read the books,’ is supposed to acknowledge (152 A: so Cratylus 385 E). And Protagoras, in the speech attributed to him, never says that he has been misunderstood: at p. 166 C he rather seems to imply that the absoluteness of sensation at each instant was to be found in his words (cp. 158 E). He is only indignant at the ‘reductio ad absurdum’ devised by Socrates for his ‘homo mensura,’ which Theodorus also considers to be ‘really too bad.’

The question may be raised, how far Plato in the Theaetetus could have misrepresented Protagoras without violating the laws Edition: current; Page: [118] of dramatic probability. Could he have pretended to cite from a well-known writing what was not to be found there? But such a shadowy enquiry is not worth pursuing further. We need only remember that in the criticism which follows of the thesis of Protagoras, we are criticizing the Protagoras of Plato, and not attempting to draw a precise line between his real sentiments and those which Plato has attributed to him.

2. The other difficulty is a more subtle, and also a more important one, because bearing on the general character of the Platonic dialogues. On a first reading of them, we are apt to imagine that the truth is only spoken by Socrates, who is never guilty of a fallacy himself, and is the great detector of the errors and fallacies of others. But this natural presumption is disturbed by the discovery that the Sophists are sometimes in the right and Socrates in the wrong. Like the hero of a novel, he is not to be supposed always to represent the sentiments of the author. There are few modern readers who do not side with Protagoras, rather than with Socrates, in the dialogue which is called by his name. The Cratylus presents a similar difficulty: in his etymologies, as in the number of the State, we cannot tell how far Socrates is serious; for the Socratic irony will not allow him to distinguish between his real and his assumed wisdom. No one is the superior of the invincible Socrates in argument (except in the first part of the Parmenides, where he is introduced as a youth); but he is by no means supposed to be in possession of the whole truth. Arguments are often put into his mouth (cp. Introduction to the Gorgias) which must have seemed quite as untenable to Plato as to a modern writer. In this dialogue a great part of the answer of Protagoras is just and sound; remarks are made by him on verbal criticism, and on the importance of understanding an opponent’s meaning, which are conceived in the true spirit of philosophy. And the distinction which he is supposed to draw between Eristic and Dialectic (167, 168), is really a criticism of Plato on himself and his own criticism of Protagoras.

The difficulty seems to arise from not attending to the dramatic character of the writings of Plato. There are two, or more, sides to questions; and these are parted among the different speakers. Sometimes one view or aspect of a question is made to predominate over the rest, as in the Gorgias or Sophist; but in other Edition: current; Page: [119] dialogues truth is divided, as in the Laches and Protagoras, and the interest of the piece consists in the contrast of opinions. The confusion caused by the irony of Socrates, who, if he is true to his character, cannot say anything of his own knowledge, is increased by the circumstance that in the Theaetetus and some other dialogues he is occasionally playing both parts himself, and even charging his own arguments with unfairness. In the Theaetetus he is designedly held back from arriving at a conclusion. For we cannot suppose that Plato conceived a definition of knowledge to be impossible. But this is his manner of approaching and surrounding a question. The lights which he throws on his subject are indirect, but they are not the less real for that. He has no intention of proving a thesis by a cut-and-dried argument; nor does he imagine that a great philosophical problem can be tied up within the limits of a definition. If he has analyzed a proposition or notion, even with the severity of an impossible logic, if half-truths have been compared by him with other half-truths, if he has cleared up or advanced popular ideas, or illustrated a new method, his aim has been sufficiently accomplished.

The writings of Plato belong to an age in which the power of analysis had outrun the means of knowledge; and through a spurious use of dialectic, the distinctions which had been already ‘won from the void and formless infinite,’ seemed to be rapidly returning to their original chaos. The two great speculative philosophies, which a century earlier had so deeply impressed the mind of Hellas, were now degenerating into Eristic. The contemporaries of Plato and Socrates were vainly trying to find new combinations of them, or to transfer them from the object to the subject. The Megarians, in their first attempts to attain a severer logic, were making knowledge impossible (cp. Theaet. 202). They were asserting ‘the one good under many names,’ and, like the Cynics, seem to have denied predication, while the Cynics themselves were depriving virtue of all which made virtue desirable in the eyes of Socrates and Plato. And besides these, we find mention in the later writings of Plato, especially in the Theaetetus, Sophist, and Laws, of certain impenetrable godless persons, who will not believe what they ‘cannot hold in their hands’; and cannot be approached in argument, because they Edition: current; Page: [120] cannot argue (Theaet. 155 E; Soph. 246 A). No school of Greek philosophers exactly answers to these persons, in whom Plato may perhaps have blended some features of the Atomists with the vulgar materialistic tendencies of mankind in general (cp. Introduction to the Sophist).

And not only was there a conflict of opinions, but the stage which the mind had reached presented other difficulties hardly intelligible to us, who live in a different cycle of human thought. All times of mental progress are times of confusion; we only see, or rather seem to see things clearly, when they have been long fixed and defined. In the age of Plato, the limits of the world of imagination and of pure abstraction, of the old world and the new, were not yet fixed. The Greeks, in the fourth century before Christ, had no words for ‘subject’ and ‘object,’ and no distinct conception of them; yet they were always hovering about the question involved in them. The analysis of sense, and the analysis of thought, were equally difficult to them; and hopelessly confused by the attempt to solve them, not through an appeal to facts, but by the help of general theories respecting the nature of the universe.

Plato, in his Theaetetus, gathers up the sceptical tendencies of his age, and compares them. But he does not seek to reconstruct out of them a theory of knowledge. The time at which such a theory could be framed had not yet arrived. For there was no measure of experience with which the ideas swarming in men’s minds could be compared; the meaning of the word ‘science’ could scarcely be explained to them, except from the mathematical sciences, which alone offered the type of universality and certainty. Philosophy was becoming more and more vacant and abstract, and not only the Platonic Ideas and the Eleatic Being, but all abstractions seemed to be at variance with sense and at war with one another.

The want of the Greek mind in the fourth century before Christ was not another theory of rest or motion, or Being or atoms, but rather a philosophy which could free the mind from the power of abstractions and alternatives, and show how far rest and how far motion, how far the universal principle of Being and the multitudinous principle of atoms, entered into the composition of the world; which could distinguish between the true and false Edition: current; Page: [121] analogy, and allow the negative as well as the positive a place in human thought. To such a philosophy Plato, in the Theaetetus, offers many contributions. He has followed philosophy into the region of mythology, and pointed out the similarities of opposing phases of thought. He has also shown that extreme abstractions are self-destructive, and, indeed, hardly distinguishable from one another. But his intention is not to unravel the whole subject of knowledge, if this had been possible; and several times in the course of the dialogue he rejects explanations of knowledge which have germs of truth in them; as, for example, ‘the resolution of the compound into the simple;’ or ‘right opinion with a mark of difference.’

Analysis.

Jowett1892: 142Terpsion, who has come to Megara from the country, is described as having looked in vain for Euclides in the Agora; the latter explains that he has been down to the harbour, and on his way thither had met Theaetetus, who was being carried up from the army to Athens. He was scarcely alive, for he had been badly wounded at the battle of Corinth, and had taken the dysentery which prevailed in the camp. The mention of his condition suggests the reflection, ‘What a loss he will be!’ ‘Yes, indeed,’ replies Euclid; ‘only just now I was hearing of his noble conduct in the battle.’ ‘That I should expect; but why did he not remain at Megara?’ ‘I wanted him to remain, but he would not; so I went with him as far as Erineum; and as I parted from him, I remembered that Socrates had seen him when he was a youth, and had a remarkable conversation with him, not long before his own death; and he then prophesied of him that he would be a great man if he lived.’ ‘How true that has been; how like all that Socrates said! And could you repeat the conversation?’ Jowett1892: 143‘Not from memory; but I took notes when I returned home, which I afterwards filled up at leisure, and got Socrates to correct them from time to time, when I came to Athens.’ . . . Terpsion had long intended to ask for a sight of this writing, of which he had already heard. They are both tired, and agree to rest and have the conversation read to them by a servant. . . . ‘Here is the roll, Terpsion; I need only observe that I have omitted, for the sake of convenience, the interlocutory words, “said I,” “said Edition: current; Page: [122] he”; and that Theaetetus, and Theodorus, the geometrician of Cyrene, are the persons with whom Socrates is conversing.’

Socrates begins by asking Theodorus whether, in his visit to Athens, he has found any Athenian youth likely to attain distinction in science. ‘Yes, Socrates, there is one very remarkable youth, with whom I have become acquainted. He is no beauty, and therefore you need not imagine that I am in love with him; and, to say the truth, he is very like you, for he has a snub nose, and projecting eyes, although these features are not so marked in him as in you. He combines the most various qualities, quickness, Jowett1892: 144patience, courage; and he is gentle as well as wise, always silently flowing on, like a river of oil. Look! he is the middle one of those who are entering the palaestra.’

Socrates, who does not know his name, recognizes him as the son of Euphronius, who was himself a good man and a rich. He is informed by Theodorus that the youth is named Theaetetus, but the property of his father has disappeared in the hands of trustees; this does not, however, prevent him from adding liberality to his other virtues. At the desire of Socrates he invites Theaetetus to sit by them.

‘Yes,’ says Socrates, ‘that I may see in you, Theaetetus, the image of my ugly self, as Theodorus declares. Not that his remark is of any importance; for though he is a philosopher, he is not a painter, and therefore he is no judge of our faces; Jowett1892: 145but, as he is a man of science, he may be a judge of our intellects. And if he were to praise the mental endowments of either of us, in that case the hearer of the eulogy ought to examine into what he says, and the subject should not refuse to be examined.’ Theaetetus consents, and is caught in a trap (cp. the similar trap which is laid for Theodorus, at p. 166, 168 D). ‘Then, Theaetetus, you will have to be examined, for Theodorus has been praising you in a style of which I never heard the like.’ ‘He was only jesting.’ ‘Nay, that is not his way; and I cannot allow you, on that pretence, to retract the assent which you have already given, or I shall make Theodorus repeat your praises, and swear to them.’ Theaetetus, in reply, professes that he is willing to be examined, and Socrates begins by asking him what he learns of Theodorus. He is himself anxious to learn anything Edition: current; Page: [123] of anybody; and now he has a little question to which he wants Theaetetus or Theodorus (or whichever of the company would not be ‘donkey’ to the rest) to find an answer. Without further preface, but at the same time apologizing for his eagerness, he Jowett1892: 146asks, ‘What is knowledge?’ Theodorus is too old to answer questions, and begs him to interrogate Theaetetus, who has the advantage of youth.

Theaetetus replies, that knowledge is what he learns of Theodorus, i.e. geometry and arithmetic; and that there are other kinds of knowledge—shoemaking, carpentering, and the like. But Socrates rejoins, that this answer contains too much and also too little. For although Theaetetus has enumerated several kinds of knowledge, he has not explained the common nature Jowett1892: 147of them; as if he had been asked, ‘What is clay?’ and instead of saying, ‘Clay is moistened earth,’ he had answered, ‘There is one clay of image-makers, another of potters, another of oven-makers.’ Theaetetus at once divines that Socrates means him to extend to all kinds of knowledge the same process of generalization which he has already learned to apply to arithmetic. For he has discovered a division of numbers into square numbers, 4, 9, 16, &c., which are composed of equal factors, and represent Jowett1892: 148figures which have equal sides, and oblong numbers, 3, 5, 6, 7, &c., which are composed of unequal factors, and represent figures which have unequal sides. But he has never succeeded in attaining a similar conception of knowledge, though he has often tried; and, when this and similar questions were brought to him from Socrates, has been sorely distressed by them. Socrates Jowett1892: 149explains to him that he is in labour. For men as well as women have pangs of labour; and both at times require the assistance of midwives. And he, Socrates, is a midwife, although this is a secret; he has inherited the art from his mother bold and bluff, and he ushers into light, not children, but the thoughts of men. Like the midwives, who are ‘past bearing children,’ he too can have no offspring—the God will not allow him to bring anything into the world of his own. He also reminds Theaetetus that the midwives are or ought to be the only matchmakers (this is the preparation for a biting jest, 151 B); for those who reap the fruit Jowett1892: 150are most likely to know on what soil the plants will grow. But respectable midwives avoid this department of practice—they Edition: current; Page: [124] do not want to be called procuresses. There are some other differences between the two sorts of pregnancy. For women do not bring into the world at one time real children and at another time idols which are with difficulty distinguished from them. ‘At first,’ says Socrates in his character of the man-midwife, ‘my patients are barren and stolid, but after a while they “round apace,” if the gods are propitious to them; and this is due not to me but to themselves; I and the god only assist in bringing their ideas to the birth. Many of them have left me too soon, and the result has been that they have produced abortions; or when I have delivered them of children they have lost them by an ill bringing up, and have ended by seeing themselves, as others see them, to be great fools. Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, is one of these, and there have been others. The truants often return to Jowett1892: 151me and beg to be taken back; and then, if my familiar allows me, which is not always the case, I receive them, and they begin to grow again. There come to me also those who have nothing in them, and have no need of my art; and I am their matchmaker (see above), and marry them to Prodicus or some other inspired sage who is likely to suit them. I tell you this long story because I suspect that you are in labour. Come then to me, who am a midwife, and the son of a midwife, and I will deliver you. And do not bite me, as the women do, if I abstract your first-born; for I am acting out of good-will towards you; the God who is within me is the friend of man, though he will not allow me to dissemble the truth. Once more then, Theaetetus, I repeat my old question—“What is knowledge?” Take courage, and by the help of God you will discover an answer.’ ‘My answer is, that knowledge is perception.’ ‘That is the theory of Protagoras, who has another Jowett1892: 152way of expressing the same thing when he says, “Man is the measure of all things.” He was a very wise man, and we should try to understand him. In order to illustrate his meaning let me suppose that there is the same wind blowing in our faces, and one of us may be hot and the other cold. How is this? Protagoras will reply that the wind is hot to him who is cold, cold to him who is hot. And “is” means “appears,” and when you say “appears to him,” that means “he feels.” Thus feeling, appearance, perception, coincide with being. I suspect, however, that this was only a “façon de parler,” by which he imposed on the common herd Edition: current; Page: [125] like you and me; he told “the truth” [in allusion to the title of his book, which was called “The Truth”] in secret to his disciples. For he was really a votary of that famous philosophy in which all things are said to be relative; nothing is great or small, or heavy or light, or one, but all is in motion and mixture and transition and flux and generation, not “being,” as we ignorantly affirm, but “becoming.” This has been the doctrine, not of Protagoras only, but of all philosophers, with the single exception of Parmenides; Empedocles, Heracleitus, and others, and all the poets, with Epicharmus, the king of Comedy, and Homer, the king of Tragedy, at their head, have said the same; the latter has these words—

“Ocean, whence the gods sprang, and mother Tethys.”

Jowett1892: 153And many arguments are used to show, that motion is the source of life, and rest of death: fire and warmth are produced by friction, and living creatures owe their origin to a similar cause; the bodily frame is preserved by exercise and destroyed by indolence; and if the sun ceased to move, “chaos would come again.” Now apply this doctrine of “All is motion” to the senses, and first of all to the sense of sight. The colour of white, or any other colour, is neither in the eyes nor out of them, but ever in motion Jowett1892: 154between the object and the eye, and varying in the case of every percipient. All is relative, and, as the followers of Protagoras remark, endless contradictions arise when we deny this; e.g. here are six dice; they are more than four and less than twelve; “more and also less,” would you not say?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘But Protagoras will retort: “Can anything be more or less without addition or subtraction?” ’

‘I should say “No” if I were not afraid of contradicting my former answer.’

‘And if you say “Yes,” the tongue will escape conviction but not the mind, as Euripides would say?’ ‘True.’ ‘The thoroughbred Sophists, who know all that can be known, would have a sparring match over this, but you and I, who have no professional pride, Jowett1892: 155want only to discover whether our ideas are clear and consistent. And we cannot be wrong in saying, first, that nothing can be greater or less while remaining equal; secondly, that there can be no becoming greater or less without addition or subtraction; thirdly, Edition: current; Page: [126] that what is and was not, cannot be without having become. But then how is this reconcileable with the case of the dice, and with similar examples?—that is the question.’ ‘I am often perplexed and amazed, Socrates, by these difficulties.’ ‘That is because you are a philosopher, for philosophy begins in wonder, and Iris is the child of Thaumas. Do you know the original principle on which the doctrine of Protagoras is based?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then I will tell you; but we must not let the uninitiated hear, and by the uninitiated I mean the obstinate people who believe in nothing which they cannot hold in their hands. The brethren whose mysteries I am Jowett1892: 156about to unfold to you are far more ingenious. They maintain that all is motion; and that motion has two forms, action and passion, out of which endless phenomena are created, also in two forms—sense and the object of sense—which come to the birth together. There are two kinds of motions, a slow and a fast; the motions of the agent and the patient are slower, because they move and create in and about themselves, but the things which are born of them have a swifter motion, and pass rapidly from place to place. The eye and the appropriate object come together, and give birth to whiteness and the sensation of whiteness; the eye is filled with seeing, and becomes not sight but a seeing eye, and the object is filled with whiteness, and becomes not whiteness but white; and no other compound of either with another would have produced the same effect. All sensation is to be resolved into a Jowett1892: 157similar combination of an agent and patient. Of either, taken separately, no idea can be formed; and the agent may become a patient, and the patient an agent. Hence there arises a general reflection that nothing is, but all things become; no name can detain or fix them. Are not these speculations charming, Theaetetus, and very good for a person in your interesting situation? I am offering you specimens of other men’s wisdom, because I have no wisdom of my own, and I want to deliver you of something; and presently we will see whether you have brought forth wind or not. Tell me, then, what do you think of the notion that “All things are becoming”?’

‘When I hear your arguments, I am marvellously ready to assent.’

‘But I ought not to conceal from you that there is a serious objection which may be urged against this doctrine of Protagoras. Edition: current; Page: [127] Jowett1892: 158For there are states, such as madness and dreaming, in which perception is false; and half our life is spent in dreaming; and who can say that at this instant we are not dreaming? Even the fancies of madmen are real at the time. But if knowledge is perception, how can we distinguish between the true and the false in such cases? Having stated the objection, I will now state the answer. Protagoras would deny the continuity of phenomena; Jowett1892: 159he would say that what is different is entirely different, and whether active or passive has a different power. There are infinite agents and patients in the world, and these produce in every combination of them a different perception. Take myself as an instance:—Socrates may be ill or he may be well,—and remember that Socrates, with all his accidents, is spoken of. The wine which I drink when I am well is pleasant to me, but the same wine is unpleasant to me when I am ill. And there is Jowett1892: 160nothing else from which I can receive the same impression, nor can another receive the same impression from the wine. Neither can I and the object of sense become separately what we become together. For the one in becoming is relative to the other, but they have no other relation; and the combination of them is absolute at each moment. [In modern language, the act of sensation is really indivisible, though capable of a mental analysis into subject and object.] My sensation alone is true, and true to me only. And therefore, as Protagoras says, “To myself I am the judge of what is and what is not.” Thus the flux of Homer and Heracleitus, the great Protagorean saying that “Man is the measure of all things,” the doctrine of Theaetetus that “Knowledge is perception,” have all the same meaning. And this is thy new-born child, which by my art I have brought to light; and Jowett1892: 161you must not be angry if instead of rearing your infant we expose him.’

‘Theaetetus will not be angry,’ says Theodorus; ‘he is very good-natured. But I should like to know, Socrates, whether you mean to say that all this is untrue?’

‘First reminding you that I am not the bag which contains the arguments, but that I extract them from Theaetetus, shall I tell you what amazes me in your friend Protagoras?’

‘What may that be?’

‘I like his doctrine that what appears is; but I wonder that he Edition: current; Page: [128] did not begin his great work on Truth with a declaration that a pig, or a dog-faced baboon, or any other monster which has sensation, is a measure of all things; then, while we were reverencing him as a god, he might have produced a magnificent effect by expounding to us that he was no wiser than a tadpole. For if sensations are always true, and one man’s discernment is as good as another’s, and every man is his own judge, and everything that he judges is right and true, then what need of Protagoras to be our instructor at a high figure; and why should we be less knowing than he is, or have to go to him, if every man is the measure of all things? My own art of midwifery, and all dialectic, is an enormous folly, if Protagoras’ “Truth” be indeed truth, and the philosopher is not merely amusing himself by giving oracles out of his book.’

Theodorus thinks that Socrates is unjust to his master, Protagoras; Jowett1892: 162but he is too old and stiff to try a fall with him, and therefore refers him to Theaetetus, who is already driven out of his former opinion by the arguments of Socrates.

Socrates then takes up the defence of Protagoras, who is supposed to reply in his own person—‘Good people, you sit and declaim about the gods, of whose existence or non-existence I have nothing to say, or you discourse about man being reduced to the level of the brutes; but what proof have you of your statements? And yet surely you and Theodorus had better reflect whether probability is a safe guide. Theodorus would be a bad geometrician Jowett1892: 163if he had nothing better to offer.’ . . . Theaetetus is affected by the appeal to geometry, and Socrates is induced by him to put the question in a new form. He proceeds as follows:—‘Should we say that we know what we see and hear,—e.g. the sound of words or the sight of letters in a foreign tongue?’

‘We should say that the figures of the letters, and the pitch of the voice in uttering them, were known to us, but not the meaning of them.’

‘Excellent; I want you to grow, and therefore I will leave that answer and ask another question: Is not seeing perceiving?’ ‘Very true.’ ‘And he who sees knows?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And he who remembers, remembers that which he sees and knows?’ ‘Very true.’ ‘But if he closes his eyes, does he not remember?’ ‘He Jowett1892: 164does.’ ‘Then he may remember and not see; and if seeing is Edition: current; Page: [129] knowing, he may remember and not know. Is not this a “reductio ad absurdum” of the hypothesis that knowledge is sensible perception? Yet perhaps we are crowing too soon; and if Protagoras, “the father of the myth,” had been alive, the result might have been very different. But he is dead, and Theodorus, whom he left guardian of his “orphan,” has not been very zealous in defending him.’

Jowett1892: 165Theodorus objects that Callias is the true guardian, but he hopes that Socrates will come to the rescue. Socrates prefaces his defence by resuming the attack. He asks whether a man can know and not know at the same time? ‘Impossible.’ Quite possible, if you maintain that seeing is knowing. The confident adversary, suiting the action to the word, shuts one of your eyes; and now, says he, you see and do not see, but do you know and not know? And a fresh opponent darts from his ambush, and transfers to knowledge the terms which are commonly applied to sight. He asks whether you can know near and not at a distance; whether you can have a sharp and also a dull knowledge. While you are wondering at his incomparable wisdom, he gets you into his power, and you will not escape until you have come to an understanding with him about the money which is to be paid for your release.

But Protagoras has not yet made his defence; and already he Jowett1892: 166may be heard contemptuously replying that he is not responsible for the admissions which were made by a boy, who could not foresee the coming move, and therefore had answered in a manner which enabled Socrates to raise a laugh against himself. ‘But I cannot be fairly charged,’ he will say, ‘with an answer which I should not have given; for I never maintained that the memory of a feeling is the same as a feeling, or denied that a man might know and not know the same thing at the same time. Or, if you will have extreme precision, I say that man in different relations is many or rather infinite in number. And I challenge you, either to show that his perceptions are not individual, or that if they are, what appears to him is not what is. As to your pigs and baboons, you are yourself a pig, and you make my writings a sport of other swine. But I still affirm that man is the measure of all things, although I admit that one man may be a thousand times better than another, in proportion as he has better impressions. Neither Edition: current; Page: [130] do I deny the existence of wisdom or of the wise man. But I maintain that wisdom is a practical remedial power of turning evil into good, the bitterness of disease into the sweetness of health, and does not consist in any greater truth or superior knowledge. For the impressions of the sick are as true as the impressions of the healthy; and the sick are as wise as the healthy. Nor Jowett1892: 167can any man be cured of a false opinion, for there is no such thing; but he may be cured of the evil habit which generates in him an evil opinion. This is effected in the body by the drugs of the physician, and in the soul by the words of the Sophist; and the new state or opinion is not truer, but only better than the old. And philosophers are not tadpoles, but physicians and husbandmen, who till the soil and infuse health into animals and plants, and make the good take the place of the evil, both in individuals and states. Wise and good rhetoricians make the good to appear just in states (for that is just which appears just to a state), and in return, they deserve to be well paid. And you, Socrates, whether you please or not, must continue to be a measure. This is my defence, and I must request you to meet me fairly. We are professing to reason, and not merely to dispute; and there is a great difference between reasoning and disputation. For the disputer is always seeking to trip up his opponent; and this is a mode of argument which disgusts men with philosophy as they grow older. But the reasoner is trying to understand him and to point out his errors to him, whether arising from his own or from his companions’ fault; he does not Jowett1892: 168argue from the customary use of names, which the vulgar pervert in all manner of ways. If you are gentle to an adversary he will follow and love you; and if defeated he will lay the blame on himself, and seek to escape from his own prejudices into philosophy. I would recommend you, Socrates, to adopt this humaner method, and to avoid captious and verbal criticisms.’

Such, Theodorus, is the very slight help which I am able to afford to your friend; had he been alive, he would have helped himself in far better style.

‘You have made a most valorous defence.’

Yes; but did you observe that Protagoras bade me be serious, and complained of our getting up a laugh against him with the aid of a boy? He meant to intimate that you must take the place Edition: current; Page: [131] of Theaetetus, who may be wiser than many bearded men, but not wiser than you, Theodorus.

Jowett1892: 169‘The rule of the Spartan Palaestra is, Strip or depart; but you are like the giant Antaeus, and will not let me depart unless I try a fall with you.’

Yes, that is the nature of my complaint. And many a Hercules, many a Theseus mighty in deeds and words has broken my head; but I am always at this rough game. Please, then, to favour me.

‘On the condition of not exceeding a single fall, I consent.’

Jowett1892: 170Socrates now resumes the argument. As he is very desirous of doing justice to Protagoras, he insists on citing his own words,—‘What appears to each man is to him.’ And how, asks Socrates, are these words reconcileable with the fact that all mankind are agreed in thinking themselves wiser than others in some respects, and inferior to them in others? In the hour of danger they are ready to fall down and worship any one who is their superior in wisdom as if he were a god. And the world is full of men who are asking to be taught and willing to be ruled, and of other men who are willing to rule and teach them. All which implies that men do judge of one another’s impressions, and think some wise and others foolish. How will Protagoras answer this argument? For he cannot say that no one deems another ignorant or mistaken. If you form a judgment, thousands and tens of thousands are ready to maintain the opposite. The multitude may not and do not agree in Protagoras’ own thesis that ‘Man is the measure Jowett1892: 171of all things;’ and then who is to decide? Upon his own showing must not his ‘truth’ depend on the number of suffrages, and be more or less true in proportion as he has more or fewer of them? And he must acknowledge further, that they speak truly who deny him to speak truly, which is a famous jest. And if he admits that they speak truly who deny him to speak truly, he must admit that he himself does not speak truly. But his opponents will refuse to admit this of themselves, and he must allow that they are right in their refusal. The conclusion is, that all mankind, including Protagoras himself, will deny that he speaks truly; and his truth will be true neither to himself nor to anybody else.

Theodorus is inclined to think that this is going too far. Socrates ironically replies, that he is not going beyond the truth. But if the old Protagoras could only pop his head out of the world below, he Edition: current; Page: [132] would doubtless give them both a sound castigation and be off to the shades in an instant. Seeing that he is not within call, we must examine the question for ourselves. It is clear that there are great differences in the understandings of men. Admitting, with Protagoras, that immediate sensations of hot, cold, and the like, are to each one such as they appear, yet this hypothesis cannot be extended to judgments or opinions. And even if we were to admit Jowett1892: 172further,—and this is the view of some who are not thorough-going followers of Protagoras,—that right and wrong, holy and unholy, are to each state or individual such as they appear, still Protagoras will not venture to maintain that every man is equally the measure of expediency, or that the thing which seems is expedient to every one. But this begins a new question. ‘Well, Socrates, we have plenty of leisure.’ Yes, we have, and, after the manner of philosophers, we are digressing; I have often observed how ridiculous this habit of theirs makes them when they appear in court. ‘What do you mean?’ I mean to say that a philosopher is a gentleman, but a lawyer is a servant. The one can have his talk out, and wander at will from one subject to another, as the fancy takes him; like ourselves, he may be long or short, as he pleases. But the lawyer is always in a hurry; there is the clepsydra limiting his time, and the brief limiting his topics, and his adversary is standing over him and exacting his rights. He is a servant disputing about a fellow-servant before his master, who holds the cause in his hands; the path never diverges, and often the race is Jowett1892: 173for his life. Such experiences render him keen and shrewd; he learns the arts of flattery, and is perfect in the practice of crooked ways; dangers have come upon him too soon, when the tenderness of youth was unable to meet them with truth and honesty, and he has resorted to counter-acts of dishonesty and falsehood, and become warped and distorted; without any health or freedom or sincerity in him he has grown up to manhood, and is or esteems himself to be a master of cunning. Such are the lawyers; will you have the companion picture of philosophers? or will this be too much of a digression?

‘Nay, Socrates, the argument is our servant, and not our master. Who is the judge or where is the spectator, having a right to control us?’

I will describe the leaders, then; for the inferior sort are not Edition: current; Page: [133] worth the trouble. The lords of philosophy have not learned the way to the dicastery or ecclesia; they neither see nor hear the laws and votes of the state, written or recited; societies, whether political or festive, clubs, and singing maidens do not enter even into their dreams. And the scandals of persons or their ancestors, male and female, they know no more than they can tell the number of pints in the ocean. Neither are they conscious of their own ignorance; for they do not practise singularity in order to gain reputation, but the truth is, that the outer form of them only is residing in the city; the inner man, as Pindar says, is going on a voyage of discovery, measuring as with line and rule the things Jowett1892: 174which are under and in the earth, interrogating the whole of nature, only not condescending to notice what is near them.

‘What do you mean, Socrates?’

I will illustrate my meaning by the jest of the witty maid-servant, who saw Thales tumbling into a well, and said of him, that he was so eager to know what was going on in heaven, that he could not see what was before his feet. This is applicable to all philosophers. The philosopher is unacquainted with the world; he hardly knows whether his neighbour is a man or an animal. For he is always searching into the essence of man, and enquiring what such a nature ought to do or suffer different from any other. Hence, on every occasion in private life and public, as I was saying, when he appears in a law-court or anywhere, he is the joke, not only of maid-servants, but of the general herd, falling into wells and every sort of disaster; he looks such an awkward, inexperienced creature, unable to say anything personal, when he is abused, in answer to his adversaries (for he knows no evil of any one); and when he hears the praises of others, he cannot help laughing from the bottom of his soul at their pretensions; and this also gives him a ridiculous appearance. A king or tyrant appears to him to be a kind of swine-herd or cow-herd, milking away at an animal who is much more troublesome and dangerous than cows or sheep; like the cow-herd, he has no time to be educated, and the pen in which he keeps his flock in the mountains is surrounded by a wall. When he hears of large landed properties of ten thousand acres or more, he thinks of the whole Jowett1892: 175earth; or if he is told of the antiquity of a family, he remembers that every one has had myriads of progenitors, rich and poor, Edition: current; Page: [134] Greeks and barbarians, kings and slaves. And he who boasts of his descent from Amphitryon in the twenty-fifth generation, may, if he pleases, add as many more, and double that again, and our philosopher only laughs at his inability to do a larger sum. Such is the man at whom the vulgar scoff; he seems to them as if he could not mind his feet. ‘That is very true, Socrates.’ But when he tries to draw the quick-witted lawyer out of his pleas and rejoinders to the contemplation of absolute justice or injustice in their own nature, or from the popular praises of wealthy kings to the view of happiness and misery in themselves, or to the reasons why a man should seek after the one and avoid the other, then the situation is reversed; the little wretch turns giddy, and is ready to fall over the precipice; his utterance becomes thick, and he makes himself ridiculous, not to servant-maids, but to every man of liberal education. Such are the two pictures: the one of the philosopher and gentleman, who may be excused for not having learned how to make a bed, or cook up flatteries; the other, a serviceable knave, who hardly knows how to wear his cloak,—still Jowett1892: 176less can he awaken harmonious thoughts or hymn virtue’s praises.

‘If the world, Socrates, were as ready to receive your words as I am, there would be greater peace and less evil among mankind.’

Evil, Theodorus, must ever remain in this world to be the antagonist of good, out of the way of the gods in heaven. Wherefore also we should fly away from ourselves to them; and to fly to them is to become like them; and to become like them is to become holy, just and true. But many live in the old wives’ fable of appearances; they think that you should follow virtue in order that you may seem to be good. And yet the truth is, that God is righteous; and of men, he is most like him who is most righteous. To know this is wisdom; and in comparison of this the wisdom of the arts or the seeming wisdom of politicians is mean and common. The unrighteous man is apt to pride himself on his cunning; when others call him rogue, he says to himself: ‘They only mean that I am one who deserves to live, and not a mere burden of the earth.’ But he should reflect that his ignorance makes his condition worse than if he knew. For the penalty of injustice is not death or stripes, but the fatal necessity Edition: current; Page: [135] of becoming more and more unjust. Two patterns of life are set before him; the one blessed and divine, the other godless and wretched; and he is growing more and more like the one and Jowett1892: 177unlike the other. He does not see that if he continues in his cunning, the place of innocence will not receive him after death. And yet if such a man has the courage to hear the argument out, he often becomes dissatisfied with himself, and has no more strength in him than a child.—But we have digressed enough.

‘For my part, Socrates, I like the digressions better than the argument, because I understand them better.’

To return. When we left off, the Protagoreans and Heracliteans were maintaining that the ordinances of the State were Jowett1892: 178just, while they lasted. But no one would maintain that the laws of the State were always good or expedient, although this may be the intention of them. For the expedient has to do with the future, about which we are liable to mistake. Now, would Protagoras maintain that man is the measure not only of the present and past, but of the future; and that there is no difference in the judgments of men about the future? Would an untrained man, for example, be as likely to know when he is going to have a fever, as the physician who attended him? And if they differ in opinion, which of them is likely to be right; or are they both right? Is not a vine-grower a better judge of a vintage which is not yet gathered, or a cook of a dinner which is in preparation, or Protagoras of the probable effect of a speech than an ordinary person? Jowett1892: 179The last example speaks ‘ad hominem.’ For Protagoras would never have amassed a fortune if every man could judge of the future for himself. He is, therefore, compelled to admit that he is a measure; but I, who know nothing, am not equally convinced that I am. This is one way of refuting him; and he is refuted also by the authority which he attributes to the opinions of others, who deny his opinions. I am not equally sure that we can disprove the truth of immediate states of feeling. But this leads us to the doctrine of the universal flux, about which a battle-royal is always going on in the cities of Ionia. ‘Yes; the Ephesians are downright mad about the flux; they cannot stop to argue with you, but are in perpetual motion, obedient to their text-books. Their restlessness is beyond expression, and if you ask any of Jowett1892: 180them a question, they will not answer, but dart at you some Edition: current; Page: [136] unintelligible saying, and another and another, making no way either with themselves or with others; for nothing is fixed in them or their ideas,—they are at war with fixed principles.’ I suppose, Theodorus, that you have never seen them in time of peace, when they discourse at leisure to their disciples? ‘Disciples! they have none; they are a set of uneducated fanatics, and each of them says of the other that they have no knowledge. We must trust to ourselves, and not to them for the solution of the problem.’ Well, the doctrine is old, being derived from the poets, who speak in a figure of Oceanus and Tethys; the truth was once concealed, but is now revealed by the superior wisdom of a later generation, and made intelligible to the cobbler, who, on hearing that all is in motion, and not some things only, as he ignorantly fancied, may be expected to fall down and worship his teachers. And the opposite doctrine must not be forgotten:—

‘Alone being remains unmoved which is the name for all,’

as Parmenides affirms. Thus we are in the midst of the fray: both parties are dragging us to their side; and we are not certain Jowett1892: 181which of them are in the right; and if neither, then we shall be in a ridiculous position, having to set up our own opinion against ancient and famous men.

Let us first approach the river-gods, or patrons of the flux.

When they speak of motion, must they not include two kinds of motion, change of place and change of nature?—And all things must be supposed to have both kinds of motion; for if not, the same things would be at rest and in motion, which is contrary Jowett1892: 182to their theory. And did we not say, that all sensations arise thus: they move about between the agent and patient together with a perception, and the patient ceases to be a perceiving power and becomes a percipient, and the agent a quale instead of a quality; but neither has any absolute existence? But now we make the further discovery, that neither white or whiteness, nor any sense or sensation, can be predicated of anything, for they are in a perpetual flux. And therefore we must modify the doctrine of Theaetetus and Protagoras, by asserting further that knowledge is and is not sensation; and of everything we must Jowett1892: 183say equally, that this is and is not, or becomes or becomes not Edition: current; Page: [137] And still the word ‘this’ is not quite correct, for language fails in the attempt to express their meaning.

At the close of the discussion, Theodorus claims to be released from the argument, according to his agreement. But Theaetetus insists that they shall proceed to consider the doctrine of rest. Jowett1892: 184This is declined by Socrates, who has too much reverence for the great Parmenides lightly to attack him. [We shall find that he returns to the doctrine of rest in the Sophist; but at present he does not wish to be diverted from his main purpose, which is, to deliver Theaetetus of his conception of knowledge.] He proceeds to interrogate him further. When he says that ‘knowledge is perception,’ with what does he perceive? The first answer is, that he perceives sights with the eye, and sounds with the ear. This leads Socrates to make the reflection that nice distinctions of words are sometimes pedantic, but sometimes necessary; and he proposes in this case to substitute the word ‘through’ for ‘with.’ For the senses are not like the Trojan warriors in the horse, but Jowett1892: 185have a common centre of perception, in which they all meet. This common principle is able to compare them with one another, and must therefore be distinct from them (cp. Rep. vii. 523, 524). And as there are facts of sense which are perceived through the organs of the body, there are also mathematical and other abstractions, such as sameness and difference, likeness and unlikeness, Jowett1892: 186which the soul perceives by herself. Being is the most universal of these abstractions. The good and the beautiful are abstractions of another kind, which exist in relation and which above all others the mind perceives in herself, comparing within her past, present, and future. For example; we know a thing to be hard or soft by the touch, of which the perception is given at birth to men and animals. But the essence of hardness or softness, or the fact that this hardness is, and is the opposite of softness, is slowly learned by reflection and experience. Mere perception does not reach being, and therefore fails of truth; and therefore has no share in knowledge. But if so, knowledge is not perception. Jowett1892: 187What then is knowledge? The mind, when occupied by herself with being, is said to have opinion—shall we say that ‘Knowledge is true opinion’? But still an old difficulty recurs; we ask ourselves, ‘How is false opinion possible?’ This difficulty may be stated as follows:—

Edition: current; Page: [138]

Either we know or do not know a thing (for the intermediate Jowett1892: 188processes of learning and forgetting need not at present be considered); and in thinking or having an opinion, we must either know or not know that which we think, and we cannot know and be ignorant at the same time; we cannot confuse one thing which we do not know, with another thing which we do not know; nor can we think that which we do not know to be that which we know, or that which we know to be that which we do not know. And what other case is conceivable, upon the supposition that we either know or do not know all things? Let us try another answer in the sphere of being: ‘When a man thinks, and thinks that which is not.’ But would this hold in any parallel case? Can a man see and see nothing? or hear and hear nothing? or Jowett1892: 189touch and touch nothing? Must he not see, hear, or touch some one existing thing? For if he thinks about nothing he does not think, and not thinking he cannot think falsely. And so the path of being is closed against us, as well as the path of knowledge. But may there not be ‘heterodoxy,’ or transference of opinion;—I mean, may not one thing be supposed to be another? Theaetetus is confident that this must be ‘the true falsehood,’ when a man puts good for evil or evil for good. Socrates will not discourage him by attacking the paradoxical expression ‘true falsehood,’ but passes on. The new notion involves a process of thinking about two things, either together or alternately. And thinking is the conversing of the mind with herself, which is Jowett1892: 190carried on in question and answer, until she no longer doubts, but determines and forms an opinion. And false opinion consists in saying to yourself, that one thing is another. But did you ever say to yourself, that good is evil, or evil good? Even in sleep, did you ever imagine that odd was even? Or did any man in his senses ever fancy that an ox was a horse, or that two are one? So that we can never think one thing to be another; for you must not meet me with the verbal quibble that one—ἕτερον—is other—ἕτερον [both ‘one’ and ‘other’ in Greek are called ‘other’—ἕτερον]. He who has both the two things in his mind, cannot misplace them; and he who has only one of them in his mind, cannot misplace them—on either supposition transplacement is inconceivable.

But perhaps there may still be a sense in which we can think Jowett1892: 191 Edition: current; Page: [139] that which we do not know to be that which we know: e. g. Theaetetus may know Socrates, but at a distance he may mistake another person for him. This process may be conceived by the help of an image. Let us suppose that every man has in his mind a block of wax of various qualities, the gift of Memory, the mother of the Muses; and on this he receives the seal or stamp of those sensations and perceptions which he wishes to remember. That which he succeeds in stamping is remembered and known by him as long as the impression lasts; but that, of which the impression is rubbed out or imperfectly made, is forgotten, and Jowett1892: 192not known. No one can think one thing to be another, when he has the memorial or seal of both of these in his soul, and a sensible impression of neither; or when he knows one and does not know the other, and has no memorial or seal of the other; or when he knows neither; or when he perceives both, or one and not the other, or neither; or when he perceives and knows both, and identifies what he perceives with what he knows (this is still more impossible); or when he does not know one, and does not know and does not perceive the other; or does not perceive one, and does not know and does not perceive the other; or has no perception or knowledge of either—all these cases must be excluded. But he may err when he confuses what he knows or perceives, or what he perceives and does not know, with what he knows, or what he knows and perceives with what he knows and perceives.

Theaetetus is unable to follow these distinctions; which Socrates proceeds to illustrate by examples, first of all remarking, that knowledge may exist without perception, and perception without Jowett1892: 193knowledge. I may know Theodorus and Theaetetus and not see them; I may see them, and not know them. ‘That I understand.’ But I could not mistake one for the other if I knew you both, and had no perception of either; or if I knew one only, and perceived neither; or if I knew and perceived neither, or in any other of the excluded cases. The only possibility of error is: 1st, when knowing you and Theodorus, and having the impression of both of you on the waxen block, I, seeing you both imperfectly and at a distance, put the foot in the wrong shoe—that is to Jowett1892: 194say, put the seal or stamp on the wrong object: or 2ndly, when knowing both of you I only see one: or when, seeing and Edition: current; Page: [140] knowing you both, I fail to identify the impression and the object. But there could be no error when perception and knowledge correspond.

The waxen block in the heart of a man’s soul, as I may say in the words of Homer, who played upon the words κη̂ρ and κηρός, may be smooth and deep, and large enough, and then the signs are clearly marked and lasting, and do not get confused. But in the ‘hairy heart,’ as the all-wise poet sings, when the wax is muddy or hard or moist, there is a corresponding confusion and want of retentiveness; in the muddy and impure there is indistinctness, and Jowett1892: 195still more in the hard, for there the impressions have no depth of wax, and in the moist they are too soon effaced. Yet greater is the indistinctness when they are all jolted together in a little soul, which is narrow and has no room. These are the sort of natures which have false opinion; from stupidity they see and hear and think amiss; and this is falsehood and ignorance. Error, then, is a confusion of thought and sense.

Theaetetus is delighted with this explanation. But Socrates has no sooner found the new solution than he sinks into a fit of despondency. For an objection occurs to him:—May there not be errors where there is no confusion of mind and sense? e. g. in numbers. No one can confuse the man whom he has in his Jowett1892: 196thoughts with the horse which he has in his thoughts, but he may err in the addition of five and seven. And observe that these are purely mental conceptions. Thus we are involved once more in the dilemma of saying, either that there is no such thing as false opinion, or that a man knows what he does not know.

We are at our wit’s end, and may therefore be excused for making a bold diversion. All this time we have been repeating the words ‘know,’ ‘understand,’ yet we do not know what knowledge is. ‘Why, Socrates, how can you argue at all without using them?’ Nay, but the true hero of dialectic would have forbidden Jowett1892: 197me to use them until I had explained them. And I must explain them now. The verb ‘to know’ has two senses, to have and to possess knowledge, and I distinguish ‘having’ from ‘possessing.’ A man may possess a garment which he does not wear; or he may have wild birds in an aviary; these in one sense he possesses, and in another he has none of them. Let this aviary be an image of the mind, as the waxen block was; when we are Edition: current; Page: [141] young, the aviary is empty; after a time the birds are put in; for under this figure we may describe different forms of knowledge;—there are some of them in groups, and some single, Jowett1892: 198which are flying about everywhere; and let us suppose a hunt after the science of odd and even, or some other science. The possession of the birds is clearly not the same as the having them in the hand. And the original chase of them is not the same as taking them in the hand when they are already caged.

Jowett1892: 199This distinction between use and possession saves us from the absurdity of supposing that we do not know what we know, because we may know in one sense, i.e. possess, what we do not know in another, i.e. use. But have we not escaped one difficulty only to encounter a greater? For how can the exchange of two kinds of knowledge ever become false opinion? As well might we suppose that ignorance could make a man know, or that blindness could make him see. Theaetetus suggests that in the aviary there may be flying about mock birds, or forms of ignorance, and we put forth our hands and grasp ignorance, when we are intending Jowett1892: 200to grasp knowledge. But how can he who knows the forms of knowledge and the forms of ignorance imagine one to be the other? Is there some other form of knowledge which distinguishes them? and another, and another? Thus we go round and round in a circle and make no progress.

All this confusion arises out of our attempt to explain false opinion without having explained knowledge. What then is knowledge? Theaetetus repeats that knowledge is true opinion. Jowett1892: 201But this seems to be refuted by the instance of orators and judges. For surely the orator cannot convey a true knowledge of crimes at which the judges were not present; he can only persuade them, and the judge may form a true opinion and truly judge. But if true opinion were knowledge they could not have judged without knowledge.

Once more. Theaetetus offers a definition which he has heard: Knowledge is true opinion accompanied by definition or explanation. Socrates has had a similar dream, and has further heard Jowett1892: 202that the first elements are names only, and that definition or explanation begins when they are combined; the letters are Jowett1892: 203unknown, the syllables or combinations are known. But this new hypothesis when tested by the letters of the alphabet is Edition: current; Page: [142] found to break down. The first syllable of Socrates’ name is SO. But what is SO? Two letters, S and O, a sibilant and a vowel, of which no further explanation can be given. And how can any one be ignorant of either of them, and yet know both of them? There is, however, another alternative:—We may suppose that the syllable has a separate form or idea distinct from the letters or parts. The all of the parts may not be the whole. Theaetetus is very much inclined to adopt this suggestion, but when interrogated Jowett1892: 204by Socrates he is unable to draw any distinction between the whole and all the parts. And if the syllables have no parts, Jowett1892: 205then they are those original elements of which there is no explanation. But how can the syllable be known if the letter remains unknown? In learning to read as children, we are first Jowett1892: 206taught the letters and then the syllables. And in music, the notes, which are the letters, have a much more distinct meaning to us than the combination of them.

Once more, then, we must ask the meaning of the statement, that ‘Knowledge is right opinion, accompanied by explanation or definition.’ Explanation may mean, (1) the reflection or expression of a man’s thoughts—but every man who is not deaf and dumb is able to express his thoughts—or (2) the enumeration of the elements of which anything is composed. A man may have Jowett1892: 207a true opinion about a waggon, but then, and then only, has he knowledge of a waggon when he is able to enumerate the hundred planks of Hesiod. Or he may know the syllables of the name Theaetetus, but not the letters; yet not until he knows both can he be said to have knowledge as well as opinion. But on the other hand he may know the syllable ‘The’ in the name Theaetetus, yet he may be mistaken about the same syllable in the name Jowett1892: 208Theodorus, and in learning to read we often make such mistakes. And even if he could write out all the letters and syllables of your name in order, still he would only have right opinion. Yet there may be a third meaning of the definition, besides the image or expression of the mind, and the enumeration of the elements, viz. (3) perception of difference.

For example, I may see a man who has eyes, nose, and mouth;—that Jowett1892: 209will not distinguish him from any other man. Or he may have a snub-nose and prominent eyes;—that will not distinguish him from myself and you and others who are like me. But Edition: current; Page: [143] when I see a certain kind of snub-nosedness, then I recognize Theaetetus. And having this sign of difference, I have knowledge. But have I knowledge or opinion of this difference? If I have only opinion I have not knowledge; if I have knowledge we assume Jowett1892: 210a disputed term; for knowledge will have to be defined as right opinion with knowledge of difference.

And so, Theaetetus, knowledge is neither perception nor true opinion, nor yet definition accompanying true opinion. And I have shown that the children of your brain are not worth rearing. Are you still in labour, or have you brought all you have to say about knowledge to the birth? If you have any more thoughts, you will be the better for having got rid of these; or if you have none, you will be the better for not fancying that you know what you do not know. Observe the limits of my art, which, like my mother’s, is an art of midwifery; I do not pretend to compare with the good and wise of this and other ages.

