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[454a] “is the power of the art of contradiction1!” “Why so?” “Because,” said I, “many appear to me to fall into it even against their wills, and to suppose that they are not wrangling but arguing, owing to their inability to apply the proper divisions and distinctions to the subject under consideration. They pursue purely verbal oppositions, practising eristic, not dialectic on one another.” “Yes, this does happen to many,” he said; “but does this observation apply to us too at present?” [454b] “Absolutely,” said I; “at any rate I am afraid that we are unawares2 slipping into contentiousness.” “In what way?” “The principle that natures not the same ought not to share in the same pursuits we are following up most manfully and eristically3 in the literal and verbal sense but we did not delay to consider at all what particular kind of diversity and identity4 of nature we had in mind and with reference to what we were trying to define it when we assigned different pursuits to different natures and the same to the same.” “No, we didn't consider that,” he said. [454c] “Wherefore, by the same token,” I said, “we might ask ourselves whether the natures of bald5 and long-haired men are the same and not, rather, contrary. And, after agreeing that they were opposed, we might, if the bald cobbled, forbid the long-haired to do so, or vice versa.” “That would be ridiculous,” he said. “Would it be so,” said I, “for any other reason than that we did not then posit likeness and difference of nature in any and every sense, but were paying heed solely to the kind of diversity [454d] and homogeneity that was pertinent6 to the pursuits themselves?” “We meant, for example, that a man and a woman who have a physician's7 mind have the same nature. Don't you think so?” “I do.” “But that a man physician and a man carpenter have different natures?” “Certainly, I suppose.”

“Similarly, then,” said I, “if it appears that the male and the female sex have distinct qualifications for any arts or pursuits, we shall affirm that they ought to be assigned respectively to each. But if it appears that they differ only in just this respect that the female bears [454e] and the male begets, we shall say that no proof has yet been produced that the woman differs from the man for our purposes, but we shall continue to think that our guardians and their wives ought to follow the same pursuits.” “And rightly,” said he. “Then, is it not the next thing to bid our opponent tell us

1 ἀντιλογικῆς: one of several designations for the eristic which Isocrates maliciously confounds with dialectic while Plato is careful to distinguish them. Cf. E. S. Thompson, The Meno of Plato, Excursus V., pp. 272 ff. and the introduction to E.H. Gifford's Euthydemus, p. 42. Among the marks of eristic are the pusuit of merely verbal oppositions as here and Euthydemus 278 A, 301 B, Theaetetus 164 C; the neglect to distinguish and divide, Philebus 17 A, Phaedrus 265 E, 266 A, B; the failure to distinguish the hypothesis from its consequences, Phaedo 101 E, Parmenides 135-136.

2 ἄκοντες is almost “unconscious.” Cf. Philebus 14 C.

3 Greek style often couples thus two adverbs, the second defining more specifically the first, and, as here and often in Plato and Aristophanes, with humorous or paradoxical effect. Cf. Aristophanes Knights 800εὖ καὶ μιαρῶς. So Shakespeare “well and chirurgeonly.”

4 Cf. Sophist 256 A-B for the relativity of “same” and “other.”Politicus 292 C describes in different language the correct method.

5 For this humorously trivial illustration cf. Mill, Rep. Gov. chap. viii. p. 190: “I have taken no account of difference of sex. I consider it to be as entirely irrelevant to political rights as difference in height, or in the color of the hair;” and Mill's disciple Leslie Stephen, The English Utilitarians, i. 291: “We may at least grant that the burden of proof should be upon those who would disfranchise all red-haired men.”

6 Cf. Laches 190 Dεἰς τείνειν δοκεῖ, Protagoras 345 B.

7 Adam makes difficulties, but Cf. Laws 963 Aνοῦν . . . κυβερνητικὸν μὲν καὶ ἰατρικὸν καὶ στρατηγικόν. The translation follows Hermann despite the objection that this reading forestalls the next sentence. Cf. Campbell ad loc. and Apelt, Woch. für klass. Phil., 1903, p. 344.

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