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[268a]

Socrates
Never mind the little things; let us bring these other things more under the light and see what force of art they have and when.

Phaedrus
They have a very powerful force, at least in large assemblies.

Socrates
They have; but my friend, see if you agree with me in thinking that their warp has gaps in it.

Phaedrus
Go on and show them.

Socrates
Tell me; if anyone should go to your friend Eryximachus or to his father Acumenus and should say “I know how to apply various drugs [268b] to people, so as to make them warm or, if I wish, cold, and I can make them vomit, if I like, or can make their bowels move, and all that sort of thing; and because of this knowledge I claim that I am a physician and can make any other man a physician, to whom I impart the knowledge of these things”; what do you think they would say?

Phaedrus
They would ask him, of course, whether he knew also whom he ought to cause to do these things, and when, and how much.

Socrates
If then he should say: “No, not at all; but I think that he who has learned these things from me will be able to do by himself the things you ask about?” [268c]

Phaedrus
They would say, I fancy, that the man was crazy and, because he had read something in a book or had stumbled upon some medicines, imagined that he was a physician when he really had no knowledge of the art.

Socrates
And what if someone should go to Sophocles or Euripides and should say that he knew how to make very long speeches about a small matter, and very short ones about a great affair, and pitiful utterances, if he wished, and again terrible and threatening ones, and all [268d] that sort of thing, and that he thought by imparting those things he could teach the art of writing tragedies?

Phaedrus
They also, I fancy, Socrates, would laugh at him, if he imagined that tragedy was anything else than the proper combination of these details in such a way that they harmonize with each other and with the whole composition.

Socrates
But they would not, I suppose, rebuke him harshly, but they would behave as a musician would, if he met a man who thought he understood harmony because he could strike the highest and lowest [268e] notes. He would not say roughly, “You wretch, you are mad,” but being a musician, he would say in gentler tones, “My friend, he who is to be a harmonist must know these things you mention, but nothing prevents one who is at your stage of knowledge from being quite ignorant of harmony. You know the necessary preliminaries of harmony, but not harmony itself.”

Phaedrus
Quite correct.


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