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Dialogue of Cultures

Translations of Great Poets and Authors

Dialogue by PLATO


Translated by Leslie B. Vaughan

(Part 3)

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)

PART 3 (to end)


STRANGER. Let us take up the case of the five and speak of them one by one, as follows.


STRANGER. First motion, that it is entirely different from rest. Or how do we say?


STRANGER. Then it is not rest.

THEAETETUS. In no way.

STRANGER. But it exists through participation in 'that which is'.

THEAETETUS. Yes, it exists.

STRANGER. Again, in turn, motion is different than the same.

THEAETETUS. Pretty nearly.

STRANGER. Then it is not the same.

THEAETETUS. No, it is not.

STRANGER. But truly this was the same through the participation of all things in it.

THEAETETUS. Very much.

STRANGER. Then one must agree that motion is the same and not the same and not be discontented. For whenever we say that it is the same and not the same, we do not speak in like manner; but when we say that it's the same, we speak thusly through its participation in the same in relation to itself, and when we say that it's not the same, it's because, in turn, it is in common with the other, through which it is separated from the same and becomes not that, but other, so that it is in turn rightly spoken of as not the same.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Then even if motion itself should somehow partake in rest, it would not be absurd to call it at rest?

THEAETETUS. It would be most correct, if we shall concede that some of the kinds (of species) are willing to mix with one another, and some not.

STRANGER. But truly we had the demonstration of this before we arrived at our present cases, saying that it is according to nature.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then let us say it once more. Motion is different than the other, just as it was other than the same and rest?

THEAETETUS. Necessarily.

STRANGER. Then it is somehow not other and also other, according to our present argument.


STRANGER. Then what, after this? Shall we in turn say that it is other than the three, but not say other than the fourth, having agreed that there are five, concerning which and within which we proceeded to inquire?

THEAETETUS. But how? For it's impossible to concede that the number is less than that just shown.

STRANGER. Then fearlessly, contentiously, may we say that motion is other than 'that which is'?

THEAETETUS. Most fearlessly.

STRANGER. Then clearly motion is actually 'not that which is' and 'that which is', since it partakes in being?

THEAETETUS. Most clearly.

STRANGER. Then from necessity, 'that which is not' exists, in relation to motion and throughout all the kinds (of species). For throughout all, the nature of the other, in forming each to be other than 'that which is' makes it 'not that which is', and we may thus rightly say, according to these terms, that all things do not exist, and in turn, since they partake in being, that they exist and have being.

THEAETETUS. That is possible.

STRANGER. Then for each of the species, 'that which is' is many, and 'that which is not' is infinite in multitude.

THEAETETUS. So it seems.

STRANGER. Then 'that which is' must be said to be different from all other things.

THEAETETUS. Necessarily.

STRANGER. Then as numerous as other things are, 'that which is' by such an extent does not exist for us, for in not being those it is itself one, and, in turn, the other things, unlimited in number, are not.

THEAETETUS. It is pretty nearly thus.

STRANGER. Then we must not be discontented by these things, since the nature of the kinds (of species) is to be in common with one another. But if one does not concede these things, let him thus win over our previous arguments and persuade us beyond this.

THEAETETUS. You have spoken most justly.

STRANGER. Let us look at the following.

THEAETETUS. What sort of thing?

STRANGER. Whenever we say 'that which is not', as it seems, we do not speak of a specific opposite of being, but only something different.


STRANGER. Whenever we might say that something is not large, then do we disclose to you something small rather than showing something average-sized, in the expression?

THEAETETUS. Of course not.

STRANGER. Then whenever it is said that the negation signifies the opposite we shall not concede it, but this much only, that adding "not", whether used factually or hypothetically, reveals something of everything else than the words to which "not" is added, or than whatever specific things would be laid down by the names being uttered after the negation.

THEAETETUS. Entirely, then.


STRANGER. Let us think over the following, and see if it seems good to you.

THEAETETUS. What sort?

STRANGER. The nature of the other appears to me to have been chopped up into little pieces, just as knowledge has been.


STRANGER. Knowledge indeed is one, but each thing becoming a part of it, having been set apart, acquires its own specific name for itself; therefore arts are spoken of as being many, as are sciences.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Then the parts of the nature of the other, being one, have been affected to be the same thing.

THEAETETUS. Perhaps, but let us discuss in which manner.

STRANGER. Is there a part of the other having been set down as opposed to the beautiful?


STRANGER. Shall we say that this is nameless, or that it has a name?

THEAETETUS. It has, for what we utter each time as not-beautiful, this is the other of no other thing than the nature of the beautiful.

STRANGER. Onward now, tell me the following.

THEAETETUS. What sort of thing?

STRANGER. Has it not thus turned out that the not-beautiful is marked off as a specific one kind (of species) of 'things which are', and again, as opposed to some one kind (of species) of the 'things which are'?


STRANGER. Then it turns out, as it seems, that the not-beautiful, is a specific opposition of being to being.

THEAETETUS. Most rightly.

STRANGER. Then what? According to this argument then, is the beautiful for us more of the 'things which are' and the not-beautiful less?

THEAETETUS. Not at all.

STRANGER. Then the not-great and the great itself must be said to exist similarly?

THEAETETUS. Similarly.

STRANGER. Then must not the not-just with the just according to the same things be set down, insofar as the being of the other other is not more than the other?

THEAETETUS. Why, certainly.

STRANGER. And we shall say the same of the other things, since the nature of the other is shown to be that of 'things which are', and since that other exists, it is also necessary to set down its parts as things which no less exist.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then, as it seems, the opposition of the nature of a part of the other and the nature of 'that which is', when they are opposed to one another, is no less, if it is just to say, being than 'that which is' itself, for it signifies not the opposite of that being, but only this much, the other of that being.

THEAETETUS. Most clearly.

STRANGER. Then what shall we call it?

THEAETETUS. It is plain that this is 'that which is not', which we were seeking on account of the sophist.

