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[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 reason1 itself lays hold of by the power of dialectics,2 treating its assumptions not as absolute beginnings but literally as hypotheses,3 underpinnings, footings,4 and springboards so to speak, to enable it to rise to that which requires no assumption and is the starting-point of all,5 and after attaining to that again taking hold of the first dependencies from it, so to proceed downward to the conclusion,

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

2 Cf. 533 A.Phileb. 57 E.

3 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.

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

5 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.

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