Theaetetus by Plato
Theaetetus

Plato Theaetetus

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[1]        
[2]        PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates, Theodorus, Theaetetus.
[3]        
[4]        Euclid and Terpsion meet in front of Euclid's house in Megara; they enter
[5]        the house, and the dialogue is read to them by a servant.
[6]        
[7]        
[8]        EUCLID: Have you only just arrived from the country, Terpsion?
[9]        
[10]       TERPSION: No, I came some time ago: and I have been in the Agora looking
[11]       for you, and wondering that I could not find you.
[12]       
[13]       EUCLID: But I was not in the city.
[14]       
[15]       TERPSION: Where then?
[16]       
[17]       EUCLID: As I was going down to the harbour, I met Theaetetus--he was being
[18]       carried up to Athens from the army at Corinth.
[19]       
[20]       TERPSION: Was he alive or dead?
[21]       
[22]       EUCLID: He was scarcely alive, for he has been badly wounded; but he was
[23]       suffering even more from the sickness which has broken out in the army.
[24]       
[25]       TERPSION: The dysentery, you mean?
[26]       
[27]       EUCLID: Yes.
[28]       
[29]       TERPSION: Alas! what a loss he will be!
[30]       
[31]       EUCLID: Yes, Terpsion, he is a noble fellow; only to-day I heard some
[32]       people highly praising his behaviour in this very battle.
[33]       
[34]       TERPSION: No wonder; I should rather be surprised at hearing anything else
[35]       of him. But why did he go on, instead of stopping at Megara?
[36]       
[37]       EUCLID: He wanted to get home: although I entreated and advised him to
[38]       remain, he would not listen to me; so I set him on his way, and turned
[39]       back, and then I remembered what Socrates had said of him, and thought how
[40]       remarkably this, like all his predictions, had been fulfilled. I believe
[41]       that he had seen him a little before his own death, when Theaetetus was a
[42]       youth, and he had a memorable conversation with him, which he repeated to
[43]       me when I came to Athens; he was full of admiration of his genius, and said
[44]       that he would most certainly be a great man, if he lived.
[45]       
[46]       TERPSION: The prophecy has certainly been fulfilled; but what was the
[47]       conversation? can you tell me?
[48]       
[49]       EUCLID: No, indeed, not offhand; but I took notes of it as soon as I got
[50]       home; these I filled up from memory, writing them out at leisure; and
[51]       whenever I went to Athens, I asked Socrates about any point which I had
[52]       forgotten, and on my return I made corrections; thus I have nearly the
[53]       whole conversation written down.
[54]       
[55]       TERPSION: I remember--you told me; and I have always been intending to ask
[56]       you to show me the writing, but have put off doing so; and now, why should
[57]       we not read it through?--having just come from the country, I should
[58]       greatly like to rest.
[59]       
[60]       EUCLID: I too shall be very glad of a rest, for I went with Theaetetus as
[61]       far as Erineum. Let us go in, then, and, while we are reposing, the
[62]       servant shall read to us.
[63]       
[64]       TERPSION: Very good.
[65]       
[66]       EUCLID: Here is the roll, Terpsion; I may observe that I have introduced
[67]       Socrates, not as narrating to me, but as actually conversing with the
[68]       persons whom he mentioned--these were, Theodorus the geometrician (of
[69]       Cyrene), and Theaetetus. I have omitted, for the sake of convenience, the
[70]       interlocutory words 'I said,' 'I remarked,' which he used when he spoke of
[71]       himself, and again, 'he agreed,' or 'disagreed,' in the answer, lest the
[72]       repetition of them should be troublesome.
[73]       
[74]       TERPSION: Quite right, Euclid.
[75]       
[76]       EUCLID: And now, boy, you may take the roll and read.
[77]       
[78]       EUCLID'S SERVANT READS.
[79]       
[80]       SOCRATES: If I cared enough about the Cyrenians, Theodorus, I would ask
[81]       you whether there are any rising geometricians or philosophers in that part
[82]       of the world. But I am more interested in our own Athenian youth, and I
[83]       would rather know who among them are likely to do well. I observe them as
[84]       far as I can myself, and I enquire of any one whom they follow, and I see
[85]       that a great many of them follow you, in which they are quite right,
[86]       considering your eminence in geometry and in other ways. Tell me then, if
[87]       you have met with any one who is good for anything.
[88]       
[89]       THEODORUS: Yes, Socrates, I have become acquainted with one very
[90]       remarkable Athenian youth, whom I commend to you as well worthy of your
[91]       attention. If he had been a beauty I should have been afraid to praise
[92]       him, lest you should suppose that I was in love with him; but he is no
[93]       beauty, and you must not be offended if I say that he is very like you; for
[94]       he has a snub nose and projecting eyes, although these features are less
[95]       marked in him than in you. Seeing, then, that he has no personal
[96]       attractions, I may freely say, that in all my acquaintance, which is very
[97]       large, I never knew any one who was his equal in natural gifts: for he has
[98]       a quickness of apprehension which is almost unrivalled, and he is
[99]       exceedingly gentle, and also the most courageous of men; there is a union
[100]      of qualities in him such as I have never seen in any other, and should
[101]      scarcely have thought possible; for those who, like him, have quick and
[102]      ready and retentive wits, have generally also quick tempers; they are ships
[103]      without ballast, and go darting about, and are mad rather than courageous;
[104]      and the steadier sort, when they have to face study, prove stupid and
[105]      cannot remember. Whereas he moves surely and smoothly and successfully in
[106]      the path of knowledge and enquiry; and he is full of gentleness, flowing on
[107]      silently like a river of oil; at his age, it is wonderful.
[108]      
[109]      SOCRATES: That is good news; whose son is he?
[110]      
[111]      THEODORUS: The name of his father I have forgotten, but the youth himself
[112]      is the middle one of those who are approaching us; he and his companions
[113]      have been anointing themselves in the outer court, and now they seem to
[114]      have finished, and are coming towards us. Look and see whether you know
[115]      him.
[116]      
[117]      SOCRATES: I know the youth, but I do not know his name; he is the son of
[118]      Euphronius the Sunian, who was himself an eminent man, and such another as
[119]      his son is, according to your account of him; I believe that he left a
[120]      considerable fortune.
[121]      
[122]      THEODORUS: Theaetetus, Socrates, is his name; but I rather think that the
[123]      property disappeared in the hands of trustees; notwithstanding which he is
[124]      wonderfully liberal.
[125]      
[126]      SOCRATES: He must be a fine fellow; tell him to come and sit by me.
[127]      
[128]      THEODORUS: I will. Come hither, Theaetetus, and sit by Socrates.
[129]      
[130]      SOCRATES: By all means, Theaetetus, in order that I may see the reflection
[131]      of myself in your face, for Theodorus says that we are alike; and yet if
[132]      each of us held in his hands a lyre, and he said that they were tuned
[133]      alike, should we at once take his word, or should we ask whether he who
[134]      said so was or was not a musician?
[135]      
[136]      THEAETETUS: We should ask.
