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[429a]

Cratylus
The lawgivers, as you said in the beginning.

Socrates
Shall we declare that this art arises in men like the other arts, or not? What I mean is this: Some painters are better, and others worse, are they not?

Cratylus
Certainly.

Socrates
And the better produce better works—that is, their paintings—and the others worse works? And likewise some builders build better houses and others worse?

Cratylus
Yes. [429b]

Socrates
Then do some lawgivers produce better, and others worse works?

Cratylus
No; at that point I cease to agree.

Socrates
Then you do not think that some laws are better, and some worse?

Cratylus
No, I do not.

Socrates
And you do not, it appears, think that one name is better, and another worse?

Cratylus
No, I do not.

Socrates
Then all names are correct?

Cratylus
All that are really names.

Socrates
How about the name of our friend Hermogenes, [429c] which was mentioned a while ago? Shall we say that it is not his name at all, unless he belongs to the race of Hermes, or that it is his name, but is incorrect?

Cratylus
I think, Socrates, that it is not his name at all; it appears to be his, but is really the name of some one else who possesses the nature that makes the name clear.

Socrates
And when anyone says that our friend is Hermogenes, is he not even speaking falsely? For perhaps it is not even possible to say that he is Hermogenes, if he is not.

Cratylus
What do you mean?

Socrates
Do you mean to say that it is impossible to speak falsehood at all? [429d] For there are, my dear Cratylus, many who do so, and who have done so in the past.

Cratylus
Why, Socrates, how could anyone who says that which he says, say that which is not? Is not falsehood saying that which is not?

Socrates
Your reasoning is too clever for me at my age, my friend. However, tell me this: Do you think it is possible to speak falsehood, [429e] but not to say it?

Cratylus
Neither to speak nor to say it.

Socrates
Nor utter it or use it as a form of address? For instance, if some one should meet you in hospitable fashion, should grasp your hand and say, “Well met, my friend from Athens, son of Smicrion, Hermogenes,” would he be saying or speaking or uttering or addressing these words not to you, but to Hermogenes—or to nobody?

Cratylus
I think, Socrates, the man would be producing sounds without sense.

Socrates
Even that reply is welcome;


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