And now I go to meet Meletus at the porch of the King Archon; but to-morrow I shall hope to see you again, Theodorus, at this place.

Introduction.

I. The saying of Theaetetus, that ‘Knowledge is sensible perception,’ may be assumed to be a current philosophical opinion of the age. ‘The ancients,’ as Aristotle (De Anim. iii. 3) says, citing a verse of Empedocles, ‘affirmed knowledge to be the same as perception.’ We may now examine these words, first, with reference to their place in the history of philosophy, and secondly, in relation to modern speculations.

(α) In the age of Socrates the mind was passing from the object to the subject. The same impulse which a century before had led men to form conceptions of the world, now led them to frame general notions of the human faculties and feelings, such as memory, opinion, and the like. The simplest of these is sensation, or sensible perception, by which Plato seems to mean the generalized notion of feelings and impressions of sense, without determining whether they are conscious or not.

The theory that ‘Knowledge is sensible perception’ is the antithesis of that which derives knowledge from the mind (Theaet. Edition: current; Page: [144] 185), or which assumes the existence of ideas independent of the mind (Parm. 134). Yet from their extreme abstraction these theories do not represent the opposite poles of thought in the same way that the corresponding differences would in modern philosophy. The most ideal and the most sensational have a tendency to pass into one another; Heracleitus, like his great successor Hegel, has both aspects. The Eleatic isolation of Being and the Megarian or Cynic isolation of individuals are placed in the same class by Plato (Soph. 251 C, D); and the same principle which is the symbol of motion to one mind is the symbol of rest to another. The Atomists, who are sometimes regarded as the Materialists of Plato, denied the reality of sensation. And in the ancient as well as the modern world there were reactions from theory to experience, from ideas to sense. This is a point of view from which the philosophy of sensation presented great attraction to the ancient thinker. Amid the conflict of ideas and the variety of opinions, the impression of sense remained certain and uniform. Hardness, softness, cold, heat, &c. are not absolutely the same to different persons (cp. 171 D), but the art of measuring could at any rate reduce them all to definite natures (Rep. x. 602 D). Thus the doctrine that knowledge is perception supplies or seems to supply a firm standing ground. Like the other notions of the earlier Greek philosophy, it was held in a very simple way, without much basis of reasoning, and without suggesting the questions which naturally arise in our own minds on the same subject.

(β) The fixedness of impressions of sense furnishes a link of connection between ancient and modern philosophy. The modern thinker often repeats the parallel axiom, ‘All knowledge is experience.’ He means to say that the outward and not the inward is both the original source and the final criterion of truth, because the outward can be observed and analyzed; the inward is only known by external results, and is dimly perceived by each man for himself. In what does this differ from the saying of Theaetetus? Chiefly in this—that the modern term ‘experience,’ while implying a point of departure in sense and a return to sense, also includes all the processes of reasoning and imagination which have intervened. The necessary connexion between them by no means affords a measure of the relative degree of importance Edition: current; Page: [145] which is to be ascribed to either element. For the inductive portion of any science may be small, as in mathematics or ethics, compared with that which the mind has attained by reasoning and reflection on a very few facts.

II. The saying that ‘All knowledge is sensation’ is identified by Plato with the Protagorean thesis that ‘Man is the measure of all things.’ The interpretation which Protagoras himself is supposed to give of these latter words is: ‘Things are to me as they appear to me, and to you as they appear to you.’ But there remains still an ambiguity both in the text and in the explanation, which has to be cleared up. Did Protagoras merely mean to assert the relativity of knowledge to the human mind? or did he mean to deny that there is an objective standard of truth?

These two questions have not been always clearly distinguished; the relativity of knowledge has been sometimes confounded with uncertainty. The untutored mind is apt to suppose that objects exist independently of the human faculties, because they really exist independently of the faculties of any individual. In the same way, knowledge appears to be a body of truths stored up in books, which when once ascertained are independent of the discoverer. Further consideration shows us that these truths are not really independent of the mind; there is an adaptation of one to the other, of the eye to the object of sense, of the mind to the conception. There would be no world, if there neither were nor ever had been any one to perceive the world. A slight effort of reflection enables us to understand this; but no effort of reflection will enable us to pass beyond the limits of our own faculties, or to imagine the relation or adaptation of objects to the mind to be different from that of which we have experience. There are certain laws of language and logic to which we are compelled to conform, and to which our ideas naturally adapt themselves; and we can no more get rid of them than we can cease to be ourselves. The absolute and infinite, whether explained as self-existence, or as the totality of human thought, or as the Divine nature, if known to us at all, cannot escape from the category of relation.

But because knowledge is subjective or relative to the mind, we are not to suppose that we are therefore deprived of any of the Edition: current; Page: [146] tests or criteria of truth. One man still remains wiser than another, a more accurate observer and relater of facts, a truer measure of the proportions of knowledge. The nature of testimony is not altered, nor the verification of causes by prescribed methods less certain. Again, the truth must often come to a man through others, according to the measure of his capacity and education. But neither does this affect the testimony, whether written or oral, which he knows by experience to be trustworthy. He cannot escape from the laws of his own mind; and he cannot escape from the further accident of being dependent for his knowledge on others. But still this is no reason why he should always be in doubt; of many personal, of many historical and scientific facts he may be absolutely assured. And having such a mass of acknowledged truth in the mathematical and physical, not to speak of the moral sciences, the moderns have certainly no reason to acquiesce in the statement that truth is appearance only, or that there is no difference between appearance and truth.

The relativity of knowledge is a truism to us, but was a great psychological discovery in the fifth century before Christ. Of this discovery, the first distinct assertion is contained in the thesis of Protagoras. Probably he had no intention either of denying or affirming an objective standard of truth. He did not consider whether man in the higher or man in the lower sense was a ‘measure of all things.’ Like other great thinkers, he was absorbed with one idea, and that idea was the absoluteness of perception. Like Socrates, he seemed to see that philosophy must be brought back from ‘nature’ to ‘truth,’ from the world to man. But he did not stop to analyze whether he meant ‘man’ in the concrete or man in the abstract, any man or some men, ‘quod semper quod ubique’ or individual private judgment. Such an analysis lay beyond his sphere of thought; the age before Socrates had not arrived at these distinctions. Like the Cynics, again, he discarded knowledge in any higher sense than perception. For ‘truer’ or ‘wiser’ he substituted the word ‘better,’ and is not unwilling to admit that both states and individuals are capable of practical improvement. But this improvement does not arise from intellectual enlightenment, nor yet from the exertion of the will, but from a change of circumstances and Edition: current; Page: [147] impressions; and he who can effect this change in himself or others may be deemed a philosopher. In the mode of effecting it, while agreeing with Socrates and the Cynics in the importance which he attaches to practical life, he is at variance with both of them. To suppose that practice can be divorced from speculation, or that we may do good without caring about truth, is by no means singular, either in philosophy or life. The singularity of this, as of some other (so-called) sophistical doctrines, is the frankness with which they are avowed, instead of being veiled, as in modern times, under ambiguous and convenient phrases.

Plato appears to treat Protagoras much as he himself is treated by Aristotle; that is to say, he does not attempt to understand him from his own point of view. But he entangles him in the meshes of a more advanced logic. To which Protagoras is supposed to reply by Megarian quibbles, which destroy logic, ‘Not only man, but each man, and each man at each moment.’ In the arguments about sight and memory there is a palpable unfairness which is worthy of the great ‘brainless brothers,’ Euthydemus and Dionysodorus, and may be compared with the ἐγκεκαλυμμένος (‘obvelatus’) of Eubulides. For he who sees with one eye only cannot be truly said both to see and not to see; nor is memory, which is liable to forget, the immediate knowledge to which Protagoras applies the term. Theodorus justly charges Socrates with going beyond the truth; and Protagoras has equally right on his side when he protests against Socrates arguing from the common use of words, which ‘the vulgar pervert in all manner of ways.’

III. The theory of Protagoras is connected by Aristotle as well as Plato with the flux of Heracleitus. But Aristotle is only following Plato, and Plato, as we have already seen, did not mean to imply that such a connexion was admitted by Protagoras himself. His metaphysical genius saw or seemed to see a common tendency in them, just as the modern historian of ancient philosophy might perceive a parallelism between two thinkers of which they were probably unconscious themselves. We must remember throughout that Plato is not speaking of Heracleitus, but of the Heracliteans, who succeeded him; nor of the great original ideas of the master, but of the Eristic into which they had Edition: current; Page: [148] degenerated a hundred years later. There is nothing in the fragments of Heracleitus which at all justifies Plato’s account of him. His philosophy may be resolved into two elements—first, change, secondly, law or measure pervading the change: these he saw everywhere, and often expressed in strange mythological symbols. But he has no analysis of sensible perception such as Plato attributes to him; nor is there any reason to suppose that he pushed his philosophy into that absolute negation in which Heracliteanism was sunk in the age of Plato. He never said that ‘change means every sort of change;’ and he expressly distinguished between ‘the general and particular understanding.’ Like a poet, he surveyed the elements of mythology, nature, thought, which lay before him, and sometimes by the light of genius he saw or seemed to see a mysterious principle working behind them. But as has been the case with other great philosophers, and with Plato and Aristotle themselves, what was really permanent and original could not be understood by the next generation, while a perverted logic carried out his chance expressions with an illogical consistency. His simple and noble thoughts, like those of the great Eleatic, soon degenerated into a mere strife of words. And when thus reduced to mere words, they seem to have exercised a far wider influence in the cities of Ionia (where the people ‘were mad about them’) than in the life-time of Heracleitus—a phenomenon which, though at first sight singular, is not without a parallel in the history of philosophy and theology.

It is this perverted form of the Heraclitean philosophy which is supposed to effect the final overthrow of Protagorean sensationalism. For if all things are changing at every moment, in all sorts of ways, then there is nothing fixed or defined at all, and therefore no sensible perception, nor any true word by which that or anything else can be described. Of course Protagoras would not have admitted the justice of this argument any more than Heracleitus would have acknowledged the ‘uneducated fanatics’ who appealed to his writings. He might have said, ‘The excellent Socrates has first confused me with Heracleitus, and Heracleitus with his Ephesian successors, and has then disproved the existence both of knowledge and sensation. But I am not responsible for what I never said, nor will I admit Edition: current; Page: [149] that my common-sense account of knowledge can be overthrown by unintelligible Heraclitean paradoxes.’

IV. Still at the bottom of the arguments there remains a truth, that knowledge is something more than sensible perception;—this alone would not distinguish man from a tadpole. The absoluteness of sensations at each moment destroys the very consciousness of sensations (cp. Phileb. 21 D), or the power of comparing them. The senses are not mere holes in a ‘Trojan horse,’ but the organs of a presiding nature, in which they meet. A great advance has been made in psychology when the senses are recognized as organs of sense, and we are admitted to see or feel ‘through them’ and not ‘by them,’ a distinction of words which, as Socrates observes, is by no means pedantic. A still further step has been made when the most abstract notions, such as Being and Not-being, sameness and difference, unity and plurality, are acknowledged to be the creations of the mind herself, working upon the feelings or impressions of sense. In this manner Plato describes the process of acquiring them, in the words (186 D) ‘Knowledge consists not in the feelings or affections (παθήμασι), but in the process of reasoning about them (συλλογισμᾡ).’ Here, as in the Parmenides (132 A), he means something not really different from generalization. As in the Sophist, he is laying the foundation of a rational psychology, which is to supersede the Platonic reminiscence of Ideas as well as the Eleatic Being and the individualism of Megarians and Cynics.

V. Having rejected the doctrine that ‘Knowledge is perception,’ we now proceed to look for a definition of knowledge in the sphere of opinion. But here we are met by a singular difficulty: How is false opinion possible? For we must either know or not know that which is presented to the mind or to sense. We of course should answer at once: ‘No; the alternative is not necessary, for there may be degrees of knowledge; and we may know and have forgotten, or we may be learning, or we may have a general but not a particular knowledge, or we may know but not be able to explain;’ and many other ways may be imagined in which we know and do not know at the same time. But these answers belong to a later stage of metaphysical discussion; whereas the difficulty in question naturally arises owing to the childhood of Edition: current; Page: [150] the human mind, like the parallel difficulty respecting Not-being. Men had only recently arrived at the notion of opinion; they could not at once define the true and pass beyond into the false. The very word δόξα was full of ambiguity, being sometimes, as in the Eleatic philosophy, applied to the sensible world, and again used in the more ordinary sense of opinion. There is no connexion between sensible appearance and probability, and yet both of them met in the word δόξα, and could hardly be disengaged from one another in the mind of the Greek living in the fifth or fourth century b. c. To this was often added, as at the end of the fifth book of the Republic, the idea of relation, which is equally distinct from either of them; also a fourth notion, the conclusion of the dialectical process, the making up of the mind after she has been ‘talking to herself’ (Theat. 190).

We are not then surprised that the sphere of opinion and of Not-being should be a dusky, half-lighted place (Rep. v. p. 478), belonging neither to the old world of sense and imagination, nor to the new world of reflection and reason. Plato attempts to clear up this darkness. In his accustomed manner he passes from the lower to the higher, without omitting the intermediate stages. This appears to be the reason why he seeks for the definition of knowledge first in the sphere of opinion. Hereafter we shall find that something more than opinion is required.

False opinion is explained by Plato at first as a confusion of mind and sense, which arises when the impression on the mind does not correspond to the impression made on the senses. It is obvious that this explanation (supposing the distinction between impressions on the mind and impressions on the senses to be admitted) does not account for all forms of error; and Plato has excluded himself from the consideration of the greater number, by designedly omitting the intermediate processes of learning and forgetting; nor does he include fallacies in the use of language or erroneous inferences. But he is struck by one possibility of error, which is not covered by his theory, viz. errors in arithmetic. For in numbers and calculation there is no combination of thought and sense, and yet errors may often happen. Hence he is led to discard the explanation which might nevertheless have been supposed to hold good (for anything which he says to the contrary) as a rationale of error, in the case of facts derived from sense.

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Another attempt is made to explain false opinion by assigning to error a sort of positive existence. But error or ignorance is essentially negative—a not-knowing; if we knew an error, we should be no longer in error. We may veil our difficulty under figures of speech, but these, although telling arguments with the multitude, can never be the real foundation of a system of psychology. Only they lead us to dwell upon mental phenomena which if expressed in an abstract form would not be realized by us at all. The figure of the mind receiving impressions is one of those images which have rooted themselves for ever in language. It may or may not be a ‘gracious aid’ to thought; but it cannot be got rid of. The other figure of the enclosure is also remarkable as affording the first hint of universal all-pervading ideas,—a notion further carried out in the Sophist. This is implied in the birds, some in flocks, some solitary, which fly about anywhere and everywhere. Plato discards both figures, as not really solving the question which to us appears so simple: ‘How do we make mistakes?’ The failure of the enquiry seems to show that we should return to knowledge, and begin with that; and we may afterwards proceed, with a better hope of success, to the examination of opinion.

But is true opinion really distinct from knowledge? The difference between these he seeks to establish by an argument, which to us appears singular and unsatisfactory. The existence of true opinion is proved by the rhetoric of the law courts, which cannot give knowledge, but may give true opinion. The rhetorician cannot put the judge or juror in possession of all the facts which prove an act of violence, but he may truly persuade them of the commission of such an act. Here the idea of true opinion seems to be a right conclusion from imperfect knowledge. But the correctness of such an opinion will be purely accidental; and is really the effect of one man, who has the means of knowing, persuading another who has not. Plato would have done better if he had said that true opinion was a contradiction in terms.

Assuming the distinction between knowledge and opinion, Theaetetus, in answer to Socrates, proceeds to define knowledge as true opinion, with definite or rational explanation. This Socrates identifies with another and different theory, of those who assert that knowledge first begins with a proposition.

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The elements may be perceived by sense, but they are names, and cannot be defined. When we assign to them some predicate, they first begin to have a meaning (ὀνομάτων συμπλοκὴ λόγου οὐσία). This seems equivalent to saying, that the individuals of sense become the subject of knowledge when they are regarded as they are in nature in relation to other individuals.

Yet we feel a difficulty in following this new hypothesis. For must not opinion be equally expressed in a proposition? The difference between true and false opinion is not the difference between the particular and the universal, but between the true universal and the false. Thought may be as much at fault as sight. When we place individuals under a class, or assign to them attributes, this is not knowledge, but a very rudimentary process of thought; the first generalization of all, without which language would be impossible. And has Plato kept altogether clear of a confusion, which the analogous word λόγος tends to create, of a proposition and a definition? And is not the confusion increased by the use of the analogous term ‘elements,’ or ‘letters’? For there is no real resemblance between the relation of letters to a syllable, and of the terms to a proposition.

Plato, in the spirit of the Megarian philosophy, soon discovers a flaw in the explanation. For how can we know a compound of which the simple elements are unknown to us? Can two unknowns make a known? Can a whole be something different from the parts? The answer of experience is that they can; for we may know a compound, which we are unable to analyze into its elements; and all the parts, when united, may be more than all the parts separated: e. g. the number four, or any other number, is more than the units which are contained in it; any chemical compound is more than and different from the simple elements. But ancient philosophy in this, as in many other instances, proceeding by the path of mental analysis, was perplexed by doubts which warred against the plainest facts.

Three attempts to explain the new definition of knowledge still remain to be considered. They all of them turn on the explanation of λόγος. The first account of the meaning of the word is the reflection of thought in speech—a sort of nominalism: ‘La science est une langue bien faite.’ But anybody who is not dumb can say what he thinks; therefore mere speech cannot be knowledge. Edition: current; Page: [153] And yet we may observe, that there is in this explanation an element of truth which is not recognized by Plato; viz. that truth and thought are inseparable from language, although mere expression in words is not truth. The second explanation of λόγος is the enumeration of the elementary parts of the complex whole. But this is only definition accompanied with right opinion, and does not yet attain to the certainty of knowledge. Plato does not mention the greater objection, which is, that the enumeration of particulars is endless; such a definition would be based on no principle, and would not help us at all in gaining a common idea. The third is the best explanation,—the possession of a characteristic mark, which seems to answer to the logical definition by genus and difference. But this, again, is equally necessary for right opinion; and we have already determined, although not on very satisfactory grounds, that knowledge must be distinguished from opinion. A better distinction is drawn between them in the Timaeus (p. 51 E). They might be opposed as philosophy and rhetoric, and as conversant respectively with necessary and contingent matter. But no true idea of the nature of either of them, or of their relation to one another, could be framed until science obtained a content. The ancient philosophers in the age of Plato thought of science only as pure abstraction, and to this opinion stood in no relation.

Like Theaetetus, we have attained to no definite result. But an interesting phase of ancient philosophy has passed before us. And the negative result is not to be despised. For on certain subjects, and in certain states of knowledge, the work of negation or clearing the ground must go on, perhaps for a generation, before the new structure can begin to rise. Plato saw the necessity of combating the illogical logic of the Megarians and Eristics. For the completion of the edifice, he makes preparation in the Theaetetus, and crowns the work in the Sophist.

Many (1) fine expressions, and (2) remarks full of wisdom, (3) also germs of a metaphysic of the future, are scattered up and down in the dialogue. Such, for example, as (1) the comparison of Theaetetus’ progress in learning to the ‘noiseless flow of a river of oil’; the satirical touch, ‘flavouring a sauce or fawning speech’; or the remarkable expression, ‘full of impure dialectic’; or the lively images under which the argument is described,—‘the flood Edition: current; Page: [154] of arguments pouring in,’ the fresh discussions ‘bursting in like a band of revellers.’ (2) As illustrations of the second head, may be cited the remark of Socrates, that ‘distinctions of words, although sometimes pedantic, are also necessary’; or the fine touch in the character of the lawyer, that ‘dangers came upon him when the tenderness of youth was unequal to them’; or the description of the manner in which the spirit is broken in a wicked man who listens to reproof until he becomes like a child; or the punishment of the wicked, which is not physical suffering, but the perpetual companionship of evil (cp. Gorgias); or the saying, often repeated by Aristotle and others, that ‘philosophy begins in wonder, for Iris is the child of Thaumas’; or the superb contempt with which the philosopher takes down the pride of wealthy landed proprietors by comparison of the whole earth. (3) Important metaphysical ideas are: a. the conception of thought, as the mind talking to herself; b. the notion of a common sense, developed further by Aristotle, and the explicit declaration, that the mind gains her conceptions of Being, sameness, number, and the like, from reflection on herself; c. the excellent distinction of Theaetetus (which Socrates, speaking with emphasis, ‘leaves to grow’) between seeing the forms or hearing the sounds of words in a foreign language, and understanding the meaning of them; and d. the distinction of Socrates himself between ‘having’ and ‘possessing’ knowledge, in which the answer to the whole discussion appears to be contained.

There is a difference between ancient and modern psychology, and we have a difficulty in explaining one in the terms of the other. To us the inward and outward sense and the inward and outward worlds of which they are the organs are parted by a wall, and appear as if they could never be confounded. The mind is endued with faculties, habits, instincts, and a personality or consciousness in which they are bound together. Over against these are placed forms, colours, external bodies coming into contact with our own body. We speak of a subject which is ourselves, of an object which is all the rest. These are separable in thought, but united in any act of sensation, reflection, or volition. As there are various degrees in which the mind may enter into or be abstracted from the operations of sense, so there are various points at which Edition: current; Page: [155] this separation or union may be supposed to occur. And within the sphere of mind the analogy of sense reappears; and we distinguish not only external objects, but objects of will and of knowledge which we contrast with them. These again are comprehended in a higher object, which reunites with the subject. A multitude of abstractions are created by the efforts of successive thinkers which become logical determinations; and they have to be arranged in order, before the scheme of thought is complete. The framework of the human intellect is not the peculium of an individual, but the joint work of many who are of all ages and countries. What we are in mind is due, not merely to our physical, but to our mental antecedents which we trace in history, and more especially in the history of philosophy. Nor can mental phenomena be truly explained either by physiology or by the observation of consciousness apart from their history. They have a growth of their own, like the growth of a flower, a tree, a human being. They may be conceived as of themselves constituting a common mind, and having a sort of personal identity in which they coexist.

So comprehensive is modern psychology, seeming to aim at constructing anew the entire world of thought. And prior to or simultaneously with this construction a negative process has to be carried on, a clearing away of useless abstractions which we have inherited from the past. Many erroneous conceptions of the mind derived from former philosophies have found their way into language, and we with difficulty disengage ourselves from them. Mere figures of speech have unconsciously influenced the minds of great thinkers. Also there are some distinctions, as, for example, that of the will and of the reason, and of the moral and intellectual faculties, which are carried further than is justified by experience. Any separation of things which we cannot see or exactly define, though it may be necessary, is a fertile source of error. The division of the mind into faculties or powers or virtues is too deeply rooted in language to be got rid of, but it gives a false impression. For if we reflect on ourselves we see that all our faculties easily pass into one another, and are bound together in a single mind or consciousness; but this mental unity is apt to be concealed from us by the distinctions of language.

A profusion of words and ideas has obscured rather than Edition: current; Page: [156] enlightened mental science. It is hard to say how many fallacies have arisen from the representation of the mind as a box, as a ‘tabula rasa,’ a book, a mirror, and the like. It is remarkable how Plato in the Theaetetus, after having indulged in the figure of the waxen tablet and the decoy, afterwards discards them. The mind is also represented by another class of images, as the spring of a watch, a motive power, a breath, a stream, a succession of points or moments. As Plato remarks in the Cratylus, words expressive of motion as well as of rest are employed to describe the faculties and operations of the mind; and in these there is contained another store of fallacies. Some shadow or reflection of the body seems always to adhere to our thoughts about ourselves, and mental processes are hardly distinguished in language from bodily ones. To see or perceive are used indifferently of both; the words intuition, moral sense, common sense, the mind’s eye, are figures of speech transferred from one to the other. And many other words used in early poetry or in sacred writings to express the works of mind have a materialistic sound; for old mythology was allied to sense, and the distinction of matter and mind had not as yet arisen. Thus materialism receives an illusive aid from language; and both in philosophy and religion the imaginary figure or association easily takes the place of real knowledge.

Again, there is the illusion of looking into our own minds as if our thoughts or feelings were written down in a book. This is another figure of speech, which might be appropriately termed ‘the fallacy of the looking-glass.’ We cannot look at the mind unless we have the eye which sees, and we can only look, not into, but out of the mind at the thoughts, words, actions of ourselves and others. What we dimly recognize within us is not experience, but rather the suggestion of an experience, which we may gather, if we will, from the observation of the world. The memory has but a feeble recollection of what we were saying or doing a few weeks or a few months ago, and still less of what we were thinking or feeling. This is one among many reasons why there is so little self-knowledge among mankind; they do not carry with them the thought of what they are or have been. The so-called ‘facts of consciousness’ are equally evanescent; they are facts which nobody ever saw, and which can neither be Edition: current; Page: [157] defined nor described. Of the three laws of thought the first (All A=A) is an identical proposition—that is to say, a mere word or symbol claiming to be a proposition: the two others (Nothing can be A and not A, and Everything is either A or not A) are untrue, because they exclude degrees and also the mixed modes and double aspects under which truth is so often presented to us. To assert that man is man is unmeaning; to say that he is free or necessary and cannot be both is a half truth only. These are a few of the entanglements which impede the natural course of human thought. Lastly, there is the fallacy which lies still deeper, of regarding the individual mind apart from the universal, or either, as a self-existent entity apart from the ideas which are contained in them.

In ancient philosophies the analysis of the mind is still rudimentary and imperfect. It naturally began with an effort to disengage the universal from sense—this was the first lifting up of the mist. It wavered between object and subject, passing imperceptibly from one or Being to mind and thought. Appearance in the outward object was for a time indistinguishable from opinion in the subject. At length mankind spoke of knowing as well as of opinion or perceiving. But when the word ‘knowledge’ was found how was it to be explained or defined? It was not an error, it was a step in the right direction, when Protagoras said that ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ and that ‘All knowledge is perception.’ This was the subjective which corresponded to the objective ‘All is flux.’ But the thoughts of men deepened, and soon they began to be aware that knowledge was neither sense, nor yet opinion—with or without explanation; nor the expression of thought, nor the enumeration of parts, nor the addition of characteristic marks. Motion and rest were equally ill adapted to express its nature, although both must in some sense be attributed to it; it might be described more truly as the mind conversing with herself; the discourse of reason; the hymn of dialectic, the science of relations, of ideas, of the so-called arts and sciences, of the one, of the good, of the all:—this is the way along which Plato is leading us in his later dialogues. In its higher signification it was the knowledge, not of men, but of gods, perfect and all sufficing:—like other ideals always passing out of sight, and nevertheless present to the mind of Aristotle as well as Plato, and Edition: current; Page: [158] the reality to which they were both tending. For Aristotle as well as Plato would in modern phraseology have been termed a mystic; and like him would have defined the higher philosophy to be ‘Knowledge of being or essence,’—words to which in our own day we have a difficulty in attaching a meaning.

Yet, in spite of Plato and his followers, mankind have again and again returned to a sensational philosophy. As to some of the early thinkers, amid the fleetings of sensible objects, ideas alone seemed to be fixed, so to a later generation amid the fluctuation of philosophical opinions the only fixed points appeared to be outward objects. Any pretence of knowledge which went beyond them implied logical processes, of the correctness of which they had no assurance and which at best were only probable. The mind, tired of wandering, sought to rest on firm ground; when the idols of philosophy and language were stripped off, the perception of outward objects alone remained. The ancient Epicureans never asked whether the comparison of these with one another did not involve principles of another kind which were above and beyond them. In like manner the modern inductive philosophy forgot to enquire into the meaning of experience, and did not attempt to form a conception of outward objects apart from the mind, or of the mind apart from them. Soon objects of sense were merged in sensations and feelings, but feelings and sensations were still unanalyzed. At last we return to the doctrine attributed by Plato to Protagoras, that the mind is only a succession of momentary perceptions. At this point the modern philosophy of experience forms an alliance with ancient scepticism.

The higher truths of philosophy and religion are very far removed from sense. Admitting that, like all other knowledge, they are derived from experience, and that experience is ultimately resolvable into facts which come to us through the eye and ear, still their origin is a mere accident which has nothing to do with their true nature. They are universal and unseen; they belong to all times—past, present, and future. Any worthy notion of mind or reason includes them. The proof of them is, 1st, their comprehensiveness and consistency with one another; 2ndly, their agreement with history and experience. But sensation is of the present only, is isolated, is and is not in successive moments. Edition: current; Page: [159] It takes the passing hour as it comes, following the lead of the eye or ear instead of the command of reason. It is a faculty which man has in common with the animals, and in which he is inferior to many of them. The importance of the senses in us is that they are the apertures of the mind, doors and windows through which we take in and make our own the materials of knowledge. Regarded in any other point of view sensation is of all mental acts the most trivial and superficial. Hence the term ‘sensational’ is rightly used to express what is shallow in thought and feeling.

We propose in what follows, first of all, like Plato in the Theaetetus, to analyse sensation, and secondly to trace the connexion between theories of sensation and a sensational or Epicurean philosophy.

§ I. We, as well as the ancients, speak of the five senses, and of a sense, or common sense, which is the abstraction of them. The term ‘sense’ is also used metaphorically, both in ancient and modern philosophy, to express the operations of the mind which are immediate or intuitive. Of the five senses, two—the sight and the hearing—are of a more subtle and complex nature, while two others—the smell and the taste—seem to be only more refined varieties of touch. All of them are passive, and by this are distinguished from the active faculty of speech: they receive impressions, but do not produce them, except in so far as they are objects of sense themselves.

Physiology speaks to us of the wonderful apparatus of nerves, muscles, tissues, by which the senses are enabled to fulfil their functions. It traces the connexion, though imperfectly, of the bodily organs with the operations of the mind. Of these latter, it seems rather to know the conditions than the causes. It can prove to us that without the brain we cannot think, and that without the eye we cannot see: and yet there is far more in thinking and seeing than is given by the brain and the eye. It observes the ‘concomitant variations’ of body and mind. Psychology, on the other hand, treats of the same subject regarded from another point of view. It speaks of the relation of the senses to one another; it shows how they meet the mind; it analyzes the transition from sense to thought. The one describes their Edition: current; Page: [160] nature as apparent to the outward eye; by the other they are regarded only as the instruments of the mind. It is in this latter point of view that we propose to consider them.

The simplest sensation involves an unconscious or nascent operation of the mind; it implies objects of sense, and objects of sense have differences of form, number, colour. But the conception of an object without us, or the power of discriminating numbers, forms, colours, is not given by the sense, but by the mind. A mere sensation does not attain to distinctness: it is a confused impression, συγκεχυμένον τι, as Plato says (Rep. vii. 524 B), until number introduces light and order into the confusion. At what point confusion becomes distinctness is a question of degree which cannot be precisely determined. The distant object, the undefined notion, come out into relief as we approach them or attend to them. Or we may assist the analysis by attempting to imagine the world first dawning upon the eye of the infant or of a person newly restored to sight. Yet even with them the mind as well as the eye opens or enlarges. For all three are inseparably bound together—the object would be nowhere and nothing, if not perceived by the sense, and the sense would have no power of distinguishing without the mind.

But prior to objects of sense there is a third nature in which they are contained—that is to say, space, which may be explained in various ways. It is the element which surrounds them; it is the vacuum or void which they leave or occupy when passing from one portion of space to another. It might be described in the language of ancient philosophy, as ‘the Not-being’ of objects. It is a negative idea which in the course of ages has become positive. It is originally derived from the contemplation of the world without us—the boundless earth or sea, the vacant heaven, and is therefore acquired chiefly through the sense of sight: to the blind the conception of space is feeble and inadequate, derived for the most part from touch or from the descriptions of others. At first it appears to be continuous; afterwards we perceive it to be capable of division by lines or points, real or imaginary. By the help of mathematics we form another idea of space, which is altogether independent of experience. Geometry teaches us that the innumerable lines and figures by which space is or may be intersected are absolutely true in all their combinations and Edition: current; Page: [161] consequences. New and unchangeable properties of space are thus developed, which are proved to us in a thousand ways by mathematical reasoning as well as by common experience. Through quantity and measure we are conducted to our simplest and purest notion of matter, which is to the cube or solid what space is to the square or surface. And all our applications of mathematics are applications of our ideas of space to matter. No wonder then that they seem to have a necessary existence to us. Being the simplest of our ideas, space is also the one of which we have the most difficulty in ridding ourselves. Neither can we set a limit to it, for wherever we fix a limit, space is springing up beyond. Neither can we conceive a smallest or indivisible portion of it; for within the smallest there is a smaller still; and even these inconceivable qualities of space, whether the infinite or the infinitesimal, may be made the subject of reasoning and have a certain truth to us.

Whether space exists in the mind or out of it, is a question which has no meaning. We should rather say that without it the mind is incapable of conceiving the body, and therefore of conceiving itself. The mind may be indeed imagined to contain the body, in the same way that Aristotle (partly following Plato) supposes God to be the outer heaven or circle of the universe. But how can the individual mind carry about the universe of space packed up within, or how can separate minds have either a universe of their own or a common universe? In such conceptions there seems to be a confusion of the individual and the universal. To say that we can only have a true idea of ourselves when we deny the reality of that by which we have any idea of ourselves is an absurdity. The earth which is our habitation and ‘the starry heaven above’ and we ourselves are equally an illusion, if space is only a quality or condition of our minds.

Again, we may compare the truths of space with other truths derived from experience, which seem to have a necessity to us in proportion to the frequency of their recurrence or the truth of the consequences which may be inferred from them. We are thus led to remark that the necessity in our ideas of space on which much stress has been laid, differs in a slight degree only from the necessity which appears to belong to other of our ideas, e.g. weight, motion, and the like. And there is another way in which this Edition: current; Page: [162] necessity may be explained. We have been taught it, and the truth which we were taught or which we inherited has never been contradicted in all our experience and is therefore confirmed by it. Who can resist an idea which is presented to him in a general form in every moment of his life and of which he finds no instance to the contrary? The greater part of what is sometimes regarded as the a priori intuition of space is really the conception of the various geometrical figures of which the properties have been revealed by mathematical analysis. And the certainty of these properties is immeasurably increased to us by our finding that they hold good not only in every instance, but in all the consequences which are supposed to flow from them.

Neither must we forget that our idea of space, like our other ideas, has a history. The Homeric poems contain no word for it; even the later Greek philosophy has not the Kantian notion of space, but only the definite ‘place’ or ‘the infinite.’ To Plato, in the Timaeus, it is known only as the ‘nurse of generation.’ When therefore we speak of the necessity of our ideas of space we must remember that this is a necessity which has grown up with the growth of the human mind, and has been made by ourselves. We can free ourselves from the perplexities which are involved in it by ascending to a time in which they did not as yet exist. And when space or time are described as ‘a priori forms or intuitions added to the matter given in sensation,’ we should consider that such expressions belong really to the ‘prehistoric study’ of philosophy, i. e. to the eighteenth century, when men sought to explain the human mind without regard to history or language or the social nature of man.

In every act of sense there is a latent perception of space, of which we only become conscious when objects are withdrawn from it. There are various ways in which we may trace the connexion between them. We may think of space as unresisting matter, and of matter as divided into objects; or of objects again as formed by abstraction into a collective notion of matter, and of matter as rarefied into space. And motion may be conceived as the union of there and not there in space, and force as the materializing or solidification of motion. Space again is the individual and universal in one; or, in other words, a perception and Edition: current; Page: [163] also a conception. So easily do what are sometimes called our simple ideas pass into one another, and differences of kind resolve themselves into differences of degree.

Within or behind space there is another abstraction in many respects similar to it—time, the form of the inward, as space is the form of the outward. As we cannot think of outward objects of sense or of outward sensations without space, so neither can we think of a succession of sensations without time. It is the vacancy of thoughts or sensations, as space is the void of outward objects, and we can no more imagine the mind without the one than the world without the other. It is to arithmetic what space is to geometry; or, more strictly, arithmetic may be said to be equally applicable to both. It is defined in our minds, partly by the analogy of space and partly by the recollection of events which have happened to us, or the consciousness of feelings which we are experiencing. Like space, it is without limit, for whatever beginning or end of time we fix, there is a beginning and end before them, and so on without end. We speak of a past, present, and future, and again the analogy of space assists us in conceiving of them as coexistent. When the limit of time is removed there arises in our minds the idea of eternity, which at first, like time itself, is only negative, but gradually, when connected with the world and the divine nature, like the other negative infinity of space, becomes positive. Whether time is prior to the mind and to experience, or coeval with them, is (like the parallel question about space) unmeaning. Like space it has been realized gradually: in the Homeric poems, or even in the Hesiodic cosmogony, there is no more notion of time than of space. The conception of being is more general than either, and might therefore with greater plausibility be affirmed to be a condition or quality of the mind. The a priori intuitions of Kant would have been as unintelligible to Plato as his a priori synthetical propositions to Aristotle. The philosopher of Königsberg supposed himself to be analyzing a necessary mode of thought: he was not aware that he was dealing with a mere abstraction. But now that we are able to trace the gradual developement of ideas through religion, through language, through abstractions, why should we interpose the fiction of time between ourselves and realities? Why should we single out one of these Edition: current; Page: [164] abstractions to be the a priori condition of all the others? It comes last and not first in the order of our thoughts, and is not the condition precedent of them, but the last generalization of them. Nor can any principle be imagined more suicidal to philosophy than to assume that all the truth which we are capable of attaining is seen only through an unreal medium. If all that exists in time is illusion, we may well ask with Plato, ‘What becomes of the mind?’

Leaving the a priori conditions of sensation we may proceed to consider acts of sense. These admit of various degrees of duration or intensity; they admit also of a greater or less extension from one object, which is perceived directly, to many which are perceived indirectly or in a less degree, and to the various associations of the object which are latent in the mind. In general the greater the intension the less the extension of them. The simplest sensation implies some relation of objects to one another, some position in space, some relation to a previous or subsequent sensation. The acts of seeing and hearing may be almost unconscious and may pass away unnoted; they may also leave an impression behind them or power of recalling them. If, after seeing an object we shut our eyes, the object remains dimly seen in the same or about the same place, but with form and lineaments half filled up. This is the simplest act of memory. And as we cannot see one thing without at the same time seeing another, different objects hang together in recollection, and when we call for one the other quickly follows. To think of the place in which we have last seen a thing is often the best way of recalling it to the mind. Hence memory is dependent on association. The act of recollection may be compared to the sight of an object at a great distance which we have previously seen near and seek to bring near to us in thought. Memory is to sense as dreaming is to waking; and like dreaming has a wayward and uncertain power of recalling impressions from the past.

Thus begins the passage from the outward to the inward sense. But as yet there is no conception of a universal—the mind only remembers the individual object or objects, and is always attaching to them some colour or association of sense. The power of recollection seems to depend on the intensity or Edition: current; Page: [165] largeness of the perception, or on the strength of some emotion with which it is inseparably connected. This is the natural memory which is allied to sense, such as children appear to have and barbarians and animals. It is necessarily limited in range, and its limitation is its strength. In later life, when the mind has become crowded with names, acts, feelings, images innumerable, we acquire by education another memory of system and arrangement which is both stronger and weaker than the first—weaker in the recollection of sensible impressions as they are represented to us by eye or ear—stronger by the natural connexion of ideas with objects or with one another. And many of the notions which form a part of the train of our thoughts are hardly realized by us at the time, but, like numbers or algebraical symbols, are used as signs only, thus lightening the labour of recollection.

And now we may suppose that numerous images present themselves to the mind, which begins to act upon them and to arrange them in various ways. Besides the impression of external objects present with us or just absent from us, we have a dimmer conception of other objects which have disappeared from our immediate recollection and yet continue to exist in us. The mind is full of fancies which are passing to and fro before it. Some feeling or association calls them up, and they are uttered by the lips. This is the first rudimentary imagination, which may be truly described in the language of Hobbes, as ‘decaying sense,’ an expression which may be applied with equal truth to memory as well. For memory and imagination, though we sometimes oppose them, are nearly allied; the difference between them seems chiefly to lie in the activity of the one compared with the passivity of the other. The sense decaying in memory receives a flash of light or life from imagination. Dreaming is a link of connexion between them; for in dreaming we feebly recollect and also feebly imagine at one and the same time. When reason is asleep the lower part of the mind wanders at will amid the images which have been received from without, the intelligent element retires, and the sensual or sensuous takes its place. And so in the first efforts of imagination reason is latent or set aside; and images, in part disorderly, but also having a unity (however imperfect) of their Edition: current; Page: [166] own, pour like a flood over the mind. And if we could penetrate into the heads of animals we should probably find that their intelligence, or the state of what in them is analogous to our intelligence, is of this nature.

Thus far we have been speaking of men, rather in the points in which they resemble animals than in the points in which they differ from them. The animal too has memory in various degrees, and the elements of imagination, if, as appears to be the case, he dreams. How far their powers or instincts are educated by the circumstances of their lives or by intercourse with one another or with mankind, we cannot precisely tell. They, like ourselves, have the physical inheritance of form, scent, hearing, sight, and other qualities or instincts. But they have not the mental inheritance of thoughts and ideas handed down by tradition, ‘the slow additions that build up the mind’ of the human race. And language, which is the great educator of mankind, is wanting in them; whereas in us language is ever present—even in the infant the latent power of naming is almost immediately observable. And therefore the description which has been already given of the nascent power of the faculties is in reality an anticipation. For simultaneous with their growth in man a growth of language must be supposed. The child of two years old sees the fire once and again, and the feeble observation of the same recurring object is associated with the feeble utterance of the name by which he is taught to call it. Soon he learns to utter the name when the object is no longer there, but the desire or imagination of it is present to him. At first in every use of the word there is a colour of sense, an indistinct picture of the object which accompanies it. But in later years he sees in the name only the universal or class word, and the more abstract the notion becomes, the more vacant is the image which is presented to him. Henceforward all the operations of his mind, including the perceptions of sense, are a synthesis of sensations, words, conceptions. In seeing or hearing or looking or listening the sensible impression prevails over the conception and the word. In reflection the process is reversed—the outward object fades away into nothingness, the name or the conception or both together are everything. Language, like number, is intermediate between the two, partaking of the definiteness of Edition: current; Page: [167] the outer and of the universality of the inner world. For logic teaches us that every word is really a universal, and only condescends by the help of position or circumlocution to become the expression of individuals or particulars. And sometimes by using words as symbols we are able to give a ‘local habitation and a name’ to the infinite and inconceivable.

Thus we see that no line can be drawn between the powers of sense and of reflection—they pass imperceptibly into one another. We may indeed distinguish between the seeing and the closed eye—between the sensation and the recollection of it. But this distinction carries us a very little way, for recollection is present in sight as well as sight in recollection. There is no impression of sense which does not simultaneously recall differences of form, number, colour, and the like. Neither is such a distinction applicable at all to our internal bodily sensations, which give no sign of themselves when unaccompanied with pain, and even when we are most conscious of them, have often no assignable place in the human frame. Who can divide the nerves or great nervous centres from the mind which uses them? Who can separate the pains and pleasures of the mind from the pains and pleasures of the body? The words ‘inward and outward,’ ‘active and passive,’ ‘mind and body,’ are best conceived by us as differences of degree passing into differences of kind, and at one time and under one aspect acting in harmony and then again opposed. They introduce a system and order into the knowledge of our being; and yet, like many other general terms, are often in advance of our actual analysis or observation.

According to some writers the inward sense is only the fading away or imperfect realization of the outward. But this leaves out of sight one half of the phenomenon. For the mind is not only withdrawn from the world of sense but introduced to a higher world of thought and reflection, in which, like the outward sense, she is trained and educated. By use the outward sense becomes keener and more intense, especially when confined within narrow limits. The savage with little or no thought has a quicker discernment of the track than the civilized man; in like manner the dog, having the help of scent as well as of sight, is superior to the savage. By use again the inward thought becomes more defined and distinct; what was at first an effort is made easy by the Edition: current; Page: [168] natural instrumentality of language, and the mind learns to grasp universals with no more exertion than is required for the sight of an outward object. There is a natural connexion and arrangement of them, like the association of objects in a landscape. Just as a note or two of music suffices to recall a whole piece to the musician’s or composer’s mind, so a great principle or leading thought suggests and arranges a world of particulars. The power of reflection is not feebler than the faculty of sense, but of a higher and more comprehensive nature. It not only receives the universals of sense, but gives them a new content by comparing and combining them with one another. It withdraws from the seen that it may dwell in the unseen. The sense only presents us with a flat and impenetrable surface: the mind takes the world to pieces and puts it together on a new pattern. The universals which are detached from sense are reconstructed in science. They and not the mere impressions of sense are the truth of the world in which we live; and (as an argument to those who will only believe ‘what they can hold in their hands’) we may further observe that they are the source of our power over it. To say that the outward sense is stronger than the inward is like saying that the arm of the workman is stronger than the constructing or directing mind.

Returning to the senses we may briefly consider two questions—first their relation to the mind, secondly, their relation to outward objects:—

1. The senses are not merely ‘holes set in a wooden horse’ (Theaet. 184 D), but instruments of the mind with which they are organically connected. There is no use of them without some use of words—some natural or latent logic—some previous experience or observation. Sensation, like all other mental processes, is complex and relative, though apparently simple. The senses mutually confirm and support one another; it is hard to say how much our impressions of hearing may be affected by those of sight, or how far our impressions of sight may be corrected by the touch, especially in infancy. The confirmation of them by one another cannot of course be given by any one of them. Many intuitions which are inseparable from the act of sense are really the result of complicated reasonings. The most cursory glance at objects enables the experienced eye to judge approximately of their relations and distance, although nothing is impressed upon the Edition: current; Page: [169] retina except colour, including gradations of light and shade. From these delicate and almost imperceptible differences we seem chiefly to derive our ideas of distance and position. By comparison of what is near with what is distant we learn that the tree, house, river, &c. which are a long way off are objects of a like nature with those which are seen by us in our immediate neighbourhood, although the actual impression made on the eye is very different in one case and in the other. This is a language of ‘large and small letters’ (Rep. 2. 368 D), slightly differing in form and exquisitely graduated by distance, which we are learning all our life long, and which we attain in various degrees according to our powers of sight or observation. There is another consideration. The greater or less strain upon the nerves of the eye or ear is communicated to the mind and silently informs the judgment. We have also the use not of one eye only, but of two, which give us a wider range, and help us to discern, by the greater or less acuteness of the angle which the rays of sight form, the distance of an object and its relation to other objects. But we are already passing beyond the limits of our actual knowledge on a subject which has given rise to many conjectures. More important than the addition of another conjecture is the observation, whether in the case of sight or of any other sense, of the great complexity of the causes and the great simplicity of the effect.

The sympathy of the mind and the ear is no less striking than the sympathy of the mind and the eye. Do we not seem to perceive instinctively and as an act of sense the differences of articulate speech and of musical notes? Yet how small a part of speech or of music is produced by the impression of the ear compared with that which is furnished by the mind!

Again: the more refined faculty of sense, as in animals so also in man, seems often to be transmitted by inheritance. Neither must we forget that in the use of the senses, as in his whole nature, man is a social being, who is always being educated by language, habit, and the teaching of other men as well as by his own observation. He knows distance because he is taught it by a more experienced judgment than his own; he distinguishes sounds because he is told to remark them by a person of a more discerning ear. And as we inherit from our parents or other ancestors peculiar powers of sense or feeling, so we improve and Edition: current; Page: [170] strengthen them, not only by regular teaching, but also by sympathy and communion with other persons.

2. The second question, namely, that concerning the relation of the mind to external objects, is really a trifling one, though it has been made the subject of a famous philosophy. We may if we like, with Berkeley, resolve objects of sense into sensations; but the change is one of name only, and nothing is gained and something is lost by such a resolution or confusion of them. For we have not really made a single step towards idealism, and any arbitrary inversion of our ordinary modes of speech is disturbing to the mind. The youthful metaphysician is delighted at his marvellous discovery that nothing is, and that what we see or feel is our sensation only: for a day or two the world has a new interest to him; he alone knows the secret which has been communicated to him by the philosopher, that mind is all—when in fact he is going out of his mind in the first intoxication of a great thought. But he soon finds that all things remain as they were—the laws of motion, the properties of matter, the qualities of substances. After having inflicted his theories on any one who is willing to receive them, ‘first on his father and mother, secondly on some other patient listener, thirdly on his dog,’ he finds that he only differs from the rest of mankind in the use of a word. He had once hoped that by getting rid of the solidity of matter he might open a passage to worlds beyond. He liked to think of the world as the representation of the divine nature, and delighted to imagine angels and spirits wandering through space, present in the room in which he is sitting without coming through the door, nowhere and everywhere at the same instant. At length he finds that he has been the victim of his own fancies; he has neither more nor less evidence of the supernatural than he had before. He himself has become unsettled, but the laws of the world remain fixed as at the beginning. He has discovered that his appeal to the fallibility of sense was really an illusion. For whatever uncertainty there may be in the appearances of nature, arises only out of the imperfection or variation of the human senses, or possibly from the deficiency of certain branches of knowledge; when science is able to apply her tests, the uncertainty is at an end. We are apt sometimes to think that moral and metaphysical philosophy are lowered by the influence which is exercised over them by physical science. Edition: current; Page: [171] But any interpretation of nature by physical science is far in advance of such idealism. The philosophy of Berkeley, while giving unbounded license to the imagination, is still grovelling on the level of sense.

