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Dialogue of Cultures

Translations of Great Poets and Authors

Dialogue by PLATO

Translated by Leslie B. Vaughan


Translations Page

On Reading Plato

The Life of Socrates

Preface to This Translation

Part I - Sections 1 to 22

Part II- Sections 23 to 40

Part III- Sections 41 to 52 (end)

Sections 23 to 40


STRANGER. Come, then, our job now is not to let the beast get loose, for we have nearly encompassed him in a thrown net, which is instrumental concerning such things in arguments, so that he will not escape the following.

THEAETETUS. What sort is that?

STRANGER. The fact that he is one of the class of conjurers.

THEAETETUS. This is how he seems to me also.

STRANGER. It's been resolved, then, to divide the image-making art as quickly as possible, and go down into it, and if the sophist submits to us at first, to seize him by authority of noble reason, and to hand over to it the surrendering prey; but if somehow he enters into the sections of imitative art, it's been resolved to follow closely, always dividing the section which receives him, until he is caught. Assuredly, neither this one nor any other class shall ever boast of having escaped the methodical pursuit of those who are thus able to follow in each and all things.

THEAETETUS. You speak well, and these things must be done in this way.

STRANGER. Then according to the previously traversed way of division, it seems I indeed now see two species of imitative art, but I do not yet seem able to understand in which of them the shape we are seeking is to be found.

THEAETETUS. But first divide it for us and tell which specific two you mean.

STRANGER. I see for it the likeness-making art as one of the species. And this especially exists whenever someone produces the creation of the imitation according to the proportions of the example, in length, breadth and depth, and besides this giving back the colors belonging to each one.

THEAETETUS. But do not all imitators undertake to do this?

STRANGER. Not those who produce any of the large works of sculpture or painting. For if they give back the true proportions of beautiful things, you know that the top parts would appear smaller, and the bottom parts larger, than necessary, because seen by us either from a distance, or close-up.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Then do not the artists today renounce the truth and produce in their works not the actual proportions, but those which seem to be beautiful?

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Then is it not right to call that other, which is like, a likeness?


STRANGER. And that part of imitation around this must be called, as we said before, the art of likeness-making.

THEAETETUS. It must be.

STRANGER. And what? What shall we call that which is like the beautiful in appearance, through means of viewing not the beautiful, but a work of such a size that it would not likely resemble that which it professes to be, if one might be able to see adequately? Shall we not call it, since it appears to be like, but is not, an appearance?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then this part is very much throughout the art of painting and imitation in general?


STRANGER. Then indeed might we not most correctly name the art which produces appearance, but not likeness, the art of appearance-making?

THEAETETUS. By all means.

STRANGER. These, then, are the two forms of the art of image-making that I meant, the art of likeness-making and the art of appearance-making.


STRANGER. But that which I did not then understand, into which the sophist must be placed, I am not yet able to see clearly, since the man is really wondrous and very difficult to observe, since now he has very well and prettily fled to a species impracticable to examine.

THEAETETUS. So it seems.

STRANGER. So do you say yes to that knowingly, or did some kind of force draw you, habituated by the argument, to a quick agreement?

THEAETETUS. What do you mean and towards what purpose do you say this?

STRANGER. We are really, dear friend, in an entirely difficult investigation. For this appearing and seeming, but not being, and saying things, but not true ones - all these things are full of difficulties, and have always been in the past, and are now. For knowing what manner of speech there must be to say or opine that falsehoods really exist, and not being constrained by contradiction in articulating this, is entirely difficult, THEAETETUS.


STRANGER. This statement has ventured to assume that 'that which is not' exists, for otherwise falsehood would not have become that which is. But the great Parmenides, my child, starting at the time of our childhood and through to the end, stoutly maintained this to be a contradiction, and accordingly always spoke in meter thusly: For never let this prevail, he says, that non-being exists, But set your mind away from this path of seeking. He testifies then from that, and most of all, the statement itself would prove a reasonable examination. Then let us consider this first, unless it makes a difference to you.

THEAETETUS. Assume my part for whatever you wish, and considering how the argument might best proceed, go your own way and lead me down that road.


STRANGER. But it is necessary to do these things. Now tell me. Do we venture to utter 'that which in no way exists'?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then if, neither because of strife nor in jest, but if in earnestness, one of the listeners were asked to consider and answer as to what this name, 'not being', must be imputed, to what do we think he'd apply it, and to what end, and, in answering, what would be ascertained?

THEAETETUS. That is a difficult question, and almost entirely impossible for one such as me to answer.

STRANGER. But this is clear, that 'that which is not' must not be applied to any existing things.

THEAETETUS. Of course not.

STRANGER. Then if not to being, neither to 'something' could it correctly be applied.

THEAETETUS. How could it?

STRANGER. And this is evident to us, that we always say the word 'something' about some being, for to say it alone, as naked and disconnected from all being, is impossible, is it not?

THEAETETUS. Impossible.

STRANGER. Then do you agree with this, considering that one who says something necessarily says at least one thing?


STRANGER. Indeed, you will agree that 'something' is the sign of one certain thing, 'some dual case' of two, and 'some' of many.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. And declare that this, one must not concede, that such a person speaks, but rather declare that he says nothing; and must we not say that he who may undertake to utter 'not being', indeed does not speak at all?

THEAETETUS. The argument would have the final perplexity.


