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By Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett

Persons of the Dialogue
An ELEATIC STRANGER, whom Theodorus and Theaetetus bring with
The younger SOCRATES, who is a silent auditor

Theodorus. Here we are, Socrates, true to our agreement of yesterday;
and we bring with us a stranger from Elea, who is a disciple of Parmenides
and Zeno, and a true philosopher. 

Socrates. Is he not rather a god, Theodorus, who comes to us in the
disguise of a stranger? For Homer says that all the gods, and especially
the god of strangers, are companions of the meek and just, and visit
the good and evil among men. And may not your companion be one of
those higher powers, a cross-examining deity, who has come to spy
out our weakness in argument, and to cross-examine us? 

Theod. Nay, Socrates, he is not one of the disputatious sort-he is
too good for that. And, in my opinion, he is not a god at all; but
divine he certainly is, for this is a title which I should give to
all philosophers. 

Soc. Capital, my friend! and I may add that they are almost as hard
to be discerned as the gods. For the true philosophers, and such as
are not merely made up for the occasion, appear in various forms unrecognized
by the ignorance of men, and they "hover about cities," as Homer declares,
looking from above upon human life; and some think nothing of them,
and others can never think enough; and sometimes they appear as statesmen,
and sometimes as sophists; and then, again, to many they seem to be
no better than madmen. I should like to ask our Eleatic friend, if
he would tell us, what is thought about them in Italy, and to whom
the terms are applied. 

Theod. What terms? 

Soc. Sophist, statesman, philosopher. 

Theod. What is your difficulty about them, and what made you ask?

Soc. I want to know whether by his countrymen they are regarded as
one or two; or do they, as the names are three, distinguish also three
kinds, and assign one to each name? 

Theod. I dare say that the Stranger will not object to discuss the
question. What do you say, Stranger? 

Stranger. I am far from objecting, Theodorus, nor have I any difficulty
in replying that by us they are regarded as three. But to define precisely
the nature of each of them is by no means a slight or easy task.

Theod. You have happened to light, Socrates, almost on the very question
which we were asking our friend before we came hither, and he excused
himself to us, as he does now you; although he admitted that the matter
had been fully discussed, and that he remembered the answer.

Soc. Then do not, Stranger, deny us the first favour which we ask
of you: I am sure that you will not, and therefore I shall only beg
of you to say whether you like and are accustomed to make a long oration
on a subject which you want to explain to another, or to proceed by
the method of question and answer. I remember hearing a very noble
discussion in which Parmenides employed the latter of the two methods,
when I was a young man, and he was far advanced in years.

Str. I prefer to talk with another when he responds pleasantly, and
is light in hand; if not, I would rather have my own say.

Soc. Any one of the present company will respond kindly to you, and
you can choose whom you like of them; I should recommend you to take
a young person-Theaetetus, for example-unless you have a preference
for some one else. 

Str. I feel ashamed, Socrates, being a new comer into your society,
instead of talking a little and hearing others talk, to be spinning
out a long soliloquy or address, as if I wanted to show off. For the
true answer will certainly be a very long one, a great deal longer
than might be expected from such a short and simple question. At the
same time, I fear that I may seem rude and ungracious if I refuse
your courteous request, especially after what you have said. For I
certainly cannot object to your proposal, that Theaetetus should respond,
having already conversed with him myself, and being recommended by
you to take him. 

Theaetetus. But are you sure, Stranger, that this will be quite so
acceptable to the rest of the company as Socrates imagines?

Str. You hear them applauding, Theaetetus; after that, there is nothing
more to be said. Well then, I am to argue with you, and if you tire
of the argument, you may complain of your friends and not of me.

Theaet. I do not think that I shall tire, and if I do, I shall get
my friend here, young Socrates, the namesake of the elder Socrates,
to help; he is about my own age, and my partner at the gymnasium,
and is constantly accustomed to work with me. 

Str. Very good; you can decide about that for yourself as we proceed.
Meanwhile you and I will begin together and enquire into the nature
of the Sophist, first of the three: I should like you to make out
what he is and bring him to light in a discussion; for at present
we are only agreed about the name, but of the thing to which we both
apply the name possibly you have one notion and I another; whereas
we ought always to come to an understanding about the thing itself
in terms of a definition, and not merely about the name minus the
definition. Now the tribe of Sophists which we are investigating is
not easily caught or defined; and the world has long ago agreed, that
if great subjects are to be adequately treated, they must be studied
in the lesser and easier instances of them before we proceed to the
greatest of all. And as I know that the tribe of Sophists is troublesome
and hard to be caught, I should recommend that we practise beforehand
the method which is to be applied to him on some simple and smaller
thing, unless you can suggest a better way. 

Theaet. Indeed I cannot. 

Str. Then suppose that we work out some lesser example which will
be a pattern of the greater? 

Theaet. Good. 

Str. What is there which is well known and not great, and is yet as
susceptible of definition as any larger thing? Shall I say an angler?
He is familiar to all of us, and not a very interesting or important

Theaet. He is not. 

Str. Yet I suspect that he will furnish us with the sort of definition
and line of enquiry which we want. 

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. Let us begin by asking whether he is a man having art or not
having art, but some other power. 

Theaet. He is clearly a man of art. 

Str. And of arts there are two kinds? 

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. There is agriculture, and the tending of mortal creatures, and
the art of constructing or moulding vessels, and there is the art
of imitation-all these may be appropriately called by a single name.

Theaet. What do you mean? And what is the name? 

Str. He who brings into existence something that did not exist before
is said to be a producer, and that which is brought into existence
is said to be produced. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And all the arts which were just now mentioned are characterized
by this power of producing? 

Theaet. They are. 

Str. Then let us sum them up under the name of productive or creative

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. Next follows the whole class of learning and cognition; then
comes trade, fighting, hunting. And since none of these produces anything,
but is only engaged in conquering by word or deed, or in preventing
others from conquering, things which exist and have been already produced-in
each and all of these branches there appears to be an art which may
be called acquisitive. 

Theaet. Yes, that is the proper name. 

Str. Seeing, then, that all arts are either acquisitive or creative,
in which class shall we place the art of the angler? 

Theaet. Clearly in the acquisitive class. 

Str. And the acquisitive may be subdivided into two parts: there is
exchange, which is voluntary and is effected by gifts, hire, purchase;
and the other part of acquisitive, which takes by force of word or
deed, may be termed conquest? 

Theaet. That is implied in what has been said. 

Str. And may not conquest be again subdivided? 

Theaet. How? 

Str. Open force may; be called fighting, and secret force may have
the general name of hunting? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And there is no reason why the art of hunting should not be further

Theaet. How would you make the division? 

Str. Into the hunting of living and of lifeless prey. 

Theaet. Yes, if both kinds exist. 

Str. Of course they exist; but the hunting after lifeless things having
no special name, except some sorts of diving, and other small matters,
may be omitted; the hunting after living things may be called animal

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And animal hunting may be truly said to have two divisions, land-animal
hunting, which has many kinds and names, and water-animals hunting,
or the hunting after animals who swim? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And of swimming animals, one class lives on the wing and the
other in the water? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Fowling is the general term under which the hunting of all birds
is included. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. The hunting of animals who live in the water has the general
name of fishing. 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And this sort of hunting may be further divided also into two
principal kinds? 

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. There is one kind which takes them in nets, another which takes
them by a blow. 

Theaet. What do you mean, and how do you distinguish them?

Str. As to the first kind-all that surrounds and encloses anything
to prevent egress, may be rightly called an enclosure. 

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. For which reason twig baskets, casting nets, nooses, creels,
and the like may all be termed "enclosures"? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And therefore this first kind of capture may be called by us
capture with enclosures, or something of that sort? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. The other kind, which is practised by a blow with hooks and three
pronged spears, when summed up under one name, may be called striking,
unless you, Theaetetus, can find some better name? 

Theaet. Never mind the name-what you suggest will do very well.

Str. There is one mode of striking, which is done at night, and by
the light of a fire, and is by the hunters themselves called firing,
or spearing by firelight. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And the fishing by day is called by the general name of barbing
because the spears, too, are barbed at the point. 

Theaet. Yes, that is the term. 

Str. Of this barb-fishing, that which strikes the fish Who is below
from above is called spearing, because this is the way in which the
three-pronged spears are mostly used. 

Theaet. Yes, it is often called so. 

Str. Then now there is only one kind remaining. 

Theaet. What is that? 

Str. When a hook is used, and the fish is not struck in any chance
part of his body-he as be is with the spear, but only about the head
and mouth, and is then drawn out from below upwards with reeds and
rods:-What is the right name of that mode of fish, Theaetetus?

Theaet. I suspect that we have now discovered the object of our search.

Str. Then now you and I have come to an understanding not only about
the name of the angler's art, but about the definition of the thing
itself. One half of all art was acquisitive-half of all the art acquisitive
art was conquest or taking by force, half of this was hunting, and
half of hunting was hunting animals, half of this was hunting water
animals-of this again, the under half was fishing, half of fishing
was striking; a part of striking was fishing with a barb, and one
half of this again, being the kind which strikes with a hook and draws
the fish from below upwards, is the art which we have been seeking,
and which from the nature of the operation is denoted angling or drawing
up (aspalienutike, anaspasthai). 

Theaet. The result has been quite satisfactorily brought out.

Str. And now, following this pattern, let us endeavour to find out
what a Sophist is. 

Theaet. By all means. 

Str. The first question about the angler was, whether he was a skilled
artist or unskilled? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And shall we call our new friend unskilled, or a thorough master
of his craft? 

Theaet. Certainly not unskilled, for his name, as, indeed, you imply,
must surely express his nature. 

Str. Then he must be supposed to have some art. 

Theaet. What art? 

Str. By heaven, they are cousins! it never occurred to us.

Theaet. Who are cousins? 

Str. The angler and the Sophist. 

Theaet. In what way are they related? 

Str. They both appear to me to be hunters. 

Theaet. How the Sophist? Of the other we have spoken. 

