Page images

Theaetetus. Tell me then, Theaetetus, first of all, as to our late discussions; do you not share my surprise if thus all of a sudden you shall turn out to be no wise inferior in wisdom to any man or even any god? Or do you suppose that the 'measure' of Protagoras is less applicable to gods than to men?

do not. And as to your For when we were engaged seemed' to each 'was' also

Theae. Upon my word I question, I am much surprised. in showing how that which to him who thought it, the statement appeared to me very good; but now another view has taken its place all of a sudden.

So. You are young, my dear boy: you quickly succumb to popular declamation, and become a convert. For Protagoras, or some one on his part, will say in reply: My fine gentlemen, young and old, ye sit together and declaim, bringing gods into question, whom I, after speaking and writing about them, as to their existence or non-existence, set aside and you say just what the populace would hear with approval, that it is too bad for mankind not to differ in wisdom from every kind of beast: but you offer no convincing proof whatever; you resort to probability, which if Theodorus or any other geometrician sought to use in geometry, he would be good for nothing. Just consider then, you and Theodorus, if on such important subjects you will accept arguments relying on mere persuasion and probability.

Theae. No, Socrates, we should not any more than yourself affirm that to be just.

So. We must view it then in some other way, as you and Theodorus suggest.

Theae. In some other way certainly.

So. In this way then let us consider it: whether know


ledge and perception are the same or different. For to this point, I ween, our whole argument tended; and for this purpose we stirred all these many strange questions. Did

we not?

Theae. Assuredly.

So. Shall we then admit that all the things which we perceive by sight and hearing we at the same time know? For instance, before we have learnt the language of the barbarians', shall we say that we do not hear them when they speak, or that we both hear and understand what they say? And again, if we do not know letters, shall we, when we look at them, say we do not see them, or shall we insist that we know, since we see them?

Theae. So much of them, Socrates, as we see and hear, we shall say we know; we shall say we both see and know the figure and the colour, and that we both hear and know the sharp and flat sound: but what grammarians and interpreters teach concerning them we shall say we neither perceive by sight and hearing, nor know.

So. Excellent, Theaetetus. And it is not worth while to dispute these positions of yours, that you may grow.

[Socrates now brings an argument against the Protagorean doctrine which 18 he afterwards acknowledges to be captivus and eristic. He says that Theodorus ought to champion the cause of his friend's children, as their guardian. Theodorus naively says that Callias holds that office, not himself.]

But look at this other question also which approaches, and consider how we shall repel it.

2 All who spoke another language than Greek were by the Hellenes called Bápßapol. Hence Prof. Jowett renders this word in English, 'foreigners.'

[blocks in formation]

So. This. If any one shall ask-'Suppose a man has become cognisant of anything, is it possible that, having and preserving memory of this thing, at the time when he remembers he should not know the very thing which he remembers?' But I am verbose, apparently, when I wish to ask if a man remembering anything he has learnt does not know it.

Theae. How could that be, Socrates? The thing you suggest would be a miracle.

So. Perhaps then I am trifling: but consider. Do you not call seeing perceiving, and sight perception?

Theae. I do.

So. Has not then one who has seen something become cognisant of the thing he saw according to your last statement?

Theae. Yes.

So. Well do you not grant there is such a thing as memory?

Theae. Yes.

So. Memory of something or of nothing?

Theae. Of something, certainly.

So. Of what one has learnt then, and of what one has perceived; of such things, is it not?

Theae. Undoubtedly.

So. What a man has seen, he remembers at times, I suppose?

Theae. He does.


Even when he has shut his eyes? or on doing so has he forgotten?

Theae. It were monstrous to suppose that, Socrates. So. We must, I can tell you, if we are to maintain our former argument. If not, there is an end of it.

Theae. I really suspect so myself; but I cannot quite
Tell me how.

make up my mind.
So. In this way.

One who sees becomes, we say, cognisant of what he sees. For sight and perception and knowledge are admitted to be the same.

Theae. Quite so.

So. And he who saw and became cognisant of what he saw, if he shuts his eyes, remembers, but does not see the thing. Is it so?

Theae. Yes.

So. And not seeing means not knowing, if seeing means knowing.

Theae. True.

So. The inference then is, that, while a man remembers something of which he has become cognisant, yet, since he does not see, he does not know it: and this we said would be a miracle.

Theae. All quite true.

So. If then anybody says that knowledge and perception are the same, there results an evident impossibility. Theae. So it seems.

So. Therefore we must distinguish one from the other.
Theae. I suppose so.

So. What then will knowledge be? We must begin our statement over again, it seems. Yet what are we going

to do, Theaetetus?

Theae. About what?

So. We seem to me, like an ignoble cock, to hop away from the argument and crow, before we have gained the victory.

[blocks in formation]

So. Like rhetorical disputants we seem to be content that we have come to a mutual agreement as to the admitted

uses of words, and by some such method mastered the question. And though we say we are not Eristics but philoso phers, we unconsciously imitate the practice of those clever fellows.

Theae. I do not yet understand your meaning.

So. Well then, I will try to explain my view of the matter. We were asking whether a man who has learnt and remembers something does not know it; and taking the case of one who had seen, and after shutting his eyes remembered though he did not see, we shewed that he did not know at the same time that he remembered; and this, we said, was impossible. And so the Protagorean fable came to ruin, and yours with it, as to knowledge and perception being the


Theae. Apparently.

So. But it would not, my friend, if the father of the former fable had been alive. He would have made a strong defence for it but now that it is an orphan, we insult it. For even those trustees, whom Protagoras appointed, one of whom was Theodorus here, do not come to the rescue. Well, in the interest of justice, I will run the risk of helping him myself.

if you

will succour him.

But we

Theo. No, Socrates, I was not his children's trustee, but rather Callias son of Hipponicus. I diverged somewhat earlier from abstract studies to geometry. shall be much obliged to you So. Well said, Theodorus. Have an eye then to my succour. For a man would have to make stranger admissions than we lately made, if he did not attend to the terms in which we are generally wont to affirm and deny. Shall I explain how to you or to Theaetetus?

Theo. To the company generally, but let the younger
For he will incur less disgrace by defeat.

one answer.

« PreviousContinue »