STRANGER. Let you not yet talk big. For, dear friend, there yet exists the first and greatest of perplexities. For it happens to concern the very origin of the argument.

THEAETETUS. What do you mean? Speak, and don't hesitate.

STRANGER. To 'that which is' might be added some of the other things which exist?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. And to 'that which is not' can anything of 'that which is' then be added?

THEAETETUS. How could it?

STRANGER. Indeed, we place all number as of the things which exist.

THEAETETUS. At least if anything else must be set down as that which exists.

STRANGER. Then let us not even undertake to impose either a multitude of number or a one upon that which does not exist.

THEAETETUS. We would not, as it seems, be correct in undertaking that, as the argument asserts.

STRANGER. How then would someone either utter with his mouth, or seize with his mind, in general, the things which do not exist, or that which does not exist, without number?


STRANGER. Whenever we say 'things which do not exist' do we not undertake to attribute a multitude of number?

THEAETETUS. Why certainly.

STRANGER. And whenever we say 'that which exists', again, do we not attribute the one?

THEAETETUS. Most certainly.

STRANGER. And yet we say that it is neither just nor right to undertake to adapt that which exists to that which exists not.

THEAETETUS. You speak most truly.

STRANGER. Do you understand then that it is impossible rightly to utter or to say or to think 'that which exists not' itself alone, but it is unthinkable, unspeakable, unutterable, and irrational?

THEAETETUS. Absolutely.

STRANGER. Then did I lie just now, saying that I would speak the greatest difficulty concerning it?

THEAETETUS. And do we still have a greater one to speak of?

STRANGER. Why, don't you see, my wonderful fellow, that in the arguments themselves, 'that which does not exist' thus places the questioner into the difficulty that whenever anyone undertakes to examine it, he necessarily says the opposite about it?

THEAETETUS. What do you mean? Speak yet more clearly.

STRANGER. It is not necessary to look for more clearness in me. For in proposing that 'that which is not' participates in neither the one nor the many, just now I spoke of it as one, and still am, for I say "that which is not." Do you understand therefore?


STRANGER. And again, a short time ago I said that it was unutterable and unspeakable and irrational. Do you follow?

THEAETETUS. Of course I am following.

STRANGER. Then, in attempting to attach 'to be', I said the opposite of what I did before.

THEAETETUS. That is apparent.

STRANGER. Well then, in attaching this to it did I not address it as one?


STRANGER. And indeed, in calling it irrational, unspeakable, and unutterable, I spoke of it as one.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. But we say it is necessary, if one is to speak correctly, to distinguish it as neither one nor many, and not to call it 'it' at all, for one would be calling it by that name in the form of the singular.



STRANGER. But, for my part, what might anyone say about me any longer? For a long time and even now one would find me defeated in the refutation of 'that which is not'. So we must not look, just as I said, in what I am saying for correctness of speech concerning 'that which is not', but come now, let us look to you.

THEAETETUS. What do you mean?

STRANGER. Come, for our sake, in a good and noble manner, having exerted yourself, try, to the best of your ability, and by applying neither being nor the one nor a multitude of number to 'that which is not', to utter something correctly about it.

THEAETETUS. But it would be a greatly absurd zeal of mine for the undertaking, if, seeing you experiencing such things, I were to attempt it myself.

STRANGER. Well, if that is resolved, let us say farewell to you and me, but until we light upon someone being able to accomplish this, until this let us say that, most villainously of all, the sophist has crept into a trackless place.

THEAETETUS. It seems so, very much.

STRANGER. Therefore assuredly, if we say that this man has an art of making appearances, seizing upon our poverty of words to find fault with us, he will easily turn our words into their opposites, and when we call him an image-maker, he will continually ask us what exactly we mean by 'image'. Then we must consider,

THEAETETUS, the reply to the young man's question.

THEAETETUS. Clearly we shall say that it is the images that are in water, and in mirrors, and also in paintings and sculptures, and all other such things.


STRANGER. It is evident,

THEAETETUS, that you have never seen a sophist.


STRANGER. It will seem to you that they are shut, or that he has no eyes at all.


STRANGER. When thusly you give the answer, if you speak of something in mirrors or works of art, he will laugh at your words, if you speak as if he could see; he will pretend to know neither mirrors nor water nor sight whatsoever, and will question you only about that which follows from your words.

THEAETETUS. What is that?

STRANGER. That which, through all the many things you say are worthy to be called by one name when you utter 'image' as if they are all one. So speak, defend yourself, and do not retreat at all from this man.

THEAETETUS. To be sure,

STRANGER, what would we say an image is except another such thing having been made like the true one?

STRANGER. Do you mean another such true one, or why do you say 'such'?

THEAETETUS. Not at all a true one, but only like.

STRANGER. Then you mean that the true is actually 'that which is'?


STRANGER. And what of this? Then is the not-true the opposite of the true?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then actually you mean that the likeness is 'that which is not', if you say that it is not true.

THEAETETUS. But indeed it does exist, somehow.

STRANGER. But not truly, you mean.

THEAETETUS. Then no, except that it actually is a likeness.

STRANGER. Then what we call a likeness, actually not existing, actually exists?

THEAETETUS. Not-being runs the risk of having become entwined in some such entanglement with being, and it is very strange.