Str. You remember our division of hunting, into hunting after swimming
animals and land animals? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And you remember that we subdivided the swimming and left the
land animals, saying that there were many kinds of them?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Thus far, then, the Sophist and the angler, starting from the
art of acquiring, take the same road? 

Theaet. So it would appear. 

Str. Their paths diverge when they reach the art of animal hunting;
the one going to the seashore, and to the rivers and to the lakes,
and angling for the animals which are in them. 

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. While the other goes to land and water of another sort-rivers
of wealth and broad meadow-lands of generous youth; and he also is
intending to take the animals which are in them. 

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. Of hunting on land there are two principal divisions.

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. One is the hunting of tame, and the other of wild animals.

Theaet. But are tame animals ever hunted? 

Str. Yes, if you include man under tame animals. But if you like you
may say that there are no tame animals, or that, if there are, man
is not among them; or you may say that man is a tame animal but is
not hunted-you shall decide which of these alternatives you prefer.

Theaet. I should say, Stranger, that man is a tame animal, and I admit
that he is hunted. 

Str. Then let us divide the hunting of tame animals into two parts.

Theaet. How shall we make the division? 

Str. Let us define piracy, man-stealing, tyranny, the whole military
art, by one name, as hunting with violence. 

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. But the art of the lawyer, of the popular orator, and the art
of conversation may be called in one word the art of persuasion.

Theaet. True. 

Str. And of persuasion, there may be said to be two kinds?

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. One is private, and the other public. 

Theaet. Yes; each of them forms a class. 

Str. And of private hunting, one sort receives hire, and the other
brings gifts. 

Theaet. I do not understand you. 

Str. You seem never to have observed the manner in which lovers hunt.

Theaet. To what do you refer? 

Str. I mean that they lavish gifts on those whom they hunt in addition
to other inducements. 

Theaet. Most true. 

Str. Let us admit this, then, to be the amatory art. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. But that sort of hireling whose conversation is pleasing and
who baits his hook only with pleasure and exacts nothing but his maintenance
in return, we should all, if I am not mistaken, describe as possessing
flattery or an art of making things pleasant. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And that sort, which professes to form acquaintances only for
the sake of virtue, and demands a reward in the shape of money, may
be fairly called by another name? 

Theaet. To be sure. 

Str. And what is the name? Will you tell me? 

Theaet. It is obvious enough; for I believe that we have discovered
the Sophist: which is, as I conceive, the proper name for the class

Str. Then now, Theaetetus, his art may be traced as a branch of the
appropriative, acquisitive family-which hunts animals,-living-land-tame
animals; which hunts man,-privately-for hire,-taking money in exchange-having
the semblance of education; and this is termed Sophistry, and is a
hunt after young men of wealth and rank-such is the conclusion.

Theaet. Just so. 

Str. Let us take another branch of his genealogy; for he is a professor
of a great and many sided art; and if we look back at what has preceded
we see that he presents another aspect, besides that of which we are

Theaet. In what respect? 

Str. There were two sorts of acquisitive art; the one concerned with
hunting, the other with exchange. 

Theaet. There were. 

Str. And of the art of exchange there are two divisions, the one of
giving, and the other of selling. 

Theaet. Let us assume that. 

Str. Next, will suppose the art of selling to be divided into two

Theaet. How? 

Str. There is one part which is distinguished as the sale of a man's
own productions; another, which is the exchange of the works of others.

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And is not that part of exchange which takes place in the city,
being about half of the whole, termed retailing? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And that which exchanges the goods of one city for those of another
by selling and buying is the exchange of the merchant? 

Theaet. To be sure. 

Str. And you are aware that this exchange of the merchant is of two
kinds: it is partly concerned with food for the use of the body, and
partly with the food of the soul which is bartered and received in
exchange for money. 

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. You want to know what is the meaning of food for the soul; the
other kind you surely understand. 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. Take music in general and painting and marionette playing and
many other things, which are purchased in one city, and carried away
and sold in another-wares of the soul which are hawked about either
for the sake of instruction or amusement;-may not he who takes them
about and sells them be quite as truly called a merchant as he who
sells meats and drinks? 

Theaet. To be sure he may. 

Str. And would you not call by the same name him who buys up knowledge
and goes about from city to city exchanging his wares for money?

Theaet. Certainly I should. 

Str. Of this merchandise of the soul, may not one part be fairly termed
the art of display? And there is another part which is certainly not
less ridiculous, but being a trade in learning must be called by some
name germane to the matter? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. The latter should have two names,-one descriptive of the sale
of the knowledge of virtue, and the other of the sale of other kinds
of knowledge. 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. The name of art-seller corresponds well enough to the latter;
but you must try and tell me the name of the other. 

Theaet. He must be the Sophist, whom we are seeking; no other name
can possibly be right. 

Str. No other; and so this trader in virtue again turns out to be
our friend the Sophist, whose art may now be traced from the art of
acquisition through exchange, trade, merchandise, to a merchandise
of the soul which is concerned with speech and the knowledge of virtue.

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. And there may be a third reappearance of him;-for he may have
settled down in a city, and may fabricate as well as buy these same
wares, intending to live by selling them, and he would still be called
a Sophist? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Then that part of acquisitive art which exchanges, and of exchange
which either sells a man's own productions or retails those of others;
as the case may be, and in either way sells the knowledge of virtue,
you would again term Sophistry? 

Theaet. I must, if I am to keep pace with the argument. 

Str. Let us consider once more whether there may not be yet another
aspect of sophistry. 

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. In the acquisitive there was a subdivision of the combative or
fighting art. 

Theaet. There was. 

Str. Perhaps we had better divide it. 

Theaet. What shall be the divisions? 

Str. There shall be one division of the competitive, and another of
the pugnacious. 

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. That part of the pugnacious which is contest of bodily strength
may be properly called by some such name as violent. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And when the war is one of words, it may be termed controversy?

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And controversy may be of two kinds. 

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. When long speeches are answered by long speeches, and there is
public discussion about the just and unjust, that is forensic controversy.

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And there is a private sort of controversy, which is cut up into
questions and answers, and this is commonly called disputation?

Theaet. Yes, that is the name. 

Str. And of disputation, that sort which is only a discussion about
contracts, and is carried on at random, and without rules-art, is
recognized by the reasoning faculty to be a distinct class, but has
hitherto had no distinctive name, and does not deserve to receive
one from us. 

Theaet. No; for the different sorts of it are too minute and heterogeneous.

Str. But that which proceeds by rules of art to dispute about justice
and injustice in their own nature, and about things in general, we
have been accustomed to call argumentation (Eristic)? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And of argumentation, one sort wastes money, and the other makes

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. Suppose we try and give to each of these two classes a name.

Theaet. Let us do so. 

Str. I should say that the habit which leads a man to neglect his
own affairs for the pleasure of conversation, of which the style is
far from being agreeable to the majority of his hearers, may be fairly
termed loquacity: such is my opinion. 

Theaet. That is the common name for it. 

Str. But now who the other is, who makes money out of private disputation,
it is your turn to say. 

Theaet. There is only one true answer: he is the wonderful Sophist,
of whom we are in pursuit, and who reappears again for the fourth

Str. Yes, and with a fresh pedigree, for he is the money-making species
of the Eristic, disputatious, controversial. pugnacious, combative,
acquisitive family, as the argument has already proven. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. How true was the observation that he was a many-sided animal,
and not to be caught with one hand, as they say! 

Theaet. Then you must catch him with two. 

Str. Yes, we must, if we can. And therefore let us try, another track
in our pursuit of him: You are aware that there are certain menial
occupations which have names among servants? 

Theaet. Yes, there are many such; which of them do you mean?

Str. I mean such as sifting, straining, winnowing, threshing.

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And besides these there are a great many more, such as carding,
spinning, adjusting the warp and the woof; and thousands of similar
expressions are used in the arts. 

Theaet. Of what are they to be patterns, and what are we going to
do with them all? 

Str. I think that in all of these there is implied a notion of division.

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. Then if, as I was saying, there is one art which includes all
of them, ought not that art to have one name? 

Theaes. And what is the name of the art? 

Str. The art of discerning or discriminating. 

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. Think whether you cannot divide this. 

Theaet. I should have to think a long while. 

Str. In all the previously named processes either like has been separated
from like or the better from the worse. 

Theaet. I see now what you mean. 
Str, There is no name for the first kind of separation; of the second,
which throws away the worse and preserves the better, I do know a

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. Every discernment or discrimination of that kind, as I have observed,
is called a purification. 

Theaet. Yes, that is the usual expression. 

Str. And any one may see that purification is of two kinds.

Theaet. Perhaps so, if he were allowed time to think; but I do not
see at this moment. 

Str. There are many purifications of bodies which may with propriety
be comprehended under a single name. 

Theaet. What are they, and what is their name? 

Str. There is the purification of living bodies in their inward and
in their outward parts, of which the former is duly effected by medicine
and gymnastic, the latter by the not very dignified art of the bath-man;
and there is the purification of inanimate substances-to this the
arts of fulling and of furbishing in general attend in a number of
minute particulars, having a variety of names which are thought ridiculous.

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. There can be no doubt that they are thought ridiculous, Theaetetus;
but then the dialectical art never considers whether the benefit to
be derived from the purge is greater or less than that to be derived
from the sponge, and has not more interest in the one than in the
other; her endeavour is to know what is and is not kindred in all
arts, with a view to the acquisition of intelligence; and having this
in view, she honours them all alike, and when she makes comparisons,
she counts one of them not a whit more ridiculous than another; nor
does she esteem him who adduces as his example of hunting, the general's
art, at all more decorous than another who cites that of the vermin-destroyer,
but only as the greater pretender of the two. And as to your question
concerning the name which was to comprehend all these arts of purification,
whether of animate or inanimate bodies, the art of dialectic is in
no wise particular about fine words, if she maybe only allowed to
have a general name for all other purifications, binding them up together
and separating them off from the purification of the soul or intellect.
For this is the purification at which she wants to arrive, and this
we should understand to be her aim. 

Theaet. Yes, I understand; and I agree that there are two sorts of
purification and that one of them is concerned with the soul, and
that there is another which is concerned with the body. 