We may, if we please, carry this scepticism a step further, and deny, not only objects of sense, but the continuity of our sensations themselves. We may say with Protagoras and Hume that what is appears, and that what appears appears only to individuals, and to the same individual only at one instant. But then, as Plato asks,—and we must repeat the question,—What becomes of the mind? Experience tells us by a thousand proofs that our sensations of colour, taste, and the like, are the same as they were an instant ago—that the act which we are performing one minute is continued by us in the next—and also supplies abundant proof that the perceptions of other men are, speaking generally, the same or nearly the same with our own. After having slowly and laboriously in the course of ages gained a conception of a whole and parts, of the constitution of the mind, of the relation of man to God and nature, imperfect indeed, but the best we can, we are asked to return again to the ‘beggarly elements’ of ancient scepticism, and acknowledge only atoms and sensations devoid of life or unity. Why should we not go a step further still and doubt the existence of the senses or of all things? We are but ‘such stuff as dreams are made of;’ for we have left ourselves no instruments of thought by which we can distinguish man from the animals, or conceive of the existence even of a mollusc. And observe, this extreme scepticism has been allowed to spring up among us, not, like the ancient scepticism, in an age when nature and language really seemed to be full of illusions, but in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when men walk in the daylight of inductive science.

The attractiveness of such speculations arises out of their true nature not being perceived. They are veiled in graceful language; they are not pushed to extremes; they stop where the human mind is disposed also to stop—short of a manifest absurdity. Their inconsistency is not observed by their authors or by mankind in general, who are equally inconsistent themselves. They leave on the mind a pleasing sense of wonder and novelty: in youth they seem to have a natural affinity to one class of persons Edition: current; Page: [172] as poetry has to another; but in later life either we drift back into common sense, or we make them the starting-points of a higher philosophy.

We are often told that we should enquire into all things before we accept them;—with what limitations is this true? For we cannot use our senses without admitting that we have them, or think without presupposing that there is in us a power of thought, or affirm that all knowledge is derived from experience without implying that this first principle of knowledge is prior to experience. The truth seems to be that we begin with the natural use of the mind as of the body, and we seek to describe this as well as we can. We eat before we know the nature of digestion; we think before we know the nature of reflection. As our knowledge increases, our perception of the mind enlarges also. We cannot indeed get beyond facts, but neither can we draw any line which separates facts from ideas. And the mind is not something separate from them but included in them, and they in the mind, both having a distinctness and individuality of their own. To reduce our conception of mind to a succession of feelings and sensations is like the attempt to view a wide prospect by inches through a microscope, or to calculate a period of chronology by minutes. The mind ceases to exist when it loses its continuity, which though far from being its highest determination, is yet necessary to any conception of it. Even an inanimate nature cannot be adequately represented as an endless succession of states or conditions.

§ II. Another division of the subject has yet to be considered: Why should the doctrine that knowledge is sensation, in ancient times, or of sensationalism or materialism in modern times, be allied to the lower rather than to the higher view of ethical philosophy? At first sight the nature and origin of knowledge appear to be wholly disconnected from ethics and religion, nor can we deny that the ancient Stoics were materialists, or that the materialist doctrines prevalent in modern times have been associated with great virtues, or that both religious and philosophical idealism have not unfrequently parted company with practice. Still upon the whole it must be admitted that the higher standard of duty has gone hand in hand with the higher conception of knowledge. Edition: current; Page: [173] It is Protagoras who is seeking to adapt himself to the opinions of the world; it is Plato who rises above them: the one maintaining that all knowledge is sensation; the other basing the virtues on the idea of good. The reason of this phenomenon has now to be examined.

By those who rest knowledge immediately upon sense, that explanation of human action is deemed to be the truest which is nearest to sense. As knowledge is reduced to sensation, so virtue is reduced to feeling, happiness or good to pleasure. The different virtues—the various characters which exist in the world—are the disguises of self-interest. Human nature is dried up; there is no place left for imagination, or in any higher sense for religion. Ideals of a whole, or of a state, or of a law of duty, or of a divine perfection, are out of place in an Epicurean philosophy. The very terms in which they are expressed are suspected of having no meaning. Man is to bring himself back as far as he is able to the condition of a rational beast. He is to limit himself to the pursuit of pleasure, but of this he is to make a far-sighted calculation;—he is to be rationalized, secularized, animalized: or he is to be an amiable sceptic, better than his own philosophy, and not falling below the opinions of the world.

Imagination has been called that ‘busy faculty’ which is always intruding upon us in the search after truth. But imagination is also that higher power by which we rise above ourselves and the commonplaces of thought and life. The philosophical imagination is another name for reason finding an expression of herself in the outward world. To deprive life of ideals is to deprive it of all higher and comprehensive aims and of the power of imparting and communicating them to others. For men are taught, not by those who are on a level with them, but by those who rise above them, who see the distant hills, who soar into the empyrean. Like a bird in a cage, the mind confined to sense is always being brought back from the higher to the lower, from the wider to the narrower view of human knowledge. It seeks to fly but cannot: instead of aspiring towards perfection, ‘it hovers about this lower world and the earthly nature.’ It loses the religious sense which more than any other seems to take a man out of himself. Weary of asking ‘What is truth?’ it accepts the ‘blind witness of eyes and ears;’ it draws around itself the curtain of the physical world Edition: current; Page: [174] and is satisfied. The strength of a sensational philosophy lies in the ready accommodation of it to the minds of men; many who have been metaphysicians in their youth, as they advance in years are prone to acquiesce in things as they are, or rather appear to be. They are spectators, not thinkers, and the best philosophy is that which requires of them the least amount of mental effort.

As a lower philosophy is easier to apprehend than a higher, so a lower way of life is easier to follow; and therefore such a philosophy seems to derive a support from the general practice of mankind. It appeals to principles which they all know and recognize: it gives back to them in a generalized form the results of their own experience. To the man of the world they are the quintessence of his own reflections upon life. To follow custom, to have no new ideas or opinions, not to be straining after impossibilities, to enjoy to-day with just so much forethought as is necessary to provide for the morrow, this is regarded by the greater part of the world as the natural way of passing through existence. And many who have lived thus have attained to a lower kind of happiness or equanimity. They have possessed their souls in peace without ever allowing them to wander into the region of religious or political controversy, and without any care for the higher interests of man. But nearly all the good (as well as some of the evil) which has ever been done in this world has been the work of another spirit, the work of enthusiasts and idealists, of apostles and martyrs. The leaders of mankind have not been of the gentle Epicurean type; they have personified ideas; they have sometimes also been the victims of them. But they have always been seeking after a truth or ideal of which they fell short; and have died in a manner disappointed of their hopes that they might lift the human race out of the slough in which they found them. They have done little compared with their own visions and aspirations; but they have done that little, only because they sought to do, and once perhaps thought that they were doing, a great deal more.

The philosophies of Epicurus or Hume give no adequate or dignified conception of the mind. There is no organic unity in a succession of feeling or sensations; no comprehensiveness in an infinity of separate actions. The individual never reflects upon himself as a whole; he can hardly regard one act or part of his Edition: current; Page: [175] life as the cause or effect of any other act or part. Whether in practice or speculation, he is to himself only in successive instants. To such thinkers, whether in ancient or in modern times, the mind is only the poor recipient of impressions—not the heir of all the ages, or connected with all other minds. It begins again with its own modicum of experience having only such vague conceptions of the wisdom of the past as are inseparable from language and popular opinion. It seeks to explain from the experience of the individual what can only be learned from the history of the world. It has no conception of obligation, duty, conscience—these are to the Epicurean or Utilitarian philosopher only names which interfere with our natural perceptions of pleasure and pain.

There seem then to be several answers to the question, Why the theory that all knowledge is sensation is allied to the lower rather than to the higher view of ethical philosophy:—1st, Because it is easier to understand and practise; 2ndly, Because it is fatal to the pursuit of ideals, moral, political, or religious; 3rdly, Because it deprives us of the means and instruments of higher thought, of any adequate conception of the mind, of knowledge, of conscience, of moral obligation.

On the nature and limits of Psychology.

ᾡ̂ γὰρ ὰρχὴ μὲν [Editor: illegible character] μὴ οɩ̂̓δε, τελευτὴ δὲ καὶ τὰ μεταξὺ ἐξ ο[Editor: illegible character] μὴ οɩ̂̓δε συμπέπλεκται, τίς μηχανὴ τὴν τοιαύτην ὁμολογίαν ποτὲ ἐπιστήμην γενέσθαι; Plat. Rep. VII. 533 C.

μόνον γὰρ αὐτὸ λέγειν, ὥσπερ γυμνὸν καὶ ἀπηρημωμένον ἀπὸ τω̂ν ὄντων ἁπάντων, ἀδύνατον. Soph. 237 D.

Since the above essay first appeared, many books on Psychology have been given to the world, partly based upon the views of Herbart and other German philosophers, partly independent of them. The subject has gained in bulk and extent; whether it has had any true growth is more doubtful. It begins to assume the language and claim the authority of a science; but it is only an hypothesis or outline, which may be filled up in many ways according to the fancy of individual thinkers. The basis of it is a Edition: current; Page: [176] precarious one,—consciousness of ourselves and a somewhat uncertain observation of the rest of mankind. Its relations to other sciences are not yet determined: they seem to be almost too complicated to be ascertained. It may be compared to an irregular building, run up hastily and not likely to last, because its foundations are weak, and in many places rest only on the surface of the ground. It has sought rather to put together scattered observations and to make them into a system than to describe or prove them. It has never severely drawn the line between facts and opinions. It has substituted a technical phraseology for the common use of language, being neither able to win acceptance for the one nor to get rid of the other.

The system which has thus arisen appears to be a kind of metaphysic narrowed to the point of view of the individual mind, through which, as through some new optical instrument limiting the sphere of vision, the interior of thought and sensation is examined. But the individual mind in the abstract, as distinct from the mind of a particular individual and separated from the environment of circumstances, is a fiction only. Yet facts which are partly true gather around this fiction and are naturally described by the help of it. There is also a common type of the mind which is derived from the comparison of many minds with one another and with our own. The phenomena of which Psychology treats are familiar to us, but they are for the most part indefinite; they relate to a something inside the body, which seems also to overleap the limits of space. The operations of this something, when isolated, cannot be analyzed by us or subjected to observation and experiment. And there is another point to be considered. The mind, when thinking, cannot survey that part of itself which is used in thought. It can only be contemplated in the past, that is to say, in the history of the individual or of the world. This is the scientific method of studying the mind. But Psychology has also some other supports, specious rather than real. It is partly sustained by the false analogy of Physical Science and has great expectations from its near relationship to Physiology. We truly remark that there is an infinite complexity of the body corresponding to the infinite subtlety of the mind; we are conscious that they are very nearly connected. But in endeavouring to trace Edition: current; Page: [177] the nature of the connexion we are baffled and disappointed. In our knowledge of them the gulf remains the same: no microscope has ever seen into thought; no reflection on ourselves has supplied the missing link between mind and matter. . . . . These are the conditions of this very inexact science, and we shall only know less of it by pretending to know more, or by assigning to it a form or style to which it has not yet attained and is not really entitled.

Experience shows that any system, however baseless and ineffectual, in our own or in any other age, may be accepted and continue to be studied, if it seeks to satisfy some unanswered question or is based upon some ancient tradition, especially if it takes the form and uses the language of inductive philosophy. The fact therefore that such a science exists and is popular, affords no evidence of its truth or value. Many who have pursued it far into detail have never examined the foundations on which it rests. There have been many imaginary subjects of knowledge of which enthusiastic persons have made a lifelong study, without ever asking themselves what is the evidence for them, what is the use of them, how long they will last? They may pass away, like the authors of them, and ‘leave not a wrack behind;’ or they may survive in fragments. Nor is it only in the Middle Ages, or in the literary desert of China or of India, that such systems have arisen; in our own enlightened age, growing up by the side of Physics, Ethics, and other really progressive sciences, there is a weary waste of knowledge, falsely so-called. There are sham sciences which no logic has ever put to the test, in which the desire for knowledge invents the materials of it.

And therefore it is expedient once more to review the bases of Psychology, lest we should be imposed upon by its pretensions. The study of it may have done good service by awakening us to the sense of inveterate errors familiarized by language, yet it may have fallen into still greater ones; under the pretence of new investigations it may be wasting the lives of those who are engaged in it. It may also be found that the discussion of it will throw light upon some points in the Theaetetus of Plato,—the oldest work on Psychology which has come down to us. The imaginary science may be called, in the language of ancient philosophy, ‘a shadow of a part of Dialectic or Metaphysic’ (Gorg. 463).

Edition: current; Page: [178]

In this postscript or appendix we propose to treat, first, of the true bases of Psychology; secondly, of the errors into which the students of it are most likely to fall; thirdly, of the principal subjects which are usually comprehended under it; fourthly, of the form which facts relating to the mind most naturally assume.

We may preface the enquiry by two or three remarks:—

(1) We do not claim for the popular Psychology the position of a science at all; it cannot, like the Physical Sciences, proceed by the Inductive Method: it has not the necessity of Mathematics: it does not, like Metaphysic, argue from abstract notions or from internal coherence. It is made up of scattered observations. A few of these, though they may sometimes appear to be truisms, are of the greatest value, and free from all doubt. We are conscious of them in ourselves; we observe them working in others; we are assured of them at all times. For example, we are absolutely certain, (a) of the influence exerted by the mind over the body or by the body over the mind: (b) of the power of association, by which the appearance of some person or the occurrence of some event recalls to mind, not always but often, other persons and events: (c) of the effect of habit, which is strongest when least disturbed by reflection, and is to the mind what the bones are to the body: (d) of the real, though not unlimited, freedom of the human will: (e) of the reference, more or less distinct, of our sensations, feelings, thoughts, actions, to ourselves, which is called consciousness, or, when in excess, self-consciousness: (f) of the distinction of the ‘I’ and ‘Not I,’ of ourselves and outward objects. But when we attempt to gather up these elements in a single system, we discover that the links by which we combine them are apt to be mere words. We are in a country which has never been cleared or surveyed; here and there only does a gleam of light come through the darkness of the forest.

(2) These fragments, although they can never become science in the ordinary sense of the word, are a real part of knowledge and may be of great value in education. We may be able to add a good deal to them from our own experience, and we may verify them by it. Self-examination is one of those studies which a man can pursue alone, by attention to himself and the processes of his individual mind. He may learn much about his own Edition: current; Page: [179] character and about the character of others, if he will ‘make his mind sit down’ and look at itself in the glass. The great, if not the only use of such a study is a practical one,—to know, first, human nature, and, secondly, our own nature, as it truly is.

(3) Hence it is important that we should conceive of the mind in the noblest and simplest manner. While acknowledging that language has been the greatest factor in the formation of human thought, we must endeavour to get rid of the disguises, oppositions, contradictions, which arise out of it. We must disengage ourselves from the ideas which the customary use of words has implanted in us. To avoid error as much as possible when we are speaking of things unseen, the principal terms which we use should be few, and we should not allow ourselves to be enslaved by them. Instead of seeking to frame a technical language, we should vary our forms of speech, lest they should degenerate into formulas. A difficult philosophical problem is better understood when translated into the vernacular.

I. α Psychology is inseparable from language, and early language contains the first impressions or the oldest experience of man respecting himself. These impressions are not accurate representations of the truth; they are the reflections of a rudimentary age of philosophy. The first and simplest forms of thought are rooted so deep in human nature that they can never be got rid of; but they have been perpetually enlarged and elevated, and the use of many words has been transferred from the body to the mind. The spiritual and intellectual have thus become separated from the material—there is a cleft between them; and the heart and the conscience of man rise above the dominion of the appetites and create a new language in which they too find expression. As the differences of actions begin to be perceived, more and more names are needed. This is the first analysis of the human mind; having a general foundation in popular experience, it is moulded to a certain extent by hierophants and philosophers. (See Introd. to Cratylus.)

β. This primitive psychology is continually receiving additions from the first thinkers, who in return take a colour from the popular language of the time. The mind is regarded from new points of view, and becomes adapted to new conditions of Edition: current; Page: [180] knowledge. It seeks to isolate itself from matter and sense, and to assert its independence in thought. It recognizes that it is independent of the external world. It has five or six natural states or stages:—(1) sensation, in which it is almost latent or quiescent: (2) feeling, or inner sense, when the mind is just awakening: (3) memory, which is decaying sense, and from time to time, as with a spark or flash, has the power of recollecting or reanimating the buried past: (4) thought, in which images pass into abstract notions or are intermingled with them: (5) action, in which the mind moves forward, of itself, or under the impulse of want or desire or pain, to attain or avoid some end or consequence: and (6) there is the composition of these or the admixture or assimilation of them in various degrees. We never see these processes of the mind, nor can we tell the causes of them. But we know them by their results, and learn from other men that so far as we can describe to them or they to us the workings of the mind, their experience is the same or nearly the same with our own.

γ. But the knowledge of the mind is not to any great extent derived from the observation of the individual by himself. It is the growing consciousness of the human race, embodied in language, acknowledged by experience, and corrected from time to time by the influence of literature and philosophy. A great, perhaps the most important, part of it is to be found in early Greek thought. In the Theaetetus of Plato it has not yet become fixed: we are still stumbling on the threshold. In Aristotle the process is more nearly completed, and has gained innumerable abstractions, of which many have had to be thrown away because relative only to the controversies of the time. In the interval between Thales and Aristotle were realized the distinctions of mind and body, of universal and particular, of infinite and infinitesimal, of idea and phenomenon; the class conceptions of faculties and virtues, the antagonism of the appetites and the reason; and connected with this, at a higher stage of development, the opposition of moral and intellectual virtue; also the primitive conceptions of unity, being, rest, motion, and the like. These divisions were not really scientific, but rather based on popular experience. They were not held with the precision of modern thinkers, but taken all together they gave a new existence Edition: current; Page: [181] to the mind in thought, and greatly enlarged and more accurately defined man’s knowledge of himself and of the world. The majority of them have been accepted by Christian and Western nations. Yet in modern times we have also drifted so far away from Aristotle, that if we were to frame a system on his lines we should be at war with ordinary language and untrue to our own consciousness. And there have been a few both in mediaeval times and since the Reformation who have rebelled against the Aristotelian point of view. Of these eccentric thinkers there have been various types, but they have all a family likeness. According to them, there has been too much analysis and too little synthesis, too much division of the mind into parts and too little conception of it as a whole or in its relation to God and the laws of the universe. They have thought that the elements of plurality and unity have not been duly adjusted. The tendency of such writers has been to allow the personality of man to be absorbed in the universal, or in the divine nature, and to deny the distinction between matter and mind, or to substitute one for the other. They have broken some of the idols of Psychology: they have challenged the received meaning of words: they have regarded the mind under many points of view. But though they may have shaken the old, they have not established the new; their views of philosophy, which seem like the echo of some voice from the East, have been alien to the mind of Europe.

δ. The Psychology which is found in common language is in some degree verified by experience, but not in such a manner as to give it the character of an exact science. We cannot say that words always correspond to facts. Common language represents the mind from different and even opposite points of view, which cannot be all of them equally true (cp. Cratylus 436–7). Yet from diversity of statements and opinions may be obtained a nearer approach to the truth than is to be gained from any one of them. It also tends to correct itself, because it is gradually brought nearer to the common sense of mankind. There are some leading categories or classifications of thought, which, though unverified, must always remain the elements from which the science or study of the mind proceeds. For example, we must assume ideas before we can analyze them, and also a continuing mind to which they belong; the resolution of it into Edition: current; Page: [182] successive moments, which would say, with Protagoras, that the man is not the same person which he was a minute ago, is, as Plato implies in the Theaetetus (166 B), an absurdity.

ε. The growth of the mind, which may be traced in the histories of religions and philosophies and in the thoughts of nations, is one of the deepest and noblest modes of studying it. Here we are dealing with the reality, with the greater and, as it may be termed, the most sacred part of history. We study the mind of man as it begins to be inspired by a human or divine reason, as it is modified by circumstances, as it is distributed in nations, as it is renovated by great movements, which go beyond the limits of nations and affect human society on a scale still greater, as it is created or renewed by great minds, who, looking down from above, have a wider and more comprehensive vision. This is an ambitious study, of which most of us rather ‘entertain conjecture’ than arrive at any detailed or accurate knowledge. Later arises the reflection how these great ideas or movements of the world have been appropriated by the multitude and found a way to the minds of individuals. The real Psychology is that which shows how the increasing knowledge of nature and the increasing experience of life have always been slowly transforming the mind, how religions too have been modified in the course of ages ‘that God may be all and in all.’ [Editor: illegible character] πολλαπλάσιον, ἔϕη, τὸ ἔργον [Editor: illegible character] ὡς νν̂ν ζητεɩ̂ται προστάττεις.

ζ. Lastly, though we speak of the study of mind in a special sense, it may also be said that there is no science which does not contribute to our knowledge of it. The methods of science and their analogies are new faculties, discovered by the few and imparted to the many. They are to the mind, what the senses are to the body; or better, they may be compared to instruments such as the telescope or microscope by which the discriminating power of the senses, or to other mechanical inventions, by which the strength and skill of the human body is so immeasurably increased.

II. The new Psychology, whatever may be its claim to the authority of a science, has called attention to many facts and corrected many errors, which without it would have been unexamined. Yet it is also itself very liable to illusion. The evidence Edition: current; Page: [183] on which it rests is vague and indefinite. The field of consciousness is never seen by us as a whole, but only at particular points, which are always changing. The veil of language intercepts facts. Hence it is desirable that in making an approach to the study we should consider at the outset what are the kinds of error which most easily affect it, and note the differences which separate it from other branches of knowledge.

α. First, we observe the mind by the mind. It would seem therefore that we are always in danger of leaving out the half of that which is the subject of our enquiry. We come at once upon the difficulty of what is the meaning of the word. Does it differ as subject and object in the same manner? Can we suppose one set of feelings or one part of the mind to interpret another? Is the introspecting thought the same with the thought which is introspected? Has the mind the power of surveying its whole domain at one and the same time?—No more than the eye can take in the whole human body at a glance. Yet there may be a glimpse round the corner, or a thought transferred in a moment from one point of view to another, which enables us to see nearly the whole, if not at once, at any rate in succession. Such glimpses will hardly enable us to contemplate from within the mind in its true proportions. Hence the firmer ground of Psychology is not the consciousness of inward feelings but the observation of external actions, being the actions not only of ourselves, but of the innumerable persons whom we come across in life.

β. The error of supposing partial or occasional explanation of mental phenomena to be the only or complete ones. For example, we are disinclined to admit of the spontaneity or discontinuity of the mind—it seems to us like an effect without a cause, and therefore we suppose the train of our thoughts to be always called up by association. Yet it is probable, or indeed certain, that of many mental phenomena there are no mental antecedents, but only bodily ones.

γ. The false influence of language. We are apt to suppose that when there are two or more words describing faculties or processes of the mind, there are real differences corresponding to them. But this is not the case. Nor can we determine how far they do or do not exist, or by what degree or kind of difference Edition: current; Page: [184] they are distinguished. The same remark may be made about figures of speech. They fill up the vacancy of knowledge; they are to the mind what too much colour is to the eye; but the truth is rather concealed than revealed by them.

δ. The uncertain meaning of terms, such as Consciousness, Conscience, Will, Law, Knowledge, Internal and External Sense; these, in the language of Plato, ‘we shamelessly use, without ever having taken the pains to analyze them.’

ε. A science such as Psychology is not merely an hypothesis, but an hypothesis which, unlike the hypotheses of Physics, can never be verified. It rests only on the general impressions of mankind, and there is little or no hope of adding in any considerable degree to our stock of mental facts.

ζ. The parallelism of the Physical Sciences, which leads us to analyze the mind on the analogy of the body, and so to reduce mental operations to the level of bodily ones, or to confound one with the other.

η. That the progress of Physiology may throw a new light on Psychology is a dream in which scientific men are always tempted to indulge. But however certain we may be of the connexion between mind and body, the explanation of the one by the other is a hidden place of nature which has hitherto been investigated with little or no success.

θ. The impossibility of distinguishing between mind and body. Neither in thought nor in experience can we separate them. They seem to act together; yet we feel that we are sometimes under the dominion of the one, sometimes of the other, and sometimes, both in the common use of language and in fact, they transform themselves, the one into the good principle, the other into the evil principle; and then again the ‘I’ comes in and mediates between them. It is also difficult to distinguish outward facts from the ideas of them in the mind, or to separate the external stimulus to a sensation from the activity of the organ, or this from the invisible agencies by which it reaches the mind, or any process of sense from its mental antecedent, or any mental energy from its nervous expression.

ι. The fact that mental divisions tend to run into one another, and that in speaking of the mind we cannot always distinguish differences of kind from differences of degree; nor have we Edition: current; Page: [185] any measure of the strength and intensity of our ideas or feelings.

κ. Although heredity has been always known to the ancients as well as ourselves to exercise a considerable influence on human character, yet we are unable to calculate what proportion this birth-influence bears to nurture and education. But this is the real question. We cannot pursue the mind into embryology: we can only trace how, after birth, it begins to grow. But how much is due to the soil, how much to the original latent seed, it is impossible to distinguish. And because we are certain that heredity exercises a considerable, but undefined influence, we must not increase the wonder by exaggerating it.

λ. The love of system is always tending to prevail over the historical investigation of the mind, which is our chief means of knowing it. It equally tends to hinder the other great source of our knowledge of the mind, the observation of its workings and processes which we can make for ourselves.

μ. The mind, when studied through the individual, is apt to be isolated—this is due to the very form of the enquiry; whereas, in truth, it is indistinguishable from circumstances, the very language which it uses being the result of the instincts of long-forgotten generations, and every word which a man utters being the answer to some other word spoken or suggested by somebody else.

III. The tendency of the preceding remarks has been to show that Psychology is necessarily a fragment, and is not and cannot be a connected system. We cannot define or limit the mind, but we can describe it. We can collect information about it; we can enumerate the principal subjects which are included in the study of it. Thus we are able to rehabilitate Psychology to some extent, not as a branch of science, but as a collection of facts bearing on human life, as a part of the history of philosophy, as an aspect of Metaphysic. It is a fragment of a science only, which in all probability can never make any great progress or attain to much clearness or exactness. It is however a kind of knowledge which has a great interest for us and is always present to us, and of which we carry about the materials in our own bosoms. We can observe our minds and we can experiment upon them, and the Edition: current; Page: [186] knowledge thus acquired is not easily forgotten, and is a help to us in study as well as in conduct.

The principal subjects of Psychology may be summed up as follows:—

α. The relation of man to the world around him,—in what sense and within what limits can he withdraw from its laws or assert himself against them (Freedom and Necessity), and what is that which we suppose to be thus independent and which we call ourselves? How does the inward differ from the outward and what is the relation between them, and where do we draw the line by which we separate mind from matter, the soul from the body? Is the mind active or passive, or partly both? Are its movements identical with those of the body, or only preconcerted and coincident with them, or is one simply an aspect of the other?

β. What are we to think of time and space? Time seems to have a nearer connexion with the mind, space with the body; yet time, as well as space, is necessary to our idea of either. We see also that they have an analogy with one another, and that in Mathematics they often interpenetrate. Space or place has been said by Kant to be the form of the outward, time of the inward sense. He regards them as parts or forms of the mind. But this is an unfortunate and inexpressive way of describing their relation to us. For of all the phenomena present to the human mind they seem to have most the character of objective existence. There is no use in asking what is beyond or behind them; we cannot get rid of them. And to throw the laws of external nature which to us are the type of the immutable into the subjective side of the antithesis seems to be equally inappropriate.

γ. When in imagination we enter into the closet of the mind and withdraw ourselves from the external world, we seem to find there more or less distinct processes which may be described by the words, ‘I perceive,’ ‘I feel,’ ‘I think,’ ‘I want,’ ‘I wish,’ ‘I like,’ ‘I dislike,’ ‘I fear,’ ‘I know,’ ‘I remember,’ ‘I imagine,’ ‘I dream,’ ‘I act,’ ‘I endeavour,’ ‘I hope.’ These processes would seem to have the same notions attached to them in the minds of all educated persons. They are distinguished from one another in thought, but they intermingle. It is possible to reflect upon them or to become conscious of them in a greater or less degree, or with a greater or less continuity or attention, and thus arise the Edition: current; Page: [187] intermittent phenomena of consciousness or self-consciousness. The use of all of them is possible to us at all times; and therefore in any operation of the mind the whole are latent. But we are able to characterise them sufficiently by that part of the complex action which is the most prominent. We have no difficulty in distinguishing an act of sight or an act of will from an act of thought, although thought is present in both of them. Hence the conception of different faculties or different virtues is precarious, because each of them is passing into the other, and they are all one in the mind itself; they appear and reappear, and may all be regarded as the ever-varying phases or aspects of differences of the same mind or person.

δ. Nearest the sense in the scale of the intellectual faculties is memory, which is a mode rather than a faculty of the mind, and accompanies all mental operations. There are two principal kinds of it, recollection and recognition,—recollection in which forgotten things are recalled or return to the mind, recognition in which the mind finds itself again among things once familiar. The simplest way in which we can represent the former to ourselves is by shutting our eyes and trying to recall in what we term the mind’s eye the picture of the surrounding scene, or by laying down the book which we are reading and recapitulating what we can remember of it. But many times more powerful than recollection is recognition, perhaps because it is more assisted by association. We have known and forgotten, and after a long interval the thing which we have seen once is seen again by us, but with a different feeling, and comes back to us, not as new knowledge, but as a thing to which we ourselves impart a notion already present to us; in Plato’s words, we set the stamp upon the wax. Every one is aware of the difference between the first and second sight of a place, between a scene clothed with associations or bare and divested of them. We say to ourselves on revisiting a spot after a long interval: How many things have happened since I last saw this! There is probably no impression ever received by us of which we can venture to say that the vestiges are altogether lost, or that we might not, under some circumstances, recover it. A long-forgotten knowledge may be easily renewed and therefore is very different from ignorance. Of the language learnt in childhood not a word may be remembered, Edition: current; Page: [188] and yet, when a new beginning is made, the old habit soon returns, the neglected organs come back into use, and the river of speech finds out the dried-up channel.

ε. ‘Consciousness’ is the most treacherous word which is employed in the study of the mind, for it is used in many senses, and has rarely, if ever, been minutely analyzed. Like memory, it accompanies all mental operations, but not always continuously, and it exists in various degrees. It may be imperceptible or hardly perceptible: it may be the living sense that our thoughts, actions, sufferings, are our own. It is a kind of attention which we pay to ourselves, and is intermittent rather than continuous. Its sphere has been exaggerated. It is sometimes said to assure us of our freedom; but this is an illusion: as there may be a real freedom without consciousness of it, so there may be a consciousness of freedom without the reality. It may be regarded as a higher degree of knowledge when we not only know but know that we know. Consciousness is opposed to habit, inattention, sleep, death. It may be illustrated by its derivative conscience, which speaks to men, not only of right and wrong in the abstract, but of right and wrong actions in reference to themselves and their circumstances.

ζ. Association is another of the ever-present phenomena of the human mind. We speak of the laws of association, but this is an expression which is confusing, for the phenomenon itself is of the most capricious and uncertain sort. It may be briefly described as follows. The simplest case of association is that of sense. When we see or hear separately one of two things, which we have previously seen or heard together, the occurrence of the one has a tendency to suggest the other. So the sight or name of a house may recall to our minds the memory of those who once lived there. Like may recall like and everything its opposite. The parts of a whole, the terms of a series, objects lying near, words having a customary order stick together in the mind. A word may bring back a passage of poetry or a whole system of philosophy; from one end of the world or from one pole of knowledge we may travel to the other in an indivisible instant. The long train of association by which we pass from one point to the other, involving every sort of complex relation, so sudden, so accidental, is one of the greatest wonders of mind. . . . This process however is not always continuous, Edition: current; Page: [189] but often intermittent: we can think of things in isolation as well as in association; we do not mean that they must all hang from one another. We can begin again after an interval of rest or vacancy, as a new train of thought suddenly arises, as, for example, when we wake of a morning or after violent exercise. Time, place, the same colour or sound or smell or taste, will often call up some thought or recollection either accidentally or naturally associated with them. But it is equally noticeable that the new thought may occur to us, we cannot tell how or why, by the spontaneous action of the mind itself or by the latent influence of the body. Both science and poetry are made up of associations or recollections, but we must observe also that the mind is not wholly dependent on them, having also the power of origination.

There are other processes of the mind which it is good for us to study when we are at home and by ourselves,—the manner in which thought passes into act, the conflict of passion and reason in many stages, the transition from sensuality to love or sentiment and from earthly love to heavenly, the slow and silent influence of habit, which little by little changes the nature of men, the sudden change of the old nature of man into a new one, wrought by shame or by some other overwhelming impulse. These are the greater phenomena of mind, and he who has thought of them for himself will live and move in a better-ordered world, and will himself be a better-ordered man.

At the other end of the ‘globus intellectualis,’ nearest, not to earth and sense, but to heaven and God, is the personality of man, by which he holds communion with the unseen world. Somehow, he knows not how, somewhere, he knows not where, under this higher aspect of his being he grasps the ideas of God, freedom and immortality; he sees the forms of truth, holiness and love, and is satisfied with them. No account of the mind can be complete which does not admit the reality or the possibility of another life. Whether regarded as an ideal or as a fact, the highest part of man’s nature and that in which it seems most nearly to approach the divine, is a phenomenon which exists, and must therefore be included within the domain of Psychology.

IV. We admit that there is no perfect or ideal Psychology. It is not a whole in the same sense in which Chemistry, Physiology, Edition: current; Page: [190] or Mathematics are wholes: that is to say, it is not a connected unity of knowledge. Compared with the wealth of other sciences, it rests upon a small number of facts; and when we go beyond these, we fall into conjectures and verbal discussions. The facts themselves are disjointed; the causes of them run up into other sciences, and we have no means of tracing them from one to the other. Yet it may be true of this, as of other beginnings of knowledge, that the attempt to put them together has tested the truth of them, and given a stimulus to the enquiry into them.

Psychology should be natural, not technical. It should take the form which is the most intelligible to the common understanding, because it has to do with common things, which are familiar to us all. It should aim at no more than every reflecting man knows or can easily verify for himself. When simple and unpretentious, it is least obscured by words, least liable to fall under the influence of Physiology or Metaphysic. It should argue, not from exceptional, but from ordinary phenomena. It should be careful to distinguish the higher and the lower elements of human nature, and not allow one to be veiled in the disguise of the other, lest through the slippery nature of language we should pass imperceptibly from good to evil, from nature in the higher to nature in the neutral or lower sense. It should assert consistently the unity of the human faculties, the unity of knowledge, the unity of God and law. The difference between the will and the affections and between the reason and the passions should also be recognized by it.

Its sphere is supposed to be narrowed to the individual soul; but it cannot be thus separated in fact. It goes back to the beginnings of things, to the first growth of language and philosophy, and to the whole science of man. There can be no truth or completeness in any study of the mind which is confined to the individual. The nature of language, though not the whole, is perhaps at present the most important element in our knowledge of it. It is not impossible that some numerical laws may be found to have a place in the relations of mind and matter, as in the rest of nature. The old Pythagorean fancy that the soul ‘is or has in it harmony’ may in some degree be realized. But the indications of such numerical harmonies are faint; either the secret of them lies deeper than we can discover, or nature may have rebelled against Edition: current; Page: [191] the use of them in the composition of men and animals. It is with qualitative rather than with quantitative differences that we are concerned in Psychology. The facts relating to the mind which we obtain from Physiology are negative rather than positive. They show us, not the processes of mental action, but the conditions of which when deprived the mind ceases to act. It would seem as if the time had not yet arrived when we can hope to add anything of much importance to our knowledge of the mind from the investigations of the microscope. The elements of Psychology can still only be learnt from reflections on ourselves, which interpret and are also interpreted by our experience of others. The history of language, of philosophy, and religion, the great thoughts or inventions or discoveries which move mankind, furnish the larger moulds or outlines in which the human mind has been cast. From these the individual derives so much as he is able to comprehend or has the opportunity of learning.

Edition: current; Page: [192] Edition: current; Page: [193]

THEAETETUS.

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE.

Socrates.

Theodorus.

Theaetetus.

Euclid and Terpsion meet in front of Euclid’s house in Megara; they enter the house, and the dialogue is read to them by a servant.

Euclid.
Theaetetus. Euclid, Terpsion. The Preface. Euclid and Terpsion meet in front of Euclid’s house in Megara; they converse about the dangerous condition of Theaetetus, who had been carried away dying from the camp at Corinth

Jowett1892: 142Have you only just arrived from the country, Terpsion?

Terpsion.

No, I came some time ago: and I have been in the Agora looking for you, and wondering that I could not find you.

Euc.

But I was not in the city.

Terp.

Where then?

Euc.

As I was going down to the harbour, I met Theaetetus—he was being carried up to Athens from the army at Corinth.

Terp.

Was he alive or dead?

Euc.

He was scarcely alive, for he has been badly wounded; but he was suffering even more from the sickness which has broken out in the army.

Terp.

The dysentery, you mean?

Euc.

Yes.

Terp.

Alas! what a loss he will be!

Euc.

Yes, Terpsion, he is a noble fellow; only to-day I heard some people highly praising his behaviour in this very battle.

Terp.

No wonder; I should rather be surprised at hearing Edition: current; Page: [194] anything else of him. But why did he go on, instead of stopping at Megara?

Euc.
Euclid calls to mind the great things which Socrates had early prophesied of him: and he has preserved the report of a conversation of Theaetetus with Socrates which took place just before the latter’s death.

He wanted to get home: although I entreated and advised him to remain, he would not listen to me; so I set him on his way, and turned back, and then I remembered what Socrates had said of him, and thought how remarkably this, like all his predictions, had been fulfilled. I believe that he had seen him a little before his own death, when Theaetetus was a youth, and he had a memorable conversation with him, which he repeated to me when I came to Athens; he was full of admiration of his genius, and said that he would most certainly be a great man, if he lived.

Terp.

The prophecy has certainly been fulfilled; but what was the conversation? can you tell me?

Euc.

No, indeed, not offhand; but I took notes of it as Jowett1892: 143soon as I got home; these I filled up from memory, writing them out at leisure; and whenever I went to Athens, I asked Socrates about any point which I had forgotten, and on my return I made corrections; thus I have nearly the whole conversation written down.

Terp.

I remember—you told me; and I have always been intending to ask you to show me the writing, but have put off doing so; and now, why should we not read it through?—having just come from the country, I should greatly like to rest.

Euc.

I too shall be very glad of a rest, for I went with Theaetetus as far as Erineum. Let us go in, then, and, while we are reposing, the servant shall read to us.

Terp.

Very good.

Euc.
They enter the house, and Euclid produces the roll, which his servant reads to them.

Here is the roll, Terpsion; I may observe that I have introduced Socrates, not as narrating to me, but as actually conversing with the persons whom he mentioned—these were, Theodorus the geometrician (of Cyrene), and Theaetetus. I have omitted, for the sake of convenience, the interlocutory words ‘I said,’ ‘I remarked,’ which he used when he spoke of himself, and again, ‘he agreed,’ or ‘disagreed,’ in the answer, lest the repetition of them should be troublesome.

Terp.

Quite right, Euclid.

Euc.

And now, boy, you may take the roll and read.

Edition: current; Page: [195]

Euclid’s servant reads.

Socrates.
The Dialogue. Socrates, meeting Theodorus of Cyrene in an Athenian palaestra, asks what youths of promise he has discovered at Athens.

If I cared enough about the Cyrenians, Theodorus, I would ask you whether there are any rising geometricians or philosophers in that part of the world. But I am more interested in our own Athenian youth, and I would rather know who among them are likely to do well. I observe them as far as I can myself, and I enquire of any one whom they follow, and I see that a great many of them follow you, in which they are quite right, considering your eminence in geometry and in other ways. Tell me then, if you have met with any one who is good for anything.

Theodorus.
Theodorus in answer expatiates on the merits of Theaetetus, who is however no beauty, but ugly, like Socrates.

Yes, Socrates, I have become acquainted with one very remarkable Athenian youth, whom I commend to you as well worthy of your attention. If he had been a beauty I should have been afraid to praise him, lest you should suppose that I was in love with him; but he is no beauty, and you must not be offended if I say that he is very like you; for he has a snub nose and projecting eyes, although these features are less marked in him than in you. Jowett1892: 144Seeing, then, that he has no personal attractions, I may freely say, that in all my acquaintance, which is very large, I never knew any one who was his equal in natural gifts: for he has a quickness of apprehension which is almost unrivalled, and he is exceedingly gentle, and also the most courageous of men; there is a union of qualities in him such as I have never seen in any other, and should scarcely have thought possible; for those who, like him, have quick and ready and retentive wits, have generally also quick tempers; they are ships without ballast, and go darting about, and are mad rather than courageous; and the steadier sort, when they have to face study, prove stupid and cannot remember. Whereas he moves surely and smoothly and successfully in the path of knowledge and enquiry; and he is full of gentleness, flowing on silently like a river of oil; at his age, it is wonderful.

Soc.

That is good news; whose son is he?

Theod.
The youth, who is the son of Euphronius, the Sunian, here enters, and he and Socrates converse. Socrates, Theodorus, Theaetetus.

The name of his father I have forgotten, but the youth himself is the middle one of those who are approaching us; he and his companions have been anointing themselves Edition: current; Page: [196] in the outer court, and now they seem to have finished, and are coming towards us. Look and see whether you know him.

Soc.

I know the youth, but I do not know his name; he is the son of Euphronius the Sunian, who was himself an eminent man, and such another as his son is, according to your, account of him; I believe that he left a considerable fortune.

Theod.

Theaetetus, Socrates, is his name; but I rather think that the property disappeared in the hands of trustees; notwithstanding which he is wonderfully liberal.

Soc.

He must be a fine fellow; tell him to come and sit by me.

Theod.

I will. Come hither, Theaetetus, and sit by Socrates.

Soc.
Theodorus says that Socrates and Theaetetus are alike.

By all means, Theaetetus, in order that I may see the reflection of myself in your face, for Theodorus says that we are alike; and yet if each of us held in his hands a lyre, and he said that they were tuned alike, should we at once take his word, or should we ask whether he who said so was or was not a musician?

Theaetetus.

We should ask.

Soc.

And if we found that he was, we should take his word; and if not, not?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And if this supposed likeness of our faces is a matter of any interest to us, we should enquire whether he who says that we are alike is a painter or not?

Theaet.

Certainly we should. Jowett1892: 145

Soc.
But he is a geometrician and philosopher, not a painter, and therefore he need not be believed.

And is Theodorus a painter?

Theaet.

I never heard that he was.

Soc.

Is he a geometrician?

Theaet.

Of course he is, Socrates.

Soc.

And is he an astronomer and calculator and musician, and in general an educated man?

Theaet.

I think so.

Soc.

If, then, he remarks on a similarity in our persons, either by way of praise or blame, there is no particular reason why we should attend to him.

Theaet.

I should say not.

Edition: current; Page: [197]
Soc.
Socrates, Theaetetus. He also praised Theaetetus’ intellect and disposition; and so Theaetetus must be examined, that Theodorus’ praises may be shown to be well-deserved or not.

But if he praises the virtue or wisdom which are the mental endowments of either of us, then he who hears the praises will naturally desire to examine him who is praised: and he again should be willing to exhibit himself.

Theaet.

Very true, Socrates.

Soc.

Then now is the time, my dear Theaetetus, for me to examine, and for you to exhibit; since although Theodorus has praised many a citizen and stranger in my hearing, never did I hear him praise any one as he has been praising you.

Theaet.

I am glad to hear it, Socrates; but what if he was only in jest?

Soc.

Nay, Theodorus is not given to jesting; and I cannot allow you to retract your consent on any such pretence as that. If you do, he will have to swear to his words; and we are perfectly sure that no one will be found to impugn him. Do not be shy then, but stand to your word.

Theaet.

I suppose I must, if you wish it.

Soc.

In the first place, I should like to ask what you learn of Theodorus: something of geometry, perhaps?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And astronomy and harmony and calculation?

Theaet.

I do my best.

Soc.
Socrates’ difficulty. What is knowledge?

Yes, my boy, and so do I; and my desire is to learn of him, or of anybody who seems to understand these things. And I get on pretty well in general; but there is a little difficulty which I want you and the company to aid me in investigating. Will you answer me a question: ‘Is not learning growing wiser about that which you learn?’

Theaet.

Of course.

Soc.

And by wisdom the wise are wise?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And is that different in any way from knowledge?

Theaet.

What?

Soc.

Wisdom; are not men wise in that which they know?

Theaet.
It is wisdom.

Certainly they are.

Soc.

Then wisdom and knowledge are the same?

Theaet.
Socrates proposes a discussion on the subject.

Yes.

Soc.
Socrates, Theodorus, Theaetetus. Who will answer?—A pause.

Jowett1892: 146Herein lies the difficulty which I can never solve to my satisfaction—What is knowledge? Can we answer that question? What say you? which of us will speak first? Edition: current; Page: [198] whoever misses shall sit down, as at a game of ball, and shall be donkey, as the boys say; he who lasts out his competitors in the game without missing, shall be our king, and shall have the right of putting to us any questions which he pleases . . . Why is there no reply? I hope, Theodorus, that I am not betrayed into rudeness by my love of conversation? I only want to make us talk and be friendly and sociable.

Theod.

The reverse of rudeness, Socrates: but I would rather that you would ask one of the young fellows; for the truth is, that I am unused to your game of question and answer, and I am too old to learn; the young will be more suitable, and they will improve more than I shall, for youth is always able to improve. And so having made a beginning with Theaetetus, I would advise you to go on with him and not let him off.

Soc.
At the suggestion of Theodorus Theaetetus is invited to reply and consents.

Do you hear, Theaetetus, what Theodorus says? The philosopher, whom you would not like to disobey, and whose word ought to be a command to a young man, bids me interrogate you. Take courage, then, and nobly say what you think that knowledge is.

Theaet.

Well, Socrates, I will answer as you and he bid me; and if I make a mistake, you will doubtless correct me.

Soc.

We will, if we can.

Theaet.
In his answer, instead of giving a general definition of knowledge, he enumerates its parts.

Then, I think that the sciences which I learn from Theodorus—geometry, and those which you just now mentioned—are knowledge; and I would include the art of the cobbler and other craftsmen; these, each and all of them, are knowledge.

Soc.

Too much, Theaetetus, too much; the nobility and liberality of your nature make you give many and diverse things, when I am asking for one simple thing.

Theaet.

What do you mean, Socrates?

Soc.

Perhaps nothing. I will endeavour, however, to explain what I believe to be my meaning: When you speak of cobbling, you mean the art or science of making shoes?

Theaet.

Just so.

Soc.

And when you speak of carpentering, you mean the art of making wooden implements?

Theaet.

I do.

Edition: current; Page: [199]
Soc.
Socrates, Theaetetus.

In both cases you define the subject-matter of each of the two arts?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
Such enumeration is not definition.

But that, Theaetetus, was not the point of my question: we wanted to know not the subjects, nor yet the number of the arts or sciences, for we were not going to count them, but we wanted to know the nature of knowledge in the abstract. Am I not right?

Theaet.

Perfectly right.

Soc.
Socrates indicates by an illustration the sort of answer required.

Jowett1892: 147Let me offer an illustration: Suppose that a person were to ask about some very trivial and obvious thing—for example, What is clay? and we were to reply, that there is a clay of potters, there is a clay of oven-makers, there is a clay of brick-makers; would not the answer be ridiculous?

Theaet.

Truly.

Soc.

In the first place, there would be an absurdity in assuming that he who asked the question would understand from our answer the nature of ‘clay,’ merely because we added ‘of the image-makers,’ or of any other workers. How can a man understand the name of anything, when be does not know the nature of it?

Theaet.

He cannot.

Soc.

Then he who does not know what science or knowledge is, has no knowledge of the art or science of making shoes?

Theaet.

None.

Soc.

Nor of any other science?

Theaet.

No.

Soc.

And when a man is asked what science or knowledge is, to give in answer the name of some art or science is ridiculous; for the question is, ‘What is knowledge?’ and he replies, ‘A knowledge of this or that.’

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Moreover, he might answer shortly and simply, but he makes an enormous circuit. For example, when asked about the clay, he might have said simply, that clay is moistened earth—what sort of clay is not to the point.

Theaet.

Yes, Socrates, there is no difficulty as you put the question. You mean, if I am not mistaken, something like Edition: current; Page: [200] what occurred to me and to my friend here, your namesake Socrates, in a recent discussion.

Soc.

What was that, Theaetetus?

Theaet.
Theaetetus sees Socrates’ drift, and tells how he had invented general terms for the two kinds of roots, lengths and powers.

Theodorus was writing out for us something about roots, such as the roots of three or five, showing that they are incommensurable by the unit: he selected other examples up to seventeen—there he stopped. Now as there are innumerable roots, the notion occurred to us of attempting to include them all under one name or class.