STRANGER. Of course it is strange. You see, at any rate, how, by this interchange, the many-headed sophist has now compelled us, not willingly, to admit that 'that which is not' somehow exists.

THEAETETUS. I see that very well.

STRANGER. And indeed what of this? What sort of art of his shall we be able to agree for ourselves to define?

THEAETETUS. How is it that you're speaking thusly and what are you afraid of?

STRANGER. When, concerning appearance, we say that he deceives, and his art is a certain art of deception, then shall we say that our mind believes in falsehoods by that art, or what shall we say?

THEAETETUS. This. For what else would we say?

STRANGER. But, again, false opinions will be believing those things opposite to reality, or what?

THEAETETUS. Yes, opposite.

STRANGER. Then do you mean that false opinion believes things that are not?

THEAETETUS. Necessarily.

STRANGER. Is that because it believes that the 'things which are not' are not, or that the 'things which in no way are', somehow are?

THEAETETUS. It must be that 'things which are not' somehow are, if anyone is ever to speak falsely, even to a small degree.

STRANGER. And what of this? Does it not also believe that 'things which entirely are' in no way exist?


STRANGER. And is this falsehood?

THEAETETUS. Yes, it is.

STRANGER. And I think that an argument will thus be termed false according to these things if it asserts that the 'things which are' do not exist and the 'things which are not' exist.

THEAETETUS. For how otherwise would it prove to be of that sort?

STRANGER. Virtually in no way. But the sophist will not admit these things. By what device would an intelligent man agree to them, when the previously agreed attributes, unutterable, unspeakable, irrational and inconceivable are (attributes of) what ever were just agreed on? Do we understand,

THEAETETUS, what he says?

THEAETETUS. For how do we not understand that he will say that we say the opposite of what we just now said, and dared to say that falsehoods are in opinions and according to arguments? For he will say that we are often forced to apply 'that which is' to 'that which is not', which indeed was agreed to be the most impossible of all.


STRANGER. You recall it rightly. But it's time indeed to consider what must be done concerning the sophist; for, if we explain him, putting him in the art of false-workers and jugglers, you can see how easily-raised and frequent the perplexities and difficulties are.

THEAETETUS. Very true.

STRANGER. It's just a small part of them we've been through, and they are, in a word, infinite.

THEAETETUS. Then it would be impossible, it seems, to catch the sophist, if this is the case.

STRANGER. Then what? Shall we now withdraw, being softened?

THEAETETUS. I say we mustn't, if we are somehow able to seize the man in the slightest way.

STRANGER. Then will you have forgiveness, and as you now said, be content if we now thus draw away a short distance from such a powerful argument?

THEAETETUS. Of course I will.

STRANGER. Moreover, I beg of you still the following request.

THEAETETUS. What is it?

STRANGER. Do not assume that I am becoming some sort of parricide.

THEAETETUS. What do you mean?

STRANGER. It will be necessary, in defending ourselves, to test the theory of my father Parmenides, and contend that 'that which is not', is, in some respect, and again, in turn, that 'that which is', is not, somehow.

THEAETETUS. It is plain that something of the sort must be fought out in the arguments.

STRANGER. Of course this is plain, and, as the saying goes, even to the blind. For, these things being neither proved nor disproved at some point, anyone who shall speak concerning false words or opinions, whether of images or likenesses or imitations or appearances, themselves, or concerning the arts which are about these things, shall hardly avoid being ridiculous, being compelled to contradict himself in speaking.

THEAETETUS. Most true.

STRANGER. Through these things, however, one must venture to now attack the discourse of the father, or dismiss it altogether, if any shrinking hinders us from accomplishing this.

THEAETETUS. But let nothing in any way hinder us from this.

STRANGER. Then I shall further ask a small request of you.

THEAETETUS. Just say it.

STRANGER. I expressed somewhere just now while speaking that I was always refusing, through exhaustion, to refute these things, but I am now going through the things in order to refute them.

THEAETETUS. You did say that.

STRANGER. I now fear those remarks, lest because of them I shall seem to you to be mad, reversing myself at every step, topsy-turvy. But it is for your sake that we shall undertake refuting the argument, if we do refute it.

THEAETETUS. Indeed, for my part, do not consider it in any way an offense, if you go to this refutation and proof, so go boldly, as far as this is concerned.


STRANGER. Come then, what would make a good beginning of an extremely risky argument? I think the following course, my child, is the most crucial for us to take.

THEAETETUS. What course?

STRANGER. We shall examine first the points which appear now to be plain, lest we may be in a state of confusion concerning these things, and agree easily with each other as if we were being precise.

THEAETETUS. Say what you are saying more clearly.

STRANGER. It seems to me that Parmenides and everyone who has ever started out to make a definition to distinguish the things which are, how many and of what sort, have gone through them with us extremely ingenuously.


STRANGER. Each one appears to me to narrate a particular story, as if we were children: one saying that the things which are, are three, which somehow sometimes are at war with one another, and then becoming friendly, arrange marriages and births and maintenance of the offspring; and another saying that there are two, wet and dry or hot and cold, and he settles them together and joins them in marriage; and our Eleatic group, from Xenophanes and even beginning before him, which believes that all things are called one, and they go through their story thusly. Then some Ionian and later some Sicilian Muses reflected that it was safest to force both together and say that 'that which is', is both many and one and is united by enmity and friendship. For the more vehement of the Muses say that 'that which is' comes together, always separating; but the gentler ones relaxed these things from always being thus, and in turn they say that the all is sometimes one and friendly, under the influence of Aphrodite, and sometimes many and warlike with itself, through a certain strife. And whether or not any of them has spoken all these things truly, it is harsh and very much in error to find fault with illustrious men of old. But this much can be said without reproach.


