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[476a] “Of course.” “And since they are two, each is one.1” “That also.” “And in respect of the just and the unjust, the good and the bad, and all the ideas or forms, the same statement holds, that in itself each is one, but that by virtue of their communion with actions and bodies and with one another they present themselves everywhere, each as a multiplicity of aspects.” “Right,” he said. “This, then,” said I, “is my division. I set apart and distinguish those of whom you were just speaking, the lovers of spectacles and the arts, [476b] and men of action, and separate from them again those with whom our argument is concerned and who alone deserve the appellation of philosophers or lovers of wisdom.” “What do you mean?” he said. “The lovers of sounds and sights,” I said, “delight in beautiful tones and colors and shapes and in everything that art fashions out of these, but their thought is incapable of apprehending and taking delight in the nature of the beautiful in itself.” “Why, yes,” he said, “that is so.” “And on the other hand, will not those be few2 who would be able to approach beauty itself and contemplate it in and by itself?” [476c] “They would, indeed.” “He, then, who believes in beautiful things, but neither believes in beauty itself nor is able to follow when someone tries to guide him to the knowledge of it—do you think that his life is a dream or a waking3? Just consider. Is not the dream state, whether the man is asleep or awake, just this: the mistaking of resemblance for identity?” “I should certainly call that dreaming,” he said. “Well, then, take the opposite case: the man whose thought recognizes a beauty in itself, [476d] and is able to distinguish that self-beautiful and the things that participate in it, and neither supposes the participants to be it nor it the participants—is his life, in your opinion, a waking or a dream state?” “He is very much awake,” he replied. “Could we not rightly, then, call the mental state of the one as knowing, knowledge, and that of the other as opining, opinion?” “Assuredly.” “Suppose, now, he who we say opines but does not know should be angry and challenge our statement as not true. [476e] Can we find any way of soothing him and gently4 winning him over, without telling him too plainly that he is not in his right mind?” “We must try,” he said. “Come, then, consider what we are to say to him, or would you have us question him in this fashion—premising that if he knows anything, nobody grudges it him, but we should be very glad to see him knowing something—but tell5 us this: Does he who knows know something or nothing? Do you reply in his behalf.” “I will reply,” he said, “that he knows something.” “Is it something that is or is not6?” “That is. How could

1 Plato is merely restating the theory of Ideas to prepare for his practical distinction between minds that can and minds that cannot apprehend abstractions. He does not here enter into the metaphysics of the subject. But he does distinctly show that he is “already” aware of the difficulties raised in the Parmenides, 131 B ff., and of the misapprehension disposed of in the Sophist 252 ff. that the metaphysical isolation of the Ideas precludes their combination and intermingling in human thought and speech. For the many attempts to evade ἀλλήλων κοινωνία Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, n. 244, and add now Wilamowitz, Platon, i. p. 567, who, completely missing the point, refers to 505 A, which is also misunderstood. He adds “mit den Problemen des Sophistes hat das gar nichts zu tun; sie waren ihm noch nicht aufgestossen,” which begs the question.

2 “Le petit nombre des élus” is a common topic in Plato. Cf. on 494 A.

3 The dream state is a very different thing for Plato from what it is for some modern sentimental Platonists. Cf. 520 C-D, Phaedrus 277 D, Timaeus 52 B, and 71 E, if rightly interpreted.

4 ἠρέμα: Cf. Symposium 221 B. Plato's humorous use of this word is the source of Emerson's humorous use of “gently.”

5 For the humor of the sudden shift to the second person cf. Juvenal, Satire i. “profer, Galla, caput.”

6 To understand what follows it is necessary (1) to assume that Plato is not talking nonsense; (2) to make allowance for the necessity that he is under of combating contemporary fallacies and sophisms which may seem trivial to us (Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 50 ff.); (3) to remember the greater richness of the Greek language in forms of the verb “to be”; and the misunderstandings introduced by the indiscriminate use of the abstract verbal noun “being” in English—a difficulty which I have tried to meet by varying the terms of the translation; (4) to recognize that apart from metaphysics Plato's main purpose is to insist on the ability to think abstractly as a prerequisite of the higher education; (5) to observe the qualifications and turns of phrase which indicate that Plato himself was not confused by the double meaning of “is not,” but was already aware of the distinctions explicitly explained in the Sophist. (Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, pp. 53 ff. nn. 389 ff.)

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