Charmides by Plato

Plato Charmides

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[2]        PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates, who is the narrator, Charmides,
[3]        Chaerephon, Critias.
[5]        SCENE: The Palaestra of Taureas, which is near the Porch of the King
[6]        Archon.
[8]        Yesterday evening I returned from the army at Potidaea, and having been a
[9]        good while away, I thought that I should like to go and look at my old
[10]       haunts. So I went into the palaestra of Taureas, which is over against the
[11]       temple adjoining the porch of the King Archon, and there I found a number
[12]       of persons, most of whom I knew, but not all. My visit was unexpected, and
[13]       no sooner did they see me entering than they saluted me from afar on all
[14]       sides; and Chaerephon, who is a kind of madman, started up and ran to me,
[15]       seizing my hand, and saying, How did you escape, Socrates?--(I should
[16]       explain that an engagement had taken place at Potidaea not long before we
[17]       came away, of which the news had only just reached Athens.)
[19]       You see, I replied, that here I am.
[21]       There was a report, he said, that the engagement was very severe, and that
[22]       many of our acquaintance had fallen.
[24]       That, I replied, was not far from the truth.
[26]       I suppose, he said, that you were present.
[28]       I was.
[30]       Then sit down, and tell us the whole story, which as yet we have only heard
[31]       imperfectly.
[33]       I took the place which he assigned to me, by the side of Critias the son of
[34]       Callaeschrus, and when I had saluted him and the rest of the company, I
[35]       told them the news from the army, and answered their several enquiries.
[37]       Then, when there had been enough of this, I, in my turn, began to make
[38]       enquiries about matters at home--about the present state of philosophy, and
[39]       about the youth. I asked whether any of them were remarkable for wisdom or
[40]       beauty, or both. Critias, glancing at the door, invited my attention to
[41]       some youths who were coming in, and talking noisily to one another,
[42]       followed by a crowd. Of the beauties, Socrates, he said, I fancy that you
[43]       will soon be able to form a judgment. For those who are just entering are
[44]       the advanced guard of the great beauty, as he is thought to be, of the day,
[45]       and he is likely to be not far off himself.
[47]       Who is he, I said; and who is his father?
[49]       Charmides, he replied, is his name; he is my cousin, and the son of my
[50]       uncle Glaucon: I rather think that you know him too, although he was not
[51]       grown up at the time of your departure.
[53]       Certainly, I know him, I said, for he was remarkable even then when he was
[54]       still a child, and I should imagine that by this time he must be almost a
[55]       young man.
[57]       You will see, he said, in a moment what progress he has made and what he is
[58]       like. He had scarcely said the word, when Charmides entered.
[60]       Now you know, my friend, that I cannot measure anything, and of the
[61]       beautiful, I am simply such a measure as a white line is of chalk; for
[62]       almost all young persons appear to be beautiful in my eyes. But at that
[63]       moment, when I saw him coming in, I confess that I was quite astonished at
[64]       his beauty and stature; all the world seemed to be enamoured of him;
[65]       amazement and confusion reigned when he entered; and a troop of lovers
[66]       followed him. That grown-up men like ourselves should have been affected
[67]       in this way was not surprising, but I observed that there was the same
[68]       feeling among the boys; all of them, down to the very least child, turned
[69]       and looked at him, as if he had been a statue.
[71]       Chaerephon called me and said: What do you think of him, Socrates? Has he
[72]       not a beautiful face?
[74]       Most beautiful, I said.
[76]       But you would think nothing of his face, he replied, if you could see his
[77]       naked form: he is absolutely perfect.
[79]       And to this they all agreed.
[81]       By Heracles, I said, there never was such a paragon, if he has only one
[82]       other slight addition.
[84]       What is that? said Critias.
[86]       If he has a noble soul; and being of your house, Critias, he may be
[87]       expected to have this.
[89]       He is as fair and good within, as he is without, replied Critias.
[91]       Then, before we see his body, should we not ask him to show us his soul,
[92]       naked and undisguised? he is just of an age at which he will like to talk.
[94]       That he will, said Critias, and I can tell you that he is a philosopher
[95]       already, and also a considerable poet, not in his own opinion only, but in
[96]       that of others.
[98]       That, my dear Critias, I replied, is a distinction which has long been in
[99]       your family, and is inherited by you from Solon. But why do you not call
[100]      him, and show him to us? for even if he were younger than he is, there
[101]      could be no impropriety in his talking to us in the presence of you, who
[102]      are his guardian and cousin.
[104]      Very well, he said; then I will call him; and turning to the attendant, he
[105]      said, Call Charmides, and tell him that I want him to come and see a
[106]      physician about the illness of which he spoke to me the day before
[107]      yesterday. Then again addressing me, he added: He has been complaining
[108]      lately of having a headache when he rises in the morning: now why should
[109]      you not make him believe that you know a cure for the headache?
[111]      Why not, I said; but will he come?
[113]      He will be sure to come, he replied.
[115]      He came as he was bidden, and sat down between Critias and me. Great
[116]      amusement was occasioned by every one pushing with might and main at his
[117]      neighbour in order to make a place for him next to themselves, until at the
[118]      two ends of the row one had to get up and the other was rolled over
[119]      sideways. Now I, my friend, was beginning to feel awkward; my former bold
[120]      belief in my powers of conversing with him had vanished. And when Critias
[121]      told him that I was the person who had the cure, he looked at me in such an
[122]      indescribable manner, and was just going to ask a question. And at that
[123]      moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and, O rare! I
[124]      caught a sight of the inwards of his garment, and took the flame. Then I
[125]      could no longer contain myself. I thought how well Cydias understood the
[126]      nature of love, when, in speaking of a fair youth, he warns some one 'not
[127]      to bring the fawn in the sight of the lion to be devoured by him,' for I
[128]      felt that I had been overcome by a sort of wild-beast appetite. But I
[129]      controlled myself, and when he asked me if I knew the cure of the headache,
[130]      I answered, but with an effort, that I did know.
[132]      And what is it? he said.
