previous next
[524c] it would not have been thinking of two, but of one.” “Right.” “Sight too saw the great and the small, we say, not separated but confounded.1 “Is not that so?” “Yes.” “And for2 the clarification of this, the intelligence is compelled to contemplate the great and small,3 not thus confounded but as distinct entities, in the opposite way from sensation.” “True.” “And is it not in some such experience as this that the question first occurs to us, what in the world, then, is the great and the small?” “By all means.” “And this is the origin of the designation “intelligible” for the one, and “visible” for the other.”

1 Plato's aim is the opposite of that of the modern theorists who say that teaching should deal integrally with the total experience and not with the artificial division of abstraction.

2 The final use of διά became more frequent in later Greek. Cf. Aristot.Met. 982 b 20, Eth. Nic. 1110 a 4.Gen. an. 717 a 6, Poetics 1450 b 3, 1451 b 37. Cf. Lysis 218 B, Epin. 975 A, Olympiodorus, Life of Plato,Teubner vi. 191, ibid. p. 218, and schol.passim,Apsines, Spengel i. 361, line 18.

3 Plato merely means that this is the psychological origin of our attempt to form abstract and general ideas. My suggestion that this passage is the probable source of the notion which still infests the history of philosophy, that the great-and-the-small was a metaphysical entity or principle in Plato's later philosophy, to be identified with indeterminate dyad, has been disregarded. Cf. Unity of Plato's Thought, 84. But it is the only plausible explanation that has ever been proposed of the attribution of that “clotted nonsense” to Plato himself. For it is fallacious to identify μᾶλλον καὶ ἦττον in Philebus 24 C, 25 C, 21 E, and elsewhere with the μέγα καὶ σμικρόν. But there is no limit to the misapprehension of texts by hasty or fanciful readers in any age.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (James Adam)
load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1451 AD (1)
1450 AD (1)
1110 AD (1)
hide References (1 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER XL
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: