Lyndon LaRouche: On Reading Plato
(Excerpted from Lyndon LaRouche's Oberwessel Speech, August 18, 2001
Plato gives you, with the Socratic dialogues, an example of the Sublime: that every dialogue, leads, not to a tragedy, but leads to overcoming a potential tragedy, to arrive at a solution; and, very simply, the first thing in the Phaedon is the perfect example of this, but, also, things like the Meno. The Meno's a perfect example of this principle of the Sublime. The slave-boy is able to re-enact the scientific discovery. So, that, in every case, of a Plato dialogue, there's a great success for humanity; it comes out of seeing what could potentially be a failure and a tragic situation. The tragedy is overcome. So, the most important thing about that, is the revolution which had occurred in religion and art, and an understanding of history, where humanity has learned, how to have insight into humanity, in order to rise to higher levels than before, and to avoid the kinds of mistakes, which have led to tragic consequences for humanity in the past.)
To read Lyndon LaRouche's Oberwessel Speech, August 18, 2001, click here
...As Classical Drama
This comment is a footnote taken from a major work by Lyndon H. LaRouche, entitled, How to Define A Physical Economic Collapse - Marat, De Sade, And `Greenspin.' published in June, 2001, in EIR Magazine.
t is usually bad practice to suggest that Plato's dialogues are intended for the silent reading of an individual. If the individual does not know the method in advance, he will almost certainly make a terrible mess of his efforts to follow the text. Most of the heralded English-language academic's commentaries on Plato are worse than rubbish on this account, and the school of E. Cassirer as well. Like a great Classical drama, Plato's dialogues are not to be "interpreted"; they are to be experienced.
The experience of some of my associates has shown them, that this is more likely to be accomplished if a dedicated group of persons, advised by one with some expertise in the Greek, acts out the dialogues as they are plainly written: as Classical drama. As each actor works to represent the role he is playing, the tension of the dialogue is sensed in the conflict being acted out among the actors. In short, a Plato dialogue should be recognized as the actors re-enacting the discovery of principle which resolves the paradox presented.
To read the excerpt to which the footnote refers, or to get the full article, click here.
Preface to The Sophist
by David Shavin
Plato's dialogue, "The Sophist", is the middle portion of a trilogy, that begins with "Theaetetus" and concludes with "The Statesman." All three are situated in the last year of Socrates' life, with interrogations carried out upon both the young Theaetetus, who (having a snub nose) looks like Socrates, and Theaetetus' young friend, who (being named "Socrates") sounds like the elder philosopher, Socrates. Plato's audience knew that Theaetetus had gone on to become the leading geometer of their day, the scientist who developed the Platonic solids, and their dodecahedral-generated ordering. So, implicit in the poetry of this dramatic trilogy, was an accounting for the creation of the genius of Theaetetus.
In "The Sophist," Theaetetus' teacher, Theodorus - a geometer, and a follower of Ammon - has brought along a foreigner from Elea, whom he claims is a genuine philosopher. Plato has Socrates seize the opportunity to challenge the foreigner from the land of Parmenides and Zeno, to deal with the problem of sophistry. That non-philosophers and non-statesmen, such as sophists and popular orators, could exist at all, was a problem equivalent to the problem as to whether non-being could exist. Since Parmenides had 'proved' that non-being could not exist, he did not have the analytical weaponry to deal with the actual evils of sophists and demagogues.
The method of problem-solving by classifications and divisions is developed at length, and found wanting, though not without substantial humor. At a fairly dramatic point, when it is not clear that scientific investigation can be saved, Plato has the foreigner undercut the word-splitting, and challenge those who would even engage in any discourse, to be honest about their own capacity to connect consonants via vowels. Their own capacity to properly mix, e.g., the discreteness and continuity of consonants and vowels, belies their cynical posture toward man's scientific mission. Actual discourse that can prove the non-existence of the causal efficacy of the mind that forms language, is on the same level as the professor at the blackboard who can prove that life is impossible. And Plato has as much fun with the former, as LaRouche has had with the latter.
Plato's character of the foreigner from Elea is prompted by his alert student, Theaetetus, to rise to Socratic heights. In particular, he articulates Socrates' policy and practice, that the scientific activity of purging one's own blocked opinions is the highest level of science.
Dialogue by PLATO
Translated by Leslie B. Vaughan
©All rights reserved
CHARACTERS OF THE DIALOGUE:
THEODORUS, SOCRATES, an ELEATIC STRANGER, THEATETUS
THEODORUS. According to yesterday's agreement, Socrates, we ourselves have come, as planned, and we bring also this certain stranger, Elean, an associate of Parmenides and Zeno, and quite a philosopher.
SOCRATES. Then are you not bringing, Theodorus, not a stranger, but some god, according to the story Homer told? Where he says that all gods, and not least the god of stangers, accompany men who share in just reverence, beholding the developments of mankind, both righteous and violent. Perhaps, then, this person of yours might be one of the mightier, and refute us, looking upon us being weak in argument, as some god of refutation.
THEODORUS. This is not the nature of the stranger, Socrates, for he is more reasonable than those who are eager for contention. And it seems to me that the man, though truly divine, is not at all a god, for I refer to all philosophers as divine.