STRANGER. That they, very much neglectful, made small account of us, the many. For they speak, not taking heed whether we are following them or if we are left behind, and they each go on to the end of their own story.

THEAETETUS. What do you mean?

STRANGER. When one of them shall say, discoursing, that many, or one, or two, are, or have become, or are becoming, and again that hot is mingled together with cold, and elsewhere somehow proposes separations and combinations, by the gods,

THEAETETUS, do you understand what they mean each time by these? For when I was younger, and someone would speak of this thing which now has us at a loss, 'that which is not', I thought I understood it accurately. But now you see that we are in difficulty about it.


STRANGER. Perhaps now we have taken into our mind no less the same experience concerning 'that which is'; while we say that we are well off and understand whenever anyone should speak about it, but not about the other, we understand equally little about both.


STRANGER. And let this same thing be said of the other things about which we have been speaking.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.


STRANGER. Therefore, concerning most of them, we shall examine them after this, if it seems good, but now one must consider the first and greatest chief of them.

THEAETETUS. Which one do you mean? Or, clearly, do you mean that it's first necessary to search through the term 'that which is', and whatever those who speak about it believe they make clear?

STRANGER. Indeed, you have replied at once,

THEAETETUS. For I indeed mean that we must use the method in this, of learning by inquiry in the following way, as if they were here; so come, as many of you who say that hot and cold or a certain two qualities are everything, what is this that you say about both of them, when you say that both and each exist? What are we to assume about your 'to be'? Is it a third beyond those two, and shall we suppose that the all is there, and no longer two, according to you? For surely when you call the other of the two 'that which is' you do not mean that they exist equally. For in either case, they would pretty certainly be one, but not two.


STRANGER. "But friends," we say, "thus the two would most clearly be spoken of as one."

THEAETETUS. You have spoken most rightly.

STRANGER. Therefore since we are perplexed, show forth adequately what you wish to signify whenever you utter 'that which is'. For it is clear that you have known these things from before, and we believed to have known before, but are now perplexed. Teach us then first this thing itself, that we may not think to understand the things that are said by you, while the entirety of it happens to be the opposite. Indeed, if we say these things and require of them, and of all others who say that the all is more than one, my child, shall we be doing something faulty?

THEAETETUS. Not in the least.


STRANGER. Then what? Must we not inquire, to the best of our ability, of those who say that the all is one, what they mean by 'that which is'?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then let them answer this. Do you say one only to be? "We do," they will say. Won't they?


STRANGER. Then what? Do you call 'that which is' something specific?


STRANGER. Is this the thing which is one, two names being used for the same thing, or how is this?

THEAETETUS. What is their next answer,


STRANGER. It is plain,

THEAETETUS, that he who holds to this hypothesis will not have the easiest time replying to the present question or to any other whatsoever.

THEAETETUS. How is that?

STRANGER. It is ridiculous to grant that two names exist while positing that nothing exists except one.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. And in general it would make no sense to accept the statement that a specific name exists.


STRANGER. Because to assert that the name is other than the thing is to say there are two specific things.


STRANGER. And truly if he asserts that the name is the same as the thing, he'll be forced by necessity to say that it is the name of nothing, or if he says that it is the name of something, the name will turn out to be the name of a name only, and is of nothing else.


STRANGER. And indeed the one will be the name of one and, again will be the one of the name.

THEAETETUS. Necessarily.

STRANGER. Then what? Shall they say that the whole is other than 'that which is one', or the same with it?

THEAETETUS. Of course they will say so, and do say so.

STRANGER. If, accordingly, the whole is, as Parmenides says. In every direction, like the mass of a well-rounded sphere, From the middle everywhere of equal strength; Not more nor somewhat less need it be, here or there, then 'that which is', being such, has a middle and extremities, and having all these things must have parts, must it not?


STRANGER. But truly nothing prevents that which has been divided from having the condition of unity in all its parts, and, being in this all and whole, to be one.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. But is it not impossible for that having the condition of unity in all its parts, to be the one itself?


STRANGER. That which is indeed truly one must, according to right reason, be said to be entirely without parts.

THEAETETUS. Then it must.

STRANGER. And indeed such a thing being from many parts will not be in harmony with that argument.

THEAETETUS. I understand.

STRANGER. Then, having the quality of unity, shall 'that which is' be one and thus a whole, or shall we deny altogether that 'that which is' is a whole?

THEAETETUS. You have put forward a difficult choice.

STRANGER. Indeed you speak most truly. For 'that which is', having been affected in any way to be one, appears not the same as the one, and the all shall be more than the one.


STRANGER. And truly if 'that which is' is not a whole, through having been affected by that quality of unity, and the whole itself might exist, it follows that 'that which is' is lacking of itself.


STRANGER. And indeed, according to this argument, 'that which is', deprived of itself, will not be 'that which is'.


STRANGER. And, again, the all becomes more than the one, since 'that which is' and the whole have each separately from the other acquired their own nature.