STRANGER. Then does it not, as you were saying, have being and exist inferior to none of the others, and must not we now say with confidence that 'that which is not' firmly exists and has a nature of its own, just as the great was great, and the beautiful was beautiful, and the not-great not-great, and the not-beautiful not-beautiful, and thus 'that which is not' in the same way was and is 'that which is not', to be counted as one species among the many which exist? Or do we still have a certain suspicion about it,




STRANGER. Do you see then that we have further disobeyed the prohibition of Parmenides?


STRANGER. We have already, in our seeking, shown to him more than that which he formerly forbade us to consider.


STRANGER. Because he says somewhere For never let this prevail, that non-being exists, But set your mind away from this path of seeking.

THEAETETUS. Yes, he says that.

STRANGER. We have not only shown that 'things which are not' exist, but we have also made clear what the species of 'that which is not' happens to be. For having shown the nature of the other to exist and to be dispersed through all 'things which are' in relation to one another, we ventured to say that each part of the nature of the other in opposition to 'that which is', is itself actually 'that which is not'.

THEAETETUS. And, entirely,

STRANGER, what we have said seems to me to be most true.

STRANGER. Then let no one say that we venture to speak declaring that 'that which is not' exists as the opposite of being. For we long ago renounced any talk of a specific opposite of being, whether it exists or not, and whether it has description or is entirely unutterable. But concerning that which we've now said 'that which is not' to be, either let someone persuade us with a refutation that we do not speak beautifully, or, as long as he's unable, he must say just as we say, that the kinds (of species) mingle with one another, and both 'that which is' and the other have gone through everything and one another, and the other, since it partakes of 'that which is', exists, because of this partaking, but is not that of which it partakes, but other, and since it is other than 'that which is', it is most clearly necessarily 'that which is not'. And 'that which is', in turn, having shared in the other, would be other than the rest of the kinds (of species), and since it is other than all of them, it is neither each one of them, nor all the rest, but itself alone; and, again, indisputably, in thousands upon thousands of things 'that which is' does not exist, and the other things, both individually and all together, thus exist in many cases, and in many cases do not.


STRANGER. And if someone mistrusts these contradictions, he must make inquiries and articulate better things than those which we have just said; and if he takes pleasure in drawing the argument at times to the other things, and at different times to other things, as if he has understood something difficult, our present arguments assert that he is zealously pursuing matters that are not worth much attention. This is neither difficult nor clever to discover, while that (which follows) now is both difficult and beautiful.

THEAETETUS. What sort of thing?

STRANGER. That which has been spoken of before, being able to let these (silly) things go and to follow each thing being said in the arguments, both when someone says that the other is somehow the same, and when he says that the same is other, case by case according to the conditions that they say have affected either of them. But to show that somehow, somewhere, the same is the other, and the other is the same, and the great small, and the like unlike, and to thus take pleasure in always bringing forward opposites in the arguments - this is not a true specific scrutiny, but is plainly the newborn offspring of one who has just now laid grasp on 'things which are'.

THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed.


STRANGER. For, my friend, the attempt to separate everything from everything else is not only inharmonious, but also reveals someone entirely unmusical and unphilosophical.


STRANGER. The loosing away of each thing from all is the most complete obliteration of all arguments, for, because of the interweaving of the species with one another, the discourse (logos) has come to be for us.


STRANGER. Then observe how opportunely we were just now fighting against things of that sort, and were forcing by necessity that one thing mingle with another.

THEAETETUS. To what specific purpose?

STRANGER. For the purpose of the discourse being for us a specific one of the kinds (of species) which exist. For if we were deprived of this, the greatest thing would be that we would be deprived of philosophy. But still at the moment it is necessary for us to agree on what exactly discourse is, for if we were robbed of it, by its absolute non-existence, we should no longer be able to talk of such things; and we would have been robbed of it, if we had agreed that there is no mixture of anything with anything.

THEAETETUS. This is true indeed, but I do not understand why we must now agree on exactly what discourse is.

STRANGER. But perhaps you might most easily understand by following along this way.

THEAETETUS. Which way?

STRANGER. 'That which is not' was shown to us to be one kind (of species) of everything else, going through all 'things which are'.


STRANGER. Then beyond this, one must consider if it mingles with opinion and discourse.


STRANGER. If it does not mingle with them, all things are necessarily true, but if it does mingle, false opinion and discourse come to be, for to think or to say 'things which are not' - this is somehow the falsehood that comes to be in thought and in words.


STRANGER. And if falsehood exists, deception is.


STRANGER. And truly, if deception exists, all things must now be full of images and likenesses and appearances.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. And indeed we said that the sophist has taken refuge in this region, and has denied absolutely that there is ever falsehood; for he says that 'that which is not' can be neither conceived nor spoken, since 'that which is not' in no way shares in being.

THEAETETUS. These things were so.

STRANGER. And now indeed, these things were shown to us to share in being, and so perhaps he might not still fight for this, but perhaps he might say that some of the species share in 'that which is not', and some don't, and that discourse and opinion are not among those sharing; and the image-making and appearance-making arts, in which we said him to be, he would again contend, entirely do not exist, since opinion and discourse have no common ground with 'that which is not', and falsehood absolutely does not exist if this common ground is not created. But of these things, we must first examine thoroughly the nature of discourse and opinion and appearance, in order that when they come to light, we may catch sight of their common ground with 'that which is not', and once we've shown that, we may bind the sophist to it, if he is liable, or release him and seek him in another kind (of species).

THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed,

STRANGER, does it seem that what was said about the sophist in the beginning is true, that he is a difficult kind (of species) to hunt down. For he appears to be full of defenses, and whenever he throws one of them out, it's first necessary to fight through it, before one can reach him himself. For hardly have we passed through the defense that 'that which is not' is not, another one has been thrown out, and it's necessary to show that falsehood exists in relation to discourse and to opinion, and perhaps after that there will be another, and still another beyond that, and it seems that no end will ever appear.