Soc.

And did you find such a class?

Theaet.

I think that we did; but I should like to have your opinion.

Soc.

Let me hear.

Theaet.

We divided all numbers into two classes: those which are made up of equal factors multiplying into one another, which we compared to square figures and called square or equilateral numbers;—that was one class.

Soc.

Very good.

Theaet.

The intermediate numbers, such as three and five, and every other number which is made up of unequal factors, Jowett1892: 148either of a greater multiplied by a less, or of a less multiplied by a greater, and when regarded as a figure, is contained in unequal sides;—all these we compared to oblong figures, and called them oblong numbers.

Soc.

Capital; and what followed?

Theaet.

The lines, or sides, which have for their squares the equilateral plane numbers, were called by us lengths or magnitudes; and the lines which are the roots of (or whose squares are equal to) the oblong numbers, were called powers or roots; the reason of this latter name being, that they are commensurable with the former [i. e. with the so-called lengths or magnitudes] not in linear measurement, but in the value of the superficial content of their squares; and the same about solids.

Soc.

Excellent, my boys; I think that you fully justify the praises of Theodorus, and that he will not be found guilty of false witness.

Theaet.
But he cannot give a definition of knowledge.

But I am unable, Socrates, to give you a similar answer about knowledge, which is what you appear to want; and therefore Theodorus is a deceiver after all.

Edition: current; Page: [201]
Soc.

Well, but if some one were to praise you for running, and to say that he never met your equal among boys, and afterwards you were beaten in a race by a grown-up man, who was a great runner—would the praise be any the less true?

Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.

And is the discovery of the nature of knowledge so small a matter, as I just now said? Is it not one which would task the powers of men perfect in every way?

Theaet.

By heaven, they should be the top of all perfection!

Soc.

Well, then, be of good cheer; do not say that Theodorus was mistaken about you, but do your best to ascertain the true nature of knowledge, as well as of other things.

Theaet.

I am eager enough, Socrates, if that would bring to light the truth.

Soc.

Come, you made a good beginning just now; let your own answer about roots be your model, and as you comprehended them all in one class, try and bring the many sorts of knowledge under one definition.

Theaet.

I can assure you, Socrates, that I have tried very often, when the report of questions asked by you was brought to me; but I can neither persuade myself that I have a satisfactory answer to give, nor hear of any one who answers as you would have him; and I cannot shake off a feeling of anxiety.

Soc.
Socrates recognises the pangs of labour.

These are the pangs of labour, my dear Theaetetus; you have something within you which you are bringing to the birth.

Theaet.

I do not know, Socrates; I only say what I feel.

Soc.

Jowett1892: 149And have you never heard, simpleton, that I am the son of a midwife, brave and burly, whose name was Phaenarete?

Theaet.

Yes, I have.

Soc.

And that I myself practise midwifery?

Theaet.

No, never.

Soc.
Socrates a midwife. But this is a secret.

Let me tell you that I do though, my friend: but you must not reveal the secret, as the world in general have not found me out; and therefore they only say of me, that I am Edition: current; Page: [202] the strangest of mortals and drive men to their wits’ end. Did you ever hear that too?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

Shall I tell you the reason?

Theaet.

By all means.

Soc.

Bear in mind the whole business of the midwives, and then you will see my meaning better:—No woman, as you are probably aware, who is still able to conceive and bear, attends other women, but only those who are past bearing.

Theaet.

Yes, I know.

Soc.
Like the midwives, he is past bearing.

The reason of this is said to be that Artemis—the goddess of childbirth—is not a mother, and she honours those who are like herself; but she could not allow the barren to be midwives, because human nature cannot know the mystery of an art without experience; and therefore she assigned this office to those who are too old to bear.

Theaet.

I dare say.

Soc.

And I dare say too, or rather I am absolutely certain, that the midwives know better than others who is pregnant and who is not?

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

And by the use of potions and incantations they are able to arouse the pangs and to soothe them at will; they can make those bear who have a difficulty in bearing, and if they think fit they can smother the embryo in the womb.

Theaet.

They can.

Soc.

Did you ever remark that they are also most cunning matchmakers, and have a thorough knowledge of what unions are likely to produce a brave brood?

Theaet.

No, never.

Soc.

Then let me tell you that this is their greatest pride, more than cutting the umbilical cord. And if you reflect, you will see that the same art which cultivates and gathers in the fruits of the earth, will be most likely to know in what soils the several plants or seeds should be deposited.

Theaet.

Yes, the same art.

Soc.

And do you suppose that with women the case is otherwise?

Theaet.

I should think not. Jowett1892: 150

Edition: current; Page: [203]
Soc.

Certainly not; but midwives are respectable women who have a character to lose, and they avoid this department of their profession, because they are afraid of being called procuresses, which is a name given to those who join together man and woman in an unlawful and unscientific way; and yet the true midwife is also the true and only match-maker.

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.
His business is more important than theirs, yet generally similar. He attends men, they women; he takes care of the mind, they of the body. But, unlike the midwives, he distinguishes the true birth from the counterfeit.

Such are the midwives, whose task is a very important one, but not so important as mine; for women do not bring into the world at one time real children, and at another time counterfeits which are with difficulty distinguished from them; if they did, then the discernment of the true and false birth would be the crowning achievement of the art of midwifery—you would think so?

Theaet.

Indeed I should.

Soc.
The behaviour of his patients. Socrates. Like midwives, he is a match-maker. Theaetetus is exhorted to submit himself to the treatment, and not to wax wroth if some darling idol is taken from him.

Well, my art of midwifery is in most respects like theirs; but differs, in that I attend men and not women, and I look after their souls when they are in labour, and not after their bodies: and the triumph of my art is in thoroughly examining whether the thought which the mind of the young man brings forth is a false idol or a noble and true birth. And like the midwives, I am barren, and the reproach which is often made against me, that I ask questions of others and have not the wit to answer them myself, is very just—the reason is, that the god compels me to be a midwife, but does not allow me to bring forth. And therefore I am not myself at all wise, nor have I anything to show which is the invention or birth of my own soul, but those who converse with me profit. Some of them appear dull enough at first, but afterwards, as our acquaintance ripens, if the god is gracious to them, they all make astonishing progress; and this in the opinion of others as well as in their own. It is quite clear that they never learned anything from me; the many fine discoveries to which they cling are of their own making. But to me and the god they owe their delivery. And the proof of my words is, that many of them in their ignorance, either in their self-conceit despising me, or falling under the influence of others1, have gone away Edition: current; Page: [204] too soon; and have not only lost the children of whom I had previously delivered them by an ill bringing up, but have stifled whatever else they had in them by evil communications, being fonder of lies and shams than of the truth; and they have at last ended by seeing themselves, as others see them, to be great fools. Aristeides, the son of Lysimachus, is one of them, and there are many others. Jowett1892: 151The truants often return to me, and beg that I would consort with them again—they are ready to go to me on their knees—and then, if my familiar allows, which is not always the case, I receive them, and they begin to grow again. Dire are the pangs which my art is able to arouse and to allay in those who consort with me, just like the pangs of women in childbirth; night and day they are full of perplexity and travail which is even worse than that of the women. So much for them. And there are others, Theaetetus, who come to me apparently having nothing in them; and as I know that they have no need of my art, I coax them into marrying some one, and by the grace of God I can generally tell who is likely to do them good. Many of them I have given away to Prodicus, and many to other inspired sages. I tell you this long story, friend Theaetetus, because I suspect, as indeed you seem to think yourself, that you are in labour—great with some conception. Come then to me, who am a midwife’s son and myself a midwife, and do your best to answer the questions which I will ask you. And if I abstract and expose your first-born, because I discover upon inspection that the conception which you have formed is a vain shadow, do not quarrel with me on that account, as the manner of women is when their first children are taken from them. For I have actually known some who were ready to bite me when I deprived them of a darling folly; they did not perceive that I acted from goodwill, not knowing that no god is the enemy of man—that was not within the range of their ideas; neither am I their enemy in all this, but it would be wrong for me to admit falsehood, or to stifle the truth. Once more, then, Theaetetus, I repeat my old question, ‘What is knowledge?’—and do not say that you cannot tell; but quit yourself like a man, and by the help of God you will be able to tell.

Edition: current; Page: [205]
Theaet.
Socrates, Theaetetus. In answer to the invitation he boldly replies: Knowledge is perception.

At any rate, Socrates, after such an exhortation I should be ashamed of not trying to do my best. Now he who knows perceives what he knows, and, as far as I can see at present, knowledge is perception.

Soc.

Bravely said, boy; that is the way in which you should express your opinion. And now, let us examine together this conception of yours, and see whether it is a true birth or a mere wind-egg:—You say that knowledge is perception?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
This is only another way of expressing Protagoras’ doctrine, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ i. e. things are as they appear to you or me at any moment.

Well, you have delivered yourself of a very important Jowett1892: 152doctrine about knowledge; it is indeed the opinion of Protagoras, who has another way of expressing it. Man, he says, is the measure of all things, of the existence of things that are, and of the non-existence of things that are not:—You have read him?

Theaet.

O yes, again and again.

Soc.

Does he not say that things are to you such as they appear to you, and to me such as they appear to me, and that you and I are men?

Theaet.

Yes, he says so.

Soc.

A wise man is not likely to talk nonsense. Let us try to understand him: the same wind is blowing, and yet one of us may be cold and the other not, or one may be slightly and the other very cold?

Theaet.

Quite true.

Soc.

Now is the wind, regarded not in relation to us but absolutely, cold or not; or are we to say, with Protagoras, that the wind is cold to him who is cold, and not to him who is not?

Theaet.

I suppose the last.

Soc.

Then it must appear so to each of them?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And ‘appears to him’ means the same as ‘he perceives.’

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
This is true in some cases.

Then appearing and perceiving coincide in the case of hot and cold, and in similar instances; for things appear, or may be supposed to be, to each one such as he perceives them?

Edition: current; Page: [206]
Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

Then perception is always of existence, and being the same as knowledge is unerring?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.
But Protagoras had also a hidden meaning,—‘All things are relative and in motion.’ In this the ancients agree with him.

In the name of the Graces, what an almighty wise man Protagoras must have been! He spoke these things in a parable to the common herd, like you and me, but told the truth, ‘his Truth1,’ in secret to his own disciples.

Theaet.

What do you mean, Socrates?

Soc.

I am about to speak of a high argument, in which all things are said to be relative; you cannot rightly call anything by any name, such as great or small, heavy or light, for the great will be small and the heavy light—there is no single thing or quality, but out of motion and change and admixture all things are becoming relatively to one another, which ‘becoming’ is by us incorrectly called being, but is really becoming, for nothing ever is, but all things are becoming. Summon all philosophers — Protagoras, Heracleitus, Empedocles, and the rest of them, one after another, and with the exception of Parmenides they will agree with you in this. Summon the great masters of either kind of poetry—Epicharmus, the prince of Comedy, and Homer of Tragedy; when the latter sings of

‘Ocean whence sprang the gods, and mother Tethys,’

does he not mean that all things are the offspring of flux and motion?

Theaet.

I think so.

Soc.

And who could take up arms against such a great Jowett1892: 153army having Homer for its general, and not appear ridiculous2?

Theaet.

Who indeed, Socrates?

Soc.
The praises of motion.

Yes, Theaetetus; and there are plenty of other proofs which will show that motion is the source of what is called being and becoming, and inactivity of not-being and destruction; for fire and warmth, which are supposed to be the parent and guardian of all other things, are born of movement Edition: current; Page: [207] and of friction, which is a kind of motion1;—is not this the origin of fire?

Theaet.

It is.

Soc.
By motion all things are generated, and body and soul, water and air, are alike preserved by it.

And the race of animals is generated in the same way?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And is not the bodily habit spoiled by rest and idleness, but preserved for a long time2 by motion and exercise?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And what of the mental habit? Is not the soul informed, and improved, and preserved by study and attention, which are motions; but when at rest, which in the soul only means want of attention and study, is uninformed, and speedily forgets whatever she has learned?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Then motion is a good, and rest an evil, to the soul as well as to the body?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.
The clinching argument of the golden chain.

I may add, that breathless calm, stillness and the like waste and impair, while wind and storm preserve; and the palmary argument of all, which I strongly urge, is the golden chain in Homer, by which he means the sun, thereby indicating that so long as the sun and the heavens go round in their orbits, all things human and divine are and are preserved, but if they were chained up and their motions ceased, then all things would be destroyed, and, as the saying is, turned upside down.

Theaet.

I believe, Socrates, that you have truly explained his meaning.

Soc.
Again, colour is a motion passing between the eye and its object.

Then now apply his doctrine to perception, my good friend, and first of all to vision; that which you call white colour is not in your eyes, and is not a distinct thing which exists out of them. And you must not assign any place to it: for if it had position it would be, and be at rest, and there would be no process of becoming.

Theaet.

Then what is colour?

Soc.

Let us carry out the principle which has just been affirmed, that nothing is self-existent, and then we shall see Edition: current; Page: [208] that white, black, and every other colour, arises out of the eye meeting the appropriate motion, and that what we call a colour is in each case neither the active nor the passive Jowett1892: 154element, but something which passes between them, and is peculiar to each percipient; are you quite certain that the several colours appear to a dog or to any animal whatever as they appear to you?

Theaet.

Far from it.

Soc.
Nothing which is perceived by different men or by the same man at different times is the same.

Or that anything appears the same to you as to another man? Are you so profoundly convinced of this? Rather would it not be true that it never appears exactly the same to you, because you are never exactly the same?

Theaet.

The latter.

Soc.

And if that with which I compare myself in size1, or which I apprehend by touch, were great or white or hot, it could not become different by mere contact with another unless it actually changed; nor again, if the comparing or apprehending subject were great or white or hot, could this, when unchanged from within, become changed by any approximation or affection of any other thing. The fact is that in our ordinary way of speaking we allow ourselves to be driven into most ridiculous and wonderful contradictions, as Protagoras and all who take his line of argument would remark.

Theaet.

How? and of what sort do you mean?

Soc.
Contradictions arising out of relations of numbers.

A little instance will sufficiently explain my meaning: Here are six dice, which are more by a half when compared with four, and fewer by a half than twelve—they are more and also fewer. How can you or any one maintain the contrary?

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

Well, then, suppose that Protagoras or some one asks whether anything can become greater or more if not by increasing, how would you answer him, Theaetetus?

Theaet.

I should say ‘No,’ Socrates, if I were to speak my mind in reference to this last question, and if I were not afraid of contradicting my former answer.

Soc.

Capital! excellent! spoken like an oracle, my boy! Edition: current; Page: [209] And if you reply ‘Yes,’ there will be a case for Euripides; for our tongue will be unconvinced, but not our mind1.

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

The thoroughbred Sophists, who know all that can be known about the mind, and argue only out of the superfluity of their wits, would have had a regular sparring match over this, and would have knocked their arguments together finely. But you and I, who have no professional aims, only desire to see what is the mutual relation of these principles,—whether they are consistent with each other or not.

Theaet.

Yes, that would be my desire.

Soc.
Three laws of thought:—(1) Nothing, while remaining equal to itself, can become fewer or more, greater or less. (2) Without addition or subtraction nothing can increase or diminish. (3) Nothing can be what it was not without becoming. These axioms seem to jar in certain cases.

And mine too. But since this is our feeling, and there is plenty of time, why should we not calmly and Jowett1892: 155patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are? If I am not mistaken, they will be described by us as follows:—first, that nothing can become greater or less, either in number or magnitude, while remaining equal to itself—you would agree?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

Secondly, that without addition or subtraction there is no increase or diminution of anything, but only equality.

Theaet.

Quite true.

Soc.

Thirdly, that what was not before cannot be afterwards, without becoming and having become.

Theaet.

Yes, truly.

Soc.

These three axioms, if I am not mistaken, are fighting with one another in our minds in the case of the dice, or, again, in such a case as this—if I were to say that I, who am of a certain height and taller than you, may within a year, without gaining or losing in height, be not so tall—not that I should have lost, but that you would have increased. In such a case, I am afterwards what I once was not, and yet I have not become; for I could not have become without becoming, neither could I have become less without losing somewhat of my height; and I could give you ten thousand examples of similar contradictions, if we admit them at all. I believe that you follow me, Theaetetus; for Edition: current; Page: [210] I suspect that you have thought of these questions before now.

Theaet.

Yes, Socrates, and I am amazed when I think of them; by the Gods I am! and I want to know what on earth they mean; and there are times when my head quite swims with the contemplation of them.

Soc.

I see, my dear Theaetetus, that Theodorus had a true insight into your nature when he said that you were a philosopher, for wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. He was not a bad genealogist who said that Iris (the messenger of heaven) is the child of Thaumas (wonder). But do you begin to see what is the explanation of this perplexity on the hypothesis which we attribute to Protagoras?

Theaet.

Not as yet.

Soc.
Further developement of the doctrine of Protagoras to meet the difficulty.—The uninitiated who believe only in what they can hold in their hands are to be kept out of the secret.

Then you will be obliged to me if I help you to unearth the hidden ‘truth’ of a famous man or school.

Theaet.

To be sure, I shall be very much obliged.

Soc.

Take a look round, then, and see that none of the uninitiated are listening. Now by the uninitiated I mean the people who believe in nothing but what they can grasp in their hands, and who will not allow that action or generation or anything invisible can have real existence.

Theaet.

Yes, indeed, Socrates, they are very hard and impenetrable mortals.

Soc.

Yes, my boy, outer barbarians. Far more ingenious Jowett1892: 156are the brethren whose mysteries I am about to reveal to you. Their first principle is, that all is motion, and upon this all the affections of which we were just now speaking are supposed to depend: there is nothing but motion, which has two forms, one active and the other passive, both in endless number; and out of the union and friction of them there is generated a progeny endless in number, having two forms, sense and the object of sense, which are ever breaking forth and coming to the birth at the same moment. The senses are variously named hearing, seeing, smelling; there is the sense of heat, cold, pleasure, pain, desire, fear, and many more which have names, as well as innumerable others which are without them; each has its kindred object,—each variety of colour has a corresponding variety of sight, and so with Edition: current; Page: [211] sound and hearing, and with the rest of the senses and the objects akin to them. Do you see, Theaetetus, the bearings of this tale on the preceding argument?

Theaet.

Indeed I do not.

Soc.
All things are in motion, of a slower and of a swifter kind. The slower objects move without changing place, and produce the swifter, which are in locomotion. Application of the theory to vision. Everything becomes, and becomes relatively to something else. This applies not only to individuals, but also to classes.

Then attend, and I will try to finish the story. The purport is that all these things are in motion, as I was saying, and that this motion is of two kinds, a slower and a quicker; and the slower elements have their motions in the same place and with reference to things near them, and so they beget; but what is begotten is swifter, for it is carried to and fro, and moves from place to place. Apply this to sense:—When the eye and the appropriate object meet together and give birth to whiteness and the sensation connatural with it, which could not have been given by either of them going elsewhere, then, while the sight is flowing from the eye, whiteness proceeds from the object which combines in producing the colour; and so the eye is fulfilled with sight, and really sees, and becomes, not sight, but a seeing eye; and the object which combined to form the colour is fulfilled with whiteness, and becomes not whiteness but a white thing, whether wood or stone or whatever the object may be which happens to be coloured white1. And this is true of all sensible objects, hard, warm, and the like, which are similarly to be regarded, as I was saying before, Jowett1892: 157not as having any absolute existence, but as being all of them of whatever kind generated by motion in their intercourse with one another; for of the agent and patient, as existing in separation, no trustworthy conception, as they say, can be formed, for the agent has no existence until united with the patient, and the patient has no existence until united with the agent; and that which by uniting with something becomes an agent, by meeting with some other thing is converted into a patient. And from all these considerations, as I said at first, there arises a general reflection, that there is no one self-existent thing, but everything is becoming and in relation; and being must be altogether abolished, although from habit and ignorance we are compelled even in this discussion to retain the use of the term. But great philosophers tell us that we are not to allow either the word ‘something,’ or ‘belonging to something,’ or ‘to me,’ or ‘this’ or ‘that,’ or Edition: current; Page: [212] any other detaining name to be used; in the language of nature all things are being created and destroyed, coming into being and passing into new forms; nor can any name fix or detain them; he who attempts to fix them is easily refuted. And this should be the way of speaking, not only of particulars but of aggregates; such aggregates as are expressed in the word ‘man,’ or ‘stone,’ or any name of an animal or of a class. O Theaetetus, are not these speculations sweet as honey? And do you not like the taste of them in the mouth?

Theaet.

I do not know what to say, Socrates; for, indeed, I cannot make out whether you are giving your own opinion or only wanting to draw me out.

Soc.
Socrates is repeating these ‘charming speculations’ only to draw out Theaetetus.

You forget, my friend, that I neither know, nor profess to know, anything of these matters; you are the person who is in labour, I am the barren midwife; and this is why I soothe you, and offer you one good thing after another, that you may taste them. And I hope that I may at last help to bring your own opinion into the light of day: when this has been accomplished, then we will determine whether what you have brought forth is only a wind-egg or a real and genuine birth. Therefore, keep up your spirits, and answer like a man what you think.

Theaet.

Ask me.

Soc.

Then once more: Is it your opinion that nothing is but what becomes?—the good and the noble, as well as all the other things which we were just now mentioning?

Theaet.

When I hear you discoursing in this style, I think that there is a great deal in what you say, and I am very ready to assent.

Soc.
Dreams and illusions are a stumbling-block to the theory, as they imply falseness in perception.

Let us not leave the argument unfinished, then; for there still remains to be considered an objection which may be raised about dreams and diseases, in particular about madness, and the various illusions of hearing and sight, or of other senses. For you know that in all these cases the esse-percipi theory appears to be unmistakably refuted, since Jowett1892: 158in dreams and illusions we certainly have false perceptions; and far from saying that everything is which appears, we should rather say that nothing is which appears.

Theaet.

Very true, Socrates.

Edition: current; Page: [213]
Soc.

But then, my boy, how can any one contend that knowledge is perception, or that to every man what appears is?

Theaet.

I am afraid to say, Socrates, that I have nothing to answer, because you rebuked me just now for making this excuse; but I certainly cannot undertake to argue that madmen or dreamers think truly, when they imagine, some of them that they are gods, and others that they can fly, and are flying in their sleep.

Soc.

Do you see another question which can be raised about these phenomena, notably about dreaming and waking?

Theaet.

What question?

Soc.
How, when awake, can we be sure that we are not asleep, and vice versa?

A question which I think that you must often have heard persons ask:—How can you determine whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?

Theaet.

Indeed, Socrates, I do not know how to prove the one any more than the other, for in both cases the facts precisely correspond; and there is no difficulty in supposing that during all this discussion we have been talking to one another in a dream; and when in a dream1 we seem to be narrating dreams, the resemblance of the two states is quite astonishing.

Soc.

You see, then, that a doubt about the reality of sense is easily raised, since there may even be a doubt whether we are awake or in a dream. And as our time is equally divided between sleeping and waking, in either sphere of existence the soul contends that the thoughts which are present to our minds at the time are true; and during one half of our lives we affirm the truth of the one, and, during the other half, of the other; and are equally confident of both.

Theaet.

Most true.

Soc.

And may not the same be said of madness and other disorders? the difference is only that the times are not equal.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And is truth or falsehood to be determined by duration of time?

Theaet.

That would be in many ways ridiculous.

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Soc.

But can you certainly determine by any other means which of these opinions is true?

Theaet.

I do not think that I can.

Soc.
Resolution of the difficulty by the champions of appearance:—What is wholly other can in no way be the same,

Listen, then, to a statement of the other side of the argument, which is made by the champions of appearance. They would say, as I imagine—Can that which is wholly other than something, have the same quality as that from which it differs? and observe, Theaetetus, that the word ‘other’ means not ‘partially,’ but ‘wholly other.’

Theaet.

Certainly, putting the question as you do, that Jowett1892: 159which is wholly other cannot either potentially or in any other way be the same.

Soc.

And must therefore be admitted to be unlike?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

If, then, anything happens to become like or unlike itself or another, when it becomes like we call it the same—when unlike, other?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.
and different agents and patients, in conjunction, produce different results.

Were we not saying that there are agents many and infinite, and patients many and infinite?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And also that different combinations will produce results which are not the same, but different?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Let us take you and me, or anything as an example:—There is Socrates in health, and Socrates sick—Are they like or unlike?

Theaet.

You mean to compare Socrates in health as a whole, and Socrates in sickness as a whole?

Soc.

Exactly; that is my meaning.

Thaeat.
Socrates in health is unlike Socrates in sickness;

I answer, they are unlike.

Soc.

And if unlike, they are other?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And would you not say the same of Socrates sleeping and waking, or in any of the states which we were mentioning?

Theaet.

I should.

Soc.

All agents have a different patient in Socrates, accordingly as he is well or ill.

Theaet.

Of course.

Soc.

And I who am the patient, and that which is the Edition: current; Page: [215] agent, will produce something different in each of the two cases?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

The wine which I drink when I am in health, appears sweet and pleasant to me?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
and therefore it is only natural that the same draught of wine should produce a sweet taste in the one case, a bitter in the other.

For, as has been already acknowledged, the patient and agent meet together and produce sweetness and a perception of sweetness, which are in simultaneous motion, and the perception which comes from the patient makes the tongue percipient, and the quality of sweetness which arises out of and is moving about the wine, makes the wine both to be and to appear sweet to the healthy tongue.

Theaet.

Certainly; that has been already acknowledged.

Soc.

But when I am sick, the wine really acts upon another and a different person?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

The combination of the draught of wine, and the Socrates who is sick, produces quite another result; which is the sensation of bitterness in the tongue, and the motion and creation of bitterness in and about the wine, which becomes not bitterness but something bitter; as I myself become not perception but percipient?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

There is no other object of which I shall ever have Jowett1892: 160the same perception, for another object would give another perception, and would make the percipient other and different; nor can that object which affects me, meeting another subject, produce the same, or become similar, for that too will produce another result from another subject, and become different.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Neither can I by myself, have this sensation, nor the object by itself, this quality.

Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.

When I perceive I must become percipient of something—there can be no such thing as perceiving and perceiving nothing; the object, whether it become sweet, bitter, or of any other quality, must have relation to a percipient; nothing can become sweet which is sweet to no one.

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Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.
Socrates, Theaetetus, Theodorus.

Then the inference is, that we [the agent and patient] are or become in relation to one another; there is a law which binds us one to the other, but not to any other existence, nor each of us to himself; and therefore we can only be bound to one another; so that whether a person says that a thing is or becomes, he must say that it is or becomes to or of or in relation to something else; but he must not say or allow any one else to say that anything is or becomes absolutely:—such is our conclusion.

Theaet.

Very true, Socrates.

Soc.
Each object is relative to one percipient only, and he alone can judge of its truth.

Then, if that which acts upon me has relation to me and to no other, I and no other am the percipient of it?

Theaet.

Of course.

Soc.

Then my perception is true to me, being inseparable from my own being; and, as Protagoras says, to myself I am judge of what is and what is not to me.

Theaet.

I suppose so.

Soc.

How then, if I never err, and if my mind never trips in the conception of being or becoming, can I fail of knowing that which I perceive?

Theaet.

You cannot.

Soc.
Thus knowledge is perception. Homer, Heracleitus, and their company agree in this with Protagoras.

Then you were quite right in affirming that knowledge is only perception; and the meaning turns out to be the same, whether with Homer and Heracleitus, and all that company, you say that all is motion and flux, or with the great sage Protagoras, that man is the measure of all things; or with Theaetetus, that, given these premises, perception is knowledge. Am I not right, Theaetetus, and is not this your new-born child, of which I have delivered you? What say you?

Theaet.

I cannot but agree, Socrates.

Soc.
Let us inspect the new-born babe.

Then this is the child, however he may turn out, which you and I have with difficulty brought into the world. And now that he is born, we must run round the hearth with him, and see whether he is worth rearing, or is only a windegg Jowett1892: 161and a sham. Is he to be reared in any case, and not exposed? or will you bear to see him rejected, and not get into a passion if I take away your first-born?

Edition: current; Page: [217]
Theod.
Socrates, Theodorus.

Theaetetus will not be angry, for he is very good-natured. But tell me, Socrates, in heaven’s name, is this, after all, not the truth?

Soc.

You, Theodorus, are a lover of theories, and now you innocently fancy that I am a bag full of them, and can easily pull one out which will overthrow its predecessor. But you do not see that in reality none of these theories come from me; they all come from him who talks with me. I only know just enough to extract them from the wisdom of another, and to receive them in a spirit of fairness. And now I shall say nothing myself, but shall endeavour to elicit something from our young friend.

Theod.

Do as you say, Socrates; you are quite right.

Soc.

Shall I tell you, Theodorus, what amazes me in your acquaintance Protagoras.

Theod.

What is it?

Soc.
Why did not Protagoras say. ‘A pig is the measure of all things’?—for a pig has sensation. His doctrine is suicidal, and cuts away his own and all other claims to superior wisdom. Socrates, Theodorus, Theaetetus.

I am charmed with his doctrine, that what appears is to each one, but I wonder that he did not begin his book on Truth with a declaration that a pig or a dog-faced baboon, or some other yet stranger monster which has sensation, is the measure of all things; then he might have shown a magnificent contempt for our opinion of him by informing us at the outset that while we were reverencing him like a God for his wisdom he was no better than a tadpole, not to speak of his fellow-men—would not this have produced an overpowering effect? For if truth is only sensation, and no man can discern another’s feelings better than he, or has any superior right to determine whether his opinion is true or false, but each, as we have several times repeated, is to himself the sole judge, and everything that he judges is true and right, why, my friend, should Protagoras be preferred to the place of wisdom and instruction, and deserve to be well paid, and we poor ignoramuses have to go to him, if each one is the measure of his own wisdom? Must he not be talking ‘ad captandum’ in all this? I say nothing of the ridiculous predicament in which my own midwifery and the whole art of dialectic is placed; for the attempt to supervise or refute the notions or opinions of others would be a tedious and Jowett1892: 162enormous piece of folly, if to each man his own are right; and this must be the case if Protagoras’ Truth is the real Edition: current; Page: [218] truth, and the philosopher is not merely amusing himself by giving oracles out of the shrine of his book.

Theod.

He was a friend of mine, Socrates, as you were saying, and therefore I cannot have him refuted by my lips, nor can I oppose you when I agree with you; please, then, to take Theaetetus again; he seemed to answer very nicely.

Soc.

If you were to go into a Lacedaemonian palestra, Theodorus, would you have a right to look on at the naked wrestlers, some of them making a poor figure, if you did not strip and give them an opportunity of judging of your own person?

Theod.

Why not, Socrates, if they would allow me, as I think you will, in consideration of my age and stiffness; let some more supple youth try a fall with you, and do not drag me into the gymnasium.

Soc.

Your will is my will, Theodorus, as the proverbial philosophers say, and therefore I will return to the sage Theaetetus: Tell me, Theaetetus, in reference to what I was saying, are you not lost in wonder, like myself, when you find that all of a sudden you are raised to the level of the wisest of men, or indeed of the gods?—for you would assume the measure of Protagoras to apply to the gods as well as men?

Theaet.
Theaetetus is shaken in his opinion of Protagoras’ theory.

Certainly I should, and I confess to you that I am lost in wonder. At first hearing, I was quite satisfied with the doctrine, that whatever appears is to each one, but now the face of things has changed.

Soc.
But Protagoras would say that he had been influenced by mere clap-trap. Socrates, Theaetetus.

Why, my dear boy, you are young, and therefore your ear is quickly caught and your mind influenced by popular arguments. Protagoras, or some one speaking on his behalf, will doubtless say in reply,—Good people, young and old, you meet and harangue, and bring in the gods, whose existence or non-existence I banish from writing and speech, or you talk about the reason of man being degraded to the level of the brutes, which is a telling argument with the multitude, but not one word of proof or demonstration do you offer. All is probability with you, and yet surely you and Theodorus had better reflect whether you are disposed to admit of probability and figures of speech in matters of such importance. Jowett1892: 163He or any other mathematician who argued from probabilities Edition: current; Page: [219] and likelihoods in geometry, would not be worth an ace.

Theaet.

But neither you nor we, Socrates, would be satisfied with such arguments.

Soc.
A new start.

Then you and Theodorus mean to say that we must look at the matter in some other way?

Theaet.

Yes, in quite another way.

Soc.
Is perception knowledge?

And the way will be to ask whether perception is or is not the same as knowledge; for this was the real point of our argument, and with a view to this we raised (did we not?) those many strange questions.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.
We know what we see and hear: but we see only certain forms or colours, and hear only sounds of different pitch. Yet it is possible to know more than this.

Shall we say that we know every thing which we see and hear? for example, shall we say that not having learned, we do not hear the language of foreigners when they speak to us? or shall we say that we not only hear, but know what they are saying? Or again, if we see letters which we do not understand, shall we say that we do not see them? or shall we aver that, seeing them, we must know them?

Theaet.

We shall say, Socrates, that we know what we actually see and hear of them—that is to say, we see and know the figure and colour of the letters, and we hear and know the elevation or depression of the sound of them; but we do not perceive by sight and hearing, or know, that which grammarians and interpreters teach about them.

Soc.

Capital, Theaetetus; and about this there shall be no dispute, because I want you to grow; but there is another difficulty coming, which you will also have to repulse.

Theaet.

What is it?

Soc.
Again, according to the theory, a man cannot know what he remembers;

Some one will say, Can a man who has ever known anything, and still has and preserves a memory of that which he knows, not know that which he remembers at the time when he remembers? I have, I fear, a tedious way of putting a simple question, which is only, whether a man who has learned, and remembers, can fail to know?

Theaet.

Impossible, Socrates; the supposition is monstrous.

Soc.

Am I talking nonsense, then? Think: is not seeing perceiving, and is not sight perception?

Theaet.

True.

Edition: current; Page: [220]
Soc.

And if our recent definition holds, every man knows that which he has seen?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And you would admit that there is such a thing as memory?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And is memory of something or of nothing?

Theaet.

Of something, surely.

Soc.

Of things learned and perceived, that is?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.
for, when remembering something which he has seen, he does not see, and not-seeing is not-knowing.

Often a man remembers that which he has seen?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And if he closed his eyes, would he forget?

Theaet.

Who, Socrates, would dare to say so? Jowett1892: 164

Soc.

But we must say so, if the previous argument is to be maintained.

Theaet.

What do you mean? I am not quite sure that I understand you, though I have a strong suspicion that you are right.

Soc.

As thus: he who sees knows, as we say, that which he sees; for perception and sight and knowledge are admitted to be the same.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

But he who saw, and has knowledge of that which he saw, remembers, when he closes his eyes, that which he no longer sees.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And seeing is knowing, and therefore not-seeing is not-knowing?

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.
And it would be ridiculous to say that what is remembered is not known.

Then the inference is, that a man may have attained the knowledge of something, which he may remember and yet not know, because he does not see; and this has been affirmed by us to be a monstrous supposition.

Theaet.

Most true.

Soc.

Thus, then, the assertion that knowledge and perception are one, involves a manifest impossibility?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

Then they must be distinguished?

Theaet.

I suppose that they must.

Edition: current; Page: [221]
Soc.
Socrates, Theaetetus, Theodorus.

Once more we shall have to begin, and ask ‘What is knowledge?’ and yet, Theaetetus, what are we going to do?

Theaet.

About what?

Soc.
Socrates is dissatisfied with the mode of argument.

Like a good-for-nothing cock, without having won the victory, we walk away from the argument and crow.

Theaet.

How do you mean?

Soc.

After the manner of disputers1, we were satisfied with mere verbal consistency, and were well pleased if in this way we could gain an advantage. Although professing not to be mere Eristics, but philosophers, I suspect that we have unconsciously fallen into the error of that ingenious class of persons.

Theaet.

I do not as yet understand you.

Soc.

Then I will try to explain myself: just now we asked the question, whether a man who had learned and remembered could fail to know, and we showed that a person who had seen might remember when he had his eyes shut and could not see, and then he would at the same time remember and not know. But this was an impossibility. And so the Protagorean fable came to nought, and yours also, who maintained that knowledge is the same as perception.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
If Protagoras had been alive he would not have allowed us to throw ridicule on his brats.

And yet, my friend, I rather suspect that the result would have been different if Protagoras, who was the father of the first of the two brats, had been alive; he would have had a great deal to say on their behalf. But he is dead, and we insult over his orphan child; and even the guardians whom he left, and of whom our friend Theodorus is one, are unwilling to give any help, and therefore I suppose that I must take up his cause myself, and see justice done?

Theod.
As Theodorus, their guardian, declines to protect them, Socrates takes up their defence.

Jowett1892: 165Not I, Socrates, but rather Callias, the son of Hipponicus, is guardian of his orphans. I was too soon diverted from the abstractions of dialectic to geometry. Nevertheless, I shall be grateful to you if you assist him.

Soc.

Very good, Theodorus; you shall see how I will come to the rescue. If a person does not attend to the meaning of terms as they are commonly used in argument, he may be involved even in greater paradoxes Edition: current; Page: [222] than these. Shall I explain this matter to you or to Theaetetus?

Theod.

To both of us, and let the younger answer; he will incur less disgrace if he is discomfited.

Soc.
Another difficulty:—A man can know and not know the same thing at the same time, if seeing is knowing.

Then now let me ask the awful question, which is This:—Can a man know and also not know that which he knows?

Theod.

How shall we answer, Theaetetus?

Theaet.

He cannot, I should say.

Soc.

He can, if you maintain that seeing is knowing. When you are imprisoned in a well, as the saying is, and the self-assured adversary closes one of your eyes with his hand, and asks whether you can see his cloak with the eye which he has closed, how will you answer the inevitable man?

Theaet.

I should answer, ‘Not with that eye but with the other.’

Soc.

Then you see and do not see the same thing at the same time.

Theaet.

Yes, in a certain sense.

Soc.

None of that, he will reply; I do not ask or bid you answer in what sense you know, but only whether you know that which you do not know. You have been proved to see that which you do not see; and you have already admitted that seeing is knowing, and that not-seeing is not-knowing: I leave you to draw the inference.

Theaet.

Yes; the inference is the contradictory of my assertion.

Soc.
But the case might have been made still more ridiculous by applying to knowledge terms proper to sense. Socrates, Theaetetus.

Yes, my marvel, and there might have been yet worse things in store for you, if an opponent had gone on to ask whether you can have a sharp and also a dull knowledge, and whether you can know near, but not at a distance, or know the same thing with more or less intensity, and so on without end. Such questions might have been put to you by a light-armed mercenary, who argued for pay. He would have lain in wait for you, and when you took up the position, that sense is knowledge, he would have made an assault upon hearing, smelling, and the other senses;—he would have shown you no mercy; and while you were lost in envy and admiration of his wisdom, he Edition: current; Page: [223] would have got you into his net, out of which you would not have escaped until you had come to an understanding about the sum to be paid for your release. Well, you ask, and how will Protagoras reinforce his position? Shall I answer for him?

Theaet.

By all means.

Soc.
Protagoras to the rescue:—‘If Socrates frightens a boy into admitting just what he pleases, I must not be held responsible. ‘What I maintain is, that sensations are relative and individual; that consequently what appears is. Socrates. ‘A wise man is not he who has certain impressions, but he who can make what appears evil appear good. ‘This is what the Sophists attempt to do. Socrates, Theodorus. ‘Let Socrates in his reply argue fairly, like a dialectician, not like a mere disputer. ‘He should not misrepresent when he ought to be trying to understand his adversary.’

He will repeat all those things which we have been Jowett1892: 166urging on his behalf, and then he will close with us in disdain, and say:—The worthy Socrates asked a little boy, whether the same man could remember and not know the same thing, and the boy said No, because he was frightened, and could not see what was coming, and then Socrates made fun of poor me. The truth is, O slatternly Socrates, that when you ask questions about any assertion of mine, and the person asked is found tripping, if he has answered as I should have answered, then I am refuted, but if he answers something else, then he is refuted and not I. For do you really suppose that any one would admit the memory which a man has of an impression which has passed away to be the same with that which he experienced at the time? Assuredly not. Or would he hesitate to acknowledge that the same man may know and not know the same thing? Or, if he is afraid of making this admission, would he ever grant that one who has become unlike is the same as before he became unlike? Or would he admit that a man is one at all, and not rather many and infinite as the changes which take place in him? I speak by the card in order to avoid entanglements of words. But, O my good sir, he will say, come to the argument in a more generous spirit; and either show, if you can, that our sensations are not relative and individual, or, if you admit them to be so, prove that this does not involve the consequence that the appearance becomes, or, if you will have the word, is, to the individual only. As to your talk about pigs and baboons, you are yourself behaving like a pig, and you teach your hearers to make sport of my writings in the same ignorant manner; but this is not to your credit. For I declare that the truth is as I have written, and that each of us is a measure of existence and of non-existence. Yet one man may be a thousand times better than another in proportion as Edition: current; Page: [224] different things are and appear to him. And I am far from saying that wisdom and the wise man have no existence; but I say that the wise man is he who makes the evils which appear and are to a man, into goods which are and appear to him. And I would beg you not to press my words in the letter, but to take the meaning of them as I will explain them. Remember what has been already said,—that to the sick man his food appears to be and is bitter, and to the man in health the opposite of bitter. Now I cannot conceive that one of these men can be or ought to be made wiser than the other: nor can you assert that the sick man Jowett1892: 167because he has one impression is foolish, and the healthy man because he has another is wise; but the one state requires to be changed into the other, the worse into the better. As in education, a change of state has to be effected, and the sophist accomplishes by words the change which the physician works by the aid of drugs. Not that any one ever made another think truly, who previously thought falsely. For no one can think what is not, or, think anything different from that which he feels; and this is always true. But as the inferior habit of mind has thoughts of a kindred nature, so I conceive that a good mind causes men to have good thoughts; and these which the inexperienced call true, I maintain to be only better, and not truer than others. And, O my dear Socrates, I do not call wise men tadpoles: far from it; I say that they are the physicians of the human body, and the husbandmen of plants—for the husbandmen also take away the evil and disordered sensations of plants, and infuse into them good and healthy sensations—aye and true ones1; and the wise and good rhetoricians make the good instead of the evil to seem just to states; for whatever appears to a state to be just and fair, so long as it is regarded as such, is just and fair to it; but the teacher of wisdom causes the good to take the place of the evil, both in appearance and in reality. And in like manner the Sophist who is able to train his pupils in this spirit is a wise man, and deserves to be well paid by them. And so one man is wiser than another; and no one thinks Edition: current; Page: [225] falsely, and you, whether you will or not, must endure to be a measure. On these foundations the argument stands firm, which you, Socrates, may, if you please, overthrow by an opposite argument, or if you like you may put questions to me—a method to which no intelligent person will object, quite the reverse. But I must beg you to put fair questions: for there is great inconsistency in saying that you have a zeal for virtue, and then always behaving unfairly in argument. The unfairness of which I complain is that you do not distinguish between mere disputation and dialectic: the disputer may trip up his opponent as often as he likes, and make fun; but the dialectician will be in earnest, and only correct his adversary when necessary, telling him the errors into which he has fallen through his own fault, or that of the company which he has previously kept. If you do so, Jowett1892: 168your adversary will lay the blame of his own confusion and perplexity on himself, and not on you. He will follow and love you, and will hate himself, and escape from himself into philosophy, in order that he may become different from what he was. But the other mode of arguing, which is practised by the many, will have just the opposite effect upon him; and as he grows older, instead of turning philosopher, he will come to hate philosophy. I would recommend you, therefore, as I said before, not to encourage yourself in this polemical and controversial temper, but to find out, in a friendly and congenial spirit, what we really mean when we say that all things are in motion, and that to every individual and state what appears, is. In this manner you will consider whether knowledge and sensation are the same or different, but you will not argue, as you were just now doing, from the customary use of names and words, which the vulgar pervert in all sorts of ways, causing infinite perplexity to one another. Such, Theodorus, is the very slight help which I am able to offer to your old friend1; had he been living, he would have helped himself in a far more gloriose style.

Theod.

You are jesting, Socrates; indeed, your defence of him has been most valorous.

Soc.
Socrates insists that out of respect for his old friend, Theodorus must reply instead of Theaetetus.

Thank you, friend; and I hope that you observed Edition: current; Page: [226] Protagoras bidding us be serious, as the text, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ was a solemn one; and he reproached us with making a boy the medium of discourse, and said that the boy’s timidity was made to tell against his argument; he also declared that we made a joke of him.

Theod.

How could I fail to observe all that, Socrates?

Soc.

Well, and shall we do as he says?

Theod.

By all means.

Soc.

But if his wishes are to be regarded, you and I must take up the argument, and in all seriousness1, and ask and answer one another, for you see that the rest of us are nothing but boys. In no other way can we escape the imputation, that in our fresh analysis of his thesis we are making fun with boys.

Theod.

Well, but is not Theaetetus better able to follow a philosophical enquiry than a great many men who have long beards?

Soc.

Yes, Theodorus, but not better than you; and therefore please not to imagine that I am to defend by every means in my power your departed friend; and that you are to defend nothing and nobody. At any rate, my good man, Jowett1892: 169do not sheer off until we know whether you are a true measure of diagrams, or whether all men are equally measures and sufficient for themselves in astronomy and geometry, and the other branches of knowledge in which you are supposed to excel them.

Theod.
Theodorus compares Socrates to Scirrhon and Antaeus.

He who is sitting by you, Socrates, will not easily avoid being drawn into an argument; and when I said just now that you would excuse me, and not, like the Lacedaemonians, compel me to strip and fight, I was talking nonsense—I should rather compare you to Scirrhon, who threw travellers from the rocks; for the Lacedaemonian rule is ‘strip or depart,’ but you seem to go about your work more after the fashion of Antaeus: you will not allow any one who approaches you to depart until you have stripped him, and he has been compelled to try a fall with you in argument.

Soc.
Socrates replies that he often gets a broken head for his pains; but that he can never have enough of fighting.

There, Theodorus, you have hit off precisely the nature of my complaint; but I am even more pugnacious than the Edition: current; Page: [227] giants of old, for I have met with no end of heroes; many a Heracles, many a Theseus, mighty in words, has broken my head; nevertheless I am always at this rough exercise, which inspires me like a passion. Please, then, to try a fall with me, whereby you will do yourself good as well as me.

Theod.

I consent; lead me whither you will, for I know that you are like destiny; no man can escape from any argument which you may weave for him. But I am not disposed to go further than you suggest.

Soc.
We must be serious.

Once will be enough; and now take particular care that we do not again unwittingly expose ourselves to the reproach of talking childishly.

Theod.

I will do my best to avoid that error.

Soc.

In the first place, let us return to our old objection, and see whether we were right in blaming and taking offence at Protagoras on the ground that he assumed all to be equal and sufficient in wisdom; although he admitted that there was a better and worse, and that in respect of this, some who as he said were the wise excelled others.

Theod.

Very true.

Soc.

Had Protagoras been living and answered for himself, instead of our answering for him, there would have been no need of our reviewing or reinforcing the argument. But as he is not here, and some one may accuse us of speaking without authority on his behalf, had we not better come to a clearer agreement about his meaning, for a great deal may be at stake?

Theod.

True.

Soc.

Jowett1892: 170Then let us obtain, not through any third person, but from his own statement and in the fewest words possible, the basis of agreement.

Theod.

In what way?

Soc.
Protagoras’ thesis: ‘What appears to each man, is to him.’

In this way:—His words are, ‘What seems to a man, is to him.’

Theod.

Yes, so he says.

Soc.
Now every man will admit that some know more, some less than he;

And are not we, Protagoras, uttering the opinion of man, or rather of all mankind, when we say that every one thinks himself wiser than other men in some things, and their inferior in others? In the hour of danger, when they are in perils of war, or of the sea, or of sickness, do they not look Edition: current; Page: [228] up to their commanders as if they were gods, and expect salvation from them, only because they excel them in knowledge? Is not the world full of men in their several employments, who are looking for teachers and rulers of themselves and of the animals? and there are plenty who think that they are able to teach and able to rule. Now, in all this is implied that ignorance and wisdom exist among them, at least in their own opinion.

Theod.

Certainly.

Soc.

And wisdom is assumed by them to be true thought, and ignorance to be false opinion.

Theod.

Exactly.

Soc.
and this is enough to show that opinions clash,—a fact denied by Protagoras,

How then, Protagoras, would you have us treat the argument? Shall we say that the opinions of men are always true, or sometimes true and sometimes false? In either case, the result is the same, and their opinions are not always true, but sometimes true and sometimes false. For tell me, Theodorus, do you suppose that you yourself, or any other follower of Protagoras, would contend that no one deems another ignorant or mistaken in his opinion?

Theod.

The thing is incredible, Socrates.

Soc.

And yet that absurdity is necessarily involved in the thesis which declares man to be the measure of all things.

Theod.

How so?

Soc.
though very obvious.

Why, suppose that you determine in your own mind something to be true, and declare your opinion to me; let us assume, as he argues, that this is true to you. Now, if so, you must either say that the rest of us are not the judges of this opinion or judgment of yours, or that we judge you always to have a true opinion? But are there not thousands upon thousands who, whenever you form a judgment, take up arms against you and are of an opposite judgment and opinion, deeming that you judge falsely?