STRANGER. But indeed if the whole does not exist at all, then these things themselves come into being from 'that which is', and the whole, besides not existing, could never have become 'that which is'.


STRANGER. That which becomes has always become as a whole, so it's necessary to name neither being nor becoming as existing, if one does not put the whole among the things which exist.

THEAETETUS. These things thus seem to be entirely so.

STRANGER. And truly it is necessary for that which is not a whole not to be of any quantity whatsoever, for any specific quantity, whatever it may be, must necessarily be that of a whole.

THEAETETUS. Very much indeed.

STRANGER. Then countless other infinite difficulties appear to the one who says, and he is the recipient of each difficulty, that 'that which is' exists, either as a certain two, or one only.

THEAETETUS. The things that we now have a glimpse of make that pretty clear, for each contributes to another, and brings greater and more difficult wandering concerning whatever has previously been said.


STRANGER. Now we have not put an end to discussing everyone who closely inquires into 'that which is' and 'that which is not'; however, let this be sufficient. But now one must still consider those who say otherwise, that we may know from all sources that to say what is the nature of 'that which is' is not easier than to define the nature of 'that which is not'.

THEAETETUS. Then we must still march through those also.

STRANGER. And truly there seems to be a real battle of the giants among them because of their mutual dispute concerning being.


STRANGER. Some of them draw down everything from heaven and the invisible to earth, literally seizing rocks and trees with their hands. For laying their hands on all such things, they affirm that that alone exists which can specifically be touched and handled, defining being and body as the same; and if someone says that anything of other things exists, they scorn him altogether and do not wish to listen to anything other.

THEAETETUS. You have spoken of truly dreadful men. I have run into many of them.

STRANGER. Therefore indeed, those who argue against them defend themselves very cautiously, arguing from above, from the invisible, forcing the true being to consist of constant certain perceptible incorporeal species. But the bodies of their opponents and that which is called by them truth, they break into small pieces in their arguments, and call them, instead of being, a certain extended becoming. And in the middle,

THEAETETUS, there has always come together an extraordinary battle concerning these things.


STRANGER. Then let us take from both of these kinds (of species) according to each part, an argument on behalf of that which they posit as being.

THEAETETUS. Then how shall we take it?

STRANGER. It is easier to get from those who posit that it is among species, for they are gentler, but from those who drag down everything by force, it is more difficult and perhaps nearly impossible. But the following seems to me the way we must act concerning them.


STRANGER. The best thing, if it were in any way possible, would be to make them better in deed, but if this is not possible, let us make them so in argument, assuming that they would be willing to answer more lawfully that they would now.

THEAETETUS. Most true.


STRANGER. Command them to answer you, having become better, and interpret what they say.

THEAETETUS. I'll do it.

STRANGER. Let them tell if they say that there is a specific mortal creature.

THEAETETUS. Of course they do.

STRANGER. And do they not agree that this is a body with a soul?

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Putting the soul among things which exist?


STRANGER. Then what? Do they not say that one soul is just and another unjust, one wise and another foolish?

THEAETETUS. Why, truly.

STRANGER. And do they not say that by the having and presence of justice, each becomes just, and becomes unjust by the having and the presence of the opposite?

THEAETETUS. Yes, they agree to these things also.

STRANGER. But truly they will say that that which can become present or absent is indeed a certain thing.

THEAETETUS. Yes, they say that.

STRANGER. Then if justice and high-mindedness and other virtues and their opposites exist, and also the soul in which they become present, do they say that any of these is visible and tangible, or that they are all invisible?

THEAETETUS. Pretty nearly that none of them is visible.

STRANGER. And what of things of this sort? Do they say that they have a certain body?

THEAETETUS. They no longer answer this entirely according to these things, but it seems to them that the soul itself has acquired a certain body, while as to high-mindedness and each of the others about which you ask, they lack the courage to either agree that the things do not exist or to affirm confidently that they are all bodies.

STRANGER. Clearly,

THEAETETUS, our men have become better, since among them, none of them who are earthy and sown of dragons' teeth would be ashamed, but would assert boldly that whatever he cannot squeeze in his hands, thus has no existence whatsoever.

THEAETETUS. You say pretty nearly the sort of things that they think.

STRANGER. Let us question them still further. For if they are willing to agree to any incorporeal existence, however small, that is sufficient. For then they must say what is compatible with these things as well as with those which have body, which they see when they say that both exist. They perhaps might be at a loss, and if they experience such a thing, consider, if we put forward an offer, whether they might accept it and agree that 'that which is' is of the following sort.

THEAETETUS. Of what sort? Speak, and soon we shall know.

STRANGER. I am saying that it is whatever possesses a specific power either to naturally do anything whatsoever to another or to be affected in the smallest way by the slightest cause, even if only once - all this in its being exists. For I am establishing the boundary to define 'things which are', that it is nothing else but power.

THEAETETUS. Well, since they have nothing better at present to say, than this, they accept it.

STRANGER. Good, for perhaps later something other might appear to them and to us. At the present time, let the agreement reached between them and us abide.

THEAETETUS. It abides.


STRANGER. Let us go to the others, the friends of the species, and you interpret for them as well.

THEAETETUS. It shall be done.

STRANGER. When you speak, you distinguish between becoming and being, don't you?