THEAETETUS, who is always able to proceed at even a slow pace, must take courage. For what would someone who is discouraged by these things do under other circumstances, in accomplishing nothing, or being repelled back again? It would be very slowly indeed, as the proverb goes, that such a man would ever take a city. But now, my friend, since we have passed through the defense that you speak of, we have already taken the greatest wall, and the rest are now smaller and easier.

THEAETETUS. You speak well.


STRANGER. First indeed let us take up discourse and opinion, as we said just now, in order that we may give a clearer account of whether 'that which is not' touches them, or whether they are both entirely true, and neither is ever falsehood.


STRANGER. Come then, as we were speaking of species and letters, let us again inquire concerning names in like manner. For that which we are now seeking appears in such a region.

THEAETETUS. Then what sort of things about names must one comply with?

STRANGER. Whether they all fit together with one another, or don't fit at all, or whether some are willing, and others not.

THEAETETUS. This is clear, that some are willing, and others not.

STRANGER. Perhaps you mean this sort of thing, that some, being spoken in order and signifying something, do fit together, and some, which mean nothing in their sequence, are inharmonious.

THEAETETUS. How so, and what do you mean by this?

STRANGER. Just as I believe you acknowledged when you answered. For surely, in language, we have two kinds (of species) of indications of being.


STRANGER. One is called the nouns and the other, the verbs.

THEAETETUS. Say what each of the two is.

STRANGER. The one which is an indicator for actions we speak of as a verb.


STRANGER. And the sign in language applied to those who are doing the action is a noun.

THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed.

STRANGER. Then from nouns alone spoken in succession discourse never arises, nor from verbs spoken without nouns.

THEAETETUS. I do not understand these things.

STRANGER. Clearly you were looking at something else when you assented just now, since I wanted to say this very thing, that these things thus spoken in succession are not discourse.


STRANGER. For example, in the case of "walks," "runs," "sleeps," and all the other verbs which indicate actions, even if one speaks all of them in order, one still does not create discourse.

THEAETETUS. Of course not.

STRANGER. Then again, when "lion," "stag," "horse," are spoken, and the names of those who perform the actions are named, according to this succession no discourse is yet put together; for the things articulated do not make clear in either this way or that, either action or inaction, or being of either 'that which is' or 'that which is not', until the verbs are mixed with the nouns; and then they fit together, and the first interweaving straight away becomes discourse, just about the first and shortest of the discourses.

THEAETETUS. In which way do you mean?

STRANGER. When one says, "A man leaves," do you say that this is the first and least discourse?

THEAETETUS. I do indeed.

STRANGER. For now one makes plain something concerning things which are or are becoming or have become or are about to become, and not only names, but completes something, interweaving verbs with nouns. Therefore we said that he discourses and not merely names, and for this entwining we uttered the name of discourse.



STRANGER. Thus, just as some things fit together, and some do not, concerning the signs of language, some also do not fit, and those of them that do fit create discourse.


STRANGER. There is yet another small point.

THEAETETUS. What sort?

STRANGER. It is necessary that discourse, when it exists, be of something specific, and if it's not, it is impossible.


STRANGER. Then must it not also be of a specific sort?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Let us now pay attention to each other.

THEAETETUS. Indeed we must.

STRANGER. Then I will speak to you a discourse combining a thing with an action, through noun and verb; and you tell me whatever the discourse is.

THEAETETUS. I shall, as I am able.


THEAETETUS sits." It is not a long discourse, is it?

THEAETETUS. No, it is moderate.

STRANGER. Now it is your job to tell about what and of what it is.

THEAETETUS. Clearly it is of me and about me.

STRANGER. And in turn, what about the following?

THEAETETUS. What sort?


THEAETETUS, with whom I am now conversing, flies."

THEAETETUS. And this, no one would say otherwise, but that it is of me and about me.

STRANGER. And indeed we say that each of the discourses must be of a specific sort.


STRANGER. And what sort must one say that each of them is?

THEAETETUS. One is somehow false, and the other true.

STRANGER. And of them, the true one says things that are, as they are about you.

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. And the false one says other things than things that are.


STRANGER. So it says things that are not, as if they were.

THEAETETUS. Pretty nearly.

STRANGER. And indeed they are the things that are other than the things that are concerning you. For we said that there are many things concerning each thing that somehow are, and many that are not.

THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed.

STRANGER. The later discourse that I spoke, concerning you, from the elements which we agreed most necessarily make discourse, is one of the shortest.

THEAETETUS. At any rate we just now agreed on that.

STRANGER. Therefore it is indeed of something specific.


STRANGER. And if it is not of you, it is indeed not of anything else.

THEAETETUS. Of course not.

STRANGER. And being of nothing, it would not be a discourse at all, for we showed that it was one of the impossibilities for there to be a discourse and a discourse of nothing.

THEAETETUS. Most correctly.

STRANGER. Indeed, when there are things which are said concerning you, and other things that are other are said as the same, and things that are not are said as things that are, it appears that such a combination which comes to be of nouns and verbs, really and truly becomes altogether a false discourse.

THEAETETUS. Most truly.


STRANGER. Then what? Is it not already plain that these kinds (of species), thought, opinion, and appearance, all arise in our souls as both false and true?


STRANGER. You will know more easily in the following way, if first you grasp what they are and how they differ from one another.

THEAETETUS. Just give it to me.

STRANGER. Well then, thought and discourse are the same, but has not the one, the inner dialogue of the soul with itself, without sound, this very thing, been given by us the name of thought?

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. But has not the other, the stream that flows from it, through the mouth, with sound, been given the name of discourse?


STRANGER. And, truly, in discourse we know there is -


STRANGER. Assertion and negation.

THEAETETUS. Yes, we know.

STRANGER. Then when this arises in the soul silently through thought, do you know anything to call it except opinion?