[137]      
[138]      SOCRATES: And if we found that he was, we should take his word; and if
[139]      not, not?
[140]      
[141]      THEAETETUS: True.
[142]      
[143]      SOCRATES: And if this supposed likeness of our faces is a matter of any
[144]      interest to us, we should enquire whether he who says that we are alike is
[145]      a painter or not?
[146]      
[147]      THEAETETUS: Certainly we should.
[148]      
[149]      SOCRATES: And is Theodorus a painter?
[150]      
[151]      THEAETETUS: I never heard that he was.
[152]      
[153]      SOCRATES: Is he a geometrician?
[154]      
[155]      THEAETETUS: Of course he is, Socrates.
[156]      
[157]      SOCRATES: And is he an astronomer and calculator and musician, and in
[158]      general an educated man?
[159]      
[160]      THEAETETUS: I think so.
[161]      
[162]      SOCRATES: If, then, he remarks on a similarity in our persons, either by
[163]      way of praise or blame, there is no particular reason why we should attend
[164]      to him.
[165]      
[166]      THEAETETUS: I should say not.
[167]      
[168]      SOCRATES: But if he praises the virtue or wisdom which are the mental
[169]      endowments of either of us, then he who hears the praises will naturally
[170]      desire to examine him who is praised: and he again should be willing to
[171]      exhibit himself.
[172]      
[173]      THEAETETUS: Very true, Socrates.
[174]      
[175]      SOCRATES: Then now is the time, my dear Theaetetus, for me to examine, and
[176]      for you to exhibit; since although Theodorus has praised many a citizen and
[177]      stranger in my hearing, never did I hear him praise any one as he has been
[178]      praising you.
[179]      
[180]      THEAETETUS: I am glad to hear it, Socrates; but what if he was only in
[181]      jest?
[182]      
[183]      SOCRATES: Nay, Theodorus is not given to jesting; and I cannot allow you
[184]      to retract your consent on any such pretence as that. If you do, he will
[185]      have to swear to his words; and we are perfectly sure that no one will be
[186]      found to impugn him. Do not be shy then, but stand to your word.
[187]      
[188]      THEAETETUS: I suppose I must, if you wish it.
[189]      
[190]      SOCRATES: In the first place, I should like to ask what you learn of
[191]      Theodorus: something of geometry, perhaps?
[192]      
[193]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[194]      
[195]      SOCRATES: And astronomy and harmony and calculation?
[196]      
[197]      THEAETETUS: I do my best.
[198]      
[199]      SOCRATES: Yes, my boy, and so do I; and my desire is to learn of him, or
[200]      of anybody who seems to understand these things. And I get on pretty well
[201]      in general; but there is a little difficulty which I want you and the
[202]      company to aid me in investigating. Will you answer me a question: 'Is
[203]      not learning growing wiser about that which you learn?'
[204]      
[205]      THEAETETUS: Of course.
[206]      
[207]      SOCRATES: And by wisdom the wise are wise?
[208]      
[209]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[210]      
[211]      SOCRATES: And is that different in any way from knowledge?
[212]      
[213]      THEAETETUS: What?
[214]      
[215]      SOCRATES: Wisdom; are not men wise in that which they know?
[216]      
[217]      THEAETETUS: Certainly they are.
[218]      
[219]      SOCRATES: Then wisdom and knowledge are the same?
[220]      
[221]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[222]      
[223]      SOCRATES: Herein lies the difficulty which I can never solve to my
[224]      satisfaction--What is knowledge? Can we answer that question? What say
[225]      you? which of us will speak first? whoever misses shall sit down, as at a
[226]      game of ball, and shall be donkey, as the boys say; he who lasts out his
[227]      competitors in the game without missing, shall be our king, and shall have
[228]      the right of putting to us any questions which he pleases...Why is there no
[229]      reply? I hope, Theodorus, that I am not betrayed into rudeness by my love
[230]      of conversation? I only want to make us talk and be friendly and sociable.
[231]      
[232]      THEODORUS: The reverse of rudeness, Socrates: but I would rather that you
[233]      would ask one of the young fellows; for the truth is, that I am unused to
[234]      your game of question and answer, and I am too old to learn; the young will
[235]      be more suitable, and they will improve more than I shall, for youth is
[236]      always able to improve. And so having made a beginning with Theaetetus, I
[237]      would advise you to go on with him and not let him off.
[238]      
[239]      SOCRATES: Do you hear, Theaetetus, what Theodorus says? The philosopher,
[240]      whom you would not like to disobey, and whose word ought to be a command to
[241]      a young man, bids me interrogate you. Take courage, then, and nobly say
[242]      what you think that knowledge is.
[243]      
[244]      THEAETETUS: Well, Socrates, I will answer as you and he bid me; and if I
[245]      make a mistake, you will doubtless correct me.
[246]      
[247]      SOCRATES: We will, if we can.
[248]      
[249]      THEAETETUS: Then, I think that the sciences which I learn from Theodorus--
[250]      geometry, and those which you just now mentioned--are knowledge; and I
[251]      would include the art of the cobbler and other craftsmen; these, each and
[252]      all of, them, are knowledge.
[253]      
[254]      SOCRATES: Too much, Theaetetus, too much; the nobility and liberality of
[255]      your nature make you give many and diverse things, when I am asking for one
[256]      simple thing.
[257]      
[258]      THEAETETUS: What do you mean, Socrates?
[259]      
[260]      SOCRATES: Perhaps nothing. I will endeavour, however, to explain what I
[261]      believe to be my meaning: When you speak of cobbling, you mean the art or
[262]      science of making shoes?
[263]      
[264]      THEAETETUS: Just so.
[265]      
[266]      SOCRATES: And when you speak of carpentering, you mean the art of making
[267]      wooden implements?
[268]      
[269]      THEAETETUS: I do.
[270]      
[271]      SOCRATES: In both cases you define the subject matter of each of the two
[272]      arts?
[273]      
[274]      THEAETETUS: True.
[275]      
[276]      SOCRATES: But that, Theaetetus, was not the point of my question: we
[277]      wanted to know not the subjects, nor yet the number of the arts or
[278]      sciences, for we were not going to count them, but we wanted to know the
[279]      nature of knowledge in the abstract. Am I not right?
[280]      
[281]      THEAETETUS: Perfectly right.
[282]      
[283]      SOCRATES: Let me offer an illustration: Suppose that a person were to ask
[284]      about some very trivial and obvious thing--for example, What is clay? and
[285]      we were to reply, that there is a clay of potters, there is a clay of oven-
[286]      makers, there is a clay of brick-makers; would not the answer be
[287]      ridiculous?
[288]      
[289]      THEAETETUS: Truly.
[290]      
[291]      SOCRATES: In the first place, there would be an absurdity in assuming that
[292]      he who asked the question would understand from our answer the nature of
[293]      'clay,' merely because we added 'of the image-makers,' or of any other
[294]      workers. How can a man understand the name of anything, when he does not
[295]      know the nature of it?
[296]      
[297]      THEAETETUS: He cannot.
