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[438a] “Let no one then,”1 said I, “disconcert us when off our guard with the objection that everybody desires not drink but good drink and not food but good food, because (the argument will run2) all men desire good, and so, if thirst is desire, it would be of good drink or of good whatsoever it is; and so similarly of other desires.” “Why,” he said, “there perhaps would seem to be something in that objection.” “But I need hardly remind you,” said I, [438b] “that of relative terms those that are somehow qualified are related to a qualified correlate, those that are severally just themselves to a correlate that is just itself.3” “I don't understand,” he said. “Don't you understand,” said I, “that the greater4 is such as to be greater than something?” “Certainly.” “Is it not than the less?” “Yes.” “But the much greater than the much less. Is that not so?” “Yes.” “And may we add the one time greater than the one time less and that which will be greater than that which will be less?” “Surely.” [438c] “And similarly of the more towards the fewer, and the double towards the half and of all like cases, and again of the heavier towards the lighter, the swifter towards the slower, and yet again of the hot towards the cold and all cases of that kind,5 does not the same hold?” “By all means.” “But what of the sciences? Is not the way of it the same? Science which is just that, is of knowledge which is just that, or is of whatsoever6 we must assume the correlate of science to be. But a particular science of a particular kind is of some particular thing of a particular kind. [438d] I mean something like this: As there was a science of making a house it differed from other sciences so as to be named architecture.” “Certainly.” “Was not this by reason of its being of a certain kind7 such as no other of all the rest?” “Yes.” “And was it not because it was of something of a certain kind that it itself became a certain kind of science? And similarly of the other arts and sciences?” “That is so.

“This then,” said I, “if haply you now understand, is what you must say I then meant, by the statement that of all things that are such as to be of something those that are just themselves only are of things just themselves only, [438e] but things of a certain kind are of things of a kind. And I don't at all mean8 that they are of the same kind as the things of which they are, so that we are to suppose that the science of health and disease is a healthy and diseased science and that of evil and good, evil and good. I only mean that as science became the science not of just the thing9 of which science is but of some particular kind of thing, namely, of health and disease, the result10 was that it itself became some kind of science and this caused it to be no longer called simply science but with the addition of the particular kind, medical science.” “I understand,” he said, “and agree that it is so.” “To return to thirst, then,” said I,

1 μήτοι τις=look you to it that no one, etc.

2 ἄρα marks the rejection of this reasoning. Cf 358 C, 364 E, 381 E, 499 C. Plato of course is not repudiating his doctrine that all men really will the good, but the logic of this passage requires us to treat the desire of good as a distinct qualification of the mere drink.

3 ὅσα γ᾽ ἐστὶ τοιαῦτα etc.: a palmary example of the concrete simplicity of Greek idiom in the expression of abstract ideas.ὅσα etc. (that is, relative terms) divide by partitive apposition into two classes,τὰ μὲν . . . τὰ δέ. The meaning is that if one term of the relation is qualified, the other must be, but if one term is without qualification, the other is also taken absolutely. Plato, as usual (Cf. on 347 B), represents the interlocutor as not understandiong the first general abstract statement, which he therefore interprets and repeats. I have varied the translation in the repetition in order to bring out the full meaning, and some of the differences between Greek and English idiom.

4 The notion of relative terms is familiar. Cf. Charmides 167 E, Theaetetus 160 A, Symposium 199 D-E, Parmenides 133 C ff., Sophist 255 D, Aristotle Topics vi. 4, and Cat. v. It is expounded here only to insure the apprehension of the further point that the qualifications of either term of the relation are relative to each other. In the Politicus 283 f. Plato adds that the great and small are measured not only in relation to each other, but by absolute standards. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 61, 62, and 531 A.

5 καὶ . . . καὶ αὖ . . . καὶ ἔτι γε etc. mark different classes of relations, magnitudes, precise quantites, the mechanical properties of matter and the physical properties.

6 Plato does not wish to complicate his logic with metaphysics. The objective correlate of ἐπιστήμη is a difficult problem. In the highest sense it is the ideas. Cf. Parmenides 134 A. But the relativity of ἐπιστήμη(Aristotle Topics iv. 1. 5) leads to psychological difficulties in Charmides 168 and to theological in Parmenides 134 C-E, which are waived by this phrase. Sceince in the abstract is of knowledge in the abstract, architectural science is of the specific knowledge called architecture. Cf. Sophist 257 C.

7 Cf. Philebus 37 C.

8 Cf. Cratylus 393 B, Phaedo 81 D, and for the thought Aristotle Met. 1030 b 2 ff. The “added determinants” need not be the same. The study of useful things is not necessarily a useful study, as opponents of the Classics argue. In Gorgias 476 B this principle is violated by the wilful fallacy that if to do justice is fine, so must it be to suffer justice, but the motive for this is explained in Laws 859-860.

9 αὐτοῦ οὗπερ ἐπιστήμη ἐστίν is here a mere periphrasis for μαθήματος, αὐτοῦ expressing the idea abstract, mere, absolute, or per se, but ὅπερ or ἥπερ ἐστίν is often a synonym of αὐτός or αὐτή in the sense of abstract, absolute, or ideal. Cf. Thompson on Meno 71 B, Sophist 255 Dτοῦτο ὅπερ ἐστὶν εἶναι.

10 δή marks the application of this digression on relativity, for δῖψος is itself a relative term and is what it is in relation to something else, namely drink.

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