Str. Excellent; and now listen to what I am going to say, and try
to divide further the first of the two. 

Theaet. Whatever line of division you suggest, I will endeavour to
assist you. 

Str. Do we admit that virtue is distinct from vice in the soul?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And purification was to leave the good and to cast out whatever
is bad? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Then any taking away of evil from the soul may be properly called

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And in the soul there are two kinds of evil. 

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. The one may be compared to disease in the body, the other to

Theaet. I do not understand. 

Str. Perhaps you have never reflected that disease and discord are
the same. 

Theaet. To this, again, I know not what I should reply. 

Str. Do you not conceive discord to be a dissolution of kindred clements,
originating in some disagreement? 

Theaet. Just that. 

Str. And is deformity anything but the want of measure, which is always

Theaet. Exactly. 

Str. And do we not see that opinion is opposed to desire, pleasure
to anger, reason to pain, and that all these elements are opposed
to one another in the souls of bad men? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And yet they must all be akin? 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. Then we shall be right in calling vice a discord and disease
of the soul? 

Theaet. Most true. 

Str. And when things having motion, an aiming at an appointed mark,
continually miss their aim and glance aside, shall we say that this
is the effect of symmetry among them, or of the want of symmetry?

Theaet. Clearly of the want of symmetry. 

Str. But surely we know that no soul is voluntarily ignorant of anything?

Theaet. Certainly not. 

Str. And what is ignorance but the aberration of a mind which is bent
on truth, and in which the process of understanding is perverted?

Theaet. True. 

Str. Then we are to regard an unintelligent soul as deformed and devoid
of symmetry? 

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. Then there are these two kinds of evil in the soul-the one which
is generally called vice, and is obviously a disease of the soul...

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And there is the other, which they call ignorance, and which,
because existing only in the soul, they will not allow to be vice.

Theaet. I certainly admit what I at first disputed-that there are
two kinds of vice in the soul, and that we ought to consider cowardice,
intemperance, and injustice to be alike forms of disease in the soul,
and ignorance, of which there are all sorts of varieties, to be deformity.

Str. And in the case of the body are there not two arts, which have
to do with the two bodily states? 

Theaet. What are they? 

Str. There is gymnastic, which has to do with deformity, and medicine,
which has to do with disease. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And where there is insolence and injustice and cowardice, is
not chastisement the art which is most required? 

Theaet. That certainly appears to be the opinion of mankind.

Str. Again, of the various kinds of ignorance, may not instruction
be rightly said to be the remedy? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And of the art of instruction, shall we say that there is one
or many kinds? At any rate there are two principal ones. Think.

Theaet. I will. 

Str. I believe that I can see how we shall soonest arrive at the answer
to this question. 

Theaet. How? 

Str. If we can discover a line which divides ignorance into two halves.
For a division of ignorance into two parts will certainly imply that
the art of instruction is also twofold, answering to the two divisions
of ignorance. 

Theaet. Well, and do you see what you are looking for? 

Str. I do seem to myself to see one very large and bad sort of ignorance
which is quite separate, and may be weighed in the scale against all
other sorts of ignorance put together. 

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. When a person supposes that he knows, and does not know this
appears to be the great source of all the errors of the intellect.

Theaet. True. 

Str. And this, if I am not mistaken, is the kind of ignorance which
specially earns the title of stupidity. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. What name, then, shall be given to the sort of instruction which
gets rid of this? 

Theaet. The instruction which you mean, Stranger, is, I should imagine,
not the teaching of handicraft arts, but what, thanks to us, has been
termed education in this part the world. 

Str. Yes, Theaetetus, and by nearly all Hellenes. But we have still
to consider whether education admits of any further division.

Theaet. We have. 

Str. I think that there is a point at which such a division is possible.

Theaet. Where? 

Str. Of education, one method appears to be rougher, and another smoother.

Theaet. How are we to distinguish the two? 

Str. There is the time-honoured mode which our fathers commonly practised
towards their sons, and which is still adopted by many-either of roughly
reproving their errors, or of gently advising them; which varieties
may be correctly included under the general term of admonition.

Theaet. True. 

Str. But whereas some appear to have arrived at the conclusion that
all ignorance is involuntary, and that no one who thinks himself wise
is willing to learn any of those things in which he is conscious of
his own cleverness, and that the admonitory sort of instruction gives
much trouble and does little good- 

Theaet. There they are quite right. 

Str. Accordingly, they set to work to eradicate the spirit of conceit
in another way. 

Theaet. In what way? 

Str. They cross-examine a man's words, when he thinks that he is saying
something and is really saying nothing, and easily convict him of
inconsistencies in his opinions; these they then collect by the dialectical
process, and placing them side by side, show that they contradict
one another about the same things, in relation to the same things,
and in the same respect. He, seeing this, is angry with himself, and
grows gentle towards others, and thus is entirely delivered from great
prejudices and harsh notions, in a way which is most amusing to the
hearer, and produces the most lasting good effect on the person who
is the subject of the operation. For as the physician considers that
the body will receive no benefit from taking food until the internal
obstacles have been removed, so the purifier of the soul is conscious
that his patient will receive no benefit from the application of knowledge
until he is refuted, and from refutation learns modesty; he must be
purged of his prejudices first and made to think that he knows only
what he knows, and no more. 

Theaet. That is certainly the best and wisest state of mind.

Str. For all these reasons, Theaetetus, we must admit that refutation
is the greatest and chiefest of purifications, and he who has not
been refuted, though he be the Great King himself, is in an awful
state of impurity; he is uninstructed and deformed in those things
in which he who would be truly blessed ought to be fairest and purest.

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. And who are the ministers of this art? I am afraid to say the

Theaet. Why? 

Str. Lest we should assign to them too high a prerogative.

Theaet. Yet the Sophist has a certain likeness to our minister of

Str. Yes, the same sort of likeness which a wolf, who is the fiercest
of animals, has to a dog, who is the gentlest. But he who would not
be found tripping, ought to be very careful in this matter of comparisons,
for they are most slippery things. Nevertheless, let us assume that
the Sophists are the men. I say this provisionally, for I think that
the line which divides them will be marked enough if proper care is

Theaet. Likely enough. 

Str. Let us grant, then, that from the discerning art comes purification,
and from purification let there be separated off a part which is concerned
with the soul; of this mental purification instruction is a portion,
and of instruction education, and of education, that refutation of
vain conceit which has been discovered in the present argument; and
let this be called by you and me the nobly-descended art of Sophistry.

Theaet. Very well; and yet, considering the number of forms in which
he has presented himself, I begin to doubt how I can with any truth
or confidence describe the real nature of the Sophist. 

Str. You naturally feel perplexed; and yet I think that he must be
still more perplexed in his attempt to escape us, for as the proverb
says, when every way is blocked, there is no escape; now, then, is
the time of all others to set upon him. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. First let us wait a moment and recover breath, and while we are
resting, we may reckon up in how many forms he has appeared. In the
first place, he was discovered to be a paid hunter after wealth and

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. In the second place, he was a merchant in the goods of the soul.

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. In the third place, he has turned out to be a retailer of the
same sort of wares. 

Theaet. Yes; and in the fourth place, he himself manufactured the
learned wares which he sold. 

Str. Quite right; I will try and remember the fifth myself. He belonged
to the fighting class, and was further distinguished as a hero of
debate, who professed the eristic art. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. The sixth point was doubtful, and yet we at last agreed that
he was a purger of souls, who cleared away notions obstructive to

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. Do you not see that when the professor of any art has one name
and many kinds of knowledge, there must be something wrong? The multiplicity
of names which is applied to him shows that the common principle to
which all these branches of knowledge are tending, is not understood.

Theaet. I should imagine this to be the case. 

Str. At any rate we will understand him, and no indolence shall prevent
us. Let us begin again, then, and re-examine some of our statements
concerning the Sophist; there was one thing which appeared to me especially
characteristic of him. 

Theaet. To what are you referring? 

Str. We were saying of him, if I am not mistaken, that he was a disputer?

Theaet. We were. 

Str. And does he not also teach others the art of disputation?

Theaet. Certainly he does. 

Str. And about what does he profess that he teaches men to dispute?
To begin at the beginning-Does he make them able to dispute about
divine things, which are invisible to men in general? 

Theaet. At any rate, he is said to do so. 

Str. And what do you say of the visible things in heaven and earth,
and the like? 

Theaet. Certainly he disputes, and teaches to dispute about them.

Str. Then, again, in private conversation, when any universal assertion
is made about generation and essence, we know that such persons are
tremendous argufiers, and are able to impart their own skill to others.

Theaet. Undoubtedly. 

Str. And do they not profess to make men able to dispute about law
and about politics in general? 

Theaet. Why, no one would have anything to say to them, if they did
not make these professions. 

Str. In all and every art, what the craftsman ought to say in answer
to any question is written down in a popular form, and he who likes
may learn. 

Theaet. I suppose that you are referring to the precepts of Protagoras
about wrestling and the other arts? 

Str. Yes, my friend, and about a good many other things. In a word,
is not the art of disputation a power of disputing about all things?

Theaet. Certainly; there does not seem to be much which is left out.

Str. But oh! my dear youth, do you suppose this possible? for perhaps
your young eyes may see things which to our duller sight do not appear.

Theaet. To what are you alluding? I do not think that I understand
your present question. 

Str. I ask whether anybody can understand all things. 

Theaet. Happy would mankind be if such a thing were possible!

Soc. But how can any one who is ignorant dispute in a rational manner
against him who knows? 

Theaet. He cannot. 

Str. Then why has the sophistical art such a mysterious power?

Theaet. To what do you refer? 

Str. How do the Sophists make young men believe in their supreme and
universal wisdom? For if they neither disputed nor were thought to
dispute rightly, or being thought to do so were deemed no wiser for
their controversial skill, then, to quote your own observation, no
one would give them money or be willing to learn their art.

Theaet. They certainly would not. 

Str. But they are willing. 

Theaet. Yes, they are. 

Str. Yes, and the reason, as I should imagine, is that they are supposed
to have knowledge of those things about which they dispute?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And they dispute about all things? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And therefore, to their disciples, they appear to be all-wise?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. But they are not; for that was shown to be impossible.