Theod.

Yes, indeed, Socrates, thousands and tens of thousands, as Homer says, who give me a world of trouble.

Soc.

Well, but are we to assert that what you think is true to you and false to the ten thousand others?

Theod.

No other inference seems to be possible.

Soc.
When opinions conflict, numbers ought to decide: this goes all against Protagoras.

And how about Protagoras himself? If neither he nor the multitude thought, as indeed they do not think, that Edition: current; Page: [229] man is the measure of all things, must it not follow that the Jowett1892: 171truth of which Protagoras wrote would be true to no one? But if you suppose that he himself thought this, and that the multitude does not agree with him, you must begin by allowing that in whatever proportion the many are more than one, in that proportion his truth is more untrue than true.

Theod.

That would follow if the truth is supposed to vary with individual opinion.

Soc.
In any case he acknowledges that their opinion is true who declare his to be false,

And the best of the joke is, that he acknowledges the truth of their opinion who believe his own opinion to be false; for he admits that the opinions of all men are true.

Theod.

Certainly.

Soc.

And does he not allow that his own opinion is false, if he admits that the opinion of those who think him false is true?

Theod.

Of course.

Soc.

Whereas the other side do not admit that they speak falsely?

Theod.

They do not.

Soc.

And he, as may be inferred from his writings, agrees that this opinion is also true.

Theod.

Clearly.

Soc.
and so denies the truth of his own doctrine.

Then all mankind, beginning with Protagoras, will contend, or rather, I should say that he will allow, when he concedes that his adversary has a true opinion—Protagoras, I say, will himself allow that neither a dog nor any ordinary man is the measure of anything which he has not learned—am I not right?

Theod.

Yes.

Soc.

And the truth of Protagoras being doubted by all, will be true neither to himself nor to any one else?

Theod.

I think, Socrates, that we are running my old friend too hard.

Soc.
But are we doing him justice?

But I do not know that we are going beyond the truth. Doubtless, as he is older, he may be expected to be wiser than we are. And if he could only just get his head out of the world below, he would have overthrown both of us again and again, me for talking nonsense and you for assenting to me, and have been off and underground in a trice. But as he is not within call, we must make the best use of Edition: current; Page: [230] our own faculties, such as they are, and speak out what appears to us to be true. And one thing which no one will deny is, that there are great differences in the understandings of men.

Theod.
A concession.

In that opinion I quite agree.

Soc.
His position is only true, if at all, in reference to sensible things;

And is there not most likely to be firm ground in the distinction which we were indicating on behalf of Protagoras, viz. that most things, and all immediate sensations, such as hot, dry, sweet, are only such as they appear; if however difference of opinion is to be allowed at all, surely we must allow it in respect of health or disease? for every woman, child, or living creature has not such a knowledge of what conduces to health as to enable them to cure themselves.

Theod.

I quite agree.

Soc.
and he himself admits that in politics one man is wiser than another. A larger question appears.

Or again, in politics, while affirming that just and Jowett1892: 172unjust, honourable and disgraceful, holy and unholy, are in reality to each state such as the state thinks and makes lawful, and that in determining these matters no individual or state is wiser than another, still the followers of Protagoras will not deny that in determining what is or is not expedient for the community one state is wiser and one counsellor better than another—they will scarcely venture to maintain, that what a city enacts in the belief that it is expedient will always be really expedient. But in the other case, I mean when they speak of justice and injustice, piety and impiety, they are confident that in nature these have no existence or essence of their own—the truth is that which is agreed on at the time of the agreement, and as long as the agreement lasts; and this is the philosophy of many who do not altogether go along with Protagoras. Here arises a new question, Theodorus, which threatens to be more serious than the last.

Theod.

Well, Socrates, we have plenty of leisure.

Soc.

That is true, and your remark recalls to my mind an observation which I have often made, that those who have passed their days in the pursuit of philosophy are ridiculously at fault when they have to appear and speak in court. How natural is this!

Theod.

What do you mean?

Soc.

I mean to say, that those who have been trained in Edition: current; Page: [231] philosophy and liberal pursuits are as unlike those who from their youth upwards have been knocking about in the courts and such places, as a freeman is in breeding unlike a slave.

Theod.
An apparent digression, in which is set forth, not the opposition of sense and knowledge, but a parallel contrast between the ways of the lawyer and philosopher.

In what is the difference seen?

Soc.
The lawyer is the slave of this world, the philosopher is the freeman.

In the leisure spoken of by you, which a freeman can always command: he has his talk out in peace, and, like ourselves, he wanders at will from one subject to another, and from a second to a third,—if the fancy takes him, he begins again, as we are doing now, caring not whether his words are many or few; his only aim is to attain the truth. But the lawyer is always in a hurry; there is the water of the clepsydra driving him on, and not allowing him to expatiate at will: and there is his adversary standing over him, enforcing his rights; the indictment, which in their phraseology is termed the affidavit, is recited at the time: and from this he must not deviate. He is a servant, and is continually disputing about a fellow-servant before his master, who is seated, and has the cause in his hands; the trial is never about some indifferent matter, but always concerns himself; and often the Jowett1892: 173race is for his life. The consequence has been, that he has become keen and shrewd; he has learned how to flatter his master in word and indulge him in deed; but his soul is small and unrighteous. His condition, which has been that of a slave from his youth upwards, has deprived him of growth and uprightness and independence; dangers and fears, which were too much for his truth and honesty, came upon him in early years, when the tenderness of youth was unequal to them, and he has been driven into crooked ways; from the first he has practised deception and retaliation, and has become stunted and warped. And so he has passed out of youth into manhood, having no soundness in him; and is now, as he thinks, a master in wisdom. Such is the lawyer, Theodorus. Will you have the companion picture of the philosopher, who is of our brotherhood; or shall we return to the argument? Do not let us abuse the freedom of digression which we claim.

Theod.

Nay, Socrates, not until we have finished what we are about; for you truly said that we belong to a brotherhood which is free, and are not the servants of the argument; but the argument is our servant, and must wait our leisure. Edition: current; Page: [232] Who is our judge? Or where is the spectator having any right to censure or control us, as he might the poets?

Soc.
The simplicity of the philosopher.

Then, as this is your wish, I will describe the leaders; for there is no use in talking about the inferior sort. In the first place, the lords of philosophy have never, from their youth upwards, known their way to the Agora, or the dicastery, or the council, or any other political assembly; they neither see nor hear the laws or decrees, as they are called, of the state written or recited; the eagerness of political societies in the attainment of offices—clubs, and banquets, and revels, and singing-maidens,—do not enter even into their dreams. Whether any event has turned out well or ill in the city, what disgrace may have descended to any one from his ancestors, male or female, are matters of which the philosopher no more knows than he can tell, as they say, how many pints are contained in the ocean. Neither is he conscious of his ignorance. For he does not hold aloof in order that he may gain a reputation; but the truth is, that the outer form of him only is in the city: his mind, disdaining the littlenesses and nothingnesses of human things, is ‘flying all abroad’ as Pindar says, measuring earth and heaven and the things which are under and on the earth and above the heaven, interrogating the whole nature of each and all in their entirety, but not condescending to anything which is Jowett1892: 174within reach.

Theod.

What do you mean, Socrates?

Soc.
He cannot see what is tumbling out at his feet.

I will illustrate my meaning, Theodorus, by the jest which the clever witty Thracian handmaid is said to have made about Thales, when he fell into a well as he was looking up at the stars. She said, that he was so eager to know what was going on in heaven, that he could not see what was before his feet. This is a jest which is equally applicable to all philosophers. For the philosopher is wholly unacquainted with his next-door neighbour; he is ignorant, not only of what he is doing, but he hardly knows whether he is a man or an animal; he is searching into the essence of man, and busy in enquiring what belongs to such a nature to do or suffer different from any other;—I think that you understand me, Theodorus?

Theod.

I do, and what you say is true.

Edition: current; Page: [233]
Soc.
He is the laughing-stock of mankind whenever he appears in public. His irony: his ideas of kings and tyrants, of landed property, and of long pedigrees. To the world he is a fool.

And thus, my friend, on every occasion, private as well as public, as I said at first, when he appears in a law-court, or in any place in which he has to speak of things which are at his feet and before his eyes, he is the jest, not only of Thracian handmaids but of the general herd, tumbling into wells and every sort of disaster through his inexperience. His awkwardness is fearful, and gives the impression of imbecility. When he is reviled, he has nothing personal to say in answer to the civilities of his adversaries, for he knows no scandals of any one, and they do not interest him; and therefore he is laughed at for his sheepishness; and when others are being praised and glorified, in the simplicity of his heart he cannot help going into fits of laughter, so that he seems to be a downright idiot. When he hears a tyrant or king eulogized, he fancies that he is listening to the praises of some keeper of cattle—a swineherd, or shepherd, or perhaps a cowherd, who is congratulated on the quantity of milk which he squeezes from them; and he remarks that the creature whom they tend, and out of whom they squeeze the wealth, is of a less tractable and more insidious nature. Then, again, he observes that the great man is of necessity as ill-mannered and uneducated as any shepherd—for he has no leisure, and he is surrounded by a wall, which is his mountain-pen. Hearing of enormous landed proprietors of ten thousand acres and more, our philosopher deems this to be a trifle, because he has been accustomed to think of the whole earth; and when they sing the praises of family, and say that some one is a gentleman because he can show seven generations of wealthy ancestors, he thinks that their sentiments Jowett1892: 175only betray a dull and narrow vision in those who utter them, and who are not educated enough to look at the whole, nor to consider that every man has had thousands and ten thousands of progenitors, and among them have been rich and poor, kings and slaves, Hellenes and barbarians, innumerable. And when people pride themselves on having a pedigree of twenty-five ancestors, which goes back to Heracles, the son of Amphitryon, he cannot understand their poverty of ideas. Why are they unable to calculate that Amphitryon had a twenty-fifth ancestor, who might have been anybody, and was such as fortune made him, and he Edition: current; Page: [234] had a fiftieth, and so on? He amuses himself with the notion that they cannot count, and thinks that a little arithmetic would have got rid of their senseless vanity. Now, in all these cases our philosopher is derided by the vulgar, partly because he is thought to despise them, and also because he is ignorant of what is before him, and always at a loss.

Theod.

That is very true, Socrates.

Soc.
He has his revenge upon the lawyer.

But, O my friend, when he draws the other into upper air, and gets him out of his pleas and rejoinders into the contemplation of justice and injustice in their own nature and in their difference from one another and from all other things; or from the commonplaces about the happiness of a king or of a rich man to the consideration of government, and of human happiness and misery in general—what they are, and how a man is to attain the one and avoid the other—when that narrow, keen, little legal mind is called to account about all this, he gives the philosopher his revenge; for dizzied by the height at which he is hanging, whence he looks down into space, which is a strange experience to him, he being dismayed, and lost, and stammering broken words, is laughed at, not by Thracian handmaidens or any other uneducated persons, for they have no eye for the situation, but by every man who has not been brought up a slave. Such are the two characters, Theodorus: the one of the freeman, who has been trained in liberty and leisure, whom you call the philosopher,—him we cannot blame because he appears simple and of no account when he has to perform some menial task, such as packing up bed-clothes, or flavouring a sauce or fawning speech; the other character is that of the man who is able to do all this kind of service smartly and neatly, but knows not how to wear his cloak like a Jowett1892: 176gentleman; still less with the music of discourse can be hymn the true life aright which is lived by immortals or men blessed of heaven.

Theod.

If you could only persuade everybody, Socrates, as you do me, of the truth of your words, there would be more peace and fewer evils among men.

Soc.
Evil a necessary part of human nature, from which men can only fly away when they become like God.

Evils, Theodorus, can never pass away; for there must always remain something which is antagonistic to good. Edition: current; Page: [235] Having no place among the gods in heaven, of necessity they hover around the mortal nature, and this earthly sphere. Wherefore we ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like him, is to become holy, just, and wise. But, O my friend, you cannot easily convince mankind that they should pursue virtue or avoid vice, not merely in order that a man may seem to be good, which is the reason given by the world, and in my judgment is only a repetition of an old wives’ fable. Whereas, the truth is that God is never in any way unrighteous—he is perfect righteousness; and he of us who is the most righteous is most like him. Herein is seen the true cleverness of a man, and also his nothingness and want of manhood. For to know this is true wisdom and virtue, and ignorance of this is manifest folly and vice. All other kinds of wisdom or cleverness, which seem only, such as the wisdom of politicians, or the wisdom of the arts, are coarse and vulgar. The unrighteous man, or the sayer and doer of unholy things, had far better not be encouraged in the illusion that his roguery is clever; for men glory in their shame—they fancy that they hear others saying of them, ‘These are not mere good-for-nothing persons, mere burdens of the earth, but such as men should be who mean to dwell safely in a state.’ Let us tell them that they are all the more truly what they do not think they are because they do not know it; for they do not know the penalty of injustice, which above all things they ought to know—not stripes and death, as they suppose, which evil-doers often escape, but a penalty which cannot be escaped.

Theod.

What is that?

Soc.
The wicked will only laugh at the truth.

There are two patterns eternally set before them; the one blessed and divine, the other godless and wretched: but they do not see them, or perceive that in their utter folly and infatuation they are growing like the one and unlike the Jowett1892: 177other, by reason of their evil deeds; and the penalty is, that they lead a life answering to the pattern which they are growing like. And if we tell them, that unless they depart from their cunning, the place of innocence will not receive them after death; and that here on earth, they will live ever Edition: current; Page: [236] in the likeness of their own evil selves, and with evil friends—when they hear this they in their superior cunning will seem to be listening to the talk of idiots.

Theod.

Very true, Socrates.

Soc.
A strange thing: when they consent to reason about philosophy, they are as helpless as children.

Too true, my friend, as I well know; there is, however, one peculiarity in their case: when they begin to reason in private about their dislike of philosophy, if they have the courage to hear the argument out, and do not run away, they grow at last strangely discontented with themselves; their rhetoric fades away, and they become helpless as children. These however are digressions from which we must now desist, or they will overflow, and drown the original argument; to which, if you please, we will now return.

Theod.
End of digression.

For my part, Socrates, I would rather have the digressions, for at my age I find them easier to follow; but if you wish, let us go back to the argument.

Soc.
The partisans of the flux were saying that the ordinances of a state were always just, but they did not venture to affirm that they were always good.

Had we not reached the point at which the partisans of the perpetual flux, who say that things are as they seem to each one, were confidently maintaining that the ordinances which the state commanded and thought just, were just to the state which imposed them, while they were in force; this was especially asserted of justice; but as to the good, no one had any longer the hardihood to contend of any ordinances which the state thought and enacted to be good that these, while they were in force, were really good;—he who said so would be playing with the name ‘good,’ and would not touch the real question—it would be a mockery, would it not?

Theod.

Certainly it would.

Soc.

He ought not to speak of the name, but of the thing which is contemplated under the name.

Theod.

Right.

Soc.

Whatever be the term used, the good or expedient is the aim of legislation, and as far as she has an opinion, the state imposes all laws with a view to the greatest expediency; can legislation have any other aim?

Theod.

Certainly not. Jowett1892: 178

Soc.

But is the aim attained always? do not mistakes often happen?

Theod.

Yes, I think that there are mistakes.

Soc.
Is every man equally a judge of the expedient, or, to speak generally, of the future?

The possibility of error will be more distinctly recognised, Edition: current; Page: [237] if we put the question in reference to the whole class under which the good or expedient falls. That whole class has to do with the future, and laws are passed under the idea that they will be useful in after-time; which, in other words, is the future.

Theod.

Very true.

Soc.

Suppose now, that we ask Protagoras, or one of his disciples, a question:—O, Protagoras, we will say to him, Man is, as you declare, the measure of all things—white, heavy, light: of all such things he is the judge; for he has the criterion of them in himself, and when he thinks that things are such as he experiences them to be, he thinks what is and is true to himself. Is it not so?

Theod.

Yes.

Soc.
Certainly not in the case of medicine:

And do you extend your doctrine, Protagoras (as we shall further say), to the future as well as to the present; and has he the criterion not only of what in his opinion is but of what will be, and do things always happen to him as he expected? For example, take the case of heat:—When an ordinary man thinks that he is going to have a fever, and that this kind of heat is coming on, and another person, who is a physician, thinks the contrary, whose opinion is likely to prove right? Or are they both right?—he will have a heat and fever in his own judgment, and not have a fever in the physician’s judgment?

Theod.

How ludicrous!

Soc.
nor of vinegrowing:

And the vinegrower, if I am not mistaken, is a better judge of the sweetness or dryness of the vintage which is not yet gathered than the harp-player?

Theod.

Certainly.

Soc.

And in musical composition the musician will know better than the training master what the training master himself will hereafter think harmonious or the reverse?

Theod.

Of course.

Soc.
nor of cookery;

And the cook will be a better judge than the guest, who is not a cook, of the pleasure to be derived from the dinner which is in preparation; for of present or past pleasure we are not as yet arguing; but can we say that every one will be to himself the best judge of the pleasure which will seem to be and will be to him in the future?—nay, Edition: current; Page: [238] would not you, Protagoras, better guess which arguments in a court would convince any one of us than the ordinary man?

Theod.
nor of rhetoric, legislation, &c.

Certainly, Socrates, he used to profess in the strongest manner that he was the superior of all men in this respect.

Soc.
Protagoras himself was wiser than the ordinary man about the future, and was well paid for it.

To be sure, friend: who would have paid a large sum Jowett1892: 179for the privilege of talking to him, if he had really1 persuaded his visitors that neither a prophet nor any other man was better able to judge what will be and seem to be in the future than every one could for himself?

Theod.

Who indeed?

Soc.

And legislation and expediency are all concerned with the future; and every one will admit that states, in passing laws, must often fail of their highest interests?

Theod.

Quite true.

Soc.

Then we may fairly argue against your master, that he must admit one man to be wiser than another, and that the wiser is a measure: but I, who know nothing, am not at all obliged to accept the honour which the advocate of Protagoras was just now forcing upon me, whether I would or not, of being a measure of anything.

Theod.
The refutation is complete.

That is the best refutation of him, Socrates; although he is also caught when he ascribes truth to the opinions of others, who give the lie direct to his own opinion.

Soc.

There are many ways, Theodorus, in which the doctrine that every opinion of every man is true may be refuted; but there is more difficulty in proving that states of feeling, which are present to a man, and out of which arise sensations and opinions in accordance with them, are also untrue. And very likely I have been talking nonsense about them; for they may be unassailable, and those who say that there is clear evidence of them, and that they are matters of knowledge, may probably be right; in which case our friend Theaetetus was not so far from the mark when he identified perception and knowledge. And therefore let us draw nearer, as the advocate of Protagoras desires, and give the truth of the universal flux a ring: is the theory sound or not? at any rate, no small war is raging about it, and there are combatants not a few.

Edition: current; Page: [239]
Theod.

No small war, indeed, for in Ionia the sect makes rapid strides; the disciples of Heracleitus are most energetic upholders of the doctrine.

Soc.
The friends of Heracleitus wage a violent controversy about the universal flux. But we must take the argument out of the hands of these lunatics and fanatics, if we would test it.

Then we are the more bound, my dear Theodorus, to examine the question from the foundation as it is set forth by themselves.

Theod.

Certainly we are. About these speculations of Heracleitus, which, as you say, are as old as Homer, or even older still, the Ephesians themselves, who profess to know them, are downright mad, and you cannot talk with them on the subject. For, in accordance with their text-books, they are always in motion; but as for dwelling upon an argument Jowett1892: 180or a question, and quietly asking and answering in turn, they can no more do so than they can fly; or rather, the determination of these fellows not to have a particle of rest in them is more than the utmost powers of negation can express. If you ask any of them a question, he will produce, as from a quiver, sayings brief and dark, and shoot them at you; and if you enquire the reason of what he has said, you will be hit by some other new-fangled word, and will make no way with any of them, nor they with one another; their great care is, not to allow of any settled principle either in their arguments or in their minds, conceiving, as I imagine, that any such principle would be stationary; for they are at war with the stationary, and do what they can to drive it out everywhere.

Soc.

I suppose, Theodorus, that you have only seen them when they were fighting, and have never stayed with them in time of peace, for they are no friends of yours; and their peace doctrines are only communicated by them at leisure, as I imagine, to those disciples of theirs whom they want to make like themselves.

Theod.

Disciples! my good sir, they have none; men of their sort are not one another’s disciples, but they grow up at their own sweet will, and get their inspiration anywhere, each of them saying of his neighbour that he knows nothing. From these men, then, as I was going to remark, you will never get a reason, whether with their will or without their will; we must take the question out of their hands, and make the analysis ourselves, as if we were doing a geometrical problem.

Edition: current; Page: [240]
Soc.
The ancients held similar views, which they veiled in poetical figures. Then came the opposite doctrine of Parmenides and Melissus.

Quite right too; but as touching the aforesaid problem, have we not heard from the ancients, who concealed their wisdom from the many in poetical figures, that Oceanus and Tethys, the origin of all things, are streams, and that nothing is at rest? And now the moderns, in their superior wisdom, have declared the same openly, that the cobbler too may hear and learn of them, and no longer foolishly imagine that some things are at rest and others in motion—having learned that all is motion, he will duly honour his teachers. I had almost forgotten the opposite doctrine, Theodorus,

‘Alone Being remains unmoved, which is the name for the all.’

Which side shall we take—motion or rest?

This is the language of Parmenides, Melissus, and their followers, who stoutly maintain that all being is one and self-contained, and has no place in which to move. What shall we do, friend, with all these people; for, advancing step by step, we have imperceptibly got between the combatants, and, unless we can protect our retreat, we shall pay the Jowett1892: 181penalty of our rashness—like the players in the palaestra who are caught upon the line, and are dragged different ways by the two parties. Therefore I think that we had better begin by considering those whom we first accosted, ‘the river-gods,’ and, if we find any truth in them, we will help them to pull us over, and try to get away from the others. But if the partisans of ‘the whole’ appear to speak more truly, we will fly off from the party which would move the immovable, to them. And if we find that neither of them have anything reasonable to say, we shall be in a ridiculous position, having so great a conceit of our own poor opinion and rejecting that of ancient and famous men. O Theodorus, do you think that there is any use in proceeding when the danger is so great?

Theod.

Nay, Socrates, not to examine thoroughly what the two parties have to say would be quite intolerable.

Soc.

Then examine we must, since you, who were so reluctant to begin, are so eager to proceed. The nature of motion appears to be the question with which we begin. What do they mean when they say that all things are in motion? Is there only one kind of motion, or, as I rather Edition: current; Page: [241] incline to think, two? I should like to have your opinion upon this point in addition to my own, that I may err, if I must err, in your company; tell me, then, when a thing changes from one place to another, or goes round in the same place, is not that what is called motion?

Theod.

Yes.

Soc.
The advocates of motion must of necessity maintain that all things partake of all kinds of motion.

Here then we have one kind of motion. But when a thing, remaining on the same spot, grows old, or becomes black from being white, or hard from being soft, or undergoes any other change, may not this be properly called motion of another kind?

Theod.

I think so.

Soc.

Say rather that it must be so. Of motion then there are these two kinds, ‘change,’ and ‘motion in place1.’

Theod.

You are right.

Soc.

And now, having made this distinction, let us address ourselves to those who say that all is motion, and ask them whether all things according to them have the two kinds of motion, and are changed as well as move in place, or is one thing moved in both ways, and another in one only?

Theod.

Indeed, I do not know what to answer; but I think they would say that all things are moved in both ways.

Soc.

Yes, comrade; for, if not, they would have to say that the same things are in motion and at rest, and there would be no more truth in saying that all things are in motion, than that all things are at rest.

Theod.

To be sure.

Soc.

And if they are to be in motion, and nothing is to be Jowett1892: 182devoid of motion, all things must always have every sort of motion?

Theod.

Most true.

Soc.
Recapitulation of the Heraclitean theory of sensation and qualities.

Consider a further point: did we not understand them to explain the generation of heat, whiteness, or anything else, in some such manner as the following:—were they not saying that each of them is moving between the agent and the patient, together with a perception, and that the patient ceases to be a perceiving power and becomes a Edition: current; Page: [242] percipient, and the agent a quale instead of a quality? I suspect that quality may appear a strange and uncouth term to you, and that you do not understand the abstract expression. Then I will take concrete instances: I mean to say that the producing power or agent becomes neither heat nor whiteness, but hot and white, and the like of other things. For I must repeat what I said before, that neither the agent nor patient have any absolute existence, but when they come together and generate sensations and their objects, the one becomes a thing of a certain quality, and the other a percipient. You remember?

Theod.

Of course.

Soc.

We may leave the details of their theory unexamined, but we must not forget to ask them the only question with which we are concerned: Are all things in motion and flux?

Theod.

Yes, they will reply.

Soc.
Since each quality not only moves in place, but changes at the same time, one name cannot be more appropriate to it than another.

And they are moved in both those ways which we distinguished; that is to say, they move in place and are also changed?

Theod.

Of course, if the motion is to be perfect.

Soc.

If they only moved in place and were not changed, we should be able to say what is the nature of the things which are in motion and flux?

Theod.

Exactly.

Soc.

But now, since not even white continues to flow white, and whiteness itself is a flux or change which is passing into another colour, and is never to be caught standing still, can the name of any colour be rightly used at all?

Theod.

How is that possible, Socrates, either in the case of this or of any other quality—if while we are using the word the object is escaping in the flux?

Soc.

And what would you say of perceptions, such as sight and hearing, or any other kind of perception? Is there any stopping in the act of seeing and hearing?

Theod.

Certainly not, if all things are in motion.

Soc.
So too with sensations: seeing might just as well be called not-seeing; and, to come to our definition, knowledge is no more perception than non-perception.

Then we must not speak of seeing any more than of not-seeing, nor of any other perception more than of any non-perception, if all things partake of every kind of motion?

Edition: current; Page: [243]
Theod.

Certainly not.

Soc.
Socrates, Theodorus, Theaetetus.

Yet perception is knowledge: so at least Theaetetus and I were saying.

Theod.

Very true.

Soc.

Then when we were asked what is knowledge, we no more answered what is knowledge than what is not knowledge?

Theod.

I suppose not.

Soc.

Jowett1892: 183Here, then, is a fine result: we corrected our first answer in our eagerness to prove that nothing is at rest. But if nothing is at rest, every answer upon whatever subject is equally right: you may say that a thing is or is not thus; or, if you prefer, ‘becomes’ thus; and if we say ‘becomes,’ we shall not then hamper them with words expressive of rest.

Theod.

Quite true.

Soc.

Yes, Theodorus, except in saying ‘thus’ and ‘not thus.’ But you ought not to use the word ‘thus,’ for there is no motion in ‘thus’ or in ‘not thus.’ The maintainers of the doctrine have as yet no words in which to express themselves, and must get a new language. I know of no word that will suit them, except perhaps ‘no how,’ which is perfectly indefinite.

Theod.

Yes, that is a manner of speaking in which they will be quite at home.

Soc.
The theory is refuted so far as it is based on a perpetual flux.

And so, Theodorus, we have got rid of your friend without assenting to his doctrine, that every man is the measure of all things—a wise man only is a measure; neither can we allow that knowledge is perception, certainly not on the hypothesis of a perpetual flux, unless perchance our friend Theaetetus is able to convince us that it is.

Theod.

Very good, Socrates; and now that the argument about the doctrine of Protagoras has been completed, I am absolved from answering; for this was the agreement.

Theaet.
Theaetetus wishes to hear a discussion of the opposite doctrine of rest.

Not, Theodorus, until you and Socrates have discussed the doctrine of those who say that all things are at rest, as you were proposing.

Theod.

You, Theaetetus, who are a young rogue, must not instigate your elders to a breach of faith, but should prepare to answer Socrates in the remainder of the argument.

Edition: current; Page: [244]
Theaet.

Yes, if he wishes; but I would rather have heard about the doctrine of rest.

Theod.

Invite Socrates to an argument—invite horsemen to the open plain; do but ask him, and he will answer.

Soc.

Nevertheless, Theodorus, I am afraid that I shall not be able to comply with the request of Theaetetus.

Theod.

Not comply! for what reason?

Soc.
Socrates is afraid of entering on the question. He has so great an awe of Parmenides, and he has not yet ‘delivered’ Theaetetus of his conception of knowledge.

My reason is that I have a kind of reverence; not so much for Melissus and the others, who say that ‘All is one and at rest,’ as for the great leader himself, Parmenides, venerable and awful, as in Homeric language he may be called;—him I should be ashamed to approach in a spirit unworthy of him. I met him when he was an old man, and I was a mere youth, and he appeared to me to have a glorious depth of mind. And I am afraid that we may not Jowett1892: 184understand his words, and may be still further from understanding his meaning; above all I fear that the nature of knowledge, which is the main subject of our discussion, may be thrust out of sight by the unbidden guests who will come pouring in upon our feast of discourse, if we let them in—besides, the question which is now stirring is of immense extent, and will be treated unfairly if only considered by the way; or if treated adequately and at length, will put into the shade the other question of knowledge. Neither the one nor the other can be allowed; but I must try by my art of midwifery to deliver Theaetetus of his conceptions about knowledge.

Theaet.

Very well; do so if you will.

Soc.

Then now, Theaetetus, take another view of the subject: you answered that knowledge is perception?

Theaet.

I did.

Soc.
Another point of view.

And if any one were to ask you: With what does a man see black and white colours? and with what does he hear high and low sounds?—you would say, if I am not mistaken, ‘With the eyes and with the ears.’

Theaet.

I should.

Soc.
Socrates, Theaetetus.

The free use of words and phrases, rather than minute precision, is generally characteristic of a liberal education, and the opposite is pedantic; but sometimes precision is necessary, and I believe that the answer which Edition: current; Page: [245] you have just given is open to the charge of incorrectness; for which is more correct, to say that we see or hear with the eyes and with the ears, or through the eyes and through the ears.

Theaet.

I should say ‘through,’ Socrates, rather than ‘with.’

Soc.

Yes, my boy, for no one can suppose that in each of us, as in a sort of Trojan horse, there are perched a number of unconnected senses, which do not all meet in some one nature, the mind, or whatever we please to call it, of which they are the instruments, and with which through them we perceive objects of sense.

Theaet.

I agree with you in that opinion.

Soc.
We perceive sensible things not through, but with the mind, and not with, but through the senses.

The reason why I am thus precise is, because I want to know whether, when we perceive black and white through the eyes, and again, other qualities through other organs, we do not perceive them with one and the same part of ourselves, and, if you were asked, you might refer all such perceptions to the body. Perhaps, however, I had better allow you to answer for yourself and not interfere. Tell me, then, are not the organs through which you perceive warm and hard and light and sweet, organs of the body?

Theaet.

Of the body, certainly.

Soc.
The senses differ from each other, and have no objects in common.

Jowett1892: 185And you would admit that what you perceive through one faculty you cannot perceive through another; the objects of hearing, for example, cannot be perceived through sight, or the objects of sight through hearing?

Theaet.

Of course not.

Soc.

If you have any thought about both of them, this common perception cannot come to you, either through the one or the other organ?

Theaet.

It cannot.

Soc.

How about sounds and colours: in the first place you would admit that they both exist?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And that either of them is different from the other, and the same with itself?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And that both are two and each of them one?

Theaet.

Yes.

Edition: current; Page: [246]
Soc.

You can further observe whether they are like or unlike one another?

Theaet.

I dare say.

Soc.

But through what do you perceive all this about them? for neither through hearing nor yet through seeing can you apprehend that which they have in common. Let me give you an illustration of the point at issue:—If there were any meaning in asking whether sounds and colours are saline or not, you would be able to tell me what faculty would consider the question. It would not be sight or hearing, but some other.

Theaet.

Certainly; the faculty of taste.

Soc.

Very good; and now tell me what is the power which discerns, not only in sensible objects, but in all things, universal notions, such as those which are called being and not-being, and those others about which we were just asking—what organs will you assign for the perception of these notions?

Theaet.
General ideas are perceived by the mind alone without the help of the senses.

You are thinking of being and not-being, likeness and unlikeness, sameness and difference, and also of unity and other numbers which are applied to objects of sense; and you mean to ask, through what bodily organ the soul perceives odd and even numbers and other arithmetical conceptions.

Soc.

You follow me excellently, Theaetetus; that is precisely what I am asking.

Theaet.

Indeed, Socrates, I cannot answer; my only notion is, that these, unlike objects of sense, have no separate organ, but that the mind, by a power of her own, contemplates the universals in all things.

Soc.

You are a beauty, Theaetetus, and not ugly, as Theodorus was saying; for he who utters the beautiful is himself beautiful and good. And besides being beautiful, you have done me a kindness in releasing me from a very long discussion, if you are clear that the soul views some things by herself and others through the bodily organs. For that was my own opinion, and I wanted you to agree with me.

Theaet.

I am quite clear.

Soc.

And to which class would you refer being or essence; Jowett1892: 186for this, of all our notions, is the most universal?

Edition: current; Page: [247]
Theaet.

I should say, to that class which the soul aspires to know of herself.

Soc.

And would you say this also of like and unlike, same and other?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And would you say the same of the noble and base, and of good and evil?

Theaet.

These I conceive to be notions which are essentially relative, and which the soul also perceives by comparing in herself things past and present with the future.

Soc.
The senses perceive objects of sense, but the mind alone can compare them.

And does she not perceive the hardness of that which is hard by the touch, and the softness of that which is soft equally by the touch?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

But their essence and what they are, and their opposition to one another, and the essential nature of this opposition, the soul herself endeavours to decide for us by the review and comparison of them?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.
Sensations are given at birth, but truth and being, which are essential to knowledge, are acquired by reflection later on.

The simple sensations which reach the soul through the body are given at birth to men and animals by nature, but their reflections on the being and use of them are slowly and hardly gained, if they are ever gained, by education and long experience.

Theaet.

Assuredly.

Soc.

And can a man attain truth who fails of attaining being?

Theaet.

Impossible.

Soc.

And can he who misses the truth of anything, have a knowledge of that thing?

Theaet.

He cannot.

Soc.

Then knowledge does not consist in impressions of sense, but in reasoning about them; in that only, and not in the mere impression, truth and being can be attained?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.

And would you call the two processes by the same name, when there is so great a difference between them?

Theaet.

That would certainly not be right.

Soc.

And what name would you give to seeing, hearing, smelling, being cold and being hot?

Edition: current; Page: [248]
Theaet.

I should call all of them perceiving—what other name could be given to them?

Soc.

Perception would be the collective name of them?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Which, as we say, has no part in the attainment of truth any more than of being?

Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.

And therefore not in science or knowledge?

Theaet.

No.

Soc.

Then perception, Theaetetus, can never be the same as knowledge or science?

Theaet.

Clearly not, Socrates; and knowledge has now been most distinctly proved to be different from perception.

Soc.
We have found out then what knowledge is not. But what is it?

But the original aim of our discussion was to find out Jowett1892: 187rather what knowledge is than what it is not; at the same time we have made some progress, for we no longer seek for knowledge in perception at all, but in that other process, however called, in which the mind is alone and engaged with being.

Theaet.

You mean, Socrates, if I am not mistaken, what is called thinking or opining.

Soc.

You conceive truly. And now, my friend, please to begin again at this point; and having wiped out of your memory all that has preceded, see if you have arrived at any clearer view, and once more say what is knowledge.

Theaet.
Theaetetus boldly answers, ‘True opinion.’

I cannot say, Socrates, that all opinion is knowledge, because there may be a false opinion; but I will venture to assert, that knowledge is true opinion: let this then be my reply; and if this is hereafter disproved, I must try to find another.

Soc.

That is the way in which you ought to answer, Theaetetus, and not in your former hesitating strain, for if we are bold we shall gain one of two advantages; either we shall find what we seek, or we shall be less likely to think that we know what we do not know—in either case we shall be richly rewarded. And now, what are you saying?—Are there two sorts of opinion, one true and the other false; and do you define knowledge to be the true?

Theaet.

Yes, according to my present view.

Edition: current; Page: [249]
Soc.

Is it still worth our while to resume the discussion touching opinion?

Theaet.

To what are you alluding?

Soc.

There is a point which often troubles me, and is a great perplexity to me, both in regard to myself and others. I cannot make out the nature or origin of the mental experience to which I refer.

Theaet.

Pray what is it?

Soc.
But false opinion is impossible, (1) in the sphere of knowledge:

How there can be false opinion—that difficulty still troubles the eye of my mind; and I am uncertain whether I shall leave the question, or begin over again in a new way.

Theaet.

Begin again, Socrates,—at least if you think that there is the slightest necessity for doing so. Were not you and Theodorus just now remarking very truly, that in discussions of this kind we may take our own time?

Soc.

You are quite right, and perhaps there will be no harm in retracing our steps and beginning again. Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Well, and what is the difficulty? Do we not speak of false opinion, and say that one man holds a false and another a true opinion, as though there were some natural distinction between them?

Theaet.

We certainly say so.

Soc.
for all things are either known or not known;

Jowett1892: 188All things and everything are either known or not known. I leave out of view the intermediate conceptions of learning and forgetting, because they have nothing to do with our present question.

Theaet.

There can be no doubt, Socrates, if you exclude these, that there is no other alternative but knowing or not knowing a thing.

Soc.

That point being now determined, must we not say that he who has an opinion, must have an opinion about something which he knows or does not know?

Theaet.

He must.

Soc.

He who knows, cannot but know; and he who does not know, cannot know?

Theaet.

Of course.

Soc.

What shall we say then? When a man has a false Edition: current; Page: [250] opinion does he think that which he knows to be some other thing which he knows, and knowing both, is he at the same time ignorant of both?

Theaet.
and a man cannot think one thing, which he knows or does not know, to be another thing which he knows or does not know; nor what he does not know to be what he knows, or vice versa:

That, Socrates, is impossible.

Soc.

But perhaps he thinks of something which he does not know as some other thing which he does not know; for example, he knows neither Theaetetus nor Socrates, and yet he fancies that Theaetetus is Socrates, or Socrates Theaetetus?

Theaet.

How can he?

Soc.

But surely he cannot suppose what he knows to be what he does not know, or what he does not know to be what he knows?

Theaet.

That would be monstrous.

Soc.

Where, then, is false opinion? For if all things are either known or unknown, there can be no opinion which is not comprehended under this alternative, and so false opinion is excluded.

Theaet.

Most true.

Soc.
and (2) in the sphere of being:

Suppose that we remove the question out of the sphere of knowing or not knowing, into that of being and not-being.

Theaet.

What do you mean?

Soc.

May we not suspect the simple truth to be that he who thinks about anything, that which is not, will necessarily think what is false, whatever in other respects may be the state of his mind?

Theaet.

That, again, is not unlikely, Socrates.

Soc.

Then suppose some one to say to us, Theaetetus:—Is it possible for any man to think that which is not, either as a self-existent substance or as a predicate of something else? And suppose that we answer, ‘Yes, he can, when he thinks what is not true.’—That will be our answer?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

But is there any parallel to this?

Theaet.

What do you mean?

Soc.
for it is impossible when seeing or hearing not to see or hear some existing thing.

Can a man see something and yet see nothing?

Theaet.

Impossible.

Soc.

But if he sees any one thing, he sees something that exists. Do you suppose that what is one is ever to be found among non-existing things?

Edition: current; Page: [251]
Theaet.

I do not.

Soc.

He then who sees some one thing, sees something which is?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.

Jowett1892: 189And he who hears anything, hears some one thing, and hears that which is?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And he who touches anything, touches something which is one and therefore is?

Theaet.

That again is true.

Soc.

And does not he who thinks, think some one thing?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And does not he who thinks some one thing, think something which is?

Theaet.

I agree.

Soc.
To think what is not is not to think.

Then he who thinks of that which is not, thinks of nothing?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.

And he who thinks of nothing, does not think at all?

Theaet.

Obviously.

Soc.

Then no one can think that which is not, either as a self-existent substance or as a predicate of something else?

Theaet.

Clearly not.

Soc.

Then to think falsely is different from thinking that which is not?

Theaet.

It would seem so.

Soc.
False opinion must be sought elsewhere.

Then false opinion has no existence in us, either in the sphere of being or of knowledge?

Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.

But may not the following be the description of what we express by this name?

Theaet.
One real object may be thought to be some other real object.—This Theaetetus emphatically affirms to be truly false.

What?

Soc.

May we not suppose that false opinion or thought is a sort of heterodoxy; a person may make an exchange in his mind, and say that one real object is another real object. For thus he always thinks that which is, but he puts one thing in place of another, and missing the aim of his thoughts, he may be truly said to have false opinion.

Theaet.

Now you appear to me to have spoken the exact Edition: current; Page: [252] truth: when a man puts the base in the place of the noble, or the noble in the place of the base, then he has truly false opinion.

Soc.

I see, Theaetetus, that your fear has disappeared, and that you are beginning to despise me.

Theaet.

What makes you say so?

Soc.
Socrates allows this contradiction to pass, and proceeds to ask whether a man ever believed one of two things which he had in his mind to be the other.

You think, if I am not mistaken, that your ‘truly false’ is safe from censure, and that I shall never ask whether there can be a swift which is slow, or a heavy which is light, or any other self-contradictory thing, which works, not according to its own nature, but according to that of its opposite. But I will not insist upon this, for I do not wish needlessly to discourage you. And so you are satisfied that false opinion is heterodoxy, or the thought of something else?

Theaet.

I am.

Soc.

It is possible then upon your view for the mind to conceive of one thing as another?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

But must not the mind, or thinking power, which misplaces them, have a conception either of both objects or of one of them?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Either together or in succession?

Theaet.

Very good.

Soc.

And do you mean by conceiving, the same which I mean?

Theaet.

What is that?

Soc.

I mean the conversation which the soul holds with herself in considering of anything. I speak of what I scarcely understand; but the soul when thinking appears Jowett1892: 190to me to be just talking—asking questions of herself and answering them, affirming and denying. And when she has arrived at a decision, either gradually or by a sudden impulse, and has at last agreed, and does not doubt, this is called her opinion. I say, then, that to form an opinion is to speak, and opinion is a word spoken,—I mean, to oneself and in silence, not aloud or to another: What think you?

Theaet.

I agree.

Edition: current; Page: [253]
Soc.

Then when any one thinks of one thing as another, he is saying to himself that one thing is another?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
But how can one thing be thought to be another? e. g. no one ever says to himself that the noble is the base, or that odd is even.

But do you ever remember saying to yourself that the noble is certainly base, or the unjust just; or, best of all—have you ever attempted to convince yourself that one thing is another? Nay, not even in sleep, did you ever venture to say to yourself that odd is even, or anything of the kind?

Theaet.

Never.

Soc.

And do you suppose that any other man, either in his senses or out of them, ever seriously tried to persuade himself that an ox is a horse, or that two are one?

Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.

But if thinking is talking to oneself, no one speaking and thinking of two objects, and apprehending them both in his soul, will say and think that the one is the other of them, and I must add, that even you, lover of dispute as you are, had better let the word ‘other’ alone [i. e. not insist that ‘one’ and ‘other’ are the same1]. I mean to say, that no one thinks the noble to be base, or anything of the kind.

Theaet.

I will give up the word ‘other,’ Socrates; and I agree to what you say.

Soc.
It is admitted on all hands that no one can confuse two things, either when he has both in his mind, or when he has only one.

If a man has both of them in his thoughts, he cannot think that the one of them is the other?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Neither, if he has one of them only in his mind and not the other, can he think that one is the other?

Theaet.

True; for we should have to suppose that he apprehends that which is not in his thoughts at all.

Soc.

Then no one who has either both or only one of the two objects in his mind can think that the one is the other. And therefore, he who maintains that false opinion is heterodoxy is talking nonsense; for neither in this, any more than in the previous way, can false opinion exist in us.

Theaet.

No.

Edition: current; Page: [254]
Soc.

But if, Theaetetus, this is not admitted, we shall be driven into many absurdities.

Theaet.

What are they?

Soc.
We are in great straits. A way out of the difficulty: Theaetetus may know Socrates, and yet mistake another whom he sees, but does not know, for him.

I will not tell you until I have endeavoured to consider the matter from every point of view. For I should be Jowett1892: 191ashamed of us if we were driven in our perplexity to admit the absurd consequences of which I speak. But if we find the solution, and get away from them, we may regard them only as the difficulties of others, and the ridicule will not attach to us. On the other hand, if we utterly fail, I suppose that we must be humble, and allow the argument to trample us under foot, as the sea-sick passenger is trampled upon by the sailor, and to do anything to us. Listen, then, while I tell you how I hope to find a way out of our difficulty.

Theaet.

Let me hear.

Soc.

I think that we were wrong in denying that a man could think what he knew to be what he did not know; and that there is a way in which such a deception is possible.

Theaet.

You mean to say, as I suspected at the time, that I may know Socrates, and at a distance see some one who is unknown to me, and whom I mistake for him—then the deception will occur?

Soc.

But has not that position been relinquished by us, because involving the absurdity that we should know and not know the things which we know?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Let us make the assertion in another form, which may or may not have a favourable issue; but as we are in a great strait, every argument should be turned over and tested. Tell me, then, whether I am right in saying that you may learn a thing which at one time you did not know?

Theaet.

Certainly you may.

Soc.

And another and another?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

I would have you imagine, then, that there exists in the mind of man a block of wax, which is of different sizes in different men; harder, moister, and having more or less of purity in one than another, and in some of an intermediate quality.

Theaet.

I see.

Edition: current; Page: [255]
Soc.
The image of the waxen tablet having different qualities of wax.

Let us say that this tablet is a gift of Memory, the mother of the Muses; and that when we wish to remember anything which we have seen, or heard, or thought in our own minds, we hold the wax to the perceptions and thoughts, and in that material receive the impression of them as from the seal of a ring; and that we remember and know what is imprinted as long as the image lasts; but when the image is effaced, or cannot be taken, then we forget and do not know.

Theaet.

Very good.

Soc.

Now, when a person has this knowledge, and is considering something which he sees or hears, may not false opinion arise in the following manner?

Theaet.

In what manner?

Soc.

When he thinks what he knows, sometimes to be what he knows, and sometimes to be what he does not know. We were wrong before in denying the possibility of this.

Theaet.

And how would you amend the former statement?

Soc.
Confusion is impossible, (1) between two things not perceived by sense, when we know one or both or neither of them; (2) between two things when we have a sensible impression of one or both or neither of them; (3) still more impossible between two things, both of which are known and perceived, and of which the impression coincides with sense; (4) between two things of which both or one only or neither are known and perceived and have an impression corresponding to sense.

Jowett1892: 192I should begin by making a list of the impossible cases which must be excluded. (1) No one can think one thing to be another when he does not perceive either of them, but has the memorial or seal of both of them in his mind; nor can any mistaking of one thing for another occur, when he only knows one, and does not know, and has no impression of the other; nor can he think that one thing which he does not know is another thing which he does not know, or that what he does not know is what he knows; nor (2) that one thing which he perceives is another thing which he perceives, or that something which he perceives is something which he does not perceive; or that something which he does not perceive is something else which he does not perceive; or that something which he does not perceive is something which he perceives; nor again (3) can he think that something which he knows and perceives, and of which he has the impression coinciding with sense, is something else which he knows and perceives, and of which he has the impression coinciding with sense;—this last case, if possible, is still more inconceivable than the others; nor (4) can he think that something which he knows and perceives, and of which he has the memorial coinciding with sense, is something else which he knows; nor so long as these agree, can Edition: current; Page: [256] he think that a thing which he knows and perceives is another thing which he perceives; or that a thing which he does not know and does not perceive, is the same as another thing which he does not know and does not perceive;—nor again, can he suppose that a thing which he does not know and does not perceive is the same as another thing which he does not know; or that a thing which he does not know and does not perceive is another thing which he does not perceive:—All these utterly and absolutely exclude the possibility of false opinion. The only cases, if any, which remain, are the following.

Theaet.

What are they? If you tell me, I may perhaps understand you better; but at present I am unable to follow you.

Soc.
Confusion arises when for things already known and perceived we mistake other things, either known, or perceived and not known, or both known and perceived.

A person may think that some things which he knows, or which he perceives and does not know, are some other things which he knows and perceives; or that some things which he knows and perceives, are other things which he knows and perceives.

Theaet.

I understand you less than ever now.

Soc.

Hear me once more, then:—I, knowing Theodorus, and remembering in my own mind what sort of person he is, and also what sort of person Theaetetus is, at one time see them, and at another time do not see them, and sometimes I touch them, and at another time not, or at one time I may hear them or perceive them in some other way, and at another time not perceive them, but still I remember them, and know them in my own mind.

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

Then, first of all, I want you to understand that a man may or may not perceive sensibly that which he knows.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And that which he does not know will sometimes not be perceived by him and sometimes will be perceived and only perceived?

Theaet.

That is also true.

Soc.
Recapitulation.

See whether you can follow me better now: Socrates Jowett1892: 193can recognize Theodorus and Theatetus, but he sees neither of them, nor does he perceive them in any other way; he Edition: current; Page: [257] cannot then by any possibility imagine in his own mind that Theaetetus is Theodorus. Am I not right?