[298]      
[299]      SOCRATES: Then he who does not know what science or knowledge is, has no
[300]      knowledge of the art or science of making shoes?
[301]      
[302]      THEAETETUS: None.
[303]      
[304]      SOCRATES: Nor of any other science?
[305]      
[306]      THEAETETUS: No.
[307]      
[308]      SOCRATES: And when a man is asked what science or knowledge is, to give in
[309]      answer the name of some art or science is ridiculous; for the question is,
[310]      'What is knowledge?' and he replies, 'A knowledge of this or that.'
[311]      
[312]      THEAETETUS: True.
[313]      
[314]      SOCRATES: Moreover, he might answer shortly and simply, but he makes an
[315]      enormous circuit. For example, when asked about the clay, he might have
[316]      said simply, that clay is moistened earth--what sort of clay is not to the
[317]      point.
[318]      
[319]      THEAETETUS: Yes, Socrates, there is no difficulty as you put the question.
[320]      You mean, if I am not mistaken, something like what occurred to me and to
[321]      my friend here, your namesake Socrates, in a recent discussion.
[322]      
[323]      SOCRATES: What was that, Theaetetus?
[324]      
[325]      THEAETETUS: Theodorus was writing out for us something about roots, such
[326]      as the roots of three or five, showing that they are incommensurable by the
[327]      unit: he selected other examples up to seventeen --there he stopped. Now
[328]      as there are innumerable roots, the notion occurred to us of attempting to
[329]      include them all under one name or class.
[330]      
[331]      SOCRATES: And did you find such a class?
[332]      
[333]      THEAETETUS: I think that we did; but I should like to have your opinion.
[334]      
[335]      SOCRATES: Let me hear.
[336]      
[337]      THEAETETUS: We divided all numbers into two classes: those which are made
[338]      up of equal factors multiplying into one another, which we compared to
[339]      square figures and called square or equilateral numbers;--that was one
[340]      class.
[341]      
[342]      SOCRATES: Very good.
[343]      
[344]      THEAETETUS: The intermediate numbers, such as three and five, and every
[345]      other number which is made up of unequal factors, either of a greater
[346]      multiplied by a less, or of a less multiplied by a greater, and when
[347]      regarded as a figure, is contained in unequal sides;--all these we compared
[348]      to oblong figures, and called them oblong numbers.
[349]      
[350]      SOCRATES: Capital; and what followed?
[351]      
[352]      THEAETETUS: The lines, or sides, which have for their squares the
[353]      equilateral plane numbers, were called by us lengths or magnitudes; and the
[354]      lines which are the roots of (or whose squares are equal to) the oblong
[355]      numbers, were called powers or roots; the reason of this latter name being,
[356]      that they are commensurable with the former [i.e., with the so-called
[357]      lengths or magnitudes] not in linear measurement, but in the value of the
[358]      superficial content of their squares; and the same about solids.
[359]      
[360]      SOCRATES: Excellent, my boys; I think that you fully justify the praises
[361]      of Theodorus, and that he will not be found guilty of false witness.
[362]      
[363]      THEAETETUS: But I am unable, Socrates, to give you a similar answer about
[364]      knowledge, which is what you appear to want; and therefore Theodorus is a
[365]      deceiver after all.
[366]      
[367]      SOCRATES: Well, but if some one were to praise you for running, and to say
[368]      that he never met your equal among boys, and afterwards you were beaten in
[369]      a race by a grown-up man, who was a great runner--would the praise be any
[370]      the less true?
[371]      
[372]      THEAETETUS: Certainly not.
[373]      
[374]      SOCRATES: And is the discovery of the nature of knowledge so small a
[375]      matter, as just now said? Is it not one which would task the powers of men
[376]      perfect in every way?
[377]      
[378]      THEAETETUS: By heaven, they should be the top of all perfection!
[379]       
[380]      SOCRATES: Well, then, be of good cheer; do not say that Theodorus was
[381]      mistaken about you, but do your best to ascertain the true nature of
[382]      knowledge, as well as of other things.
[383]      
[384]      THEAETETUS: I am eager enough, Socrates, if that would bring to light the
[385]      truth.
[386]      
[387]      SOCRATES: Come, you made a good beginning just now; let your own answer
[388]      about roots be your model, and as you comprehended them all in one class,
[389]      try and bring the many sorts of knowledge under one definition.
[390]      
[391]      THEAETETUS: I can assure you, Socrates, that I have tried very often, when
[392]      the report of questions asked by you was brought to me; but I can neither
[393]      persuade myself that I have a satisfactory answer to give, nor hear of any
[394]      one who answers as you would have him; and I cannot shake off a feeling of
[395]      anxiety.
[396]      
[397]      SOCRATES: These are the pangs of labour, my dear Theaetetus; you have
[398]      something within you which you are bringing to the birth.
[399]      
[400]      THEAETETUS: I do not know, Socrates; I only say what I feel.
[401]      
[402]      SOCRATES: And have you never heard, simpleton, that I am the son of a
[403]      midwife, brave and burly, whose name was Phaenarete?
[404]      
[405]      THEAETETUS: Yes, I have.
[406]      
[407]      SOCRATES: And that I myself practise midwifery?
[408]      
[409]      THEAETETUS: No, never.
[410]      
[411]      SOCRATES: Let me tell you that I do though, my friend: but you must not
[412]      reveal the secret, as the world in general have not found me out; and
[413]      therefore they only say of me, that I am the strangest of mortals and drive
[414]      men to their wits' end. Did you ever hear that too?
[415]      
[416]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[417]      
[418]      SOCRATES: Shall I tell you the reason?
[419]      
[420]      THEAETETUS: By all means.
[421]      
[422]      SOCRATES: Bear in mind the whole business of the midwives, and then you
[423]      will see my meaning better:--No woman, as you are probably aware, who is
[424]      still able to conceive and bear, attends other women, but only those who
[425]      are past bearing.
[426]      
[427]      THEAETETUS: Yes, I know.
[428]      
[429]      SOCRATES: The reason of this is said to be that Artemis--the goddess of
[430]      childbirth--is not a mother, and she honours those who are like herself;
[431]      but she could not allow the barren to be midwives, because human nature
[432]      cannot know the mystery of an art without experience; and therefore she
[433]      assigned this office to those who are too old to bear.
[434]      
[435]      THEAETETUS: I dare say.
[436]      
[437]      SOCRATES: And I dare say too, or rather I am absolutely certain, that the
[438]      midwives know better than others who is pregnant and who is not?
[439]      
[440]      THEAETETUS: Very true.
[441]      
[442]      SOCRATES: And by the use of potions and incantations they are able to
[443]      arouse the pangs and to soothe them at will; they can make those bear who
[444]      have a difficulty in bearing, and if they think fit they can smother the
[445]      embryo in the womb.
[446]      
[447]      THEAETETUS: They can.
[448]      
[449]      SOCRATES: Did you ever remark that they are also most cunning matchmakers,
[450]      and have a thorough knowledge of what unions are likely to produce a brave
[451]      brood?
