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So. And in astronomy and calculations and music and every subject of education?

Theae. I think so.

So. If then he says, either by way of praise or dispraise, that we are alike in some bodily feature, it is not very well worth while to attend to him?

Theae. Perhaps not.

So. But how, if he were to praise the soul of one or the other for virtue and wisdom? Would it not be worth while for the one who heard the praise to observe him who was praised, and for the other to exhibit himself with alacrity?

Theae. Quite so, Socrates.

[Socrates, after telling Theaetetus of the high praise given to him by 3 Theodorus, and, questioning him about his studies, leads him to admit that the end to be gained by them is 'wisdom,' and that this is the same thing as 'knowledge.' He goes on to confess the difficulty he finds in defining what knowledge is, and invites the company to discuss the question. Theodorus declines for himself, pleading age and want of dialectic practice, but suggests that Theaetetus should be invited to carry on the discussion with Socrates.]

So. It is time, then, my dear Theaetetus, for you to exhibit and for me to observe. For I must tell you that, although Theodorus has often spoken to me with praise of many persons, both foreigners and citizens, he never gave such praise to anybody as he did to you just now.

Theae. I am glad to hear it, Socrates; but see to it, that he did not speak in jest.

2 Movσikós. This word can either mean 'musical,' or 'literary.' The former is more probable here.


So. That is not the way of Theodorus. So do not retract your admissions on the plea that our friend here speaks in jest, lest he be compelled to add an affidavit. I am sure nobody will indict him for perjury'. So stand to your confession boldly.

Theae. Yes, I must, if you think so.

So. Tell me now: you learn, I suppose, from Theodorus some lessons of geometry?

Theae. I do.

And of astronomy and harmony and calculations? Theae. I use my best endeavour.

So. So do I, my boy, both from him and from all others whom I suppose to have any acquaintance with the subjects. Nevertheless, though I am in general pretty well versed in them, I have one little difficulty, which I must examine with your help and that of our friends here. Tell. me, does not 'to learn' mean to become wiser in that which one learns?

Theae. Certainly.

So. And by wisdom it is, I suppose, that the wise are wise?

Theae. Yes.

So. Does this differ at all from knowledge?


Theae. Does what differ?

So. Wisdom. In things whereof we are knowing, are we not also wise?

Theae. Can it be otherwise?

So. Are then wisdom and knowledge the same thing?
Theae. Yes.

1 'ETLOкÝYEL. Heindorf rightly says: moкÝTTEш h. 1. est i. q. ἐγκαλεῖν ψευδομαρτυριών. The verb in this sense is usually middle; but Aeschines Tim. 142 has the active, ἣν οὐδὲ ψευδομαρτυριῶν ἔστιν ¿TIOкnyαι. See below 5; also Dict. Ant. (Martyria, 'Eπloкnys).

So. Now here is precisely my difficulty, and I cannot adequately comprehend in my own mind what knowledge really is. Are we then able to define it? What say ye? Which of us will speak first? Whoever misses the mark on each trial, shall sit down, as boys playing at ball say, for donkey: and whoever goes through to the end without missing, shall be our king, and shall command us to answer anything he likes to ask. But perhaps, Theodorus, my love of discussion leads me to be rude in trying so hard to make us argue, and become friendly and chatty with one another. Theo. No, Socrates, such a wish is the reverse of rudeBut call on one of the youths to answer you. I am unaccustomed to this kind of debate, and too old to acquire the habit. It would suit our young friends, and they would get on much better: for it is a fact that in all things youth has the gift of progress. So, as you had Theaetetus in hand at first, do not let him go, but continue to question him.


[Theaetetus, having modestly consented to take his share of the argument, 4 endeavours to define 'knowledge' by enumerating various sciences and arts which are specific kinds of it. Hereupon Socrates, by a series of elenctic questions in the dialectic manner, exposes the futility of all attempts to define, which contain the term itself proposed for definition.]

So. You hear then, Theaetetus, what Theodorus says; and you will not, I think, wish to disobey him. In such matters a wise man's injunctions cannot be lawfully disobeyed by his junior. Speak then well and nobly. What do you think that knowledge is?

Theae. I must, Socrates, since you both require. No doubt, if I make any blunder, you will correct me.

2 Baoiλevoel. See Hor. Epist. I. I, 59: pueri ludentes, Rex eris, aiunt, si recte facies.


So. Certainly, if we are able.

Theae. Well then, I think that all the things one can learn from Theodorus are knowledge; geometry for instance and the others which you enumerated just now: and again leather-dressing', and the trades of the other craftsmen, all and each, I consider nothing else than knowledge.

So. In a truly noble and bountiful style, my friend, when asked for one thing you give many, and various things instead of a simple one.

Theae. Why, what is the sense of your words, Socrates?

So. Perhaps none at all: however, I will explain what I mean. When you name leather-dressing, do you intend anything else than the knowledge of the manufacture of shoes?

Theae. Nothing else.

So. Or when you name carpentry, do you intend anything but the knowledge of the manufacture of wooden implements?

Theae. No, nothing.

So. In both cases then, you express that thing of which each is the knowledge?

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So. But the question put, Theaetetus, was not concerning the various subjects of knowledge, or their number. We did not ask with a wish to count them, but to know what the nature of knowledge itself is. Am I talking nonsense? Theae. No, quite correctly.

So. Consider this also. Should some one ask us any trivial and obvious question, such as, what is clay? if we

1 Σκυτοτομικὴ and σκυτική, σκυτοτόμοι and σκυτεῖς are indifferently used for the shoe-trade.

2 Οὐδὲν (λέγω). Λέγειν οὐδὲν, to speak unreasonably (wrongly); Méуew Tɩ to speak reasonably (rightly).

said in reply, the clay of the potters, and the clay of the stove-makers, and the clay of the brickmakers, should we not deserve to be laughed at?

Theae. Probably.

So. In the first place because we thought the questioner would understand us from our answer, when we introduce the word 'clay,' whether we add that of the doll-makers, or of any other craftsmen. Does anybody, think you, understand any name of anything, when he does not know its correct meaning?

Theae. Not at all.

So. Then he who is ignorant of 'knowledge,' does not understand 'knowledge of shoes.'

Theae. He does not.

So. And he who is ignorant of knowledge does not understand leather-dressing or any other art?

Theae. True.

So. Then an answer made to the question-What is knowledge? is ridiculous, when a person gives in his reply the name of some art. For he names 'the knowledge of something,' when that was not the thing asked from him. Theae. Apparently.

So. In the next place, when he might have answered easily and briefly, he goes an infinite way round. For instance, in the question about clay, it was easy and simple to say, that clay is moistened earth, and to abstain from adding whose it is.

[Theaetetus now accepts the principle of definition laid down by Socrates, 5 and illustrates it by citing certain mathematical terms adopted by himself and his fellow-student, young Socrates, to distinguish rational and irrational numbers. These terms are (α) τετράγωνος ἀριθμός, square number (4, 9, 16, 25...n2); (B) πpoμńêns åpiðμós, oblong

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