THEAETETUS. Of course not.

STRANGER. And, again, when such an experience is present to someone, not in a self-reflexive manner, but through sensation, then can it properly be called anything other than appearance?


STRANGER. Then, since discourse was both true and false, and of the foregoing, thought came to light as the discourse of the soul itself with itself, and opinion as the result of thought, and what we mean when we say "it appears" is a mixture of sensation and opinion, and since these are akin to discourse, must not some of them be false from time to time?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. Then do you understand that false opinion and discourse were found sooner than we anticipated just now, when we feared that we were taking upon ourselves an absolutely endless task in seeking them?

THEAETETUS. I understand.


STRANGER. Then let us not be discouraged about the remainder. For since these things have come to light, let us recall our previous divisions into species.

THEAETETUS. Which ones?

STRANGER. We distinguished two species of image-making, the art of likeness-making and the art of appearance-making.


STRANGER. And we said that we didn't know into which of the two to put the sophist.

THEAETETUS. That's right.

STRANGER. And while we were perplexed by this, a still greater dizziness was thrown down, when the discourse making dispute with everything appeared, that neither likeness nor image nor appearance would exist at all, because falsehood never exists anywhere in any way.

THEAETETUS. What you say is true.

STRANGER. But now since discourse has come to light, and the existence of false opinion has come to light, it is possible for imitations of 'things which are' to exist, and for an art of deception to come to be from this condition.

THEAETETUS. It is possible.

STRANGER. And truly, that the sophist was in one of these two (species), was agreed by us previously.


STRANGER. Then let us attempt again, dividing in two parts the kind (of species) we have taken up, and always marching on the right-hand side of the division, keeping to that in which the sophist shares, until, leaving aside all the things shared by him, and leaving only his own proper nature, we shall reveal him chiefly for ourselves, and then to those who are by nature nearest in kind (of species) to a method of this sort.


STRANGER. Then did we not begin by dividing into the productive and acquisitive art?


STRANGER. And in the case of the art of acquisition, did he not show himself to us in the arts of hunting and contest and commerce and such species?

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. But now, since the art of imitation has overtaken him, it is clear that one must first divide the productive art into two. For imitation is a specific production, although of images, we say, but not of each of the things themselves. Right?


STRANGER. Then let the art of production be in two parts.


STRANGER. One divine, and the other human.

THEAETETUS. I don't understand yet.


STRANGER. The art of production, if we remember what we said at the beginning, is every power which becomes a cause for those things not previously existing to come into being.

THEAETETUS. We remember.

STRANGER. Shall we say that all the mortal creatures, and plants which grow out of the earth from seeds and roots, and all the lifeless bodies formed in the earth, both melted and unmelted, came into being by something other than the workmanship of God, not having existed before? Or, using the opinion and expression of the many -


STRANGER. That nature produces them from some spontaneous cause, without creative generation. Or do they come into being with reason and divine knowledge from God?

THEAETETUS. Perhaps on account of youth, I often change my mind between both; but now, looking to you and considering that you believe that they are brought into being according to God, I am also of that mind.

STRANGER. Well said,

THEAETETUS. And if we thought you would, at a later time, be of one of those thinking differently, we would now, with discourse and forceful persuasion undertake to make you agree, but since I understand your nature, that without our discourses it goes toward that to which you now say you are attracted, I will let that go, for it would cost excessive time; but I will assume things said to be natural, to be made by divine art, and things put together from these by men, to be made by human art, and, according to this discourse, there are two kinds (of species) of productive art, the one being human and the other divine.


STRANGER. There being two, divide each in two again.


STRANGER. As you divided all productive art widthwise, now divide lengthwise.

THEAETETUS. Let it be divided.

STRANGER. Now, truly, four parts in all have thus come to be, two on our side, the human, and two again for the gods, the divine.


STRANGER. And again, the divided things being the other way, one part of each part is the making of actual things, and the remaining parts would pretty nearly be called image-making; and according to these things, the productive art is again divided into two.

THEAETETUS. Tell me again, in what way each part is.


STRANGER. We know that we and all the other creatures, and things from which natural occurrences exist, fire and water, and kindred things, are each the things generated and created by God. Right?


STRANGER. But the images of each of these exist, although they are closely following images, and those things have come to be by design.

THEAETETUS. What sort?

STRANGER. The appearances in dreams, and those which by day are said to be self-generating, such as shadow whenever darkness occurs in the firelight, and whenever a twofold light, from objects themselves and from outside sources, comes together into one on smooth and bright surfaces, creating an effect opposite to our usual perception - these sorts of things make up a species.

THEAETETUS. Then these things are two works of divine creation, the thing itself and the following image in each case.

STRANGER. And what about our own art? Shall we not say that we make a house itself by the art of house-building, and some other thing by the art of painting, a sort of man-made dream created for those awake?

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. Then, again, all the rest of the works of our art of producing things, are thus twofold and double: the thing itself, we say, made by workmanship, and the image, made by image-making.

THEAETETUS. I understand better now, and I establish two species of the art of production in a double way: the divine and the human, according to one division, and according to the other, the produced things themselves, and the products of certain similarities.


STRANGER. Then let us recall that of the art of image-making, there were to be two kinds (of species), the art of likeness-making, and the art of appearance-making, if falsehood were to appear as actually being falsehood, and by nature a specific one of the things which are.

THEAETETUS. Yes, there were.

STRANGER. Therefore it did appear, and because of this shall we not now indisputably reckon two species?


STRANGER. Then let us again divide the art of appearance-making.


STRANGER. One comes to be through instruments, and the other when the producer supplies himself as the instrument of making the appearance.

THEAETETUS. What do you mean?

STRANGER. Whenever anyone, I believe, uses his own body to resemble your figure, or makes his voice appear to sound like yours, this part of the art of appearance-making is particularly called imitation.


STRANGER. Let us assign this part, naming it the art of imitation, and as for everything else, let us be soft and let that go, passing it by, for someone else to unite into one and grant to it a fitting name.