[452]      
[453]      THEAETETUS: No, never.
[454]      
[455]      SOCRATES: Then let me tell you that this is their greatest pride, more
[456]      than cutting the umbilical cord. And if you reflect, you will see that the
[457]      same art which cultivates and gathers in the fruits of the earth, will be
[458]      most likely to know in what soils the several plants or seeds should be
[459]      deposited.
[460]      
[461]      THEAETETUS: Yes, the same art.
[462]      
[463]      SOCRATES: And do you suppose that with women the case is otherwise?
[464]      
[465]      THEAETETUS: I should think not.
[466]      
[467]      SOCRATES: Certainly not; but midwives are respectable women who have a
[468]      character to lose, and they avoid this department of their profession,
[469]      because they are afraid of being called procuresses, which is a name given
[470]      to those who join together man and woman in an unlawful and unscientific
[471]      way; and yet the true midwife is also the true and only matchmaker.
[472]      
[473]      THEAETETUS: Clearly.
[474]      
[475]      SOCRATES: Such are the midwives, whose task is a very important one, but
[476]      not so important as mine; for women do not bring into the world at one time
[477]      real children, and at another time counterfeits which are with difficulty
[478]      distinguished from them; if they did, then the discernment of the true and
[479]      false birth would be the crowning achievement of the art of midwifery--you
[480]      would think so?
[481]      
[482]      THEAETETUS: Indeed I should.
[483]      
[484]      SOCRATES: Well, my art of midwifery is in most respects like theirs; but
[485]      differs, in that I attend men and not women; and look after their souls
[486]      when they are in labour, and not after their bodies: and the triumph of my
[487]      art is in thoroughly examining whether the thought which the mind of the
[488]      young man brings forth is a false idol or a noble and true birth. And like
[489]      the midwives, I am barren, and the reproach which is often made against me,
[490]      that I ask questions of others and have not the wit to answer them myself,
[491]      is very just--the reason is, that the god compels me to be a midwife, but
[492]      does not allow me to bring forth. And therefore I am not myself at all
[493]      wise, nor have I anything to show which is the invention or birth of my own
[494]      soul, but those who converse with me profit. Some of them appear dull
[495]      enough at first, but afterwards, as our acquaintance ripens, if the god is
[496]      gracious to them, they all make astonishing progress; and this in the
[497]      opinion of others as well as in their own. It is quite dear that they
[498]      never learned anything from me; the many fine discoveries to which they
[499]      cling are of their own making. But to me and the god they owe their
[500]      delivery. And the proof of my words is, that many of them in their
[501]      ignorance, either in their self-conceit despising me, or falling under the
[502]      influence of others, have gone away too soon; and have not only lost the
[503]      children of whom I had previously delivered them by an ill bringing up, but
[504]      have stifled whatever else they had in them by evil communications, being
[505]      fonder of lies and shams than of the truth; and they have at last ended by
[506]      seeing themselves, as others see them, to be great fools. Aristeides, the
[507]      son of Lysimachus, is one of them, and there are many others. The truants
[508]      often return to me, and beg that I would consort with them again--they are
[509]      ready to go to me on their knees--and then, if my familiar allows, which is
[510]      not always the case, I receive them, and they begin to grow again. Dire
[511]      are the pangs which my art is able to arouse and to allay in those who
[512]      consort with me, just like the pangs of women in childbirth; night and day
[513]      they are full of perplexity and travail which is even worse than that of
[514]      the women. So much for them. And there are others, Theaetetus, who come
[515]      to me apparently having nothing in them; and as I know that they have no
[516]      need of my art, I coax them into marrying some one, and by the grace of God
[517]      I can generally tell who is likely to do them good. Many of them I have
[518]      given away to Prodicus, and many to other inspired sages. I tell you this
[519]      long story, friend Theaetetus, because I suspect, as indeed you seem to
[520]      think yourself, that you are in labour--great with some conception. Come
[521]      then to me, who am a midwife's son and myself a midwife, and do your best
[522]      to answer the questions which I will ask you. And if I abstract and expose
[523]      your first-born, because I discover upon inspection that the conception
[524]      which you have formed is a vain shadow, do not quarrel with me on that
[525]      account, as the manner of women is when their first children are taken from
[526]      them. For I have actually known some who were ready to bite me when I
[527]      deprived them of a darling folly; they did not perceive that I acted from
[528]      goodwill, not knowing that no god is the enemy of man--that was not within
[529]      the range of their ideas; neither am I their enemy in all this, but it
[530]      would be wrong for me to admit falsehood, or to stifle the truth. Once
[531]      more, then, Theaetetus, I repeat my old question, 'What is knowledge?'--and
[532]      do not say that you cannot tell; but quit yourself like a man, and by the
[533]      help of God you will be able to tell.
[534]      
[535]      THEAETETUS: At any rate, Socrates, after such an exhortation I should be
[536]      ashamed of not trying to do my best. Now he who knows perceives what he
[537]      knows, and, as far as I can see at present, knowledge is perception.
[538]      
[539]      SOCRATES: Bravely said, boy; that is the way in which you should express
[540]      your opinion. And now, let us examine together this conception of yours,
[541]      and see whether it is a true birth or a mere wind-egg:--You say that
[542]      knowledge is perception?
[543]      
[544]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[545]      
[546]      SOCRATES: Well, you have delivered yourself of a very important doctrine
[547]      about knowledge; it is indeed the opinion of Protagoras, who has another
[548]      way of expressing it. Man, he says, is the measure of all things, of the
[549]      existence of things that are, and of the non-existence of things that are
[550]      not:--You have read him?
[551]      
[552]      THEAETETUS: O yes, again and again.
[553]      
[554]      SOCRATES: Does he not say that things are to you such as they appear to
[555]      you, and to me such as they appear to me, and that you and I are men?
[556]      
[557]      THEAETETUS: Yes, he says so.
[558]      
[559]      SOCRATES: A wise man is not likely to talk nonsense. Let us try to
[560]      understand him: the same wind is blowing, and yet one of us may be cold
[561]      and the other not, or one may be slightly and the other very cold?
[562]      
[563]      THEAETETUS: Quite true.
[564]      
[565]      SOCRATES: Now is the wind, regarded not in relation to us but absolutely,
[566]      cold or not; or are we to say, with Protagoras, that the wind is cold to
[567]      him who is cold, and not to him who is not?
[568]      
[569]      THEAETETUS: I suppose the last.
[570]      
[571]      SOCRATES: Then it must appear so to each of them?
[572]      
[573]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[574]      
[575]      SOCRATES: And 'appears to him' means the same as 'he perceives.'
[576]      
[577]      THEAETETUS: True.
[578]      
[579]      SOCRATES: Then appearing and perceiving coincide in the case of hot and
[580]      cold, and in similar instances; for things appear, or may be supposed to
[581]      be, to each one such as he perceives them?
[582]      
[583]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[584]      
[585]      SOCRATES: Then perception is always of existence, and being the same as
[586]      knowledge is unerring?
[587]      
[588]      THEAETETUS: Clearly.