SOCRATES. And rightly, my friend. However, I might say, this particular class seems to be not much easier to determine than that of a god. For these men, not the superficial but the genuine philosophers, visit the cities, looking down from above on the life of those below, and because of everyone else's ignorance, they appear as all sorts of different things. To some they seem to be of no worth and to others of every value, and sometimes they appear as statesmen and sometimes as sophists, and to some they might appear to be entirely insane. But I would gladly inquire of our guest, if agreeable to him, what people from his land believed concerning these things, and what they were calling them.
THEODORUS. What groups do you mean?
SOCRATES. Sophist, statesman, philosopher.
THEODORUS. What especially do you intend to ask, and what sort of perplexity are you in about them?
SOCRATES. It is this. Did they customarily hold these things to be one, or two, or as there are three names, did they divide them into three classes, attaching one name to each class?
THEODORUS. But in no way, I believe, does he begrudge going through these things. Or how are we to speak, stranger?
STRANGER. Thusly, Theodorus. For there is no objection, and it is not difficult to say that they indeed considered them three. But truly it is neither a small nor an easy task to clearly distinguish the specific nature of each.
THEODORUS. And indeed by chance,
SOCRATES, you have touched upon arguments resembling those about which we happened to be asking him before we came here. He was then giving us the same excuses he just now gave you, though he says that he has heard them through thoroughly and has not forgotten.
SOCRATES. Then, stranger, do not deny us the very first favor we ask you, but tell us this much. Do you like better and find it more pleasant to go through a long argument yourself, in order to argue that which you wish to explain, or to go through questionings, such as once Parmenides used going through an excellent argument where I happened to be present as a young man when he was then already quite old?
STRANGER. Indeed, Socrates, a painless dialogue with a co-operative person is thus easier than the other. But otherwise, the argument by one person.
SOCRATES. It is possible to choose anyone you want of those present, for they all will respond to you gently, but if you use my advice, you will choose one of the young ones, Theaetetus here, or one of the others, if he suits you.
STRANGER. Socrates, a certain sense of shame now holds me, associating with you now for the first time, not of making conversation by brief answers, but of the long drawn-out extension of the argument singly or even with someone else, in the manner of making an exhibition; for the question as now asked is not of the size one would expect it to be, but happens to be a very long matter for an argument. But, on the other hand, not to oblige you and everyone else, especially when you spoke as you did, seems to me to be unbecoming to a Stranger and rude, since I entirely accept Theaetetus to be the other person in the dialogue, because of my previous conversation with him and your present recommendation.
THEAETETUS. But, STRANGER, will the method Socrates proposed be pleasing to all?
STRANGER. I dare say that nothing more needs to be said about these things, Theaetetus, but from now on the argument will fall to you, as it seems. And if you become burdened with the length of the task, do not blame me, but these friends of yours.
THEAETETUS. But, indeed, I do not believe that thusly I shall fail, but if such a thing shall happen, we'll bring forward this Socrates, the namesake of Socrates, who is the same age as me and my companion in the gymnasium, for whom it is not unusual to work hard at everything with me.
STRANGER. Very well, you will follow your own counsel about that as the conversation moves forward, but now, together with me, you must consider, beginning first, as it appears to me, with the sophist, searching out and making clear by argument what he is. For at present you and I have only the name in common, concerning this, but we each might have our own idea, perhaps, of the matter for which we have a name; however it is always necessary for all to say the same thing about the matter itself through argument, rather than only the name without argument. But the tribe which we now intend to search out, the sophist, is not the easiest of all to comprehend; and in all great things that one must practice beautifully, it has been long ago universally resolved that care must be taken in the small and easy things before the great things themselves are attempted. So now, Theaetetus, I thus recommend to the two of us, that, since we believe that the type of the sophist is difficult and hard to catch, to first practice the method of it on something easier, unless you have some other easier approach to suggest.
THEAETETUS. I have not.
STRANGER. Do you wish then, substituting some lesser thing, to try to represent it as an example of the greater?
STRANGER. What then shall we propose to ourselves which is well-known and small, but holding no less argument than the greater? Such as the angler - is he not known to all and something scarcely worth much interest?
STRANGER. Truly I hope he has for us a method and an argument not unsuitable for what we want.
THEAETETUS. That would be beautiful.
STRANGER. Come then, let us in this way begin with him. Tell me. Shall we place him as an artisan, or someone who is artless, but having some other power?
THEAETETUS. Not at all artless.
STRANGER. But truly, of all the arts, there are chiefly two species.
THEAETETUS. How so?
STRANGER. Agriculture, and all that concerns attending on humans and all living beings, and concerning things compounded or molded, which we call implements, and the art of imitation - the whole of these things together most justly might be called by one name.
THEAETETUS. How, and by what?
STRANGER. For all who bring into being something which did not before exist, we say that the one bringing it produces, and that the thing which is brought into being, is produced.
STRANGER. And indeed all the things which we have just now gone through, had their capacities directed to this.
THEAETETUS. Yes they did.
STRANGER. Then, in summary, let us name them the productive arts.
THEAETETUS. Be they so named.
