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[511a] only by the mind.1” “True,” he said.

“This then is the class that I described as intelligible, it is true,2 but with the reservation first that the soul is compelled to employ assumptions in the investigation of it, not proceeding to a first principle because of its inability to extricate itself from and rise above its assumptions, and second, that it uses as images or likenesses the very objects that are themselves copied and adumbrated by the class below them, and that in comparison with these latter3 are esteemed as clear and held in honor.4” “I understand,” [511b] said he, “that you are speaking of what falls under geometry and the kindred arts.” “Understand then,” said I, “that by the other section of the intelligible I mean that which the reason5 itself lays hold of by the power of dialectics,6 treating its assumptions not as absolute beginnings but literally as hypotheses,7 underpinnings, footings,8 and springboards so to speak, to enable it to rise to that which requires no assumption and is the starting-point of all,9 and after attaining to that again taking hold of the first dependencies from it, so to proceed downward to the conclusion, [511c] making no use whatever of any object of sense10 but only of pure ideas moving on through ideas to ideas and ending with ideas.11” “I understand,” he said; “not fully, for it is no slight task that you appear to have in mind, but I do understand that you mean to distinguish the aspect of reality and the intelligible, which is contemplated by the power of dialectic, as something truer and more exact than the object of the so-called arts and sciences whose assumptions are arbitrary starting-points. And though it is true that those who contemplate them are compelled to use their understanding12 and not [511d] their senses, yet because they do not go back to the beginning in the study of them but start from assumptions you do not think they possess true intelligence13 about them although14 the things themselves are intelligibles when apprehended in conjunction with a first principle. And I think you call the mental habit of geometers and their like mind or understanding15 and not reason because you regard understanding as something intermediate between opinion and reason.” “Your interpretation is quite sufficient,” I said; “and now, answering to16 these four sections, assume these four affections occurring in the soul: intellection or reason for the highest, [511e] understanding for the second; assign belief17 to the third, and to the last picture-thinking or conjecture,18 and arrange them in a proportion,19 considering that they participate in clearness and precision in the same degree as their objects partake of truth and reality.” “I understand,” he said; “I concur and arrange them as you bid.”

1 Stenzel, Handbuch, 118 “das er nur mit dem Verstande(διανοίᾳ)sieht” is mistaken. διανοίᾳ is used not in its special sense (“understanding.” See p. 116, note c), but generally for the mind as opposed to the senses. Cf. 511 c.

2 For the concessive μέν cf. 546 E, 529 D, Soph. 225 C.

3 The loosely appended dative ἐκείνοις is virtually a dative absolute. Cf. Phaedo 105 A. Wilamowitz' emendation (Platon, ii. p. 384) to πρὸς ἐκεῖνα, καὶ ἐκείνοις rests on a misunderstanding of the passage.

4 The translation of this sentence is correct. But cf. Adam ad loc.

5 λόγος here suggests bot the objective personified argument and the subjective faculty.

6 Cf. 533 A.Phileb. 57 E.

7 τῷ ὄντι emphasized the etymological meaning of the word. Similarly ὡς ἀληθῶς in 551 E, Phaedo 80 D, Phileb. 64 E. For hypotheses cf. Burnet, Greek Philosophy, p. 229, Thompson on Meno 86 E. But the thing to note is that the word according to the context may emphasize the arbitrariness of an assumption or the fact that it is the starting-point—ἀπχή—of the inquiry.

8 Cf. Symp. 211 Cὥσπερ ἐπαναβάσμοις, “like steps of a stair.”

9 παντὸς ἀρχήν taken literally leads support to the view that Plato is thinking of an absolute first principle. But in spite of the metaphysical suggestions for practical purposes the παντὸς ἀρχή may be the virtual equivalent of the ἱκανόν of the Phaedo. It is the ἀρχή on which all in the particular case depends and is reached by dialectical agreement, not by arbitrary assumption. Cf. on 510 B, p. 110, note a.

10 This is one of the passages that are misused to attribute to Plato disdain for experience and the perceptions of the senses. Cf. on 530 B, p. 187, note c. The dialectician is able to reason purely in concepts and words without recurring to images. Plato is not here considering how much or little of his knowledge is ultimately derived from experience.

11 The description undoubtedly applies to a metaphysical philosophy that deduces all things from a transcendent first principle. I have never denied that. The point of my interpretation is that it also describes the method which distinguishes the dialectician as such from the man of science, and that this distinction is for practical and educational purposes the chief result of the discussion, as Plato virtually says in the next few lines. Cf. What Plato Said, pp. 233-234.

12 διανοίᾳ here as in 511 A is general and not technical.

13 νοῦν οὐκ ἴσχειν is perhaps intentionally ambiguous. Colloquially the phrase means “have not sense.” for its higher meaning Cf. Meno 99 C, Laws 962 A.

14 Unnecessary difficulties have been raised about καίτοι and μετά here. Wilamowitz, Platon, ii. p. 345 mistakenly resorts to emendation. the meaning is plain. Mathematical ideas are ideas or concepts like other ideas; but the mathematician does not deal with them quiet as the dialectician deals with ideas and therefore does not possess νοῦς or reason in the highest sense.

15 Here the word διάνοια is given a technical meaning as a faculty inferior to νοῦς, but, as Plato says, the terminology does not matter. The question has been much and often idly discussed.

16 For ἐπί Cf. Polit. 280 A, Gorg. 463 B.

17 πίστις is of course not “faith” in Plato, but Neoplatonists, Christians, and commentators have confused the two ideas hopelessly.

18 εἰκασία undoubtedly had this connotation for Plato.

19 Cf. on 508 C, p. 103, note b.

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