[134]      I replied that it was a kind of leaf, which required to be accompanied by a
[135]      charm, and if a person would repeat the charm at the same time that he used
[136]      the cure, he would be made whole; but that without the charm the leaf would
[137]      be of no avail.
[139]      Then I will write out the charm from your dictation, he said.
[141]      With my consent? I said, or without my consent?
[143]      With your consent, Socrates, he said, laughing.
[145]      Very good, I said; and are you quite sure that you know my name?
[147]      I ought to know you, he replied, for there is a great deal said about you
[148]      among my companions; and I remember when I was a child seeing you in
[149]      company with my cousin Critias.
[151]      I am glad to find that you remember me, I said; for I shall now be more at
[152]      home with you and shall be better able to explain the nature of the charm,
[153]      about which I felt a difficulty before. For the charm will do more,
[154]      Charmides, than only cure the headache. I dare say that you have heard
[155]      eminent physicians say to a patient who comes to them with bad eyes, that
[156]      they cannot cure his eyes by themselves, but that if his eyes are to be
[157]      cured, his head must be treated; and then again they say that to think of
[158]      curing the head alone, and not the rest of the body also, is the height of
[159]      folly. And arguing in this way they apply their methods to the whole body,
[160]      and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. Did you ever
[161]      observe that this is what they say?
[163]      Yes, he said.
[165]      And they are right, and you would agree with them?
[167]      Yes, he said, certainly I should.
[169]      His approving answers reassured me, and I began by degrees to regain
[170]      confidence, and the vital heat returned. Such, Charmides, I said, is the
[171]      nature of the charm, which I learned when serving with the army from one of
[172]      the physicians of the Thracian king Zamolxis, who are said to be so skilful
[173]      that they can even give immortality. This Thracian told me that in these
[174]      notions of theirs, which I was just now mentioning, the Greek physicians
[175]      are quite right as far as they go; but Zamolxis, he added, our king, who is
[176]      also a god, says further, 'that as you ought not to attempt to cure the
[177]      eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you
[178]      to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this,' he said, 'is the
[179]      reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of
[180]      Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied
[181]      also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.' For all
[182]      good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he
[183]      declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as if from the head into
[184]      the eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must
[185]      begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing. And the cure, my dear
[186]      youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these charms
[187]      are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where
[188]      temperance is, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but
[189]      to the whole body. And he who taught me the cure and the charm at the same
[190]      time added a special direction: 'Let no one,' he said, 'persuade you to
[191]      cure the head, until he has first given you his soul to be cured by the
[192]      charm. For this,' he said, 'is the great error of our day in the treatment
[193]      of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.' And
[194]      he added with emphasis, at the same time making me swear to his words, 'Let
[195]      no one, however rich, or noble, or fair, persuade you to give him the cure,
[196]      without the charm.' Now I have sworn, and I must keep my oath, and
[197]      therefore if you will allow me to apply the Thracian charm first to your
[198]      soul, as the stranger directed, I will afterwards proceed to apply the cure
[199]      to your head. But if not, I do not know what I am to do with you, my dear
[200]      Charmides.
[202]      Critias, when he heard this, said: The headache will be an unexpected gain
[203]      to my young relation, if the pain in his head compels him to improve his
[204]      mind: and I can tell you, Socrates, that Charmides is not only pre-eminent
[205]      in beauty among his equals, but also in that quality which is given by the
[206]      charm; and this, as you say, is temperance?
[208]      Yes, I said.
[210]      Then let me tell you that he is the most temperate of human beings, and for
[211]      his age inferior to none in any quality.
[213]      Yes, I said, Charmides; and indeed I think that you ought to excel others
[214]      in all good qualities; for if I am not mistaken there is no one present who
[215]      could easily point out two Athenian houses, whose union would be likely to
[216]      produce a better or nobler scion than the two from which you are sprung.
[217]      There is your father's house, which is descended from Critias the son of
[218]      Dropidas, whose family has been commemorated in the panegyrical verses of
[219]      Anacreon, Solon, and many other poets, as famous for beauty and virtue and
[220]      all other high fortune: and your mother's house is equally distinguished;
[221]      for your maternal uncle, Pyrilampes, is reputed never to have found his
[222]      equal, in Persia at the court of the great king, or on the continent of
[223]      Asia, in all the places to which he went as ambassador, for stature and
[224]      beauty; that whole family is not a whit inferior to the other. Having such
[225]      ancestors you ought to be first in all things, and, sweet son of Glaucon,
[226]      your outward form is no dishonour to any of them. If to beauty you add
[227]      temperance, and if in other respects you are what Critias declares you to
[228]      be, then, dear Charmides, blessed art thou, in being the son of thy mother.
[229]      And here lies the point; for if, as he declares, you have this gift of
[230]      temperance already, and are temperate enough, in that case you have no need
[231]      of any charms, whether of Zamolxis or of Abaris the Hyperborean, and I may
[232]      as well let you have the cure of the head at once; but if you have not yet
[233]      acquired this quality, I must use the charm before I give you the medicine.
[234]      Please, therefore, to inform me whether you admit the truth of what Critias
[235]      has been saying;--have you or have you not this quality of temperance?
[237]      Charmides blushed, and the blush heightened his beauty, for modesty is
[238]      becoming in youth; he then said very ingenuously, that he really could not
[239]      at once answer, either yes, or no, to the question which I had asked: For,
[240]      said he, if I affirm that I am not temperate, that would be a strange thing
[241]      for me to say of myself, and also I should give the lie to Critias, and
[242]      many others who think as he tells you, that I am temperate: but, on the
[243]      other hand, if I say that I am, I shall have to praise myself, which would
[244]      be ill manners; and therefore I do not know how to answer you.
[246]      I said to him: That is a natural reply, Charmides, and I think that you
[247]      and I ought together to enquire whether you have this quality about which I
[248]      am asking or not; and then you will not be compelled to say what you do not
[249]      like; neither shall I be a rash practitioner of medicine: therefore, if
[250]      you please, I will share the enquiry with you, but I will not press you if
[251]      you would rather not.
