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[508e] “Yes, it does,” “This reality, then, that gives their truth to the objects of knowledge and the power of knowing to the knower, you must say is the idea1 of good, and you must conceive it as being the cause of knowledge, and of truth in so far as known.2 Yet fair as they both are, knowledge and truth, in supposing it to be something fairer still3 than these you will think rightly of it. But as for knowledge and truth, even as in our illustration

1 No absolute distinction can be drawn between εἶδος and ἰδέα in Plato. But ἰδέα may be used o carry the notion of “apprehended aspect” which I think is more pertinent here than the metaphysical entity of the idea, though of course Plato would affirm that. Cf. 379 A, Unity of Plato's Thought, p. 35, What Plato Said, p. 585, Class. Phil. xx. (1925) p. 347.

2 The meaning is clear. we really understand and know anything only when we apprehend its purpose, the aspect of the good that it reveals. Cf. Introd. pp. xxxv-xxxvi. the position and case of γιγνωσκομένης are difficult. But no change proposed is any improvement.

3 Plato likes to cap a superlative by a further degree of completeness, a climax beyond the climax. Cf. 405 Bαἴσχιστον . . . αἴσχιον, 578 B, Symp. 180 A-B and Bury ad loc. The same characteristic can be observed in his method, e.g. in the Symposium where Agathon's speech, which seems the climax, is surpassed by that of Socrates: similarly in the Gorgias and the tenth book of the Republic, Cf. Friedländer, Platon, i. p. 174, Introd. p. lxi. This and the next half page belong, I think, to rhetoric rather than to systematic metaphysics. Plato the idealist uses transcendental language of his ideal, and is never willing to admit that expression has done justice to it. But Plato the rationalist distinctly draws the line between his religious language thrown out at an object and his definite logical and practical conclusions. Cf. e.g. Meno 81 D-E.

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