THEAETETUS. Then let the one be assigned, and the other let go.

STRANGER. And truly,

THEAETETUS, it is worthwhile to consider that this is yet twofold. But examine for what reason.


STRANGER. Some of those who imitate know that which they imitate while doing it, and others do not know. And yet what greater division shall we establish than that between ignorance and knowledge?


STRANGER. Then was not the example just given imitation by those who know? For one imitating you would know you and your figure.

THEAETETUS. Of course.

STRANGER. But what of the figure of justice and, in sum, of virtue in general? Do not many, who are ignorant, somehow have opinions, and attempt with exceeding zeal, to make it appear that this opinion that they have is (actual virtue) within them, imitating it as exactly as possible in deeds and discourse?

THEAETETUS. There are certainly many people like that.

STRANGER. Then do all of them fail to seem to be just, when they are not so at all? Or entirely the opposite of this?

THEAETETUS. Entirely the opposite.

STRANGER. Indeed, I think this imitator must be spoken of as different from that other one, that is, the ignorant one from the cognizant.



STRANGER. From whence, then, can a fitting name for each of them be taken? For clearly this is difficult, since there was, as it seems, earlier, a certain laziness and carelessness among the ancients regarding the division of the kinds (of species) according to species, so that no one even tried to divide, so necessarily there cannot be plenty of names. All the same, even if it is bold to say, for the sake of discrimination, let us name the imitation with opinion, the art of opinion-imitation, and the one with scientific knowledge, a specific historical imitation.

THEAETETUS. Let it be.

STRANGER. Then we must use the former, for the sophist was not among those who know, but he was among those who imitate.

THEAETETUS. Very much so.

STRANGER. Then let us examine the opinion-imitator as if he were iron, as to whether he is sound or if there is still some overlapping in him.

THEAETETUS. Let us consider.

STRANGER. Then there is, and very much indeed. For some of them are simple-minded, believing that they know the things about which they opine, but the figure of the other, because of their rolling around in discourses, has much suspicion and fear, that they are ignorant of the things about which they hold themselves up before others as knowing.

THEAETETUS. Certainly there is a kind (of species) of each of the two you have mentioned.

STRANGER. Then shall we establish one as the simple imitator, and the other as the dissembling imitator?

THEAETETUS. That is reasonable, at least.

STRANGER. And again, shall we say that this kind (of species) is one or two?


STRANGER. I am considering, and a distinct pair appears to me. I see one who can dissemble in public in long speeches before a crowd, and the other, who can, in private, by short discourses, force the one discoursing with him to contradict himself.

THEAETETUS. You speak most rightly.

STRANGER. And what specific thing shall we declare the one who makes the longer speeches to be?

THEAETETUS. Public speaker.

STRANGER. And what shall we call the other? Wise or sophistic?

THEAETETUS. It is impossible to call him wise, since we established him as not knowing; but since he is an imitator of the wise, it is clear that we must choose some derivation of that name, and now I've pretty nearly understood that he is truly the one whom it is necessary to name, as the very one who is entirely and actually the sophist.

STRANGER. Then shall we bind up his name, just as we did before, winding it up from the end to the beginning?

THEAETETUS. Certainly.

STRANGER. That part of dissembling, making one's adversary contradict himself, which is of the art of opinion-imitation, and is of the appearance-making kind of image-making, and is not divine, but human, that is determined in discourses as the conjured part of producing -whoever shall say that the sophist in actuality is of this descent and blood, will speak, it seems, what is the most true.

THEAETETUS. Entirely. -


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More on Reading Plato-- Excerpted from


Marat, De Sade, And 'Greenspin'

by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
May 30, 2001

...As I shall illustrate that point within the following pages, the most important concept in all science, is the principle underlying the notion of the perfect sovereignty of the cognitive processes of the individual human mind. As I have already emphasized, in the preceding section, those are: cognitive processes by which an individual mind discovers a principle which solves an ontological paradox, a noëtic process which can not be observed in action by the senses of any other person. That is what I identified, in the preceding section, as the principle of Classical humanist education.

One individual's act of discovery can be known by another person, but only if the second person undergoes his, or her own, sovereign individual act, of re-enacting the discovery and its experimental validation.

This principle of sovereignty has still deeper underlying implications, implications which, if understood, define the method for solving the kinds of mass pathology which have been pushing the U.S. to the present brink of ruin, over the course of the recent thirty-odd years. To situate those deeper implications, we must return attention, for a moment, to the subject of physical economy.

If we accept a rational meaning for the word "economy," that word implies the development of methods by means of which we increase the potential relative population-density of a society, or of humanity as a whole. By "rational meaning for the word `economy,' " we signify a notion of a lawful function, as determined by some multiply-connected set of universal principles. Then, we are speaking of a form of organized physical action, by means of which the individual acts to express mankind's increased power to exist, in and over the universe, as measured per capita and per-square kilometer of relevant surface-area. These functionally defined forms of organized physical action, are bundles of interacting universal physical principles, combinations of principles also expressed as the technologies which those discovered principles subsume. All increments in the power of the human species to exist, depend upon the socially determined result of the discovery and application of such principles and their subsumed technologies.

In that degree, those actions express the sovereign cognitive development of the individual person. However, the paradox is: society is not a collection of individuals; the individual is a product of a process which is called society. From the standpoint of what is customarily called physical science and technology, it is the transmission, to the present, of the discoveries which were made as far distant as millennia or even longer in the past, which produces the developed individual intellect in the student and others today. The ability of society as such to use a discovered principle effectively, depends upon the re-enactment of that discovery in the minds of others, even very many others. That is the social process within which the existence of the individual is defined.