Theaet.

You are quite right.

Soc.

Then that was the first case of which I spoke.

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

The second case was, that I, knowing one of you and not knowing the other, and perceiving neither, can never think him whom I know to be him whom I do not know.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

In the third case, not knowing and not perceiving either of you, I cannot think that one of you whom I do not know is the other whom I do not know. I need not again go over the catalogue of excluded cases, in which I cannot form a false opinion about you and Theodorus, either when I know both or when I am in ignorance of both, or when I know one and not the other. And the same of perceiving: do you understand me?

Theaet.

I do.

Soc.
False opinion is the erroneous combination of sensation and thought.

The only possibility of erroneous opinion is, when knowing you and Theodorus, and having on the waxen block the impression of both of you given as by a seal, but seeing you imperfectly and at a distance, I try to assign the right impression of memory to the right visual impression, and to fit this into its own print: if I succeed, recognition will take place; but if I fail and transpose them, putting the foot into the wrong shoe—that is to say, putting the vision of either of you on to the wrong impression, or if my mind, like the sight in a mirror, which is transferred from right to left, err by reason of some similar affection, then ‘heterodoxy’ and false opinion ensues.

Theaet.

Yes, Socrates, you have described the nature of opinion with wonderful exactness.

Soc.

Or again, when I know both of you, and perceive as well as know one of you, but not the other, and my knowledge of him does not accord with perception—that was the case put by me just now which you did not understand.

Theaet.

No, I did not.

Soc.

I meant to say, that when a person knows and perceives one of you, and his knowledge coincides with his perception, he will never think him to be some other person, Edition: current; Page: [258] whom he knows and perceives, and the knowledge of whom coincides with his perception—for that also was a case supposed.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

But there was an omission of the further case, in which, as we now say, false opinion may arise, when knowing Jowett1892: 194both, and seeing, or having some other sensible perception of both, I fail in holding the seal over against the corresponding sensation; like a bad archer, I miss and fall wide of the mark—and this is called falsehood.

Theaet.

Yes; it is rightly so called.

Soc.

When, therefore, perception is present to one of the seals or impressions but not to the other, and the mind fits the seal of the absent perception on the one which is present, in any case of this sort the mind is deceived; in a word, if our view is sound, there can be no error or deception about things which a man does not know and has never perceived, but only in things which are known and perceived; in these alone opinion turns and twists about, and becomes alternately true and false;—true when the seals and impressions of sense meet straight and opposite—false when they go awry and are crooked.

Theaet.

And is not that, Socrates, nobly said?

Soc.

Nobly! yes; but wait a little and hear the explanation, and then you will say so with more reason; for to think truly is noble and to be deceived is base.

Theaet.

Undoubtedly.

Soc.
The differences in the kinds and degrees of knowledge depend on the extent and the qualities of the wax.

And the origin of truth and error is as follows:—When the wax in the soul of any one is deep and abundant, and smooth and perfectly tempered, then the impressions which pass through the senses and sink into the heart of the soul, as Homer says in a parable, meaning to indicate the likeness of the soul to wax (κη̂ρ κηρὸς); these, I say, being pure and clear, and having a sufficient depth of wax, are also lasting, and minds, such as these, easily learn and easily retain, and are not liable to confusion, but have true thoughts, for they have plenty of room, and having clear impressions of things, as we term them, quickly distribute them into their proper places on the block. And such men are called wise. Do you agree?

Edition: current; Page: [259]
Theaet.

Entirely.

Soc.

But when the heart of any one is shaggy—a quality which the all-wise poet commends, or muddy and of impure wax, or very soft, or very hard, then there is a corresponding defect in the mind—the soft are good at learning, but apt to forget; and the hard are the reverse; the shaggy and rugged and gritty, or those who have an admixture of earth or dung Jowett1892: 195in their composition, have the impressions indistinct, as also the hard, for there is no depth in them; and the soft too are indistinct, for their impressions are easily confused and effaced. Yet greater is the indistinctness when they are all jostled together in a little soul, which has no room. These are the natures which have false opinion; for when they see or hear or think of anything, they are slow in assigning the right objects to the right impressions—in their stupidity they confuse them, and are apt to see and hear and think amiss—and such men are said to be deceived in their knowledge of objects, and ignorant.

Theaet.

No man, Socrates, can say anything truer than that.

Soc.

Then now we may admit the existence of false opinion in us?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And of true opinion also?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

We have at length satisfactorily proven that beyond a doubt there are these two sorts of opinion?

Theaet.

Undoubtedly.

Soc.

Alas, Theaetetus, what a tiresome creature is a man who is fond of talking!

Theaet.

What makes you say so?

Soc.

Because I am disheartened at my own stupidity and tiresome garrulity; for what other term will describe the habit of a man who is always arguing on all sides of a question; whose dulness cannot be convinced, and who will never leave off?

Theaet.

But what puts you out of heart?

Soc.
Our simile does not explain all the facts; for error may arise not only in the combination of thought and sense, but in pure thought.

I am not only out of heart, but in positive despair; for I do not know what to answer if any one were to ask me:—O Socrates, have you indeed discovered that false opinion arises neither in the comparison of perceptions with Edition: current; Page: [260] one another nor yet in thought, but in the union of thought and perception? Yes, I shall say, with the complacence of one who thinks that he has made a noble discovery.

Theaet.

I see no reason why we should be ashamed of our demonstration, Socrates.

Soc.

He will say: You mean to argue that the man whom we only think of and do not see, cannot be confused with the horse which we do not see or touch, but only think of and do not perceive? That I believe to be my meaning, I shall reply.

Theaet.

Quite right.

Soc.

Well, then, he will say, according to that argument, the number eleven, which is only thought, can never be mistaken for twelve, which is only thought: How would you answer him?

Theaet.

I should say that a mistake may very likely arise between the eleven or twelve which are seen or handled, but that no similar mistake can arise between the eleven and twelve which are in the mind.

Soc.
For example, a man may think that 5+7=11, instead of 12, and so confuse two impressions on the wax.

Well, but do you think that no one ever put before his own mind five and seven,—I do not mean five or seven Jowett1892: 196men or horses, but five or seven in the abstract, which, as we say, are recorded on the waxen block, and in which false opinion is held to be impossible;—did no man ever ask himself how many these numbers make when added together, and answer that they are eleven, while another thinks that they are twelve, or would all agree in thinking and saying that they are twelve?

Theaet.

Certainly not; many would think that they are eleven, and in the higher numbers the chance of error is greater still; for I assume you to be speaking of numbers in general.

Soc.

Exactly; and I want you to consider whether this does not imply that the twelve in the waxen block are supposed to be eleven?

Theaet.

Yes, that seems to be the case.

Soc.

Then do we not come back to the old difficulty? For he who makes such a mistake does think one thing which he knows to be another thing which he knows; but this, as we said, was impossible, and afforded an irresistible Edition: current; Page: [261] proof of the non-existence of false opinion, because otherwise the same person would inevitably know and not know the same thing at the same time.

Theaet.

Most true.

Soc.
We must therefore admit either that false opinion does not exist, or that a man may not know what he knows.

Then false opinion cannot be explained as a confusion of thought and sense, for in that case we could not have been mistaken about pure conceptions of thought; and thus we are obliged to say, either that false opinion does not exist, or that a man may not know that which he knows;—which alternative do you prefer?

Theaet.

It is hard to determine, Socrates.

Soc.

And yet the argument will scarcely admit of both. But, as we are at our wits’ end, suppose that we do a shameless thing?

Theaet.

What is it?

Soc.
As a last resource let us ask. What is the meaning of ‘knowing’?

Let us attempt to explain the verb ‘to know.’

Theaet.

And why should that be shameless?

Soc.

You seem not to be aware that the whole of our discussion from the very beginning has been a search after knowledge, of which we are assumed not to know the nature.

Theaet.

Nay, but I am well aware.

Soc.
But how can we answer the question while we are still ignorant of what knowledge is?

And is it not shameless when we do not know what knowledge is, to be explaining the verb ‘to know’? The truth is, Theaetetus, that we have long been infected with logical impurity. Thousands of times have we repeated the words ‘we know,’ and ‘do not know,’ and ‘we have or have not science or knowledge,’ as if we could understand what we are saying to one another, so long as we remain ignorant about knowledge; and at this moment we are using the words ‘we understand,’ ‘we are ignorant,’ as though we could still employ them when deprived of knowledge or science.

Theaet.

But if you avoid these expressions, Socrates, how will you ever argue at all?

Soc.

Jowett1892: 197I could not, being the man I am. The case would be different if I were a true hero of dialectic: and O that such an one were present! for he would have told us to avoid the use of these terms; at the same time he would not have spared in you and me the faults which I have noted. But, seeing that we are no great wits, shall I venture to say Edition: current; Page: [262] what knowing is? for I think that the attempt may be worth making.

Theaet.
Still we had better try.

Then by all means venture, and no one shall find fault with you for using the forbidden terms.

Soc.

You have heard the common explanation of the verb ‘to know’?

Theaet.

I think so, but I do not remember it at the moment.

Soc.
‘To know’ is not ‘to have,’ but ‘to possess knowledge.’

They explain the word ‘to know’ as meaning ‘to have knowledge.’

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

I should like to make a slight change, and say ‘to possess’ knowledge.

Theaet.

How do the two expressions differ?

Soc.

Perhaps there may be no difference; but still I should like you to hear my view, that you may help me to test it.

Theaet.

I will, if I can.

Soc.

I should distinguish ‘having’ from ‘possessing’: for example, a man may buy and keep under his control a garment which he does not wear; and then we should say, not that he has, but that he possesses the garment.

Theaet.

It would be the correct expression.

Soc.
To illustrate this distinction let us compare the mind to an aviary which is gradually filled with different kinds of birds, corresponding to the varieties of knowledge.

Well, may not a man ‘possess’ and yet not ‘have’ knowledge in the sense of which I am speaking? As you may suppose a man to have caught wild birds—doves or any other birds—and to be keeping them in an aviary which he has constructed at home; we might say of him in one sense, that he always has them because he possesses them, might we not?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And yet, in another sense, he has none of them; but they are in his power, and he has got them under his hand in an enclosure of his own, and can take and have them whenever he likes;—he can catch any which he likes, and let the bird go again, and he may do so as often as he pleases.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Once more, then, as in what preceded we made a sort of waxen figment in the mind, so let us now suppose that in the mind of each man there is an aviary of all sorts of birds—some flocking together apart from the rest, others in Edition: current; Page: [263] small groups, others solitary, flying anywhere and everywhere.

Theaet.

Let us imagine such an aviary—and what is to follow?

Soc.
Three stages of possession:—(1) the original capture; (2) the detention in the cage; (3) the second capture for use.

We may suppose that the birds are kinds of knowledge, and that when we were children, this receptacle was empty; whenever a man has gotten and detained in the enclosure a kind of knowledge, he may be said to have learned or discovered the thing which is the subject of the knowledge: and this is to know.

Theaet.

Granted.

Soc.

Jowett1892: 198And further, when any one wishes to catch any of these knowledges or sciences, and having taken, to hold it, and again to let them go, how will he express himself?—will he describe the ‘catching’ of them and the original ‘possession’ in the same words? I will make my meaning clearer by an example:—You admit that there is an art of arithmetic?

Theaet.

To be sure.

Soc.

Conceive this under the form of a hunt after the science of odd and even in general.

Theaet.

I follow.

Soc.

Having the use of the art, the arithmetician, if I am not mistaken, has the conceptions of number under his hand, and can transmit them to another.

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And when transmitting them he may be said to teach them, and when receiving to learn them, and when having them in possession in the aforesaid aviary he may be said to know them.

Theaet.

Exactly.

Soc.

Attend to what follows: must not the perfect arithmetician know all numbers, for he has the science of all numbers in his mind?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And he can reckon abstract numbers in his head, or things about him which are numerable?

Theaet.

Of course he can.

Soc.

And to reckon is simply to consider how much such and such a number amounts to?

Edition: current; Page: [264]
Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

And so he appears to be searching into something which he knows, as if he did not know it, for we have already admitted that he knows all numbers;—you have heard these perplexing questions raised?

Theaet.

I have.

Soc.
The three stages of knowledge:—(1) acquisition; (2) latent possession; (3) conscious possession and use.

May we not pursue the image of the doves, and say that the chase after knowledge is of two kinds? one kind is prior to possession and for the sake of possession, and the other for the sake of taking and holding in the hands that which is possessed already. And thus, when a man has learned and known something long ago, he may resume and get hold of the knowledge which he has long possessed, but has not at hand in his mind.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

That was my reason for asking how we ought to speak when an arithmetician sets about numbering, or a grammarian about reading? Shall we say, that although he knows, he comes back to himself to learn what he already knows?

Theaet.

It would be too absurd, Socrates.

Soc.

Shall we say then that he is going to read or number what he does not know, although we have admitted that he Jowett1892: 199knows all letters and all numbers?

Theaet.

That, again, would be an absurdity.

Soc.
False opinion arises if the arithmetician, when searching for a certain number, catches the wrong one.

Then shall we say that about names we care nothing?—any one may twist and turn the words ‘knowing’ and ‘learning’ in any way which he likes, but since we have determined that the possession of knowledge is not the having or using it, we do assert that a man cannot not possess that which he possesses; and, therefore, in no case can a man not know that which he knows, but he may get a false opinion about it; for he may have the knowledge, not of this particular thing, but of some other;—when the various numbers and forms of knowledge are flying about in the aviary, and wishing to capture a certain sort of knowledge out of the general store, he takes the wrong one by mistake, that is to say, when he thought eleven to be twelve, he got hold of the ring-dove which he had in his mind, when he wanted the pigeon.

Edition: current; Page: [265]
Theaet.

A very rational explanation.

Soc.
For a moment the explanation appears satisfactory.

But when he catches the one which he wants, then he is not deceived, and has an opinion of what is, and thus false and true opinion may exist, and the difficulties which were previously raised disappear. I dare say that you agree with me, do you not?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
But again the old difficulty returns; for when a man has knowledge in his hand, how can he mistake it for ignorance?

And so we are rid of the difficulty of a man’s not knowing what he knows, for we are not driven to the inference that he does not possess what he possesses, whether he be or be not deceived. And yet I fear that a greater difficulty is looking in at the window.

Theaet.

What is it?

Soc.

How can the exchange of one knowledge for another ever become false opinion?

Theaet.

What do you mean?

Soc.

In the first place, how can a man who has the knowledge of anything be ignorant of that which he knows, not by reason of ignorance, but by reason of his own knowledge? And, again, is it not an extreme absurdity that he should suppose another thing to be this, and this to be another thing;—that, having knowledge present with him in his mind, he should still know nothing and be ignorant of all things?—you might as well argue that ignorance may make a man know, and blindness make him see, as that knowledge can make him ignorant.

Theaet.
Theaetetus suggests that there are forms of ignorance, as well as of knowledge, flying about in the aviary. But the man who makes a mistake will take a form of ignorance for a form of knowledge; and so we are brought back to the original difficulty.

Perhaps, Socrates, we may have been wrong in making only forms of knowledge our birds: whereas there ought to have been forms of ignorance as well, flying about together in the mind, and then he who sought to take one of them might sometimes catch a form of knowledge, and sometimes a form of ignorance; and thus he would have a false opinion from ignorance, but a true one from knowledge, about the same thing.

Soc.

I cannot help praising you, Theaetetus, and yet I Jowett1892: 200must beg you to reconsider your words. Let us grant what you say—then, according to you, he who takes ignorance will have a false opinion—am I right?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

He will certainly not think that he has a false opinion?

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Theaet.

Of course not.

Soc.

He will think that his opinion is true, and he will fancy that he knows the things about which he has been deceived?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Then he will think that he has captured knowledge and not ignorance?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.
It will be ridiculous to attempt to get rid of this by the help of another aviary, containing other birds, i. e. forms of knowledge.

And thus, after going a long way round, we are once more face to face with our original difficulty. The hero of dialectic will retort upon us:—‘O my excellent friends, he will say, laughing, if a man knows the form of ignorance and the form of knowledge, can he think that one of them which he knows is the other which he knows? or, if he knows neither of them, can he think that the one which he knows not is another which he knows not? or, if he knows one and not the other, can he think the one which he knows to be the one which he does not know? or the one which he does not know to be the one which he knows? or will you tell me that there are other forms of knowledge which distinguish the right and wrong birds, and which the owner keeps in some other aviaries or graven on waxen blocks according to your foolish images, and which he may be said to know while he possesses them, even though he have them not at hand in his mind? And thus, in a perpetual circle, you will be compelled to go round and round, and you will make no progress.’ What are we to say in reply, Theaetetus?

Theaet.
Our discomfiture is due to the fact that we seek false opinion before knowledge.

Indeed, Socrates, I do not know what we are to say.

Soc.

Are not his reproaches just, and does not the argument truly show that we are wrong in seeking for false opinion until we know what knowledge is; that must be first ascertained; then, the nature of false opinion?

Theaet.

I cannot but agree with you, Socrates, so far as we have yet gone.

Soc.
What then is knowledge?

Then, once more, what shall we say that knowledge is?—for we are not going to lose heart as yet.

Theaet.

Certainly, I shall not lose heart, if you do not.

Soc.

What definition will be most consistent with our former views?

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Theaet.

I cannot think of any but our old one, Socrates.

Soc.

What was it?

Theaet.
An old friend reappears: ‘Knowledge is true opinion.’

Knowledge was said by us to be true opinion; and true opinion is surely unerring, and the results which follow from it are all noble and good.

Soc.

He who led the way into the river, Theaetetus, said Jowett1892: 201‘The experiment will show;’ and perhaps if we go forward in the search, we may stumble upon the thing which we are looking for; but if we stay where we are, nothing will come to light.

Theaet.

Very true; let us go forward and try.

Soc.

The trail soon comes to an end, for a whole profession is against us.

Theaet.

How is that, and what profession do you mean?

Soc.
But true opinion is not always knowledge; e. g. in the law courts.

The profession of the great wise ones who are called orators and lawyers; for these persuade men by their art and make them think whatever they like, but they do not teach them. Do you imagine that there are any teachers in the world so clever as to be able to convince others of the truth about acts of robbery or violence, of which they were not eye-witnesses, while a little water is flowing in the clepsydra?

Theaet.

Certainly not, they can only persuade them.

Soc.

And would you not say that persuading them is making them have an opinion?

Theaet.

To be sure.

Soc.

When, therefore, judges are justly persuaded about matters which you can know only by seeing them, and not in any other way, and when thus judging of them from report they attain a true opinion about them, they judge without knowledge, and yet are rightly persuaded, if they have judged well.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And yet, O my friend, if true opinion in law courts1 and knowledge are the same, the perfect judge could not have judged rightly without knowledge; and therefore I must infer that they are not the same.

Theaet.
Another notion: Knowledge is true opinion accompanied by a reason.

That is a distinction, Socrates, which I have heard Edition: current; Page: [268] made by some one else, but I had forgotten it. He said that true opinion, combined with reason, was knowledge, but that the opinion which had no reason was out of the sphere of knowledge; and that things of which there is no rational account are not knowable—such was the singular expression which he used—and that things which have a reason or explanation are knowable.

Soc.

Excellent; but then, how did he distinguish between things which are and are not ‘knowable’? I wish that you would repeat to me what he said, and then I shall know whether you and I have heard the same tale.

Theaet.

I do not know whether I can recall it; but if another person would tell me, I think that I could follow him.

Soc.
The same notion expressed by Socrates in a different manner. The simple and primeval elements can only be named; it is the combination of them in the proposition which gives knowledge.

Let me give you, then, a dream in return for a dream:—Methought that I too had a dream, and I heard in my dream that the primeval letters or elements out of which you and I and all other things are compounded, have no reason or explanation; you can only name them, but no predicate Jowett1892: 202can be either affirmed or denied of them, for in the one case existence, in the other non-existence is already implied, neither of which must be added, if you mean to speak of this or that thing by itself alone. It should not be called itself, or that, or each, or alone, or this, or the like; for these go about everywhere and are applied to all things, but are distinct from them; whereas, if the first elements could be described, and had a definition of their own, they would be spoken of apart from all else. But none of these primeval elements can be defined; they can only be named, for they have nothing but a name, and the things which are compounded of them, as they are complex, are expressed by a combination of names, for the combination of names is the essence of a definition. Thus, then, the elements or letters are only objects of perception, and cannot be defined or known; but the syllables or combinations of them are known and expressed, and are apprehended by true opinion. When, therefore, any one forms the true opinion of anything without rational explanation, you may say that his mind is truly exercised, but has no knowledge; for he who cannot give and receive a reason for a thing, has no knowledge of that Edition: current; Page: [269] thing; but when he adds rational explanation, then, he is perfected in knowledge and may be all that I have been denying of him. Was that the form in which the dream appeared to you?

Theaet.

Precisely.

Soc.

And you allow and maintain that true opinion, combined with definition or rational explanation, is knowledge?

Theaet.

Exactly.

Soc.

Then may we assume, Theaetetus, that to-day, and in this casual manner, we have found a truth which in former times many wise men have grown old and have not found?

Theaet.

At any rate, Socrates, I am satisfied with the present statement.

Soc.

Which is probably correct—for how can there be knowledge apart from definition and true opinion? And yet there is one point in what has been said which does not quite satisfy me.

Theaet.

What was it?

Soc.
The theory states that the elements are unknown, but that the combination of them is known. Can this be true?

What might seem to be the most ingenious notion of all:—That the elements or letters are unknown, but the combination or syllables known.

Theaet.

And was that wrong?

Soc.

We shall soon know; for we have as hostages the instances which the author of the argument himself used.

Theaet.

What hostages?

Soc.

The letters, which are the elements; and the syllables, which are the combinations;—he reasoned, did he not, from the letters of the alphabet?

Theaet.

Jowett1892: 203Yes; he did.

Soc.
We are, at any rate, right in saying that the elements have no definition.

Let us take them and put them to the test, or rather, test ourselves:—What was the way in which we learned letters? and, first of all, are we right in saying that syllables have a definition, but that letters have no definition?

Theaet.

I think so.

Soc.

I think so too; for, suppose that some one asks you to spell the first syllable of my name:—Theaetetus, he says, what is SO?

Edition: current; Page: [270]
Theaet.

I should reply S and O.

Soc.

That is the definition which you would give of the syllable?

Theaet.

I should.

Soc.

I wish that you would give me a similar definition of the S.

Theaet.

But how can any one, Socrates, tell the elements of an element? I can only reply, that S is a consonant, a mere noise, as of the tongue hissing; B, and most other letters, again, are neither vowel-sounds nor noises. Thus letters may be most truly said to be undefined; for even the most distinct of them, which are the seven vowels, have a sound only, but no definition at all.

Soc.

Then, I suppose, my friend, that we have been so far right in our idea about knowledge?

Theaet.

Yes; I think that we have.

Soc.
But are they therefore unknown?

Well, but have we been right in maintaining that the syllables can be known, but not the letters?

Theaet.

I think so.

Soc.

And do we mean by a syllable two letters, or if there are more, all of them, or a single idea which arises out of the combination of them?

Theaet.
If by syllable we mean the letters which compose it,

I should say that we mean all the letters.

Soc.

Take the case of the two letters S and O, which form the first syllable of my own name; must not he who knows the syllable, know both of them?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

He knows, that is, the S and O?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
a man cannot know the syllable without knowing the letters of it.

But can he be ignorant of either singly and yet know both together?

Theaet.

Such a supposition, Socrates, is monstrous and unmeaning.

Soc.

But if he cannot know both without knowing each, then if he is ever to know the syllable, he must know the letters first; and thus the fine theory has again taken wings and departed.

Theaet.

Yes, with wonderful celerity.

Soc.
But we may mean something over and above the parts, which is indivisible.

Yes, we did not keep watch properly. Perhaps we ought to have maintained that a syllable is not the letters, Edition: current; Page: [271] but rather one single idea framed out of them, having a separate form distinct from them.

Theaet.
and above the parts, which is indivisible.

Very true; and a more likely notion than the other.

Soc.

Take care; let us not be cowards and betray a great and imposing theory.

Theaet.

Jowett1892: 204No, indeed.

Soc.

Let us assume then, as we now say, that the syllable is a simple form arising out of the several combinations of harmonious elements—of letters or of any other elements.

Theaet.

Very good.

Soc.

And it must have no parts.

Theaet.

Why?

Soc.

Because that which has parts must be a whole of all the parts. Or would you say that a whole, although formed out of the parts, is a single notion different from all the parts?

Theaet.

I should.

Soc.
This implies that the whole differs from the all.

And would you say that all and the whole are the same, or different?

Theaet.

I am not certain; but, as you like me to answer at once, I shall hazard the reply, that they are different.

Soc.

I approve of your readiness, Theaetetus, but I must take time to think whether I equally approve of your answer.

Theaet.

Yes; the answer is the point.

Soc.

According to this new view, the whole is supposed to differ from all?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
But all in the singular does not differ from all in the plural; e.g. all of 6=all 6;

Well, but is there any difference between all [in the plural] and the all [in the singular]? Take the case of number:—When we say one, two, three, four, five, six; or when we say twice three, or three times two, or four and two, or three and two and one, are we speaking of the same or of different numbers?

Theaet.

Of the same.

Soc.

That is of six?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And in each form of expression we spoke of all the six?

Theaet.

True.

Edition: current; Page: [272]
Soc.

Again, in speaking of all [in the plural], is there not one thing which we express1?

Theaet.

Of course there is.

Soc.

And that is six?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

Then in predicating the word ‘all’ of things measured by number, we predicate at the same time a singular and a plural?

Theaet.

Clearly we do.

Soc.

Again, the number of the acre and the acre are the same; are they not?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And the number of the stadium in like manner is the stadium?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

And the army is the number of the army; and in all similar cases, the entire number of anything is the entire thing?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

And the number of each is the parts of each?

Theaet.

Exactly.

Soc.

Then as many things as have parts are made up of parts?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.
and therefore it implies parts.

But all the parts are admitted to be the all, if the entire number is the all?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
But the whole being different from the all, cannot have parts:

Then the whole is not made up of parts, for it would be the all, if consisting of all the parts?

Theaet.

That is the inference.

Soc.

But is a part a part of anything but the whole?

Theaet.

Yes, of the all.

Soc.

You make a valiant defence, Theaetetus. And yet is Jowett1892: 205not the all that of which nothing is wanting?

Theaet.
which is absurd.

Certainly.

Soc.

And is not a whole likewise that from which nothing is absent? but that from which anything is absent is neither a whole nor all;—if wanting in anything, both equally lose their entirety of nature.

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Theaet.

I now think that there is no difference between a whole and all.

Soc.
Accordingly there can be no difference between the whole and the all. But the whole, if distinct from the elements, cannot have these for its parts;

But were we not saying that when a thing has parts, all the parts will be a whole and all?

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Then, as I was saying before, must not the alternative be that either the syllable is not the letters, and then the letters are not parts of the syllable, or that the syllable will be the same with the letters, and will therefore be equally known with them?

Theaet.

You are right.

Soc.

And, in order to avoid this, we suppose it to be different from them?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
and, since it can have no other parts, it must be without parts altogether. The syllable is therefore an uncompounded element, and consequently unknown.

But if letters are not parts of syllables, can you tell me of any other parts of syllables, which are not letters?

Theaet.

No, indeed, Socrates; for if I admit the existence of parts in a syllable, it would be ridiculous in me to give up letters and seek for other parts.

Soc.

Quite true, Theaetetus, and therefore, according to our present view, a syllable must surely be some indivisible form?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

But do you remember, my friend, that only a little while ago we admitted and approved the statement, that of the first elements out of which all other things are compounded there could be no definition, because each of them when taken by itself is uncompounded; nor can one rightly attribute to them the words ‘being’ or ‘this,’ because they are alien and inappropriate words, and for this reason the letters or elements were indefinable and unknown?

Theaet.

I remember.

Soc.

And is not this also the reason why they are simple and indivisible? I can see no other.

Theaet.

No other reason can be given.

Soc.

Then is not the syllable in the same case as the elements or letters, if it has no parts and is one form?

Theaet.

To be sure.

Soc.
If the syllable is the sum of its letters, letters and syllable must be equally intelligible. If it is indivisible, letters and syllable must be equally unknown. It is untrue to say that the syllables are known, but the letters unknown.

If, then, a syllable is a whole, and has many parts or letters, the letters as well as the syllable must be intelligible Edition: current; Page: [274] and expressible, since all the parts are acknowledged to be the same as the whole?

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

But if it be one and indivisible, then the syllables and the letters are alike undefined and unknown, and for the same reason?

Theaet.

I cannot deny that.

Soc.

We cannot, therefore, agree in the opinion of him who says that the syllable can be known and expressed, but Jowett1892: 206not the letters.

Theaet.

Certainly not; if we may trust the argument.

Soc.

Well, but will you not be equally inclined to disagree with him, when you remember your own experience in learning to read?

Theaet.

What experience?

Soc.
And in learning to read and play on the lyre we are taught the elements, which are the letters or notes, first of all.

Why, that in learning you were kept trying to distinguish the separate letters both by the eye and by the ear, in order that, when you heard them spoken or saw them written, you might not be confused by their position.

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

And is the education of the harp-player complete unless he can tell what string answers to a particular note; the notes, as every one would allow, are the elements or letters of music?

Theaet.

Exactly.

Soc.

Then, if we argue from the letters and syllables which we know to other simples and compounds, we shall say that the letters or simple elements as a class are much more certainly known than the syllables, and much more indispensable to a perfect knowledge of any subject; and if some one says that the syllable is known and the letter unknown, we shall consider that either intentionally or unintentionally he is talking nonsense?

Theaet.

Exactly.

Soc.
We said that knowledge is right opinion with rational explanation.

And there might be given other proofs of this belief, if I am not mistaken. But do not let us in looking for them lose sight of the question before us, which is the meaning of the statement, that right opinion with rational definition or explanation is the most perfect form of knowledge.

Theaet.

We must not.

Edition: current; Page: [275]
Soc.

Well, and what is the meaning of the term ‘explanation’? I think that we have a choice of three meanings.

Theaet.

What are they?

Soc.
But what is explanation? (1) The reflection of thought in speech.—But this is not peculiar to those who know.

In the first place, the meaning may be, manifesting one’s thought by the voice with verbs and nouns, imaging an opinion in the stream which flows from the lips, as in a mirror or water. Does not explanation appear to be of this nature?

Theaet.

Certainly; he who so manifests his thought, is said to explain himself.

Soc.

And every one who is not born deaf or dumb is able sooner or later to manifest what he thinks of anything; and if so, all those who have a right opinion about anything will also have right explanation; nor will right opinion be anywhere found to exist apart from knowledge.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
(2) The enumeration of the parts of a thing.

Let us not, therefore, hastily charge him who gave this account of knowledge with uttering an unmeaning word; for perhaps he only intended to say, that when a person was Jowett1892: 207asked what was the nature of anything, he should be able to answer his questioner by giving the elements of the thing.

Theaet.

As for example, Socrates . . . ?

Soc.

As, for example, when Hesiod says that a waggon is made up of a hundred planks. Now, neither you nor I could describe all of them individually; but if any one asked what is a waggon, we should be content to answer, that a waggon consists of wheels, axle, body, rims, yoke.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

And our opponent will probably laugh at us, just as he would if we professed to be grammarians and to give a grammatical account of the name of Theaetetus, and yet could only tell the syllables and not the letters of your name—that would be true opinion, and not knowledge; for knowledge, as has been already remarked, is not attained until, combined with true opinion, there is an enumeration of the elements out of which anything is composed.

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

In the same general way, we might also have true opinion about a waggon; but he who can describe its essence by an enumeration of the hundred planks, adds Edition: current; Page: [276] rational explanation to true opinion, and instead of opinion has art and knowledge of the nature of a waggon, in that he attains to the whole through the elements.

Theaet.

And do you not agree in that view, Socrates?

Soc.

If you do, my friend; but I want to know first, whether you admit the resolution of all things into their elements to be a rational explanation of them, and the consideration of them in syllables or larger combinations of them to be irrational—is this your view?

Theaet.

Precisely.

Soc.
But there may be enumeration of parts without knowledge.

Well, and do you conceive that a man has knowledge of any element who at one time affirms and at another time denies that element of something, or thinks that the same thing is composed of different elements at different times?

Theaet.

Assuredly not.

Soc.

And do you not remember that in your case and in that of others this often occurred in the process of learning to read?

Theaet.

You mean that I mistook the letters and misspelt the syllables?

Soc.

Yes.

Theaet.

To be sure; I perfectly remember, and I am very far from supposing that they who are in this condition have knowledge.

Soc.

When a person at the time of learning writes the name of Theaetetus, and thinks that he ought to write and does write Th and e; but, again, meaning to write the name Jowett1892: 208of Theodorus, thinks that he ought to write and does write T and e—can we suppose that he knows the first syllables of your two names?

Theaet.

We have already admitted that such a one has not yet attained knowledge.

Soc.

And in like manner he may enumerate without knowing them the second and third and fourth syllables of your name?

Theaet.

He may.

Soc.

And in that case, when he knows the order of the letters and can write them out correctly, he has right opinion?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Edition: current; Page: [277]
Soc.

But although we admit that he has right opinion, he will still be without knowledge?

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.
This is right opinion only.

And yet he will have explanation, as well as right opinion, for he knew the order of the letters when he wrote; and this we admit to be explanation.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Then, my friend, there is such a thing as right opinion united with definition or explanation, which does not as yet attain to the exactness of knowledge.

Theaet.

It would seem so.

Soc.

And what we fancied to be a perfect definition of knowledge is a dream only. But perhaps we had better not say so as yet, for were there not three explanations of knowledge, one of which must, as we said, be adopted by him who maintains knowledge to be true opinion combined with rational explanation? And very likely there may be found some one who will not prefer this but the third.

Theaet.

You are quite right; there is still one remaining. The first was the image or expression of the mind in speech; the second, which has just been mentioned, is a way of reaching the whole by an enumeration of the elements. But what is the third definition?

Soc.
(3) True opinion about a thing with the addition of a mark or sign of difference.

There is, further, the popular notion of telling the mark or sign of difference which distinguishes the thing in question from all others.

Theaet.

Can you give me any example of such a definition?

Soc.

As, for example, in the case of the sun, I think that you would be contented with the statement that the sun is the brightest of the heavenly bodies which revolve about the earth.

Theaet.

Certainly.

Soc.

Understand why:—the reason is, as I was just now saying, that if you get at the difference and distinguishing characteristic of each thing, then, as many persons affirm, you will get at the definition or explanation of it; but while you lay hold only of the common and not of the characteristic notion, you will only have the definition of those things to which this common quality belongs.

Edition: current; Page: [278]
Theaet.

I understand you, and your account of definition is in my judgment correct.

Soc.

But he, who having right opinion about anything, can find out the difference which distinguishes it from other things will know that of which before he had only an opinion.

Theaet.

Yes; that is what we are maintaining.

Soc.

Nevertheless, Theaetetus, on a nearer view, I find myself quite disappointed; the picture, which at a distance was not so bad, has now become altogether unintelligible.

Theaet.

What do you mean?

Soc.

I will endeavour to explain: I will suppose myself to Jowett1892: 209have true opinion of you, and if to this I add your definition, then I have knowledge, but if not, opinion only.

Theaet.

Yes.

Soc.

The definition was assumed to be the interpretation of your difference.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.
But right opinion already implies a knowledge of difference.

But when I had only opinion, I had no conception of your distinguishing characteristics.

Theaet.

I suppose not.

Soc.

Then I must have conceived of some general or common nature which no more belonged to you than to another.

Theaet.

True.

Soc.

Tell me, now—How in that case could I have formed a judgment of you any more than of any one else? Suppose that I imagine Theaetetus to be a man who has nose, eyes, and mouth, and every other member complete; how would that enable me to distinguish Theaetetus from Theodorus, or from some outer barbarian?

Theaet.

How could it?

Soc.

Or if I had further conceived of you, not only as having nose and eyes, but as having a snub nose and prominent eyes, should I have any more notion of you than of myself and others who resemble me?

Theaet.

Certainly not.

Soc.

Surely I can have no conception of Theaetetus until your snub-nosedness has left an impression on my mind different from the snub-nosedness of all others whom I have ever seen, and until your other peculiarities have a like Edition: current; Page: [279] distinctness; and so when I meet you to-morrow the right opinion will be re-called?

Theaet.

Most true.

Soc.

Then right opinion implies the perception of differences?

Theaet.

Clearly.

Soc.

What, then, shall we say of adding reason or explanation to right opinion? If the meaning is, that we should form an opinion of the way in which something differs from another thing, the proposal is ridiculous.

Theaet.

How so?

Soc.

We are supposed to acquire a right opinion of the differences which distinguish one thing from another when we have already a right opinion of them, and so we go round and round;—the revolution of the scytal, or pestle, or any other rotatory machine, in the same circles, is as nothing compared with such a requirement; and we may be truly described as the blind directing the blind; for to add those things which we already have, in order that we may learn what we already think, is like a soul utterly benighted.

Theaet.
How absurd it would be to repeat the word we are defining in our definition, and say that knowledge is knowledge of difference!

Tell me; what were you going to say just now, when you asked the question?

Soc.

If, my boy, the argument, in speaking of adding the definition, had used the word to ‘know,’ and not merely ‘have an opinion’ of the difference, this which is the most promising of all the definitions of knowledge would have come to a pretty end, for to know is surely to acquire knowledge.

Theaet.

Jowett1892: 210True.

Soc.

And so, when the question is asked, What is knowledge? this fair argument will answer ‘Right opinion with knowledge,’—knowledge, that is, of difference, for this, as the said argument maintains, is adding the definition.

Theaet.

That seems to be true.

Soc.

But how utterly foolish, when we are asking what is knowledge, that the reply should only be, right opinion with knowledge of difference or of anything! And so, Theaetetus, knowledge is neither sensation nor true opinion, nor yet definition and explanation accompanying and added to true opinion?

Edition: current; Page: [280]
Theaet.

I suppose not.

Soc.

And are you still in labour and travail, my dear friend, or have you brought all that you have to say about knowledge to the birth?

Theaet.

I am sure, Socrates, that you have elicited from me a good deal more than ever was in me.

Soc.
Theaetetus has brought forth wind. But to know that they know nothing makes men better and humbler.

And does not my art show that you have brought forth wind, and that the offspring of your brain are not worth bringing up?

Theaet.

Very true.

Soc.

But if, Theaetetus, you should ever conceive afresh, you will be all the better for the present investigation, and if not, you will be soberer and humbler and gentler to other men, and will be too modest to fancy that you know what you do not know. These are the limits of my art; I can no further go, nor do I know aught of the things which great and famous men know or have known in this or former ages. The office of a midwife I, like my mother, have received from God; she delivered women, and I deliver men; but they must be young and noble and fair.

Socrates is expecting his trial (cp. Euthyph. sub fin.; Meno sub fin.).

And now I have to go to the porch of the King Archon, where I am to meet Meletus and his indictment. To-morrow morning, Theodorus, I shall hope to see you again at this place.

Edition: current; Page: [281]

SOPHIST.

Edition: current; Page: [282] Edition: current; Page: [283]

INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS.

Sophist. Introduction.

The dramatic power of the dialogues of Plato appears to diminish as the metaphysical interest of them increases (cp. Introd. to the Philebus). There are no descriptions of time, place or persons, in the Sophist and Statesman, but we are plunged at once into philosophical discussions; the poetical charm has disappeared, and those who have no taste for abstruse metaphysics will greatly prefer the earlier dialogues to the later ones. Plato is conscious of the change, and in the Statesman (286 B) expressly accuses himself of a tediousness in the two dialogues, which he ascribes to his desire of developing the dialectical method. On the other hand, the kindred spirit of Hegel seemed to find in the Sophist the crown and summit of the Platonic philosophy—here is the place at which Plato most nearly approaches to the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being. Nor will the great importance of the two dialogues be doubted by any one who forms a conception of the state of mind and opinion which they are intended to meet. The sophisms of the day were undermining philosophy; the denial of the existence of Not-being, and of the connexion of ideas, was making truth and falsehood equally impossible. It has been said that Plato would have written differently, if he had been acquainted with the Organon of Aristotle. But could the Organon of Aristotle ever have been written unless the Sophist and Statesman had preceded? The swarm of fallacies which arose in the infancy of mental science, and which was born and bred in the decay of the pre-Socratic philosophies, was not dispelled by Aristotle, but by Socrates and Plato. The summa genera of thought, the nature of the proposition, of definition, of generalization, of synthesis and analysis, of division and cross-division, are clearly described, and the processes of induction and deduction are constantly employed Edition: current; Page: [284] in the dialogues of Plato. The ‘slippery’ nature of comparison, the danger of putting words in the place of things, the fallacy of arguing ‘a dicto secundum,’ and in a circle, are frequently indicated by him. To all these processes of truth and error, Aristotle, in the next generation, gave distinctness; he brought them together in a separate science. But he is not to be regarded as the original inventor of any of the great logical forms, with the exception of the syllogism.

There is little worthy of remark in the characters of the Sophist. The most noticeable point is the final retirement of Socrates from the field of argument, and the substitution for him of an Eleatic stranger, who is described as a pupil of Parmenides and Zeno, and is supposed to have descended from a higher world in order to convict the Socratic circle of error. As in the Timaeus, Plato seems to intimate by the withdrawal of Socrates that he is passing beyond the limits of his teaching; and in the Sophist and Statesman, as well as in the Parmenides, he probably means to imply that he is making a closer approach to the schools of Elea and Megara. He had much in common with them, but he must first submit their ideas to criticism and revision. He had once thought as he says, speaking by the mouth of the Eleatic, that he understood their doctrine of Not-being; but now he does not even comprehend the nature of Being. The friends of ideas (Soph. 248) are alluded to by him as distant acquaintances, whom he criticizes ab extra; we do not recognize at first sight that he is criticizing himself. The character of the Eleatic stranger is colourless; he is to a certain extent the reflection of his father and master, Parmenides, who is the protagonist in the dialogue which is called by his name. Theaetetus himself is not distinguished by the remarkable traits which are attributed to him in the preceding dialogue. He is no longer under the spell of Socrates, or subject to the operation of his midwifery, though the fiction of question and answer is still maintained, and the necessity of taking Theaetetus along with him is several times insisted upon by his partner in the discussion. There is a reminiscence of the old Theaetetus in his remark that he will not tire of the argument, and in his conviction, which the Eleatic thinks likely to be permanent, that the course of events is governed by the will of God. Throughout the two dialogues Socrates continues a silent auditor, in the Statesman Edition: current; Page: [285] just reminding us of his presence, at the commencement, by a characteristic jest about the statesman and the philosopher, and by an allusion to his namesake, with whom on that ground he claims relationship, as he had already claimed an affinity with Theaetetus, grounded on the likeness of his ugly face. But in neither dialogue, any more than in the Timaeus, does he offer any criticism on the views which are propounded by another.

The style, though wanting in dramatic power,—in this respect resembling the Philebus and the Laws,—is very clear and accurate, and has several touches of humour and satire. The language is less fanciful and imaginative than that of the earlier dialogues; and there is more of bitterness, as in the Laws, though traces of a similar temper may also be observed in the description of the ‘great brute’ in the Republic, and in the contrast of the lawyer and philosopher in the Theaetetus. The following are characteristic passages: ‘The ancient philosophers, of whom we may say, without offence, that they went on their way rather regardless of whether we understood them or not;’ the picture of the materialists, or earth-born giants, ‘who grasped oaks and rocks in their hands,’ and who must be improved before they can be reasoned with; and the equally humorous delineation of the friends of ideas, who defend themselves from a fastness in the invisible world; or the comparison of the Sophist to a painter or maker (cp. Rep. x), and the hunt after him in the rich meadow-lands of youth and wealth; or, again, the light and graceful touch with which the older philosophies are painted (‘Ionian and Sicilian muses’), the comparison of them to mythological tales, and the fear of the Eleatic that he will be counted a parricide if he ventures to lay hands on his father Parmenides; or, once more, the likening of the Eleatic stranger to a god from heaven.—All these passages, notwithstanding the decline of the style, retain the impress of the great master of language. But the equably diffused grace is gone; instead of the endless variety of the early dialogues, traces of the rhythmical monotonous cadence of the Laws begin to appear; and already an approach is made to the technical language of Aristotle, in the frequent use of the words ‘essence,’ ‘power,’ ‘generation,’ ‘motion,’ ‘rest,’ ‘action,’ ‘passion,’ and the like.

The Sophist, like the Phaedrus, has a double character, and unites two enquiries, which are only in a somewhat forced manner Edition: current; Page: [286] connected with each other. The first is the search after the Sophist, the second is the enquiry into the nature of Not-being, which occupies the middle part of the work. For ‘Not-being’ is the hole or division of the dialectical net in which the Sophist has hidden himself. He is the imaginary impersonation of false opinion. Yet he denies the possibility of false opinion; for falsehood is that which is not, and therefore has no existence. At length the difficulty is solved; the answer, in the language of the Republic, appears ‘tumbling out at our feet.’ Acknowledging that there is a communion of kinds with kinds, and not merely one Being or Good having different names, or several isolated ideas or classes incapable of communion, we discover ‘Not-being’ to be the other of ‘Being.’ Transferring this to language and thought, we have no difficulty in apprehending that a proposition may be false as well as true. The Sophist, drawn out of the shelter which Cynic and Megarian paradoxes have temporarily afforded him, is proved to be a dissembler and juggler with words.

The chief points of interest in the dialogue are: (I) the character attributed to the Sophist: (II) the dialectical method: (III) the nature of the puzzle about ‘Not-being:’ (IV) the battle of the philosophers: (V) the relation of the Sophist to other dialogues.

I. The Sophist in Plato is the master of the art of illusion; the charlatan, the foreigner, the prince of esprits-faux, the hireling who is not a teacher, and who, from whatever point of view he is regarded, is the opposite of the true teacher. He is the ‘evil one,’ the ideal representative of all that Plato most disliked in the moral and intellectual tendencies of his own age; the adversary of the almost equally ideal Socrates. He seems to be always growing in the fancy of Plato, now boastful, now eristic, now clothing himself in rags of philosophy, now more akin to the rhetorician or lawyer, now haranguing, now questioning, until the final appearance in the Politicus of his departing shadow in the disguise of a statesman. We are not to suppose that Plato intended by such a description to depict Protagoras or Gorgias, or even Thrasymachus, who all turn out to be ‘very good sort of people when we know them,’ and all of them part on good terms with Socrates. But he is speaking of a being as imaginary as the wise man of the Stoics, and whose character varies in different dialogues. Like mythology, Greek philosophy Edition: current; Page: [287] has a tendency to personify ideas. And the Sophist is not merely a teacher of rhetoric for a fee of one or fifty drachmae (Crat. 384 B), but an ideal of Plato’s in which the falsehood of all mankind is reflected.

A milder tone is adopted towards the Sophists in a well-known passage of the Republic (vi. 492), where they are described as the followers rather than the leaders of the rest of mankind. Plato ridicules the notion that any individuals can corrupt youth to a degree worth speaking of in comparison with the greater influence of public opinion. But there is no real inconsistency between this and other descriptions of the Sophist which occur in the Platonic writings. For Plato is not justifying the Sophists in the passage just quoted, but only representing their power to be contemptible; they are to be despised rather than feared, and are no worse than the rest of mankind. But a teacher or statesman may be justly condemned, who is on a level with mankind when he ought to be above them. There is another point of view in which this passage should also be considered. The great enemy of Plato is the world, not exactly in the theological sense, yet in one not wholly different—the world as the hater of truth and lover of appearance, occupied in the pursuit of gain and pleasure rather than of knowledge, banded together against the few good and wise men, and devoid of true education. This creature has many heads: rhetoricians, lawyers, statesmen, poets, sophists. But the Sophist is the Proteus who takes the likeness of all of them; all other deceivers have a piece of him in them. And sometimes he is represented as the corrupter of the world; and sometimes the world as the corrupter of him and of itself.

Of late years the Sophists have found an enthusiastic defender in the distinguished historian of Greece. He appears to maintain (1) that the term ‘Sophist’ is not the name of a particular class, and would have been applied indifferently to Socrates and Plato, as well as to Gorgias and Protagoras; (2) that the bad sense was imprinted on the word by the genius of Plato; (3) that the principal Sophists were not the corrupters of youth (for the Athenian youth were no more corrupted in the age of Demosthenes than in the age of Pericles), but honourable and estimable persons, who supplied a training in literature which was generally wanted at the time. We will briefly consider how far these statements Edition: current; Page: [288] appear to be justified by facts: and, 1, about the meaning of the word there arises an interesting question:—

Many words are used both in a general and a specific sense, and the two senses are not always clearly distinguished. Sometimes the generic meaning has been narrowed to the specific, while in other cases the specific meaning has been enlarged or altered. Examples of the former class are furnished by some ecclesiastical terms: apostles, prophets, bishops, elders, catholics. Examples of the latter class may also be found in a similar field: jesuits, puritans, methodists, and the like. Sometimes the meaning is both narrowed and enlarged; and a good or bad sense will subsist side by side with a neutral one. A curious effect is produced on the meaning of a word when the very term which is stigmatized by the world (e. g. Methodists) is adopted by the obnoxious or derided class; this tends to define the meaning. Or, again, the opposite result is produced, when the world refuses to allow some sect or body of men the possession of an honourable name which they have assumed, or applies it to them only in mockery or irony.