Theaet. Impossible, of course. 

Str. Then the Sophist has been shown to have a sort of conjectural
or apparent knowledge only of all things, which is not the truth?

Theaet. Exactly; no better description of him could be given.

Str. Let us now take an illustration, which will still more clearly
explain his nature. 

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. I will tell you, and you shall answer me, giving your very closest
attention. Suppose that a person were to profess, not that he could
speak or dispute, but that he knew how to make and do all things,
by a single art. 

Theaet. All things? 

Str. I see that you do not understand the first word that I utter,
for you do not understand the meaning of "all." 

Theaet. No, I do not. 

Str. Under all things, I include you and me, and also animals and

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. Suppose a person to say that he will make you and me, and all

Theaet. What would he mean by "making"? He cannot be a husbandman;-for
you said that he is a maker of animals. 

Str. Yes; and I say that he is also the maker of the sea, and the
earth, and the heavens, and the gods, and of all other things; and,
further, that he can make them in no time, and sell them for a few

Theaet. That must be a jest. 

Str. And when a man says that he knows all things, and can teach them
to another at a small cost, and in a short time, is not that a jest?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And is there any more artistic or graceful form of jest than

Theaet. Certainly not; and imitation is a very comprehensive term,
which includes under one class the most diverse sorts of things.

Str. We know, of course, that he who professes by one art to make
all things is really a painter, and by the painter's art makes resemblances
of real things which have the same name with them; and he can deceive
the less intelligent sort of young children, to whom he shows his
pictures at a distance, into the belief that he has the absolute power
of making whatever he likes. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And may there not be supposed to be an imitative art of reasoning?
Is it not possible to enchant the hearts of young men by words poured
through their ears, when they are still at a distance from the truth
of facts, by exhibiting to them fictitious arguments, and making them
think that they are true, and that the speaker is the wisest of men
in all things? 

Theaet. Yes; why should there not be another such art? 

Str. But as time goes on, and their hearers advance in years, and
come into closer contact with realities, and have learnt by sad experience
to see and feel the truth of things, are not the greater part of them
compelled to change many opinions which they formerly entertained,
so that the great appears small to them, and the easy difficult, and
all their dreamy speculations are overturned by the facts of life?

Theaet. That is my view, as far as I can judge, although, at my age,
I may be one of those who see things at a distance only.

Str. And the wish of all of us, who are your friends, is and always
will be to bring you as near to the truth as we can without the sad
reality. And now I should like you to tell me, whether the Sophist
is not visibly a magician and imitator of true being; or are we still
disposed to think that he may have a true knowledge of the various
matters about which he disputes? 

Theaet. But how can he, Stranger? Is there any doubt, after what has
been said, that he is to be located in one of the divisions of children's

Str. Then we must place him in the class of magicians and mimics.

Theaet. Certainly we must. 

Str. And now our business is not to let the animal out, for we have
got him in a sort of dialectical net, and there is one thing which
he decidedly will not escape. 

Theaet. What is that? 

Str. The inference that he is a juggler. 

Theaet. Precisely my own opinion of him. 

Str. Then, clearly, we ought as soon as possible to divide the image-making
art, and go down into the net, and, if the Sophist does not run away
from us, to seize him according to orders and deliver him over to
reason, who is the lord of the hunt, and proclaim the capture of him;
and if he creeps into the recesses of the imitative art, and secretes
himself in one of them, to divide again and follow him up until in
some sub-section of imitation he is caught. For our method of tackling
each and all is one which neither he nor any other creature will ever
escape in triumph. 

Theaet. Well said; and let us do as you propose. 

Str. Well, then, pursuing the same analytic method as before, I think
that I can discern two divisions of the imitative art, but I am not
as yet able to see in which of them the desired form is to be found.

Theaet. Will you tell me first what are two divisions of which you
are speaking? 

Str. One is the art of likeness-making;-generally a likeness of anything
is made by producing a copy which is executed according to the proportions
of the original, similar in length and breadth and depth, each thing
receiving also its appropriate colour. 

Theaet. Is not this always the aim of imitation? 

Str. Not always; in works either of sculpture or of painting, which
are of any magnitude, there is a certain degree of deception; -for
artists were to give the true proportions of their fair works, the
upper part, which is farther off, would appear to be out of proportion
in comparison with the lower, which is nearer; and so they give up
the truth in their images and make only the proportions which appear
to be beautiful, disregarding the real ones. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. And that which being other is also like, may we not fairly call
a likeness or image? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And may we not, as I did just now, call that part of the imitative
art which is concerned with making such images the art of likeness

Theaet. Let that be the name. 

Str. And what shall we call those resemblances of the beautiful, which
appear such owing to the unfavourable position of the spectator, whereas
if a person had the power of getting a correct view of works of such
magnitude, they would appear not even like that to which they profess
to be like? May we not call these "appearances," since they appear
only and are not really like? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. There is a great deal of this kind of thing in painting, and
in all imitation. 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. And may we not fairly call the sort of art, which produces an
appearance and not an image, phantastic art? 

Theaet. Most fairly. 

Str. These then are the two kinds of image making-the art of making
likenesses, and phantastic or the art of making appearances?

Theaet. True. 

Str. I was doubtful before in which of them I should place the Sophist,
nor am I even now able to see clearly; verily he is a wonderful and
inscrutable creature. And now in the cleverest manner he has got into
an impossible place. 

Theaet. Yes, he has. 

Str. Do you speak advisedly, or are you carried away at the moment
by the habit of assenting into giving a hasty answer? 

Theaet. May I ask to what you are referring? 

Str. My dear friend, we are engaged in a very difficult speculation-there
can be no doubt of that; for how a thing can appear and seem, and
not be, or how a man can say a thing which is not true, has always
been and still remains a very perplexing question. Can any one say
or think that falsehood really exists, and avoid being caught in a
contradiction? Indeed, Theaetetus, the task is a difficult one.

Theaet. Why? 

Str. He who says that falsehood exists has the audacity to assert
the being of not-being; for this is implied in the possibility of
falsehood. But, my boy, in the days when I was a boy, the great Parmenides
protested against this doctrine, and to the end of his life he continued
to inculcate the same lesson-always repeating both in verse and out
of verse: 

Keep your mind from this way of enquiry, for never will you show that
not-being is Such is his testimony, which is confirmed by the very
expression when sifted a little. Would you object to begin with the
consideration of the words themselves? 

Theaet. Never mind about me; I am only desirous that you should carry
on the argument in the best way, and that you should take me with

Str. Very good; and now say, do we venture to utter the forbidden
word "not-being"? 

Theaet. Certainly we do. 

Str. Let us be serious then, and consider the question neither in
strife nor play: suppose that one of the hearers of Parmenides was
asked, "To is the term 'not-being' to be applied?"-do you know what
sort of object he would single out in reply, and what answer he would
make to the enquirer? 

Theaet. That is a difficult question, and one not to be answered at
all by a person like myself. 

Str. There is at any rate no difficulty in seeing that the predicate
"not-being" is not applicable to any being. 

Theaet. None, certainly. 

Str. And if not to being, then not to something. 

Theaet. Of course not. 

Str. It is also plain, that in speaking of something we speak of being,
for to speak of an abstract something naked and isolated from all
being is impossible. 

Theaet. Impossible. 

Str. You mean by assenting to imply that he who says something must
say some one thing? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. Some in the singular (ti) you would say is the sign of one, some
in the dual (tine) of two, some in the plural (tines) of many?

Theaet. Exactly. 

Str. Then he who says "not something" must say absolutely nothing.

Theaet. Most assuredly. 

Str. And as we cannot admit that a man speaks and says nothing, he
who says "not-being" does not speak at all. 

Theaet. The difficulty of the argument can no further go.

Str. Not yet, my friend, is the time for such a word; for there still
remains of all perplexities the first and greatest, touching the very
foundation of the matter. 

Theaet. What do you mean? Do not be afraid to speak. 

Str. To that which is, may be attributed some other thing which is?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. But can anything which is, be attributed to that which is not?

Theaet. Impossible. 

Str. And all number is to be reckoned among things which are?

Theaet. Yes, surely number, if anything, has a real existence.

Str. Then we must not attempt to attribute to not-being number either
in the singular or plural? 

Theaet. The argument implies that we should be wrong in doing so.

Str. But how can a man either express in words or even conceive in
thought things which are not or a thing which is not without number?

Theaet. How indeed? 

Str. When we speak of things which are not attributing plurality to

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. But, on the other hand, when we say "what is not," do we not
attribute unity? 

Theaet. Manifestly. 

Str. Nevertheless, we maintain that you may not and ought not to attribute
being to not-being? 

Theaet. Most true. 

Str. Do you see, then, that not-being in itself can neither be spoken,
uttered, or thought, but that it is unthinkable, unutterable, unspeakable,

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. But, if so, I was wrong in telling you just now that the difficulty
which was coming is the greatest of all. 

Theaet. What! is there a greater still behind? 

Str. Well, I am surprised, after what has been said already, that
you do not see the difficulty in which he who would refute the notion
of not-being is involved. For he is compelled to contradict himself
as soon as he makes the attempt. 

Theaet. What do you mean? Speak more clearly. 

Str. Do not expect clearness from me. For I, who maintain that not-being
has no part either in the one or many, just now spoke and am still
speaking of not-being as one; for I say "not-being." Do you understand?

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And a little while ago I said that not-being is unutterable,
unspeakable, indescribable: do you follow? 

Theaet. I do after a fashion. 

Str. When I introduced the word "is," did I not contradict what I
said before? 

Theaet. Clearly. 

Str. And in using the singular verb, did I not speak of not-being
as one? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And when I spoke of not-being as indescribable and unspeakable
and unutterable, in using each of these words in the singular, did
I not refer to not-being as one? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And yet we say that, strictly speaking, it should not be defined
as one or many, and should not even be called "it," for the use of
the word "it" would imply a form of unity. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. How, then, can any one put any faith in me? For now, as always,
I am unequal to the refutation of not-being. And therefore, as I was
saying, do not look to me for the right way of speaking about not-being;
but come, let us try the experiment with you. 