STRANGER. And, again, after this exists the whole class of learning and that of acquiring knowledge, and money-making, combat, and hunting; since none of these people are workmen, by deeds or words, they subdue existing or created things and look to not being subdued themselves; on account of these things especially, all together they would stand out as being called the acquisitive arts.
THEAETETUS. Yes, that would be suitable.
STRANGER. Since all of the arts together are acquisitive or productive, in which,
THEAETETUS, shall we place the art of angling?
THEAETETUS. In acquisitive art, clearly.
STRANGER. And are there not two species of acquisitive art? Is there not one species, practiced by one party, which is voluntarily disposed to trade with another, through gifts and wages and purchases; and is there not the other, which, since it subdues by deeds and words, might be the art of subduing?
THEAETETUS. It appears so, at least, from what is being said.
STRANGER. Then what? Must we not divide the art of subduing into two parts?
THEAETETUS. In what way?
STRANGER. By placing all of the visible part of it as contesting, and all the hidden part as hunting.
STRANGER. And truly it is unreasonable not to divide the art of hunting into two parts.
THEAETETUS. Say how this is done.
STRANGER. By division into the lifeless class, and that of the living.
THEAETETUS. Indeed? If indeed they both exist.
STRANGER. How do they not exist? And we must leave aside the hunting of lifeless things, which is nameless except in some parts of the art of diving, and several things of that sort; but that which is the hunting of living creatures, we call animal-hunting.
THEAETETUS. Very well.
STRANGER. Then would not two species of animal-hunting rightly be made? Is there not one, the class of animals which go on their feet, divided into many species and names, which is the art of land-animal hunting; and is there not the other, of swimming animals as a whole, which is the art of water-hunting?
STRANGER. And truly, of swimming creatures, we see that one tribe is winged and the other is in the water.
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. And the hunting of winged creatures, as a whole, is called by us the art of fowling.
THEAETETUS. So it is called.
STRANGER. And the hunting of swimming creatures is, all together, the art of fishing.
STRANGER. Then what? Then might I not again divide this hunting according to two principal parts?
THEAETETUS. Which parts?
STRANGER. According to that which carries out the hunting merely by snares, and that which does it with a blow.
THEAETETUS. What do you mean, and how do you determine each?
STRANGER. The first, because everything which by hindrances may encompass something, enclosing it, is likely called an enclosure.
STRANGER. And must fishing-baskets and nets and snares and hoops and other such things be called anything but enclosures?
STRANGER. Then this division, this way of catching, we call the art of hunting by enclosures, or something of that sort.
STRANGER. And the other, accomplished with a blow by means of fish-hooks and tridents, this certain hunting we must now call the art of striking, in a word. Or what,
THEAETETUS, would better name it?
THEAETETUS. We can overlook the name, for this suffices.
STRANGER. Then such striking at night, I suppose, accomplished by firelight, was fit to be called the art of fire-hunting, by the hunters themselves.
STRANGER. And that by day, which has hooks at the ends of the tridents, is, as a whole, the art of barb-hunting.
THEAETETUS. Yes, so it is called.
STRANGER. Then the striking, belonging to barb-hunting, which proceeds downward from above, chiefly by means of tridents is, I suppose, called tridentry.
THEAETETUS. At least some people say so.
STRANGER. Indeed, I would say, there remains only one more species.
THEAETETUS. What sort?
STRANGER. The sort of the opposite such blow, accomplished by a hook and not in which some part of the body of the fish is struck by chance, as with tridents, but in which each time around the head and mouth of the prey the hook is drawn upwards from beneath by rods and reeds. By what name,
THEAETETUS, shall we say that this ought to be called?
THEAETETUS. I think that we have just found the very thing that we considered necessary to discover.
STRANGER. Now then, concerning the art of angling, you and I are agreed not only on the name, but we have sufficiently grasped the argument concerning the deed itself. For of art as a whole, a half part was acquisitive, and of the acquisitive, (half was) subduing, and of subduing, (half was) hunting, and of hunting, (half was) animal hunting, and of animal hunting, (half was) water hunting, and of water hunting, the lower portion as a whole was fishing, and of fishing, (half was) striking, and of striking, (half was) barb-hunting; and of this, the blow being pulled upward from below, is the very art of angling, having been searched for by name, and from this very action was likened its name.
THEAETETUS. By all means, this has been made sufficiently clear.
STRANGER. Come then, let us, according to this pattern, attempt to discover what the sophist is.
THEAETETUS. Indeed, absolutely.
STRANGER. And truly, indeed, our first question was whether the angler must be established as a layman or someone having an art.
STRANGER. And now,
THEAETETUS, shall we place this one as a layman or altogether truly one who professes to make men wise?
THEAETETUS. In no way a layman, for I understand what you say, that all having the name must be indeed of some such sort.
STRANGER. But it seems we must assert that he has some art.
THEAETETUS. Then what sort indeed is this?
STRANGER. By the gods! Did we not perceive that the man is akin to the other man?
THEAETETUS. Which one to whom?
STRANGER. The angler to the sophist.
THEAETETUS. How so?
STRANGER. It is quite clear to me that they are both a certain sort of hunter.