The term ‘Sophist’ is one of those words of which the meaning has been both contracted and enlarged. Passages may be quoted from Herodotus and the tragedians, in which the word is used in a neutral sense for a contriver or deviser or inventor, without including any ethical idea of goodness or badness. Poets as well as philosophers were called Sophists in the fifth century before Christ. In Plato himself the term is applied in the sense of a ‘master in art,’ without any bad meaning attaching to it (Symp. 208 C; Meno 85 B). In the later Greek, again, ‘sophist’ and ‘philosopher’ became almost indistinguishable. There was no reproach conveyed by the word; the additional association, if any, was only that of rhetorician or teacher. Philosophy had become eclecticism and imitation: in the decline of Greek thought there was no original voice lifted up ‘which reached to a thousand years because of the god.’ Hence the two words, like the characters represented by them, tended to pass into one another. Yet even here some differences appeared; for the term ‘Sophist’ would hardly have been applied to the greater names, such as Plotinus, and would have been more often used of a professor of philosophy in general than of a maintainer of particular tenets.

Edition: current; Page: [289]

But the real question is, not whether the word ‘Sophist’ has all these senses, but whether there is not also a specific bad sense in which the term is applied to certain contemporaries of Socrates. Would an Athenian, as Mr. Grote supposes, in the fifth century before Christ, have included Socrates and Plato, as well as Gorgias and Protagoras, under the specific class of Sophists? To this question we must answer, No: if ever the term is applied to Socrates and Plato, either the application is made by an enemy out of mere spite, or the sense in which it is used is neutral. Plato, Xenophon, Isocrates, Aristotle, all give a bad import to the word; and the Sophists are regarded as a separate class in all of them. And in later Greek literature, the distinction is quite marked between the succession of philosophers from Thales to Aristotle, and the Sophists of the age of Socrates, who appeared like meteors for a short time in different parts of Greece. For the purposes of comedy, Socrates may have been identified with the Sophists, and he seems to complain of this in the Apology. But there is no reason to suppose that Socrates, differing by so many outward marks, would really have been confounded in the mind of Anytus, or Callicles, or of any intelligent Athenian, with the splendid foreigners who from time to time visited Athens, or appeared at the Olympic games. The man of genius, the great original thinker, the disinterested seeker after truth, the master of repartee whom no one ever defeated in an argument, was separated, even in the mind of the vulgar Athenian, by an ‘interval which no geometry can express,’ from the balancer of sentences, the interpreter and reciter of the poets, the divider of the meanings of words, the teacher of rhetoric, the professor of morals and manners.

2. The use of the term ‘Sophist’ in the dialogues of Plato also shows that the bad sense was not affixed by his genius, but already current. When Protagoras says, ‘I confess that I am a Sophist,’ he implies that the art which he professes has already a bad name; and the words of the young Hippocrates, when with a blush upon his face which is just seen by the light of dawn he admits that he is going to be made ‘a Sophist,’ would lose their point, unless the term had been discredited. There is nothing surprising in the Sophists having an evil name; that, whether deserved or not, was a natural consequence of their vocation. Edition: current; Page: [290] That they were foreigners, that they made fortunes, that they taught novelties, that they excited the minds of youth, are quite sufficient reasons to account for the opprobrium which attached to them. The genius of Plato could not have stamped the word anew, or have imparted the associations which occur in contemporary writers, such as Xenophon and Isocrates. Changes in the meaning of words can only be made with great difficulty, and not unless they are supported by a strong current of popular feeling. There is nothing improbable in supposing that Plato may have extended and envenomed the meaning, or that he may have done the Sophists the same kind of disservice with posterity which Pascal did to the Jesuits. But the bad sense of the word was not and could not have been invented by him, and is found in his earlier dialogues, e. g. the Protagoras, as well as in the later.

3. There is no ground for disbelieving that the principal Sophists, Gorgias, Protagoras, Prodicus, Hippias, were good and honourable men. The notion that they were corrupters of the Athenian youth has no real foundation, and partly arises out of the use of the term ‘Sophist’ in modern times. The truth is, that we know little about them; and the witness of Plato in their favour is probably not much more historical than his witness against them. Of that national decline of genius, unity, political force, which has been sometimes described as the corruption of youth, the Sophists were one among many signs;—in these respects Athens may have degenerated; but, as Mr. Grote remarks, there is no reason to suspect any greater moral corruption in the age of Demosthenes than in the age of Pericles. The Athenian youth were not corrupted in this sense, and therefore the Sophists could not have corrupted them. It is remarkable, and may be fairly set down to their credit, that Plato nowhere attributes to them that peculiar Greek sympathy with youth, which he ascribes to Parmenides, and which was evidently common in the Socratic circle. Plato delights to exhibit them in a ludicrous point of view, and to show them always rather at a disadvantage in the company of Socrates. But he has no quarrel with their characters, and does not deny that they are respectable men.

The Sophist, in the dialogue which is called after him, is exhibited in many different lights, and appears and reappears in a variety of forms. There is some want of the higher Platonic Edition: current; Page: [291] art in the Eleatic Stranger eliciting his true character by a laborious process of enquiry, when he had already admitted that he knew quite well the difference between the Sophist and the Philosopher, and had often heard the question discussed;—such an anticipation would hardly have occurred in the earlier dialogues. But Plato could not altogether give up his Socratic method, of which another trace may be thought to be discerned in his adoption of a common instance before he proceeds to the greater matter in hand. Yet the example is also chosen in order to damage the ‘hooker of men’ as much as possible; each step in the pedigree of the angler suggests some injurious reflection about the Sophist. They are both hunters after a living prey, nearly related to tyrants and thieves, and the Sophist is the cousin of the parasite and flatterer. The effect of this is heightened by the accidental manner in which the discovery is made, as the result of a scientific division. His descent in another branch affords the opportunity of more ‘unsavoury comparisons.’ For he is a retail trader, and his wares are either imported or homemade, like those of other retail traders; his art is thus deprived of the character of a liberal profession. But the most distinguishing characteristic of him is, that he is a disputant, and higgles over an argument. A feature of the Eristic here seems to blend with Plato’s usual description of the Sophists, who in the early dialogues, and in the Republic, are frequently depicted as endeavouring to save themselves from disputing with Socrates by making long orations. In this character he parts company from the vain and impertinent talker in private life, who is a loser of money, while he is a maker of it.

But there is another general division under which his art may be also supposed to fall, and that is purification; and from purification is descended education, and the new principle of education is to interrogate men after the manner of Socrates, and make them teach themselves. Here again we catch a glimpse rather of a Socratic or Eristic than of a Sophist in the ordinary sense of the term. And Plato does not on this ground reject the claim of the Sophist to be the true philosopher. One more feature of the Eristic rather than of the Sophist is the tendency of the troublesome animal to run away into the darkness of Not-being. Upon the whole, we detect in him a sort of hybrid or double nature, of Edition: current; Page: [292] which, except perhaps in the Euthydemus of Plato, we find no other trace in Greek philosophy; he combines the teacher of virtue with the Eristic; while in his omniscience, in his ignorance of himself, in his arts of deception, and in his lawyer-like habit of writing and speaking about all things, he is still the antithesis of Socrates and of the true teacher.

II. The question has been asked, whether the method of ‘abscissio infiniti,’ by which the Sophist is taken, is a real and valuable logical process. Modern science feels that this, like other processes of formal logic, presents a very inadequate conception of the actual complex procedure of the mind by which scientific truth is detected and verified. Plato himself seems to be aware that mere division is an unsafe and uncertain weapon, first, in the Statesman, when he says that we should divide in the middle, for in that way we are more likely to attain species; secondly, in the parallel precept of the Philebus, that we should not pass from the most general notions to infinity, but include all the intervening middle principles, until, as he also says in the Statesman, we arrive at the infima species; thirdly, in the Phaedrus, when he says that the dialectician will carve the limbs of truth without mangling them; and once more in the Statesman, if we cannot bisect species, we must carve them as well as we can. No better image of nature or truth, as an organic whole, can be conceived than this. So far is Plato from supposing that mere division and subdivision of general notions will guide men into all truth.

Plato does not really mean to say that the Sophist or the Statesman can be caught in this way. But these divisions and subdivisions were favourite logical exercises of the age in which he lived; and while indulging his dialectical fancy, and making a contribution to logical method, he delights also to transfix the Eristic Sophist with weapons borrowed from his own armoury. As we have already seen, the division gives him the opportunity of making the most damaging reflections on the Sophist and all his kith and kin, and to exhibit him in the most discreditable light.

Nor need we seriously consider whether Plato was right in assuming that an animal so various could not be confined within the limits of a single definition. In the infancy of logic, men sought Edition: current; Page: [293] only to obtain a definition of an unknown or uncertain term; the after reflection scarcely occurred to them that the word might have several senses, which shaded off into one another, and were not capable of being comprehended in a single notion. There is no trace of this reflection in Plato. But neither is there any reason to think, even if the reflection had occurred to him, that he would have been deterred from carrying on the war with weapons fair or unfair against the outlaw Sophist.

III. The puzzle about ‘Not-being’ appears to us to be one of the most unreal difficulties of ancient philosophy. We cannot understand the attitude of mind which could imagine that falsehood had no existence, if reality was denied to Not-being: How could such a question arise at all, much less become of serious importance? The answer to this, and to nearly all other difficulties of early Greek philosophy, is to be sought for in the history of ideas, and the answer is only unsatisfactory because our knowledge is defective. In the passage from the world of sense and imagination and common language to that of opinion and reflection the human mind was exposed to many dangers, and often

‘Found no end in wandering mazes lost.’

On the other hand, the discovery of abstractions was the great source of all mental improvement in after ages. It was the pushing aside of the old, the revelation of the new. But each one of the company of abstractions, if we may speak in the metaphorical language of Plato, became in turn the tyrant of the mind, the dominant idea, which would allow no other to have a share in the throne. This is especially true of the Eleatic philosophy: while the absoluteness of Being was asserted in every form of language, the sensible world and all the phenomena of experience were comprehended under Not-being. Nor was any difficulty or perplexity thus created, so long as the mind, lost in the contemplation of Being, asked no more questions, and never thought of applying the categories of Being or Not-being to mind or opinion or practical life.

But the negative as well as the positive idea had sunk deep into the intellect of man. The effect of the paradoxes of Zeno extended far beyond the Eleatic circle. And now an unforeseen consequence began to arise. If the Many were not, if all things Edition: current; Page: [294] were names of the One, and nothing could be predicated of any other thing, how could truth be distinguished from falsehood? The Eleatic philosopher would have replied that Being is alone true. But mankind had got beyond his barren abstractions: they were beginning to analyze, to classify, to define, to ask what is the nature of knowledge, opinion, sensation. Still less could they be content with the description which Achilles gives in Homer of the man whom his soul hates—

ὅς χ’ ἕτερον μὲν κεύθῃ ἐνί ϕρεσὶν, ἅλλο δὲ εἴπῃ.

For their difficulty was not a practical but a metaphysical one; and their conception of falsehood was really impaired and weakened by a metaphysical illusion.

The strength of the illusion seems to lie in the alternative: If we once admit the existence of Being and Not-being, as two spheres which exclude each other, no Being or reality can be ascribed to Not-being, and therefore not to falsehood, which is the image or expression of Not-being. Falsehood is wholly false; and to speak of true falsehood, as Theaetetus does (Theaet. 189 C), is a contradiction in terms. The fallacy to us is ridiculous and transparent,—no better than those which Plato satirizes in the Euthydemus. It is a confusion of falsehood and negation, from which Plato himself is not entirely free. Instead of saying, ‘This is not in accordance with facts,’ ‘This is proved by experience to be false,’ and from such examples forming a general notion of falsehood, the mind of the Greek thinker was lost in the mazes of the Eleatic philosophy. And the greater importance which Plato attributes to this fallacy, compared with others, is due to the influence which the Eleatic philosophy exerted over him. He sees clearly to a certain extent; but he has not yet attained a complete mastery over the ideas of his predecessors—they are still ends to him, and not mere instruments of thought. They are too rough-hewn to be harmonized in a single structure, and may be compared to rocks which project or overhang in some ancient city’s walls. There are many such imperfect syncretisms or eclecticisms in the history of philosophy. A modern philosopher, though emancipated from scholastic notions of essence or substance, might still be seriously affected by the abstract idea of necessity; or though accustomed, like Bacon, to criticize abstract notions, might not extend his criticism to the syllogism.

Edition: current; Page: [295]

The saying or thinking the thing that is not, would be the popular definition of falsehood or error. If we were met by the Sophist’s objection, the reply would probably be an appeal to experience. Ten thousands, as Homer would say (μάλα μυρἰοι), tell falsehoods and fall into errors. And this is Plato’s reply, both in the Cratylus (429 D) and Sophist. ‘Theaetetus is flying,’ is a sentence in form quite as grammatical as ‘Theaetetus is sitting’; the difference between the two sentences is, that the one is true and the other false. But, before making this appeal to common sense, Plato propounds for our consideration a theory of the nature of the negative.

The theory is, that Not-being is relation. Not-being is the other of Being, and has as many kinds as there are differences in Being. This doctrine is the simple converse of the famous proposition of Spinoza,—not ‘Omnis determinatio est negatio,’ but ‘Omnis negatio est determinatio’;—not, All distinction is negation, but, All negation is distinction. Not-being is the unfolding or determining of Being, and is a necessary element in all other things that are. We should be careful to observe, first, that Plato does not identify Being with Not-being; he has no idea of progression by antagonism, or of the Hegelian vibration of moments: he would not have said with Heracleitus, ‘All things are and are not, and become and become not.’ Secondly, he has lost sight altogether of the other sense of Not-being, as the negative of Being; although he again and again recognizes the validity of the law of contradiction. Thirdly, he seems to confuse falsehood with negation. Nor is he quite consistent in regarding Not-being as one class of Being, and yet as coextensive with Being in general. Before analyzing further the topics thus suggested, we will endeavour to trace the manner in which Plato arrived at his conception of Not-being.

In all the later dialogues of Plato, the idea of mind or intelligence becomes more and more prominent. That idea which Anaxagoras employed inconsistently in the construction of the world, Plato, in the Philebus, the Sophist, and the Laws, extends to all things, attributing to Providence a care, infinitesimal as well as infinite, of all creation. The divine mind is the leading religious thought of the later works of Plato. The human mind is a sort of reflection of this, having ideas of Being, Sameness, and the like. Edition: current; Page: [296] At times they seem to be parted by a great gulf (Parmenides); at other times they have a common nature, and the light of a common intelligence.

But this ever-growing idea of mind is really irreconcileable with the abstract Pantheism of the Eleatics. To the passionate language of Parmenides, Plato replies in a strain equally passionate:—What! has not Being mind? and is not Being capable of being known? and, if this is admitted, then capable of being affected or acted upon?—in motion, then, and yet not wholly incapable of rest. Already we have been compelled to attribute opposite determinations to Being. And the answer to the difficulty about Being may be equally the answer to the difficulty about Not-being.

The answer is, that in these and all other determinations of any notion we are attributing to it ‘Not-being.’ We went in search of Not-being and seemed to lose Being, and now in the hunt after Being we recover both. Not-being is a kind of Being, and in a sense co-extensive with Being. And there are as many divisions of Not-being as of Being. To every positive idea—‘just,’ ‘beautiful,’ and the like, there is a corresponding negative idea—‘not-just,’ ‘not-beautiful,’ and the like.

A doubt may be raised whether this account of the negative is really the true one. The common logicians would say that the ‘not-just,’ ‘not-beautiful,’ are not really classes at all, but are merged in one great class of the infinite or negative. The conception of Plato, in the days before logic, seems to be more correct than this. For the word ‘not’ does not altogether annihilate the positive meaning of the word ‘just’: at least, it does not prevent our looking for the ‘not-just’ in or about the same class in which we might expect to find the ‘just.’ ‘Not-just is not-honourable’ is neither a false nor an unmeaning proposition. The reason is that the negative proposition has really passed into an undefined positive. To say that ‘not-just’ has no more meaning than ‘not-honourable’—that is to say, that the two cannot in any degree be distinguished, is clearly repugnant to the common use of language.

The ordinary logic is also jealous of the explanation of negation as relation, because seeming to take away the principle of contradiction. Plato, as far as we know, is the first philosopher who Edition: current; Page: [297] distinctly enunciated this principle; and though we need not suppose him to have been always consistent with himself, there is no real inconsistency between his explanation of the negative and the principle of contradiction. Neither the Platonic notion of the negative as the principle of difference, nor the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being, at all touch the principle of contradiction. For what is asserted about Being and Not-Being only relates to our most abstract notions, and in no way interferes with the principle of contradiction employed in the concrete. Because Not-being is identified with Other, or Being with Not-being, this does not make the proposition ‘Some have not eaten’ any the less a contradiction of ‘All have eaten.’

The explanation of the negative given by Plato in the Sophist is a true but partial one; for the word ‘not,’ besides the meaning of ‘other,’ may also imply ‘opposition.’ And difference or opposition may be either total or partial: the not-beautiful may be other than the beautiful, or in no relation to the beautiful, or a specific class in various degrees opposed to the beautiful. And the negative may be a negation of fact or of thought (οὐ and μή). Lastly, there are certain ideas, such as ‘beginning,’ ‘becoming,’ ‘the finite,’ ‘the abstract,’ in which the negative cannot be separated from the positive, and ‘Being’ and ‘Not-being’ are inextricably blended.

Plato restricts the conception of Not-being to difference. Man is a rational animal, and is not—as many other things as are not included under this definition. He is and is not, and is because he is not. Besides the positive class to which he belongs, there are endless negative classes to which he may be referred. This is certainly intelligible, but useless. To refer a subject to a negative class is unmeaning, unless the ‘not’ is a mere modification of the positive, as in the example of ‘not honourable’ and ‘dishonourable’; or unless the class is characterized by the absence rather than the presence of a particular quality.

Nor is it easy to see how Not-being any more than Sameness or Otherness is one of the classes of Being. They are aspects rather than classes of Being. Not-being can only be included in Being, as the denial of some particular class of Being. If we attempt to pursue such airy phantoms at all, the Hegelian identity of Being and Not-being is a more apt and intelligible expression of the same mental phenomenon. For Plato has not distinguished between Edition: current; Page: [298] the Being which is prior to Not-being, and the Being which is the negation of Not-being (cf. Parm. 162 A, B).

But he is not thinking of this when he says that Being comprehends Not-being. Again, we should probably go back for the true explanation to the influence which the Eleatic philosophy exercised over him. Under ‘Not-being’ the Eleatic had included all the realities of the sensible world. Led by this association and by the common use of language, which has been already noticed, we cannot be much surprised that Plato should have made classes of Not-being. It is observable that he does not absolutely deny that there is an opposite of Being. He is inclined to leave the question, merely remarking that the opposition, if admissible at all, is not expressed by the term ‘Not-being.’

On the whole, we must allow that the great service rendered by Plato to metaphysics in the Sophist, is not his explanation of ‘Not-being’ as difference. With this he certainly laid the ghost of ‘Not-being’; and we may attribute to him in a measure the credit of anticipating Spinoza and Hegel. But his conception is not clear or consistent; he does not recognize the different senses of the negative, and he confuses the different classes of Not-being with the abstract notion. As the Pre-Socratic philosopher failed to distinguish between the universal and the true, while he placed the particulars of sense under the false and apparent, so Plato appears to identify negation with falsehood, or is unable to distinguish them. The greatest service rendered by him to mental science is the recognition of the communion of classes, which, although based by him on his account of ‘Not-being,’ is independent of it. He clearly saw that the isolation of ideas or classes is the annihilation of reasoning. Thus, after wandering in many diverging paths, we return to common sense. And for this reason we may be inclined to do less than justice to Plato,—because the truth which he attains by a real effort of thought is to us a familiar and unconscious truism, which no one would any longer think either of doubting or examining.

IV. The later dialogues of Plato contain many references to contemporary philosophy. Both in the Theaetetus and in the Sophist he recognizes that he is in the midst of a fray; a huge irregular battle everywhere surrounds him (Theaet. 153 A). First, there are the two great philosophies going back into Edition: current; Page: [299] cosmogony and poetry: the philosophy of Heracleitus, supposed to have a poetical origin in Homer, and that of the Eleatics, which in a similar spirit he conceives to be even older than Xenophanes (compare Protag. 316 E). Still older were theories of two and three principles, hot and cold, moist and dry, which were ever marrying and being given in marriage: in speaking of these, he is probably referring to Pherecydes and the early Ionians. In the philosophy of motion there were different accounts of the relation of plurality and unity, which were supposed to be joined and severed by love and hate, some maintaining that this process was perpetually going on (e. g. Heracleitus); others (e. g. Empedocles) that there was an alternation of them. Of the Pythagoreans or of Anaxagoras he makes no distinct mention. His chief opponents are, first, Eristics or Megarians; secondly, the Materialists.

The picture which he gives of both these latter schools is indistinct; and he appears reluctant to mention the names of their teachers. Nor can we easily determine how much is to be assigned to the Cynics, how much to the Megarians, or whether the ‘repellent Materialists’ (Theaet. 156 A) are Cynics or Atomists, or represent some unknown phase of opinion at Athens. To the Cynics and Antisthenes is commonly attributed, on the authority of Aristotle, the denial of predication, while the Megarians are said to have been Nominalists, asserting the One Good under many names to be the true Being of Zeno and the Eleatics, and, like Zeno, employing their negative dialectic in the refutation of opponents. But the later Megarians also denied predication; and this tenet, which is attributed to all of them by Simplicius, is certainly in accordance with their over-refining philosophy. The ‘tyros young and old,’ of whom Plato speaks (infra 251 B), probably include both. At any rate, we shall be safer in accepting the general description of them which he has given, and in not attempting to draw a precise line between them.

Of these Eristics, whether Cynics or Megarians, several characteristics are found in Plato:—

1. They pursue verbal oppositions; 2. they make reasoning impossible by their over-accuracy in the use of language; 3. they deny predication; 4. they go from unity to plurality, Edition: current; Page: [300] without passing through the intermediate stages; 5. they refuse to attribute motion or power to Being; 6. they are the enemies of sense;—whether they are the ‘friends of ideas,’ who carry on the polemic against sense, is uncertain; probably under this remarkable expression Plato designates those who more nearly approached himself, and may be criticizing an earlier form of his own doctrines. We may observe (1) that he professes only to give us a few opinions out of many which were at that time current in Greece; (2) that he nowhere alludes to the ethical teaching of the Cynics—unless the argument in the Protagoras, that the virtues are one and not many, may be supposed to contain a reference to their views, as well as to those of Socrates; and unless they are the school alluded to in the Philebus, which is described as ‘being very skilful in physics, and as maintaining pleasure to be the absence of pain.’ That Antisthenes wrote a book called ‘Physicus,’ is hardly a sufficient reason for describing them as skilful in physics, which appear to have been very alien to the tendency of the Cynics.

The Idealism of the fourth century before Christ in Greece, as in other ages and countries, seems to have provoked a reaction towards Materialism. The maintainers of this doctrine are described in the Theaetetus as obstinate persons who will believe in nothing which they cannot hold in their hands, and in the Sophist (246 D) as incapable of argument. They are probably the same who are said in the Tenth Book of the Laws (888 E) to attribute the course of events to nature, art, and chance. Who they were, we have no means of determining except from Plato’s description of them. His silence respecting the Atomists might lead us to suppose that here we have a trace of them. But the Atomists were not Materialists in the grosser sense of the term, nor were they incapable of reasoning; and Plato would hardly have described a great genius like Democritus in the disdainful terms which he uses of the Materialists. Upon the whole, we must infer that the persons here spoken of are unknown to us, like the many other writers and talkers at Athens and elsewhere, of whose endless activity of mind Aristotle in his Metaphysics has preserved an anonymous memorial.

V. The Sophist is the sequel of the Theaetetus, and is connected with the Parmenides by a direct allusion (cp. Introductions Edition: current; Page: [301] to Theaetetus and Parmenides). In the Theaetetus we sought to discover the nature of knowledge and false opinion. But the nature of false opinion seemed impenetrable; for we were unable to understand how there could be any reality in Not-being. In the Sophist the question is taken up again; the nature of Not-being is detected, and there is no longer any metaphysical impediment in the way of admitting the possibility of falsehood. To the Parmenides, the Sophist stands in a less defined and more remote relation. There human thought is in process of disorganization; no absurdity or inconsistency is too great to be elicited from the analysis of the simple ideas of Unity or Being. In the Sophist the same contradictions are pursued to a certain extent, but only with a view to their resolution. The aim of the dialogue is to show how the few elemental conceptions of the human mind admit of a natural connexion in thought and speech, which Megarian or other sophistry vainly attempts to deny.

Analysis.

Jowett1892: 216True to the appointment of the previous day, Theodorus and Theaetetus meet Socrates at the same spot, bringing with them an Eleatic Stranger, whom Theodorus introduces as a true philosopher. Socrates, half in jest, half in earnest, declares that he must be a god in disguise, who, as Homer would say, has come to earth that he may visit the good and evil among men, and detect the foolishness of Athenian wisdom. At any rate he is a divine person, one of a class who are hardly recognized on earth; who appear in divers forms—now as statesmen, now as sophists, and are often deemed madmen. ‘Philosopher, statesman, sophist,’ says Socrates, repeating the words—‘I should like Jowett1892: 217to ask our Eleatic friend what his countrymen think of them; do they regard them as one, or three?’

The Stranger has been already asked the same question by Theodorus and Theaetetus; and he at once replies that they are thought to be three; but to explain the difference fully would take time. He is pressed to give this fuller explanation, either in the form of a speech or of question and answer. He prefers the latter, and chooses as his respondent Theaetetus, whom he Jowett1892: 218already knows, and who is recommended to him by Socrates.

We are agreed, he says, about the name Sophist, but we may Edition: current; Page: [302] not be equally agreed about his nature. Great subjects should be approached through familiar examples, and, considering that he is a creature not easily caught, I think that, before approaching him, we should try our hand upon some more obvious animal, who may be made the subject of logical experiment; shall we say an angler? ‘Very good.’ Jowett1892: 219

In the first place, the angler is an artist; and there are two kinds of art,—productive art, which includes husbandry, manufactures, imitations; and acquisitive art, which includes learning, trading, fighting, hunting. The angler’s is an acquisitive art, and acquisition may be effected either by exchange or by conquest; in the latter case, either by force or craft. Conquest by craft is called hunting, and of hunting there is one kind which pursues Jowett1892: 220inanimate, and another which pursues animate objects; and animate objects may be either land animals or water animals, and water animals either fly over the water or live in the water. The hunting of the last is called fishing; and of fishing, one kind uses enclosures, catching the fish in nets and baskets, and another kind strikes them either with spears by night or with barbed spears or barbed hooks by day; the barbed spears are impelled from above, the barbed hooks are jerked into the head and lips of the fish, which are then drawn from below upwards. Jowett1892: 221Thus, by a series of divisions, we have arrived at the definition of the angler’s art.

And now by the help of this example we may proceed to bring to light the nature of the Sophist. Like the angler, he is an artist, and the resemblance does not end here. For they are both hunters, and hunters of animals; the one of water, and the other Jowett1892: 222of land animals. But at this point they diverge, the one going to the sea and the rivers, and the other to the rivers of wealth and rich meadow-lands, in which generous youth abide. On land you may hunt tame animals, or you may hunt wild animals. And man is a tame animal, and he may be hunted either by force or persuasion;—either by the pirate, man-stealer, soldier, or by the lawyer, orator, talker. The latter use persuasion, and persuasion is either private or public. Of the private practitioners of the art, some bring gifts to those whom they hunt: these are lovers. And others take hire; and some of these flatter, and in Jowett1892: 223return are fed; others profess to teach virtue and receive a round Edition: current; Page: [303] sum. And who are these last? Tell me who? Have we not unearthed the Sophist?

But he is a many-sided creature, and may still be traced in another line of descent. The acquisitive art had a branch of exchange as well as of hunting, and exchange is either giving or selling; and the seller is either a manufacturer or a merchant; Jowett1892: 224and the merchant either retails or exports; and the exporter may export either food for the body or food for the mind. And of this trading in food for the mind, one kind may be termed the art of display, and another the art of selling learning; and learning may be a learning of the arts or of virtue. The seller of the arts may be called an art-seller; the seller of virtue, a Sophist.

Again, there is a third line, in which a Sophist may be traced. For is he less a Sophist when, instead of exporting his wares to another country, he stays at home, and retails goods, which he not only buys of others, but manufactures himself?

Jowett1892: 225Or he may be descended from the acquisitive art in the combative line, through the pugnacious, the controversial, the disputatious arts; and he will be found at last in the eristic section of the Jowett1892: 226latter, and in that division of it which disputes in private for gain about the general principles of right and wrong.

And still there is a track of him which has not yet been followed out by us. Do not our household servants talk of sifting, straining, winnowing? And they also speak of carding, spinning, and the like. All these are processes of division; and of division there are two kinds,—one in which like is divided from like, and another in which the good is separated from the bad. The latter of the two is termed purification; and again, of purification, Jowett1892: 227there are two sorts,—of animate bodies (which may be internal or external), and of inanimate. Medicine and gymnastic are the internal purifications of the animate, and bathing the external; and of the inanimate, fulling and cleaning and other humble processes, some of which have ludicrous names. Not that dialectic is a respecter of names or persons, or a despiser of humble occupations; nor does she think much of the greater or less benefits conferred by them. For her aim is knowledge; she wants to know how the arts are related to one another, and would quite as soon learn the nature of hunting from the vermindestroyer as from the general. And she only desires to have Edition: current; Page: [304] a general name, which shall distinguish purifications of the soul from purifications of the body.

Now purification is the taking away of evil; and there are two kinds of evil in the soul,—the one answering to disease in the Jowett1892: 228body, and the other to deformity. Disease is the discord or war of opposite principles in the soul; and deformity is the want of symmetry, or failure in the attainment of a mark or measure. The latter arises from ignorance, and no one is voluntarily ignorant; ignorance is only the aberration of the soul moving towards knowledge. And as medicine cures the diseases and gymnastic the deformity of the body, so correction cures the injustice, Jowett1892: 229and education (which differs among the Hellenes from mere instruction in the arts) cures the ignorance of the soul. Again, ignorance is twofold, simple ignorance, and ignorance having the conceit of knowledge. And education is also twofold: there is the old-fashioned moral training of our forefathers, which was very troublesome and not very successful; and another, of Jowett1892: 230a more subtle nature, which proceeds upon a notion that all ignorance is involuntary. The latter convicts a man out of his own mouth, by pointing out to him his inconsistencies and contradictions; and the consequence is that he quarrels with himself, instead of quarrelling with his neighbours, and is cured of prejudices and obstructions by a mode of treatment which is equally entertaining and effectual. The physician of the soul is aware that his patient will receive no nourishment unless he has been cleaned out; and the soul of the Great King himself, if he has not undergone this purification, is unclean and impure.

And who are the ministers of the purification? Sophists I may Jowett1892: 231not call them. Yet they bear about the same likeness to Sophists as the dog, who is the gentlest of animals, does to the wolf, who is the fiercest. Comparisons are slippery things; but for the present let us assume the resemblance of the two, which may probably be disallowed hereafter. And so, from division comes purification; and from this, mental purification; and from mental purification, instruction; and from instruction, education; and from education, the nobly-descended art of Sophistry, which is engaged in the detection of conceit. I do not however think that we have yet found the Sophist, or that his will ultimately prove to be the desired art of education; but neither do I think that he Edition: current; Page: [305] can long escape me, for every way is blocked. Before we make the final assault, let us take breath, and reckon up the many forms which he has assumed: (1) he was the paid hunter of wealth and birth; (2) he was the trader in the goods of the soul; (3) he was the retailer of them; (4) he was the manufacturer of his own learned wares; (5) he was the disputant; and (6) he was the purger away of prejudices—although this latter point is admitted to be doubtful.

Jowett1892: 232Now, there must surely be something wrong in the professor of any art having so many names and kinds of knowledge. Does not the very number of them imply that the nature of his art is not understood? And that we may not be involved in the misunderstanding, let us observe which of his characteristics is the most prominent. Above all things he is a disputant. He will dispute and teach others to dispute about things visible and invisible—about man, about the gods, about politics, about law, about wrestling, about all things. But can he know all things? Jowett1892: 233‘He cannot.’ How then can he dispute satisfactorily with any one who knows? ‘Impossible.’ Then what is the trick of his art, and why does he receive money from his admirers? ‘Because he is believed by them to know all things.’ You mean to say that he seems to have a knowledge of them? ‘Yes.’

Suppose a person were to say, not that he would dispute about all things, but that he would make all things, you and me, and all other creatures, the earth and the heavens and the gods, and Jowett1892: 234would sell them all for a few pence—this would be a great jest; but not greater than if he said that he knew all things, and could teach them in a short time, and at a small cost. For all imitation is a jest, and the most graceful form of jest. Now the painter is a man who professes to make all things, and children, who see his pictures at a distance, sometimes take them for realities: and the Sophist pretends to know all things, and he, too, can deceive young men, who are still at a distance from the truth, not through their eyes, but through their ears, by the mummery of words, and induce them to believe him. But as they grow older, and come into contact with realities, they learn by experience the futility of Jowett1892: 235his pretensions. The Sophist, then, has not real knowledge; he is only an imitator, or image-maker.

And now, having got him in a corner of the dialectical net, let Edition: current; Page: [306] us divide and subdivide until we catch him. Of image-making there are two kinds,—the art of making likenesses, and the art of making appearances. The latter may be illustrated by sculpture Jowett1892: 236and painting, which often use illusions, and alter the proportions of figures, in order to adapt their works to the eye. And the Sophist also uses illusions, and his imitations are apparent and not real. But how can any thing be an appearance only? Here arises a difficulty which has always beset the subject of appearances. Jowett1892: 237For the argument is asserting the existence of not-being. And this is what the great Parmenides was all his life denying in prose and also in verse. ‘You will never find,’ he says, ‘that not-being is.’ And the words prove themselves! Not-being cannot be attributed to any being; for how can any being be wholly abstracted from being? Again, in every predication there is an attribution of singular or plural. But number is the most real of Jowett1892: 238all things, and cannot be attributed to not-being. Therefore not-being cannot be predicated or expressed; for how can we say ‘is,’ ‘are not,’ without number?

And now arises the greatest difficulty of all. If not-being is Jowett1892: 239inconceivable, how can not-being be refuted? And am I not contradicting myself at this moment, in speaking either in the singular or the plural of that to which I deny both plurality and unity? You, Theaetetus, have the might of youth, and I conjure you to exert yourself, and, if you can, to find an expression for not-being which does not imply being and number. ‘But I cannot.’ Then the Sophist must be left in his hole. We may call him an image-maker if we please, but he will only say, ‘And pray, what is an image?’ And we shall reply, ‘A reflection in the water, or in a mirror’; and he will say, ‘Let us shut our eyes Jowett1892: 240and open our minds; what is the common notion of all images?’ ‘I should answer, Such another, made in the likeness of the true.’ Real or not real? ‘Not real; at least, not in a true sense.’ And the real ‘is,’ and the not-real ‘is not’? ‘Yes.’ Then a likeness is really unreal, and essentially not. Here is a pretty complication of being and not-being, in which the many-headed Sophist has entangled us. He will at once point out that he is compelling us Jowett1892: 241to contradict ourselves, by affirming being of not-being. I think that we must cease to look for him in the class of imitators.

But ought we to give him up? ‘I should say, certainly not.’ Edition: current; Page: [307] Then I fear that I must lay hands on my father Parmenides; but do not call me a parricide; for there is no way out of the difficulty except to show that in some sense not-being is; and if this is not admitted, no one can speak of falsehood, or false Jowett1892: 242opinion, or imitation, without falling into a contradiction. You observe how unwilling I am to undertake the task; for I know that I am exposing myself to the charge of inconsistency in asserting the being of not-being. But if I am to make the attempt, I think that I had better begin at the beginning.

Lightly in the days of our youth, Parmenides and others told us tales about the origin of the universe: one spoke of three principles warring and at peace again, marrying and begetting children; another of two principles, hot and cold, dry and moist, which also formed relationships. There were the Eleatics in our part of the world, saying that all things are one; whose doctrine begins with Xenophanes, and is even older. Ionian, and, more recently, Sicilian muses speak of a one and many which are held together by enmity and friendship, ever parting, ever meeting. Jowett1892: 243Some of them do not insist on the perpetual strife, but adopt a gentler strain, and speak of alternation only. Whether they are right or not, who can say? But one thing we can say—that they went on their way without much caring whether we understood them or not. For tell me, Theaetetus, do you understand what they mean by their assertion of unity, or by their combinations and separations of two or more principles? I used to think, when I was young, that I knew all about not-being, and now I am in great difficulties even about being.

Let us proceed first to the examination of being. Turning to the dualist philosophers, we say to them: Is being a third element besides hot and cold? or do you identify one or both of the two Jowett1892: 244elements with being? At any rate, you can hardly avoid resolving them into one. Let us next interrogate the patrons of the one. To them we say: Are being and one two different names for the same thing? But how can there be two names when there is nothing but one? Or you may identify them; but then the name will be either the name of nothing or of itself, i.e. of a name. Again, the notion of being is conceived of as a whole—in the Jowett1892: 245words of Parmenides, ‘like every way unto a rounded sphere.’ And a whole has parts; but that which has parts is not one, for Edition: current; Page: [308] unity has no parts. Is being, then, one, because the parts of being are one, or shall we say that being is not a whole? In the former case, one is made up of parts; and in the latter there is still plurality, viz. being, and a whole which is apart from being. And being, if not all things, lacks something of the nature of being, and becomes not-being. Nor can being ever have come into existence, for nothing comes into existence except as a whole; nor can being have number, for that which has number is a whole or sum of number. These are a few of the difficulties which are accumulating one upon another in the consideration of being.

We may proceed now to the less exact sort of philosophers. Jowett1892: 246Some of them drag down everything to earth, and carry on a war like that of the giants, grasping rocks and oaks in their hands. Their adversaries defend themselves warily from an invisible world, and reduce the substances of their opponents to the minutest fractions, until they are lost in generation and flux. The latter sort are civil people enough; but the materialists are rude and ignorant of dialectics; they must be taught how to argue before they can answer. Yet, for the sake of the argument, we may assume them to be better than they are, and able to give an account of themselves. They admit the existence of a mortal living creature, which is a body containing a soul, and Jowett1892: 247to this they would not refuse to attribute qualities—wisdom, folly, justice and injustice. The soul, as they say, has a kind of body, but they do not like to assert of these qualities of the soul, either that they are corporeal, or that they have no existence; at this point they begin to make distinctions. ‘Sons of earth,’ we say to them, ‘if both visible and invisible qualities exist, what is the common nature which is attributed to them by the term “being” or “existence”?’ And, as they are incapable of answering this question, we may as well reply for them, that being is the power of doing or suffering. Then we turn to the friends of ideas: Jowett1892: 248to them we say, ‘You distinguish becoming from being?’ ‘Yes,’ they will reply. ‘And in becoming you participate through the bodily senses, and in being, by thought and the mind?’ ‘Yes.’ And you mean by the word ‘participation’ a power of doing or suffering? To this they answer—I am acquainted with them, Theaetetus, and know their ways better than you do—that being Edition: current; Page: [309] can neither do nor suffer, though becoming may. And we rejoin: Does not the soul know? And is not ‘being’ known? And are not ‘knowing’ and ‘being known’ active and passive? That which is known is affected by knowledge, and therefore is in Jowett1892: 249motion. And, indeed, how can we imagine that perfect being is a mere everlasting form, devoid of motion and soul? for there can be no thought without soul, nor can soul be devoid of motion. But neither can thought or mind be devoid of some principle of rest or stability. And as children say entreatingly, ‘Give us both,’ so the philosopher must include both the moveable and immoveable in his idea of being. And yet, alas! he and we are in the same difficulty with which we reproached the dualists; Jowett1892: 250for motion and rest are contradictions—how then can they both exist? Does he who affirms this mean to say that motion is rest, or rest motion? ‘No; he means to assert the existence of some third thing, different from them both, which neither rests nor moves.’ But how can there be anything which neither rests nor moves? Here is a second difficulty about being, quite as great as that about not-being. And we may hope that any light Jowett1892: 251which is thrown upon the one may extend to the other.

Leaving them for the present, let us enquire what we mean by giving many names to the same thing, e.g. white, good, tall, to man; out of which tyros old and young derive such a feast of amusement. Their meagre minds refuse to predicate anything of anything; they say that good is good, and man is man; and that to affirm one of the other would be making the many one and the one many. Let us place them in a class with our previous opponents, and interrogate both of them at once. Shall we assume (1) that being and rest and motion, and all other things, Jowett1892: 252are incommunicable with one another? or (2) that they all have indiscriminate communion? or (3) that there is communion of some and not of others? And we will consider the first hypothesis first of all.

(1) If we suppose the universal separation of kinds, all theories alike are swept away; the patrons of a single principle of rest or of motion, or of a plurality of immutable ideas—all alike have the ground cut from under them; and all creators of the universe by theories of composition and division, whether out of or into a finite or infinite number of elemental forms, in alternation or Edition: current; Page: [310] continuance, share the same fate. Most ridiculous is the discomfiture which attends the opponents of predication, who, like the ventriloquist Eurycles, have the voice that answers them in their own breast. For they cannot help using the words ‘is,’ ‘apart,’ ‘from others,’ and the like; and their adversaries are thus saved the trouble of refuting them. But (2) if all things have communion with all things, motion will rest, and rest will move; here is a reductio ad absurdum. Two out of the three hypotheses are thus seen to be false. The third (3) remains, which affirms that only certain things communicate with certain other things. In the alphabet and the scale there are some letters and notes Jowett1892: 253which combine with others, and some which do not; and the laws according to which they combine or are separated are known to the grammarian and musician. And there is a science which teaches not only what notes and letters, but what classes admit of combination with one another, and what not. This is a noble science, on which we have stumbled unawares; in seeking after the Sophist we have found the philosopher. He is the master who discerns one whole or form pervading a scattered multitude, and many such wholes combined under a higher one, and many entirely apart—he is the true dialectician. Like the Sophist, he is hard to recognize, though for the opposite reasons; the Sophist runs away into the obscurity of not-being, Jowett1892: 254the philosopher is dark from excess of light. And now, leaving him, we will return to our pursuit of the Sophist.

Agreeing in the truth of the third hypothesis, that some things have communion and others not, and that some may have communion with all, let us examine the most important kinds which are capable of admixture; and in this way we may perhaps find out a sense in which not-being may be affirmed to have being. Now the highest kinds are being, rest, motion; and of these, rest and motion exclude each other, but both of them are included in being; and again, they are the same with themselves and the other of each other. What is the meaning of these words, ‘same’ and ‘other’? Are there two more kinds to be added to the three others? For sameness cannot be either rest or Jowett1892: 255motion, because predicated both of rest and motion; nor yet being, because if being were attributed to both of them we should attribute sameness to both of them. Nor can other be identified Edition: current; Page: [311] with being; for then other, which is relative, would have the absoluteness of being. Therefore we must assume a fifth principle, which is universal, and runs through all things, for each thing is other than all other things. Thus there are five principles: (1) being, (2) motion, which is not (3) rest, and because participating both in the same and other, is and is not (4) the same with itself, and is and is not (5) other than the other. And motion is not being, but partakes of being, and therefore is and Jowett1892: 256is not in the most absolute sense. Thus we have discovered that not-being is the principle of the other which runs through all things, being not excepted. And ‘being’ is one thing, and ‘not-being’ Jowett1892: 257includes and is all other things. And not-being is not the opposite of being, but only the other. Knowledge has many branches, and the other or difference has as many, each of which is described by prefixing the word ‘not’ to some kind of knowledge. The not-beautiful is as real as the beautiful, the not-just as the just. And the essence of the not-beautiful is to be separated from and opposed to a certain kind of existence which Jowett1892: 258is termed beautiful. And this opposition and negation is the not-being of which we are in search, and is one kind of being. Thus, in spite of Parmenides, we have not only discovered the existence, but also the nature of not-being—that nature we have Jowett1892: 259found to be relation. In the communion of different kinds, being and other mutually interpenetrate; other is, but is other than being, and other than each and all of the remaining kinds, and therefore in an infinity of ways ‘is not.’ And the argument has shown that the pursuit of contradictions is childish and useless, and the very opposite of that higher spirit which criticizes the words of another according to the natural meaning of them. Jowett1892: 260Nothing can be more unphilosophical than the denial of all communion of kinds. And we are fortunate in having established such a communion for another reason, because in continuing the hunt after the Sophist we have to examine the nature of discourse, and there could be no discourse if there were no communion. For the Sophist, although he can no longer deny the existence of not-being, may still affirm that not-being cannot enter into discourse, and as he was arguing before that there could be no such thing as falsehood, because there was no such thing as not-being, he may continue to argue that there is no such Edition: current; Page: [312] thing as the art of image-making and phantastic, because not-being has no place in language. Hence arises the necessity of examining speech, opinion, and imagination.

And first concerning speech; let us ask the same question Jowett1892: 261about words which we have already answered about the kinds of being and the letters of the alphabet: To what extent do they admit of combination? Some words have a meaning when combined, and others have no meaning. One class of words describes action, another class agents: ‘walks,’ ‘runs,’ ‘sleeps’ Jowett1892: 262are examples of the first; ‘stag,’ ‘horse,’ ‘lion’ of the second. But no combination of words can be formed without a verb and a noun, e.g. ‘A man learns’; the simplest sentence is composed of two words, and one of these must be a subject. For example, in the sentence, ‘Theaetetus sits,’ which is not Jowett1892: 263very long, ‘Theaetetus’ is the subject, and in the sentence ‘Theaetetus flies,’ ‘Theaetetus’ is again the subject. But the two sentences differ in quality, for the first says of you that which is true, and the second says of you that which is not true, or, in other words, attributes to you things which are not as though they were. Here is false discourse in the shortest form. And thus not only speech, but thought and opinion and imagination are proved to be both true and false. For thought is only the process of silent speech, and opinion is only the silent assent Jowett1892: 264or denial which follows this, and imagination is only the expression of this in some form of sense. All of them are akin to speech, and therefore, like speech, admit of true and false. And we have discovered false opinion, which is an encouraging sign of our probable success in the rest of the enquiry.

Then now let us return to our old division of likeness-making and phantastic. When we were going to place the Sophist in one of them, a doubt arose whether there could be such a thing as an appearance, because there was no such thing as falsehood. At length falsehood has been discovered by us to exist, and we have acknowledged that the Sophist is to be found in the class of imitators. All art was divided originally by us into two Jowett1892: 265branches—productive and acquisitive. And now we may divide both on a different principle into the creations or imitations which are of human, and those which are of divine, origin. For we must admit that the world and ourselves and the animals did Edition: current; Page: [313] not come into existence by chance, or the spontaneous working Jowett1892: 266of nature, but by divine reason and knowledge. And there are not only divine creations but divine imitations, such as apparitions and shadows and reflections, which are equally the work of a divine mind. And there are human creations and human imitations too,—there is the actual house and the drawing of it. Nor must we forget that image-making may be an imitation of realities or an imitation of appearances, which last has been called Jowett1892: 267by us phantastic. And this phantastic may be again divided into imitation by the help of instruments and impersonations. And the latter may be either dissembling or unconscious, either with or without knowledge. A man cannot imitate you, Theaetetus, without knowing you, but he can imitate the form of justice or virtue if he have a sentiment or opinion about them. Not being well provided with names, the former I will venture to call the imitation of science, and the latter the imitation of opinion.

The latter is our present concern, for the Sophist has no claims to science or knowledge. Now the imitator, who has only opinion, Jowett1892: 268may be either the simple imitator, who thinks that he knows, or the dissembler, who is conscious that he does not know, but disguises his ignorance. And the last may be either a maker of long speeches, or of shorter speeches which compel the person conversing to contradict himself. The maker of longer speeches is the popular orator; the maker of the shorter is the Sophist, whose art may be traced as being the

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  • contradictious
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  • dissembling
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  • without knowledge
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  • human and not divine
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  • juggling with words
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  • phantastic or unreal
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  • art of image-making.
Introduction.

In commenting on the dialogue in which Plato most nearly approaches the great modern master of metaphysics there are Edition: current; Page: [314] several points which it will be useful to consider, such as the unity of opposites, the conception of the ideas as causes, and the relation of the Platonic and Hegelian dialectic.