[253]      There is nothing which I should like better, he said; and as far as I am
[254]      concerned you may proceed in the way which you think best.
[256]      I think, I said, that I had better begin by asking you a question; for if
[257]      temperance abides in you, you must have an opinion about her; she must give
[258]      some intimation of her nature and qualities, which may enable you to form a
[259]      notion of her. Is not that true?
[261]      Yes, he said, that I think is true.
[263]      You know your native language, I said, and therefore you must be able to
[264]      tell what you feel about this.
[266]      Certainly, he said.
[268]      In order, then, that I may form a conjecture whether you have temperance
[269]      abiding in you or not, tell me, I said, what, in your opinion, is
[270]      Temperance?
[272]      At first he hesitated, and was very unwilling to answer: then he said that
[273]      he thought temperance was doing things orderly and quietly, such things for
[274]      example as walking in the streets, and talking, or anything else of that
[275]      nature. In a word, he said, I should answer that, in my opinion,
[276]      temperance is quietness.
[278]      Are you right, Charmides? I said. No doubt some would affirm that the
[279]      quiet are the temperate; but let us see whether these words have any
[280]      meaning; and first tell me whether you would not acknowledge temperance to
[281]      be of the class of the noble and good?
[283]      Yes.
[285]      But which is best when you are at the writing-master's, to write the same
[286]      letters quickly or quietly?
[288]      Quickly.
[290]      And to read quickly or slowly?
[292]      Quickly again.
[294]      And in playing the lyre, or wrestling, quickness or sharpness are far
[295]      better than quietness and slowness?
[297]      Yes.
[299]      And the same holds in boxing and in the pancratium?
[301]      Certainly.
[303]      And in leaping and running and in bodily exercises generally, quickness and
[304]      agility are good; slowness, and inactivity, and quietness, are bad?
[306]      That is evident.
[308]      Then, I said, in all bodily actions, not quietness, but the greatest
[309]      agility and quickness, is noblest and best?
[311]      Yes, certainly.
[313]      And is temperance a good?
[315]      Yes.
[317]      Then, in reference to the body, not quietness, but quickness will be the
[318]      higher degree of temperance, if temperance is a good?
[320]      True, he said.
[322]      And which, I said, is better--facility in learning, or difficulty in
[323]      learning?
[325]      Facility.
[327]      Yes, I said; and facility in learning is learning quickly, and difficulty
[328]      in learning is learning quietly and slowly?
[330]      True.
[332]      And is it not better to teach another quickly and energetically, rather
[333]      than quietly and slowly?
[335]      Yes.
[337]      And which is better, to call to mind, and to remember, quickly and readily,
[338]      or quietly and slowly?
[340]      The former.
[342]      And is not shrewdness a quickness or cleverness of the soul, and not a
[343]      quietness?
[345]      True.
[347]      And is it not best to understand what is said, whether at the writing-
[348]      master's or the music-master's, or anywhere else, not as quietly as
[349]      possible, but as quickly as possible?
[351]      Yes.
[353]      And in the searchings or deliberations of the soul, not the quietest, as I
[354]      imagine, and he who with difficulty deliberates and discovers, is thought
[355]      worthy of praise, but he who does so most easily and quickly?
[357]      Quite true, he said.
[359]      And in all that concerns either body or soul, swiftness and activity are
[360]      clearly better than slowness and quietness?
[362]      Clearly they are.
[364]      Then temperance is not quietness, nor is the temperate life quiet,--
[365]      certainly not upon this view; for the life which is temperate is supposed
[366]      to be the good. And of two things, one is true,--either never, or very
[367]      seldom, do the quiet actions in life appear to be better than the quick and
[368]      energetic ones; or supposing that of the nobler actions, there are as many
[369]      quiet, as quick and vehement: still, even if we grant this, temperance
[370]      will not be acting quietly any more than acting quickly and energetically,
[371]      either in walking or talking or in anything else; nor will the quiet life
[372]      be more temperate than the unquiet, seeing that temperance is admitted by
[373]      us to be a good and noble thing, and the quick have been shown to be as
[374]      good as the quiet.
[376]      I think, he said, Socrates, that you are right.
[378]      Then once more, Charmides, I said, fix your attention, and look within;
[379]      consider the effect which temperance has upon yourself, and the nature of
[380]      that which has the effect. Think over all this, and, like a brave youth,
[381]      tell me--What is temperance?
[383]      After a moment's pause, in which he made a real manly effort to think, he
[384]      said: My opinion is, Socrates, that temperance makes a man ashamed or
[385]      modest, and that temperance is the same as modesty.
[387]      Very good, I said; and did you not admit, just now, that temperance is
[388]      noble?
[390]      Yes, certainly, he said.
[392]      And the temperate are also good?
[394]      Yes.
[396]      And can that be good which does not make men good?
[398]      Certainly not.
[400]      And you would infer that temperance is not only noble, but also good?
[402]      That is my opinion.
[404]      Well, I said; but surely you would agree with Homer when he says,
[406]      'Modesty is not good for a needy man'?
[408]      Yes, he said; I agree.
[410]      Then I suppose that modesty is and is not good?
[412]      Clearly.
[414]      But temperance, whose presence makes men only good, and not bad, is always
[415]      good?
[417]      That appears to me to be as you say.
[419]      And the inference is that temperance cannot be modesty--if temperance is a
[420]      good, and if modesty is as much an evil as a good?
[422]      All that, Socrates, appears to me to be true; but I should like to know
[423]      what you think about another definition of temperance, which I just now
[424]      remember to have heard from some one, who said, 'That temperance is doing
[425]      our own business.' Was he right who affirmed that?
[427]      You monster! I said; this is what Critias, or some philosopher has told
[428]      you.
[430]      Some one else, then, said Critias; for certainly I have not.
[432]      But what matter, said Charmides, from whom I heard this?
[434]      No matter at all, I replied; for the point is not who said the words, but
[435]      whether they are true or not.
[437]      There you are in the right, Socrates, he replied.