THEAETETUS. What is the hunting of the second? We have spoken about the first.
STRANGER. We just now divided hunting as a whole into two parts, that of hunting swimming creatures, and we marked off that of land-hunting.
STRANGER. And the one we discussed, as much as concerned the swimming creatures of the waters, and the other, the land-hunting, we left alone, undivided, saying that it was diverse.
STRANGER. Until that point, the sophist and the angler both proceed from the acquisitive art.
THEAETETUS. Indeed they seem to.
STRANGER. But they separate at the point of animal-hunting, the one turning to the sea and rivers and lakes, hunting the animals in those.
STRANGER. But the other turns to the earth, and rivers of a different sort, of wealth and youth, of bounteous meadows, to subdue the creatures in them.
THEAETETUS. What do you mean?
STRANGER. Of land-hunting there are two main parts.
THEAETETUS. What are they?
STRANGER. One, of tame creatures, and the other, of wild creatures.
THEAETETUS. Then is there a hunting of tame creatures?
STRANGER. If indeed man is a tame creature. But set it forth in whatever way you like. Either you assert that nothing is tame, or that some other tame thing exists, but man is wild, or again, you say that man is tame, but you believe that no one is a hunter of men. Of these, tell which you believe is to your liking, and determine this for us.
STRANGER, I believe that we are tame, and I agree that there is a hunting of men.
STRANGER. Let us say, then, that the hunting of tame creatures is also twofold.
THEAETETUS. According to which idea do we say that?
STRANGER. By defining piracy and man-stealing and tyranny and the whole art of war all collectively as hunting by force.
STRANGER. And, indeed, by defining the forensic art, and that of public speaking, and conversation, again one general whole, as naming a certain art of persuasion.
STRANGER. Indeed, let us say that there are two classes of persuasion.
STRANGER. The one takes place with individuals, the other in public.
THEAETETUS. Indeed, each does make up a species.
STRANGER. Then again, of the hunting of individuals, is there not both wage-earning and gift-giving?
THEAETETUS. I do not understand.
STRANGER. You have not yet, as it seems, turned your attention to the hunting of lovers.
THEAETETUS. In what respect?
STRANGER. They also give gifts to the hunted.
THEAETETUS. You speak most truly.
STRANGER. Let this species, then, be the amatory art.
STRANGER. And respecting the paid trade, that which converses through graciousness, and has made its lure altogether through pleasure, and exacts only sustenance as the wage for itself, I suspect, we would all agree that the art of flattery, is a certain art of pleasing.
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. But does not this class of those professing to make conversations because of virtue, and exacting money as a wage, deserve to be called by another name?
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. And what is that name? Try to tell.
THEAETETUS. It is clear indeed, for we seem to me to have discovered the sophist. Therefore I believe that saying this word would call him by the name belonging to him.
THEAETETUS, according to our present argument, as it seems, the art of hunting which is appropriative, subduing, catches animals alive, which are tame beasts, men, and privately, paid in the money changer's trade, teaches mere opinions, and has become a hunt of rich and distinguished youth, must be called, as our present argument concludes, sophistry.
STRANGER. But let us yet examine in the following way. For what we are now investigating partakes of no trivial art, but is very complex. For the appearance that was presented in the previous discussion is not this that we now say it is, but some other class.
THEAETETUS. How so?
STRANGER. The acquisitive art was of two species, one having the part of hunting, the other that of barter.
THEAETETUS. Yes, it was.
STRANGER. Now then, may we say that there are two kinds of barter, the one by gift, and the other by sale?
THEAETETUS. So be it.
STRANGER. And indeed, again, we shall say that barter by sale is divided into two parts.
STRANGER. By determining that the sale of self-made products is the selling of one's own, and the exchange of another's products, exchange.
STRANGER. Then what? Is not that part of exchange which is traffic in the city, nearly half of it, called retailing?
STRANGER. And that which passes from one city to another for purchase and sale is commerce?
STRANGER. Then did we not learn that one part of commerce is that which sells and exchanges whatever applies and administers to the body, and the other barters whatever serves the soul?
THEAETETUS. What do you mean by this?
STRANGER. Perhaps we do not perceive the part that concerns the soul, but, indeed, we do understand the other part.
STRANGER. Then let us speak of all of the arts of the Muses which are always sold from city to city, brought over from one side and sold, such as painting and conjuring, and many other things of the soul, imparted and sold for amusement, and for serious favor, and truly we would say that the one who carries these about and sells them is no less a merchant than that of food and drink.
THEAETETUS. What you say is most true.
STRANGER. Then would you call him by the same name, the one who buys up knowledge, and goes from city to city exchanging it for money?
STRANGER. Then might not one part of this trafficking in souls most justly be called display, and the other, no less laughable than that, being likewise a selling of knowledge, necessarily be called by some name akin to its selling?
STRANGER. Now of this merchandising in knowledge, the part concerning knowledge of the other arts should be called by one name, and the part concerning virtue by another.
THEAETETUS. How not?
STRANGER. Truly the name of art trader would be fitting for the rest, but for virtue, go ahead and say the name.
THEAETETUS. And by speaking what other name might one err not, except that which is the object of our present search, the sophist?
