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[596a] that the dimmer vision sees things in advance of the keener.1” “That is so,” he said; “but in your presence I could not even be eager to try to state anything that appears to me, but do you yourself consider it.” “Shall we, then, start the inquiry at this point by our customary procedure2? We are in the habit, I take it, of positing a single idea or form3 in the case of the various multiplicities to which we give the same name. Do you not understand?” “I do.” “In the present case, then, let us take any multiplicity you please;

1 Perhaps a slight failure in Attic courtesy. Cf. Laws 715 D-E, and for ὀξύτερον βλεπόντων927 B, Euthydem. 281 D, Rep. 404 A, Themist.Orat. ii. p. 32 C. Cf. the saying πολλάκι καὶ κηποῦρος ἀνὴρ μάλα καίριον εἶπεν.

2 Cf. Phaedo 76 D, 100 B, Phileb. 16 D, 479 E, Thompson on Meno 72 D. See Zeller, Phil. d. Gr. ii. 1. p. 660. The intentional simplicity of Plato's positing of the concept here (cf. 597 A), and his transition from the concept to the “idea,” has been mistaken for a primitive aspect of his thought by many interpreters. It is quite uncritical to use Aristot.Met. 991 b 6 ff. to prove that Plato's “later” theory of ideas did not recognize ideas of artefacts, and therefore that this passage represents an earlier phase of the theory. He deliberately expresses the theory as simply as possible, and a manufactured object suits his purpose here as it does in Cratyl. 389. See also supra,Introd. pp. xxii-xxiii.

3 “Forms” with a capital letter is even more misleading than “ideas.”

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