Hence, the decisive role of a universal Classical humanist mode of education, in fostering the physical-economic productivity of the labor-force as a whole. The content of the transmission of those ideas rightly defined as universal physical principles, depends upon the faculty of cognition in both the person who prompts the discovery of a principle in the mind of the other, and the function of those sovereign cognitive processes on which the other depends for his, or her ability to re-enact that discovery. Without that medium of transmission of discoveries of universal physical principle, the medium of cognitive creation, neither the discovery, nor its actual transmission were possible.

Thus, in that way, the perfect sovereignty of the individual personality persists, but efficient communication of cognitive thought occurs as a functionally efficient coupling without breaching that sovereignty. The larger process expressed by such modes of cognitive communication, is the foundation of the social process upon which civilized forms of cultures and societies depend.

This is a uniquely human quality of function. Excepting the human species, no living species has the power of cognition expressed by the original discovery of an experimentally proven-to-be universal physical principle. No other species has the power to discover and transmit a universal physical principle; no other species has the ability to increase its species' potential relative population-density by an act of individual free will. Man is, as Genesis 1 insists, a very special creature.

There is nothing magical about the power of the individual mind to generate valid discoveries of universal physical principles. For example, the collection of the dialogues of Plato, if acted as Classical actors would act a play, is a complete course of the comprehensive, preliminary training of the adolescent and adult mind, both to think cognitively, and to transmit such valid discoveries of principle to others.[30] This is the most natural method imaginable; it is the natural expression of human nature, both perfectly sovereign individual human nature, and the nature of humanity as an historical, social process. This principle of cognition, in and of itself, sets man, as a species, apart from, and above all other species. This cognitive link, not only among contemporary persons, but of the present to both the future and the past, defines the only meaningful use of the term "history," the only competent method for study of history, and the only competent basis for defining those universal principles of historical method which should govern all aspects of statecraft.

From the study of the human social process in this way, we are confronted with certain principles, which are universal principles in the same sense as those we associate with a universalized mathematical physics. This second set of principles, is the topic emphasized in the present section of this report. However, this emphasis is made without generating any functional separation between such principles of historically situated cognitive processes, and the multiply-connected manifold of universal principles we associate with the physical universe in which we exist, and upon which we act.

It is from this standpoint, that we must judge societies and cultures, as such, as either sane, or not.

Principles of History

As I shall now show you, it is important to recognize the three crucial features of the moral superiority of Plato's dialogues over the Classical tragedies. Once the reader has recognized those dialogues as a form of Classical drama, my argument on this point becomes clear.

The first two of the three words which identify this absolute quality of moral superiority of those dialogues, are, in English, the sublime, and, in the New Testament Greek, as also in Plato's dialogue, agape. The sublime and agape are congruent conceptions, but have slightly different forms of application; they are distinctly different facets of one and the same gem. Plato uses the term agape to signify a quality of justice, which he contrasts, through the mouth of Socrates, to the opposing principles of the characters Thrasymachus and Glaucon.[31] This Socratic principle of justice, called agape, is inseparable from the principle identified by a third word, truthfulness, the notion of the existence of cognitively discoverable truth. Such a notion of agapic truthfulness, defines an absolutely higher authority than any government, than any court, than any tradition, than absolutely anyone's mere opinion. It is the basis for what is rightly called natural law.

It is important, for understanding how to overcome the pathologies of U.S. popular behavior today, to see the equivalence of this notion of agape to the notion of the sublime, and the coherence of both with the principle of the obligation of us all, to be governed by a cognitively knowable standard of truthfulness. This use of "cognitively knowable truthfulness," ought to be recognized as nothing other than the only proper definition of "reason."

The simplest way to explain this most crucial point of statecraft, is to identify the nature of Plato's view of the moral failures of the Classical tragedians who preceded him.

All great Classical tragedies, including those of Shakespeare and Friedrich Schiller, are focussed upon the same problem which I identified by reference to the goldfish-bowl syndrome in the U.S.A. today. In the typical Classical tragedy of the tradition of Sophocles and Aeschylus, there is a potentially fatal, self-inflicted flaw in the culture, the flaw which is the subject of the drama. This flaw is represented by a leading figure, or figures, figures in the position of authority to make the changes in policy by which the tragedy is averted, but who, because the figure, or group of those figures, shares the fatal cultural flaw of the nation, he, or she fails to take the possible action by means of which the national disaster could have been averted.

Do not be deceived by foolish commentators on such plays, by moralizing critics and others who, through ignorance or malice, trivialize great artistic works, by demanding that you focus upon some alleged symbolic meaning, or the alleged "character flaw" of the leading character of a drama.[32]

All Classical tragedy deserving of the name of art, is historically specific. The drama is situated truthfully either within a real-life time and place in history, or in relative historical specificity of some legend, such as the Homeric epics. The flaw which defines the tragedy, is historically specific, and can not be attributed to times and places other than that. The characteristics of the leading characters of a Classical tragedy are specific to that setting; therefore, they can not be freely transported to different historical settings.

The foolish commentators attempt to project an essentially symbolic significance to the characteristics they claim to recognize in the relevant characters of the play. In respect to Classical drama, they would mislead you into overlooking the fact, that the essential flaw is that of the culture, in which that character is in a leading position to avert the plunge into national disaster, but fails to do so. He fails because he, or she capitulates to the influence of the historical specificity of the tragic culture in which he is situated. Just so, has the putative leadership of the U.S.A. failed, during the specific interval of the recent thirty-five-odd years.

Thus, in Schiller's Don Carlos, all of the characters but the French-born queen are terribly flawed, and represent the same moral decadence of that Sixteenth-Century, post-Isabella I Spain of the Inquisition, which Miguel Cervantes addresses by his use of the fictional figures of Don Quixote (the Spanish Hapsburg monarchy of the Carlist tradition) and Sancho Panza (a people corrupted into virtual stupidity by their hedonistic impulses). In Don Carlos, the queen serves as a figure, situated such that she, although queen, lacks the official authority to compel a change in the other principal characters, but who sees the tragedy. The assessment of Spain in that play conforms to the actual period of history to which the drama refers, just as Cervantes' Don Quixote addresses the same tragic quality of that nation during that same specific period of its history addressed by Schiller.