STRANGER. No other. Come, let us now summarize this, saying that in the acquisitive art of exchanging and merchandising, and of soul-merchandising in words and knowledge, in that disposed for trading in virtue, the nature of the sophist appears a second time.
THEAETETUS. Very well.
STRANGER. And there's a third case, I believe, where anyone who might settle down in the city, and by purchase or by making them himself, has these very items of knowledge, and proposes to make a living selling them, is called by no other name than that used just now.
THEAETETUS. Who could not intend that?
STRANGER. Then also that acquisitive art disposed to exchange, or sale, by retail, or selling one's own goods or products, both ways, as long as it may be concerning the class of all such trade in knowledge, you will always, as it seems, call sophistry.
THEAETETUS. Necessarily, for one must follow the argument.
STRANGER. Then let us yet see if the following resembles the class we are now pursuing.
THEAETETUS. What sort?
STRANGER. The art of combat was for us some part of the acquisitive art.
THEAETETUS. Yes, it was.
STRANGER. Therefore it is not out of character to divide it into two parts.
THEAETETUS. Tell. Say what the parts are.
STRANGER. Let us establish one as inclined to rivalry, and the other to fighting.
STRANGER. Then it is reasonable and fitting to call the part of the pugnacious art, consisting of bodily contests, some such name as violent.
STRANGER. And for something consisting of word to word contests,
THEAETETUS, what other name can be given but controversy?
THEAETETUS. No other.
STRANGER. And indeed controversy must be established as two.
STRANGER. Whenever lengthy arguments are opposed by lengthy arguments, concerning justice and injustice, there exists the forensic art.
STRANGER. And, again, those among individuals, divided up by questionings and replies, we surely do not call anything except the art of disputation?
THEAETETUS. Nothing else.
STRANGER. And that part of disputation which deals with contracts is controversial, but it is practiced at random and without an art to it, and that part must be established as a species, now that our argument recognizes it as different from the rest, but still a name was not given by our predecessors, nor is one deserved from us now.
THEAETETUS. True, because it is made into a division too small and miscellaneous.
STRANGER. But indeed, that which falls in the province of art, and practices controversy concerning justice, injustice and the rest, again, are we not accustomed to call the art of wrangling?
STRANGER. And of wrangling, there is the money-wasting sort, and the money-making sort.
STRANGER. Then let us attempt to tell the name by which each of them must be called.
THEAETETUS. Yes, we must.
STRANGER. Indeed it seems that the one becoming neglectful of his own affairs, for the pleasure of these discussions, but whose style of speaking is not heard with pleasure by many of his listeners, is called, in my opinion, nothing other than frivolous.
THEAETETUS. That is about what it is called.
STRANGER. Then the opposite of this, the one making money from private disputes - try it now, in your turn to give the name.
THEAETETUS. Again, what other name might one give, without erring, except, once more, having come back for the fourth time, that of him having been pursued by us, that wonderful sophist!
STRANGER. The sophist class is, as it seems, nothing else but the money-making class of the wrangling, disputatious, controversial, pugnacious, combative, acquisitive art, as the argument has now once again revealed.
THEAETETUS. Very much so indeed.
STRANGER. Then do you see that truly it is said that this is a many-sided creature and not to be caught by one hand?
THEAETETUS. Then he must be caught with both.
STRANGER. Yes we must, and we indeed must do it forcefully, in this way trailing another trace of him, of the following sort. Tell me. Do we not use certain domestic names in places?
THEAETETUS. Yes, in many, but to which of the many does the question refer?
STRANGER. To such as these: when we say "strain" and "shift" and "winnow" and "separate".
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. And besides these there are countless such others, such as "card," "spin," and "comb," in these arts, which we know well. Is that not so?
THEAETETUS. In what manner did you wish to point out these examples, and having put forward these things, what were you asking about them all?
STRANGER. All those things mentioned collectively are divisible.
STRANGER. Then, as there is one art concerning these things collectively, according to my argument, let us give it one name.
THEAETETUS. What shall we call it?
STRANGER. The art of discrimination.
THEAETETUS. Very well.
STRANGER. Now see how we are able to observe two species of this.
THEAETETUS. You demand swift examining, from the likes of me.
STRANGER. Yet truly indeed, in the discrimination just mentioned, there was first the separation of worse from better, and then of like from like.
THEAETETUS. It is pretty clear, as now told.
STRANGER. So I have no common name for the second, but I do have the discrimination that retains the better and throws away the worse.
THEAETETUS. Say it.
STRANGER. Every such discrimination, as I see it, is said by all to be a sort of purification.
THEAETETUS. Yes, so it is called.
STRANGER. Then, again, might not everyone see that the art of purification has two species?
THEAETETUS. Yes, perhaps in time, but I do not see it now.
STRANGER. Indeed, it is fitting to comprehend the many species of purifications of bodies by one name.
THEAETETUS. Which ones, and by what?
STRANGER. Those of living creatures, which are purified within bodies, by gymnastics and the art of healing, and also externally, which are trivial to speak of, which are rendered by the art of bath-keeping; and those of inanimate bodies, the attention being rendered by the fuller's art and the art of adornment, which have seemingly laughable names according to many small subdivisions.