[589]      
[590]      SOCRATES: In the name of the Graces, what an almighty wise man Protagoras
[591]      must have been! He spoke these things in a parable to the common herd,
[592]      like you and me, but told the truth, 'his Truth,' (In allusion to a book of
[593]      Protagoras' which bore this title.) in secret to his own disciples.
[594]      
[595]      THEAETETUS: What do you mean, Socrates?
[596]      
[597]      SOCRATES: I am about to speak of a high argument, in which all things are
[598]      said to be relative; you cannot rightly call anything by any name, such as
[599]      great or small, heavy or light, for the great will be small and the heavy
[600]      light--there is no single thing or quality, but out of motion and change
[601]      and admixture all things are becoming relatively to one another, which
[602]      'becoming' is by us incorrectly called being, but is really becoming, for
[603]      nothing ever is, but all things are becoming. Summon all philosophers--
[604]      Protagoras, Heracleitus, Empedocles, and the rest of them, one after
[605]      another, and with the exception of Parmenides they will agree with you in
[606]      this. Summon the great masters of either kind of poetry--Epicharmus, the
[607]      prince of Comedy, and Homer of Tragedy; when the latter sings of
[608]      
[609]      'Ocean whence sprang the gods, and mother Tethys,'
[610]      
[611]      does he not mean that all things are the offspring, of flux and motion?
[612]      
[613]      THEAETETUS: I think so.
[614]      
[615]      SOCRATES: And who could take up arms against such a great army having
[616]      Homer for its general, and not appear ridiculous? (Compare Cratylus.)
[617]      
[618]      THEAETETUS: Who indeed, Socrates?
[619]      
[620]      SOCRATES: Yes, Theaetetus; and there are plenty of other proofs which will
[621]      show that motion is the source of what is called being and becoming, and
[622]      inactivity of not-being and destruction; for fire and warmth, which are
[623]      supposed to be the parent and guardian of all other things, are born of
[624]      movement and of friction, which is a kind of motion;--is not this the
[625]      origin of fire?
[626]      
[627]      THEAETETUS: It is.
[628]      
[629]      SOCRATES: And the race of animals is generated in the same way?
[630]      
[631]      THEAETETUS: Certainly.
[632]      
[633]      SOCRATES: And is not the bodily habit spoiled by rest and idleness, but
[634]      preserved for a long time by motion and exercise?
[635]      
[636]      THEAETETUS: True.
[637]      
[638]      SOCRATES: And what of the mental habit? Is not the soul informed, and
[639]      improved, and preserved by study and attention, which are motions; but when
[640]      at rest, which in the soul only means want of attention and study, is
[641]      uninformed, and speedily forgets whatever she has learned?
[642]      
[643]      THEAETETUS: True.
[644]      
[645]      SOCRATES: Then motion is a good, and rest an evil, to the soul as well as
[646]      to the body?
[647]      
[648]      THEAETETUS: Clearly.
[649]      
[650]      SOCRATES: I may add, that breathless calm, stillness and the like waste
[651]      and impair, while wind and storm preserve; and the palmary argument of all,
[652]      which I strongly urge, is the golden chain in Homer, by which he means the
[653]      sun, thereby indicating that so long as the sun and the heavens go round in
[654]      their orbits, all things human and divine are and are preserved, but if
[655]      they were chained up and their motions ceased, then all things would be
[656]      destroyed, and, as the saying is, turned upside down.
[657]      
[658]      THEAETETUS: I believe, Socrates, that you have truly explained his
[659]      meaning.
[660]      
[661]      SOCRATES: Then now apply his doctrine to perception, my good friend, and
[662]      first of all to vision; that which you call white colour is not in your
[663]      eyes, and is not a distinct thing which exists out of them. And you must
[664]      not assign any place to it: for if it had position it would be, and be at
[665]      rest, and there would be no process of becoming.
[666]      
[667]      THEAETETUS: Then what is colour?
[668]      
[669]      SOCRATES: Let us carry the principle which has just been affirmed, that
[670]      nothing is self-existent, and then we shall see that white, black, and
[671]      every other colour, arises out of the eye meeting the appropriate motion,
[672]      and that what we call a colour is in each case neither the active nor the
[673]      passive element, but something which passes between them, and is peculiar
[674]      to each percipient; are you quite certain that the several colours appear
[675]      to a dog or to any animal whatever as they appear to you?
[676]      
[677]      THEAETETUS: Far from it.
[678]      
[679]      SOCRATES: Or that anything appears the same to you as to another man? Are
[680]      you so profoundly convinced of this? Rather would it not be true that it
[681]      never appears exactly the same to you, because you are never exactly the
[682]      same?
[683]      
[684]      THEAETETUS: The latter.
[685]      
[686]      SOCRATES: And if that with which I compare myself in size, or which I
[687]      apprehend by touch, were great or white or hot, it could not become
[688]      different by mere contact with another unless it actually changed; nor
[689]      again, if the comparing or apprehending subject were great or white or hot,
[690]      could this, when unchanged from within, become changed by any approximation
[691]      or affection of any other thing. The fact is that in our ordinary way of
[692]      speaking we allow ourselves to be driven into most ridiculous and wonderful
[693]      contradictions, as Protagoras and all who take his line of argument would
[694]      remark.
[695]      
[696]      THEAETETUS: How? and of what sort do you mean?
[697]      
[698]      SOCRATES: A little instance will sufficiently explain my meaning: Here
[699]      are six dice, which are more by a half when compared with four, and fewer
[700]      by a half than twelve--they are more and also fewer. How can you or any
[701]      one maintain the contrary?
[702]      
[703]      THEAETETUS: Very true.
[704]      
[705]      SOCRATES: Well, then, suppose that Protagoras or some one asks whether
[706]      anything can become greater or more if not by increasing, how would you
[707]      answer him, Theaetetus?
[708]      
[709]      THEAETETUS: I should say 'No,' Socrates, if I were to speak my mind in
[710]      reference to this last question, and if I were not afraid of contradicting
[711]      my former answer.
[712]      
[713]      SOCRATES: Capital! excellent! spoken like an oracle, my boy! And if you
[714]      reply 'Yes,' there will be a case for Euripides; for our tongue will be
[715]      unconvinced, but not our mind. (In allusion to the well-known line of
[716]      Euripides, Hippol.: e gloss omomoch e de thren anomotos.)
[717]      
[718]      THEAETETUS: Very true.
[719]      
[720]      SOCRATES: The thoroughbred Sophists, who know all that can be known about
[721]      the mind, and argue only out of the superfluity of their wits, would have
[722]      had a regular sparring-match over this, and would have knocked their
[723]      arguments together finely. But you and I, who have no professional aims,
[724]      only desire to see what is the mutual relation of these principles,--
[725]      whether they are consistent with each or not.
[726]      
[727]      THEAETETUS: Yes, that would be my desire.