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. Make a noble effort, as becomes youth, and endeavour with all
your might to speak of not-being in a right manner, without introducing
into it either existence or unity or plurality. 

Theaet. It would be a strange boldness in me which would attempt the
task when I see you thus discomfited. 

Str. Say no more of ourselves; but until we find some one or other
who can speak of not-being without number, we must acknowledge that
the Sophist is a clever rogue who will not be got out of his hole.

Theaet. Most true. 

Str. And if we say to him that he professes an art of making appearances,
he will grapple with us and retort our argument upon ourselves; and
when we call him an image-maker he will say, "Pray what do you mean
at all by an image?" -and I should like to know, Theaetetus, how we
can possibly answer the younker's question? 

Theaet. We shall doubtless tell him of the images which are reflected
in water or in mirrors; also of sculptures, pictures, and other duplicates.

Str. I see, Theaetetus, that you have never made the acquaintance
of the Sophist. 

Theaet. Why do you think so? 

Str. He will make believe to have his eyes shut, or to have none.

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. When you tell him of something existing in a mirror, or in sculpture,
and address him as though he had eyes, he will laugh you to scorn,
and will pretend that he knows nothing of mirrors and streams, or
of sight at all; he will say that he is asking about an idea.

Theaet. What can he mean? 

Str. The common notion pervading all these objects, which you speak
of as many, and yet call by the single name of image, as though it
were the unity under which they were all included. How will you maintain
your ground against him? 

Theaet. How. Stranger, can I describe an image except as something
fashioned in the likeness of the true? 

Str. And do you mean this something to be some other true thing, or
what do you mean? 

Theaet. Certainly not another true thing, but only a resemblance.

Str. And you mean by true that which really is? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And the not true is that which is the opposite of the true?

Theaet. Exactly. 

Str. A resemblance, then, is not really real, if, as you say, not

Theaet. Nay, but it is in a certain sense. 

Str. You mean to say, not in a true sense? 

Theaet. Yes; it is in reality only an image. 

Str. Then what we call an image is in reality really unreal.

Theaet. In what a strange complication of being and not-being we are

Str. Strange! I should think so. See how, by his reciprocation of
opposites, the many-headed Sophist has compelled us, quite against
our will, to admit the existence of not-being. 

Theaet. Yes, indeed, I see. 

Str. The difficulty is how to define his art without falling into
a contradiction. 

Theaet. How do you mean? And where does the danger lie? 

Str. When we say that he deceives us with an illusion, and that his
art is illusory, do we mean that our soul is led by his art to think
falsely, or what do we mean? 

Theaet. There is nothing else to be said. 

Str. Again, false opinion is that form of opinion which thinks the
opposite of the truth:-You would assent? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. You mean to say that false opinion thinks what is not?

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. Does false opinion think that things which are not are not, or
that in a certain sense they are? 

Theaet. Things that are not must be imagined to exist in a certain
sense, if any degree of falsehood is to be possible. 

Str. And does not false opinion also think that things which most
certainly exist do not exist at all? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And here, again, is falsehood? 

Theaet. Falsehood-yes. 

Str. And in like manner, a false proposition will be deemed to be
one which are, the nonexistence of things which are, and the existence
of things which are not. 

Theaet. There is no other way in which a false proposition can arise.

Str. There is not; but the Sophist will deny these statements. And
indeed how can any rational man assent to them, when the very expressions
which we have just used were before acknowledged by us to be unutterable,
unspeakable, indescribable, unthinkable? Do you see his point, Theaetetus?

Theaet. Of course he will say that we are contradicting ourselves
when we hazard the assertion, that falsehood exists in opinion and
in words; for in maintaining this, we are compelled over and over
again to assert being of not-being, which we admitted just now to
be an utter impossibility. 

Str. How well you remember! And now it is high time to hold a consultation
as to what we ought to do about the Sophist; for if we persist in
looking for him in the class of false workers and magicians, you see
that the handles for objection and the difficulties which will arise
are very numerous and obvious. 

Theaet. They are indeed. 

Str. We have gone through but a very small portion of them, and they
are really infinite. 

Theaet. If that is the case, we cannot possibly catch the Sophist.

Str. Shall we then be so faint-hearted as to give him up?

Theaet. Certainly not, I should say, if we can get the slightest hold
upon him. 

Str. Will you then forgive me, and, as your words imply, not be altogether
displeased if I flinch a little from the grasp of such a sturdy argument?

Theaet. To be sure I will. 

Str. I have a yet more urgent request to make. 

Theaet. Which is-? 

Str. That you will promise not to regard me as a parricide.

Theaet. And why? 

Str. Because, in self-defence, I must test the philosophy of my father
Parmenides, and try to prove by main force, that in a certain sense
not-being is, and that being, on the other hand, is not.

Theaet. Some attempt of the kind is clearly needed. 

Str. Yes, a blind man, as they say, might see that, and, unless these
questions are decided in one way or another, no one when he speaks
false words, or false opinion, or idols, or images or imitations or
appearances, or about the arts which are concerned with them; can
avoid falling into ridiculous contradictions. 

Theaet. Most true. 

Str. And therefore I must venture to lay hands on my father's argument;
for if I am to be over-scrupulous, I shall have to give the matter

Theaet. Nothing in the world should ever induce us to do so.

Str. I have a third little request which I wish to make.

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. You heard me-say what-I have always felt and still feel-that
I have no heart for this argument? 

Theaet. I did. 

Str. I tremble at the thought of what I have said, and expect that
you will deem me mad, when you hear of my sudden changes and shiftings;
let me therefore observe, that I am examining the question entirely
out of regard for you. 

Theaet. There is no reason for you to fear that I shall impute any
impropriety to you, if you attempt this refutation and proof; take
heart, therefore, and proceed. 

Str. And where shall I begin the perilous enterprise? I think that
the road which I must take is- 

Theaet. Which?-Let me hear. 

Str. I think that we had better, first of all, consider the points
which at present are regard as self-evident, lest we may have fallen
into some confusion, and be too ready to assent to one another, fancying
that we are quite clear about them. 

Theaet. Say more distinctly what you mean. 

Str. I think that Parmenides, and all ever yet undertook to determine
the number and nature of existences, talked to us in rather a light
and easy strain. 

Theaet. How? 

Str. As if we had been children, to whom they repeated each his own
mythus or story;-one said that there were three principles, and that
at one time there was war between certain of them; and then again
there was peace, and they were married and begat children, and brought
them up; and another spoke of two principles,-a moist and a dry, or
a hot and a cold, and made them marry and cohabit. The Eleatics, however,
in our part of the world, say that things are many in name, but in
nature one; this is their mythus, which goes back to Xenophanes, and
is even older. Then there are Ionian, and in more recent times Sicilian
muses, who have arrived at the conclusion that to unite the two principles
is safer, and to say that being is one and many, and that these are
held together by enmity and friendship, ever parting, ever meeting,
as the-severer Muses assert, while the gentler ones do not insist
on the perpetual strife and peace, but admit a relaxation and alternation
of them; peace and unity sometimes prevailing under the sway of Aphrodite,
and then again plurality and war, by reason of a principle of strife.
Whether any of them spoke the truth in all this is hard to determine;
besides, antiquity and famous men should have reverence, and not be
liable to accusations; so serious; Yet one thing may be said of them
without offence- 

Theaet. What thing? 

Str. That they went on their several ways disdaining to notice people
like ourselves; they did not care whether they took us with them,
or left us behind them. 

Theaet. How do you mean? 

Str. I mean to say, that when they talk of one, two, or more elements,
which are or have become or are becoming, or again of heat mingling
with cold, assuming in some other part of their works separations
and mixtures,-tell me, Theaetetus, do you understand what they mean
by these expressions? When I was a younger man, I used to fancy that
I understood quite well what was meant by the term "not-being," which
is our present subject of dispute; and now you see in what a fix we
are about it. 

Theaet. I see. 

Str. And very likely we have been getting into the same perplexity
about "being," and yet may fancy that when anybody utters the word,
we understand him quite easily, although we do not know about not-being.
But we may be; equally ignorant of both. 

Theaet. I dare say. 

Str. And the same may be said of all the terms just mentioned.

Theaet. True. 

Str. The consideration of most of them may be deferred; but we had
better now discuss the chief captain and leader of them.

Theaet. Of what are you speaking? You clearly think that we must first
investigate what people mean by the word "being." 

Str. You follow close at heels, Theaetetus. For the right method,
I conceive, will be to call into our presence the dualistic philosophers
and to interrogate them. "Come," we will say, "Ye, who affirm that
hot and cold or any other two principles are the universe, what is
this term which you apply to both of them, and what do you mean when
you say that both and each of them 'are'? How are we to understand
the word 'are'? Upon your view, are we to suppose that there is a
third principle over and above the other two-three in all, and not
two? For clearly you cannot say that one of the two principles is
being, and yet attribute being equally to both of them; for, if you
did, whichever of the two is identified with being, will comprehend
the other; and so they will be one and not two." 

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. But perhaps you mean to give the name of "being" to both of them

Theaet. Quite likely. 
Str. "Then, friends," we shall reply to them, "the answer is plainly
that the two will still be resolved into one." 

Theaet. Most true. 
Str. "Since then, we are in a difficulty, please to tell us what you
mean, when you speak of being; for there can be no doubt that you
always from the first understood your own meaning, whereas we once
thought that we understood you, but now we are in a great strait.
Please to begin by explaining this matter to us, and let us no longer
fancy that we understand you, when we entirely misunderstand you."
There will be no impropriety in our demanding an answer to this question,
either of the dualists or of the pluralists? 

Theaet. Certainly not. 

Str. And what about the assertors of the oneness of the all-must we
not endeavour to ascertain from them what they mean by "being"?

Theaet. By all means. 

Str. Then let them answer this question: One, you say, alone is? "Yes,"
they will reply. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And there is something which you call "being"? 
Theaet. "Yes." 

Str. And is being the same as one, and do you apply two names to the
same thing? 