THEAETETUS. However, it happens that the method of argument cares neither more nor less, in the arts of sponging or drinking medicine, whether the purifying helps us little, on the one hand, or greatly, on the other. For the sake of acquiring intelligence, it attempts to understand what is related and not related in all arts, and, therefore, honors them all equally, and does not consider, according to comparison, one more laughable than another, and does not consider one who displays the art of hunting through the art of the general, more solemn than that of the louse-catcher, but only, for the most part, more vain. And now, as to your question, we asked what name denotes all things which share the lot of purifying bodies, whether animate or inanimate. It makes no difference to the method, which one selected appears to be the finest; let it only have united everything which purifies something other apart from the purifications of the soul. For it has just now endeavored to distinguish the purification of thought from the rest, if we understand what it desires.
THEAETETUS. But I do understand, and I agree that there are two species of purification, and one species is that dealing with the soul, which is apart from that of the body.
STRANGER. Very beautiful. Now listen to the next point from me, trying again to divide what is said in two.
THEAETETUS. In whatever you instruct, I will try to make the divisions with you.
STRANGER. Do we say that wickedness is different from virtue in the soul?
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. And, indeed, purification was retaining the one, and throwing off whatever might have been bad anywhere.
THEAETETUS. Yes, it was.
STRANGER. Then whenever we find any removing of evil from the soul, we shall speak in tune, saying that it is purification.
STRANGER. We must say there are two species of evil in the soul.
STRANGER. The one occurs like disease in the body, the other like deformity.
THEAETETUS. I do not understand.
STRANGER. Probably you have not recognized that disease and discord are the same?
THEAETETUS. Again, I do not know what I should answer to this.
STRANGER. Is that because you consider discord to be anything other than the disunion of that which is by nature related, by some corruption?
THEAETETUS. Nothing other.
STRANGER. But is deformity anything else than the class of disproportion, which is everywhere unshapely?
THEAETETUS. In no wise other.
STRANGER. And what? Did we not see, in the soul of indifferent men, judgments opposed to desires, and anger to pleasures, and reason to pain, and all these things to one another?
STRANGER. Yet truly they must all be naturally related.
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. Then we shall speak rightly saying that wickedness is discord and disease of the soul.
THEAETETUS. Most rightly.
STRANGER. And what? If as many things as participate in motion, having set some mark, strike to hit it, and are carried off the track at each effort and miss, shall we say that this happens to them by right proportion to one another, or by the opposite, by disproportion?
THEAETETUS. Clearly by disproportion.
STRANGER. And truly ignorance is nothing other but the distraction of a soul which aims for truth, when the understanding is carried off the track.
THEAETETUS. Very true.
STRANGER. Then a mindless soul must be established as ugly and disproportionate.
THEAETETUS. So it seems.
STRANGER. Then these things are two kinds of evils in it, one which is called wickedness by most, most clearly a disease of it.
STRANGER. And the other they call ignorance, but they are not willing to call it baseness when it occurs only in the soul.
THEAETETUS. Indeed it must be conceded, though I was doubtful when you said it just now, that there are two kinds of evil in the soul, and cowardice and intemperance and injustice must be considered a disease in us, and the common and manifold condition of ignorance must be established as deformity.
STRANGER. Then, for the body, are there not some two specific arts concerning these two conditions?
THEAETETUS. Which two?
STRANGER. For deformity, the art of gymnastics, and for disease, the art of healing.
THEAETETUS. That is clear.
STRANGER. Then, concerning harm and injustice and cowardice, is not the art of correction most closely related, of all, to justice?
THEAETETUS. Probably, at least as the judgement of mankind says.
STRANGER. Then what? For all sorts of ignorance, would some other art be more correct to suggest than that of instruction?
THEAETETUS. No, no other.
STRANGER. Come now. Consider then, whether one must say that there is only one class of instruction, or more, and that two of them are the most important.
THEAETETUS. I am considering.
STRANGER. It seems to me we can find out most quickly in this way.
STRANGER. By seeing if somehow ignorance has some division through the middle of it. For if this is twofold, it is clear that instruction necessarily also has two portions, one for each part's own.
THEAETETUS. Then what? Is what we are looking for thus clear to you?
STRANGER. At least I think I see distinctly a certain large and weighty species of ignorance, separate from and balancing all the other parts.
THEAETETUS. What sort indeed?
STRANGER. That of not knowing something, but having the opinion of knowing it. Through this, it is likely that all slips of the mind we make are generated in all of us.
STRANGER. And, furthermore, I believe, to this sort of ignorance alone, the name of folly is designated.
STRANGER. And what indeed, then, must we utter for that part of instruction which gets rid of this?
THEAETETUS. I suspect,
STRANGER, that all the rest are arts of instruction in handicrafts, but here, this part has received the name of education from us.
STRANGER. And among nearly all Hellenes,
THEAETETUS. But we must consider whether still this is unable to be cut, or from this point has some division worthy of being named.
THEAETETUS. Then we must consider.
STRANGER. It seems to me that this can still somehow be split.
THEAETETUS. According to what?
