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[967a] For they imagine that those who study these objects in astronomy and the other necessary allied arts become atheists through observing, as they suppose, that all things come into being by necessary forces and not by the mental energy of the will aiming at the fulfillment of good.

Clinias
What in fact is the real state of the case?

Athenian
The position at present is, as I said, exactly the opposite of what it was when those who considered these objects considered them to be soulless. Yet even then they were objects of admiration, and the conviction [967b] which is now actually held was suspected by all who studied them accurately—namely, that if they were soulless, and consequently devoid of reason, they could never have employed with such precision calculations so marvellous; and even in those days there were some who dared to hazard the statement1 that reason is the orderer of all that is in the heavens. But the same thinkers, through mistaking the nature of the soul and conceiving her to be posterior, instead of prior, to body, [967c] upset again (so to say) the whole universe, and most of all themselves; for as regards the visible objects of sight, all that moves in the heavens appeared to them to be full of stones, earth and many other soulless bodies which dispense the causes of the whole cosmos. These were the views which, at that time, caused these thinkers to incur many charges of atheism and much odium, and which also incited the poets to abuse them2 by likening philosophers to “dogs howling at the moon,” with other such senseless slanders. [967d] But today, as we have said, the position is quite the reverse.

Clinias
How so?

Athenian
It is impossible for any mortal man to become permanently god-fearing if he does not grasp the two truths now stated,—namely, how that the soul is oldest of all things that partake of generation, and is immortal, and rules over all bodies,—and in addition to this, he must also grasp that reason which, as we have often affirmed, controls what exists among the stars, together with the [967e] necessary preliminary sciences;3 and he must observe also the connection therewith of musical theory, and apply it harmoniously to the institutions and rules of ethics;4 and he must be able to give a rational explanation of all that admits of rational explanation.

1 An allusion to the saying of Anaxagoras, “All things were together; then Reason (νοῦς) came and set them in order.” But A. ascribed to Reason only the initiation of a world-order; in all other respects his doctrine was materialistic, and he used purely physical causes and processes in explaining the world, regarding the stars as fiery masses of matter (“full of earth, stones,” etc.). Cp.Phaedo 91 B ff.

2 Cp. Plat. Rep. 607b, c.

3 Cp. Plat. Laws 818a ff.

4 Cp. Plat. Rep. 401d ff, Plat. Rep. 500d ff, Plat. Rep. 531 ff.

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