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“What of the cabinet-maker? Were you not just now saying that he does not make the idea or form which we say is the real couch, the couch in itself,1 but only some particular couch?” “Yes, I was.” “Then if he does not make that which really is, he could not be said to make real being but something that resembles real being but is not that. But if anyone should say that being in the complete sense2 belongs to the work of the cabinet-maker or to that of any other handicraftsman, it seems that he would say what is not true.” “That would be the view,” he said, “of those who are versed3 in this kind of reasoning.” “We must not be surprised, then, if this too is only a dim adumbration in comparison with reality.” [597b] “No, we must not.” “Shall we, then, use these very examples in our quest for the true nature of this imitator?” “If you please,” he said. “We get, then, these three couches, one, that in nature4 which, I take it, we would say that God produces,5 or who else?” “No one, I think.” “And then there was one which the carpenter made.” “Yes,” he said. “And one which the painter. Is not that so?” “So be it.” “The painter, then, the cabinet-maker, and God, there are these three presiding over three kinds of couches.” “Yes,three.” [597c] “Now God,whether because he so willed or because some compulsion was laid upon him6 not to make more than one couch in nature, so wrought and created one only,7 the couch which really and in itself is. But two or more such were never created by God and never will come into being.” “How so?” he said. “Because,” said I, “if he should make only two, there would again appear one of which they both would possess the form or idea, and that would be the couch that really is in and of itself, and not the other two.” “Right,” he said. “God, then, I take it, knowing this and wishing [597d] to be the real author of the couch that has real being and not of some particular couch, nor yet a particular cabinet-maker, produced it in nature unique.” “So it seems.” “Shall we, then, call him its true and natural begetter, or something of the kind?” “That would certainly be right,” he said, “since it is by and in nature8 that he has made this and all other things.” “And what of the carpenter? Shall we not call him the creator of a couch?” “Yes.” “Shall we also say that the painter is the creator and maker of that sort of thing?” “By no means.” “What will you say he is in relation to the couch?” [597e] “This,” said he, “seems to me the most reasonable designation for him, that he is the imitator of the thing which those others produce.” “Very good,” said I; “the producer of the product three removes9 from nature you call the imitator?” “By all means,” he said. “This, then, will apply to the maker of tragedies also, if he is an imitator and is in his nature three removes from the king and the truth, as are all other imitators.” “It would seem so.” “We are in agreement, then, about the imitator.

1 ἔστι belongs to the terminology of ideas. Cf. Phaedo 74 D, 75 B, 75 D, Rep. 507 B.

2 τελέως . . . ὄν: Cf. 477 A, and Soph. 248 Eπαντελῶς ὄντι.

3 An indirect reference to Plato and his school like the “friends of ideas” in Soph. 248 A.

4 Cf. 597 C, 598 A, 501 Bφύσει, Phaedo 103 B, Parmen. 132 D.

5 Proclus says that this is not seriously meant (apudBeckmann, Num Plato artifactorum Ideas statuerit, p. 12). Cf. Zeller, Phil. d. Gr. ii. 1, p. 666, who interprets the passage correctly; A. E. Taylor, in Mind, xii. p. 5 “Plato's meaning has been supposed to be adequately indicted by such half-jocular instances as that of the idea of a bed or table in RepublicX.,” etc.

6 In Tim. 31 A the same argument is used for the creation of one world ἵνα . . . κατὰ τὴν μόνωσιν ὅμοιον τῷ παντελεῖ ζώῳ. See my De Plat. Idearum doct. p. 39. Cf. Renan, Dialogues Phil. p. 25: “Pour forger les premières tenailles, dit le Talmud, il fallut des tenailles. Dieu les créa.”

7 The famous argument of the third man. Cf. What Plato Said, p. 585, on Parmen. 132 A and Introd. p. xxiii.

8 Cf. Soph. 265 Eθήσω τὰ μὲν φύσει λεγόμενα ποιεῖσθαι θείᾳ τέχνῃ, Hooker, Eccles. Pol. i. 3. 4 “those things which Nature is said to do are by divine art preformed, using nature as an instrument,” Browne, apudJ. Texte, Etudes de littérature européenne, p. 65 “la nature est l'art de Dieu,” Cic.De nat. deor. ii. 13 “deoque tribuenda, id est mundo,”De leg. i. 7. 21, Seneca, De benef. iv. 7 “quid enim aliud est natura quam deus?” Höffding, Hist. of Mod. Philos. ii. 115 “Herder uses the word Nature in his book in order to avoid the frequent mention of the name of God.”

9 Cf. 587 C, Phaedr. 248 E, where the imitator is sixth in the scale.

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