STRANGER. Concerning instruction in arguments one approach seems to be rougher, and the other portion of it smoother.
THEAETETUS. Then what shall we call each of these?
STRANGER. The time-honored paternal one, which the fathers especially employed towards the sons and many yet employ, whenever they err, of sometimes dealing harshly and sometimes more gently exhorting - that then might most rightly be called as a whole the art of admonition.
THEAETETUS. It is thus.
STRANGER. But indeed on the other hand, some appear to let themselves believe that all folly is involuntary, and that the one who believes himself to be wise would never be willing to learn anything of which he believes himself clever, and, even with much trouble, the admonitory type of education accomplishes little.
THEAETETUS. They consider rightly.
STRANGER. They set out in another way towards the casting off of this opinion.
THEAETETUS. In what way?
STRANGER. They question somebody about that which anyone believes he is saying something, while saying nothing. Then they easily prove that the opinions are those of wanderers, and indeed, gathering them together in their arguments, they set them against one another, and in so setting, they show them contradictory to themselves, at the same time, concerning the same things, in relation to the same things, in the same respects. But the ones seeing this become harsh on themselves and conciliatory towards others, and indeed in this way they are freed from their gross and stubborn opinions about themselves, and of all riddance, this is the most pleasant to hear, and the most steadfast to the one experiencing it. For the ones purging them believe, dear child - just as the physicians of the body have maintained that the body cannot profit from any food offered until all hindrances in it might be removed - those ones having thought the same concerning the soul believe that it does not have the advantage of teachings being offered until someone, examining, brings the one being examined down to shame, and taking away the opinions that are impediments to learning, might show him forth purged, and believing those things which he knows, only as he knows and no more.
THEAETETUS. This is indeed the best and most temperate quality.
STRANGER. Because of all these things,
THEAETETUS, we must say that examination is thus the greatest and most compelling of purifications, and again, we must esteem the unexamined one, even if he happens to be the Great King, as unpurified of the greatest things, and disgraceful and uneducated in these things in which it is fitting that one who shall be truly happy is most pure and beautiful.
STRANGER. Then what? Who shall we say are those who are practiced in this art? I am afraid to say the sophists.
THEAETETUS. Why indeed?
STRANGER. Lest we confer upon them too great an honor.
THEAETETUS. But truly this bears a resemblance to a person as you have just now described.
STRANGER. Yes, and a wolf to a dog, the wildest to the tamest. But the steadfast man must always place himself especially on guard concerning resemblances, for the class is most slippery. Nevertheless, let this stand, for I think that the controversy will not be about small definitions whenever people are sufficiently on guard.
THEAETETUS. Indeed, it seems not.
STRANGER. Then let the art of separation be purification, and let the part of purification concerning the soul be separated off, and from this, let education be, and from education, instruction; and let us say that the part of instruction concerning idle conceit in wisdom, and the examining brought to light in the present discussion, is nothing else but the noble art of sophistry.
THEAETETUS. Let it be said. But I am already at a loss, since these many things have come to light, to know what one should say, speaking truly and being firmly convinced of what the sophist really is.
STRANGER. In all likelihood you are at a loss. But, therefore, that one must now be considered to be still much more at a loss as to how to yet slip through the argument, for the proverb is right, that it is not easy to escape everything, and now it must most certainly be put to him.
THEAETETUS. Well said.
STRANGER. Now, first, stopping to revive ourselves, let us, while resting, take full account before ourselves, of how many times the sophist has appeared to us. First, I think, he was found to be a hunter, in receipt of pay, of the young and wealthy.
STRANGER. And secondly, a certain merchant in learnings of the soul.
STRANGER. And thirdly, did he not reappear as a retailer of these same things?
THEAETETUS. Yes, and indeed, fourthly, he was for us a seller of his own knowledge.
STRANGER. You recollect rightly. But I shall try to recollect the fifth, for he was a certain contesting prizefighter in words, having defined himself in the art of disputation.
THEAETETUS. Yes, he was.
STRANGER. And the sixth case was arguable, but all the same, conceding to him, we established him as a soul-purifier, of its opinions that impede learning.
STRANGER. Then do you understand that when someone appears to know many things, but is called by the name of one art, this image is not sound, and that clearly the one belaboring this, respecting a certain art, is not able to perceive that feature of it, to which all these knowledges pertain, and therefore calls him possessing them by many names instead of one?
THEAETETUS. This definitely risks being somehow like that.
STRANGER. Then let us not, through idleness, tolerate this in the investigation, but first let us take up one of the remarks made about the sophist. For there was one thing that showed him revealed to me.
THEAETETUS. Which was it?
STRANGER. We said he was given to disputation.
STRANGER. Then what? Was there not teaching of this by him to others?
STRANGER. Let us consider then, concerning which topics they say that they make disputers. Let our examination thus be from the beginning with the following. Come, is it concerning divine things, which to many are invisible, that they make them able to do this?
THEAETETUS. At any rate this is said about them.
STRANGER. And what about the visible things, of earth and heaven and the like?
THEAETETUS. To be sure.
STRANGER. And, furthermore, in their private societies, whenever something is said of everything, concerning becoming and being, do we not know that they are clever answerers and that they make others as capable as themselves?