STRANGER. And you say that with the body, we participate in becoming through perception, and that with the soul, we participate, through reasoning, in actual being, which is always the same and in like manner, while becoming is different at different times.

THEAETETUS. Yes, we say that.

STRANGER. But, excellent men, what do we assert is this participation that you attribute to both? Is it not that just now spoken of by us?

THEAETETUS. What sort?

STRANGER. An active or passive condition from a specific power that becomes from their mutually coming together. Perhaps,

THEAETETUS, you do not hear plainly their answer to these things, and I do, through familiar habit.

THEAETETUS. Then what specific thing do they say?

STRANGER. They do not concede what was just now said to the earthborn about being.

THEAETETUS. What sort?

STRANGER. Didn't we establish as a sufficient boundary-definition of being, whenever there is present the power to act or be acted upon, even in the slightest?


STRANGER. Against these things, they say the following, that becoming shares in a power of acting and being acted upon, but they say that neither power fits with being.

THEAETETUS. Then do they not say something specific?

STRANGER. Yes, to which we must reply that we still need to learn from them more clearly if they agree that the soul knows, and if being is known.

THEAETETUS. They indeed say that.

STRANGER. Then what? Do you say that knowing or being known is an active or passive condition, or both? Or that one is passive and the other is the other? Or that altogether neither has a share in either of them?

THEAETETUS. Clearly that neither shares in either, for they would say the opposite of what they said before.

STRANGER. I understand, at least the following, that if knowing shall be a specific affecting, it turns out that being known must be, in turn, being affected. Indeed, according to this argument, being, known to knowledge, according to how much it is known, by so much is moved, since it is affected, which we would not say would occur to something which is at rest.


STRANGER. By Zeus, then what? Shall we be easily persuaded that motion and life and soul and high-mindedness are truly not present to that which absolutely is, but that, solemn and holy, without mind, it stands motionless?

THEAETETUS. Then we would be conceding a terrible argument,


STRANGER. Are we to say that it has mind, but not life?

THEAETETUS. How can we?

STRANGER. But do we say that both of these things exist within it, and indeed not be saying that it possesses them in a soul?

THEAETETUS. And in what other way would it possess them?

STRANGER. But is it to have mind and life and soul, and yet, having soul, shall it stand absolutely motionless?

THEAETETUS. All these things appear to me to be absurd.

STRANGER. And indeed one must concede that motion and that which is in motion exist.


STRANGER. Then it follows,

THEAETETUS, that if the things that are, are motionless, there is nowhere mind in anyone about anything.


STRANGER. And truly, again, if we concede that all things are borne along and in motion, by this argument we shall remove this same thing (mind) from the things which are.


STRANGER. Does it seem to you that 'that which is' according to these things and in like manner and in the same state would ever come into existence without rest?

THEAETETUS. In no way.

STRANGER. And what of this? Without these things do you see mind existing or coming into existence anywhere?

THEAETETUS. Not in the least.

STRANGER. And truly we must fight with every argument against the one who would, obliterating knowledge, or high-mindedness or thought, insist upon anything whatsoever.

THEAETETUS. Exceedingly indeed.

STRANGER. And indeed for the philosopher who honors these things most especially of all, it seems that it is necessary, because of these things, not to accept those saying that the all is at rest, whether as one or as many species, and, again, absolutely not to listen to those saying that 'that which is' is in every way motion; but, according to the children's prayer, "all things immovable and in motion," he must say that 'that which is' and the all both exist together.

THEAETETUS. Most true.


STRANGER. Then what? Do we probably now appear to have encompassed in the argument 'that which is'?

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Dear me,

THEAETETUS, but it's only now that we shall recognize the difficulty of the inquiry into it.

THEAETETUS. Again, what do you mean by what you said?

STRANGER. Dear friend, do you not understand that now we are in great ignorance concerning it, but we appear to ourselves to be saying something specific?

THEAETETUS. At any rate, it seems so to me, but, again, where we had been unawares, I do not perceive.

STRANGER. Consider more distinctly, if, as we now agree, we would justly be questioned now, just as those we questioned then, who said that the all is hot and cold.

THEAETETUS. What sort of questioning? Remind me.

STRANGER. Very well then, and I will try to accomplish this by questioning you, just as we then questioned them, in order that, together, we make a certain success.


STRANGER. Very well, then, do you not say that motion and rest are most opposite to each other?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. And indeed do you say that both and each exist in like manner?


STRANGER. When you concede that they exist, are you saying that both and each are in motion?

THEAETETUS. In no way.

STRANGER. Do you indicate that they are at rest, saying that they both exist?

THEAETETUS. How could I?

STRANGER. Then are you placing 'that which is' as a third thing, beyond these things, in the soul, by which rest and motion are embraced; and, bringing them together and seeing them in common with being, are you saying that they are thus both being?

THEAETETUS. We venture to truly divine 'that which is' as a third thing, when we say that motion and rest exist.

STRANGER. Then 'that which is' is not motion and rest both together, but something different from them.

THEAETETUS. So it seems.

STRANGER. Then 'that which is', according to its own nature, is neither at rest nor in motion.

THEAETETUS. Just about.

STRANGER. Whither, then, is it still necessary to turn the mind of the one wishing to clearly establish something about it for himself?

THEAETETUS. Whither indeed?