The unity of opposites was the crux of ancient thinkers in the age of Plato: How could one thing be or become another? That substances have attributes was implied in common language; that heat and cold, day and night, pass into one another was a matter of experience ‘on a level with the cobbler’s understanding’ (Theaet. 180 D). But how could philosophy explain the connexion of ideas, how justify the passing of them into one another? The abstractions of one, other, being, not-being, rest, motion, individual, universal, which successive generations of philosophers had recently discovered, seemed to be beyond the reach of human thought, like stars shining in a distant heaven. They were the symbols of different schools of philosophy: but in what relation did they stand to one another and to the world of sense? It was hardly conceivable that one could be other, or the same different. Yet without some reconciliation of these elementary ideas thought was impossible. There was no distinction between truth and falsehood, between the Sophist and the philosopher. Everything could be predicated of everything, or nothing of anything. To these difficulties Plato finds what to us appears to be the answer of common sense—that Not-being is the relative or other of Being, the defining and distinguishing principle, and that some ideas combine with others, but not all with all. It is remarkable however that he offers this obvious reply only as the result of a long and tedious enquiry; by a great effort he is able to look down as ‘from a height’ on the ‘friends of the ideas’ (248 A) as well as on the pre-Socratic philosophies. Yet he is merely asserting principles which no one who could be made to understand them would deny.

The Platonic unity of differences or opposites is the beginning of the modern view that all knowledge is of relations; it also anticipates the doctrine of Spinoza that all determination is negation. Plato takes or gives so much of either of these theories as was necessary or possible in the age in which he lived. In the Sophist, as in the Cratylus, he is opposed to the Heraclitean flux and equally to the Megarian and Cynic denial of predication, because he regards both of them as making knowledge impossible. He does not assert that everything is and is not, or Edition: current; Page: [315] that the same thing can be affected in the same and in opposite ways at the same time and in respect of the same part of itself. The law of contradiction is as clearly laid down by him in the Republic (iv. 436 ff.; v. 454 C, D), as by Aristotle in his Organon. Yet he is aware that in the negative there is also a positive element, and that oppositions may be only differences. And in the Parmenides he deduces the many from the one and Not-being from Being, and yet shows that the many are included in the one, and that Not-being returns to Being.

In several of the later dialogues Plato is occupied with the connexion of the sciences, which in the Philebus he divides into two classes of pure and applied, adding to them there as elsewhere (Phaedr., Crat., Rep., States.) a superintending science of dialectic. This is the origin of Aristotle’s Architectonic, which seems, however, to have passed into an imaginary science of essence, and no longer to retain any relation to other branches of knowledge. Of such a science, whether described as ‘philosophia prima,’ the science of οὐσία, logic or metaphysics, philosophers have often dreamed. But even now the time has not arrived when the anticipation of Plato can be realized. Though many a thinker has framed a ‘hierarchy of the sciences,’ no one has as yet found the higher science which arrays them in harmonious order, giving to the organic and inorganic, to the physical and moral, their respective limits, and showing how they all work together in the world and in man.

Plato arranges in order the stages of knowledge and of existence. They are the steps or grades by which he rises from sense and the shadows of sense to the idea of beauty and good. Mind is in motion as well as at rest (Soph. 249 B); and may be described as a dialectical progress which passes from one limit or determination of thought to another and back again to the first. This is the account of dialectic given by Plato in the Sixth Book of the Republic (511), which regarded under another aspect is the mysticism of the Symposium (Symp. 211). He does not deny the existence of objects of sense, but according to him they only receive their true meaning when they are incorporated in a principle which is above them (Rep. vi. 511 A, B). In modern language they might be said to come first in the order of experience, last in the order of nature and reason. They are assumed, as he is fond of Edition: current; Page: [316] repeating, upon the condition that they shall give an account of themselves and that the truth of their existence shall be hereafter proved. For philosophy must begin somewhere and may begin anywhere,—with outward objects, with statements of opinion, with abstract principles. But objects of sense must lead us onward to the ideas or universals which are contained in them; the statements of opinion must be verified; the abstract principles must be filled up and connected with one another. In Plato we find, as we might expect, the germs of many thoughts which have been further developed by the genius of Spinoza and Hegel. But there is a difficulty in separating the germ from the flower, or in drawing the line which divides ancient from modern philosophy. Many coincidences which occur in them are unconscious, seeming to show a natural tendency in the human mind towards certain ideas and forms of thought. And there are many speculations of Plato which would have passed away unheeded, and their meaning, like that of some hieroglyphic, would have remained undeciphered, unless two thousand years and more afterwards an interpreter had arisen of a kindred spirit and of the same intellectual family. For example, in the Sophist Plato begins with the abstract and goes on to the concrete, not in the lower sense of returning to outward objects, but to the Hegelian concrete or unity of abstractions. In the intervening period hardly any importance would have been attached to the question which is so full of meaning to Plato and Hegel.

They differ however in their manner of regarding the question. For Plato is answering a difficulty; he is seeking to justify the use of common language and of ordinary thought into which philosophy had introduced a principle of doubt and dissolution. Whereas Hegel tries to go beyond common thought, and to combine abstractions in a higher unity: the ordinary mechanism of language and logic is carried by him into another region in which all oppositions are absorbed and all contradictions affirmed, only that they may be done away with. But Plato, unlike Hegel, nowhere bases his system on the unity of opposites, although in the Parmenides he shows an Hegelian subtlety in the analysis of one and Being.

It is difficult within the compass of a few pages to give even a faint outline of the Hegelian dialectic. No philosophy which is Edition: current; Page: [317] worth understanding can be understood in a moment; common sense will not teach us metaphysics any more than mathematics. If all sciences demand of us protracted study and attention, the highest of all can hardly be matter of immediate intuition. Neither can we appreciate a great system without yielding a half assent to it—like flies we are caught in the spider’s web; and we can only judge of it truly when we place ourselves at a distance from it. Of all philosophies Hegelianism is the most obscure: and the difficulty inherent in the subject is increased by the use of a technical language. The saying of Socrates respecting the writings of Heracleitus—‘Noble is that which I understand, and that which I do not understand may be as noble; but the strength of a Delian diver is needed to swim through it’—expresses the feeling with which the reader rises from the perusal of Hegel. We may truly apply to him the words in which Plato describes the Pre-Socratic philosophers: ‘He went on his way rather regardless of whether we understood him or not’; or, as he is reported himself to have said of his own pupils: ‘There is only one of you who understands me, and he does not understand me.’

Nevertheless the consideration of a few general aspects of the Hegelian philosophy may help to dispel some errors and to awaken an interest about it. (i) It is an ideal philosophy which, in popular phraseology, maintains not matter but mind to be the truth of things, and this not by a mere crude substitution of one word for another, but by showing either of them to be the complement of the other. Both are creations of thought, and the difference in kind which seems to divide them may also be regarded as a difference of degree. One is to the other as the real to the ideal, and both may be conceived together under the higher form of the notion. (ii) Under another aspect it views all the forms of sense and knowledge as stages of thought which have always existed implicitly and unconsciously, and to which the mind of the world, gradually disengaged from sense, has become awakened. The present has been the past. The succession in time of human ideas is also the eternal ‘now’; it is historical and also a divine ideal. The history of philosophy stripped of personality and of the other accidents of time and place is gathered up into philosophy, and again philosophy clothed in circumstance expands into history. (iii) Whether regarded as present or past, under the Edition: current; Page: [318] form of time or of eternity, the spirit of dialectic is always moving onwards from one determination of thought to another, receiving each successive system of philosophy and subordinating it to that which follows—impelled by an irresistible necessity from one idea to another until the cycle of human thought and existence is complete. It follows from this that all previous philosophies which are worthy of the name are not mere opinions or speculations, but stages or moments of thought which have a necessary place in the world of mind. They are no longer the last word of philosophy, for another and another has succeeded them, but they still live and are mighty; in the language of the Greek poet, ‘There is a great God in them, and he grows not old.’ (iv) This vast ideal system is supposed to be based upon experience. At each step it professes to carry with it the ‘witness of eyes and ears’ and of common sense, as well as the internal evidence of its own consistency; it has a place for every science, and affirms that no philosophy of a narrower type is capable of comprehending all true facts.

The Hegelian dialectic may be also described as a movement from the simple to the complex. Beginning with the generalizations of sense, (1) passing through ideas of quality, quantity, measure, number, and the like, (2) ascending from presentations, that is pictorial forms of sense, to representations in which the picture vanishes and the essence is detached in thought from the outward form, (3) combining the I and the not-I, or the subject and object, the natural order of thought is at last found to include the leading ideas of the sciences and to arrange them in relation to one another. Abstractions grow together and again become concrete in a new and higher sense. They also admit of development from within in their own spheres. Everywhere there is a movement of attraction and repulsion going on—an attraction or repulsion of ideas of which the physical phenomenon described under a similar name is a figure. Freedom and necessity, mind and matter, the continuous and the discrete, cause and effect, are perpetually being severed from one another in thought, only to be perpetually reunited. The finite and infinite, the absolute and relative are not really opposed; the finite and the negation of the finite are alike lost in a higher or positive infinity, and the absolute is the sum or correlation of all relatives. When this Edition: current; Page: [319] reconciliation of opposites is finally completed in all its stages, the mind may come back again and review the things of sense, the opinions of philosophers, the strife of theology and politics, without being disturbed by them. Whatever is, if not the very best—and what is the best, who can tell?—is, at any rate, historical and rational, suitable to its own age, unsuitable to any other. Nor can any efforts of speculative thinkers or of soldiers and statesmen materially quicken the ‘process of the suns.’

Hegel was quite sensible how great would be the difficulty of presenting philosophy to mankind under the form of opposites. Most of us live in the one-sided truth which the understanding offers to us, and if occasionally we come across difficulties like the time-honoured controversy of necessity and free-will, or the Eleatic puzzle of Achilles and the tortoise, we relegate some of them to the sphere of mystery, others to the book of riddles, and go on our way rejoicing. Most men (like Aristotle) have been accustomed to regard a contradiction in terms as the end of strife; to be told that contradiction is the life and mainspring of the intellectual world is indeed a paradox to them. Every abstraction is at first the enemy of every other, yet they are linked together, each with all, in the chain of Being. The struggle for existence is not confined to the animals, but appears in the kingdom of thought. The divisions which arise in thought between the physical and moral and between the moral and intellectual, and the like, are deepened and widened by the formal logic which elevates the defects of the human faculties into Laws of Thought; they become a part of the mind which makes them and is also made up of them. Such distinctions become so familiar to us that we regard the thing signified by them as absolutely fixed and defined. These are some of the illusions from which Hegel delivers us by placing us above ourselves, by teaching us to analyze the growth of ‘what we are pleased to call our minds,’ by reverting to a time when our present distinctions of thought and language had no existence.

Of the great dislike and childish impatience of his system which would be aroused among his opponents, he was fully aware, and would often anticipate the jests which the rest of the world, ‘in the superfluity of their wits,’ were likely to make upon him. Men are annoyed at what puzzles them; they think what Edition: current; Page: [320] they cannot easily understand to be full of danger. Many a sceptic has stood, as he supposed, firmly rooted in the categories of the understanding which Hegel resolves into their original nothingness. For, like Plato, he ‘leaves no stone unturned’ in the intellectual world. Nor can we deny that he is unnecessarily difficult, or that his own mind, like that of all metaphysicians, was too much under the dominion of his system and unable to see beyond: or that the study of philosophy, if made a serious business (cp. Rep. vii. 538), involves grave results to the mind and life of the student. For it may encumber him without enlightening his path; and it may weaken his natural faculties of thought and expression without increasing his philosophical power. The mind easily becomes entangled among abstractions, and loses hold of facts. The glass which is adapted to distant objects takes away the vision of what is near and present to us.

To Hegel, as to the ancient Greek thinkers, philosophy was a religion, a principle of life as well as of knowledge, like the idea of good in the Sixth Book of the Republic, a cause as well as an effect, the source of growth as well as of light. In forms of thought which by most of us are regarded as mere categories, he saw or thought that he saw a gradual revelation of the Divine Being. He would have been said by his opponents to have confused God with the history of philosophy, and to have been incapable of distinguishing ideas from facts. And certainly we can scarcely understand how a deep thinker like Hegel could have hoped to revive or supplant the old traditional faith by an unintelligible abstraction: or how he could have imagined that philosophy consisted only or chiefly in the categories of logic. For abstractions, though combined by him in the notion, seem to be never really concrete; they are a metaphysical anatomy, not a living and thinking substance. Though we are reminded by him again and again that we are gathering up the world in ideas, we feel after all that we have not really spanned the gulf which separates ϕαινόμενα from ὄντα.

Having in view some of these difficulties, he seeks—and we may follow his example—to make the understanding of his system easier (a) by illustrations, and (b) by pointing out the coincidence of the speculative idea and the historical order of thought.

(a) If we ask how opposites can coexist, we are told that many Edition: current; Page: [321] different qualities inhere in a flower or a tree or in any other concrete object, and that any conception of space or matter or time involves the two contradictory attributes of divisibility and continuousness. We may ponder over the thought of number, reminding ourselves that every unit both implies and denies the existence of every other, and that the one is many—a sum of fractions, and the many one—a sum of units. We may be reminded that in nature there is a centripetal as well as a centrifugal force, a regulator as well as a spring, a law of attraction as well as of repulsion. The way to the West is the way also to the East; the north pole of the magnet cannot be divided from the south pole; two minus signs make a plus in Arithmetic and Algebra. Again, we may liken the successive layers of thought to the deposits of geological strata which were once fluid and are now solid, which were at one time uppermost in the series and are now hidden in the earth; or to the successive rinds or barks of trees which year by year pass inward; or to the ripple of water which appears and reappears in an ever-widening circle. Or our attention may be drawn to ideas which the moment we analyze them involve a contradiction, such as ‘beginning’ or ‘becoming,’ or to the opposite poles, as they are sometimes termed, of necessity and freedom, of idea and fact. We may be told to observe that every negative is a positive, that differences of kind are resolvable into differences of degree, and that differences of degree may be heightened into differences of kind. We may remember the common remark that there is much to be said on both sides of a question. We may be recommended to look within and to explain how opposite ideas can coexist in our own minds; and we may be told to imagine the minds of all mankind as one mind in which the true ideas of all ages and countries inhere. In our conception of God in his relation to man or of any union of the divine and human nature, a contradiction appears to be unavoidable. Is not the reconciliation of mind and body a necessity, not only of speculation but of practical life? Reflections such as these will furnish the best preparation and give the right attitude of mind for understanding the Hegelian philosophy.

(b) Hegel’s treatment of the early Greek thinkers affords the readiest illustration of his meaning in conceiving all philosophy Edition: current; Page: [322] under the form of opposites. The first abstraction is to him the beginning of thought. Hitherto there had only existed a tumultuous chaos of mythological fancy, but when Thales said ‘All is water’ a new era began to dawn upon the world. Man was seeking to grasp the universe under a single form which was at first simply a material element, the most equable and colourless and universal which could be found. But soon the human mind became dissatisfied with the emblem, and after ringing the changes on one element after another, demanded a more abstract and perfect conception, such as one or Being, which was absolutely at rest. But the positive had its negative, the conception of Being involved Not-being, the conception of one, many, the conception of a whole, parts. Then the pendulum swung to the other side, from rest to motion, from Xenophanes to Heracleitus. The opposition of Being and Not-being projected into space became the atoms and void of Leucippus and Democritus. Until the Atomists, the abstraction of the individual did not exist; in the philosophy of Anaxagoras the idea of mind, whether human or divine, was beginning to be realized. The pendulum gave another swing, from the individual to the universal, from the object to the subject. The Sophist first uttered the word ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ which Socrates presented in a new form as the study of ethics. Once more we return from mind to the object of mind, which is knowledge, and out of knowledge the various degrees or kinds of knowledge more or less abstract were gradually developed. The threefold division of logic, physic, and ethics, foreshadowed in Plato, was finally established by Aristotle and the Stoics. Thus, according to Hegel, in the course of about two centuries by a process of antagonism and negation the leading thoughts of philosophy were evolved.

There is nothing like this progress of opposites in Plato, who in the Symposium denies the possibility of reconciliation until the opposition has passed away. In his own words, there is an absurdity in supposing that ‘harmony is discord; for in reality harmony consists of notes of a higher and lower pitch which disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of music’ (Symp. 187 A, B). He does indeed describe objects of sense as regarded by us sometimes from one point of view and sometimes from another. As he says at the end of the Fifth Book of the Republic, Edition: current; Page: [323] ‘There is nothing light which is not heavy, or great which is not small.’ And he extends this relativity to the conceptions of just and good, as well as to great and small. In like manner he acknowledges that the same number may be more or less in relation to other numbers without any increase or diminution (Theaet. 155 A, B). But the perplexity only arises out of the confusion of the human faculties; the art of measuring shows us what is truly great and truly small. Though the just and good in particular instances may vary, the idea of good is eternal and unchangeable. And the idea of good is the source of knowledge and also of Being, in which all the stages of sense and knowledge are gathered up and from being hypotheses become realities.

Leaving the comparison with Plato we may now consider the value of this invention of Hegel. There can be no question of the importance of showing that two contraries or contradictories may in certain cases be both true. The silliness of the so-called laws of thought (‘All A = A,’ or, in the negative form, ‘Nothing can at the same time be both A, and not A’) has been well exposed by Hegel himself (Wallace’s Hegel, p. 184), who remarks that ‘the form of the maxim is virtually self-contradictory, for a proposition implies a distinction between subject and predicate, whereas the maxim of identity, as it is called, A = A, does not fulfil what its form requires. Nor does any mind ever think or form conceptions in accordance with this law, nor does any existence conform to it.’ Wisdom of this sort is well parodied in Shakespeare1. Unless we are willing to admit that two contradictories may be true, many questions which lie at the threshold of mathematics and of morals will be insoluble puzzles to us.

The influence of opposites is felt in practical life. The understanding sees one side of a question only—the common sense of mankind joins one of two parties in politics, in religion, in philosophy. Yet, as everybody knows, truth is not wholly the possession of either. But the characters of men are one-sided and accept this or that aspect of the truth. The understanding is strong in a single abstract principle and with this lever moves mankind. Few attain to a balance of principles or recognize Edition: current; Page: [324] truly how in all human things there is a thesis and antithesis, a law of action and of reaction. In politics we require order as well as liberty, and have to consider the proportions in which under given circumstances they may be safely combined. In religion there is a tendency to lose sight of morality, to separate goodness from the love of truth, to worship God without attempting to know him. In philosophy again there are two opposite principles, of immediate experience and of those general or a priori truths which are supposed to transcend experience. But the common sense or common opinion of mankind is incapable of apprehending these opposite sides or views—men are determined by their natural bent to one or other of them; they go straight on for a time in a single line, and may be many things by turns but not at once.

Hence the importance of familiarizing the mind with forms which will assist us in conceiving or expressing the complex or contrary aspects of life and nature. The danger is that they may be too much for us, and obscure our appreciation of facts. As the complexity of mechanics cannot be understood without mathematics, so neither can the many-sidedness of the mental and moral world be truly apprehended without the assistance of new forms of thought. One of these forms is the unity of opposites. Abstractions have a great power over us, but they are apt to be partial and one-sided, and only when modified by other abstractions do they make an approach to the truth. Many a man has become a fatalist because he has fallen under the dominion of a single idea. He says to himself, for example, that he must be either free or necessary—he cannot be both. Thus in the ancient world whole schools of philosophy passed away in the vain attempt to solve the problem of the continuity or divisibility of matter. And in comparatively modern times, though in the spirit of an ancient philosopher, Bishop Berkeley, feeling a similar perplexity, is inclined to deny the truth of infinitesimals in mathematics. Many difficulties arise in practical religion from the impossibility of conceiving body and mind at once and in adjusting their movements to one another. There is a border ground between them which seems to belong to both; and there is as much difficulty in conceiving the body without the soul as the soul without the body. To the ‘either’ and ‘or’ philosophy (‘Everything is either A or not A’) should at least be added the clause ‘or neither,’ ‘or both.’ Edition: current; Page: [325] The double form makes reflection easier and more conformable to experience, and also more comprehensive. But in order to avoid paradox and the danger of giving offence to the unmetaphysical part of mankind, we may speak of it as due to the imperfection of language or the limitation of human faculties. It is nevertheless a discovery which, in Platonic language, may be termed a ‘most gracious aid to thought.’

The doctrine of opposite moments of thought or of progression by antagonism, further assists us in framing a scheme or system of the sciences. The negation of one gives birth to another of them. The double notions are the joints which hold them together. The simple is developed into the complex, the complex returns again into the simple. Beginning with the highest notion of mind or thought, we may descend by a series of negations to the first generalizations of sense. Or again we may begin with the simplest elements of sense and proceed upwards to the highest being or thought. Metaphysic is the negation or absorption of physiology — physiology of chemistry — chemistry of mechanical philosophy. Similarly in mechanics, when we can no further go we arrive at chemistry — when chemistry becomes organic we arrive at physiology: when we pass from the outward and animal to the inward nature of man we arrive at moral and metaphysical philosophy. These sciences have each of them their own methods and are pursued independently of one another. But to the mind of the thinker they are all one—latent in one another—developed out of one another.

This method of opposites has supplied new instruments of thought for the solution of metaphysical problems, and has thrown down many of the walls within which the human mind was confined. Formerly when philosophers arrived at the infinite and absolute, they seemed to be lost in a region beyond human comprehension. But Hegel has shown that the absolute and infinite are no more true than the relative and finite, and that they must alike be negatived before we arrive at a true absolute or a true infinite. The conceptions of the infinite and absolute as ordinarily understood are tiresome because they are unmeaning, but there is no peculiar sanctity or mystery in them. We might as well make an infinitesimal series of fractions or a perpetually recurring decimal the object of our worship. They are the widest and also Edition: current; Page: [326] the thinnest of human ideas, or, in the language of logicians, they have the greatest extension and the least comprehension. Of all words they may be truly said to be the most inflated with a false meaning. They have been handed down from one philosopher to another until they have acquired a religious character. They seem also to derive a sacredness from their association with the Divine Being. Yet they are the poorest of the predicates under which we describe him—signifying no more than this, that he is not finite, that he is not relative, and tending to obscure his higher attributes of wisdom, goodness, truth.

The system of Hegel frees the mind from the dominion of abstract ideas. We acknowledge his originality, and some of us delight to wander in the mazes of thought which he has opened to us. For Hegel has found admirers in England and Scotland when his popularity in Germany has departed, and he, like the philosophers whom he criticizes, is of the past. No other thinker has ever dissected the human mind with equal patience and minuteness. He has lightened the burden of thought because he has shown us that the chains which we wear are of our own forging. To be able to place ourselves not only above the opinions of men but above their modes of thinking, is a great height of philosophy. This dearly obtained freedom, however, we are not disposed to part with, or to allow him to build up in a new form the ‘beggarly elements’ of scholastic logic which he has thrown down. So far as they are aids to reflection and expression, forms of thought are useful, but no further:—we may easily have too many of them.

And when we are asked to believe the Hegelian to be the sole or universal logic, we naturally reply that there are other ways in which our ideas may be connected. The triplets of Hegel, the division into being, essence, and notion, are not the only or necessary modes in which the world of thought can be conceived. There may be an evolution by degrees as well as by opposites. The word ‘continuity’ suggests the possibility of resolving all differences into differences of quantity. Again, the opposites themselves may vary from the least degree of diversity up to contradictory opposition. They are not like numbers and figures, always and everywhere of the same value. And therefore the edifice which is constructed out of them has merely an imaginary Edition: current; Page: [327] symmetry, and is really irregular and out of proportion. The spirit of Hegelian criticism should be applied to his own system, and the terms Being, Not-being, existence, essence, notion, and the like challenged and defined. For if Hegel introduces a great many distinctions, he obliterates a great many others by the help of the universal solvent ‘is not,’ which appears to be the simplest of negations, and yet admits of several meanings. Neither are we able to follow him in the play of metaphysical fancy which conducts him from one determination of thought to another. But we begin to suspect that this vast system is not God within us, or God immanent in the world, and may be only the invention of an individual brain. The ‘beyond’ is always coming back upon us however often we expel it. We do not easily believe that we have within the compass of the mind the form of universal knowledge. We rather incline to think that the method of knowledge is inseparable from actual knowledge, and wait to see what new forms may be developed out of our increasing experience and observation of man and nature. We are conscious of a Being who is without us as well as within us. Even if inclined to Pantheism we are unwilling to imagine that the meagre categories of the understanding, however ingeniously arranged or displayed, are the image of God;—that what all religions were seeking after from the beginning was the Hegelian philosophy which has been revealed in the latter days. The great metaphysician, like a prophet of old, was naturally inclined to believe that his own thoughts were divine realities. We may almost say that whatever came into his head seemed to him to be a necessary truth. He never appears to have criticized himself, or to have subjected his own ideas to the process of analysis which he applies to every other philosopher.

Hegel would have insisted that his philosophy should be accepted as a whole or not at all. He would have urged that the parts derived their meaning from one another and from the whole. He thought that he had supplied an outline large enough to contain all future knowledge, and a method to which all future philosophies must conform. His metaphysical genius is especially shown in the construction of the categories—a work which was only begun by Kant, and elaborated to the utmost by himself. But is it really true that the part has no meaning when separated Edition: current; Page: [328] from the whole, or that knowledge to be knowledge at all must be universal? Do all abstractions shine only by the reflected light of other abstractions? May they not also find a nearer explanation in their relation to phenomena? If many of them are correlatives they are not all so, and the relations which subsist between them vary from a mere association up to a necessary connexion. Nor is it easy to determine how far the unknown element affects the known, whether, for example, new discoveries may not one day supersede our most elementary notions about nature. To a certain extent all our knowledge is conditional upon what may be known in future ages of the world. We must admit this hypothetical element, which we cannot get rid of by an assumption that we have already discovered the method to which all philosophy must conform. Hegel is right in preferring the concrete to the abstract, in setting actuality before possibility, in excluding from the philosopher’s vocabulary the word ‘inconceivable.’ But he is too well satisfied with his own system ever to consider the effect of what is unknown on the element which is known. To the Hegelian all things are plain and clear, while he who is outside the charmed circle is in the mire of ignorance and ‘logical impurity’: he who is within is omniscient, or at least has all the elements of knowledge under his hand.

Hegelianism may be said to be a transcendental defence of the world as it is. There is no room for aspiration and no need of any: ‘what is actual is rational, what is rational is actual.’ But a good man will not readily acquiesce in this aphorism. He knows of course that all things proceed according to law whether for good or evil. But when he sees the misery and ignorance of mankind he is convinced that without any interruption of the uniformity of nature the condition of the world may be indefinitely improved by human effort. There is also an adaptation of persons to times and countries, but this is very far from being the fulfilment of their higher natures. The man of the seventeenth century is unfitted for the eighteenth, and the man of the eighteenth for the nineteenth, and most of us would be out of place in the world of a hundred years hence. But all higher minds are much more akin than they are different: genius is of all ages, and there is perhaps more uniformity in excellence than in mediocrity. The sublimer intelligences of mankind—Plato, Dante, Edition: current; Page: [329] Sir Thomas More—meet in a higher sphere above the ordinary ways of men; they understand one another from afar, notwithstanding the interval which separates them. They are ‘the spectators of all time and of all existence’; their works live for ever; and there is nothing to prevent the force of their individuality breaking through the uniformity which surrounds them. But such disturbers of the order of thought Hegel is reluctant to acknowledge.

The doctrine of Hegel will to many seem the expression of an indolent conservatism, and will at any rate be made an excuse for it. The mind of the patriot rebels when he is told that the worst tyranny and oppression has a natural fitness: he cannot be persuaded, for example, that the conquest of Prussia by Napoleon I. was either natural or necessary, or that any similar calamity befalling a nation should be a matter of indifference to the poet or philosopher. We may need such a philosophy or religion to console us under evils which are irremediable, but we see that it is fatal to the higher life of man. It seems to say to us, ‘The world is a vast system or machine which can be conceived under the forms of logic, but in which no single man can do any great good or any great harm. Even if it were a thousand times worse than it is, it could be arranged in categories and explained by philosophers. And what more do we want?’

The philosophy of Hegel appeals to an historical criterion: the ideas of men have a succession in time as well as an order of thought. But the assumption that there is a correspondence between the succession of ideas in history and the natural order of philosophy is hardly true even of the beginnings of thought. And in later systems forms of thought are too numerous and complex to admit of our tracing in them a regular succession. They seem also to be in part reflections of the past, and it is difficult to separate in them what is original and what is borrowed. Doubtless they have a relation to one another—the transition from Descartes to Spinoza or from Locke to Berkeley is not a matter of chance, but it can hardly be described as an alternation of opposites or figured to the mind by the vibrations of a pendulum. Even in Aristotle and Plato, rightly understood, we cannot trace this law of action and reaction. They are both idealists, although to the one the idea is actual and immanent,—to Edition: current; Page: [330] the other only potential and transcendent, as Hegel himself has pointed out (Wallace’s Hegel, p. 223). The true meaning of Aristotle has been disguised from us by his own appeal to fact and the opinions of mankind in his more popular works, and by the use made of his writings in the Middle Ages. No book, except the Scriptures, has been so much read, and so little understood. The Pre-Socratic philosophies are simpler, and we may observe a progress in them; but is there any regular succession? The ideas of Being, change, number, seem to have sprung up contemporaneously in different parts of Greece and we have no difficulty in constructing them out of one another—we can see that the union of Being and Not-being gave birth to the idea of change or Becoming and that one might be another aspect of Being. Again, the Eleatics may be regarded as developing in one direction into the Megarian school, in the other into the Atomists, but there is no necessary connexion between them. Nor is there any indication that the deficiency which was felt in one school was supplemented or compensated by another. They were all efforts to supply the want which the Greeks began to feel at the beginning of the sixth century before Christ,—the want of abstract ideas. Nor must we forget the uncertainty of chronology;—if, as Aristotle says, there were Atomists before Leucippus, Eleatics before Xenophanes, and perhaps ‘patrons of the flux’ before Heracleitus, Hegel’s order of thought in the history of philosophy would be as much disarranged as his order of religious thought by recent discoveries in the history of religion.

Hegel is fond of repeating that all philosophies still live and that the earlier are preserved in the later; they are refuted, and they are not refuted, by those who succeed them. Once they reigned supreme, now they are subordinated to a power or idea greater or more comprehensive than their own. The thoughts of Socrates and Plato and Aristotle have certainly sunk deep into the mind of the world, and have exercised an influence which will never pass away; but can we say that they have the same meaning in modern and ancient philosophy? Some of them, as for example the words ‘Being,’ ‘essence,’ ‘matter,’ ‘form,’ either have become obsolete, or are used in new senses, whereas ‘individual,’ ‘cause,’ ‘motive,’ have acquired an exaggerated importance. Is the manner in which the logical determinations Edition: current; Page: [331] of thought, or ‘categories’ as they may be termed, have been handed down to us, really different from that in which other words have come down to us? Have they not been equally subject to accident, and are they not often used by Hegel himself in senses which would have been quite unintelligible to their original inventors—as for example, when he speaks of the ‘ground’ of Leibnitz (‘Everything has a sufficient ground’) as identical with his own doctrine of the ‘notion’ (Wallace’s Hegel, p. 195), or the ‘Being and Not-being’ of Heracleitus as the same with his own ‘Becoming’?

As the historical order of thought has been adapted to the logical, so we have reason for suspecting that the Hegelian logic has been in some degree adapted to the order of thought in history. There is unfortunately no criterion to which either of them can be subjected, and not much forcing was required to bring either into near relations with the other. We may fairly doubt whether the division of the first and second parts of logic in the Hegelian system has not really arisen from a desire to make them accord with the first and second stages of the early Greek philosophy. Is there any reason why the conception of measure in the first part, which is formed by the union of quality and quantity, should not have been equally placed in the second division of mediate or reflected ideas? The more we analyze them the less exact does the coincidence of philosophy and the history of philosophy appear. Many terms which were used absolutely in the beginning of philosophy, such as ‘Being,’ ‘matter,’ ‘cause,’ and the like, became relative in the subsequent history of thought. But Hegel employs some of them absolutely, some relatively, seemingly without any principle and without any regard to their original significance.

The divisions of the Hegelian logic bear a superficial resemblance to the divisions of the scholastic logic. The first part answers to the term, the second to the proposition, the third to the syllogism. These are the grades of thought under which we conceive the world, first, in the general terms of quality, quantity, measure; secondly, under the relative forms of ‘ground’ and existence, substance and accidents, and the like; thirdly in syllogistic forms of the individual mediated with the universal by the help of the particular. Of syllogisms there are various Edition: current; Page: [332] kinds,—qualitative, quantitative, inductive, mechanical, teleological,—which are developed out of one another. But is there any meaning in reintroducing the forms of the old logic? Who ever thinks of the world as a syllogism? What connexion is there between the proposition and our ideas of reciprocity, cause and effect, and similar relations? It is difficult enough to conceive all the powers of nature and mind gathered up in one. The difficulty is greatly increased when the new is confused with the old, and the common logic is the Procrustes’ bed into which they are forced.

The Hegelian philosophy claims, as we have seen, to be based upon experience: it abrogates the distinction of a priori and a posteriori truth. It also acknowledges that many differences of kind are resolvable into differences of degree. It is familiar with the terms ‘evolution,’ ‘development,’ and the like. Yet it can hardly be said to have considered the forms of thought which are best adapted for the expression of facts. It has never applied the categories to experience; it has not defined the differences in our ideas of opposition, or development, or cause and effect, in the different sciences which make use of these terms. It rests on a knowledge which is not the result of exact or serious enquiry, but is floating in the air; the mind has been imperceptibly informed of some of the methods required in the sciences. Hegel boasts that the movement of dialectic is at once necessary and spontaneous: in reality it goes beyond experience and is unverified by it. Further, the Hegelian philosophy, while giving us the power of thinking a great deal more than we are able to fill up, seems to be wanting in some determinations of thought which we require. We cannot say that physical science, which at present occupies so large a share of popular attention, has been made easier or more intelligible by the distinctions of Hegel. Nor can we deny that he has sometimes interpreted physics by metaphysics, and confused his own philosophical fancies with the laws of nature. The very freedom of the movement is not without suspicion, seeming to imply a state of the human mind which has entirely lost sight of facts. Nor can the necessity which is attributed to it be very stringent, seeing that the successive categories or determinations of thought in different parts of his writings are arranged by the philosopher Edition: current; Page: [333] in different ways. What is termed necessary evolution seems to be only the order in which a succession of ideas presented themselves to the mind of Hegel at a particular time.

The nomenclature of Hegel has been made by himself out of the language of common life. He uses a few words only which are borrowed from his predecessors, or from the Greek philosophy, and these generally in a sense peculiar to himself. The first stage of his philosophy answers to the word ‘is,’ the second to the word ‘has been,’ the third to the words ‘has been’ and ‘is’ combined. In other words, the first sphere is immediate, the second mediated by reflection, the third or highest returns into the first, and is both mediate and immediate. As Luther’s Bible was written in the language of the common people, so Hegel seems to have thought that he gave his philosophy a truly German character by the use of idiomatic German words. But it may be doubted whether the attempt has been successful. First because such words as ‘in sich seyn,’ ‘an sich seyn,’ ‘an und für sich seyn,’ though the simplest combinations of nouns and verbs, require a difficult and elaborate explanation. The simplicity of the words contrasts with the hardness of their meaning. Secondly, the use of technical phraseology necessarily separates philosophy from general literature; the student has to learn a new language of uncertain meaning which he with difficulty remembers. No former philosopher had ever carried the use of technical terms to the same extent as Hegel. The language of Plato or even of Aristotle is but slightly removed from that of common life, and was introduced naturally by a series of thinkers: the language of the scholastic logic has become technical to us, but in the Middle Ages was the vernacular Latin of priests and students. The higher spirit of philosophy, the spirit of Plato and Socrates, rebels against the Hegelian use of language as mechanical and technical.

Hegel is fond of etymologies and often seems to trifle with words. He gives etymologies which are bad, and never considers that the meaning of a word may have nothing to do with its derivation. He lived before the days of Comparative Philology or of Comparative Mythology and Religion, which would have opened a new world to him. He makes no allowance for the element of chance either in language or thought; and perhaps Edition: current; Page: [334] there is no greater defect in his system than the want of a sound theory of language. He speaks as if thought, instead of being identical with language, was wholly independent of it. It is not the actual growth of the mind, but the imaginary growth of the Hegelian system, which is attractive to him.

Neither are we able to say why of the common forms of thought some are rejected by him, while others have an undue prominence given to them. Some of them, such as ‘ground’ and ‘existence,’ have hardly any basis either in language or philosophy, while others, such as ‘cause’ and ‘effect,’ are but slightly considered. All abstractions are supposed by Hegel to derive their meaning from one another. This is true of some, but not of all, and in different degrees. There is an explanation of abstractions by the phenomena which they represent, as well as by their relation to other abstractions. If the knowledge of all were necessary to the knowledge of any one of them, the mind would sink under the load of thought. Again, in every process of reflection we seem to require a standing ground, and in the attempt to obtain a complete analysis we lose all fixedness. If, for example, the mind is viewed as the complex of ideas, or the difference between things and persons denied, such an analysis may be justified from the point of view of Hegel: but we shall find that in the attempt to criticize thought we have lost the power of thinking, and, like the Heracliteans of old, have no words in which our meaning can be expressed. Such an analysis may be of value as a corrective of popular language or thought, but should still allow us to retain the fundamental distinctions of philosophy.

In the Hegelian system ideas supersede persons. The world of thought, though sometimes described as Spirit or ‘Geist,’ is really impersonal. The minds of men are to be regarded as one mind, or more correctly as a succession of ideas. Any comprehensive view of the world must necessarily be general, and there may be a use with a view to comprehensiveness in dropping individuals and their lives and actions. In all things, if we leave out details, a certain degree of order begins to appear; at any rate we can make an order which, with a little exaggeration or disproportion in some of the parts, will cover the whole field of philosophy. But are we therefore justified in saying that ideas are the causes Edition: current; Page: [335] of the great movement of the world rather than the personalities which conceived them? The great man is the expression of his time, and there may be peculiar difficulties in his age which he cannot overcome. He may be out of harmony with his circumstances, too early or too late, and then all his thoughts perish; his genius passes away unknown. But not therefore is he to be regarded as a mere waif or stray in human history, any more than he is the mere creature or expression of the age in which he lives. His ideas are inseparable from himself, and would have been nothing without him. Through a thousand personal influences they have been brought home to the minds of others. He starts from antecedents, but he is great in proportion as he disengages himself from them or absorbs himself in them. Moreover the types of greatness differ; while one man is the expression of the influences of his age, another is in antagonism to them. One man is borne on the surface of the water; another is carried forward by the current which flows beneath. The character of an individual, whether he be independent of circumstances or not, inspires others quite as much as his words. What is the teaching of Socrates apart from his personal history, or the doctrines of Christ apart from the Divine life in which they are embodied? Has not Hegel himself delineated the greatness of the life of Christ as consisting in his ‘Schicksalslosigkeit’ or independence of the destiny of his race? Do not persons become ideas, and is there any distinction between them? Take away the five greatest legislators, the five greatest warriors, the five greatest poets, the five greatest founders or teachers of a religion, the five greatest philosophers, the five greatest inventors,—where would have been all that we most value in knowledge or in life? And can that be a true theory of the history of philosophy which, in Hegel’s own language, ‘does not allow the individual to have his right’?

Once more, while we readily admit that the world is relative to the mind, and the mind to the world, and that we must suppose a common or correlative growth in them, we shrink from saying that this complex nature can contain, even in outline, all the endless forms of Being and knowledge. Are we not ‘seeking the living among the dead’ and dignifying a mere logical skeleton with the name of philosophy and almost of God? When we look Edition: current; Page: [336] far away into the primeval sources of thought and belief, do we suppose that the mere accident of our being the heirs of the Greek philosophers can give us a right to set ourselves up as having the true and only standard of reason in the world? Or when we contemplate the infinite worlds in the expanse of heaven can we imagine that a few meagre categories derived from language and invented by the genius of one or two great thinkers contain the secret of the universe? Or, having regard to the ages during which the human race may yet endure, do we suppose that we can anticipate the proportions human knowledge may attain even within the short space of one or two thousand years?

Again, we have a difficulty in understanding how ideas can be causes, which to us seems to be as much a figure of speech as the old notion of a creator artist, ‘who makes the world by the help of the demigods’ (Plato, Tim.), or with ‘a golden pair of compasses’ measures out the circumference of the universe (Milton, P. L.). We can understand how the idea in the mind of an inventor is the cause of the work which is produced by it; and we can dimly imagine how this universal frame may be animated by a divine intelligence. But we cannot conceive how all the thoughts of men that ever were, which are themselves subject to so many external conditions of climate, country, and the like, even if regarded as the single thought of a Divine Being, can be supposed to have made the world. We appear to be only wrapping up ourselves in our own conceits—to be confusing cause and effect—to be losing the distinction between reflection and action, between the human and divine.

These are some of the doubts and suspicions which arise in the mind of a student of Hegel, when, after living for a time within the charmed circle, he removes to a little distance and looks back upon what he has learnt, from the vantage-ground of history and experience. The enthusiasm of his youth has passed away, the authority of the master no longer retains a hold upon him. But he does not regret the time spent in the study of him. He finds that he has received from him a real enlargement of mind, and much of the true spirit of philosophy, even when he has ceased to believe in him. He returns again and again to his writings as to the recollections of a first love, not undeserving of his Edition: current; Page: [337] admiration still. Perhaps if he were asked how he can admire without believing, or what value he can attribute to what he knows to be erroneous, he might answer in some such manner as the following:—

1. That in Hegel he finds glimpses of the genius of the poet and of the common sense of the man of the world. His system is not cast in a poetic form, but neither has all this load of logic extinguished in him the feeling of poetry. He is the true countryman of his contemporaries Goethe and Schiller. Many fine expressions are scattered up and down in his writings, as when he tells us that ‘the Crusaders went to the Sepulchre but found it empty.’ He delights to find vestiges of his own philosophy in the older German mystics. And though he can be scarcely said to have mixed much in the affairs of men, for, as his biographer tells us, ‘he lived for thirty years in a single room,’ yet he is far from being ignorant of the world. No one can read his writings without acquiring an insight into life. He loves to touch with the spear of logic the follies and self-deceptions of mankind, and make them appear in their natural form, stripped of the disguises of language and custom. He will not allow men to defend themselves by an appeal to one-sided or abstract principles. In this age of reason any one can too easily find a reason for doing what he likes (Wallace, p. 197). He is suspicious of a distinction which is often made between a person’s character and his conduct. His spirit is the opposite of that of Jesuitism or casuistry (Wallace, p. 181). He affords an example of a remark which has been often made, that in order to know the world it is not necessary to have had a great experience of it.

2. Hegel, if not the greatest philosopher, is certainly the greatest critic of philosophy who ever lived. No one else has equally mastered the opinions of his predecessors or traced the connexion of them in the same manner. No one has equally raised the human mind above the trivialities of the common logic and the unmeaningness of ‘mere’ abstractions, and above imaginary possibilities, which, as he truly says, have no place in philosophy. No one has won so much for the kingdom of ideas. Whatever may be thought of his own system it will hardly be denied that he has overthrown Locke, Kant, Hume, and the so-called philosophy of common sense. He shows us that only by the study of metaphysics Edition: current; Page: [338] physics can we get rid of metaphysics, and that those who are in theory most opposed to them are in fact most entirely and hopelessly enslaved by them: ‘die reinen Physiker sind nur die Thiere.’ The disciple of Hegel will hardly become the slave of any other system-maker. What Bacon seems to promise him he will find realized in the great German thinker, an emancipation nearly complete from the influences of the scholastic logic.

3. Many of those who are least disposed to become the votaries of Hegelianism nevertheless recognize in his system a new logic supplying a variety of instruments and methods hitherto unemployed. We may not be able to agree with him in assimilating the natural order of human thought with the history of philosophy, and still less in identifying both with the divine idea or nature. But we may acknowledge that the great thinker has thrown a light on many parts of human knowledge, and has solved many difficulties. We cannot receive his doctrine of opposites as the last word of philosophy, but still we may regard it as a very important contribution to logic. We cannot affirm that words have no meaning when taken out of their connexion in the history of thought. But we recognize that their meaning is to a great extent due to association, and to their correlation with one another. We see the advantage of viewing in the concrete what mankind regard only in the abstract. There is much to be said for his faith or conviction, that God is immanent in the world,—within the sphere of the human mind, and not beyond it. It was natural that he himself, like a prophet of old, should regard the philosophy which he had invented as the voice of God in man. But this by no means implies that he conceived himself as creating God in thought. He was the servant of his own ideas and not the master of them. The philosophy of history and the history of philosophy may be almost said to have been discovered by him. He has done more to explain Greek thought than all other writers put together. Many ideas of development, evolution, reciprocity, which have become the symbols of another school of thinkers may be traced to his speculations. In the theology and philosophy of England as well as of Germany, and also in the lighter literature of both countries, there are always appearing ‘fragments of the great banquet’ of Hegel.

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SOPHIST.

PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE.

Theodorus.

Theaetetus.

Socrates.

An Eleatic Stranger, whom Theodorus and Theaetetus bring with them.

The younger Socrates, who is a silent auditor.

Theodorus.
Sophist. Theodorus, Socrates. The Eleatic stranger, who is introduced by Theodorus, is taken by Socrates for some cross-examining deity; and Theodorus acknowledges that, though not a god, he is at any rate a divine man.

Jowett1892: 216Here we are, Socrates, true to our agreement of yesterday; and we bring with us a stranger from Elea, who is a disciple of Parmenides and Zeno, and a true philosopher.

Socrates.

Is he not rather a god, Theodorus, who comes to us in the disguise of a stranger? For Homer says that all the gods, and especially the god of strangers, are companions of the meek and just, and visit the good and evil among men. And may not your companion be one of those higher powers, a cross-examining deity, who has come to spy out our weakness in argument, and to cross-examine us?

Theod.

Nay, Socrates, he is not one of the disputatious sort—he is too good for that. And, in my opinion, he is not a god at all; but divine he certainly is, for this is a title which I should give to all philosophers.

Soc.
Socrates, Theodorus, Stranger.

Capital, my friend! and I may add that they are almost as hard to be discerned as the gods. For the true philosophers, and such as are not merely made up for the occasion, appear in various forms unrecognized by the ignorance of men, and they ‘hover about cities,’ as Homer declares, looking from above upon human life; and some think nothing of them, and others can never think enough; and sometimes they appear as statesmen, and sometimes as sophists; and then, again, to many they seem to be no better Edition: current; Page: [340] than madmen. I should like to ask our Eleatic friend, if he would tell us, what is thought about them in Italy, and to Jowett1892: 217whom the terms are applied.

Theod.

What terms?

Soc.
A question is put to him: Are the sophist, statesman, and philosopher different, or the same?

Sophist, statesman, philosopher.

Theod.

What is your difficulty about them, and what made you ask?

Soc.

I want to know whether by his countrymen they are regarded as one or two; or do they, as the names are three, distinguish also three kinds, and assign one to each name?

Theod.

I dare say that the Stranger will not object to discuss the question. What do you say, Stranger?

Stranger.

I am far from objecting, Theodorus, nor have I any difficulty in replying that by us they are regarded as three. But to define precisely the nature of each of them is by no means a slight or easy task.

Theod.

You have happened to light, Socrates, almost on the very question which we were asking our friend before we came hither, and he excused himself to us, as he does now to you; although he admitted that the matter had been fully discussed, and that he remembered the answer.

Soc.
The stranger may either speak at length or adopt the method of question and answer.

Then do not, Stranger, deny us the first favour which we ask of you: I am sure that you will not, and therefore I shall only beg of you to say whether you like and are accustomed to make a long oration on a subject which you want to explain to another, or to proceed by the method of question and answer. I remember hearing a very noble discussion in which Parmenides employed the latter of the two methods, when I was a young man, and he was far advanced in years1.

Str.

I prefer to talk with another when he responds pleasantly, and is light in hand; if not, I would rather have my own say.

Soc.

Any one of the present company will respond kindly to you, and you can choose whom you like of them; I should recommend you to take a young person—Theaetetus, for example—unless you have a preference for some one else.

Str.
Stranger, Theaetetus. On the present occasion he prefers the latter, and accepts the proposal of Socrates that Theaetetus should be his respondent.

I feel ashamed, Socrates, being a new-comer into your society, instead of talking a little and hearing others talk, to Edition: current; Page: [none] Edition: current; Page: [341] be spinning out a long soliloquy or address, as if I wanted to show off. For the true answer will certainly be a very long one, a great deal longer than might be expected from such a short and simple question. At the same time, I fear that I may seem rude and ungracious if I refuse your courteous Jowett1892: 218request, especially after what you have said. For I certainly cannot object to your proposal, that Theaetetus should respond, having already conversed with him myself, and being recommended by you to take him.

Theaetetus.

But are you sure, Stranger, that this will be quite so acceptable to the rest of the company as Socrates imagines?

Str.

You hear them applauding, Theaetetus; after that, there is nothing more to be said. Well then, I am to argue with you, and if you tire of the argument, you may complain of your friends and not of me.

Theaet.

I do not think that I shall tire, and if I do, I shall get my friend here, young Socrates, the namesake of the elder Socrates, to help; he is about my own age, and my partner at the gymnasium, and is constantly accustomed to work with me.

Str.
First of all, What is the Sophist? As he is not easy to catch, we had better begin with something simpler;

Very goo