Theaet. What will be their answer, Stranger? 

Str. It is clear, Theaetetus, that he who asserts the unity of being
will find a difficulty in answering this or any other question.

Theaet. Why so? 

Str. To admit of two names, and to affirm that there is nothing but
unity, is surely ridiculous? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And equally irrational to admit that a name is anything?

Theaet. How so? 

Str. To distinguish the name from the thing, implies duality.

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And yet he who identifies the name with the thing will be compelled
to say that it is the name of nothing, or if he says that it is the
name of something, even then the name will only be the name of a name,
and of nothing else. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And the one will turn out to be only one of one, and being absolute
unity, will represent a mere name. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And would they say that the whole is other than the one that
is, or the same with it? 

Theaet. To be sure they would, and they actually say so.

Str. If being is a whole, as Parmenides sings,- 

Every way like unto the fullness of a well-rounded sphere,

Evenly balanced from the centre on every side, 
And must needs be neither greater nor less in any way, 
Neither on this side nor on that- then being has a centre and extremes,
and, having these, must also have parts. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Yet that which has parts may have the attribute of unity in all
the parts, and in this way being all and a whole, may be one?

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. But that of which this is the condition cannot be absolute unity?

Theaet. Why not? 

Str. Because, according to right reason, that which is truly one must
be affirmed to be absolutely indivisible. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. But this indivisible, if made up of many parts, will contradict

Theaet. I understand. 

Str. Shall we say that being is one and a whole, because it has the
attribute of unity? Or shall we say that being is not a whole at all?

Theaet. That is a hard alternative to offer. 

Str. Most true; for being, having in a certain sense the attribute
of one, is yet proved not to be the same as one, and the all is therefore
more than one. 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And yet if being be not a whole, through having the attribute
of unity, and there be such a thing as an absolute whole, being lacks
something of its own nature? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Upon this view, again, being, having a defect of being, will
become not-being? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And, again, the all becomes more than one, for being and the
whole will each have their separate nature. 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. But if the whole does not exist at all, all the previous difficulties
remain the same, and there will be the further difficulty, that besides
having no being, being can never have come into being. 

Theaet. Why so? 

Str. Because that which comes into being always comes into being as
a whole, so that he who does not give whole a place among beings,
cannot speak either of essence or generation as existing.

Theaet. Yes, that certainly appears to be true. 

Str. Again; how can that which is not a whole have any quantity? For
that which is of a certain quantity must necessarily be the whole
of that quantity. 

Theaet. Exactly. 

Str. And there will be innumerable other points, each of them causing
infinite trouble to him who says that being is either, one or two.

Theaet. The difficulties which are dawning upon us prove this; for
one objection connects with another, and they are always involving
what has preceded in a greater and worse perplexity. 

Str. We are far from having exhausted the more exact thinkers who
treat of being and not-being. But let us be content to leave them,
and proceed to view those who speak less precisely; and we shall find
as the result of all, that the nature of being is quite as difficult
to comprehend as that of not-being. 

Theaet. Then now we will go to the others. 

Str. There appears to be a sort of war of Giants and Gods going on
amongst them; they are fighting with one another about the nature
of essence. 

Theaet. How is that? 

Str. Some of them are dragging down all things from heaven and from
the unseen to earth, and they literally grasp in their hands rocks
and oaks; of these they lay hold, and obstinately maintain, that the
things only which can be touched or handled have being or essence,
because they define being and body as one, and if any one else says
that what is not a body exists they altogether despise him, and will
hear of nothing but body. 

Theaet. I have often met with such men, and terrible fellows they

Str. And that is the reason why their opponents cautiously defend
themselves from above, out of an unseen world, mightily contending
that true essence consists of certain intelligible and incorporeal
ideas; the bodies of the materialists, which by them are maintained
to be the very truth, they break up into little bits by their arguments,
and affirm them to be, not essence, but generation and motion. Between
the two armies, Theaetetus, there is always an endless conflict raging
concerning these matters. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Let us ask each party in turn, to give an account of that which
they call essence. 

Theaet. How shall we get it out of them? 

Str. With those who make being to consist in ideas, there will be
less difficulty, for they are civil people enough; but there will
be very great difficulty, or rather an absolute impossibility, in
getting an opinion out of those who drag everything down to matter.
Shall I tell you what we must do? 

Theaet. What? 

Str. Let us, if we can, really improve them; but if this is not possible,
let us imagine them to be better than they are, and more willing to
answer in accordance with the rules of argument, and then their opinion
will be more worth having; for that which better men acknowledge has
more weight than that which is acknowledged by inferior men. Moreover
we are no respecters of persons, but seekers after time.

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. Then now, on the supposition that they are improved, let us ask
them to state their views, and do you interpret them. 

Theaet. Agreed. 

Str. Let them say whether they would admit that there is such a thing
as a mortal animal. 

Theaet. Of course they would. 

Str. And do they not acknowledge this to be a body having a soul?

Theaet. Certainly they do. 

Str. Meaning to say the soul is something which exists? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And do they not say that one soul is just, and another unjust,
and that one soul is wise, and another foolish? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And that the just and wise soul becomes just and wise by the
possession of justice and wisdom, and the opposite under opposite

Theaet. Yes, they do. 

Str. But surely that which may be present or may be absent will be
admitted by them to exist? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And, allowing that justice, wisdom, the other virtues, and their
opposites exist, as well as a soul in which they inhere, do they affirm
any of them to be visible and tangible, or are they all invisible?

Theaet. They would say that hardly any of them are visible.

Str. And would they say that they are corporeal? 

Theaet. They would distinguish: the soul would be said by them to
have a body; but as to the other qualities of justice, wisdom, and
the like, about which you asked, they would not venture either to
deny their existence, or to maintain that they were all corporeal.

Str. Verily, Theaetetus, I perceive a great improvement in them; the
real aborigines, children of the dragon's teeth, would have been deterred
by no shame at all, but would have obstinately asserted that nothing
is which they are not able to squeeze in their hands. 

Theaet. That is pretty much their notion. 

Str. Let us push the question; for if they will admit that any, even
the smallest particle of being, is incorporeal, it is enough; they
must then say what that nature is which is common to both the corporeal
and incorporeal, and which they have in their mind's eye when they
say of both of them that they "are." Perhaps they may be in a difficulty;
and if this is the case, there is a possibility that they may accept
a notion of ours respecting the nature of being, having nothing of
their own to offer. 

Theaet. What is the notion? Tell me, and we shall soon see.

Str. My notion would be, that anything which possesses any sort of
power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for
a single moment, however trifling the cause and however slight the
effect, has real existence; and I hold that the definition of being
is simply power of 

Theaet. They accept your suggestion, having nothing better of their
own to offer. 

Str. Very good; perhaps we, as well as they, may one day change our
minds; but, for the present, this may be regarded as the understanding
which is established with them. 

Theaet. Agreed. 

Str. Let us now go to the friends of ideas; of their opinions, too,
you shall be the interpreter. 

Theaet. I will. 

Str. To them we say-You would distinguish essence from generation?

Theaet. "Yes," they reply. 

Str. And you would allow that we participate in generation, with the
body, and through perception, but we participate with the soul through
in true essence; and essence you would affirm to be always the same
and immutable, whereas generation or becoming varies? 

Theaet. Yes; that is what we should affirm. 

Str. Well, fair sirs, we say to them, what is this participation,
which you assert of both? Do you agree with our recent definition?

Theaet. What definition? 

Str. We said that being was an active or passive energy, arising out
of a certain power which proceeds from elements meeting with one another.
Perhaps your cars, Theaetetus, may fail to catch their answer, which
I recognize because I have been accustomed to hear it. 

Theaet. And what is their answer? 

Str. They deny the truth of what we were just now, saying to the aborigines
about existence. 

Theaet. What was that? 

Str. Any power of doing or suffering in a degree however slight was
held by us to be a sufficient definition of being? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. They deny this, and say that the power of doing or suffering
is confined to becoming, and that neither power is applicable to being.

Theaet. And is there not some truth in what they say? 

Str. Yes; but our reply will be that we want to ascertain from them
more distinctly, whether they further admit that the soul knows, and
that being or essence is known. 

Theaet. There can be no doubt that they say so. 

Str. And is knowing and being known, doing or suffering, or both,
or is the one doing and the other suffering, or has neither any share
in either? 

Theaet. Clearly, neither has any share in either; for if they say
anything else, they will contradict themselves. 

Str. I understand; but they will allow that if to know is active,
then, of course, to be known is passive. And on this view being, in
so far as it is known, is acted upon by knowledge, and is therefore
in motion; for that which is in a state of rest cannot be acted upon,
as we affirm. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And, O heavens, can we ever be made to believe that motion and
life and soul and mind are not present with perfect being? Can we
imagine that, being is devoid of life and mind, and exists in awful
unmeaningness an everlasting fixture? 

Theaet. That would be a dreadful thing to admit, Stranger.

Str. But shall we say that has mind and not life? 

Theaet. How is that possible? 

Str. Or shall we say that both inhere in perfect being, but that it
has no soul which contains them? 

Theaet. And in what other way can it contain them? 

Str. Or that being has mind and life and soul, but although endowed
with soul remains absolutely unmoved? 

Theaet. All three suppositions appear to me to be irrational.

Str. Under being, then, we must include motion, and that which is

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Then, Theaetetus, our inference is, that if there is no motion,
neither is there any mind anywhere, or about anything or belonging
to any one. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. And yet this equally follows, if we grant that all things are
in motion-upon this view too mind has no existence. 

Theaet. How so? 

Str. Do you think that sameness of condition and mode and subject
could ever exist without a principle of rest? 

Theaet. Certainly not. 

Str. Can you see how without them mind could exist, or come into existence

Theaet. No. 

Str. And surely contend we must in every possible way against him
who would annihilate knowledge and reason and mind, and yet ventures
to speak confidently about anything. 

Theaet. Yes, with all our might. 

Str. Then the philosopher, who has the truest reverence for these
qualities, cannot possibly accept the notion of those who say that
the whole is at rest, either as unity or in many forms: and he will
be utterly deaf to those who assert universal motion. As children
say entreatingly "Give us both." so he will include both the moveable
and immoveable in his definition of being and all. 