STRANGER. Then what about laws and politics in general - do they not profess to make them disputatious about these?
THEAETETUS. Yes, for no one, I'd say, would converse with them if they were not promising this.
STRANGER. And there are, moreover, those things concerning all arts, and each individual art, which one must answer against each craftsman who would contradict him, which have been made public somewhere and put down in writing for anyone who would wish to learn.
THEAETETUS. You seem to me to have referred to the writings of Pythagoras on wrestling and the other arts.
STRANGER. And indeed, dear friend, of many others. But indeed does not the art of disputation then seem to be, in summary, the adequate capability for arguing concerning all things?
THEAETETUS. At any rate it appears to omit next to nothing.
STRANGER. By the gods! My boy, do you think this is possible? But perhaps you young people might see it more clearly and we more dimly.
THEAETETUS. What sort is it, and what, chiefly, are you talking about? For I don't yet understand what is now being asked.
STRANGER. If it is possible for any among men to know all things.
STRANGER, ours would be a blessed race.
STRANGER. How, then, might one, being unknowing himself, possibly say anything sound in speaking against someone who knows?
THEAETETUS. In no way.
STRANGER. Then whatever could the wondrous quality of the sophistic ability be?
THEAETETUS. In what respect?
STRANGER. In the way in which at any time they are able to render to the young ones the opinion, that they are the wisest of all, in everything. For it is clear that if they neither argued correctly nor appeared to them to do so, nor in appearing to, did not seem prudent throughout the argument, as you said, scarcely anyone would be giving them money and be willing to become their student of these things.
THEAETETUS. Certainly hardly anyone.
STRANGER. But now, they are willing to do so?
THEAETETUS. Very much.
STRANGER. For they seem, I think, to be well-instructed themselves in these things about which they argue.
THEAETETUS. Of course.
STRANGER. And do we not say that they do this in everything?
STRANGER. Then they appear to their students to be wise in all things.
STRANGER. Yet they are not, for this was shown to be impossible.
THEAETETUS. For how is it not impossible?
STRANGER. Then the sophist has been shown for us possessing a certain skill in the art of opinion, but not possessing truth.
THEAETETUS. Entirely, and that ventures to be the most correct statement made about them so far.
STRANGER. Then let us take a clearer example concerning them.
THEAETETUS. What sort, exactly?
STRANGER. The following. And try to apply your mind and give me a very good answer.
THEAETETUS. What sort?
STRANGER. If anyone should say that he knows how not to speak or argue, but to do and to make all things together by a single art -
THEAETETUS. What do you mean by all things?
STRANGER. You immediately failed to grasp the beginning of what I said, for you do not seem to understand "all things."
THEAETETUS. No, I do not.
STRANGER. I mean you and me among the all, and besides us the rest of the creatures, and the trees.
THEAETETUS. What do you mean?
STRANGER. If someone should say he would make you and me and all other created things.
THEAETETUS. Meaning what kind of making? Indeed you will not say he is some kind of husbandman, for you said he was a maker of animals also.
STRANGER. I say so, and of sea and earth and heaven and of gods and of everything else together, and besides, having made each of them quickly, he sells them for a very small price.
THEAETETUS. You mean a sort of child's play.
STRANGER. What? Must it be considered child's play, when saying that one knows everything and could teach these things to another for a small price and in a little time?
STRANGER. And do you know any more artistic or charming species of child's play than the imitative?
THEAETETUS. Not at all. For you have stated a universal and just about the most differentiated species, and collected it all into one.
STRANGER. Then we now recognize this, that the one who promises to be able to make all things by a single art, by the art of painting will be able to create imitations having the same names as the actual things, and by displaying the paintings from afar, to slip past the foolish of the young people the notion that he is most adequate to accomplish in fact whatever he wishes to accomplish.
STRANGER. Then what? Do we not expect that there is a different art, concerning arguments, by which in fact it is possible to bewitch the young, while standing far from the realities of truth, with words through their ears, by exhibiting spoken images of all things, so as to make them seem to be truly said, and the speaker the wisest of all men in everything?
THEAETETUS. Why shouldn't there be another such art?
STRANGER. Then will not the many,
THEAETETUS, of those who then listened, by necessity, when enough time has gone by for them and their age advanced, and they are fallen upon immediacies, be compelled to grasp the realities distinctly, and change the opinions which they then had, so that the great things appear small, and the easy difficult, and all the apparitions in arguments totally inverted by the results that have come upon them by their works?
THEAETETUS. Yes, at least judging at my age. But I think I am one of the ones still standing at a distance.
STRANGER. Therefore all of us here will try, and are now trying, to lead you as near as possible without the sufferings. But tell me this, then, about the sophist. Is it now clear that he is one of the bewitchers, and imitator of realities, or are we still in doubt whether he happens truly to possess that much knowledge in the things he seems to be able to argue?
THEAETETUS. But how could he,
STRANGER? It is pretty clear now from what has been said, that he is one of those participating in child's play.
STRANGER. Then we must classify him as a certain bewitcher and imitator.
THEAETETUS. Yes, he must be so classified.