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[90a] and the bad are both very few and those between the two are very many, for that is the case.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean just what I might say about the large and small. Do you think there is anything more unusual than to find a very large or a very small man, or dog, or other creature, or again, one that is very quick or slow, very ugly or beautiful, very black or white? Have you not noticed that the extremes in all these instances are rare and few, and the examples between the extremes are very many?”

“To be sure,” said I.

“And don't you think,” [90b] said he, “that if there were to be a competition in rascality, those who excelled would be very few in that also?”

“Very likely,” I replied.

“Yes, very likely,” he said, “But it is not in that respect that arguments are like men; I was merely following your lead in discussing that. The similarity lies in this: when a man without proper knowledge concerning arguments has confidence in the truth of an argument and afterwards thinks that it is false, whether it really is so or not, and this happens again and again; then you know, those men especially who [90c] have spent their time in disputation come to believe that they are the wisest of men and that they alone have discovered that there is nothing sound or sure in anything, whether argument or anything else, but all things go up and down, like the tide in the Euripus, and nothing is stable for any length of time.”

“Certainly,” I said, “that is very true.”

“Then, Phaedo,” he said, “if there is any system of argument which is true and sure and can be learned, it would be a sad thing if a man, [90d] because he has met with some of those arguments which seem to be sometimes true and sometimes false, should then not blame himself or his own lack of skill, but should end, in his vexation, by throwing the blame gladly upon the arguments and should hate and revile them all the rest of his life, and be deprived of the truth and knowledge of reality.”

“Yes, by Zeus,” I said, “it would be sad.”

“First, then,” said he, “let us be on our guard against this, [90e] and let us not admit into our souls the notion that there is no soundness in arguments at all. Let us far rather assume that we ourselves are not yet in sound condition and that we must strive manfully and eagerly to become so, you and the others for the sake of all your future life,


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