Theaet. Most true. 

Str. And now, do we seem to have gained a fair notion of being?

Theaet. Yes truly. 

Str. Alas, Theaetetus, methinks that we are now only beginning to
see the real difficulty of the enquiry into the nature of it.

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. O my friend, do you not see that nothing can exceed out ignorance,
and yet we fancy that we are saying something good? 

Theaet. I certainly thought that we were; and I do not at all understand
how we never found out our desperate case. 

Str. Reflect: after having made, these admissions, may we not be justly
asked, the same questions which we ourselves were asking of those
who said that all was hot and cold? 

Theaet. What were they? Will you recall them to my mind?

Str. To be sure, I will remind you of them, by putting the same questions,
to you which I did to them, and then we shall get on. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Would you not say that rest and motion are in the most entire
opposition to one another? 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. And yet you would say that both and either of them equally are?

Theaet. I should. 

Str. And when you admit that both or either of them are, do you mean
to say that both or either, of them are in motion? 

Theaet. Certainly not. 

Str. Or do you wish to imply that they are both at rest, when you
say that they are? 

Theaet. Of course not. 

Str. Then you conceive of being as some third and distinct nature,
under which rest and motion are alike included; and, observing that
they both participate in being, you declare that they are.

Theaet. Truly we seem to have an intimation that being is some third
thing, when we say that rest and motion are. 

Str. Then being is not the combination of rest and motion, but something
different from them. 

Theaet. So it would appear. 

Str. Being, then, according to its own nature, is neither in motion
nor at rest. 

Theaet. That is very much the truth. 

Str. Where, then, is a man to look for help who would have any clear
or fixed notion of being in his mind? 

Theaet. Where, indeed? 

Str. I scarcely think that he can look anywhere; for that which is
not in motion must be at rest, and again, that which is not at rest
must be in motion; but being is placed outside of both these classes.
Is this possible? 

Theaet. Utterly impossible. 

Str. Here, then, is another thing which we ought to bear in mind.

Theaet. What? 

Str. When we were asked to what we were to assign the appellation
of not-being, we were in the greatest difficulty:-do you remember?

Theaet. To be sure. 

Str. And are we not now in as a difficulty about being? 

Theaes. I should say, Stranger, that we are in one which is, if possible,
even greater. 

Str. Then let us acknowledge the difficulty; and as being and not-being
are involved in the same perplexity, there is hope that when the one
appears more or less distinctly, the other will equally appear; and
if we are able to see neither there may still be a chance of steering
our way in between them, without any great discredit. 

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. Let us enquire, then, how we come to predicate many names of
the same thing. 

Theaet. Give an example. 

Str. I mean that we speak of man, for example, under many names-that
we attribute to him colours and forms and magnitudes and virtues and
vices, in all of which instances and in ten thousand others we not
only speak of him as a man, but also as good, and having number-less
other attributes, and in the same way anything else which we originally
supposed to be one is described by us as many, and under many names.

Theaet. That is true. 

Str. And thus we provide a rich feast for tyros, whether young or
old; for there is nothing easier than to argue that the one cannot
be many, or the many one; and great is their delight in denying that
a man is good; for man, they insist, is man and good is good. I dare
say that you have met with persons who take-an interest in such matters-they
are often elderly men, whose meagre sense is thrown into amazement
by these discoveries of theirs, which they believe to be the height
of wisdom. 

Theaet. Certainly, I have. 

Str. Then, not to exclude any one who has ever speculated at all upon
the nature of being, let us put our questions to them as well as to
our former friends. 

Theaet. What questions? 

Str. Shall we refuse to attribute being to motion and rest, or anything
to anything, and assume that they do not mingle, and are incapable
of participating in one another? Or shall we gather all into one class
of things communicable with one another? Or are some things communicable
and others not?-Which of these alternatives, Theaetetus, will they

Theaet. I have nothing to answer on their behalf. Suppose that you
take all these hypotheses in turn, and see what are the consequences
which follow from each of them. 

Str. Very good, and first let us assume them to say that nothing is
capable of participating in anything else in any respect; in that
case rest and motion cannot participate in being at all.

Theaet. They cannot. 

Str. But would either of them be if not participating in being?

Theaet. No. 

Str. Then by this admission everything is instantly overturned, as
well the doctrine of universal motion as of universal rest, and also
the doctrine of those who distribute being into immutable and everlasting
kinds; for all these add on a notion of being, some affirming that
things "are" truly in motion, and others that they "are" truly at

Theaes. Just so. 

Str. Again, those who would at one time compound, and at another resolve
all things, whether making them into one and out of one creating infinity,
or dividing them into finite clements, and forming compounds out of
these; whether they suppose the processes of creation to be successive
or continuous, would be talking nonsense in all this if there were
no admixture. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Most ridiculous of all will the men themselves be who want to
carry out the argument and yet forbid us to call anything, because
participating in some affection from another, by the name of that

Theaet. Why so? 

Str. Why, because they are compelled to use the words "to be," "apart,"
"from others. "in itself," and ten thousand more, which they cannot
give up, but must make the connecting links of discourse; and therefore
they do not require to be refuted by others, but their enemy, as the
saying is, inhabits the same house with them; they are always carrying
about with them an adversary, like the wonderful ventriloquist, Eurycles,
who out of their own bellies audibly contradicts them. 

Theaet. Precisely so; a very true and exact illustration.

Str. And now, if we suppose that all things have the power of communion
with one another -what will follow? 

Theaet. Even I can solve that riddle. 

Str. How? 

Theaet. Why, because motion itself would be at rest, and rest again
in motion, if they could be attributed to one another. 

Str. But this is utterly impossible. 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. Then only the third hypothesis remains. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. For, surely, either all things have communion with all; or nothing
with any other thing; or some things communicate with some things
and others not. 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And two out of these three suppositions have been found to be

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. Every one then, who desires to answer truly, will adopt the third
and remaining hypothesis of the communion of some with some.

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. This communion of some with some may be illustrated by the case
of letters; for some letters do not fit each other, while others do.

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. And the vowels, especially, are a sort of bond which pervades
all the other letters, so that without a vowel one consonant cannot
be joined to another. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. But does every one know what letters will unite with what? Or
is art required in order to do so? 

Theaet. What is required. 

Str. What art? 

Theaet. The art of grammar. 

Str. And is not this also true of sounds high and low?-Is not he who
has the art to know what sounds mingle, a musician, and he who is
ignorant, not a musician? 

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And we shall find this to be generally true of art or the absence
of art. 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. And as classes are admitted by us in like manner to be some of
them capable and others incapable of intermixture, must not he who
would rightly show what kinds will unite and what will not, proceed
by the help of science in the path of argument? And will he not ask
if the connecting links are universal, and so capable of intermixture
with all things; and again, in divisions, whether there are not other
universal classes, which make them possible? 

Theaet. To be sure he will require science, and, if I am not mistaken,
the very greatest of all sciences. 

Str. How are we to call it? By Zeus, have we not lighted unwittingly
upon our free and noble science, and in looking for the Sophist have
we not entertained the philosopher unawares? 

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. Should we not say that the division according to classes, which
neither makes the same other, nor makes other the same, is the business
of the dialectical science? 

Theaet. That is what we should say. 

Str. Then, surely, he who can divide rightly is able to see clearly
one form pervading a scattered multitude, and many different forms
contained under one higher form; and again, one form knit together
into a single whole and pervading many such wholes, and many forms,
existing only in separation and isolation. This is the knowledge of
classes which determines where they can have communion with one another
and where not. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. And the art of dialectic would be attributed by you only to the
philosopher pure and true? 

Theaet. Who but he can be worthy? 

Str. In this region we shall always discover the philosopher, if we
look for him; like the Sophist, he is not easily discovered, but for
a different reason. 

Theaet. For what reason? 

Str. Because the Sophist runs away into the darkness of not-being,
in which he has learned by habit to feel about, and cannot be discovered
because of the darkness of the place. is not that true? 

Theaet. It seems to be so. 

Str. And the philosopher, always holding converse through reason with
the idea of being, is also dark from excess of light; for the souls
of the many have no eye which can endure the vision of the divine.

Theaet. Yes; that seems to be quite as true as the other.

Str. Well, the philosopher may hereafter be more fully considered
by us, if we are disposed; but the Sophist must clearly not be allowed
to escape until we have had a good look at him. 

Theaet. Very good. 

Str. Since, then, we are agreed that some classes have a communion
with one another, and others not, and some have communion with a few
and others with many, and that there is no reason why some should
not have universal communion with all, let us now pursue the enquiry,
as the argument suggests, not in relation to all ideas, lest the multitude
of them should confuse us, but let us select a few of those which
are reckoned to be the principal ones, and consider their several
natures and their capacity of communion with one another, in order
that if we are not able to apprehend with perfect clearness the notions
of being and not-being, we may at least not fall short in the consideration
of them, so far as they come within the scope of the present enquiry,
if peradventure we may be allowed to assert the reality of not-being,
and yet escape unscathed. 

Theaet. We must do so. 

Str. The most important of all the genera are those which we were
just now mentioning-being and rest and motion. 

Theaet. Yes, by far. 

Str. And two of these are, as we affirm, incapable of communion with
one another. 

Theaet. Quite incapable. 

Str. Whereas being surely has communion with both of them, for both
of them are? 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. That makes up three of them. 

Theaet. To be sure. 

Str. And each of them is other than the remaining two, but the same
with itself. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. But then, what is the meaning of these two words, "same" and
"other"? Are they two new kinds other than the three, and yet always
of necessity intermingling with them, and are we to have five kinds
instead of three; or when we speak of the same and other, are we unconsciously
speaking of one of the three first kinds? 

Theaet. Very likely we are. 

Str. But, surely, motion and rest are neither the other nor the same.

Theaet. How is that? 

Str. Whatever we attribute to motion and rest in common, cannot be
either of them. 

Theaet. Why not? 

