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How comes it, Stranger, that we are ruling that it makes no difference to the thief whether the thing he steals be great or small, and whether the place it is stolen from be holy or unhallowed, or whatever other differences may exist in the manner of a theft; whereas the lawgiver ought to suit the punishment to the crime by inflicting dissimilar penalties in these varying cases?Athenian
Well said, Clinias! You have collided with me [857c] when I was going, as it were, full steam ahead, and so have woken me up. You have reminded me of a previous reflection of mine, how that none of the attempts hitherto made at legislation have ever been carried out rightly—as in fact we may infer from the instance before us. What do I mean to imply by this remark? It was no bad comparison we made2 when we compared all existing legislation to the doctoring of slaves by slaves. For one should carefully notice this, that if any of the doctors who practice medicine by purely empirical methods, [857d] devoid of theory, were to come upon a free-born doctor conversing with a free-born patient, and using arguments, much as a philosopher would, dealing with the course of the ailment from its origin and surveying the natural constitution of the human body,—he would at once break out into a roar of laughter, and the language he would use would be none other than that which always comes ready to the tongue of most so-called “doctors”: “You fool,” he would say, “you are not doctoring your patient, but schooling him, so to say, as though what he wanted was to be made, not a sound man, [857e] but a doctor.”Clinias
And in saying so, would he not be right?Athenian
Possibly, provided that he should also take the view that the man who treats of laws in the way that we are now doing is schooling the citizens rather than legislating. Would he not seem to be right in saying that, too?Clinias
How fortunate we are in the conclusion we have now come to!Clinias
This,—that there is no need to legislate,
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