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[245a]

Stranger
But yet nothing hinders that which has parts from possessing the attribute of unity in all its parts and being in this way one, since it is all and whole.

Theaetetus
Very true.

Stranger
But is it not impossible for that which is in this condition to be itself absolute unity?

Theaetetus
Why?

Stranger
Why surely that which is really one must, according to right reason, be affirmed to be absolutely without parts.

Theaetetus
Yes, it must. [245b]

Stranger
But such a unity consisting of many parts will not harmonize with reason.

Theaetetus
I understand.

Stranger
Then shall we agree that being is one and a whole because it has the attribute of unity, or shall we deny that being is a whole at all?

Theaetetus
It is a hard choice that you offer me.

Stranger
That is very true; for being, having in a way had unity imposed upon it, will evidently not be the same as unity, and the all will be more than one.

Theaetetus
Yes.

Stranger
And further, if being is not a whole through [245c] having had the attribute of unity imposed upon it, and the absolute whole exists, then it turns out that being lacks something of being.

Theaetetus
Certainly.

Stranger
And so, by this reasoning, since being is deprived of being, it will be not-being.

Theaetetus
So it will.

Stranger
And again the all becomes more than the one, since being and the whole have acquired each its own nature.

Theaetetus
Yes.

Stranger
But if the whole does not exist at all, being is involved in the same difficulties as before, and besides not existing [245d] it could not even have ever come into existence

Theaetetus
What do you mean?

Stranger
That which comes into existence always comes into existence as a whole. Therefore no one who does not reckon the whole among things that are can speak of existence or generation as being.

Theaetetus
That certainly seems to be true.

Stranger
And moreover, that which is not a whole cannot have any quantity at all; for if it has any quantity, whatever that quantity may be, it must necessarily be of that quantity as a whole.

Theaetetus
Precisely.

Stranger
And so countless other problems, each one involving infinite difficulties, [245e] will confront him who says that being is, whether it be two or only one.

Theaetetus
The problems now in sight make that pretty clear; for each leads up to another which brings greater and more grievous wandering in connection with whatever has previously been said.

Stranger
Now we have not discussed all those who treat accurately of being and not-being1; however, let this suffice. But we must turn our eyes to those whose doctrines are less precise, that we may know from all sources that it is no easier


1 The Ionic philosophers, the Eleatics, Heracleitus, Empedocles, the Megarians, Gorgias, Protagoras, and Antisthenes all discussed the problem of being and not-being.

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