[728]      
[729]      SOCRATES: And mine too. But since this is our feeling, and there is
[730]      plenty of time, why should we not calmly and patiently review our own
[731]      thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us
[732]      really are? If I am not mistaken, they will be described by us as
[733]      follows:--first, that nothing can become greater or less, either in number
[734]      or magnitude, while remaining equal to itself--you would agree?
[735]      
[736]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[737]      
[738]      SOCRATES: Secondly, that without addition or subtraction there is no
[739]      increase or diminution of anything, but only equality.
[740]      
[741]      THEAETETUS: Quite true.
[742]      
[743]      SOCRATES: Thirdly, that what was not before cannot be afterwards, without
[744]      becoming and having become.
[745]      
[746]      THEAETETUS: Yes, truly.
[747]      
[748]      SOCRATES: These three axioms, if I am not mistaken, are fighting with one
[749]      another in our minds in the case of the dice, or, again, in such a case as
[750]      this--if I were to say that I, who am of a certain height and taller than
[751]      you, may within a year, without gaining or losing in height, be not so
[752]      tall--not that I should have lost, but that you would have increased. In
[753]      such a case, I am afterwards what I once was not, and yet I have not
[754]      become; for I could not have become without becoming, neither could I have
[755]      become less without losing somewhat of my height; and I could give you ten
[756]      thousand examples of similar contradictions, if we admit them at all. I
[757]      believe that you follow me, Theaetetus; for I suspect that you have thought
[758]      of these questions before now.
[759]      
[760]      THEAETETUS: Yes, Socrates, and I am amazed when I think of them; by the
[761]      Gods I am! and I want to know what on earth they mean; and there are times
[762]      when my head quite swims with the contemplation of them.
[763]      
[764]      SOCRATES: I see, my dear Theaetetus, that Theodorus had a true insight
[765]      into your nature when he said that you were a philosopher, for wonder is
[766]      the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder. He was not
[767]      a bad genealogist who said that Iris (the messenger of heaven) is the child
[768]      of Thaumas (wonder). But do you begin to see what is the explanation of
[769]      this perplexity on the hypothesis which we attribute to Protagoras?
[770]      
[771]      THEAETETUS: Not as yet.
[772]      
[773]      SOCRATES: Then you will be obliged to me if I help you to unearth the
[774]      hidden 'truth' of a famous man or school.
[775]      
[776]      THEAETETUS: To be sure, I shall be very much obliged.
[777]      
[778]      SOCRATES: Take a look round, then, and see that none of the uninitiated
[779]      are listening. Now by the uninitiated I mean the people who believe in
[780]      nothing but what they can grasp in their hands, and who will not allow that
[781]      action or generation or anything invisible can have real existence.
[782]      
[783]      THEAETETUS: Yes, indeed, Socrates, they are very hard and impenetrable
[784]      mortals.
[785]      
[786]      SOCRATES: Yes, my boy, outer barbarians. Far more ingenious are the
[787]      brethren whose mysteries I am about to reveal to you. Their first
[788]      principle is, that all is motion, and upon this all the affections of which
[789]      we were just now speaking are supposed to depend: there is nothing but
[790]      motion, which has two forms, one active and the other passive, both in
[791]      endless number; and out of the union and friction of them there is
[792]      generated a progeny endless in number, having two forms, sense and the
[793]      object of sense, which are ever breaking forth and coming to the birth at
[794]      the same moment. The senses are variously named hearing, seeing, smelling;
[795]      there is the sense of heat, cold, pleasure, pain, desire, fear, and many
[796]      more which have names, as well as innumerable others which are without
[797]      them; each has its kindred object,--each variety of colour has a
[798]      corresponding variety of sight, and so with sound and hearing, and with the
[799]      rest of the senses and the objects akin to them. Do you see, Theaetetus,
[800]      the bearings of this tale on the preceding argument?
[801]      
[802]      THEAETETUS: Indeed I do not.
[803]      
[804]      SOCRATES: Then attend, and I will try to finish the story. The purport is
[805]      that all these things are in motion, as I was saying, and that this motion
[806]      is of two kinds, a slower and a quicker; and the slower elements have their
[807]      motions in the same place and with reference to things near them, and so
[808]      they beget; but what is begotten is swifter, for it is carried to fro, and
[809]      moves from place to place. Apply this to sense:--When the eye and the
[810]      appropriate object meet together and give birth to whiteness and the
[811]      sensation connatural with it, which could not have been given by either of
[812]      them going elsewhere, then, while the sight is flowing from the eye,
[813]      whiteness proceeds from the object which combines in producing the colour;
[814]      and so the eye is fulfilled with sight, and really sees, and becomes, not
[815]      sight, but a seeing eye; and the object which combined to form the colour
[816]      is fulfilled with whiteness, and becomes not whiteness but a white thing,
[817]      whether wood or stone or whatever the object may be which happens to be
[818]      coloured white. And this is true of all sensible objects, hard, warm, and
[819]      the like, which are similarly to be regarded, as I was saying before, not
[820]      as having any absolute existence, but as being all of them of whatever kind
[821]      generated by motion in their intercourse with one another; for of the agent
[822]      and patient, as existing in separation, no trustworthy conception, as they
[823]      say, can be formed, for the agent has no existence until united with the
[824]      patient, and the patient has no existence until united with the agent; and
[825]      that which by uniting with something becomes an agent, by meeting with some
[826]      other thing is converted into a patient. And from all these
[827]      considerations, as I said at first, there arises a general reflection, that
[828]      there is no one self-existent thing, but everything is becoming and in
[829]      relation; and being must be altogether abolished, although from habit and
[830]      ignorance we are compelled even in this discussion to retain the use of the
[831]      term. But great philosophers tell us that we are not to allow either the
[832]      word 'something,' or 'belonging to something,' or 'to me,' or 'this,' or
[833]      'that,' or any other detaining name to be used, in the language of nature
[834]      all things are being created and destroyed, coming into being and passing
[835]      into new forms; nor can any name fix or detain them; he who attempts to fix
[836]      them is easily refuted. And this should be the way of speaking, not only
[837]      of particulars but of aggregates; such aggregates as are expressed in the
[838]      word 'man,' or 'stone,' or any name of an animal or of a class. O
[839]      Theaetetus, are not these speculations sweet as honey? And do you not like
[840]      the taste of them in the mouth?
[841]      
[842]      THEAETETUS: I do not know what to say, Socrates; for, indeed, I cannot
[843]      make out whether you are giving your own opinion or only wanting to draw me
[844]      out.
[845]      
[846]      SOCRATES: You forget, my friend, that I neither know, nor profess to know,
[847]      anything of these matters; you are the person who is in labour, I am the
[848]      barren midwife; and this is why I soothe you, and offer you one good thing
[849]      after another, that you may taste them. And I hope that I may at last help
[850]      to bring your own opinion into the light of day: when this has been
[851]      accomplished, then we will determine whether what you have brought forth is
[852]      only a wind-egg or a real and genuine birth. Therefore, keep up your
[853]      spirits, and answer like a man what you think.
[854]      
[855]      THEAETETUS: Ask me.