STRANGER. To no place still easily, I think. For if something is not in motion, how is it not at rest? And, again how can what is in no way at rest, not be in motion? But now 'that which is' has come to light for us outside of them both. Can this be possible, then?

THEAETETUS. No, it is most impossible of all.

STRANGER. It is right in these things to remember the following.

THEAETETUS. What sort of thing?

STRANGER. That when it was asked of us, to what the name of 'that which is not' must be applied, we were distressed by the greatest perplexity. Do you remember?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then are we now in any less perplexity about 'that which is'?

THEAETETUS. We seem to me,

STRANGER, if it's possible to say, to be in greater.

STRANGER. Let this be set down here, then, as quite a perplexity; but since 'that which is' and 'that which is not' have equally partaken of perplexity, there is now the hope that as one of them comes to light either more dimly or more clearly, so will the other thus come to light; and, again, if we are able to see neither, we will such as we can most fittingly push forward the argument thusly through both together.

THEAETETUS. Beautiful.

STRANGER. Let us say, then, in what manner we are always naming this same thing by many names.

THEAETETUS. Of what sort? Give an example.


STRANGER. When speaking of a man, we name him in addition many specific things, conferring upon him colors and figures and sizes and evils and virtues, and in all of which and countless other things we say not only that he is a man, but also good, and countless other things; and for all the other things, thus according to the same argument, each in turn we designate as one, but speak of as many, and with many names.

THEAETETUS. What you say is true.

STRANGER. Indeed, from here, I believe, we have provided a banquet for the young and the late-learners among the old; for this is straightforward and convenient for all to grasp, that it is impossible for the many to be one, and the one to be many; and doubtless they take pleasure in saying not to speak of a man as good, but the good as good, and a man as a man. For I would think,

THEAETETUS, that you have often met with this sort of thing, and they are sometimes elderly men, and because of their poverty in the acquisition of intelligence, they are in wonder of such things, believing that they have discovered something very wise in this.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. In order then, for our argument to be for all who have argued in any way whatsoever concerning being, let what will now be said, be directed in a question to them, and to all others with whom we have argued.

THEAETETUS. What sort of things?

STRANGER. Shall we attach neither being to motion and rest, nor anything else to anything else, but, as irreconcilable and impossible to share in one another, shall we place them thusly in our arguments? Or shall we combine all things into the same as capable of sharing in one another? Or some things one way and others not? Which of these,

THEAETETUS, would you say they would choose?

THEAETETUS. I can make no reply to these things on behalf of them.

STRANGER. Then why don't you answer one by one and consider the consequences of each?

THEAETETUS. You say that very well.

STRANGER. Let us suppose, if you wish, that they first say that nothing has any power to share in anything, in any way. Then motion and rest would in no way share in being?

THEAETETUS. They won't.

STRANGER. Then what? Will either of them be, if they do not share in being?

THEAETETUS. It will not.

STRANGER. At once, indeed, by this argument, all things have become uprooted, as it seems, whether the all is in motion, or at rest, as one, or for those who say that the things which are exist according to species, always thus in the same state. For all those attach 'to be', some saying that things move in their being, and some saying that they are at rest in their being.

THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed.

STRANGER. For truly, all those who sometimes put all things together and sometimes divide them, whether putting them together into one from one infinite, or, with elements, dividing them into extremities and combining from these, and similarly whether they set this down as successive becoming, or similarly, whether they say it always is, they would say nothing, in all these things, if there is no mixing together.


STRANGER. Then, too, the very men who allow us to call nothing by another name, because it would share in common in the condition of another, would be the most ridiculous of all.


STRANGER. They are forced by necessity in everything to use 'to be' and 'apart' and 'of the rest' and 'by itself' and countless others, and because they are powerless to abstain from them and not apply them to their arguments, there is no need of others to refute them, but as the saying goes, they have the enemy at home ready to oppose them, and just as the strange Eurycles, they always go around having a voice from within.

THEAETETUS. What you say is very similar and true.

STRANGER. Then what, if we allow all things to be able to participate in one another?

THEAETETUS. Now even I can dismiss this.


THEAETETUS. Because motion itself would be entirely at rest and rest itself in turn would move, if it should come to pass that they are with one another.

STRANGER. But must this not be everywhere the greatest impossibility, for motion to be at rest, and rest to be in motion?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Indeed only the third is left.



STRANGER. And truly one of these is necessary: either all, or none is willing, or some are and some are not willing to mix together.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. And truly two were found to be impossible.


STRANGER. Then all who wish to answer correctly will take the one remaining of the three.


STRANGER. Since some things wish to be doing this, and others don't, they would pretty much be such as the letters. For some of these are not fitted to each other, and others join together.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Indeed the vowels, differently than the others, have gone through everything as a sort of bond, so that without some one of them, it would be impossible to join them, the others, one to another.

THEAETETUS. Very much.

STRANGER. Then does everyone know which letters are able to join with which letters, or must there be an art for those intending to adequately join them?


STRANGER. Which one?

THEAETETUS. The art of grammatics.

STRANGER. Then what? Is it not thus, then, concerning high and low pitched sounds? Is not he who has the art of recognizing those sounds which mingle, and which do not, the musician, and he who does not perceive, unmusical?