[439]      To be sure, I said; yet I doubt whether we shall ever be able to discover
[440]      their truth or falsehood; for they are a kind of riddle.
[442]      What makes you think so? he said.
[444]      Because, I said, he who uttered them seems to me to have meant one thing,
[445]      and said another. Is the scribe, for example, to be regarded as doing
[446]      nothing when he reads or writes?
[448]      I should rather think that he was doing something.
[450]      And does the scribe write or read, or teach you boys to write or read, your
[451]      own names only, or did you write your enemies' names as well as your own
[452]      and your friends'?
[454]      As much one as the other.
[456]      And was there anything meddling or intemperate in this?
[458]      Certainly not.
[460]      And yet if reading and writing are the same as doing, you were doing what
[461]      was not your own business?
[463]      But they are the same as doing.
[465]      And the healing art, my friend, and building, and weaving, and doing
[466]      anything whatever which is done by art,--these all clearly come under the
[467]      head of doing?
[469]      Certainly.
[471]      And do you think that a state would be well ordered by a law which
[472]      compelled every man to weave and wash his own coat, and make his own shoes,
[473]      and his own flask and strigil, and other implements, on this principle of
[474]      every one doing and performing his own, and abstaining from what is not his
[475]      own?
[477]      I think not, he said.
[479]      But, I said, a temperate state will be a well-ordered state.
[481]      Of course, he replied.
[483]      Then temperance, I said, will not be doing one's own business; not at least
[484]      in this way, or doing things of this sort?
[486]      Clearly not.
[488]      Then, as I was just now saying, he who declared that temperance is a man
[489]      doing his own business had another and a hidden meaning; for I do not think
[490]      that he could have been such a fool as to mean this. Was he a fool who
[491]      told you, Charmides?
[493]      Nay, he replied, I certainly thought him a very wise man.
[495]      Then I am quite certain that he put forth his definition as a riddle,
[496]      thinking that no one would know the meaning of the words 'doing his own
[497]      business.'
[499]      I dare say, he replied.
[501]      And what is the meaning of a man doing his own business? Can you tell me?
[503]      Indeed, I cannot; and I should not wonder if the man himself who used this
[504]      phrase did not understand what he was saying. Whereupon he laughed slyly,
[505]      and looked at Critias.
[507]      Critias had long been showing uneasiness, for he felt that he had a
[508]      reputation to maintain with Charmides and the rest of the company. He had,
[509]      however, hitherto managed to restrain himself; but now he could no longer
[510]      forbear, and I am convinced of the truth of the suspicion which I
[511]      entertained at the time, that Charmides had heard this answer about
[512]      temperance from Critias. And Charmides, who did not want to answer
[513]      himself, but to make Critias answer, tried to stir him up. He went on
[514]      pointing out that he had been refuted, at which Critias grew angry, and
[515]      appeared, as I thought, inclined to quarrel with him; just as a poet might
[516]      quarrel with an actor who spoiled his poems in repeating them; so he looked
[517]      hard at him and said--
[519]      Do you imagine, Charmides, that the author of this definition of temperance
[520]      did not understand the meaning of his own words, because you do not
[521]      understand them?
[523]      Why, at his age, I said, most excellent Critias, he can hardly be expected
[524]      to understand; but you, who are older, and have studied, may well be
[525]      assumed to know the meaning of them; and therefore, if you agree with him,
[526]      and accept his definition of temperance, I would much rather argue with you
[527]      than with him about the truth or falsehood of the definition.
[529]      I entirely agree, said Critias, and accept the definition.
[531]      Very good, I said; and now let me repeat my question--Do you admit, as I
[532]      was just now saying, that all craftsmen make or do something?
[534]      I do.
[536]      And do they make or do their own business only, or that of others also?
[538]      They make or do that of others also.
[540]      And are they temperate, seeing that they make not for themselves or their
[541]      own business only?
[543]      Why not? he said.
[545]      No objection on my part, I said, but there may be a difficulty on his who
[546]      proposes as a definition of temperance, 'doing one's own business,' and
[547]      then says that there is no reason why those who do the business of others
[548]      should not be temperate.
[550]      Nay (The English reader has to observe that the word 'make' (Greek), in
[551]      Greek, has also the sense of 'do' (Greek).), said he; did I ever
[552]      acknowledge that those who do the business of others are temperate? I
[553]      said, those who make, not those who do.
[555]      What! I asked; do you mean to say that doing and making are not the same?
[557]      No more, he replied, than making or working are the same; thus much I have
[558]      learned from Hesiod, who says that 'work is no disgrace.' Now do you
[559]      imagine that if he had meant by working and doing such things as you were
[560]      describing, he would have said that there was no disgrace in them--for
[561]      example, in the manufacture of shoes, or in selling pickles, or sitting for
[562]      hire in a house of ill-fame? That, Socrates, is not to be supposed: but I
[563]      conceive him to have distinguished making from doing and work; and, while
[564]      admitting that the making anything might sometimes become a disgrace, when
[565]      the employment was not honourable, to have thought that work was never any
[566]      disgrace at all. For things nobly and usefully made he called works; and
[567]      such makings he called workings, and doings; and he must be supposed to
[568]      have called such things only man's proper business, and what is hurtful,
[569]      not his business: and in that sense Hesiod, and any other wise man, may be
[570]      reasonably supposed to call him wise who does his own work.
[572]      O Critias, I said, no sooner had you opened your mouth, than I pretty well
[573]      knew that you would call that which is proper to a man, and that which is
[574]      his own, good; and that the makings (Greek) of the good you would call
[575]      doings (Greek), for I am no stranger to the endless distinctions which
[576]      Prodicus draws about names. Now I have no objection to your giving names
[577]      any signification which you please, if you will only tell me what you mean
[578]      by them. Please then to begin again, and be a little plainer. Do you mean
[579]      that this doing or making, or whatever is the word which you would use, of
[580]      good actions, is temperance?
[582]      I do, he said.
[584]      Then not he who does evil, but he who does good, is temperate?
[586]      Yes, he said; and you, friend, would agree.