Str. Because motion would be at rest and rest in motion, for either
of them, being predicated of both, will compel the other to change
into the opposite of its own nature, because partaking of its opposite.

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. Yet they surely both partake of the same and of the other?

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. Then we must not assert that motion, any more than rest, is either
the same or the other. 

Theaet. No; we must not. 

Str. But are we to conceive that being and the same are identical?

Theaet. Possibly. 

Str. But if they are identical, then again in saying that motion and
rest have being, we should also be saying that they are the same.

Theaet. Which surely cannot be. 

Str. Then being and same cannot be one. 

Theaet. Scarcely. 

Str. Then we may suppose the same to be a fourth class, which is now
to be added to the three others. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. And shall we call the other a fifth class? Or should we consider
being and other to be two names of the same class? 

Theaet. Very likely. 

Str. But you would agree, if I am not mistaken, that existences are
relative as well as absolute? 

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. And the other is always relative to other? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. But this would not be the case unless being and the other entirely
differed; for, if the other, like being, were absolute as well as
relative, then there would have been a kind of other which was not
other than other. And now we find that what is other must of necessity
be what it is in relation to some other. 

Theaet. That is the true state of the case. 

Str. Then we must admit the other as the fifth of our selected classes.

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And the fifth class pervades all classes, for they all differ
from one another, not by reason of their own nature, but because they
partake of the idea of the other. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. Then let us now put the case with reference to each of the five.

Theaet. How? 

Str. First there is motion, which we affirm to be absolutely "other"
than rest: what else can we say? 

Theaet. It is so. 

Str. And therefore is not rest. 

Theaet. Certainly not. 

Str. And yet is, because partaking of being. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Again, motion is other than the same? 

Theaet. Just so. 

Str. And is therefore not the same. 

Theaet. It is not. 

Str. Yet, surely, motion is the same, because all things partake of
the same. 

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. Then we must admit, and not object to say, that motion is the
same and is not the same, for we do not apply the terms "same" and
"not the same," in the same sense; but we call it the "same," in relation
to itself, because partaking of the same; and not the same, because
having communion with the other, it is thereby severed from the same,
and has become not that but other, and is therefore rightly spoken
of as "not the same." 

Theaet. To be sure. 

Str. And if absolute motion in any point of view partook of rest,
there would be no absurdity in calling motion stationary.

Theaet. Quite right, -that is, on the supposition that some classes
mingle with one another, and others not. 

Str. That such a communion of kinds is according to nature, we had
already proved before we arrived at this part of our discussion.

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Let us proceed, then. we not say that motion is other than the
other, having been also proved by us to be other than the same and
other than rest? 

Theaet. That is certain. 

Str. Then, according to this view, motion is other and also not other?

Theaet. True. 

Str. What is the next step? Shall we say that motion is other than
the three and not other than the fourth-for we agreed that there are
five classes about and in the sphere of which we proposed to make

Theaet. Surely we cannot admit that the number is less than it appeared
to be just now. 

Str. Then we may without fear contend that motion is other than being?

Theaet. Without the least fear. 

Str. The plain result is that motion, since it partakes of being,
really is and also is not? 

Theaet. Nothing can be plainer. 

Str. Then not-being necessarily exists in the case of motion and of
every class; for the nature of the other entering into them all, makes
each of them other than being, and so non-existent; and therefore
of all of them, in like manner, we may truly say that they are not-and
again, inasmuch as they partake of being, that they are and are existent.

Theaet. So we may assume. 

Str. Every class, then, has plurality of being and infinity of not-being.

Theaet. So we must infer. 

Str. And being itself may be said to be other than the other kinds.

Theaet. Certainly. 

Str. Then we may infer that being is not, in respect of as many other
things as there are; for not-being these it is itself one, and is:
not the other things, which are infinite in number. 

Theaet. That is not far from the truth. 

Str. And we must not quarrel with this result, since it is of the
nature of classes to have communion with one another; and if any one
denies our present statement [viz., that being is not, etc.], let
him first argue with our former conclusion [i.e., respecting the communion
of ideas], and then he may proceed to argue with what follows.

Theaet. Nothing can be fairer. 

Str. Let me ask you to consider a further question. 

Theaet. What question? 

Str. When we speak of not-being, we speak, I suppose, not of something
opposed to being, but only different. 

Theaet. What do you mean? 

Str. When we speak of something as not great, does the expression
seem to you to imply what is little any more than what is equal?

Theaet. Certainly not. 

Str. The negative particles, ou and me, when prefixed to words, do
not imply opposition, but only difference from the words, or more
correctly from the things represented by the words, which follow them.

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. There is another point to be considered, if you do not object.

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. The nature of the other appears to me to be divided into fractions
like knowledge. 

Theaet. How so? 

Str. Knowledge, like the other, is one; and yet the various parts
of knowledge have each of them their own particular name, and hence
there are many arts and kinds of knowledge. 

Theaet. Quite true. 

Str. And is not the case the same with the parts of the other, which
is also one? 

Theaet. Very likely; but will you tell me how? 

Str. There is some part of the other which is opposed to the beautiful?

Theaet. There is. 

Str. Shall we say that this has or has not a name? 

Theaet. It has; for whatever we call not beautiful is other than the
beautiful, not than something else. 

Str. And now tell me another thing. 

Theaet. What? 

Str. Is the not-beautiful anything but this-an existence parted off
from a certain kind of existence, and again from another point of
view opposed to an existing something? 

Theaet. True. 

Str. Then the not-beautiful turns out to be the opposition of being
to being? 

Theaet. Very true. 

Str. But upon this view, is the beautiful a more real and the not-beautiful
a less real existence? 

Theaet. Not at all. 

Str. And the not-great may be said to exist, equally with the great?

Theaet. Yes. 

Str. And, in the same way, the just must be placed in the same category
with the not-just the one cannot be said to have any more existence
than the other. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. The same may be said of other things; seeing that the nature
of the other has a real existence, the parts of this nature must equally
be supposed to exist. 

Theaet. Of course. 

Str. Then, as would appear, the opposition of a part of the other,
and of a part of being, to one another, is, if I may venture to say
so, as truly essence as being itself, and implies not the opposite
of being, but only what is other than being. 

Theaet. Beyond question. 

Str. What then shall we call it? 

Theaet. Clearly, not-being; and this is the very nature for which
the Sophist compelled us to search. 

Str. And has not this, as you were saying, as real an existence as
any other class? May I not say with confidence that not-being has
an assured existence, and a nature of its own? just as the great was
found to be great and the beautiful beautiful, and the not-great not-great,
and the not-beautiful not-beautiful, in the same manner not-being
has been found to be and is not-being, and is to be reckoned one among
the many classes of being. Do you, Theaetetus, still feel any doubt
of this? 

Theaet. None whatever. 

Str. Do you observe that our scepticism has carried us beyond the
range of Parmenides' prohibition? 

Theaet. In what? 

Str. We have advanced to a further point, and shown him more than
he for bad us to investigate. 

Theaet. How is that? 

Str. Why, because he says- 

Not-being never is, and do thou keep thy thoughts from this way of

Theaet. Yes, he says so. 

Str. Whereas, we have not only proved that things which are not are,
but we have shown what form of being not-being is; for we have shown
that the nature of the other is, and is distributed over all things
in their relations to one another, and whatever part of the other
is contrasted with being, this is precisely what we have ventured
to call not-being. 

Theaet. And surely, Stranger, we were quite right. 

Str. Let not any one say, then, that while affirming the opposition
of not-being to being, we still assert the being of not-being; for
as to whether there is an opposite of being, to that enquiry we have
long said good-bye-it may or may not be, and may or may not be capable
of definition. But as touching our present account of not-being, let
a man either convince us of error, or, so long as he cannot, he too
must say, as we are saying, that there is a communion of classes,
and that being, and difference or other, traverse all things and mutually
interpenetrate, so that the other partakes of being, and by reason
of this participation is, and yet is not that of which it partakes,
but other, and being other than being, it is clearly a necessity that
not-being should be. again, being, through partaking of the other,
becomes a class other than the remaining classes, and being other
than all of them, is not each one of them, and is not all the rest,
so that undoubtedly there are thousands upon thousands of cases in
which being is not, and all other things, whether regarded individually
or collectively, in many respects are, and in many respects are not.

Theaet. True. 

Str. And he who is sceptical of this contradiction, must think how
he can find something better to say; or if. he sees a puzzle, and
his pleasure is to drag words this way and that, the argument will
prove to him, that he is not making a worthy use of his faculties;
for there is no charm in such puzzles, and there is no difficulty
in detecting them; but we can tell him of something else the pursuit
of which is noble and also difficult. 

Theaet. What is it? 

Str. A thing of which I have already spoken;-letting alone these puzzles
as involving no difficulty, he should be able to follow, and criticize
in detail every argument, and when a man says that the same is in
a manner other, or that other is the same, to understand and refute
him from his own point of view, and in the same respect in which he
asserts either of these affections. But to show that somehow and in
some sense the same is other, or the other same, or the great small,
or the like unlike; and to delight in always bringing forward such
contradictions, is no real refutation, but is clearly the new-born
babe of some one who is only beginning to approach the problem of

Theaet. To be sure. 

Str. For certainly, my friend, the attempt to separate all existences
from one another is a barbarism and utterly unworthy of an educated
or philosophical mind. 

Theaet. Why so? 

Str. The attempt at universal separation is the final annihilation
of all reasoning; for only by the union of conceptions with one another
do we attain to discourse of reason. 

Theaet. True. 

Str. And, observe that we were only just in time in making a resistance
to such separatists, and compelling them to admit that one thing mingles
with another. 

Theaet. Why so? 

Str. Why, that we might be able to assert discourse to be a kind of
being; for if we could not, the worst of all consequences would follow;
we should have no philosophy. Moreover, the necessity for determining
the nature of discourse presses upon us at this moment; if utterly
deprived of it, we could no more hold discourse; and deprived of it
we should be if we admitted that there was no admixture of natures
at all. 

Theaet. Very true. But I do not understand why at this moment we must
determine the nature of discourse. 

Str. Perhaps you will see more clearly by the help of the following

Theaet. Wha