STRANGER. And in the other cases of arts and non-arts, we will find other things of the sort.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then what? Since we have agreed that the kinds (of species) also have the same condition of mixing with one another, then is it not necessary, for the one who intends to correctly show which of the kinds (of species) harmonize with which, and which do not take well to one another, to go through the arguments with a specific science? And also know if there are specific things holding them together through all of them, so that they are able to mingle, and again, in the divisions, if others, on account of being wholes, are causes of the division?

THEAETETUS. Of course he needs science and perhaps pretty nearly the greatest of sciences.


STRANGER. Then what shall we name this,

THEAETETUS? Or, by Zeus, have we been unawares, bursting in on the science of the free, and do we run the risk that, while seeking the sophist, we have sooner found the philosopher?

THEAETETUS. What do you mean?

STRANGER. Shall we not say that division according to kinds (of species) and believing neither that the same species is other, or if it is other, the same, is the science of dialectic?

THEAETETUS. Yes, we shall say so.

STRANGER. Then the one who is able to do this, distinguishes adequately one configuration extended in all ways through many, each one lying apart, and many configurations differing from one another outflanked from without by one, and, again, one put together into one by many wholes, and many being separate and apart in everything. And to distinguish this is to know, in respect to the kinds (of species), in which way each is able to exist in common, and in which way not.


STRANGER. But truly, let me believe, you will not give the art of dialectic to anyone else, but the one who philosophizes purely and justly.

THEAETETUS. How could one grant it to anyone else?

STRANGER. Indeed we shall find the philosopher, both now and later, in such a specific place, if we should seek him, and it is difficult to see him clearly, but truly the difficulty of the sophist is a different case than that.


STRANGER. One of them is fleeing into the dark of 'that which is not', attaching himself to it by practice, and is difficult to discern because of the darkness of the place. Is he not?

THEAETETUS. So it seems.

STRANGER. But the philosopher, always attaching himself to the configuration (idea) of being, through reasonings, because of the brilliance of the place, is in no way easy to be seen, for the eyes of the soul of the many are unable to look steadfastly upon the divine.

THEAETETUS. These things are no less likely to hold true.

STRANGER. Then we shall later examine this one more clearly, if that is still our wish, but concerning the sophist, it is clear that we must not relax until we see him adequately.

THEAETETUS. You speak well.


STRANGER. Then since it is agreed by us that some of the kinds (of species) are willing to partake in one another, and some not, and some are in the small, and some are far-ranging, and there's nothing to prevent some from partaking in everything through everything, let us beyond this follow up the argument together, examining in the following way, not all of the species, lest we be in confusion among so many, but choosing certain of the ones considered most important -first examining of what sort each one is, and next, how they are able to partake in one another, in order that, if we are not able to grasp 'that which is' and 'that which is not', with complete truth, we are at least not found lacking in argument concerning them, such as our present manner of inquiry allows, and let us consider whether it is allowable for us to say that 'that which is not' thus actually is not-being, and to get off scot-free.

THEAETETUS. We must do that then.

STRANGER. But truly, the greatest of the kinds (of species) which we were just going through, are 'that which is' itself, and rest and motion.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. And truly we say that two of them are irreconcilable with each other.

THEAETETUS. Exceedingly.

STRANGER. And 'that which is' is a compound of both, for both exist.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then these things become three.

THEAETETUS. Why, certainly.

STRANGER. Each of them is other than the two, and itself the same as itself.


STRANGER. What do we now mean by the same and the other? Are they two specific kinds (of species), different from the three, but always from necessity mingling with those, and must we inquire concerning there being five and not three, or are we addressing them, unawares, both this "the same" and "the other" as one of those?


STRANGER. But truly neither motion nor rest are neither other nor the same.


STRANGER. Whatever name we would give in common to motion and rest, this can be neither of the two.


STRANGER. Because motion will be at rest, and again, rest will be in motion, for, concerning both, whichever of the two becomes the other, will again necessitate the other becoming the opposite of its nature, so as to partake in its opposite.

THEAETETUS. Very much so.

STRANGER. Truly both partake in the same and the other.


STRANGER. Then let us not say that motion is the same or the other, or that rest is.


STRANGER. Then must we think of 'that which is' and the same as some one?


STRANGER. But if 'that which is' and the same are not different in meaning, again in saying that motion and rest both are, we shall thus be saying that they are both the same.

THEAETETUS. But truly this is impossible.

STRANGER. Then it's impossible for 'that which is' and the same to be one.

THEAETETUS. Pretty much.

STRANGER. Are we then to put down as fourth, the same, in addition to the three species?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then what? Must we call the other the fifth? Or is it necessary to think of this and 'that which is' as two specific names for the same kind (of species)?


STRANGER. But I think you would admit, that of the things which exist, some are in themselves, and others always spoken of in relation to others.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. For is not other always in relation to other?


STRANGER. This would not be, if 'that which is' and the other were not entirely different; but if the other were to share in both species just as 'that which is', then there would be a specific other among the others which would not be in relation to an other; but now, rudely for us, it is the case that whatever might be other, is this from necessity of another.

THEAETETUS. It is just as you say.

STRANGER. Then we must say that the nature of the other is the fifth in the species, among which we choose.


STRANGER. And indeed we shall say that it has gone through all of them, for each one of them is other than the rest, not through its own nature, but through partaking in the species of the other.

THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed.

Continue to Part III
(Sections 41. to end)

Back to Part I
(Sections 1 to 25)

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