[588]      No matter whether I should or not; just now, not what I think, but what you
[589]      are saying, is the point at issue.
[591]      Well, he answered; I mean to say, that he who does evil, and not good, is
[592]      not temperate; and that he is temperate who does good, and not evil: for
[593]      temperance I define in plain words to be the doing of good actions.
[595]      And you may be very likely right in what you are saying; but I am curious
[596]      to know whether you imagine that temperate men are ignorant of their own
[597]      temperance?
[599]      I do not think so, he said.
[601]      And yet were you not saying, just now, that craftsmen might be temperate in
[602]      doing another's work, as well as in doing their own?
[604]      I was, he replied; but what is your drift?
[606]      I have no particular drift, but I wish that you would tell me whether a
[607]      physician who cures a patient may do good to himself and good to another
[608]      also?
[610]      I think that he may.
[612]      And he who does so does his duty?
[614]      Yes.
[616]      And does not he who does his duty act temperately or wisely?
[618]      Yes, he acts wisely.
[620]      But must the physician necessarily know when his treatment is likely to
[621]      prove beneficial, and when not? or must the craftsman necessarily know when
[622]      he is likely to be benefited, and when not to be benefited, by the work
[623]      which he is doing?
[625]      I suppose not.
[627]      Then, I said, he may sometimes do good or harm, and not know what he is
[628]      himself doing, and yet, in doing good, as you say, he has done temperately
[629]      or wisely. Was not that your statement?
[631]      Yes.
[633]      Then, as would seem, in doing good, he may act wisely or temperately, and
[634]      be wise or temperate, but not know his own wisdom or temperance?
[636]      But that, Socrates, he said, is impossible; and therefore if this is, as
[637]      you imply, the necessary consequence of any of my previous admissions, I
[638]      will withdraw them, rather than admit that a man can be temperate or wise
[639]      who does not know himself; and I am not ashamed to confess that I was in
[640]      error. For self-knowledge would certainly be maintained by me to be the
[641]      very essence of knowledge, and in this I agree with him who dedicated the
[642]      inscription, 'Know thyself!' at Delphi. That word, if I am not mistaken,
[643]      is put there as a sort of salutation which the god addresses to those who
[644]      enter the temple; as much as to say that the ordinary salutation of 'Hail!'
[645]      is not right, and that the exhortation 'Be temperate!' would be a far
[646]      better way of saluting one another. The notion of him who dedicated the
[647]      inscription was, as I believe, that the god speaks to those who enter his
[648]      temple, not as men speak; but, when a worshipper enters, the first word
[649]      which he hears is 'Be temperate!' This, however, like a prophet he
[650]      expresses in a sort of riddle, for 'Know thyself!' and 'Be temperate!' are
[651]      the same, as I maintain, and as the letters imply (Greek), and yet they may
[652]      be easily misunderstood; and succeeding sages who added 'Never too much,'
[653]      or, 'Give a pledge, and evil is nigh at hand,' would appear to have so
[654]      misunderstood them; for they imagined that 'Know thyself!' was a piece of
[655]      advice which the god gave, and not his salutation of the worshippers at
[656]      their first coming in; and they dedicated their own inscription under the
[657]      idea that they too would give equally useful pieces of advice. Shall I
[658]      tell you, Socrates, why I say all this? My object is to leave the previous
[659]      discussion (in which I know not whether you or I are more right, but, at
[660]      any rate, no clear result was attained), and to raise a new one in which I
[661]      will attempt to prove, if you deny, that temperance is self-knowledge.
[663]      Yes, I said, Critias; but you come to me as though I professed to know
[664]      about the questions which I ask, and as though I could, if I only would,
[665]      agree with you. Whereas the fact is that I enquire with you into the truth
[666]      of that which is advanced from time to time, just because I do not know;
[667]      and when I have enquired, I will say whether I agree with you or not.
[668]      Please then to allow me time to reflect.
[670]      Reflect, he said.
[672]      I am reflecting, I replied, and discover that temperance, or wisdom, if
[673]      implying a knowledge of anything, must be a science, and a science of
[674]      something.
[676]      Yes, he said; the science of itself.
[678]      Is not medicine, I said, the science of health?
[680]      True.
[682]      And suppose, I said, that I were asked by you what is the use or effect of
[683]      medicine, which is this science of health, I should answer that medicine is
[684]      of very great use in producing health, which, as you will admit, is an
[685]      excellent effect.
[687]      Granted.
[689]      And if you were to ask me, what is the result or effect of architecture,
[690]      which is the science of building, I should say houses, and so of other
[691]      arts, which all have their different results. Now I want you, Critias, to
[692]      answer a similar question about temperance, or wisdom, which, according to
[693]      you, is the science of itself. Admitting this view, I ask of you, what
[694]      good work, worthy of the name wise, does temperance or wisdom, which is the
[695]      science of itself, effect? Answer me.
[697]      That is not the true way of pursuing the enquiry, Socrates, he said; for
[698]      wisdom is not like the other sciences, any more than they are like one
[699]      another: but you proceed as if they were alike. For tell me, he said,
[700]      what result is there of computation or geometry, in the same sense as a
[701]      house is the result of building, or a garment of weaving, or any other work
[702]      of any other art? Can you show me any such result of them? You cannot.
[704]      That is true, I said; but still each of these sciences has a subject which
[705]      is different from the science. I can show you that the art of computation
[706]      has to do with odd and even numbers in their numerical relations to
[707]      themselves and to each other. Is not that true?
[709]      Yes, he said.
[711]      And the odd and even numbers are not the same with the art of computation?
[713]      They are not.
[715]      The art of weighing, again, has to do with lighter and heavier; but the art
[716]      of weighing is one thing, and the heavy and the light another. Do you
[717]      admit that?
[719]      Yes.
[721]      Now, I want to know, what is that which is not wisdom, and of which wisdom
[722]      is the science?
[724]      You are just falling into the old error, Socrates, he said. You come
[725]      asking in what wisdom or temperance differs from the other sciences, and
[726]      then you try to discover some respect in which they are alike; but they are
[727]      not, for all the other sciences are of something else, and not of
[728]      themselves; wisdom alone is a science of other sciences, and of itself.
[729]      And of this, as I believe, you are very well aware: and that you are only
[730]      doing what you denied that you were doing just now, trying to refute me,
[731]      instead of pursuing the argument.
[733]      And what if I am? How can you think that I have any other motive in
[734]      refuting you but what I should have in examining into myself? which motive
[735]      would be just a fear of my unconsciously fancying that I knew something of
[736]      which I was ignorant. And at this moment I pursue the argument chiefly for
[737]      my own sake, and perhaps in some degree also for the sake of my other
[738]      friends. For is not the discovery of things as they truly are, a good
[739]      common to all mankind?
[741]      Yes, certainly, Socrates, he said.
[743]      Then, I said, be cheerful, sweet sir, and give your opinion in answer to
[744]      the question which I asked, never minding whether Critias or Socrates is
[745]      the person refuted; attend only to the argument, and see what will come of
[746]      the refutation.
[748]      I think that you are right, he replied; and I will do as you say.
[750]      Tell me, then, I said, what you mean to affirm about wisdom.
[752]      I mean to say that wisdom is the only science which is the science of
[753]      itself as well as of the other sciences.
[755]      But the science of science, I said, will also be the science of the absence
[756]      of science.
[758]      Very true, he said.
[760]      Then the wise or temperate man, and he only, will know himself, and be able
[761]      to examine what he knows or does not know, and to see what others know and
[762]      think that they know and do really know; and what they do not know, and
[763]      fancy that they know, when they do not. No other person will be able to do
[764]      this. And this is wisdom and temperance and self-knowledge--for a man to
[765]      know what he knows, and what he does not know. That is your meaning?
[767]      Yes, he said.
[769]      Now then, I said, making an offering of the third or last argument to Zeus
[770]      the Saviour, let us begin again, and ask, in the first place, whether it is
[771]      or is not possible for a person to know that he knows and does not know
[772]      what he knows and does not know; and in the second place, whether, if
[773]      perfectly possible, such knowledge is of any use.
[775]      That is what we have to consider, he said.
[777]      And here, Critias, I said, I hope that you will find a way out of a
[778]      difficulty into which I have got myself. Shall I tell you the nature of
[779]      the difficulty?
[781]      By all means, he replied.
[783]      Does not what you have been saying, if true, amount to this: that there
[784]      must be a single science which is wholly a science of itself and of other
[785]      sciences, and that the same is also the science of the absence of science?
[787]      Yes.
[789]      But consider how monstrous this proposition is, my friend: in any parallel
[790]      case, the impossibility will be transparent to you.
[792]      How is that? and in what cases do you mean?
[794]      In such cases as this: Suppose that there is a kind of vision which is not
[795]      like ordinary vision, but a vision of itself and of other sorts of vision,
[796]      and of the defect of them, which in seeing sees no colour, but only itself
[797]      and other sorts of vision: Do you think that there is such a kind of
[798]      vision?
[800]      Certainly not.
[802]      Or is there a kind of hearing which hears no sound at all, but only itself
[803]      and other sorts of hearing, or the defects of them?
[805]      There is not.
[807]      Or take all the senses: can you imagine that there is any sense of itself
[808]      and of other senses, but which is incapable of perceiving the objects of
[809]      the senses?
[811]      I think not.
[813]      Could there be any desire which is not the desire of any pleasure, but of
[814]      itself, and of all other desires?
[816]      Certainly not.
[818]      Or can you imagine a wish which wishes for no good, but only for itself and
[819]      all other wishes?
[821]      I should answer, No.
[823]      Or would you say that there is a love which is not the love of beauty, but
[824]      of itself and of other loves?
[826]      I should not.
[828]      Or did you ever know of a fear which fears itself or other fears, but has
[829]      no object of fear?
[831]      I never did, he said.
[833]      Or of an opinion which is an opinion of itself and of other opinions, and
[834]      which has no opinion on the subjects of opinion in general?
[836]      Certainly not.
[838]      But surely we are assuming a science of this kind, which, having no
[839]      subject-matter, is a science of itself and of the other sciences?
[841]      Yes, that is what is affirmed.
[843]      But how strange is this, if it be indeed true: we must not however as yet
[844]      absolutely deny the possibility of such a science; let us rather consider
[845]      the matter.
[847]      You are quite right.
[849]      Well then, this science of which we are speaking is a science of something,
[850]      and is of a nature to be a science of something?
[852]      Yes.
[854]      Just as that which is greater is of a nature to be greater than something
[855]      else? (Socrates is intending to show that science differs from the object
[856]      of science, as any other relative differs from the object of relation. But
[857]      where there is comparison--greater, less, heavier, lighter, and the like--a
[858]      relation to self as well as to other things involves an absolute
[859]      contradiction; and in other cases, as in the case of the senses, is hardly
[860]      conceivable. The use of the genitive after the comparative in Greek,
[861]      (Greek), creates an unavoidable obscurity in the translation.)
[863]      Yes.
[865]      Which is less, if the other is conceived to be greater?
[867]      To be sure.
[869]      And if we could find something which is at once greater than itself, and
[870]      greater than other great things, but not greater than those things in
[871]      comparison of which the others are greater, then that thing would have the
[872]      property of being greater and also less than itself?
[874]      That, Socrates, he said, is the inevitable inference.
[876]      Or if there be a double which is double of itself and of other doubles,
[877]      these will be halves; for the double is relative to the half?
[879]      That is true.
[881]      And that which is greater than itself will also be less, and that which is
[882]      heavier will also be lighter, and that which is older will also be younger:
[883]      and the same of other things; that which has a nature relative to self will
[884]      retain also the nature of its object: I mean to say, for example, that
[885]      hearing is, as we say, of sound or voice. Is that true?
[887]      Yes.
[889]      Then if hearing hears itself, it must hear a voice; for there is no other
[890]      way of hearing.
[892]      Certainly.
