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[251a] If, however, we are able to see neither of them, we will at any rate push our discussion through between both of them at once as creditably as we can.

Theaetetus
Good.

Stranger
Let us, then, explain how we come to be constantly calling this same thing by many names.

Theaetetus
What, for instance? Please give an example.

Stranger
We speak of man, you know, and give him many additional designations; we attribute to him colors and forms and sizes and vices and virtues, [251b] and in all these cases and countless others we say not only that he is man, but we say he is good and numberless other things. So in the same way every single thing which we supposed to be one, we treat as many and call by many names.

Theaetetus
True.

Stranger
And it is in this way, I fancy, that we have provided a fine feast for youngsters and for old men whose learning has come to them late in life; for example, it is easy enough for anyone to grasp the notion that the many cannot possibly be one, nor the one many, and so, apparently, they take pleasure in saying that we must not call a man good, [251c] but must call the good good, and a man man. I fancy, Theaetetus, you often run across people who take such matters seriously; sometimes they are elderly men whose poverty of intellect makes them admire such quibbles, and who think this is a perfect mine of wisdom they have discovered.1

Theaetetus
Certainly.

Stranger
Then, to include in our discussion all those who have ever engaged in any talk whatsoever about being, [251d] let us address our present arguments to these men as well as to all those with whom we were conversing before, and let us employ the form of questions.

Theaetetus
What are the arguments?

Stranger
Shall we attribute neither being to rest and motion, nor any attribute to anything, but shall we in our discussions assume that they do not mingle and cannot participate in one another? Or shall we gather all things together, believing that they are capable of combining with one another? Or are some capable of it and others not? Which of these alternatives, [251e] Theaetetus, should we say is their choice?

Theaetetus
I cannot answer these questions for them.

Stranger
Then why did you not answer each separately and see what the result was in each case?

Theaetetus
A good suggestion.

Stranger
And let us, if you please, assume that they say first that nothing has any power to combine with anything else. Then motion and rest will have no share in being, will they?


1 Those are here satirized who deny the possibillty of all except identical predication. Such were Antisthenes, Euthydemus, and Dionysodorus. The two last are probably those referred to as old men whose learning came late in life.

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