The same is true in Shakespeare's Hamlet. It is not some eccentric personal character flaw of Hamlet which is tragic; Hamlet's "flaw" is that he is typical of the whole pack of ruling institutions and circles of that kingdom. The character flaw is that of the kingdom, as the contrasted declarations of the characters Fortinbras and Horatio point toward the persistence of a folly, which continues to live in that condition of the Danish nation after the death of Hamlet removes him from the situation. The same folly which had taken over the nation prior to the opening scene of the play, continues to prevail after Hamlet's role has ended. That nation's problem is not Hamlet; Hamlet's problem is that he reflects the character of that nation, in that implied historically specific time and place.

Sometimes, the apparent exception proves the rule. Under pressure from the censor, Giuseppe Verdi transports the actual historical setting of one of his plays, Un Ballo in Maschera, from the drama's historically actual location, Sweden, to Massachusetts. The censor's intervention thus weakens the resulting alteration of the opera. Despite that drawback, the authority of the opera as a Classical tragedy, lies in its historical specificity governing the composer's intention in crafting that composition, and is preserved in that fashion.[33]

Up to a point, learning from such Classical tragedy, and other valid expressions of Classical artistic composition, continues to be an integral part of the qualifications for the practice of statecraft, or writing of accounts of history. The tragedies of Sophocles and Aeschylus, for example, are indispensable requirements for the practice of law and other crucial elements of statecraft today; but, as it is said, "they left room for improvement." Plato, and Friedrich Schiller later, focussed attention upon the needed improvement.

Contrast such tragedy by Sophocles, Aeschylus, et al., with Schiller's notion of the sublime, as expressed in both real history and drama, alike, in that case of Joan of Arc which I have treated in an earlier location.

Joan is no tragic figure; exactly the contrary. In real life, and in Schiller's drama, she is a girl inspired to save the nation and people of France from Plantagenet (Anjou) predators,[34] by persuading her foolish king to become a real king. For that, in real life, as in the play, she is butchered by the corrupt Inquisition; but, she changes history, both by her effect on the processes leading into the mid-Fifteenth-Century Council of Florence, and making possible the establishment of the first sovereign nation-state, Louis XI's France, based on the principle of the general welfare. She gave her life to achieve a noble purpose for mankind; she was no tragic figure. She spent her life in a way which achieved a great fulfillment of her having lived. That is sublime.

We should not wish to be burned alive by the Inquisition, as she was, nor devoured by lions in Nero's arena, nor crucified for Christ's sake. Yet, that aside, it were the true purpose of any mortal human life, that it be lived as sublime, as Joan's was. We are going to die anyway; therefore, wisdom lies in choosing the way one spends the talent given to you, your mortal life. Choose the mission which is your part to play, for the benefit your living might contribute to your nation, and for historical humanity as a whole. Be as you were an angel. That is the sublime definition of the good individual person, and of the good nation. That is the quality of agape.

In the drama which supersedes the tragic principle by the sublime, the gripping tension of the well-performed Classical tragedy, is continued, and, as in the case of Joan, the crucial figure may suffer a brutal end. The difference is, that, as in Joan's case, in her actually heroic life, and in that same heroine's life and actions on stage, are not a waste.

Yet, as Schiller demonstrates this case, what may be called the mechanism of the composition of all great Classical tragedy, is retained. The situation presented has many of the same features; there is the threat of a tragic outcome. However, this time, the central figure does not fail to offset the tragic outcome, but is willing and able to accomplish this at whatever price the hero must pay to bring about this sublime result.

See the contrast between the Classical tragedies of Greece and Plato's dialogues, in that light.

Express that same principle, of the distinction between the merely tragic and the sublime, in another way. This time, I strike closer to home. Consider the following question: Why is what is called morality, especially thunderously Bible-belting morality, often the enemy of the good?

If it is moral, not to kill, nor steal, nor lie, for example, does seemingly perfect observation of those rules, that repertoire of "single issues," make one good? Take the case of a publicly avowed admirer of the racist legacy of the Confederacy, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft; accept, provisionally, the claim of his supporters, that he does not intend to violate the Ten Commandments, even when he kills. Overlook, if only for a moment, his repeated lying sophistries. Is he to be assessed as "a good man," simply because his duped admirers consider him as wielding "a banner of Christian morality"? Absolutely not! Anyone who does not serve the principle, that all men and women are made equally in the image of the Creator, is no Christian! When you defame the image of man, as all racists do, you defame the image of God. "Hypocrite" were too gentle an epithet, in Ashcroft's case.

It is necessary to guide children, so that they do not step off cliffs, or into the front of oncoming automobiles, and so on. It is necessary to advise young persons similarly, for their own good, during that perilous journey near the outskirts of insanity, called adolescence. If it is also necessary to housebreak and train pet cats and dogs, that should not be used as a pretext for degrading morality to the form of do's and don't's for household pets, or for persons whom you attempt to degrade to the status of trained human cattle. Put to one side, for a moment, the fact that Ashcroft is not exactly housebroken, even by four-footed standards for morality; were he less a hypocrite, that would still not qualify him as "a good person."

The problem is, that he is not a person of good intentions. Obeying a set of rules, or merely seeming to adhere to such rules, does not define a good person. All the single-issue prescriptions which might be imagined, provide no test of goodness. As it was said of Adolf Hitler, Satan never lowers himself to commit little sins; he saves his energy for the really big ones. He leaves the practice of lesser sins to little people.

Take, for example, the bi-polar, strictly church-going Bible-belter, who belts his wife and children religiously, at whim, on Saturday night, and then weeps over the bruises and broken bones he has successfully inflicted, even while he pontificates, "I'm sorry, but you made me do it." On Sunday, we find his sanctimonious self sitting upright, posing as a paragon of smug rectitude, in church.