[894]      And sight also, my excellent friend, if it sees itself must see a colour,
[895]      for sight cannot see that which has no colour.
[897]      No.
[899]      Do you remark, Critias, that in several of the examples which have been
[900]      recited the notion of a relation to self is altogether inadmissible, and in
[901]      other cases hardly credible--inadmissible, for example, in the case of
[902]      magnitudes, numbers, and the like?
[904]      Very true.
[906]      But in the case of hearing and sight, or in the power of self-motion, and
[907]      the power of heat to burn, this relation to self will be regarded as
[908]      incredible by some, but perhaps not by others. And some great man, my
[909]      friend, is wanted, who will satisfactorily determine for us, whether there
[910]      is nothing which has an inherent property of relation to self, or some
[911]      things only and not others; and whether in this class of self-related
[912]      things, if there be such a class, that science which is called wisdom or
[913]      temperance is included. I altogether distrust my own power of determining
[914]      these matters: I am not certain whether there is such a science of science
[915]      at all; and even if there be, I should not acknowledge this to be wisdom or
[916]      temperance, until I can also see whether such a science would or would not
[917]      do us any good; for I have an impression that temperance is a benefit and a
[918]      good. And therefore, O son of Callaeschrus, as you maintain that
[919]      temperance or wisdom is a science of science, and also of the absence of
[920]      science, I will request you to show in the first place, as I was saying
[921]      before, the possibility, and in the second place, the advantage, of such a
[922]      science; and then perhaps you may satisfy me that you are right in your
[923]      view of temperance.
[925]      Critias heard me say this, and saw that I was in a difficulty; and as one
[926]      person when another yawns in his presence catches the infection of yawning
[927]      from him, so did he seem to be driven into a difficulty by my difficulty.
[928]      But as he had a reputation to maintain, he was ashamed to admit before the
[929]      company that he could not answer my challenge or determine the question at
[930]      issue; and he made an unintelligible attempt to hide his perplexity. In
[931]      order that the argument might proceed, I said to him, Well then Critias, if
[932]      you like, let us assume that there is this science of science; whether the
[933]      assumption is right or wrong may hereafter be investigated. Admitting the
[934]      existence of it, will you tell me how such a science enables us to
[935]      distinguish what we know or do not know, which, as we were saying, is
[936]      self-knowledge or wisdom: so we were saying?
[938]      Yes, Socrates, he said; and that I think is certainly true: for he who has
[939]      this science or knowledge which knows itself will become like the knowledge
[940]      which he has, in the same way that he who has swiftness will be swift, and
[941]      he who has beauty will be beautiful, and he who has knowledge will know.
[942]      In the same way he who has that knowledge which is self-knowing, will know
[943]      himself.
[945]      I do not doubt, I said, that a man will know himself, when he possesses
[946]      that which has self-knowledge: but what necessity is there that, having
[947]      this, he should know what he knows and what he does not know?
[949]      Because, Socrates, they are the same.
[951]      Very likely, I said; but I remain as stupid as ever; for still I fail to
[952]      comprehend how this knowing what you know and do not know is the same as
[953]      the knowledge of self.
[955]      What do you mean? he said.
[957]      This is what I mean, I replied: I will admit that there is a science of
[958]      science;--can this do more than determine that of two things one is and the
[959]      other is not science or knowledge?
[961]      No, just that.
[963]      But is knowledge or want of knowledge of health the same as knowledge or
[964]      want of knowledge of justice?
[966]      Certainly not.
[968]      The one is medicine, and the other is politics; whereas that of which we
[969]      are speaking is knowledge pure and simple.
[971]      Very true.
[973]      And if a man knows only, and has only knowledge of knowledge, and has no
[974]      further knowledge of health and justice, the probability is that he will
[975]      only know that he knows something, and has a certain knowledge, whether
[976]      concerning himself or other men.
[978]      True.
[980]      Then how will this knowledge or science teach him to know what he knows?
[981]      Say that he knows health;--not wisdom or temperance, but the art of
[982]      medicine has taught it to him;--and he has learned harmony from the art of
[983]      music, and building from the art of building,--neither, from wisdom or
[984]      temperance: and the same of other things.
[986]      That is evident.
[988]      How will wisdom, regarded only as a knowledge of knowledge or science of
[989]      science, ever teach him that he knows health, or that he knows building?
[991]      It is impossible.
[993]      Then he who is ignorant of these things will only know that he knows, but
[994]      not what he knows?
[996]      True.
[998]      Then wisdom or being wise appears to be not the knowledge of the things
[999]      which we do or do not know, but only the knowledge that we know or do not
[1000]     know?
[1002]     That is the inference.
[1004]     Then he who has this knowledge will not be able to examine whether a
[1005]     pretender knows or does not know that which he says that he knows: he will
[1006]     only know that he has a knowledge of some kind; but wisdom will not show
[1007]     him of what the knowledge is?
[1009]     Plainly not.
[1011]     Neither will he be able to distinguish the pretender in medicine from the
[1012]     true physician, nor between any other true and false professor of
[1013]     knowledge. Let us consider the matter in this way: If the wise man or any
[1014]     other man wants to distinguish the true physician from the false, how will
[1015]     he proceed? He will not talk to him about medicine; and that, as we were
[1016]     saying, is the only thing which the physician understands.
[1018]     True.
[1020]     And, on the other hand, the physician knows nothing of science, for this
[1021]     has been assumed to be the province of wisdom.
[1023]     True.
[1025]     And further, since medicine is science, we must infer that he does not know
[1026]     anything of medicine.
[1028]     Exactly.
[1030]     Then the wise man may indeed know that the physician has some kind of
[1031]     science or knowledge; but when he wants to discover the nature of this he
[1032]     will ask, What is the subject-matter? For the several sciences are
[1033]     distinguished not by the mere fact that they are sciences, but by the
[1034]     nature of their subjects. Is not that true?
[1036]     Quite true.
[1038]     And medicine is distinguished from other sciences as having the subject-
[1039]     matter of health and disease?
[1041]     Yes.
