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[531b] both preferring their ears to their minds.1” “You,” said I, “are speaking of the worthies2 who vex and torture the strings and rack them3 on the pegs; but—not to draw out the comparison with strokes of the plectrum and the musician's complaints of too responsive and too reluctant strings4—I drop the figure,5 and tell you that I do not mean these people, but those others6 whom we just now said we would interrogate about harmony.

1 So Malebranche, Entretiens sur la métaphysique, 3, x.: “Je pense que nous vous moquez de moi. C’est la raison et non les sens qu'il faut consulter.”

2 For χρηστός in this ironical sense cf. also 479 A, Symp. 177 B.

3 The language of the imagery confounds the torture of slaves giving evidence on the rack with the strings and pegs of a musical instrument. For the latter cf. Horace, A.P. 348, “nam neque chorda sonum reddit quem vult manus et mens Poscentique gravem persaepe remittit acutum.” Stallbaum says that Plato here was imitated by Aristaenetus, Epist. xiv. libr. 1τί πράγματα παρέχετε χορδαῖς;

4 This also may suggest a reluctant and a too willing witness.

5 Cf. on 489 A, p. 23, note d.

6 He distinguishes from the pure empirics just satirized those who apply their mathematics only to the data of observation. This is perhaps one of Plato's rare errors. For though there may be in some sense a Kantian a priori mechanics of astronomy, there can hardly be a purely a priori mathematics of acoustics. What numbers are consonantly harmonious must always remain a fact of direct experience. Cf. my Platonism and the History of Science, p. 176.

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