Contrary to the enormous number of such and comparable cases, the fact remains, that man is naturally good. That spark of goodness is already in the newborn child, but it awaits development through infancy, childhood, and adolescence, into what should become true adulthood, approximately a quarter-century later. How could man fail, as he usually does, somewhere along the road between birth and biological maturity? Or, to restate that question, why does the individual fail, so awfully often, to reach the moral maturity which was his or her potential at birth?

Virtually all of us have come to understand, somewhere along the way between infancy and adulthood, that, as each of us is born, each of us will die, and that rather sooner than later. This fact should prompt any reasonably sane and intelligent individual to ask himself, "What, then, will have been the meaning of my having lived?"

In a famous fable, a monk asks a youthful woman to look into a mirror, and think of her aging and mortality. She accepts the monk's observation, and makes her decision accordingly, seeking pleasures while she might. The existentialist sees himself as Hannah Arendt's friend, the Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, did, as the individual "thrown into life in society," into a realm in which that individual not merely denies, but defies the existence of truth. The notion that life in society has some social purpose, some mission, is denied. Or, like the woman of the fable, she seeks a substitute for immortality in sensual diversions which die like Autumn leaves.

Heidegger, like his beloved Friedrich Nietzsche, and like his follower Jean-Paul Sartre, typify immorality in the extreme. Yet, it is the ugly reality of today's U.S. life, for example, that the individual who is asked to identify his or her self-interest, has tended, more and more over the recent decades, to locate self-interest in terms of "immediate self-interest" within a world ruled by pleasure and pain. In other words, such unfortunate people seek reality within the shadow-world of sense-perception, and they themselves thus come and go as shadows do. They seek in shadows, an identity which has no substance, and, so, if they succeed in that attempt, when they have passed, they leave nothing of real moral substance behind.

At the best, most of our citizens of earlier generations, defined their interest in the future prospects for their children and grandchildren, and defined their reciprocal relations to their own parents' and those of their parents' generation, accordingly. Willingness to put one's life at risk, whether in war, for the sake of the future, or simply to act for the good when that challenge is set before you, typify those symptoms of goodness many of my generation had come to expect of one another. Yet, that is not enough to make a society, or a religious body a moral one.

Try to answer my question from the standpoint of what I have described as the implications of the Classical humanist method in education. If we are decently educated and experienced, who are we, really? If our relation to the past is defined in terms of our re-enacting the original discoveries of principle, by persons from earlier generations, even millennia earlier, we know that we embody that re-enacted experience from their lives within ourselves. If the re-experiencing of such creative moments in science and Classical artistic composition, is the core of our educational development, then our intimate relationship with the sovereign cognitive processes of persons long deceased, defines our moral sense of conscience.

So, a child thinks of a departed grandparent looking down upon, smiling, from somewhere beyond. That is a simple expression of the essence of goodness. It is a sense of the sublime, a sense that the quality of the sublime is the essence of true beauty in art, and in life...

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30It is usually bad practice to suggest that Plato's dialogues are intended for the silent reading of an individual. If the individual does not know the method in advance, he will almost certainly make a terrible mess of his efforts to follow the text. Most of the heralded English-language academic's commentaries on Plato are worse than rubbish on this account, and the school of E. Cassirer as well. Like a great Classical drama, Plato's dialogues are not to be "interpreted"; they are to be experienced. The experience of some of my associates has shown them, that this is more likely to be accomplished if a dedicated group of persons, advised by one with some expertise in the Greek, acts out the dialogues as they are plainly written: as Classical drama. As each actor works to represent the role he is playing, the tension of the dialogue is sensed in the conflict being acted out among the actors. In short, a Plato dialogue should be recognized as the actors re-enacting the discovery of principle which resolves the paradox presented. (back).

[31] I.e., The Republic (back).

[32] Put to one side those fools, who, in the tradition of Francis Bacon's Thomas Hobbes, regard punning, falsely, as "the lowest form of humor." Recognize that the use of the term "symbol-mindedness," as applied to such critics, or theologians, and their admirers, is exemplary of the highest of all artistic principles, the same principle of metaphor which appears in the guise of a cognitive discovery of a valid universal principle in physical science. The same use of metaphor, as opposed to the use of symbolism, is the principle of Shakespeare's compositions, which separates Classical poetry, such as that of Keats, Shelley, Goethe, Schiller, and Heine, from Romanticism. Puns, and related forms of irony, meet the standard otherwise set by Analysis Situs in physical scientific discovery. A good pun, like any form of strictly Classical artistic composition or scientific discovery, is a necessary way of straining the customary use of language, as a way of forcing the mind to recognize that a strictly customary use of language prevents one from communicating the most important classes of ideas, genuine discoveries. Of course, a pun which fails to meet the Classical standard of irony or metaphor, including the standard of Classical satire such as that of Rabelais or Cervantes, would be a frivolous exercise. The aspect of the good pun which offends the intellectually constipated pedant, is its obvious quality of playfulness, as Schiller defines his view of Spieltrieb. That quality of effervescent, cognitive expressions of playfulness, is a quality which ("Eureka!") distinguishes the creative personality, including all competent scientific discoverers, from the pedant and drudge. It is so-called "symbolic meanings" and "symbolic argument," which are the hoaxes from which a really good pun may often rescue us.(back).

[33] Admittedly, of course, it were better had the identity of the original historical intention been allowed by the censor. Nonetheless, since the real-life assassination and its international implications were widely known in Verdi's time, the historical specificity of the pre-censored version, may have placated the censor, but did not deceive him.(back).

[34] Like Shakespeare's history, from Henry II through Richard III, the period from the Second Crusade, through the Fourth Crusade, and through the overthrow of Richard III, was a period in which the leading imperial maritime power of that interval, Venice's financier oligarchy, used the Plantagenet house, the House of Anjou notably, as its leading partner in crimes against the entirety of European civilization (back).


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