[856]      
[857]      SOCRATES: Then once more: Is it your opinion that nothing is but what
[858]      becomes?--the good and the noble, as well as all the other things which we
[859]      were just now mentioning?
[860]      
[861]      THEAETETUS: When I hear you discoursing in this style, I think that there
[862]      is a great deal in what you say, and I am very ready to assent.
[863]      
[864]      SOCRATES: Let us not leave the argument unfinished, then; for there still
[865]      remains to be considered an objection which may be raised about dreams and
[866]      diseases, in particular about madness, and the various illusions of hearing
[867]      and sight, or of other senses. For you know that in all these cases the
[868]      esse-percipi theory appears to be unmistakably refuted, since in dreams and
[869]      illusions we certainly have false perceptions; and far from saying that
[870]      everything is which appears, we should rather say that nothing is which
[871]      appears.
[872]      
[873]      THEAETETUS: Very true, Socrates.
[874]      
[875]      SOCRATES: But then, my boy, how can any one contend that knowledge is
[876]      perception, or that to every man what appears is?
[877]      
[878]      THEAETETUS: I am afraid to say, Socrates, that I have nothing to answer,
[879]      because you rebuked me just now for making this excuse; but I certainly
[880]      cannot undertake to argue that madmen or dreamers think truly, when they
[881]      imagine, some of them that they are gods, and others that they can fly, and
[882]      are flying in their sleep.
[883]      
[884]      SOCRATES: Do you see another question which can be raised about these
[885]      phenomena, notably about dreaming and waking?
[886]      
[887]      THEAETETUS: What question?
[888]      
[889]      SOCRATES: A question which I think that you must often have heard persons
[890]      ask:--How can you determine whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all
[891]      our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one
[892]      another in the waking state?
[893]      
[894]      THEAETETUS: Indeed, Socrates, I do not know how to prove the one any more
[895]      than the other, for in both cases the facts precisely correspond;--and
[896]      there is no difficulty in supposing that during all this discussion we have
[897]      been talking to one another in a dream; and when in a dream we seem to be
[898]      narrating dreams, the resemblance of the two states is quite astonishing.
[899]      
[900]      SOCRATES: You see, then, that a doubt about the reality of sense is easily
[901]      raised, since there may even be a doubt whether we are awake or in a dream.
[902]      And as our time is equally divided between sleeping and waking, in either
[903]      sphere of existence the soul contends that the thoughts which are present
[904]      to our minds at the time are true; and during one half of our lives we
[905]      affirm the truth of the one, and, during the other half, of the other; and
[906]      are equally confident of both.
[907]      
[908]      THEAETETUS: Most true.
[909]      
[910]      SOCRATES: And may not the same be said of madness and other disorders? the
[911]      difference is only that the times are not equal.
[912]      
[913]      THEAETETUS: Certainly.
[914]      
[915]      SOCRATES: And is truth or falsehood to be determined by duration of time?
[916]      
[917]      THEAETETUS: That would be in many ways ridiculous.
[918]      
[919]      SOCRATES: But can you certainly determine by any other means which of
[920]      these opinions is true?
[921]      
[922]      THEAETETUS: I do not think that I can.
[923]      
[924]      SOCRATES: Listen, then, to a statement of the other side of the argument,
[925]      which is made by the champions of appearance. They would say, as I
[926]      imagine--Can that which is wholly other than something, have the same
[927]      quality as that from which it differs? and observe, Theaetetus, that the
[928]      word 'other' means not 'partially,' but 'wholly other.'
[929]      
[930]      THEAETETUS: Certainly, putting the question as you do, that which is
[931]      wholly other cannot either potentially or in any other way be the same.
[932]      
[933]      SOCRATES: And must therefore be admitted to be unlike?
[934]      
[935]      THEAETETUS: True.
[936]      
[937]      SOCRATES: If, then, anything happens to become like or unlike itself or
[938]      another, when it becomes like we call it the same--when unlike, other?
[939]      
[940]      THEAETETUS: Certainly.
[941]      
[942]      SOCRATES: Were we not saying that there are agents many and infinite, and
[943]      patients many and infinite?
[944]      
[945]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[946]      
[947]      SOCRATES: And also that different combinations will produce results which
[948]      are not the same, but different?
[949]      
[950]      THEAETETUS: Certainly.
[951]      
[952]      SOCRATES: Let us take you and me, or anything as an example:--There is
[953]      Socrates in health, and Socrates sick--Are they like or unlike?
[954]      
[955]      THEAETETUS: You mean to compare Socrates in health as a whole, and
[956]      Socrates in sickness as a whole?
[957]      
[958]      SOCRATES: Exactly; that is my meaning.
[959]      
[960]      THEAETETUS: I answer, they are unlike.
[961]      
[962]      SOCRATES: And if unlike, they are other?
[963]      
[964]      THEAETETUS: Certainly.
[965]      
[966]      SOCRATES: And would you not say the same of Socrates sleeping and waking,
[967]      or in any of the states which we were mentioning?
[968]      
[969]      THEAETETUS: I should.
[970]      
[971]      SOCRATES: All agents have a different patient in Socrates, accordingly as
[972]      he is well or ill.
[973]      
[974]      THEAETETUS: Of course.
[975]      
[976]      SOCRATES: And I who am the patient, and that which is the agent, will
[977]      produce something different in each of the two cases?
[978]      
[979]      THEAETETUS: Certainly.
[980]      
[981]      SOCRATES: The wine which I drink when I am in health, appears sweet and
[982]      pleasant to me?
[983]      
[984]      THEAETETUS: True.
[985]      
[986]      SOCRATES: For, as has been already acknowledged, the patient and agent
[987]      meet together and produce sweetness and a perception of sweetness, which
[988]      are in simultaneous motion, and the perception which comes from the patient
[989]      makes the tongue percipient, and the quality of sweetness which arises out
[990]      of and is moving about the wine, makes the wine both to be and to appear
[991]      sweet to the healthy tongue.
[992]      
[993]      THEAETETUS: Certainly; that has been already acknowledged.
[994]      
[995]      SOCRATES: But when I am sick, the wine really acts upon another and a
[996]      different person?
[997]      
[998]      THEAETETUS: Yes.
[999]      
[1000]     SOCRATES: The combination of the draught of wine, and the Socrates who is
[1001]     sick, produces quite another result; which is the sensation of bitterness
[1002]     in the tongue, and the motion and creation of bitterness in and about the
[1003]     wine, which becomes not bitterness but something bitter; as I myself become
[1004]     not perception but percipient?
[1005]     
[1006]     THEAETETUS: True.
[1007]     
[1008]     SOCRATES: There is no other object of which I shall ever have the same
[1009]     perception, for another object would give another perception, and would
[1010]     make the percipient other and different; nor can that object which affects
[1011]     me, meeting another subject, produce the same, or become similar, for that
[1012]     too would produce another result from another subject, and become
[1013]     different.
[1014]     
[1015]     THEAETETUS: True.
[1016]     
[1017]     SOCRATES: Neither can I by myself, have this sensation, nor the object by
[1018]     itself, this quality.