[1043]     And he who would enquire into the nature of medicine must pursue the
[1044]     enquiry into health and disease, and not into what is extraneous?
[1046]     True.
[1048]     And he who judges rightly will judge of the physician as a physician in
[1049]     what relates to these?
[1051]     He will.
[1053]     He will consider whether what he says is true, and whether what he does is
[1054]     right, in relation to health and disease?
[1056]     He will.
[1058]     But can any one attain the knowledge of either unless he have a knowledge
[1059]     of medicine?
[1061]     He cannot.
[1063]     No one at all, it would seem, except the physician can have this knowledge;
[1064]     and therefore not the wise man; he would have to be a physician as well as
[1065]     a wise man.
[1067]     Very true.
[1069]     Then, assuredly, wisdom or temperance, if only a science of science, and of
[1070]     the absence of science or knowledge, will not be able to distinguish the
[1071]     physician who knows from one who does not know but pretends or thinks that
[1072]     he knows, or any other professor of anything at all; like any other artist,
[1073]     he will only know his fellow in art or wisdom, and no one else.
[1075]     That is evident, he said.
[1077]     But then what profit, Critias, I said, is there any longer in wisdom or
[1078]     temperance which yet remains, if this is wisdom? If, indeed, as we were
[1079]     supposing at first, the wise man had been able to distinguish what he knew
[1080]     and did not know, and that he knew the one and did not know the other, and
[1081]     to recognize a similar faculty of discernment in others, there would
[1082]     certainly have been a great advantage in being wise; for then we should
[1083]     never have made a mistake, but have passed through life the unerring guides
[1084]     of ourselves and of those who are under us; and we should not have
[1085]     attempted to do what we did not know, but we should have found out those
[1086]     who knew, and have handed the business over to them and trusted in them;
[1087]     nor should we have allowed those who were under us to do anything which
[1088]     they were not likely to do well; and they would be likely to do well just
[1089]     that of which they had knowledge; and the house or state which was ordered
[1090]     or administered under the guidance of wisdom, and everything else of which
[1091]     wisdom was the lord, would have been well ordered; for truth guiding, and
[1092]     error having been eliminated, in all their doings, men would have done
[1093]     well, and would have been happy. Was not this, Critias, what we spoke of
[1094]     as the great advantage of wisdom--to know what is known and what is unknown
[1095]     to us?
[1097]     Very true, he said.
[1099]     And now you perceive, I said, that no such science is to be found anywhere.
[1101]     I perceive, he said.
[1103]     May we assume then, I said, that wisdom, viewed in this new light merely as
[1104]     a knowledge of knowledge and ignorance, has this advantage:--that he who
[1105]     possesses such knowledge will more easily learn anything which he learns;
[1106]     and that everything will be clearer to him, because, in addition to the
[1107]     knowledge of individuals, he sees the science, and this also will better
[1108]     enable him to test the knowledge which others have of what he knows
[1109]     himself; whereas the enquirer who is without this knowledge may be supposed
[1110]     to have a feebler and weaker insight? Are not these, my friend, the real
[1111]     advantages which are to be gained from wisdom? And are not we looking and
[1112]     seeking after something more than is to be found in her?
[1114]     That is very likely, he said.
[1116]     That is very likely, I said; and very likely, too, we have been enquiring
[1117]     to no purpose; as I am led to infer, because I observe that if this is
[1118]     wisdom, some strange consequences would follow. Let us, if you please,
[1119]     assume the possibility of this science of sciences, and further admit and
[1120]     allow, as was originally suggested, that wisdom is the knowledge of what we
[1121]     know and do not know. Assuming all this, still, upon further
[1122]     consideration, I am doubtful, Critias, whether wisdom, such as this, would
[1123]     do us much good. For we were wrong, I think, in supposing, as we were
[1124]     saying just now, that such wisdom ordering the government of house or state
[1125]     would be a great benefit.
[1127]     How so? he said.
[1129]     Why, I said, we were far too ready to admit the great benefits which
[1130]     mankind would obtain from their severally doing the things which they knew,
[1131]     and committing the things of which they are ignorant to those who were
[1132]     better acquainted with them.
[1134]     Were we not right in making that admission?
[1136]     I think not.
[1138]     How very strange, Socrates!
[1140]     By the dog of Egypt, I said, there I agree with you; and I was thinking as
[1141]     much just now when I said that strange consequences would follow, and that
[1142]     I was afraid we were on the wrong track; for however ready we may be to
[1143]     admit that this is wisdom, I certainly cannot make out what good this sort
[1144]     of thing does to us.
[1146]     What do you mean? he said; I wish that you could make me understand what
[1147]     you mean.
[1149]     I dare say that what I am saying is nonsense, I replied; and yet if a man
[1150]     has any feeling of what is due to himself, he cannot let the thought which
[1151]     comes into his mind pass away unheeded and unexamined.
[1153]     I like that, he said.
[1155]     Hear, then, I said, my own dream; whether coming through the horn or the
[1156]     ivory gate, I cannot tell. The dream is this: Let us suppose that wisdom
[1157]     is such as we are now defining, and that she has absolute sway over us;
[1158]     then each action will be done according to the arts or sciences, and no one
[1159]     professing to be a pilot when he is not, or any physician or general, or
[1160]     any one else pretending to know matters of which he is ignorant, will
[1161]     deceive or elude us; our health will be improved; our safety at sea, and
[1162]     also in battle, will be assured; our coats and shoes, and all other
[1163]     instruments and implements will be skilfully made, because the workmen will
[1164]     be good and true. Aye, and if you please, you may suppose that prophecy,
[1165]     which is the knowledge of the future, will be under the control of wisdom,
[1166]     and that she will deter deceivers and set up the true prophets in their
[1167]     place as the revealers of the future. Now I quite agree that mankind, thus
[1168]     provided, would live and act according to knowledge, for wisdom would watch
[1169]     and prevent ignorance from intruding on us. But whether by acting
[1170]     according to knowledge we shall act well and be happy, my dear Critias,--
[1171]     this