[1019]     
[1020]     THEAETETUS: Certainly not.
[1021]     
[1022]     SOCRATES: When I perceive I must become percipient of something--there can
[1023]     be no such thing as perceiving and perceiving nothing; the object, whether
[1024]     it become sweet, bitter, or of any other quality, must have relation to a
[1025]     percipient; nothing can become sweet which is sweet to no one.
[1026]     
[1027]     THEAETETUS: Certainly not.
[1028]     
[1029]     SOCRATES: Then the inference is, that we (the agent and patient) are or
[1030]     become in relation to one another; there is a law which binds us one to the
[1031]     other, but not to any other existence, nor each of us to himself; and
[1032]     therefore we can only be bound to one another; so that whether a person
[1033]     says that a thing is or becomes, he must say that it is or becomes to or of
[1034]     or in relation to something else; but he must not say or allow any one else
[1035]     to say that anything is or becomes absolutely:--such is our conclusion.
[1036]     
[1037]     THEAETETUS: Very true, Socrates.
[1038]     
[1039]     SOCRATES: Then, if that which acts upon me has relation to me and to no
[1040]     other, I and no other am the percipient of it?
[1041]     
[1042]     THEAETETUS: Of course.
[1043]     
[1044]     SOCRATES: Then my perception is true to me, being inseparable from my own
[1045]     being; and, as Protagoras says, to myself I am judge of what is and what is
[1046]     not to me.
[1047]     
[1048]     THEAETETUS: I suppose so.
[1049]     
[1050]     SOCRATES: How then, if I never err, and if my mind never trips in the
[1051]     conception of being or becoming, can I fail of knowing that which I
[1052]     perceive?
[1053]     
[1054]     THEAETETUS: You cannot.
[1055]     
[1056]     SOCRATES: Then you were quite right in affirming that knowledge is only
[1057]     perception; and the meaning turns out to be the same, whether with Homer
[1058]     and Heracleitus, and all that company, you say that all is motion and flux,
[1059]     or with the great sage Protagoras, that man is the measure of all things;
[1060]     or with Theaetetus, that, given these premises, perception is knowledge.
[1061]     Am I not right, Theaetetus, and is not this your new-born child, of which I
[1062]     have delivered you? What say you?
[1063]     
[1064]     THEAETETUS: I cannot but agree, Socrates.
[1065]     
[1066]     SOCRATES: Then this is the child, however he may turn out, which you and I
[1067]     have with difficulty brought into the world. And now that he is born, we
[1068]     must run round the hearth with him, and see whether he is worth rearing, or
[1069]     is only a wind-egg and a sham. Is he to be reared in any case, and not
[1070]     exposed? or will you bear to see him rejected, and not get into a passion
[1071]     if I take away your first-born?
[1072]     
[1073]     THEODORUS: Theaetetus will not be angry, for he is very good-natured. But
[1074]     tell me, Socrates, in heaven's name, is this, after all, not the truth?
[1075]     
[1076]     SOCRATES: You, Theodorus, are a lover of theories, and now you innocently
[1077]     fancy that I am a bag full of them, and can easily pull one out which will
[1078]     overthrow its predecessor. But you do not see that in reality none of
[1079]     these theories come from me; they all come from him who talks with me. I
[1080]     only know just enough to extract them from the wisdom of another, and to
[1081]     receive them in a spirit of fairness. And now I shall say nothing myself,
[1082]     but shall endeavour to elicit something from our young friend.
[1083]     
[1084]     THEODORUS: Do as you say, Socrates; you are quite right.
[1085]     
[1086]     SOCRATES: Shall I tell you, Theodorus, what amazes me in your acquaintance
[1087]     Protagoras?
[1088]     
[1089]     THEODORUS: What is it?
[1090]     
[1091]     SOCRATES: I am charmed with his doctrine, that what appears is to each
[1092]     one, but I wonder that he did not begin his book on Truth with a
[1093]     declaration that a pig or a dog-faced baboon, or some other yet stranger
[1094]     monster which has sensation, is the measure of all things; then he might
[1095]     have shown a magnificent contempt for our opinion of him by informing us at
[1096]     the outset that while we were reverencing him like a God for his wisdom he
[1097]     was no better than a tadpole, not to speak of his fellow-men--would not
[1098]     this have produced an overpowering effect? For if truth is only sensation,
[1099]     and no man can discern another's feelings better than he, or has any
[1100]     superior right to determine whether his opinion is true or false, but each,
[1101]     as we have several times repeated, is to himself the sole judge, and
[1102]     everything that he judges is true and right, why, my friend, should
[1103]     Protagoras be preferred to the place of wisdom and instruction, and deserve
[1104]     to be well paid, and we poor ignoramuses have to go to him, if each one is
[1105]     the measure of his own wisdom? Must he not be talking 'ad captandum' in
[1106]     all this? I say nothing of the ridiculous predicament in which my own
[1107]     midwifery and the whole art of dialectic is placed; for the attempt to
[1108]     supervise or refute the notions or opinions of others would be a tedious
[1109]     and enormous piece of folly, if to each man his own are right; and this
[1110]     must be the case if Protagoras' Truth is the real truth, and the
[1111]     philosopher is not merely amusing himself by giving oracles out of the
[1112]     shrine of his book.
[1113]     
[1114]     THEODORUS: He was a friend of mine, Socrates, as you were saying, and
[1115]     therefore I cannot have him refuted by my lips, nor can I oppose you when I
[1116]     agree with you; please, then, to take Theaetetus again; he seemed to answer
[1117]     very nicely.
[1118]     
[1119]     SOCRATES: If you were to go into a Lacedaemonian palestra, Theodorus,
[1120]     would you have a right to look on at the naked wrestlers, some of them
[1121]     making a poor figure, if you did not strip and give them an opportunity of
[1122]     judging of your own person?
[1123]     
[1124]     THEODORUS: Why not, Socrates, if they would allow me, as I think you will,
[1125]     in consideration of my age and stiffness; let some more supple youth try a
[1126]     fall with you, and do not drag me into the gymnasium.
[1127]     
[1128]     SOCRATES: Your will is my will, Theodorus, as the proverbial philosophers
[1129]     say, and therefore I will return to the sage Theaetetus: Tell me,
[1130]     Theaetetus, in reference to what I was saying, are you not lost in wonder,
[1131]     like myself, when you find that all of a sudden you are raised to the level
[1132]     of the wisest of men, or indeed of the gods?--for you would assume the
[1133]     measure of Protagoras to apply to the gods as well as men?
[1134]     
[1135]     THEAETETUS: Certainly I should, and I confess to you that I am lost in
[1136]     wonder. At first hearing, I was quite satisfied with the doctrine, that
[1137]     whatever appears is to each one, but now the face of things has changed.
[1138]     
[1139]     SOCRATES: Why, my dear boy, you are young, and therefore your ear is
[1140]     quickly caught and your mind influenced by popular arguments. Protagoras,
[1141]     or some one speaking on his behalf, will doubtless say in reply,--Good
[1142]     people, young and old, you meet and harangue, and bring in